Today Is National Stomp On Marx Day

Join the fun and Stomp On Marx! boot-marx

Stomping on things is all the rage on some college campuses. But the kids are missing out on the real fun.

Here’s an exercise I highly recommend for teachers of kids age 14 and up.

Stomp On Marx!

Here’s how you do it.

1. Download and print this picture of the father of communism, Karl Marx. (click for larger image)

Karl-Marx-007

2. Ask each student to stand and stare at the image for 30 seconds.

3. Ask the student to place the image on the floor in front of him or her, face up.

4. Ask the student to Stomp On Marx—right in the middle of his face.

Remember, print only ONE copy of the picture and make all the kids share it . . . because Marx would have wanted it that way.

After the last student is done, ask the class to write a short paragraph describing the experience. Then give everybody an A no matter how half-assed or idiotic the paragraphs were.

Better yet, assign legitimate grades for the writing quality, the honesty, and the thoughtfulness of each paragraph. Write the letter grade on a Post-It Note for each paragraph and stick it to the paper. Then instruct all the students who received an A to trade their grade with a student who got an F. Bs switch with Ds.  Cs get to keep their mediocre, “showed no effort” grades.

Hang the short essays on the wall outside the class. Hang the mutilated image of Karl Marx above the essays.

Finally, update your resume, because you’re about to embark on a new career.

Here’s The Dirty Little Secret About Teachers Nobody Is Telling You About

I know a teacher pretty well, and I know nasty little secrets she’s not telling.

She sneaks out of bed at 4:45 every morning. No one else is up. No one’s watching her. At that hour, she can do whatever she wants without consequence.

She sneaks downstairs and puts on her make-up in front of the TV. She also encrypts mysterious lesson plans into a little black book. Names and numbers. Goals and strategies. Like a KGB agent plotting a mission to flip a Navy Radioman.

akhennessy

At some point, she eats breakfast and creeps back upstairs to do her hair and get dressed.

Yeah, it’s 14 degrees out, but this teacher’s on a mission. She fires up her Jeep and backs out of the driveway at 6:25. She’s packing her lunch and books and papers and a plot. A plot no one’s telling you about.

That plot’s what’s so threatening to America.

See, there are kids who don’t think as straight as your kids. They struggle. They’re vulnerable.

This teachers knows who they are. She knows their weaknesses and their strengths. She knows how to get into their heads and plant subversive ideas. And she’s really damn good at it.

So these kids who’ve been pre-selected for failure get these ideas in their heads that upset the plan. They start scoring better on secret little tests, so the teacher gives them bigger tests.

They go from 50 to 74 in just a year. Plus they get along better with other kids.

Kids who should be ashamed of their flaws instead grin those obnoxious, gapped babytooth-missingtooth-grownuptooth-grins because, for the first times in their lives, they scored with their grade level.

That’s how dangerous this teacher is.

Now the question is: what the hell do we do about her?

We spent our adult lives vilifying the evil Public School Teacher. We molded caricatures of these creatures sure to rally public sentiment against their nasty breed. We developed narratives – complete with pathetic victims --- designed to make the kindest heart turn to stone when confronted with The Teacher.

And these evil teachers, shrewd as they are, ignored our work and went on trying to turn little, predictable failures into happy people with meaningful lives.

Bastards!

But we have hope. In every district there’s one or two crappy teachers—imposters, really. People who use the classroom to advance personal political agendas and hold back the smart kids. Just like there’s Navy sailors who sell secrets to the Soviets and priests who diddle little boys and CEOs who hide debt and lie about revenue. At least we can take solace in the knowledge that not all teachers are heroes.

Reality Check

For conservatives, ragging on teachers, blaming them for our stupid kids, is a sport. Yes, the teachers’ unions are working to undermine America. But so are 4 out of 5 Fortune 500 CEOs.  Do you really think the CEO of GE gives a crap if America remains the world’s strongest economy? Eighty percent of Fortune 500 CFOs would, in their words, destroy shareholder value in order to meet Wall Street’s quarterly expectations. And we’re demonizing teachers?

Teachers are not their unions. From kindergarten to 49-years-old, all but a couple teachers I’ve ever met live and die for their kids.  And I bet I’ve met more than you have.  (For one thing, I was in college for 32 years.) Sure, the Department of Education has been a disaster for learning, but teachers didn’t create the DoE. Jimmy Carter and Congress did. And Ronald Reagan didn’t kill it as he promised.

