Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Daily Top Five: March 1, 2007

1. Michael McBride, writing at, notes that he and his wife are taking his teenage daughter out of public school in favor of homeshooling. Why? He writes:
For a number of years we went along with my daughter’s teachers’ recommendations. We have suffered through the mediocre dissemination of knowledge. We met indifference and incompetence, and worse, apathy and denial. We have encountered scant little passion, and even less competency. In short, it has been pathetic.


Before critiquing me with… “you should talk to the principle,” we have. We have talked to the teachers, the counselor, the principle, etc. and et al. I graced the Athletic Director with a four page complaint about the conditions on the Cheerleading squad, when my daughter and three other girls resigned. I was given a gracious… “we’re working with the coach.” The program is an abject failure at over 50% attrition since March of last year.

To date we have not seen an iota of progress on any issue that we have brought to the attention of the School District. We have not seen any interest in working to resolve even one minor issue…the complex issues are ignored, as are we. We are the parents that the School Districts ask for…involved parents with sound critiques, but our efforts have largely been ignored and the district proudly plows ahead on its crooked row.
As a solution, McBride suggests hiring leaders for principal positions and business managers for superintendants rather than school administrators. He has other advice as well.

2. Besty Newmark links to a story out of the Seattle area in which two teachers prided themselves on the re-education of their students on the evils of private ownerhip.
Working in an elementary school classroom they trace their efforts to tell students that private property ownership is bad by creating a town out of Lego where everyone has to have the same-size house and how valuable it is if the public can have rights to private property. As Martin summarizes their article,
According to the teachers, "Our intention was to promote a contrasting set of values: collectivity, collaboration, resource-sharing, and full democratic participation."

The children were allegedly incorporating into Legotown "their assumptions about ownership and the social power it conveys." These assumptions "mirrored those of a class-based, capitalist society -- a society that we teachers believe to be unjust and oppressive."

They claimed as their role shaping the children's "social and political understandings of ownership and economic equity ... from a perspective of social justice."

So they first explored with the children the issue of ownership. Not all of the students shared the teachers' anathema to private property ownership. "If I buy it, I own it," one child is quoted saying. The teachers then explored with the students concepts of fairness, equity, power, and other issues over a period of several months.

At the end of that time, Legos returned to the classroom after the children agreed to several guiding principles framed by the teachers, including that "All structures are public structures" and "All structures will be standard sizes."
How Orwellian is that lesson? It sounds like something out of Animal Farm but now it's being taught to children as what is optimal rather than to be condemned.

These teachers are so ignorant that they don't realize that the rights to private property are not only the essence of our democratic system as well as the best guarantee for a thriving economy.
I have little else to say but What!!!!!

3. Michelle Malkin has photos from CPAC convention. The guy in the Dolphin suit takes the cake so far. Plus Malkin got her picture with the Incredible Hulk!

4. The FEC has issued a pretty important advisory opinion for the top tier of presidential candidates. Whether this ruling will be the savior of the presidential public funding system or its death knell will remain to be seen.

5. Daniel Henniger has a piece in the Wall Street Journal (via RealClear Politics) that discusses a quiet ceremony held to award the Medal of Honor to Maj. Bruce Crandall, a hero from Vietnam. From the story, note the real questions at the end:
Mr. Crandall, then a major, commanded a company with the 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, carrying soldiers to a landing zone, called X-ray, in the la Drang Valley. An assault from the North Vietnamese army erupted, as described at the White House ceremony Monday. Three soldiers on Maj. Crandall's helicopter were killed. He kept it on the ground while four wounded were taken aboard. Back at base, he asked for a volunteer to return with him to X-ray. Capt. Ed Freeman came forward. Through smoke and bullets, they flew in and out 14 times, spent 14 hours in the air and used three helicopters. They evacuated 70 wounded. The battalion survived.

A Medal of Honor requires eyewitness accounts, and an officer there attested, "Maj. Crandall's actions were without question the most valorous I've observed of any helicopter pilot in Vietnam."

Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, spoke at the ceremony of what he called "the warrior ethos." Look at his words and consider whether they still stand today, or whether as a matter of the nation's broader ethos of commonly accepted beliefs, they are under challenge. Gen. Schoomaker said: "The words of the warrior ethos that we have today--I will always place the mission first; I will never accept defeat; I will never quit; and I will never leave a fallen comrade--were made real that day in the la Drang Valley."

At issue today is the question: Is that ethos worth it, worth the inevitable sacrifice? And not only in Iraq but in whatever may lie beyond Iraq?

The secretary of the Army, Francis Harvey, went on in this vein: "The courage and fortitude of America's soldiers in combat exemplified by these individuals is, without question, the highest level of human behavior. It demonstrates the basic goodness of mankind as well as the inherent kindness and patriotism of American soldiers."

An American soldier in combat demonstrates "the basic goodness of mankind"? And the highest level of human behavior? This was not thought to be true at the moment Maj. Crandall was flying those choppers in Vietnam. Nor is it now.

To embrace the thoughts of Gen. Schoomaker and of Secretary Harvey is to risk being accused of defending notions of American triumphalism and an overly strong martial spirit thought inappropriate to the realities of a multilateral world. This is a debate worth having. But we are not having it. We are hiding from it.

In a less doubtful culture, Maj. Crandall's magnificent medal would have been on every front page, if only a photograph. It was on no one's front page Tuesday. The New York Times, the culture's lodestar, had a photograph on its front page of President Bush addressing governors about an insurance plan. Maj. Crandall's Medal of Honor was on page 15, in a round-up, three lines from the bottom. Other big-city dailies also ran it in their news summaries; some--the Washington Post, USA Today--ran full accounts inside.

Most schoolchildren once knew the names of the nation's heroes in war--Ethan Allen, John Paul Jones, Stephen Decatur, the Swamp Fox Francis Marion, Ulysses S. Grant, Clara Barton, Billy Mitchell, Alvin York, Lee Ann Hester. Lee Ann who? She's the first woman to win a Silver Star for direct combat with the enemy. Did it in a trench in Iraq. Her story should be in schools, but it won't be.

All nations celebrate personal icons, and ours now tend to be doers of good. That's fine. But if we suppress the martial feats of a Bruce Crandall, we distance ourselves further from our military. And in time, we will change. At some risk.
As is traditional to all Medal of Honor winners, I stand at attention and offer my salute and my thanks.

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