Education in America and the Modern Day Lottery

When I hear the word “lottery”, one of the first things that comes to mind is Shirley Jackson’s 1948 short story, The Lottery (transcribed here). In that story, a town full of people gather in the public square and by lottery, choose who will suffer a terrible fate. This week, a documentary  “Waiting for ‘Superman'” tells of a different kind of lottery in which the precious few whose numbers are called get a shot at a good future while the remainder are left behind. This is school admission by lottery. It sounds disgusting and the documentary would have you believe the consequences are as dire as Jackson’s story of 62 years ago.

I have not yet seen the film but the film’s web site gave me more than enough to think about. Besides a trailer, there is a video of a panel discussion in Washington D.C. among some of the key players in the documentary. Three of these panelists stand out.

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First there is the superintendent of schools for Washington, D.C. Michelle Rhee. Rhee is a no-nonsense, kick-ass leader who closed a bunch of under-performing schools and fired a bunch of incompetent teachers. Academic results in D.C. have improved as a result.

Then there is Geoffrey Canada, the President and CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone, a support system in Harlem that seeks to monitor and assist poor inner city children from birth through college. Part of this program are three charter schools managed by Mr. Canada, all of which have waiting lists and are entered via lottery.

Finally, there is Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, an AFL-CIO affiliated labor union.

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As I listened to the three panel members present their case, I found Ms. Weingarten the most irritating. I am pro-union. I do believe that workers need protection from some overzealous employers who put profit ahead of basic decency. However, when it comes to public education we are not dealing with the corporate profit model. We should be dealing with what is best for children and I found Ms. Weingarten repeatedly asking for assistance for teachers not children. Her mantra was “teachers need support”. I am very sympathetic to the fact that teachers have to deal with the consequences of dysfunctional families who send psychologically (and sometimes physically) oppressed kids to school. I know how important it is for families to be supportive. However with that said, there is no excuse for teachers not to do their best to achieve optimal outcomes. I felt that Ms. Weingarten put support of teachers ahead of support of children.

Michelle Rhee does not view the teacher’s union as particularly helpful in education reform. She claims she gets sued when she tries to remove bad teachers (a claim refuted by The Washington Post) and seems particularly impatient with teacher-sympathetic factions. Rhee herself was a teacher so I doubt she totally lacks empathy for them. On the contrary, I get the sense that she is just tired of excuse making and wants to see results as evidenced by higher graduation rates and better test scores.

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Geoffrey Canada seems to me the most articulate and is at neither Rhee’s nor Weingarten’s extremes. He makes the very interesting point of how can we expect to attract quality candidates to the teaching profession, when the profession itself resembles factory work? He says the current incentive is “low wages but you get lots of time off”. What kind of way is that to encourage ambitious young men and women to enter the teaching profession? He says that instead, the teaching profession should be like any other profession — doctor, lawyer, businessman — you work at it as long as it takes to get results and you get paid accordingly.  Canada has a private enterprise attitude toward public education which focuses on measured results. If your students are ending up in jail instead of the work force, you’ve failed. Plain and simple. Teachers who achieve outstanding results should have outstanding careers. Those that don’t should no longer be teachers.

While I support unions for the most part, I believe there are certain “walks of life” in which unions can be counter-productive and I would almost go so far as to say they should be forbidden in these areas. These areas include: police, firefighters, doctors and nurses,  air traffic controllers (yay Ronald Reagan) and yes, teaching. When collective bargaining puts lives at risk or puts our children at risk, there should be no collective bargaining. We should not be bargaining with our children’s future.  I don’t know how we protect teachers from abusive employment practices but children should be the priority. In the academic structure advocated by Mr. Canada, teachers live or die based on objective results. What purpose do unions serve in this structure other than for excuse making?

It is important to add one final thought however. I get the impression from the trailers that I’ve watched that the outcome of “the lottery” is slightly overstated and melodramatic. One is left to believe that a child’s only hope is to attend Mr. Canada’s Promise Academy Charter School or all hope is lost. I think that is nonsense. Kids with supportive parents and a particular disposition can make the best of the worst environments and succeed in the end. While I understand that the state of education in this country is dire, I don’t believe that everyone who loses the lottery will suffer the fate of Mrs. Hutchinson in Shirley Jackson’s story.

Rutherford Political Blogger Alliance

86 thoughts on “Education in America and the Modern Day Lottery

  1. Rutherford – thank you for the note on the old thread. This way, I get a chance write something before anyone puts words in my mouth….

    I haven’t seen the film either, and nor have I watched the clip you posted – but obviously I have lots of thoughts about education. What I am posting below is a brief summary of a blog post that has been sitting on my back burner for months….

    The “opportunity by lottery” concept leaves me with very mixed feelings. I am certainly happy that some children will be getting a shot at a quality education – but I am angered that ALL children are not given that shot. Inequality of educational opportunity is IMHO the root cause of virtually every other social problem in the country – and if we could solve that one a lot of the other problems would fix themselves.

    If I ran the zoo – if I had complete control over how education was done in this country – here is what I would do.

    I would identify the best schools in the country, I would identify the characteristics of those schools, and then I would invest in education with the goal of bringing EVERY school in the country. Yes – EVERY SCHOOL – up to the level of those “best” schools.

    This would require investment into both physical plant and investment in quality staff. It would investment at the university level to make sure teachers are given a quality education, and an investment in teacher salaries to make the profession attractive to the best and the brightest students.

    It would also mean gutting teacher’s unions. I am in agreement with the assessment in the article: The teacher’s union serves to protect teachers rather than to provide quality education for the students. Perhaps if teachers were better educated and better paid – if teaching started being a profession rather than a job – the union would cease to be necessary.

    Expensive? Yes – obviously – but probably a LOT less expensive than carrying on a war in Iraq (for example). Expensive – but improved educational opportunity for all Americans would go so far to solve our other social problems.

  2. Can’t say it in a nutshell, Tigre…

    Part of the problem is that teacher pay is so low that the best and the brightest are not attracted to teaching – so part of the solution is to raise teacher salaries to attract better people to the profession. With that increase in pay comes a responsibility to be sure that teachers are actually well educated and are actually performing. That means ongoing rigorous certification procedures – something opposed by teachers unions.

    You apparently missed the part where I said teacher’s unions needed to be gutted?

  3. HP, thanks for the response. As I wrote this I was eager to hear your take on it … and also that of Dead Rabbit who teaches at the high school level.

    Tigre’s summary of your statement misses the point. It is “more money” and a change in mindset. Of all the things I heard Geoffrey Canada say the thing that resonated most with me was the view of teaching as a punch-the-clock job with summers off. That needs to change. The job has to become a “whatever gets the results” kind of job. One of the reasons doctors, lawyers and other salaried workers don’t work within constricted time limits is that they get paid decent salaries that meet the expectation of 60 – 70 hour work weeks. Teachers should have the same expectation and commensurate compensation.

    And yes, once that happens unions will be irrelevant. Even in corporate America, companies who treat their employees like kings and queens don’t get unionized. I was there and I saw it for myself. Make teaching the respected profession it should be and you get motivated teachers who then motivate students.

    The solution is more complicated than that but that is a good start.

  4. Part of the problem is that teacher pay is so low that the best and the brightest are not attracted to teaching – so part of the solution is to raise teacher salaries to attract better people to the profession.

    Low pay? That may hold some places for entry level instructors explaining they can’t attract more science and math instructors, but for nine months worth of work and a teacher’s union, many of them in this country are paid far, far more than they are worth.

