Category Archives: Social Engineering

You Will Be Re-Educated

It probably won’t get to 1976-1980 Veit Nam levels immediately, but America is on the slippery slope, and we citizens who care about this country don’t start standing up against this insidious evil, we will bear some of the blame. (a few excerpts below). mrossol

You Will Be Re-Educated

Radical agendas require clear villains to motivate their believers to act. Alex Zamalin, author of Anti-Racism: An Introduction, claims to have identified our moment’s greatest villain: “the ordinary white American who has sometimes tepidly, conditionally, equivocally, or even shamefully agreed with the unmistakable racist.” A similar tone of unmasking hidden villains pervades projects such as the New York Times’ new podcast series about schools, Nice White Parents. In one episode, reporter Chana Joffe-Walt states, “I think the only way you equalize schools is by recognizing this fact and trying wherever possible to suppress the power of white parents.

Once identified, white people are told they must “do the work” of ridding themselves of racist beliefs—even those beliefs they don’t know they have and so must be educated to see.  But to make people—especially stubborn people—“do the work” sometimes requires threats of coercion, which is why anti-racism’s reeducation efforts often flirt with authoritarian language and ideas while claiming little more than benevolent oversight of their presumably virtuous goal.

Writing in Politico, Kendi made this explicit: “To fix the original sin of racism, Americans should pass an anti-racist amendment to the U.S. Constitution that enshrines two guiding anti-racist principles: Racial inequity is evidence of racist policy and the different racial groups are equals.” The amendment would make what Kendi calls “racist ideas by public officials” unconstitutional. It would also “establish and permanently fund the Department of Anti-racism (DOA) comprised of formally trained experts on racism and no political appointees.”

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Bad Teaching Is Tearing America Apart

I don’t agree with all, but there is way more good here, than not good. The Left and the NEA (same?) are not willing to look at the data. mrossol

PHOTO: BARBARA KELLEY

If you have school-age children, the pandemic-induced move to online classes may give you an unusual window into their education. E.D. Hirsch expects you’ll be surprised by “how little whole-class instruction is going on,” how little knowledge is communicated, and how there is “no coherence” from day to day, let alone from year to year.

The current fashion is for teachers to be a “guide on the side, instead of a sage on the stage,” he says, quoting the latest pedagogical slogan, which means that teachers aren’t supposed to lecture students but to “facilitate” learning by nudging students to follow their own curiosity. Everything Mr. Hirsch knows about how children learn tells him that’s the wrong approach. “If you want equity in education, as well as excellence, you have to have whole-class instruction,” in which a teacher directly communicates information using a prescribed sequential curriculum.

Mr. Hirsch, 92, is best known for his 1987 book, “Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know.” It is an argument for teaching “specifics,” followed by a lengthy list of them—thousands of historical figures, events, concepts and literary works with which, in Mr. Hirsch’s view, educated Americans should be familiar. Heavily weighted toward Western history and civilization, the list provoked charges of elitism. Yet Mr. Hirsch is singularly focused on helping disadvantaged kids. They “are not exposed to this information at home,” he says, so they’ll starve intellectually unless the schools provide it.

He continues the argument in his new book, “How to Educate a Citizen,” in which he describes himself as a heretofore “rather polite scholar” who has become more “forthright and impatient because things are getting worse. Intellectual error has become a threat to the well-being of the nation. A truly massive tragedy is building.” Schools “are diminishing our national unity and our basic competence.”

 

Mr. Hirsch is nonetheless cheerful in a Zoom interview from a vacation home in Maine, his armchair perched next to a window with a water view. An emeritus professor at the University of Virginia, he normally resides in Charlottesville, where he continues his research and acts as the chairman of the Core Knowledge Foundation.

He cites both history and neuroscience in explaining how education went wrong. It began in the 1940s, when “schools unbolted the desks and kids were no longer facing the teacher.” Instead children were divided into small groups and instructed to complete worksheets independently with occasional input from teachers. “That was also when our verbal test scores went down and the relative ranking of our elementary schools declined on a national level.” On the International Adult Literacy Survey, Americans went from being No. 1 for children who were educated in the 1950s to fifth for those in the ’70s and 14th in the ’90s. And things have only gotten worse. Between 2002 and 2015, American schoolchildren went from a ranking of 15th to 24th in reading on the Program for International Student Assessment.

The problem runs deeper than the style of instruction, Mr. Hirsch says. It’s the concept at its root—“child-centered classrooms,” the notion that “education is partly a matter of drawing out a child’s inborn nature.” Mr. Hirsch says emphatically that a child’s mind is “a blank slate.” On this point he agrees with John Locke and disagrees with Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who thought children need to develop according to their nature. Both philosophers make the “Cultural Literacy” list, but “Locke has to make a comeback” among educators, Mr. Hirsch says. “The culture is up for grabs, and elementary schools are the culture makers.”

