Tag Archives: Education

Thoughts On “Christian” Child Abuse

The Resurgence: Father's Don't Provoke Your ChildrenAnother couple has been found guilty of murder for the death of their child after they used the “parenting” advice found in the book “To Train Up A Child” by Mike and Debi Pearl.

The New York Times headline lumps all corporal punishment under the same roof as the abusive advice of the Pearls.

A friend of the parents most recently found guilty points out “the Pearls are not professionally trained or educated in child development.”

First off let me be clear: These parents are evil and deserve the full and just punishment for  the abuse and murder of their children. How heartless, callous, cruel, and stupid must you be to consider sending your young child naked into the cold to be reasonable punishment, a good idea?

Yes, children are sinners just like you and I, and discipline is necessary to guide them into being healthy adults, but the goal is never to break the child. These are children, not horses. Discipline is about structure, structure is about direction, direction is about purpose. The goal of discipline is to grow within the child the self-discipline necessary for them to be able to accomplish their own purposes in life. Breaking a child’s will robs them of purpose and so is not a legitimate goal or form of discipline.

Parents who consider advice such as the Pearls dispense sound are doing grave disservice to their children at best, and are harming their children immeasurably at worst.

But we have to also be clear about a few others things as well:

  • Professional training in child development does not in any way make a person a legitimate expert able to dispense advice that would be any more right or effective than the destructive trash put out by the Pearls. Experience and success, or even an honest understanding of the source of ones failures, are more likely to present advice worth reading, and even if that is read, it ought to be run past your own common sense, for what is successful with one child may not necessarily be successful with another, even one in the same family.
  • Corporal punishment, spanking, is often illustrated with extreme cases where the intent is clearly harm to the child, when there is no proof that is how it primarily exists. The very fact that these isolated cases are such big news is that they are isolated. Most parents are not beating their children with plastic tubing until they “draw into a quiet shell and obey”.
  • The Bible in no way supports the ideas of breaking children down. Instead, twice in the New Testament Paul tells fathers to not provoke their children to wrath, anger, exasperation, embitterment, or discouragement (Ephesians 6:4, Colossians 3:21).

So far as we know the Pearls have not committed any crimes themselves. Freedom of speech and of the press means that in this country at least they ought to still be free to publish their drivel and silly people are still free to follow them. Not every child raised by adherents of the Pearls folly die, and some even turn out all right I’d presume. But like the leftist Democrats in the Westboro Baptist “Church” the Pearls ought to be confronted with wisdom and truth by some, and studiously ignored by all others, and parents ought to be surrounded by their family, friends, and community with good and sound advice and help and support.

Protecting Privilege

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Some people will do anything to preserve their privileges. For instance, an engineer working for the Department of Transportation of the state of North Carolina recently initiated an investigation of a private citizen after the citizen presented a well researched and documented argument supporting the installation of traffic lights at two intersections near his house when the state engineer felt there was no such need.

Kevin Lacy, the chief traffic engineer for the DOT of NC apparently felt threatened by these yokels who had presented a solid case indicating his own research to be inadequate, flawed, suspect, etc. Of course, we can’t just let anybody go around making informed decisions and reasonable arguments. I mean, unless we stamp out such uppity paupers, what good will all those expensive college degrees do?

Read all about it at Reason.com

“When you start applying the principles for trip generation and route assignment, applying judgments from engineering documents and national standards, and making recommendations,” that’s technical work a licensed engineer would do, Lacy said.

Lacy is right. Imagine the chaos that would ensue if we let just regular, unlicensed people use sophisticated arguments when petitioning their government.

This made me think of a bit of the conversation I first had with deirinberg, the most recent and vocal commentor on many articles here on I, Pandora.

Deirinberg stated his belief that it is a good and necessary thing that those who have attended superb schools, those who have achieved superb things, in short, the elite, run the country. Better than you and I, better than the bumpkins that seem to populate the Republican platform. Initially I agreed with him. There are people far more intelligent, far more well read, far more able in many, many ways, than I, to take the reins of power and steer the great ship of state.

But thinking about this topic more in light of this article I see there is a weakness in that argument. The weakness is that it assumes that what it is I do not know that the elites do know is capable of making a significant difference were we to compare our relative abilities at leadership.

Like getting married, one is never quite ready, even as you’re walking down the aisle hand in hand. As the bloom comes off the rose you are faced with serious issues that are growth or failure opportunities. What is necessary at the outset is not some omniscient knowledge regarding marriage, but a basic level of maturity. A basic modicum of appropriate character.

So it is with leadership, responsibility, power, skill, even engineering: what matters is not the initials after your name or the school your diploma came from, what matters is whether or not you are capable of doing the task. This is also the great fallacy regarding government regulation. The faulty assumption is the same in either case. The government assumes there is somebody who knows best regarding how houses ought to be constructed or stop lights arranged or whatever the case may be.