    There are an oversupply of instructors in everything but science and math. A lot of these instructors should be summarily canned. And what Chris Christie is doing in New Jersey is yeoman’s work and forty years overdue – he has single handily called the corrupt teacher’s unions bluff – and surprisingly found huge support in doing so. The sacred cow is no more.

    I’ve challenged teachers if they think their advanced “education” is worth more, put your resume on the open market and get a personal epiphany of your real worth.

    Here’s the biggest problem and I believe Hippie couldn’t be more wrong in his solution of more and more money, other than declaring war on teacher’s unions. In fact, were we’ve wasted billions into trying to improve public education in places like California, Chicago and D.C., you would be better to burn the money for heat. The results in Chicago for instance show about half of the students don’t even graduated.

    Private religious schools in my area have demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that funding and results are not highly correlated, as the instructors are paid less than their public counterparts and the class sizes are larger. Yet the difference in results is glaring.

    The real problem which money can not overcome? Bad Parent(s).

    And until you improve that, and you can’t use the typical methods of liberals always believing more money is the solution to every problem, public education as a whole will continue to be a collective dismal failure.

    The teaching profession for me is a personal enigma. On one hand, there are some instructors I have great admiration for – and their worth is not fully appreciated. I have both admiration and empathy. On the other, I think most public education administration is rotten to the core and political, the Dept.of Education should be eliminated, and I’ve never met a teacher’s union I didn’t think self-serving and corrupt.

    But the bottom line is we can pay teachers a king’s ransom, build the finest facilities, and if the child unprepared upon entry in the classroom everyday, you’re throwing money down a rat hole.

  5. Tex said: But the bottom line is we can pay teachers a king’s ransom, build the finest facilities, and if the child unprepared upon entry in the classroom everyday, you’re throwing money down a rat hole.

    I have to run to an appointment – so this is just a quick response.

    Indeed, it is hard to provide effective schooling when parents do not support educational goals. But we somehow have to try anyway, don’t we? We can’t just give up.

    There are countless stories out there about kids being inspired by their teachers – despite parents who actively work against the process. It is the old “To Sir, with Love” model.

    What we have to do is determine what characteristics those inspirational teachers have – and do whatever we can to put those people in the classroom. If that means paying them more, so be it.

    Once we get more inspired teachers in the classroom – and more kids start being inspired – perhaps we will end up with a new generation of parents who actually value education. Naive? Yeah – perhaps. But, I don’t see another solution.

  6. Hippie said: “You apparently missed the part where I said teacher’s unions needed to be gutted?”

    No. I did not miss it, I wanted you to elaborate becuase the bulk of your comment relates to shifting tax dollars — something that drives a conservative nuts.

    Hippie, I assume you mean that the union would support higher wages, that’s good. However, unions also inhibit achievement through certification and merit based advancement, and that’s bad. Am I right?

    One of things that bothers me is what Tex brushed on. That is the an “actual” correlation between pay and performance. I’m not sure it really exists (within boundaries of course).

    The public schools in Atlanta (where I live), and Georgia in general have some of the worst performing students in the country. I remember that S.A.T. results ranked it around 48 or 49. Every year the excuses follow the statistic. And the primary one given by the liberal press (there is no other in Atlanta) is pay. And year after year it’s pointed out that funding and salaries are among the highest in the country.

    By contrast, my son (and soon my daughter) are enrolled in a high performing inner-city charter school where, although publicly funded, salaries and benefits for the teachers is less than those of the traditional public schools. Considerably less. So, what’s going on?

    Now, I know some of the obvious conclusions are that the structure fosters parent involvement and good teachers are attracted to good schools with good students etc., etc. And naturally the best teachers that can command higher salaries will seek them. However, I have really, really come to doubt that there is a direct correlation between pay and performance (again, within reason).

    All things being equal though, I don’t think the profession as a whole will improve through the notion that competition follows a higher salary base for all teachers. I believe that, as with most professions, it’s really the nature of the calling and social prestige (recognition) associated with it that motivates the “best and brightest;” not money in and of itself.

    If I’m right, and the focus should lie with that, the question I have is where (outside of elected officials) does the prestige exist elsewhere in the public sector? In my experience, prestige and public service are in many ways incompatible.

    I did not see the movie or the interviews. Perhaps it would’ve been helpful before I yammered on and on. But I wondered what the Hippie and Rabbit had to say about my observations. I also wonder whether their opinions will follow political rather than professional philosophy.

  7. Obama has faced the toughest time of any President ~ Rahm Emanuel

    Honest Obe! Save Us! Save Us!

    And Libs wonder why I find them disingenuous?

  8. Tigre….

    You have some interesting thoughts – you should write detailed stuff like this more often. I don’t have a huge amount of time to respond right now, but here are some quick thoughts.

    First, my views here are entirely professional and are not political. They are largely based on my personal experiences in education, and generally do not agree with what either political party says.

    I think we are in agreement that part of the solution must involve getting better teachers into the classroom. I think we perhaps differ on how to do that.

    It is interesting that you mention prestige as a motivating factor – and I think you are correct that K-12 teaching is generally NOT considered a prestigious occupation. It is a really sad commentary that teaching isn’t considered prestigious because it is so exceptionally important. I am not really sure how to change it, either.

    Even if we could increase the prestige, I am not entirely sure that would motivate a person to become teacher. I am actually in one branch of the educational system that has some prestige – but I scan say for certain that prestige was not a motivating factor for me to enter into a career in higher education. Neither, for that matter was money. What attracted me to this profession was that I simply loved it – and frankly I think it is the only real reason I do what I do.

    How do we make more people love the idea of becoming teachers? Again, I don’t know.

    Here is a scary thought: There are only so many left handed pitchers with major league talent born each generation. We can pay them a ton of money and shower them with prestige – but that will not increase the pool of lefties. What if “master teachers” are the same way – they are simply born with that talent – and the talent cannot be created with money or prestige…. If that is the case (and in some ways I suspect it is) then we have a serious problem if we want equality of educational opportunity.

    No. I did not miss it, I wanted you to elaborate because the bulk of your comment relates to shifting tax dollars — something that drives a conservative nuts.

    Indeed, some of my comments go in that direction. I would add that conservatives tend to believe we can get something for nothing – and that drives liberals nuts 😉 However, what I am advocating is more than just shifting tax dollars – it literally involves a complete rethinking of how we fund education. We simply cannot continue with the current system in which property taxes are used to fund schools. This creates tremendous disparity of educational opportunity and dooms us to a recurring cycle of poverty. If we break that cycle we solve a lot of our other problems.

    Let me reiterate that money is not the whole solution – it is only part of the solution. We need to attract a better quality of student into the teaching profession – and money is one thing that will help do that. But, if we are going to throw money at the problem we also need to insure that high standards are met – which as I said includes rigorous certification procedures.

    Wow – that was a lot more than I actually had time to write – and most of what I said is “I don’t know” – oh well, at least there is some food for thought.

  9. Get something for nothing? Lord, I don’t know what you do in your area, but we have increased taxes at least four times the last 20 years allocations directly to school, and my property taxes are now 30% higher than they were five years ago – much of it attributable to education. That is why people are hurting. And the results? Worse standardized test scores… 😡

    Hippie, if you ask me there are a few things that could be done immediately to free up funds. Combine the administrative functions by combining districts and bust the unions. Second, I think this myth of class size, the smaller the better, is bogus. When Rutherford, you and I attended schools in the 60s and 70s, at least where I live, class sizes were at least half again larger than they are now. And our test scores were significantly higher.