Mr. Hirsch is a man of the left—he has said he is “practically a socialist.” But he bristles at the idea that kids should read only books by people who look like them or live like them. He recalls how reading outside his own experience enabled him “to gain perspective.” Growing up in Memphis, Tenn., in the 1930s, he says, “there was no one I knew who wasn’t a racist.” In his teens, he picked up Gunnar Myrdal’s “An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy” (1944), which “allowed me to escape.” The Swedish sociologist’s survey of American race relations “made a huge impact” on Mr. Hirsch. “I take it as an illustration of how important knowledge is and how important it is to not necessarily become a member of your culture.”

 

That’s no less true in 21st-century America. “The idea that identity and ethnicity are inborn and indelible from birth is a false view that leads to group hostility,” Mr. Hirsch says. “The idea that there can be an American culture that everyone joins seems to be anathema to some academic thinkers,” Mr. Hirsch says. “But I can’t believe it’s anathema to any normal person in the country who isn’t some social theorist.” It’s fine for children to embrace their particular heritage, he says, but also vital to create an “American ethnicity.” The purpose of elementary schools “is to make children into good citizens.”

That requires knowledge that is “shared nationally, if you’re going to read and write and communicate with one another.” He’s dismayed that people keep getting hung up on the particulars. “I’m fine with arguing about whether it shall be Toni Morrison or Herman Melville. Who cares?” He calls elementary school “a nonpartisan institution,” a view that may seem quaint in an era when schools are adopting ideological curricula like the “1619 Project” and teachers are displaying “Black Lives Matter” banners as their Zoom backgrounds.

Mr. Hirsch wants to correct some of these excesses. He dedicates “How to Educate a Citizen” to the late political scientist Richard Rorty, who died in 2007. Rorty “made a distinction between the political left and the cultural left,” says Mr. Hirsch, who considers himself a man of the former but not the latter. He commends to me a 1994 New York Times article, “The Unpatriotic Academy,” in which Rorty wrote: “In the name of ‘the politics of difference,’ [the left] refuses to rejoice in the country it inhabits. It repudiates the idea of a national identity, and the emotion of national pride.” Mr. Hirsch agrees and longs for the “willingness to sacrifice for the good of society that was very strong” during his early years. “Patriotism is important because we want to make our society work.”

Mr. Hirsch also takes issue with grade schools’ focus on “skills.” Whether it is imparting “critical thinking skills,” “communication skills” or “problem-solving skills,” he says such instruction is a waste of time in the absence of specific knowledge. He describes the findings of the National Academy of Sciences on the subject of the “domain specificity of human skills.” What this means, he explains in the new book, “is that being good at tennis does not make you good at golf or soccer. You may be a talented person with great hand-eye coordination—and indeed there are native general abilities that can be nurtured in different ways—but being a first-class swimmer will not make a person good at hockey.”

He cites the “baseball study,” conducted by researchers at Marquette University in the 1980s, which found that kids who knew more about how baseball was played performed better when answering questions about a text on baseball than those who didn’t understand the game—regardless of their reading level. The conventional response in education circles is that standardized tests are unfair because some kids are exposed to more specific knowledge than others. In Mr. Hirsch’s view that’s precisely why children should be exposed to more content: Educators “simply haven’t faced up to their duty to provide a coherent sequence of knowledge to children.”

 

There are now about 5,000 schools in the U.S. that use some form of the Core Knowledge curriculum, developed by Mr. Hirsch’s foundation. And research suggests Mr. Hirsch is right. A recent large-scale randomized study of public-school pupils in kindergarten through second grade found that use of the Core Knowledge Language Arts curriculum had statistically significant benefits for vocabulary, science knowledge, and social-studies knowledge.

Even in poor neighborhoods, kids at Core Knowledge schools perform well and are admitted to competitive high schools. From the South Bronx Classical Charter School to the public schools in Sullivan County, Tenn., Mr. Hirsch is clearly proud that his ideas have helped the least privileged kids in America.

He questions the idea that children who are exposed to more “experiences” are at an automatic advantage. “That’s what fiction is for,” he quips. And not only fiction. “The residue of experience is knowledge,” he says. “If you get your knowledge from the classroom, it’s just as good as if you got it from going to the opera. Poor kids can catch up.”

Asked about the effect of the pandemic and lockdown on children’s emotional well-being, Mr. Hirsch shrugs, then offers an anecdote from a principal at a Core Knowledge school. Before classes began one morning, a second-grade girl approached him and said: “I’m so excited for today.” When the principal asked why, she said, “Because today we are going to learn about the War of 1812.”

“Gee, I wonder what that’s about,” the principal said.

“I don’t know,” the girl replied. “But today I’m going to find out!”

