The other day, I responded to a post from Martin Cothran, Senior Analyst for the Family Foundation on his blog, vere loqui, regarding the Meredith decision. In the blogosphere, you get a response for that. I'm not sure how far I want to carry this, but for now...
Martin asserted schools have "sacrificed children to the idols of egalitarianism and diversity..." I think equality is guaranteed by the Constitution and diversity is part of the human condition. Generally speaking, tribalism is fear. I think we are called to do the harder work.
He's pleased with the Meredith decision. Me, not so much.
...warns that districts may find other means to accomplish it's purposes. I agree and pointed out how. Socio-economics.
...awards the Prize for the best sound bite to Chief Justice John Roberts: "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race." Yep. He gets my vote.
...asserts the media has avoided using the words "busing" and "social engineering." True but why would they? "Busing" focuses on the means. "Diversity" focuses on the ends. As for "social engineering"...I see that on both sides of the argument. Keeping our children apart (segregation) or putting them together (desegregation)...anytime we used children to solve adult problems, that's social engineering.
...encourages us to use the words as often as possible. OK by me.
And he points out that claims that busing increases student achievement is not supported by evidence. I suspect he's right. I think diversity in society is good for other reasons. I was taught to love my neighbor...and believe it's good for folks to get to know each other as a general rule. But I don't expect test scores to go up as a result.
This morning Martin responded to my post in...
"The Education Gods that Failed: A Response to Richard Day."
(In the interest of time - so I can do a little scraping and painting around the house on this beautiful day - I will take the liberty to intersperse my comments, in maroon. I recognize it's easier to deconstruct someone's arguments piece by piece, so I hope I'm not being unfair. I do think this is an important topic for discussion.)
In Richard Day's response to yesterday's "The 'B' Word" post, in which I hailed the U. S. Supreme Court's decision striking down forced busing as the simple application of common sense, he asks, "What would Jesus do?"
Now I have searched my Bible concordance, and I am having a heck of a time finding the word "busing" in the Good Book. (Me neither. But I think you're looking for the wrong word. Try "neighbor.") But apparently there is some sort of religious imperative to put children on buses for long rides across town so they can be in the same geographical vicinity as other children in some other part of town, while the children from that part of town are bused to the part of town where the first bunch of children were bused from so they can be in a different geographical vicinity than the first bunch of children before they were bused from that location themselves to be in the same geographical vicinity as the others. (Nice. And, some schemes are even worse. Louisville used to use a plan that created a complete turnover of the student population in every elementary school - every three years! From the school's point of view, that's horrific.)
I mean, it's obvious isn't it?
But wait: I thought religion had no place in public schools? Does this mean we can we start Bible classes now too? (Uh oh. This is a really long discussion, but at the risk of offending folks on both sides of the issue, here's my view: Religion does have a place in the school. But, No, you can't teach the Bible, per se. "The state" (teachers) may not "establish" religion. But I don't see how expressions of faith, coming from students and delivered in an appropriate fashion, harms the Constitution. I thought the Bullitt County principal who freaked out because a student chose the Book of Acts for his required book report, was off base to prohibit it.)
If busing contributed to better education, then, after instituting busing, shouldn't we have seen evidence of children being better educated? (As far as I can tell, it' doesn't.) Well, we instituted busing. So where is this boom in educational achievement following the court order? In fact, hasn't one of the big stories about education in Kentucky (including Jefferson County) been the achievement gap between black and white students in recent years? How can this be after all these years of forced busing? (The achievement gap is another long story. But it's not really a mystery to us, is it?)
Could it be, perhaps, that busing HAS NO RELATION TO BETTER EDUCATION? (Well, this is a definitional argument. "Better," as in higher test scores? No. But does an education that teaches my children about their "neighbors" in the process add other kinds of value? I think so.)
Now if busing does not actually improve education, what does it do? What busing does is make liberals feel better about themselves because they have Done Something. It doesn't matter what they have done, or whether what they have done actually does any measurable good, or even whether it is positively detrimental. No. All that matters is that they have Done Something. And once they have Done Something, then they not only feel better about themselves, they can also look down on other people, especially those people who oppose busing because it HAS NO RELATION TO BETTER EDUCATION. (OMG! The L-word? No, not that one...the other L-word! Liberal! Willingness to act is important. Doing the right thing is more important. The problem is figuring that out, in a way that doesn't harm anyone. I'm not sure that's possible. As for me - I was reared by an independent Democrat and a Goldwater Republican. I think that makes me a moderate....but I was also reared to believe I was no better than anyone else...thus, the social liberalism.)
One must say these thing several times for the educational establishment, which can be very hard of hearing. (At times deaf. Single-minded. Pig-headed. Convinced of it's own authority... Shall I go on?)
