Sunday, September 12, 2010

A great speech

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie does it again. I almost felt sorry (almost) for Marie Corfield, an elementary school teacher who stood up at a question-and-answer session with the governor and demanded to know how his reforms would help teachers since his budget cuts had resulted in so many lay-offs among the selfless pedagogues that populate New Jersey’s public schools. “We have some of the best schools in the country,” quoth la Corfield, “and you have done nothing but lambaste us.”

Pardon us while we dab away the tears.

When the governor began to respond, Ms. Corfield rolled her eyes and acted like one of her pupils taunting a classmate. That was when Gov. Christie delivered one of his classic put-downs. “If you want to put on a show then just sit down. But if you want to have a respectful discussion then let me answer your question.”

Yikes. That alone was worth the price of admission but what followed is a script that anyone who cares about the tsunami of public debt that is poised to wash over America should hearken to carefully. Christie didn’t “lambaste” teachers, he said, he lambasted the teachers’ union, especially its leaders. Why were so many teachers laid off in New Jersey? Because when the governor called upon teachers to take a one-year pay freeze and contribute 1.5% — one-and a half percent! — of their salaries to the cost of their health care (full-family medical, dental, and vision coverage, by the way), the union leaders said: “No way. Not a penny.” Result: nearly a billion-dollar shortfall in the budget, which necessitated scads of layoffs. (Had Gov. Christie’s proposal been accepted, the state would have saved more than $700,000,000.) “So who’s really to blame?” he asked: the governor or the intransigent teachers unions?

“We have to get realistic about telling people the truth,” Christie said, a sentiment that is gaining currency all across the country — not, of course, among the political class that actually governs us: no, Christie is a rare exception in that cohort, but among the vast majority of ordinary American that imperative is more and more the order of the day.

Here’s the clip. Do watch to the end. The governor’s response when Ms Corfield comes back to complain about his “tone” is not to be missed. (Remember when a union official sent around an email suggesting people pray for the governor’s death?)


Academic psychopaths

("Sociopath" is the euphemism for "psychopath". It's very misleading. They are usually very skilled socially. It's their mentation that is defective: Lack of empathy, lack of foresight, indifference to suffering in others, feelings of personal grandiosity etc.)

It was 9/11 that finally convinced me that those who rule the academy are sociopaths.

When around 2:00 p.m. I finally pulled away from revising and checked my email, I learned that the University of Georgia had sent everybody home at noon. When I called the campus for a scheduled appointment I was told that we had been attacked.

War, I thought. Pearl Harbor.

But no such thing to my colleagues who immediately flooded the discussion listserv with political analyses about U.S. imperialism and calls for support of some Afghan women’s revolutionary group. A graduate student whose relatives were hurt at the Pentagon pleaded with the radicals to hold off on the political analyses. The predictable missives about the First Amendment flew forth as well as insults directed at the poor woman. A colleague told me about spending an entire class period explaining to freshmen that the Crusades were the reason they “hate us.” Bright yellow announcements of forums on “Understanding Islam” popped up on campus, as they did all over the country.

As Americans jumped to their deaths from burning skyscrapers, the academics, like Ward Churchill, in their ivory towers, began penning analyses of “chickens coming home to roost.”

Others were a little more subtle and presented the event as “spectacle,” as a kind of aesthetic display of the downfall of Western imperialism. The Twin Towers were huge phallic symbols, displays of “masculinist” arrogance.

The privileged professors continue to present the event this way as I learned at the last conference of the South Atlantic Modern Language Association, where “Critical Plenary Speaker” Professor Anne McClintock called the U.S. a “paranoid empire.” To McClintock [PDF], writing from the safety of her own ivory tower in Madison, Wisconsin, “the 9/11 attacks came as a dazzling solution, both to the enemy deficit and the problem of legitimacy. . . .”

Now thanks to a generation groomed to hate America we have voted in an America-hating president. Nine years later, on land where body parts of victims are still being found, we’ve got an imam wanting to build a super mosque funded by terrorist-linked groups. The president supports him.

The free-speech advocates are nowhere to be found to defend a minister who wants to burn Korans in protest.

The yellow posters dotting Park Hall were symbols of what was to come.

We continue to teach about the Holocaust, but fail to mention the large percentage of educated “intellectuals” who ran the show.

So I was intrigued last weekend during the Decatur book festival (where booths for communists and peace-loving Muslims had multiplied) by an author of a book on that topic. He named names, crimes, and academic degrees. But he linked this development to the persecution of “liberals.”

I asked the author if he knew anything about the intellectuals’ reactions to 9/11. He did not. I don’t think it’s a stretch of an analogy to link those in white coats who did practice runs for gassing Jews on handicapped children with the sociopaths who think of Americans leaping to their deaths as an “aesthetic” experience or of fear as being “paranoid.”

The psychological literature shows a link between overindulged children with narcissism and sociopathy later in life. The tenured radicals are aging children whose privilege insulates them from the struggles and realities of everyday life. These are people who do not have to run into burning and exploding buildings.

The reaction to 9/11 could have been predicted. The pampered professors have been acting this way for decades.

They “organize” communities they have no stake in. They call police “pigs” because they don’t need them to stop the drug pushers, thieves, and rapists around them. They inspire riots because they don’t have to live in the ruined neighborhoods. They can favor affirmative action because they’re the ones doing the hiring. They never have to live with the consequences of their own “solutions.”

These are the people who populate the Obama administration. Can anybody else see a historical parallel?


History under threat: British pupils receive just 38 hours of lessons at secondary school

History is 'disappearing' from state secondary schools because head teachers no longer value the subject, a survey has found. Teenagers are receiving as few as 38 history lessons during their entire secondary education as schools downgrade the subject in favour of trendy 'themed' teaching.

Hundreds of schools no longer teach history as a stand alone subject to 11 and 12-year-olds, instead offering 'integrated' topic-based humanities or social science courses, according to research by the Historical Association.

The trend emerged ahead of an expected blueprint from Education Secretary Michael Gove for boosting traditional subjects such as history. He will launch a review of the curriculum later this year with a view to ensuring children leave school with core knowledge, including British and world history.

And he will also flesh out plans for a new English Baccalaureate, which will be awarded to pupils who gain five good GCSEs in English, maths, one science, one humanities subject and one language.

But the Historical Association study, based on returns from 600 teachers, found that heads increasingly fail to see history as worthwhile. One history teacher at a comprehensive said: 'We are disappearing. Integrated humanities is the way our senior management team wants to go, and they see us as awkward, backward obstacles if we suggest subjects like history are valuable in their own right.'

Another warned: 'The history department is feeling that we shall disappear into a mix of 'thinking skills' and 'vocational pathways' which do not seem to recognise the contribution that history can make to developing young learners.'

Growing numbers of secondaries are compressing three years' of history study into just two years, usually during pupils' second year. The practice was uncovered in 10 per cent of secondaries in 2010 - up from five per cent last year.

Since growing numbers of schools are offering generic humanities or social science courses for the first of these two years, some teenagers are receiving just 38 hours of distinct history lessons a year, taught by a specialist. Some 31 per cent of schools - and 55 per cent of flagship academies - merged history with other subjects to form generic humanities courses in 2010. A year earlier, the figure was 28 per cent.

In some schools, children are banned from taking history GCSEs in case they fail and damage the school's league table position.

Dr Richard Harris, the chair of the Historical Association's secondary education committee who led the study, told the Times Educational Supplement: 'The Government must make a decision about what children are entitled to do - we think this should be at least three years of history teaching by a specialist.'


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