Here’s What It’s Like To Be Married To A Teacher

Do you have any idea how many times I’ve been driving down the highway wishing my wife would just fucking quit teaching so I didn’t have to hear about her students?  I mean, she married ME, not THEM, but even on Valentine’s Day the only thing she talks about is how this one fifth-grader is mentoring kindergarteners and that one is reading at grade level and another one hasn’t been suspended in a year.

So I ask you: who’s the selfish, angry, greedy bastard in all of this? The teacher who lives and dies for her students, or the Tea Party “leader” who’s sick of hearing about her damn kids?

If you think Bill Hennessy works for America’s future, you’re wrong. It’s his wife. A teacher. And as much as I love her, I’m afraid, in that regard, she’s not an exception. That’s the way teachers are.

Happy Valentine's Day, baby. A little late, but that’s because I didn’t pay attention to Sr. Ann Gregory when she tried to teach me about calendars in second grade.

My fault, not hers.

American Schools Replace Great Fiction With Government propaganda

[Originally posted on Redstate.com]

English was my favorite subject in school, so much so that I can still recite from memory large passages of the books we read, like A Separate Peace:

I went back to Devon School not long ago, and found it looking oddly newer than when I was a student there 15 years before.

And who doesn’t know this by heart:

If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.

Literature, more than other subject, advances individualism. Writing unleashes the individual. Reading unleashes the mind from conformity. As I read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, I am free to think, feel, and believe whatever I wish regardless of what some teacher or professor wants me to believe.

Here’s what scholar Karin Sarsenov says of the subject in her paper, The Literature Curriculum in Russia: Cultural Nationalism vs. The Cultural Turn:

Teaching literature in school is by its very nature a tricky endeavor. On the one hand, the canonical works taught remind us of the ultimate transcendence of the individual. The fact that a particular writer is taught in school means that this person’s views, intentions, experiences, feelings, politics and aesthetics have surpassed their contextual situatedness, overcome the forces attempting to marginalize them, and have emerged as the dominant cultural discourse. In this respect, masterpieces represent the ultimate manifestation of individual agency. In the intimate experience of reading, individual agency is also accentuated – reading is a process which cannot be controlled from outside, and in which the inherent hermeneutical openness of art allows for unexpected – and sometimes perhaps even unwelcome – interpretations [emphasis added].

As a tool of individualism, then, literature poses a threat to central control of education and of the mind. So, now, the federal government has begun a purge of literature from primary and secondary education curricula.

From the Telegraph:

American literature classics are to be replaced by insulation manuals and plant inventories in US classrooms by 2014.

A new school curriculum which will affect 46 out of 50 states will make it compulsory for at least 70 per cent of books studied to be non-fiction, in an effort to ready pupils for the workplace.

How We Got Here

Forty-six states have surrendered control of school curricula to the federal government under the remarkably successful and sweeping “Race to the Top” challenge.

By entering the challenge—with no promising of winning the money—states agreed to replace local school district curricula with federally mandated subjects and standards: the common core state standards. The process took less than two years, and ensures that the federal government will dictate every aspect of a child’s learning forever.

Propaganda Replaces Art

So what will replace Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird?  Recommended Levels of Insulation by the the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the Invasive Plant Inventory, by California’s Invasive Plant Council.

Common Core Standards doubles down on the 100-year-old compulsory education ideal of producing conformists, disciplined, unquestioning factory workers. Seth Godin challenged this failed system even before Common Core Standards appeared on the scene:

As we get ready for the 93rd year of universal public education, here’s the question every parent and taxpayer needs to wrestle with: Are we going to applaud, push or even permit our schools (including most of the private ones) to continue the safe but ultimately doomed strategy of churning out predictable, testable and mediocre factory-workers?

As long as we embrace (or even accept) standardized testing, fear of science, little attempt at teaching leadership and most of all, the bureaucratic imperative to turn education into a factory itself, we’re in big trouble.

By replacing individualistic fiction like Catcher in the Rye with government propaganda and calling it “literature,” we’re following the Soviet model of producing cogs for the state machine.

So where’s the liberal outrage at this anti-intellectual policy? Or has the left swallowed whole the statist view that people are mere tools of the central planners?