    Here’s what happened to the quality of the teaching at least in part – the opportunities for women. The talented women, many who were at one time elementary instructors, then entered the workforce took higher paying jobs in industry and medicine. When I was in elementary and jr. high, 90% of my instructors were women, and many were excellent.

    My daughter has been approached and given serious thought to postponing her medical career and taking two years to teach in a national program which name escapes me at this minute. They take some of the brightest college students and for some perks on school loans or monies for professional education, provide the incentive to teach. And I think that is not only a wonderful idea (one of the few of government), but a great way to quickly increase the quality of instruction.

  10. So these Global Warming Alarmists aren’t crypto fascists, hey Hippie? And you guys go on and on about FOX News hate? Well, watch this outrage…and be seated when you watch.

  11. About the Boxer campaign hiring day laborers … seems like a win/win to me. They get a few extra bucks to spend and we elitist liberals don’t have to get a charlie horse from holding up those heavy signs for hours. 😉

  12. My standardized test scores went from the 18th percentile to the 95th percentile in one year. Wow. We should be able to learn so much from this. This should be a pedagogical pay dirt. What did the Rabbit do? We need to learn quickly and apply this model to the entire United States, ASAP!

    So, what did I do?

    I changed school districts!!!

    Coincidentally, I taught the same course. And I did it in the same fashion. 18th to 95th, boys.

    Yes folks, in one year, I went from the guy who needs to be fired, to the guy who needs to be giving power point presentations in football stadiums on my awesomeness. If time could be traveled one year, hippieprof would have the Rabbit’s model of education being forced on a 12 month younger Rabbit. Which would be cool with me, because I am the motherfucken Rabbit.

    Hippieprof feels that we need to spend tax dollars on making sure teachers are better educated and under go “rigorous certification procedures”.

    This doesn’t surprise me.

    The university professors are the ones who endlessly come up with these “rigorous certification procedures” while working on committees that rip off the tax payer for millions, constantly reinventing the latest definition of “rigorous” and “certification.”

    Guys, you are going to be just shocked when I say this. Those committees always declare that more college coursework is needed by teachers. And more committees. Can you believe it?

    Except for a few advanced courses at the high school, one does not need to be Mr. Smarty Pants to be successful in the classroom.

    I’ve seen so many over educated, well intentioned failures in the classroom.

    In fact, this leads me to my next point: in 8 years of teaching in schools that span high security juvenile prisons to my current upper middle class bastions of success, I can count on my hand the number of non-caring dead beat teachers I saw protected by the union. .

    Fact: The worst teachers are often the ones that can quote the most pedagogical philosophers.

    What makes them so shitty? After all, they work 12 hour days, by choice.

    They lack the ability to connect with their students.

    They aren’t respected. They lack charisma. They have no sense of humor. They lack street smarts. Their classrooms are zoos. They get insulted by the kids only to get insulted again by the kids’ parents when they call home (this is the norm now, in case you didn’t know…parents always take the side of the kid).

    Their teaching dreams are eventually shattered, their passion for learning sapped. Elaborate, creative and Utopian lesson plans devolve into mindless work sheets as a form of crowd control. They become disillusioned in life and hate themselves. They become pathetic, martyred masochists. They behave like victims because they are victims.

    Fire them, you say?

    Hell, I feel sorry for them, maybe more so then you do. But fine by me.

    But replace them with who?

    100 more people who all suffer from the same thing? Good, hard working people who just can’t create a positive rapport, no matter what they do?

    By the way, good luck during the interviewing process.

    Because the successful teachers, they can be old, young, black, white, male, female, tall, short, ugly, fat, skinny, rich, poor etc. etc. etc.

    Even complicating matters more, the bad ones seem to share an odd quality of being able to hit it off with cheese dick administrators and educational bureaucrats. They are interviewing all stars and professional resume engineers.

    That’s all for tonight, folks. My next installment will be Saturday, as I have many things to address.

    Ps. I didn’t mean to pick solely on hippieprof.

  13. My computer monitor is literally from 1994. An “E-machine”

    I can’t catch typos on this thing and it pisses me off. Whenever I get to blabbing about my day job, I get really insecure about my grammar.

  14. Rabbit said: Except for a few advanced courses at the high school, one does not need to be Mr. Smarty Pants to be successful in the classroom. I’ve seen so many over educated, well intentioned failures in the classroom.

    DR, You would be surprised to know that I agree with this. I am relatively successful as a teacher, and the biggest thing I think I have over less successful teachers is that I do have an ability to connect with the students. Some teachers seem to have it, while others don’t.

    But – I have no idea how to teach it. Certainly nobody taught me. That is what I was alluding too with my comment about left-handed pitchers. The talent may just occur ever so often and may not be possible to train.

    Gotta run – more tomorrow, I am sure.

  15. Hippie, my usual lack of detail is a function of time. Popping in and out of these threads during work is a guilty pleasure — and a real time soak. I must confess that I learned to type from necessity, not training. Two index fingers. Fastest in the East, but thank God for dictation.

    So, “We need to attract a better quality of student into the teaching profession – and money is one thing that will help do that. But, if we are going to throw money at the problem we also need to insure that high standards are met – which as I said includes rigorous certification procedures.”

    Sounds like you might be a closet conservative. . .

    BTW, spent time at IU (music) in the day (mid 80s). Wonderful place.

  16. One other thing:

    Rabbit said Yes folks, in one year, I went from the guy who needs to be fired, to the guy who needs to be giving power point presentations in football stadiums on my awesomeness. If time could be traveled one year, hippieprof would have the Rabbit’s model of education being forced on a 12 month younger Rabbit. Which would be cool with me, because I am the motherfucken Rabbit.

    So – Rabbit – given that most teachers don’t have the luxury of changing school districts, what advice would you give to the unsuccessful Rabbit – the one who would not be getting the chance at a new district?

    You suggest that rapport with students is a key issue – and God knows I agree – but why were you able to establish rapport in one district and not another?

  17. BTW, spent time at IU (music) in the day (mid 80s). Wonderful place.

    Wow – that is kinda scary – that is when I was there. Ever take gen psych? Chances are it was either from me or from my wife….

    Sounds like you might be a closet conservative. . .

    I have been saying for a long time that I used to be a conservative and that I still retain some conservative ideas – but nobody wants to believe me…


  18. You know what tickles me about this conversation?

    The lack of acknowledgment that fifty years ago, liberals took the reigns of our public school system with the pet theories of esteem and diversity. Public school systems that used to be the envy of the world. Libs started changing the curriculum and teaching methods.

    Then O’Hair filed her famous lawsuit that started the slow hostility toward Judeo-Christian philosophy or dominance – take your pick of opinion. Afterward, millions of parents left the public school system forever and the pace quickens with the advent of home schooling.

    In essence, even without the influx of new money Hippie says would solve the problems, if money were really the solution, just the opposite in test result should have happened. Test scores should have started increasing; less students, same tax base. We spend far more per student now than 50 years ago, inflation adjusted. Whether that goes toward the children, I do not know. I suspect more of it goes to sweet pension plans for inept administration. 😉

    And none of these libs I bet would be willing to admit just about the time we started leaving, schools started becoming war zones and test scores started dropping precipitously. Took about 10-15 years for the obvious to become undeniable in result. But instead of admitting it, they found all kinds of excuses – not enough money being the first and foremost.

    Don’t think the same thing would not happen to all facets of America if we trouble making Conservative Christians were to suddenly start disappearing the same way. I know that makes men like Rutherford swell up like a toad, but I don’t think you would much like the America you would be left with “R” if real Christians were to magically disappear.

