Education

"The Gift of Reading"

Evidence for the even-a-broken-clock-is-right-twice-a-day wisecrack: Frank Bruni, generally dopey columnist in The New York Times, elegantly urges people to give children books.

Reading tugs them outside of themselves, connecting them to a wider world and filling it with wonder. It’s more than fundamental. It’s transformative.

(In addition to the charity Mr. Bruni mentions, I'd also recommend DonorsChoose.org.)


"A Good Start on Schools"

Encouraging.

The Every Child Achieves Act would help to get the federal government out of the education-micromanagement business. Our ideal policy would go even further in this direction, but it’s a good start: The federal government would maintain performance standards, but offer more ways for schools to meet them than the current regimen of tests. It would also eliminate the rigid “adequate yearly progress” requirement, which haunts teachers and administrators, along with the “highly qualified teacher” provision, which keeps competent teachers out of the classroom for a lack of proper licensing. Perhaps most important, while states will still be required to identify low-performing schools, how they get those schools up to snuff will be up to them and the school districts, not to Washington.


"Narrowing the Charter-Enrollment Gap"

Marcus A. Winters:

Charter-school students are less likely to be eligible for free/reduced-price lunches, to speak English as a second language (ESL), or to have a disability than are students in surrounding district schools. I use student enrollment data to examine why this is so: contrary to conventional wisdom, such differences in student populations have little to do with disadvantaged students being more likely to leave charters than traditional public schools; instead, they are a product of disadvantaged students being less likely to apply to—and enroll—in charters. How might policymakers narrow this enrollment gap? 


"Microaggression, Meet Ralph Waldo Emerson"

Eliot A. Cohen, who was an Assistant Dean at Harvard and is now the Robert E. Osgood Professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, posted an essay that should make administrators in Higher Education think.

The problem has gotten worse since 1982, as American universities, with honorable exceptions (my current university among them) have become mono-cultural colonies of political and social belief. It is exacerbated by the proliferation of assistant deans, a category of administrator famously characterized as “mice studying to become rats,” whose portfolio is tending to the fragile egos of the students who, supposedly, will one day captain industry, media, and government. The administrators’ more insidious job is monitoring faculty behavior—which at Harvard in 2013 disgracefully included surreptitiously sniffing through Senior Tutors’ emails.

Harvard and Yale are the products of Old New England, which has something to teach in this regard. In 1692 a witch craze swept Salem, Massachusetts, triggered in part by hysterical children, fed by stern divines who sincerely believed in witchcraft, and permitted by a community too terrorized to stand up for due process, let alone prevent hangings and, in one case, the crushing of an innocent man to death by heavy stones because he refused to confess to an absurd, imaginary crime. There is something not entirely different going on today. Appoint assistant deans to take charge of witch hunting, and they will uncover horrifying stories of naked women flying on brooms at midnight and performing obscene acts with the goat devil Baphomet. Thought police will always find thoughts that require policing, and report dolefully that the problem of malign cogitation is even more pervasive than they had suspected. When one rewards, or merely fails to oppose, a culture of reckless incrimination and denunciation, the craze, and the persecution, will persist.


And the last word on the recent student protests goes to . . .

Charles C. W. Cooke, for his truly excellent "Hamilton College Students’ List of Demands Doesn’t Go Nearly Far Enough". Sample:

In the wake of the new set of demands that were issued yesterday by our comrades over at Hamilton College, we at Academical College feel emboldened to offer a few appeals of our own. Herewith, a few requests that aim to address the immediate problems facing our school:

. . . 

13. The immediate appointment of a Dean of Diversity.

14. The immediate firing of the Dean of Diversity, on the grounds that his/her/xy/wirry/grub title derives from the Roman word “decānus.” The Romans were a slave-owning people.

Related, and a close second, "Educayshun,"a seven-minute video that's a little too close to the truth for comfort

UPDATE: link fixed now. Thanks, Elliott!