Colleges Suffocate Free Speech

Colleges in the United States are systematically destroying free speech, free thought, and creative writing. Sixty-five percent of colleges and universities censor students, even in creative writing classes. [youtube=http://youtu.be/Z3vgGqlZGGE] Hillsdale or nothing.

 

The Biggest Rip-Off in America is College Tuition

While everyone was screaming about the rising cost of medical treatment, America’s leftist incubation chambers—colleges and universities—robbed us of our economic future. And the federal government’s misguided student aid program is to blame.

What allows this growth? 

  • Increased per student government funding
  • Massive private and public debt

Who benefits?

  • College administrators
  • Unions working on college campuses
  • Political causes that college administrators like (liberal)

Who pays?

  • Taxpayers (who else?)

Check out these statistics:

  • College tuition increased 799% between 1978 and 2007 (source)
  • Student loan debt has increased 511% since 1999 (source)
  • Government per student increased 246% between 1978 and 2007
  • In the past 20 years, college tuition has increased about twice as fast medical costs
  • The education bubble makes the housing bubble look like a pimple (source)
  • Recent college graduates are no smarter than graduates of 40 years ago (observation)

On that last point, I’m not alone.  From contraryinvesting.com, Brett writes:

Did this increase in spending do any good? Not on the available evidence. Test scores — measuring achievement — have not budged in 40 years. In other words, the additional investment over the last 40 years has been wasted. We might as well have thrown the money down a well.

Read Brett’s piece in its entirety.  The arguments against everyone going to college are important.  Seth Godin raised similar questions in 2010.

Most colleges are organized to give an average education to average students.

Check out these graphs from www.mymoneyblog.com:

tuition

And Tuition vs. Healthcare

tuition2

There is great value in a college education, but not at any price.  Not when the lifetime economic value of an education is about to become a net negative.  According to the rating agency Moody’s:

Unless students limit their debt burdens, choose fields of study that are in demand, and successfully complete their degrees on time, they will find themselves in worse financial positions and unable to earn the projected income that justified taking out their loans in the first place."

Personal finance coach Dave Ramsey shows families how a child can complete a 4-year degree without a penny of debt.  But that formula might not work today. Tuition has gone up 16 percent in the two years since I first heard of Ramsey’s plan.

So what’s Obama’s prescription? 

You guessed it: Obama wants more government spending.  More borrowing.  More forgiveness of debt. 

While some on the right want to vilify students, in most cases, I disagree. Kids born near or after me grew up with “college education” pounded into our heads. 

“You’ll be nothing! without a degree,” we heard.

We scorn people who don’t go to college.  (Look at the recent flap involving St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley.) 

But the government has encouraged colleges to drive their costs through roof. For years, the federal government promised to fill the gap between what a student could afford (according to the government) and what a college charged. 

Seriously.  What if the government made the same deal with car buyers?

The solution isn’t simple.  There’s a big bubble in the higher education market, and it has to burst. Families, students, and governments have no more money to lend.  The ROI on a degree is falling fast. 

Kirsten Winkler of the blog big think shares one alternative to college degrees as credentials.

I see only two possible solutions: we continue to bail out colleges by feeding borrowed money to the bubble, or we unwind our addiction to traditional higher education.

Exit question:  Do we do as Obama says and borrow more money to endow colleges, or do we begin dismantling the “college or death” mantra? Or is there a third way out?

Who’s Lucky?

There’s a “special” school in St. Louis County. Its seniors graduated on last Friday. BenGraduating

How sad it must be for those kids. They’re not graduating from the district’s “normal” schools with their peers. For various reasons, they’ve been relegated to a school for misfits.

Seeing the building makes the bad feelings worse.  It’s a former grade school, crammed inconveniently behind a bank and a Taco Bell. Its Eisenhower era architecture stands out  amidst its Mortgage Boom surroundings like a dandelion on golf course. And the high school kids—some in their early 20s—appear freakishly large in the building.

The clown car impression intensifies inside the gymnasium. Its small, undersized basketball court barely holds the families of sixty or so graduates.

The scene was such a contrast for me.

I graduated with almost 600 other kids. Of them, I knew only a small percentage, really. At my high school graduation in the cavernous Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis – which I and all locals will forever call “The New Cathedral” – we sat in alphabetical order for the first time ever.  I had never met the two girls sandwiching me.  (One of them I would have remembered, trust me.)