    Liberalism/Progressivism = Abject Failure.every time. 😉

  19. My experience with education is limited to having kids in school and being in schools myself.

    That said, I don’t believe that anyone knows how to measure objectively the difference between great teachers and poor ones. I do believe that everyone knows instinctively who they are. I did. So do you.

    My friends and I were kids who did very well in both the sixth and seventh grade. Our sixth grade teacher was a superstar. Our seventh grade teacher was a disaster. Both teachers would have received high marks based on our standardized tests. Same kids, same parents, same results. Different teachers – one great, one awful.

    You don’t need a PhD in mathematics to be an effective teacher of beginning algebra or even of high school trigonometry. It might even be counterproductive. The primary job skill of a teacher is teaching. I’m not convinced that great teaching skills can be picked up in an education course.

    The three most important elements in a child’s educational achievement are parents, parents, and parents. Everything else is a distant fourth. The underperforming schools probably serve families with underperforming parents. How else to explain the Rabbit’s transformation from a “slug” (the immortal description by former OK governor Frank Keating) to a superstar, upon changing school districts?

    Teachers’ unions are a favorite whipping boy of those who would abolish public schools. (It’s the same old “government can’t do anything right” crowd.) There are problems with the whole educational establishment, not the least of which is incompetent school administrators and incompetent school boards. Here in the Tulsa area, we have had a series of scandals in school districts involving incompetence and downright corruption. How is that “local control” working out?

    I have nothing but admiration for most teachers. The ones I have known are dedicated people who feel a sense of mission about their work. Yes, teachers exist who only punch the clock and do the job to receive generous amounts of time off. That’s too bad. Yes, the teachers’ unions circle the wagons and protect all their members. They also protect good teachers from petty, unreasonable, and incompetent administrators. I am constantly amazed by the nonsense that school administrators find important. The stuff that makes the news must be only the tip of the iceberg. It’s almost as if you have to be a little Napoleon to be hired on as a school principal, or especially as an assistant principal.

  20. I agree that there is something offensive about educational opportunity by lottery. I believe that every child should have the opportunity to receive a quality education. But the kid who has the greatest chance to receive a quality education is the kid who was born into a family with great parents who care about his or her education.

    That’s kind of a lottery too, isn’t it?

  21. I haven’t seen “Waiting for Superman,” but Rutherford has made it sound like another screed in favor of charter schools vs. the “failed” public school system. I don’t believe that advocates of vouchers, charter schools and other “conservative” solutions to the perceived problems in education have clean hands. These solutions spring from anti-government ideologues, from those looking for taxpayer support of their religious schools, and from those who would move the questionable for-profit college model down to the lower grades. And most of the benefits of these kinds of programs would go to kids who are already advantaged – having won the lottery and received education-minded parents.

    I used to be involved with a Head Start program. The clever little secret about Head Start is that it requires the parents to be involved. It holds classes for parents on parenting and on how to participate in their child’s development. If this secret ever becomes widely known, I’m sure that there would be violent repercussions.

    Why don’t the Head Start kids retain their “head start” as they progress through higher grades? I suspect that it’s because the parental involvement fades.

    I’ve told this story before, but I had an acquaintance who ragged on the school system all the time. On this particular day she was livid because of her neighbor, who had just discovered that her kid couldn’t read a lick – at the end of the second grade.

    WHAT THE F**K! How can any parent have a kid who can’t read a lick in second grade, and not know it? How can that happen? Do they never sit down with a book? Do they even OWN a book? That kid should be removed from the home because of child neglect!

  22. 1. I am going to take a shower in the fetal position, trembling with disgust for myself and scrubbing the icky off that has formed due to finding myself agreeing with greychin’s last three posts, word for word.
    2. Hippieprof, at first I thought you were being funny when I read this:

    “You suggest that rapport with students is a key issue – and God knows I agree – but why were you able to establish rapport in one district and not another?”-hiippieprof

    Dude….that 18% was hard fought, man. Plus, if one would sit down and talk to the kids, I think it would have been apparent that they learned a bunch about world history.

    As for the rapport, for many, I was the only positive male role model they had ever had in their lifetime. I would always feel guilty. Those kids loved me like an uncle, and I would leave that place for the weekend and forget they exist.

    I had a kid who’s entire body was scarred from cigarette burns. Apparently, from the age of 1 to 4, the kid served as an ash tray. I swear I’m not making this shit up. No, he wasn’t the norm, but I think that shows you what we are dealing with.


    Tex, libs have made schools more expensive. Like 100 times more. And I plan on writing something about how bad we are being ripped off.

    However, do you think that the masses of the 1960’s are less educated then the masses of the year 2010?

    Lets look at math scores and how they are supposedly declining compared to a few other nations.

    I have a brother who is a computer programmer and a brother who is electronic engineer. They HATE their jobs. And I mean they fucking hate them! They regret taking those math classes every day.

    The field of engineering sucks! It’s boring work dominated by workaholic nerds and Asian immigrants.

    For better or worse, Americans don’t get into math because the jobs it spawns are not appealing.

    Sitting in a cubical, knocking out code is for….well….Asians. I truly believe that culturally, they can deal with this monotony better then your typical American.

    Last month, my brother quit his 90 grand a year engineering job to go back into school to be a pharmacist. (One of my other brothers just became one).

  23. Tex said: You know what tickles me about this conversation?

    You know what tickles me, Tex? The fact that people have been saying things that are not the “party line” – you should re-read the thread in case you have missed that. So, I get a little ticked off when you say:

    In essence, even without the influx of new money Hippie says would solve the problems

    …since I of course never said that new money would solve the problem. I said it would be PART of the solution. I most definitely DO NOT believe that it is the whole solution. In fact, I believe that money alone WILL NOT solve the problem.

    I got up this morning with thoughts of sharing some very un-liberal ideas, but why bother because people will only hear what they expect me to say anyway….


    Here is another thing that has changed in the last 50 years: Mainstreaming. When I was a kid, children with mental disabilities were shuffled off to an institution and never seen in a regular classroom (or even in public, for that matter) – even kids with something as mild as Down Syndrome. Now, by law, these kids are mainstreamed into regular classrooms.


    But – I don’t think mainstreaming is always the correct approach. Mainstreaming comes at a cost. Putting a severely behaviorally-disordered child into a regular classroom will, if not done properly, disrupt the learning experience for all of the children and pulls teaching resources away from other students. These students are essentially ignored, because they don’t need special help to just get by – but that also means they don’t get that extra nudge they might need to thrive.

    I don’t know what the answer is – but this is something else that has changed over the last 50 years.

    There – that was a decidedly non-liberal thing of me to say. However, I assume what people will remember from this post is “hippie just wants to throw money at the problem….” – even though I never said that….

    — hp

  24. DR said: Hippieprof, at first I thought you were being funny when I read this:

    Actually, I was being funny – or perhaps ironic is the better word. Unless you had some amazing epiphany, your teaching style probably didn’t change when you changed school districts – so I was pointing out that we need to do something about those “18 percent” districts because even good teachers don’t do very well there.

    I was also (indirectly) making fun of Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” – which would punish those “18 percent” schools for not meeting goals. I assume you agree that “No Child Left Behind” is a really poor solution for those poor school districts?

    People are correct about parental involvement. How do you get parents involved in an environment where education is not valued and where the parents are products of the same poor educational system the children are in? How do you fight a community perception that education doesn’t matter because you aren’t getting out of here alive anyway?

    Where parents are not involved I think it requires someone to stand up for these kids in the parent’s place – be it an aunt or uncle or grandmother or minister or community organizer or big brother/big sister or a rich philanthropist OR EVEN A GOVERNMENT SOCIAL WORKER.