But, you say, those houses constructed according to standards and regulations survive in “act of God” situations far better than those not so constructed.

The problem with this argument is that those who are most likely to have better ideas which are illegal or do not meet standards and regulations are also those most likely to desire to act in a manner consistent with the law. It’s the same with firearm regulation: when it is against the law for people to own firearms, only those who don’t care for the law will have firearms.

Regulations, standards, bureaucratically determined directions for who things ought to be done are inherently incapable of allowing technology, innovation, fresh ideas, positive growth to improve quality. Instead of pointing out how well standards-built houses survived storm X, Y, or Z, we ought instead to be asking why so many of them failed if they were built the best ability of our amazing technology.

Back to the elites, though. Anytime someone or some group finds themselves more interested in the preservation of their own position than they are in fulfilling the obligations of that position, be they Kevin Lacy, Chief Engineer, or Charles Rangel, Corruptocrat, or anybody else, they have exceeded the point of benefit. And you and I and any others with sufficient clarity of thought and purpose, regardless of our education or aptitudes, guided only by our responsibilities and choices, may step in and do the job we are called to do.

Oh, and reading Kevin’s Myspace profile, it seems like he and I would agree on a lot more points than we’d disagree on.  And he probably has excellent reasons for why he did what he did.

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Democrats Want To Continue Failing Our Children

President Obama has failed these children

President Obama, the man figuratively chosen to lead the Democrat party, and literally chosen to lead the United States of America, wants to maintain the status quo of education in this country and, if anything, bolster the same system that is currently failing out children in record numbers in inner cities and poor neighborhoods across this country.

In a system which currently fails black children, hispanic children and other minorities not by giving them failing grades but by failing to actually educate them in a meaningful way, the President says we must not “shortchange” the children by addressing the real causes of failure in our schools.

Responding to the GOP proposals for cutting the budget and reigning in the rampant and run-away spending that is currently costing our great grandchildren their fiscal futures, President Obama shows a shocking lack of willingness to deal with reality, either economically or educationally:

“Even as we focus on speeding up our economic recovery, we also know that when it comes to jobs, opportunity, and prosperity in the 21st century, nothing is more important than the quality of your education,” the president said in his weekly address on the radio and the Internet.

If Republicans controlled Congress, the U.S. would have a harder time offering children the best education because “they’d have us cut education by 20 percent,” Obama said.

The president said “tough” choices need to be made to reduce the federal budget deficit, “but what I’m not prepared to do is shortchange our children’s education.” (Bloomberg and The Associated Press)

When education bureaucrats get 6-figure salaries while teachers have a hard time getting the supplies they need there is a real problem. And have you seen the list of stuff parents have to buy for their children before and during the school year? (This from a New York charter school or this from an Austin, TX public school.)

When the Los Angeles school district broke through the morass of union and bureaucratic opposition and attempted to stop the evil practice of “social promotion” they found one thing they couldn’t get around: over half of the children would have to be held back due to poor grades. The administrators were not willing to make this necessary and truly meaningful policy change, and so the Los Angeles school district continued failing our children.

Democrats have failed these boys too

School districts, the US education system, and teachers and their unions have been primarily and overwhelmingly Democrat for the last 40 years. The blame for these and many other failures have been the Democrats being beholden to special interests besides the parents and our children, and being enslaved to an ideology of social revolution based on an assumption of the inherent goodness of mankind and the inherent badness of any social system more advanced than a tribe.

It is time to break and hold of Democrats on the education system of the United States. It is time to force the bureaucracy to starve itself and go away and allow the proven successful reforms of local education control, merit pay and easy firing of failing teachers, school choice and competition between public and private schools.

Inner city school children are being overwhelmingly condemned to a life of poverty because they are being failed by an education system whose policies and people have been shaped and controlled by liberals and Democrats.

Enough is enough. You cannot have hope for the future if your future has been sold for political power.

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Today’s Interesting Stuff

Speecy Spiicy, Hotsy Totsy

American parents tend to feed their children bland foods to avoid potential allergies or just because that’s what Dr Spock or the latest parenting magazine told them. Easy on the stomach, and the poop ain’t so bad.

Parents in other countries tend to feed their infants whatever they are having, and their children experience the full gamut of cultural flavors from very early ages.

And yes, I’m advocating for American parents to be more like foreign parents. Look out the windows, there be pigs in the air!

First, bland doesn’t necessary mean easier for the stomach. Take ginger, for instance. A very sharp and strong flavor, nobody would call it bland. But is the natural and effective remedy for upset stomachs? Ginger. No citations here, just try this: Purchase a bottle of Reed’s Ginger Brew. If you can handle the Extra Strength, get that. Then fast, and when your stomach is most uncomfortable, usually just after the normal time for the next meal, drink the Reed’s. Instant stomach relief.