So what is the Something that makes liberals feel good about themselves? It is the bringing about of Equality and Diversity. At the altar of these two things that you can count on liberals to sacrifice everything else. You can destroy the community of whole neighborhoods by taking away their neighborhood schools. You can you can even put students at risk--physically and educationally (for quite a number of reasons)--by placing them on buses for hours a day--all because of Equality and Diversity.
Equality and Diversity not only trump community, education, and safety, they even trump good government. Why was it exactly that judges had the authority to do this in the first place? Was there a Constitutional mandate for such things? (Maybe because the good people of the United States shirked from our most basic tenets - liberty and equality for all - and needed a little nudge...or was it a kick in the pants?) Did a court even have a right to mandate it? (Sure. That's a settled issue that Roberts did not argue.) Wasn't this the legislature's prerogative? (The legislature's prerogative to ignore the Constitution?) Isn't there such a thing as separation of powers? (Yes, but I hope it did not escape your attention that this was an activist decision.)
But these are all Constitutional questions, and the Constitution, like so many other things, has found itself hauled to the chopping block to be offered up in pieces to the gods of Equality and Diversity. (I only claim one God.)
Where is the evidence that forced busing increases academic achievement? (Dunno.) Not some goofy study with a handful of anecdotes that passes for scholarship in teachers colleges, but real honest to goodness research evidence that students get better grades or test scores when they are taken out of their neighborhood schools and set down in some other part of town whether parents like it or not. (I would be offended by the "what passes for scholarship" crack if the implication wasn't quite so true.)
Where is it?
Forced busing in Louisville did have one good result: it created a burgeoning private school community that thrives to this day. Of course, most of the students who attend private schools are from families who can afford it, leaving most of the kids from families who can't afford it in failing public schools. (True, in too many cases.) This could be changed, of course, by implementing school choice programs to make it more affordable for these families to take advantage of the better private schools, (I doubt it. We're talking about all of the same kids, right? ...all the same locations?) but the education establishment opposes this too. (Apoplectic.) It's too bad that in their Equality and Diversity zealotry, liberals have harmed the very people they feel so good about having helped.
If we're really concerned with improving education, we'll do things that have been demonstrably successful. I was at in the Capitol Annex in Frankfort one day several years ago on the day that a round of CATS scores were being announced by state education officials. They were particularly proud, they said, about Lincoln Elementary School, which had increased its reading scores by about 65 percent, and its science scores by about the same amount. This, they said, was evidence that the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) was succeeding. (Yeah, they get paraded out this year...most are gone the next.)
Now Lincoln Elementary is not known as good school. What had happened here? I walked out of the committee room and into the hallway. I called Lincoln Elementary and got through to the lady in charge of the reading program and asked, "What are you doing down there?" "We are doing Direct Instruction," she said. "We are teaching systematic, intensive phonics in our reading program."
Direct Instruction? Phonics? These things were anathema to the KERAites. School were being told to do exactly the opposite of what Direct Instruction called for. I heard officials testify before legislative committees running down traditional techniques like Direct Instruction, and attended some of the in-services where they were ridiculed. My oldest son was also in a "model KERA classroom" where the alternative ideas, like whole language and "best guess" spelling, were practiced (until we finally, like so many other parents, pulled him out). (Too true. At Cassidy, we blew them off and stayed with phonics, and direct instruction for special needs children; more. Schools that followed the "conventional wisdom" at the time returned to phonics once they found the cohones to do so.)
But the fact that they had opposed the very programs that were the reasons for Lincoln Elementary's success wasn't preventing state officials from taking credit for it anyway. (That's how they roll.)
Later on, I found out that Lincoln Elementary was one of three schools that had gotten a grant from the Jefferson County School District to implement Direct Instruction programs. That was big of them, I thought. As it turns out, the legislator who had managed to get the grants, Sen. Gerald Neal, had had to do everything but threaten the district (actually, I think he did that too) to get grants. Pulling teeth without Novocaine was apparently a less painful procedure for district officials than implementing a demonstrably good educational program. (I don't think most folks appreciate the pressure school principals who consider alternatives find themselves under these days. And - significantly - principals are EAST TO GET RID OF. They have no protection for demotion at a moments notice. Really. That causes...shrinkage.)
Then just as quickly and quietly as the program had come, it apparently left, the victim of indifferent and even hostile district officials. Last I heard, they were talking about closing Lincoln Elementary. A program that actually worked, and they let it go. What does that say about our schools and the people who run them?
Well, if you look at KERA (the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990), you see the same idols: Equality and Diversity. Remember the nongraded primary program? (Ouch. You've found it.) We had to have young students of different ages and ability levels all mixed together in one class. Diversity. And we had to make sure that all students succeeded at the same level, even if the older ones had to take time out from learning themselves to help teach the younger ones. Equality. (The primary program was, and to some extent still is, a big honking bunch of stupidity based on scant, and very equivocal, research that did much more harm to Kentucky's schools than good. Talk about feeding a private school movement! We [and this time I mean "they"] took our youngest students and their parents and confused the stew out of them with an arbitrary construction that held little promise for improved achievement. It wasn't evil exactly. With a lot of PD and teacher support it might have become as effective as what we already had. It just wasn't worth the effort.)