    DR – you have apparently worked in such an environment – how DO you foster the type of support network necessary for these kids to thrive – if parents are failing them?

  25. And who was it that pushed for the “mainstreaming?” Libs…

    So at the expense of the poor performer or mentally deficient, everyone gets to suffer and share the pain.

    And that is completely analogous to your version of “sharing the wealth.”

    And though you don’t recognize it, you have touched on the two main reasons Obama is failure, liberalism is a failure, and both will always be a failure.

    I’m not putting words in your mouth. You said neither for or against what I just referenced. I that was my point – you dodge the pink elephant in the living room. 😉

    P.S. to Rabbit – I don’t think people are less educated than 50 years ago – I know they are less educated than 50 years ago. My “public school” was teach us geometry and trigonometry in the 4th grade – math skills and science skills have both dropped dramatically. In addition, board scores for medical school have dropped the last 15 years. That ought to tell us something.

  26. Tex said: And who was it that pushed for the “mainstreaming?” Libs…

    Tex, perhaps you are not putting words in my mouth – instead you are just deliberately misinterpreting me.

    Obviously I know that mainstreaming was a liberal proposition. Didn’t you get that I was criticizing it? To reiterate, I said that though I believe in the goals of mainstreaming, and though I believe that it has accomplished some good things, I also believe it has come at a cost and that in some cases that cost is not justified.

    Actually, I would love to hear BiW’s thoughts on mainstreaming – he probably has more experience in that regard than any of us.

  27. Rabbit, you might find yourself in agreement with me a lot more often if you weren’t such a damned ideologue on most topics.

    You have first-hand experience with education and schools. You see real-life consequences of ideological nonsense.

    Your karma ran over your dogma.

  28. My karma and my dogma are in tandem like Alan Trammel and Lou Whitaker.

    Take NCLB. Classic case of government intervention raping the tax payer for billions.

  29. 3 of my classes are “team taught” with a special education teacher. (Who is also the football coach…so at least we get along.)

    We are able to do a pretty god job when it comes to disruptions. But make no mistake about it, if I was going to pick a classroom for my kid, it wouldn’t be the one with 14 special ed kids jammed into it. Tex is correct on the mainstreaming.

    I had a little smart ass kid, an A student, tell me that his Mom says that he can’t help disrupting the class because of his ADHD.

    ADHD is a badge of honor and an excuse given out to millions of jack asses.

    It would be nothing more then an annoyance if Big Nanny didn’t put a tax payer price tag of hundreds of thousands of dollars for each kid get that gets a shrink to write out a label.

    Of course the trial lawyers circle like vultures around each label, too.

    You should see the special treatment these kids get because of so called ADHD.

    Almost everyone of them don’t have to turn in homework like the other kids.

    I’ve seen them get out of drug charges, assaults.

    God help us when this new set of “disabled” victims who have been told they don’t have to be responsible for even the most basic manners hit the work world.

    Thank you, Libs.

  30. By the way, mainstreaming is getting more intense every year. I get autistic kids now who literally crawl under their desks and start rocking. it’s a little distracting, to say the least.

    I feel for them, and it’s actually cool to see them fight through their legitimate disability, but I will be damned if 80% of our energy isn’t directed towards them.

    I had one autistic kid who loved to grab unsuspecting female students’ tits.

    I take my eye off of him for a second and I could be sued.

    That’s the liberal model of education.

    Last year, 6 teachers got called in the office and told that they would be required to insert an anal suppository on a kid if a certain emergency that I can’t recall manifested itself.

    And you guys want my union to disappear?

  31. Actually, I would love to hear BiW’s thoughts on mainstreaming – he probably has more experience in that regard than any of us.

    No, actually, I have more experience. In fact the only one here with first hand, first person experience.

    More later. 🙂

  32. Mainstreaming definitely isn’t a good idea in every case. Probably it’s a good idea in a minority of cases. Kids tend sometimes to live down to low expectations if they are designated early on as “short bus” kids and not encouraged to just be “normal.” Mainstreaming is an especially bad idea for habitually disruptive kids. It isn’t fair to the other kids to have to put up with disruptions in the classroom.

    I think that a lot of this extensive “mainstreaming” is nothing but a slogan or euphemism. Too often it’s a cop-out by the educational establishment to keep from being required to give kids with special needs the special education that they ought to have. But the blame for that really belongs to politicians, who don’t provide enough resources for special ed. Or for regular education, for that matter. Ultimately that’s the fault of voters.

    Rabbit, there you go again. I believe that I’m much more of a liberal than the average bear, and I don’t recognize anything “liberal” in what you complain about so bitterly. Your anger is badly misdirected.

  33. “R”,

    You’re not mainstream (in more ways that one). 🙂 I’m not talking physical disabilities.

    Here’s another reason for public education administration loving “mainstream” – money.

    I know, my baby sister teaches the supposed “slow learners” and the school receives additional funding per student. And more often than not, the problem is worthless parents, most of them drug heads, or shacked up.

  34. Rabbit said That’s the liberal model of education…. Thank you, Libs.

    and later….

    And you guys want my union to disappear?

    So – Rabbit – are you going to thank libs for your union – since it is generally conservatives who want to get rid of it?

  35. Hippie, your profoundly sensitive. I’m not criticize you in particular; I’m criticizing libs in general for screwing up education.

    You’re actually pretty reasonable in your assessment besides the trojan horse and lib mantra of needing “more money.” Bullshit, we’ve got more than enough data to show there is no correlation in K-12 education and funding per student.

    You need better parents and authority to blister a kid’s ass when they get out of line without threat or litigation.

  36. Hmmm…. I have been thinking about this a bit more….

    My memory is that the mainstreaming laws – when first proposed – were based on the concept of “least restrictive environment” – meaning that a child should be placed in a setting in which he/she could function with the fewest restrictions. Drugged up in a locked mental ward would be at one end of that continuum, while being placed in a normal classroom would be at the other end.

    It strikes me that many of the cases DR is describing – and indeed many of the horror stories you hear about – involve placement of kids in environments with too few restrictions. If that is the case, the problem isn’t so much with the law but with the application of the concept of “least restriction.”

    Of course, it doesn’t help when there are lawyers ready to sue you if you place a child in a more restrictive environment than the parent wants.


  37. “So – Rabbit – are you going to thank libs for your union – since it is generally conservatives who want to get rid of it?”

    When I say union, I mean exactly that. My local, district wide union.

    Those Associations, like the NEA, are nothing more then a bunch of gangsters and political operatives of the Democratic Party that funnel money from our pay checks (not the Rabbit’s) in order to prop up corrupt Nanny state politicians who want the government breathing down our necks in all facets of life. They do far more damage to us and embarrass the hell out of me.

    Hippie, many of those insanely disruptive kids do, in fact, get a better education in a normal classroom.

    That “least restrictive” part is all about them, it says nothing about the other kids who suffer due to their presence.

  38. I don’t see organized labor out of step with conservative thought.

    Labor is commodity, and freedom of assembly a constitutional right.

    I never understand conservative bitching about unionized labor. Fire ‘um and hire scabs! It’s a free country.

    If it makes economic sense to stick with unionized labor, then pay the wages. And move on with life.

  39. “And more often than not, the problem is worthless parents, most of them drug heads, or shacked up.”-Tex Taylor

    That is so true.

  40. Hippie @ 20: Never took gen psych. Visiting jazz clinics with David Baker. I’ve spent time at alot of schools, but particularly liked the vibe in Bloomington.

