Tuesday, February 08, 2005


Further to my post of 31st January regarding the anti-religious thought-police at the Smithsonian and their persecution of Dr. Sternberg, I have received the following interesting email from a reader:

The Smithsonian has NEVER been an unbiased museum. A good example is the blatant attempt to rewrite history and say that Samuel Langley's attempt at powered flight would have been successful.

Langley's first attempt plummeted like a rock into the Potomac almost killing the pilot. At the second attempt the rear wings, (the plane had TWO SETS OF WINGS,) folded up at launch. However, the head of the Smithsonian in 1914 wanted to build up Langley, so had Glen Curtis rebuild the plane (with extensive modifications) and fly it. (Curtis was involved in patent disputes with the Wrights, so would have loved to shoot down the Wright patents.)

It took until 1942 before the Smithsonian admitted to the shenanigans, and 1948 before the Wright flyer was displayed in the museum. (It had been in the British museum till then.)

See here


Abigail Thernstrom spoke with passion to Louisville's School Choice Scholarship group last week about the achievement gap between black and white students. She said Americans should be outraged about the poor achievement of black students and should demand change in the system.

After visiting schools all over the United States, Thernstrom said, while schools may fail for a variety of reasons, all successful schools share certain characteristics that you can spot within a couple of minutes. First, they are clean and orderly. You don't see trash on the floor or graffiti on the walls. Second, they have a great principal who has control of his budget and his personnel. In other words, he gets to decide how the money will be spent in his school; he has control over hiring; and he has the power to get rid of teachers who are not performing to his satisfaction. Third, if a student chooses to be disruptive or not to apply himself as required by the school, the school has the power to show him to the door. "If you don't want to be here, you don't have to be here. There are plenty of other children who would love to take your place."

Thernstrom said one definition of middle class is that people who are in the middle class have the power to choose their child's school, either by moving to the neighborhood from which that school draws its students or by paying tuition to a private school. However, poor people do not have the power to choose their child's school and therefore frequently are trapped in the worst-performing schools.

Thernstrom's book, No Excuses - Closing the Racial Gap in Learning, explores the issue of the racial learning gap in great detail -- shooting down the conventional wisdom about class size, funding, and "resegregation" and describing what needs to be done to solve the problem. Thernstrom is a supporter of vouchers, saying that the money should be strapped to the child's back and should follow him or her to any school the parents choose, as long as the school meets the government's standards.

The teacher's unions are strongly opposed to Thernstrom and to the voucher movement, due to their fear of competition. Many conservatives also oppose the voucher movement, fearing that it gives the government greater influence over private schools and will gradually convert them into government-controlled schools, with all the problems inherent in a government-controlled education system. Privately-funded scholarship programs, such as School Choice Scholarships, currently provide a non-government alternative that has had tremendous success with minority and white low income children. However, these scholarship programs have very limited resources. Some states have instituted tax credits for those who contribute to private scholarship programs, making it easier for resources to be allocated to those very successful programs while substantially reducing the amount of tax money that has to be spent on public schools.

More here


For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

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