For Mr. Hirsch, the lesson is clear. No matter the circumstances, “kids delight in learning things.”

Ms. Riley is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/bad-teaching-is-tearing-america-apart-11599857351?mod=opinion_major_pos7

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Oh Yes, Ban the Redskins

Yep, this is where the spineless are “dragging” us. mrossol

7/16/2020 WSJ by Daniel Henninger

The Washington Redskins logo on the team’s home field in Landover, Md., Aug. 28, 2009.

PHOTO: NICK WASS/ASSOCIATED PRESS

For now, the Washington Redskins are just the Washington Something or Others, a team with no name. After holding out for years against the inertial forces of political correctness, the Washington football team caved. Hmm, maybe “caved” is inappropriate language now. They gave up.

You knew the Redskins were done as soon as Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream said it was dropping Eskimo Pie so the company could be “part of the solution on racial equality.” When I was growing up, Eskimo Pie always made me think Eskimos were great. But what did I know?

I’ve been fighting the team-name wars for years, most recently over baseball commissioner Rob Manfred’s goofy suppression of the Cleveland Indians’ Chief Wahoo.

You have to know when you’re licked. Sorry, wrong word. I mean beaten. Double-sorry; no one should be beaten. I mean defeated. I am defeated. Instead of complaining about the Redskins, it’s time to get ahead of the logo posse and eliminate a lot of really terrible sports-team names. Many of these teams probably think there’s no way their names would offend anyone. They are about to find out how wrong they are.

 

First we get rid of the low-hanging, already rotting fruit: The Chicago White Sox, the Boston Red Sox and the Cleveland Browns. White, red, brown and black are unspeakable and unthinkable colors now—for anything. The Chicago Green Sox would be ok. Many pro athletes are weirdly attracted to the color pink, so the Boston Pink Sox would work.

Clevelanders will object that even if most people under 20-years-old think the Cleveland Browns offends the race gods, the Browns are named after team founder Paul Brown, who, as luck would have it, was a white guy. The easiest solution would be to abolish the Browns once and for all. Who would notice?

Sing “hey hey, goodbye” to any team whose name suggests centuries of systemic privilege: the Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Kings, Sacramento Kings, Vegas Golden Knights and Cleveland Cavaliers. And hasn’t the moment come for LeBron James to renounce “King James”?

Let’s admit it: Times have changed. The highest value in modern American life is feeling safe. Not “safe” in the sense of not being gunned down tomorrow night. I mean safe the way a college student or street protester feels “unsafe” if bad thoughts are brought to mind.

By this measure, the list of violative professional sports-team names is endless.

 

The Denver Broncos? Broncos are abused horses forced to buck and then submit by a Dallas Cowboy kicking them with San Antonio Spurs. They’ve all gotta go. Ford Motor just resurrected its Bronco SUV. What terrible timing. Dump it.

Too many teams are still dependent on fossil fuels: the Detroit Pistons, Edmonton Oilers and Pittsburgh Steelers. Let’s clean up the Steelers by renaming them the Pittsburgh Windmills.

The Philadelphia 76ers? Surely they’re already on their way to being rehabilitated as the Philadelphia 1619s.

The Miami Marlins shamelessly expropriated the name of a vulnerable species. They should be renamed the Miami Minnows.

Anyone who thinks names like this honor endangered species doesn’t understand why statues of George Washington have to go. The Minnesota Timberwolves should leave the wolves alone and call themselves the Minnesota Lutefisk.

Names associated with religious belief are also a problem. The New Jersey Devils imply God exists. Ditto the New Orleans Saints, and the Boston Celtics evoke Irish Catholics. Get rid of them.

The Portland Trail Blazers celebrate genocidal pioneers. The San Francisco 49ers are named after 19th-century California gold-diggers who raped the environment.

The Houston Rockets have an impossibly male-sounding name and should compensate by becoming the Houston Rockettes.

The Colorado Avalanche evokes death. The New York Rangers sound like the police. The Texas Rangers are the police. What were the San Diego Padres thinking?

The Chicago Bulls are another team named after an abused animal, not to mention the consumption of animal protein. A new name that comes to mind is the Chicago Jordans in honor of Michael, but that will remind some people of the Jordan River and the plight of the Palestinians.

 

Don’t get me started on teams who think they’re safe by hiding behind the names of birds or animals. The Toronto Blue Jays are named after a nasty bird. The Atlanta Hawks kill rabbits. Just the words “Miami Dolphins” make me want to cry.

The Miami Heat may be the future, invoking the problem of climate change, and we can’t be reminded of that too often. The about-to-die Cleveland Indians could become the Cleveland Cold.

The team name of the Utah Jazz never made sense to me, but it does suggest that rebranding teams as musical instruments might be safe. The New England Patriots are problematic in so many ways. Patriotism? Are you kidding me? I look forward to them coming back as the New England Trombones.