    G-chin says, “I don’t believe that advocates of vouchers, charter schools and other “conservative” solutions to the perceived problems in education have clean hands. These solutions spring from anti-government ideologues, from those looking for taxpayer support of their religious schools, and from those who would move the questionable for-profit college model down to the lower grades. And most of the benefits of these kinds of programs would go to kids who are already advantaged – having won the lottery and received education-minded parents.”

    That’s nonsense. Where does the observation come from?

  41. That’s nonsense. Where does the observation come from?

    Same place every other fallacious observation Mr. Pragmatic makes – irreligious humanism and pagan Lib philosophy of Obama altar worship.

    You can thank men like Mr. Pragmatic for being a huge part of the problem of public education.

  42. Interestingly, when I think of “mainstreaming” the very first thing I think of are physically disabled children. The notion of mentally challenged children being taught in the same classroom with children of “normal” mental faculties is new to me. I did not know that even went on.

    I went to first grade in 1967. At that time, progressive social policy was to put disabled children in a “special unit” in an otherwise “normal” elementary school. The extent to which we were mainstreamed was the occasional shared assembly with all the other kids. In the fifth grade I ran for and won President of the student government. One of the first things I requested was for the disabled kids to be allowed to play outside where the non-disabled kids played. They did it once just to shut me up. Like a typical elementary school, fifth grade was the top grade …. except for the disabled kids who stayed through 8th grade. My parents weren’t having that and pulled me out. I attended sixth through eighth grade in a private school fully mainstreamed with non-disabled students. I then went to public high school. Interestingly, when we registered for the high school, the school counselor assumed I was going into the vocational classes. Thank goodness for my late mother who made it clear I was to be placed in the college bound track.

    Anyway, to make a long story short, when I saw the reference to mainstreaming, I immediately thought back to my experience. While I feel like I’m being a “disabled snob”, I don’t understand the notion of schooling mentally retarded children with “normal” children. While there needs to be some opportunity for exposure to “normal” environments, when it comes to teaching a curriculum, I don’t see how you can serve the needs of the challenged and unchallenged at the same time.

    Emotionally disturbed children add a whole different wrinkle to the equation.

    I don’t have an easy answer here. Ostracizing people because they are different is dangerous yet at the same time, the needs of all must be considered. As I said at the outset, I am very surprised to learn that mentally retarded children are being taught alongside others. I don’t see how that is plausible. However, mainstreaming physically disabled children is a must from my perspective. Maybe I am applying an unfair double standard. I am definitely conflicted.

  43. I doubt you were disruptive in the classroom….

    Well not unless you count my endless chatting with Christine Mortati on whom I had a ten ton crush (yes I was horny even in the first grade). I was put “in the corner” more than once for my big mouth. 🙂

  44. I had one autistic kid who loved to grab unsuspecting female students’ tits.

    Well this is something else that I wonder about and I hate to sound cold about it but how many kids labeled with autism, ADHD, etc,. were simply assh*les back in the day? How many kids who are being slapped with diagnostic labels just need a good kick in the ass and a pair of parents who aren’t drinking themselves silly and spending more time at the country club than they are parenting?

    I would never be so ignorant as to say autism doesn’t exist. I would never say ADHD is a total fraud. But I get the funny feeling (particularly with ADHD) that it’s become a convenient way to deal with little assh*les.

  45. ADHD is a badge of honor and an excuse given out to millions of jack asses.

    Sorry Rabbit … I hadn’t seen this comment before I wrote #50. Thank you … as I suspected.

  46. I don’t believe that advocates of vouchers, charter schools and other “conservative” solutions to the perceived problems in education have clean hands.

    Gray, I don’t know enough about charter schools to give you a huge argument but Geoffrey Canada seems anything but conservative. He runs three charter schools in Harlem as part of a bigger system that provides support from birth through high school with the intention of getting these kids into college. I don’t have sufficient data to label charter schools a conservative solution.

  47. But the kid who has the greatest chance to receive a quality education is the kid who was born into a family with great parents who care about his or her education.

    That’s kind of a lottery too, isn’t it?

    Absolutely! Life is a friggin’ lottery. It just hurts to acknowledge it sometimes.

  48. Wife, kid and I visited my 82 year old Dad today. He spent about 27 years teaching in the inner city (Bedford Stuyvesant to be exact).

    He made an interesting remark today. He said you can’t change schools in “the hood” until you change “the hood”. “How do you teach a kid whose breakfast was a pickle he picked up from the corner deli on the way to school?” The dysfunction of the inner city stacks the deck against these kids enormously, My Dad said he thinks the best possible solution is to eliminate neighborhood schools and instead create “teaching farms” where all kids are bussed outside their neighborhoods to a neutral environment where they can focus on learning.

    Interesting idea … expensive idea … one I would guess Tex and others would not want to fund. 😉

  49. “R”,

    I disagree with your father, because it gets back to “sharing the pain” mentality. In other words, you can take a kid out of the hood, but you can’t take the hood out of the kid by busing him or her to a different locale.

    We tried that at my lily white high school and it was an abject disaster. Immediately the black kids resented it, the white kids were terrified (most, as I duked it out with ‘Popcorn’ about the second day in gym class where he threatened to kill me and I threatened to run him over in the parking lot), and everyone involved thought it a disaster.

    Change the hood…I am sympathetic to the children of the hood, even to ‘Popcorn’, as I recognize life is not fair. But the sins of the hood’s worthless parents should penalize all of society.

  50. Rutherford said: I would never be so ignorant as to say autism doesn’t exist. I would never say ADHD is a total fraud. But I get the funny feeling (particularly with ADHD) that it’s become a convenient way to deal with little assh*les.

    This is so true. Remember the nerdiest kid in the school when you grew up – the really really super nerdy kid? Today, that kid would be labeled as Asperger’s Syndrome (i.e., high functioning autism). We hava managed to pathologize nerdiness.

  51. Tex said: But the sins of the hood’s worthless parents should penalize all of society.

    Tex – I assume you meant to say “shouldn’t” rather than “should.” – at least that would be consistent with the philosophy you generally espouse.

    Lets leave “should” and “shouldn’t” out of it. The sad fact is that, like it or not, stuff that goes on in the “hood” does effect society in general. Just start with crime, and go down the list of social problems associated with poverty – social problems that all of us have to deal with as a society – perhaps with the exception of those few who can isolate themselves in gated communities.

  52. Hippie,

    I think dementia has set it. I’ve noticed more often than not lately, missing a key word here and there, I can state exactly the opposite of what I meant. 🙂 And much of that is do to laziness and comfortability with the audience, who already know where I stand.

    Yes, thank you for catching that for me. You’ll probably have to do that at least three more times today.

    You are right what goes on in the hood does affect society in general. But that doesn’t mean it has to affect our children. One reason good parents pulled their children, thereby weakening the school district be their absence, is because supposed do gooders (which I don’t believe) have insisted on integration which has been in all but a few cases an unmitigated disaster.

  53. Rutherford,

    You’ll be tickled to know, and I’ll let my defenses down for a minute at the risk of ridicule, that I was diagnosed with ADD during medical school. They wanted to put me on Adderall – I said why?

    They suggested it would help me with my studies after I bombed an Anatomy test – though I generally ranked in the middle of the class during testing, that is the end result of taking a medical school exam for all intents and purposes cold.

    I told them “I’ve seen several of your students that you’ve put on Adderall and don’t like what I see. Their test scores may increase, but they walk around here like zombies and have sour attitudes. I’ve watched one gal have a complete personality change, and not for the better. Thanks, but no thanks – I’ll either change my study habits and get more interested, or walk. And right now, I’m leaning towards the latter, because frankly medical school has been a disappointment.”