Second, you’re limiting your child’s future ability to eat and enjoy wide varieties of food, including many foods you and I take for granted.

This article chronicles the embarrassment, the worries, the challenges of being an adult picky eater. One telling comment?

Amber Scott, of Enon, Ohio, has eaten only about 10 different foods since she was 3 years old.

Not that exposing your children, when young, to significant varieties of food will totally preclude such problems, but they would take a significant bite out of them.

The Office

Empty office space keeps rising. This is not a good sign for the economy that is on the mend, according to certain people whose grand plans are fully in swing here. Corporations are using less and less office space, which means they aren’t hiring.

The really scary part?

Job growth and office-space use are closely intertwined. While some major users of offices, such as federal regulatory agencies, have been expanding, big banks and corporations have lagged behind in increasing their real-estate footprint, according to some analysts. That is a sign that these larger companies have been slow to return to their pre-recession staffing levels, a contributing factor to the persistently high U.S. unemployment rate.

Yea, that’s a sure sign of a growing and recovering economy. Regulators are gearing up for more business. Only one problem, regulators business is to keep real businesses out of business.

My Buddy Hugo

The ones really benefiting from the drilling moratorium? National oil companies. That means President Obama’s marxist buddy Hugo Chavez is loving us right now. Was this a quid pro quo? Or was it yet another unintended consequence of a short sighted and dishonestly supported policy? I’d say the latter, but wouldn’t be too surprised at the former.

Oh, and this would be the same Venezuela that just stole oil rigs from US corporations and we heard nary a peep in protest for this thuggish thievery from the government that is supposed to be supporting US interests abroad.

Muhammed In Space

Perhaps a new round of “Let’s Draw Muhammed” is in order. It would probably improve our chances of NASA actually being less irrelevant than it already is going forward.

NASA has apparently been ordered to reach out to Muslim nations in an effort to improve goodwill. And NASA is the right agency for this why?

Former NASA director Michael Griffin says sympathetic nations will be drawn to us when NASA succeeds at great things, not when they’re given an inflatable space shuttle and commemorative plaque.

Griffin said Tuesday that collaboration with other countries, including Muslim nations, is welcome and should be encouraged — but that it would be a mistake to prioritize that over NASA’s “fundamental mission” of space exploration.

“If by doing great things, people are inspired, well then that’s wonderful,” Griffin said. “If you get it in the wrong order … it becomes an empty shell.”

Griffin added: “That is exactly what is in danger of happening.”

And the coup de’ etat?

He also said that while welcome, Muslim-nation cooperation is not vital for U.S. advancements in space exploration.

“There is no technology they have that we need,” Griffin said.

Once again, why is it NASA’s job to reach out to any nation?

I’d draw Muhammed in space alongside the Muppets.

Just A Reminder

Some people still claim that Liberals are the bigger and better givers, both of time and money. They’re wrong. Badly wrong.

People who said they were “very conservative” gave 4.5% of their income to charity, on average; “conservatives” gave 3.6%; “moderates” gave 3%; “liberals” gave 1.5%; and “very liberal” folks gave 1.2%.

And this cannot be explained by religious versus secular giving:

The 2008 data tell us that secular conservatives are now outperforming their secular liberal counterparts. Compare two people who attend religious services less than once per year (or never) and who are also identical in terms of income, education, sex, age and family status — but one is on the political right while the other is on the left. The secular liberal will give, on average, $1,100 less to charity per year than the secular conservative. The conservative charity edge cannot be explained away by gifts to churches.

Or by giving of time versus giving of money:

Q. Monetary giving doesn’t tell us much about total charity, does it? People who don’t give money probably tend to give in other ways instead, right?
A. Wrong. First of all, there is a bright line between people who give and people who don’t give. People who do give time and money tend to give a lot of it. According to the Center on Philanthropy, the percentage of givers donating less than $50 to charity in 2000 was the same as the percentage giving more than $5,000. Similarly, the same percentage of people who only volunteered once volunteered on 36 or more occasions in 2000.

Second, people who give away their time and money to established charities are far more likely than non-givers to act generously in informal ways as well. For example, one nationwide survey from 2002 tells us that monetary donors are nearly three times as likely as non-donors to give money informally to friends and strangers. People who give to charity at least once per year are twice as likely to donate blood as people who don’t give money. They are also significantly more likely to give food or money to a homeless person, or to give up their seat to someone on a bus.

And it is not offset by political giving either:

Perhaps you suspect that the vast political contributions given to the Obama campaign — $742 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, versus $367 million for the McCain campaign — were crowding out charitable giving by the left. But political donations, impressive as they were this year by historical standards, were still miniscule compared to the approximately $300 billion Americans gave charitably in 2008. Adding political and charitable gifts together would not change the overall giving patterns.