The tragic thing about it all was that, as a result of this nonsense, ESS (Extended School Services) participation in 4th grade--after the nongraded primary had done its damage-- skyrocketed. (Actually, the research support in favor of "exrta time for instruction" is decent, and benefits low-income kids disproportionately, which is what you need to close achievement gaps.) What did the geniuses in our education establishment do? They hailed it as a success. That's right. More kids were now getting help. That was a good thing. Of course, they had been to education college, the academic equivalent of receiving a lobotomy, (That hurts. I'm pretty sure a lobotomy is even worse.) so they missed the fact that more kids now needed it, a sign that something had not worked. (C'mon. Low-income kids always needed it...long before KERA. We used to call it "cultural deprivation." Remember? Of course for decades, we didn't do anything about it.)
The nongraded primary seems to have died a slow death, (I wish.) but that won't prevent the education establishment coming back with more ridiculous ideas any time now, undoubtedly founded on the same failed ideas. (Check out "Depth of Knowledge," and the dumbing down of the test this year.)
That any children get a decent education in public schools at all in a system like this is a miracle. Some actually do get a good education, somehow escaping the ritualistic sacrifice demanded of so many at the liberal altar of Equality and Diversity, ("There you go again." - Reagan.) probably because of a few good teachers (Good teachers will absolutely save you.) and administrators who still, despite the fact that they pay verbal obescience to the false gods of education, care about children and have some clue of what actually works. (It's all about the love.)
My understanding is that Day was one of these, and that he somehow succeeded at Cassidy Elementary in the face of the KERA nonsense. As I recall, he was one of the few voices within the establishment brave enough to point out, on the issue of the nongraded primary, that the emperor had no clothes. (Thank you. We complained loudly, were forced into it and bailed out the first chance we got. It helped that the idea was so stupid.)
One only wishes, on the issue of busing, that he saw as clearly. (Perhaps. What's the alternative? School choice isn't the answer for the whole nation. It might work for you and me. but, tell me how we end up with quality schools in every neighborhood - schools where everybody gets to play...and I'll sign on. We used to have a system of highly localized schools - public and private. But only some of them were adequately supported. It didn't work out so well.)
By the way, I think Jesus would look at every school child as his neighbor - the least of them - and would seek ends that lift them up. I have no idea what means he would employ. I wish I knew.
OK...I've got to share this one since "busing" wasn't in my concordance either.
What is the first automotive reference in the Bible?
(Answer at the end of this post.)
Well, after my response to Martin Cothran, I got a couple of comments from readers. One for; one against.
But particularly devastating was a comment from "solarity," a 1970 Beechwood High School graduate telling me I was wrong. He accused the federal courts after Brown of "perhaps the greatest acts of judicial malpractice in American history."
That wasn't the devastating comment, however. That came in a PS:
PS: As a 1970 graduate of Beechwood, we may well have sent more kids to college (about 2/3d’s as I recall) but Ludlow almost always beat the crap out of us in sports!
I think solarity was trying to be nice, but instead, probably unknowingly, delivered the unkindest cut of all.
Not only does solarity underscore the relative unimportance of academics when compared to athletics, but also surfaced a deep-seeded torment I have carried inside me all these years hence.
Here's the story:
The Ludlow "river rats" spent years spanking the snot out of the Beechwood "cake eaters." In football, we had beaten them 13 years straight.
But that ended one fateful night in front of a home crowd in Ludlow, in 1969. Having graduated the bulk of our talent the year before, we were struggling more than usual. Late in the fourth quarter we had Beechwood pushed back against their own goal line and were leading 7 - 6. All we had to do was hold them.
Beechwood had a pretty good quarterback, John Phillips, as I recall - and I wanted him. From my position on the defensive line (@ 169 lbs!?) I had tried and failed to sack the slippery Phillips a few times that night, but wasn't giving up. I thought, with their backs to the goal posts, now was my chance to be a hero - to sack him in the end zone and ice the game. But the defensive coach called a play that required me to hold my spot on the line, without penetration into the backfield.
What to do?
When the ball was snapped I quickly shed my blocker while Phillips rolled my way. The temptation was just too great. I charged, and stuck my nose in his chest. Down he went on his back...but...not before handing the ball to his half-back on the way down.
If someone had been standing where I was supposed to be, the Beechwood halfback would never had rambled for the 97-yard touchdown that, indeed, iced the game.
I remember my father was upset when the coach punched me in the chest for my missed assignment. My mother had to sit him back down. The Ludlow alums were...we all were disappointed.
Beechwood has since reversed the record books against Ludlow. I feel somehow...responsible.
And now...The answer:
Depending on translation: And god in his fury, drove Adam and Eve from the garden. Genesis 3