    The doctor about soiled his drawers. 😡

    One gal in the program bragged that she was able to study 16 straight hours without interruption (or eating). I told her not only did I not consider that normal behavior, but destructive behavior. And naturally, she got pissed because her sole focus was improving her test scores. I asked her, “What good does it do to become a doctor and lose both the health and your soul in the process?”

    I tell you that because I agree with you completely. This pill popping for the simple solution has become a convenient excuse to not enforce personal discipline. I have often wondered what we are doing to these children they place on Ritalin – complete zombies.

  54. My brother told me Adderall is like steroids for the student. He bragged about being able to study like that and convinced my other brother to take it during the CFA Exam.

    Well, my other brother reluctantly popped a couple and subsequently freaked out during the thousand dollar plus exam. He failed it, got into his car, and drove across town to kick a certain somebody’s ass.

    He retook the test the next year and passed.

  55. I do this work out regiment that is geared towards strength. We call it 5,5 and 5. If you can complete 5 reps, 3 times on the bench you go up 5 pounds the next work out.

    I think the reason this work out is so successful is that it turns weight lifting into a bit of a sport. It’s kind of a big deal to “graduate”.

    Well, today I was just about to get past 240 pounds (in my hey day I was on 275). And the bench buckled. The metal just twisted up like a cheap folding chair. I began to sink with the bar slowly going forward and down on my Adam’s apple. My yuppie friend was forced to practically curl the weight, sacrificing all he had in his lower back.

    Not cool!

    Ok…kind of cool.

    Yes cool. I do so much weight I bend the bench. ARRRrrrRRRRRRRrrrr!

  56. I’m of the philosophy, avoid personality changing drugs at all costs. The only exception I readily see is for suicide prevention. But then I’m sure lots of parents would tell me the good it’s done for their kids.

    P.S. to Rabbit … what are you trying to do, follow up your kid’s broken leg with your own decapitation? Maybe once you hit 40 you’ll figure out it’s better to grow old a wimp than die young bench pressing. 😉

  57. I’ll watch the rest of the video a bit later … I started it and I’m already chuckling. The worst that can be said about libs is they’re sloppy? 🙂

    By the way …. all pause for a moment of praise. Today is Rutherford B. Hayes’ birthday.


  58. At the chance of picking at a scab…an excellent description all the way back to 1985 of Islam, and an apt description of its enablers here in America, some who frequent this board:

    [T]he renowned Oxford historian J.M. Roberts wrote in 1985: “Although we carelessly speak of Islam as a ‘religion’; that word carries many overtones of the special history of western Europe. The Muslim is primarily a member of a community, the follower of a certain way, an adherent to a system of law, rather than someone holding particular theological views.” The Flemish Professor Urbain Vermeulen, the former president of the European Union of Arabists and Islamicists, too, points out that “Islam is primarily a legal system, a law,” rather than a religion. …

    These are not just statements by opponents of Islam. Islamic scholars say the same thing. … Abul Ala Maududi, the influential 20th century Pakistani Islamic thinker, wrote – I quote, emphasizing that these are not my words but those of a leading Islamic scholar – “Islam is not merely a religious creed [but] a revolutionary ideology and jihad refers to that revolutionary struggle … to destroy all states and governments anywhere on the face of the earth, which are opposed to the ideology and program of Islam.” …

    After Muhammad’s death, based upon his words and deeds, Islam developed Sharia, an elaborate legal system which justified the repressive governance of the world by divine right – including rules for jihad and for the absolute control of believers and non-believers. Sharia is the law of Saudi Arabia and Iran, among other Islamic states. It is also central to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which in article 24 of its Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam, proclaims that “all rights and freedoms are subject to the Islamic Sharia.” The OIC is not a religious institution; it is a political body. It constitutes the largest voting block in the United Nations and writes reports on so-called “Islamophobia” in Western Countries which accuse us of human rights violations. To speak in biblical terms: They look for a speck in our eye, but deny the beam in their own.

    Under Sharia law people in the conquered territories have no legal rights, not even the right to life and to own property, unless they convert to Islam. …

    Politicians from almost all establishment [parties] today are facilitating Islamization. They are cheering for every new Islamic school, Islamic bank, Islamic court. They regard Islam as being equal to our own culture. Islam or freedom? It does not really matter to them. But it does matter to us. The entire establisment elite – universities, churches, trade unions, the media, politicians – are putting our hard-earned liberties at risk. They talk about equality, but amazingly fail to see how in Islam women have fewer rights than men and infidels have fewer rights than adherents of Islam. …

  59. Following on Tex’s comment, if any of you get bored to death sometime today, pop over to the RL Show tab at top of the page and click the play button on the player. After the unwanted commercial, once the show starts click on the progress meter just above the RSS symbol and you’ll jump to an interesting part of the show where “Oscar” from Great Britain calls in to tell me how Muslims are going to lop my head off.

    You might find it quite entertaining. I had to virtually hold Sandi back from killing the guy. 🙂

  60. Once in a blue moon, I’ll frequent Mr. Pragmatics lame blog to check and see if traffic has ever picked up – as expected, it hasn’t. Surprise, surprise, it’s still Yeller Dawg and the lumberjack. 😈

    But the pragmatic one did have one interesting link, and it was that so-called religious test (by CNN, I think) that Hippie referenced last week. Graychin, of course, was tickled that Evangelical Christians had rated so poorly, while atheists were number one. So I went to see what all the hub bub was about. Read like a hoax to me.

    This test was so laughingly easy, I could have passed it in the fifth grade. There were no difficult questions, and I know few Evangelicals that couldn’t have scored 10 out of 10.

    Until tonight, I had never understood how Graychin could think Evangelicals stupid when my old church had all kinds of doctors, lawyers, engineers, CPAs and any other professions.

    Then it dawned on me who the source was and it all made sense – the people Graychin are familiar with are white trash (like him). No wonder he believes Christians stupid. Perhaps that is part of Graychin’s misperception – he runs with an incredibly dumb crowd.

    For once, I actually felt I had read something useful at the Two Useful Idiots blog. 🙂

  61. “R”,

    Rutherford, here is a perfect example of why not only do I find your judgment flawed concerning religion, but I find your bias retching and revolting. It is your largest character flaw IMO – a glaring one. Oscar has lived it and was correct. You simply don’t get it.

    I assume that when I call you an agnostic, I am accurate. And I have to assume and I think fairly so, that being an agnostic, you would then judge a “religion” by its works, for good and for bad? You have called all religion “bat shit crazy” and I certainly don’t begrudge you your unfounded opinions.

    So I have a simple question for you and your blog host.

    I have now heard you say or read at least three times that Franklin Graham is a fraud, a jerk, a fundamentalist (whatever that means). And yet, his organization with respect to humanitarian needs without discretion, including Islam, far exceed anything that you can compare from anybody or any entity of your irreligious persuasion. I know this is asking much, but do you think there will ever come a time upon personal reflection how incredibly hypocritical and duplicitous you are?

    Do you have any idea what Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse does? Because you can’t be this ignorant without making a profound attempt to be so.

    What you are condemning Franklin Graham for is exactly the message that Jesus left, which I can easily prove without dispute with anybody half way honest. Why aren’t you simply condemning the message and Christ when Franklin Graham is simply doing as instructed?

    One other request. Can you please answer Christine O’Donnell’s question concerning monkeys, because I’m betting you can’t, even when you were laughing at her.