Conservatives continue giving more in economically difficult times, decreasing their giving by less than their liberal counterparts:

Economists measure the “income elasticity of giving” to predict how much people change their giving in response to a particular percentage change in their income. It turns out the response in 2008 was dramatically different for left and right. For instance, a 10% decrease in family income for a conservative was associated with a 10% decrease in giving. The same income decrease for a liberal family led to a 16% giving drop. In other words, if this relationship continues to hold, the recession will almost certainly exacerbate the giving differences between left and right.

The proof, as they say, is in the pudding: Modern liberal ideas are selfish ideas.

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The Blueberry Story: A Failure Of Analogy

I came across the Blueberry Story recently. It didn’t pass the sniff test, but I couldn’t immediately explain why.

Jamie Vollmer was the CEO of an ice cream company that made, at one time, what some considered the best ice cream in America. He was also a sharp critic of the public school system, and shared his criticisms before an assembly of teachers and educators.

I was convinced of two things.  First, public schools needed to change; they were archaic selecting and sorting mechanisms designed for the industrial age and out of step with the needs of our emerging “knowledge society”.  Second, educators were a major part of the problem: they resisted change, hunkered down in their feathered nests, protected by tenure and shielded by a bureaucratic monopoly.  They needed to look to business.  We knew how to produce quality. Zero defects! TQM! Continuous improvement!

At the end of this particular talk he took questions from the audience.

As soon as I finished, a woman’s hand shot up.  She appeared polite, pleasant – she was, in fact, a razor-edged, veteran, high school English teacher who had been waiting to unload.

She began quietly, “We are told, sir, that you manage a company that makes good ice cream.”

I smugly replied, “Best ice cream in America, Ma’am.”

“How nice,” she said. “Is it rich and smooth?”

“Sixteen percent butterfat,” I crowed.

“Premium ingredients?” she inquired.

“Super-premium! Nothing but triple A.”  I was on a roll.  I never saw the next line coming.

“Mr. Vollmer,” she said, leaning forward with a wicked eyebrow raised to the sky, “when you are standing on your receiving dock and you see an inferior shipment of blueberries arrive, what do you do?”

In the silence of that room, I could hear the trap snap….  I was dead meat, but I wasn’t going to lie.

“I send them back.”

“That’s right!” she barked, “and we can never send back our blueberries.  We take them big, small, rich, poor, gifted, exceptional, abused, frightened, confident, homeless, rude, and brilliant.  We take them with ADHD, junior rheumatoid arthritis, and English as their second language. We take them all!  Every one! And that, Mr. Vollmer, is why it’s not a business.  It’s school!”

He was unable to reply to such ideas. And it took me a day to realize what was wrong with this teachers argument.

First, there is truth in both what Mr. Vollmer said and in what this teacher said. Neither of them are completely correct, and neither of them are completely wrong.

The big hole in this educators argument is that children are not the only resource in a school.

When you’re building a product commercially you gather all sorts of raw materials and assemble them and process them to create a finished product. Businesses are primarily rewarded by doing this more efficiently and with more quality than other companies. However, simple physical raw materials are never the entire picture.

You can take blueberries and cream and sugar and eggs and ice and salt and throw them together all day and it will not turn into ice cream. You must have a goal, a guiding principle, a primary idea which directs the process from beginning to end. This idea begins before any raw materials are assembled and achieves fruition and is born into reality in the end product.

In a school children are both a raw material and eventually the fruition and reality of this idea. A healthy, intelligent, wise, productive and strong member of society is the hoped-for result of any school. When children are the raw material (as small children first coming into the school) they indeed cannot be turned away. The school must take any and all. The teacher is right about this.

However, there are many other raw materials which may (and indeed should) be turned away at the loading dock for insufficient quality. Teachers are one of the raw materials of our education system. Those who can’t do, teach, is a sad but true tale of many who comprise the front lines of education in America. Low academic standards does not attract the best and the brightest to this profession. Many of the best teachers teach because they love to. Many others do it because they cannot find so secure a position with as healthy a payroll or extensive benefits in the private sector.

Education philosophies are another raw material that can and should be examined in light of reality and not in light of the establishment’s preconceived notions of the state of the world.

Specific subjects that do not pertain directly to healthy functioning in society also ought to be turned away at the door.

The lesson that schools should take from business, first and foremost, is that competition is good for everybody involved.

The only people who will be hurt by school vouchers, charter schools, more local control of education, and less federal nannying are teachers who aren’t up to snuff and entrenched and ensconced administrators who cannot really justify their silly existence.

The teacher was right, they can’t turn away children from school. Every child can and will benefit from learning truth. But learning and truth are not necessarily the same, and to fail to see the difference and to support a system that is so obviously and painfully failing yet another generation of children is to fail to see yet another blade laid to the neck of our great nation.