Education

What Are Your Kids Learning In School?

Featured image Probably we should all be past being shocked at what goes on in the public schools, but I confess that an email I got today from Devin Foley of Better Ed shocked me. It quoted descriptions, written by Twin Cities area high school teachers, of how their schools teach literature classes. This one comes from Edina High School, which was once known as an excellent institution: Acceptance and inter-cultural understanding »

The College Board, the Common Core, and “the world without America”

Featured image Years ago, Richard Rorty, the left-wing pragmatist philosopher, defended the leftist slant in university instruction by arguing that it was an antidote to the rah-rah, pro-American indoctrination students received in high school. In Hegelian-Marxist terms, high school instruction was the “thesis,” college instruction was the “antithesis,” and students could work out their own “synthesis.” Rorty’s argument was characteristically clever. But the content of high school education was always destined to »

Does leisure outstrip learning at Dartmouth?

Featured image Joe Asch reports that Mike Mastanduno, Dartmouth’s dean of the faculty, made this comment at a recent faculty meeting: More than I’d like to, I hear this: “It’s really hard to teach on Thursday morning because of what the students do on Wednesday night.” I hear that from faculty. What I never hear, and what I’d love to start hearing from students is, “It’s really hard to do what we »

Bolling v. Sharpe at 60

Featured image As Steve has noted, we are nearing the 60th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education. This means we are also nearing the 60th anniversary of Bolling v. Shape, which was decided the same day (May 17, 1954). Bolling held that that racial discrimination in the public schools of Washington D.C. denied blacks due process of law in violation of the Fifth Amendment. This was »

Werner Dannhauser, RIP

Featured image One of the great teachers of politics from the perspective of the great tradition, Werner Dannhauser, has died.  A long time professor of political philosophy at Cornell University, Dannhauser was another of the long line of students of Leo Strauss, whom he called “the greatest teacher of politics I have ever known.”  Bill Kristol and John Podhoretz have offered their recollections, both mentioning a single Commentary magazine essay of Dannhauser’s »

What did Brandeis know and when did it know it?

Featured image When I visited Brandeis in 2005 with my daughter (then a high school junior), the admissions office bragged about the University’s activist tradition, including the fact that its alums include Angela Davis and Abbie Hoffman. None of the prospective students seemed to have heard of these left-wing criminals; apparently we parents we supposed to tell our children how cool they were. In recent years, Brandeis has conferred honorary degrees on »

Civil War on the Left, Part 2

Featured image The other day in “Civil War on the Left,” I noted how ethnic groups within the California Democratic Party are turning on one another.  Yesterday the Wall Street Journal reported on another internal fault line that is splitting Democrats in Illinois and New York, this time over charter schools, which teachers’ unions hates, but which are hugely popular with parents—especially minority parents.  What’s a politically correct Democrat to do? Hundreds »

Brandeis reverses itself on honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Featured image Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a Power Line hero for reasons that will become clear below. Brandeis University was set to give her an honorary degree at this year’s commencement exercises. But bowing to pressure from Muslim students, outside advocacy groups, and a portion of its faculty, Brandeis has backed down. As much as I admire Ayaan Hirsi Ali, I don’t condemn Brandeis’ decision. My reasons will, I hope, also become »

Is this degree really necessary?

Featured image Scott Walker, who did not graduate from college, says he wants to obtain his degree. According to his spokesperson, Walker would like to do so through the University of Wisconsin’s FlexOption once it expands its degree offerings. Walker attended Marquette University but left in his senior year in 1990 for a job with the American Red Cross. He then launched his political career and never returned to school. Walker says »

Common Core and the new SAT

Featured image Lindsey Burke of the Heritage Foundation connects the revamp of the SAT with the controversy over the “Common Core” initiative. And with justification. As we have noted, one of the major changes to the SAT will be to align the test more closely with what high schools teach. According to Burke, the high school curriculum the folks at College Board are referring to is the Common Core. Indeed, the president »

Politically-based faculty discrimination, a test case

Featured image Today, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral argument in the case of Wagner v. Jones. Our friend Peter Berkowitz discussed the case in a Wall Street Journal op-ed (it’s behind a pay wall). Teresa Wagner accuses the University of Iowa College of Law of violating her First and Fourteenth Amendment rights by refusing to hire her for its legal analysis, writing, and research program due to her strong »

Dartmouth doubles down on unserious leftist academics

Featured image Dartmouth College has a new provost, Carolyn Dever. The provost is a key, perhaps the key, player at an academic institution. She creates and maintains academic standards and sets the academic direction of the college. She determines which departments and areas of studies will be winners and which will be losers. In my day at Dartmouth, the provost was Leonard Reiser, a physicist who participated in the Manhattan Project. He »

Universal pre-K remains a dubious idea

Featured image In last year’s State of the Union address, President Obama called for federal funding of a “Preschool for All” initiative. He’s likely to renew that call this week. Unfortunately, as I discussed here, there’s no reason to believe that a universal pre-school program would improve educational or life outcomes. Indeed, a recent article in National Affairs by David Armor and Sonia Sousa strongly suggests that such a program is unlikely »

Quotations from Co-Chairman Keith

Featured image Keith Ellison represents Minnesota’s Fifth District in Congress. He proudly identifies himself first and foremost as the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. With a little help from Karen Hunter (as he notes in the Acknowledgements), he has now written the memoir cum manifesto My Country, ‘Tis of Thee: My Faith, My Family, Our Future. Ellison writes in chapter 9 (“The Politics of Generosity and Inclusion”): When I graduated from »

Inequality — a necessary ingredient of New York’s greatness

Featured image At his inauguration, New York’s new mayor Bill DeBlasio denounced the city’s economic inequality. He seemed to argue that to remain truly great, New York must remedy income inequality. I submit, however, that New York is great in part because of income inequality. The wealth at the top end of the economic spectrum clearly has played a major role in the city’s greatness. For one thing, the very rich have »

The Power Line 100: Francis J. Beckwith

Featured image In a lecture a few months back I observed that you generally find very few conservatives in philosophy departments at American colleges and universities (as opposed to political philosophy in political science departments, where you tend to find conservatives much better represented).  There are, however, two notable and interesting exceptions to this general rule: when you do find a conservative academic philosopher, he or she (but much more often a »

Common Sense on Common Core

Featured image I have totally ignored the controversy about “Common Core” standards for K-12 public schools emanating from the bureaucratic penumbras of the Obama Administration.  For one thing, I’m still mastering the core requirements of higher education, which tend to be either non-serious or so diffuse that they are neither “common” nor a “core.”  Why should the watery “guidelines” for Common Core be much different than the higher ed slop? In general »