  62. Tex, one of the things I love about you is your utter idleness. I knew if anyone here would be sufficiently bored to go listen to the RL Show it would be you. I am truly grateful since by listening you increased my audience by 50%. 😉

    I really don’t like the term agnostic in its religious use cos it sounds so damn wishy washy.

    The jury is still out for me on whether all the good achieved by organized religion could have been achieved without it. As for the harm that has been done … it has been uniquely fueled by delusions of divinely inspired moral superiority. Very very dangerous … uniquely religious … and perhaps not worth the cost.

  63. Hippie, I am #1! 🙂

    Or rated myself as a number one, thereby explain why you and I are diametrically opposed to anything of substance.

    It’s really pretty easy for us both to determine how we arrive at our basic tenets, hey?

  64. Rutherford,

    I am ashamed that I am so idle – kind of. Today, I am refinishing or refurbishing (take your pick) a coffee table that my youngest daughter outlined the polyurethane finish with her toes and her finger nail polish remover. She needs her buttocks blistered, but I’m afraid at almost 20 I had to stop with having visions of pulling her hair out at the roots. See what you’ve got to look forward to?

    And here I had promised myself that I would go seek employment on October 1st. I lied. 😡

  65. My good buddy “R”. I think you are delusional.

    The jury is still out for me on whether all the good achieved by organized religion could have been achieved without it. As for the harm that has been done … it has been uniquely fueled by delusions of divinely inspired moral superiority. Very very dangerous … uniquely religious … and perhaps not worth the cost.

    I wish we lived closer. I would hand deliver a video I have of what earth would have been like had Christ not been born. And I think you would be very, very stunned at what the world might look like without Christ. It documents well what has been done in Christ’s name and His mission. You might find your world bleak indeed without Him, even if you do take so much for granted.

    That’s why I look at guys like Gorilla and thank my lucky stars that he’s on my side.

    John Lennon (and you) are both wrong.

  66. I am reminded of the old CSN song “Cathedral”

    Open up the gates of the church and let me out of here!
    Too many people have lied in the name of Christ
    For anyone to heed the call.
    So many people have died in the name of Christ
    That I can’t believe it all.

  67. Ironic Hippie you would name CSN as your example. They were the very musicians I thought of of when I examined how lost the souls of most old 60s rock and rollers were. The ones that haven’t overdosed or committed suicide, that is. Yes indeed, how wonderful is your Woodstock era. 🙂

    Musicians that have forgotten the greatest music of all time was in large part inspired by Christ and His Church. Beethoven, Handel, Mozart, and the beautiful Christmas hymns like Silent Night. Amazing Grace, and the like Talent? No comparison.

    When I consider the talents of CSN say vs. something like this, I remained assured in my conviction. You follow David Crosby into greener pastures Hippie…

  68. I only read a few of the comments and I will come out early with an apology if my additions are a rehash of something I may have missed.
    Charter schools are public schools. It infuriates me to no end when people try to paint them as otherwise.

    My children “won” the lottery and attend the regional charter school. My town although currently experiencing the typical budget woes is the stereotypical white bread well funded type and there are plenty who wonder why I pursued the charter lottery. Curriculum and diversity and teachers who actually want to teach and kids whose parents actually want their kids in a school.

    Theres the rub. Infrastructure wise my kids school is more akin to my Boston Public School post Tregor days and what money they have,per student is on par with the neighboring districts,they use far more wisely than the traditional govt. schools.

  69. Tex – I am not foreigner to Classical music. I love the Messiah, and have in fact sung in the chorus for a production.

    Yes – lots of classical music is spiritual. That is not unexpected given the times.

    Of course, lots of classical music was NOT spiritual. I offer Carmina Burana….

  70. Yes, but that was not your original argument, and in fact Carmina Burana is still based on the church – in this case, satire. It’s certainly not atheistic. The satire is based on the fallibility of man; not God. Even in your mockery, you still note that the message is about ‘religion.’ You can not get away from the importance of it, again explaining why you and I are diametrically opposed in anything of significance because men like you and Rutherford attempt to minimize it – but you couldn’t escape it if you wanted to. 😉

    Add to the fact for every satire you produce considered a classic, I’ll bet without much effort and I can list ten that glorify the Glory of God.

    I need go no further than Christmas hymns. Would you care to wager what is more common knowledge – Carmina Burana or

    A Gift for All
    Angels We Have Heard on High
    Away in Manger
    Beautiful Star of Bethlehem
    Born is the Light of the World
    Caroling Bells
    Christ was Born on Christmas Day
    Coventry Carol
    Do You Hear What I Hear
    First Noel
    Go Tell It On The Mountain
    Good Christian Men, Rejoice
    Hallelujah Chorus
    Hark the Herald Angels Sing
    I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
    Infant Holy, Infant Lowly
    It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
    Jesu Joy
    Joy to The World
    Little Drummer Boy
    Love Came Down at Christmas
    Mary, Did You Know?
    No Room in The Inn
    O Come, O Come Emmanuel
    O Holy Night
    Ode to Joy
    O Little Town of Bethlehem
    Oh Come All Ye Faithful
    Peace is Born on Earth
    Shepherd Boy
    Silent Night
    Star of the East
    That Night in Bethlehem
    The Angel Gabriel
    The Birthday of A King
    The First Christmas Song
    The Gift
    The Holy City
    The King is Coming
    The Night that Christ was Born
    There’s a Song in The Air
    There is Room in The Stable
    Unto Us a Child is Born
    We Three Kings
    What Child is This?
    While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night
    Wondrous Child

    Shall we put the popularity and familiarity of the classics to the test? You’ll note that’s just day 1 and I haven’t mentioned anything yet of say this?

  71. Tex, I am not going to argue with you that much of classical music is sacred – that would be a silly argument. I merely mentioned Carmina Burana because it is a large-scale chorale work that is not particularly sacred. I would have difficulty coming up with a second off the top of my head – though I would opine that the chorale movement of Beethoven’s 9th is not particularly sacred.

    Now, if we consider other sub-genres sacred music doesn’t dominate to nearly the extent it does in chorale music. Take opera, for example. Handel did write some sacred operas – but most of the great operas are decidedly non-religious.

  72. I’m not say all music is religious – much of the great music isn’t. I like Phantom of the Opera, but I can find no religious undertones.

    The point I was making Hippie is that I find it ironic that a bunch of washed out, overrated drug heads mock religion at every turn, without ever giving thought to much of the history and geography of music, even the musical instruments that some flunky like David Crosby plays, have their origins in religion.

    Had you ever read the personal history of CSN & Y? Talk about a bunch of dysfunctional bunch of folks…

  73. This converation reminds me of the exchange about music between the demon Crawly and the angel Aziraphale in the Prachett/Gaiman book Good Omens

    “…how many musicans do you think your side have got, eh? First grade, I mean.”

    Aziraphale looked taken aback. “Well, I should think–” he began.

    “Two,” said Crowley. “Elgar and Liszt. That’s all. We’ve got the rest. Beethoven, Brahams, all the Bachs, Mozart, the lot. Can you imagine eternity with Elgar?”

  74. LOL Hippie, I’m a cross between a five and a six also. I’d have to say the following is my best description:

    “I do not know whether God exists and I live my life under the assumption that he is not there.”


  75. Alfie, thanks for the perspective. I am definitely NOT dissing charter schools. And yes, I know they’re public. Michelle Rhee has the same fury you do about the confusion in that area (she says so in one of the videos I point you to in the article).

    Thanks again for the POV as someone on the front lines of the issue.

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