Thursday, January 26, 2006

Bill Gates' Alma Mater Staffed by Cowards, Not Teachers

The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselvesthroughout their lives.

--Robert Maynard Hutchins

The prestigious Lakeside School, outside of Seattle, WA, which has been consistently ranked near the top of private schools nationwide, has recently demonstrated it is staffed by cowards--not teachers. The school extended an invitation to Dinesh D'Souza, a controversial author and speaker, to give a presentation at the school on Iraq and US Foreign Policy. However, once teachers got word of the engagement, they went to the headmaster and threatened to resign if he did not retract the invitation! What could these "teachers" be so afraid of?

Mr. D'Souza created significant controversy with the publication of his book, The End of Racisim in 1995--primarily because it advocated that underachievement of African-Americans was caused more by cultural values than by white racism. Obviously, such a hypothesis will create controversy. However, isn't that why we have schools and teachers? Isn't "critical thinking" one of the most imporant skills a teacher could help develop in a child? How can such skills be taught and truly learned if the school and classroom has become a sanitized place for only the least-offending, politically correct drivel to be offered (notice I did not say "taught")?

What I also find interesting is you will have to look far and wide to find any coverage of this story in the media. I originally heard the report on Hannity and Colmes on Fox News (by the way, both sides agreed this action was shameful--how often do you see that on H&C?), so I tried to look up more information on the web later. Search Google? Yep. Anything? Nope. Search CNN? Yep. Anything? Nope. Search the major newspaper sites? Yep. Anything? Nope. Certainly it would be in The Seattle Times? Nope. It was however, in The Seattle Post Intelligencer here. Only one newspaper thought it was a story worth covering. That's sad.

To be clear, I would oppose this type of academic cowardice no matter what the subject matter. School is a place where you are supposed to exposed to different ideas and points of view and learn to determine what makes the most sense to you--and how to justify your position. As the old saying goes, "Stand for something, or you will fall for anything". By trying to keep kids from seeing those things we disagree with, we only guarantee they will lack critical thinking skills and will spend the rest of their lives "falling for anything" they are told to believe.

If the headmaster wanted to be a real leader, and teach the parents, students and cowards..I mean "teachers"...a life lesson, he should have let them resign. In fact, he should fire them now, before they do more damage to the kids at the school through intellectual neglect and cowardice. Anyone who impersonates a teacher like these folks, and lacks the moral courage to let views they disagree with be viewed and discussed, should not be allowed to keep their jobs. Can somebody at The Lakeside School do the right thing here and replace these cowards with actual teachers?

Education's responsibility is to replace an empty mind with an open one.

--Malcolm Forbes


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Why Won't Anyone Go After Mayor Nagin in New Orleans?

In today's Wall Street Journal, there is an article that describes frustration with the White House by members of Congress trying to investigate the government response to Hurricane Katrina. The Republican committee chair, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, said she "respects the White House's reluctance to reveal advice to President Bush from his top aides, which is generally covered by executive privilege." Then she goes on to say, "We are entitled to know if someone from the Department of Homeland Security calls someone at the White House during this whole crisis period. So I think the White House has gone too far in restricting basic information about who called whom on what day."

Democrats, of course, also agreed that The White House has been stonewalling. Senator Joe Lieberman, mostly an ally of The White House lately, said, "They have opposed efforts to interview their personnel, and they have hindered our ability to obtain information from other federal agencies regarding White House actions in response to Katrina."

Now, I fall on either side of the political center, depending on the issue. But on this one, I've got to go with both Senators and ask what The White House is trying to hide. Come on Mr. President, we all know you have taken full responsibility for the aftermath and the federal response (and I want to encourage this behavior in all politicians...), so why the stalling on the records that show what happened? People did die in this disaster, and that means we all need to know who did what, if anything, and when.

Of course, the one man who has not been held accountable in a fashion even close to the President is Mayor Ray Nagin. This man is an embarrassment to local leadership and has been the model of incompetence writ large. Everyone wants to point the finger at President Bush for not taking decisive action when the lessons learned from the "Hurricane Pam" exercise were released. What about the Mayor (and the Governor, for that matter)? Isn't disaster relief planning for a city the job of its mayor? At the very least, since the report showed evacuating residents would be a nightmare, why did Mayor Nagin allow hundreds of school busses to go unused and be destroyed by the flood? Do we actually expect the President of the United States to read the after action report for every local disaster preparedness exercise in the US? I know I don't. How about you? Of course, I DO expect the mayor of a city to read and act on any after action report for drills conducted in his or her city! If anyone should be thrown out of office over the aftermath of Katrina, it is Mayor Nagin. Total lack of leadership before, during and after the disaster.

So, Mr. President, stop covering up what went wrong and direct your agencies to cooperate with the investigation. And, people of New Orleans, please understand your city has no chance of returning to its former glory with such an imbecile at the helm--impeach Nagin.