For now, Washington sits with a nameless football team. How about calling the team in the nation’s capital the Washington Nothings? That sounds like something we could all agree on.

Write henninger@wsj.com.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/oh-yes-ban-the-redskins-11594854707?mod=opinion_lead_pos8

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America’s New Nihilism – WSJ

America has deployed almost all of the progressive’s solutions to “social ills”.  Yes, as Mr. Henninger says, what has changed? Not much.  Could it be that the progressive solutions are no solutions at all?  Leadership would be pointing this out all day long.   mrossol

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WSJ 6/3/2020. by Daniel Henninger

This is not 1968. It’s worse.

The late 1960s were the heyday of modern American liberalism, which was then an ideology of hope. A bipartisan Congress passed landmark civil-rights legislation in 1964 and 1965. The precipitating event of the urban riots in 1968 was the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. New York, Trenton, Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, Kansas City, and Washington were on fire. Arguably back then, despite passage of President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs, not enough time had passed for liberal policies to ameliorate conditions in the inner cities.

Last week, George Floyd died after rough treatment from arresting Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin, who was arrested and charged with murder. Since then, there have been daily protests accompanied by riot and pillage in multiple U.S cities. A primary claim made repeatedly this week is that the U.S., which means the American people, are guilty of perpetual “systemic racism.”

It is evident from the coverage that most of the demonstrators were born after 1990. By then, the Great Society programs had been in place for 25 years, and now it is 55 years. Annual budget appropriations totaling multiple trillions of dollars on Medicaid, food stamps, welfare, public housing, rent subsidies and federal aid to public schools have produced . . . what?

Since the 1960s, essentially little has changed in the neighborhoods at the center of those long-ago urban riots. By current telling, they are about as poor, as crime-ridden, as under-educated and in poor health as they were when LBJ said he would change them. That means five decades of stasis and stagnation in America’s most marginalized places, virtually all of it under Democratic—now “progressive”—political control.

The failure of the liberal model is by now so embarrassing that the current owners of that model have created an alternative universe of explanations, such as blaming it on American settlers in the early 17th century or the nonexistence of “justice.”

It must be working because marchers in Paris and Berlin, of all places, are lecturing the U.S. on systemic racism. Thanks for the memories.

This is worse than 1968, because the political system is now engaged in a systemic act of forgetting. Let’s forget that this policy failure has happened or why. Let’s forget, for instance, that the people living in New York’s public housing are overrun with rats, unlit hallways and no heat in the winter. Let’s forget that many blacks have indeed been left behind—by a well-documented migration since 1990 of black Americans out of northern cities and Los Angeles into the South, where they have gone in search of economic opportunity. Let’s forget, despite a massive per annum outlay on Medicaid—some $593 billion in 2018—that black Americans still have a higher incidence of chronic disease.

Simply performing a cut-and-paste on 50 years of U.S. political history is an act of nihilism. Pummeled by activists and the media with constant accusations of “systemic racism,” as this week, and despite what many thought were 50 years of good-faith efforts on racial conciliation, people go numb, concluding that the solution being offered now is, literally, no solution.

This new progressive nihilism says the answer to inner-city crime is decriminalization. Because of New York’s new “bail reform” law, most of the looters arrested are being released, even as murders and burglaries were increasing in the city’s poorest neighborhoods before these events.

The new nihilism minimizes this week’s ideologically driven assaults on private property because it is “replaceable.” In fact, it is well-established that many of 1968’s burned-down neighborhoods have struggled to revive ever since.

The new nihilism says no matter how many reform police commissioners are appointed or black mayors elected, “nothing has changed.” That is the definition of hopelessness.

It is not hopeless.

One could, for example, give people a better chance at home ownership and home equity, as HUD Secretary Ben Carson has proposed, through reforms of the mortgage-lending market and reducing regulatory hurdles to urban housing construction. Get rid of those godawful public-housing prisons. But no, the public housing authorities are patronage mills, so it can’t happen.

Black parents love charter schools and voucher-supported private schools because they teach values, self-respect and hope. But no, this option for poor and lower-income parents has more Democratic Party opposition than ever. When will we see white college students marching in the streets over this moral abomination? Never.

One could argue that the job creation and rising incomes of recent years for young black Americans are more in step with the U.S.’s 244-year history of opportunity. But why bother? The nihilism of permanent guilt is easier because it substitutes sentiment for substance and absolves anyone of responsibility for past public-policy errors.

It remains to be learned how the American people, of any race, are processing the events of the past week. Media minimalism says the choice is between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. It’s a lot bigger than that.

Write henninger@wsj.com.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/americas-new-nihilism-11591225713?mod=opinion_featst_pos1

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