I was lucky.  I graduated on time with my peers. I was never set back. I got by with a lot—a lot of misbehavior that earned expulsion for other kids. Like I said, I was lucky.

Or was I?

The ceremony at Fern Ridge High School moved me. Me and everyone around me.

Mr. Chris Oliver, an English teacher moving onto a new career after this year, served as the key note speaker. He talked about the wretched state of factory education in America, of course. He talked about the graduating seniors, too.

And he cried.  He paused to compose himself three, four, five times.

I cried, too.  It’s been a while since I’ve had a job that moved me. Chris’s job surely does.

Or did.

Chris said, “Fern Ridge should be a model for all schools in America.” I think he might be right.

At Fern Ridge, Chris was freed from the strictures of a “safe” curriculum handed down like divine instructions on granite tablets. Instead, this school expected him to use his skills and his heart to reach the students—students who have already rejected the factory model of education.

Chris was free, as he said, to “say something crazy” in his classroom.

That means Chris’s students were free to learn and to think. Fernies, as they’re called, do not memorize and regurgitate. 

After his talk, Chris kicked off a Fern Ridge tradition. Teachers stood, one by one, and read an original Tanka to a student.

More tears, but lots of laughs.

(You can’t read Tankas to every student in a class of 600.)

The administrators and teachers on the dais beamed throughout the ceremony. Why shouldn’t they? I said that this was no factory high school. The kids were no factory products. They were, as one of the Tankas described a girl in the class, round pegs in a square world.

America’s education system couldn’t hold these kids.  Most were too intelligent and passionate to make it in regular schools where conformity, anonymity, and banality earn non-descript praise from a faceless bureaucrat.

Education in America—regular, factory education—banished creativity, expression, and brilliance long ago.  Like all socialist schemes, public education “covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd [source].”

Students with the courage to cut through that network of rules and stand above the crowd are sentenced to places like Fern Ridge,  or to Missouri’s Options program, where they can earn a diploma without corrupting the numb kids in the regular schools.

When my son accepted his diploma from the principal, I was proud, of course. I was even more humbled and a embarrassed. Not because my son graduated from an alternative school for kids who refused to conform, but because I didn’t.

Way to go, Ben.

3 Great Reasons to Send Your Kids to Vacation Liberty School

Register today for Vacation Liberty School.  Here's 3 reasons why you should: 3.  Most school systems don't care about liberty; they care about conformity.  The only way kids will learn an appreciation for the blessings of libertyLiberty Bell is if their parents send them to schools that put liberty at the center of the cirriculum.  That's what Vacation Liberty School does.

2.  Many teachers would love to teach more about the blessings of liberty to their skulls full of mush, but they can't. School boards and idiotic testing mandates prevent them.  So parents who care about liberty need to teach kids about it on their own.  That's where Vacation Liberty School can help.

1.  Liberty is never more than one generation away from extinction.  So send your kids to Vacation Liberty School this summer. 

The St. Louis As a Mom team is gearing up for a one week summer program designed to teach 5th thru 8th gradersabout the founding principals of the US. Their Vacation Liberty School program is based on the structure of Vacation Bible School, but uses a curriculum that has been used elsewhere in the country to teach youngsters about our country's core beliefs. You can learn more at the website:


VLS will run from June 13th to 17th and costs $25 per child. We need to register attendees now so that we can make sure that we have enough teachers, volunteers, and supplies.

Thanks much!

* * *

Link to brochure.
  
Link to org website.
  
Gateway Academy website.

Despots Use Money to Buy Power

humiliationPoliticians don’t seek money.  They seek power.  They use money to acquire power.  Once they have the power, money becomes irrelevant. 

Did you see how states behaved last summer? The “Race to the Top” is all you need to know about the relationship between government money, power, and degradation.

The Race to the Top education initiative dangled cash in front of states.  Most states, including Missouri, bit.  They competed against each other for the privilege of surrendering their sovereignty over education to a DoE overlord.

The fiasco reminded me of a submarine patrol.  We got underway a day early—before our Sea Store cigarettes arrived.  About half the crew smoked.  About ten percent brought their own brands, not available through Sea Stores at $3.00 a carton. 

Cigarettes became very valuable. Those with cigarettes sometimes degraded those who craved cigarettes.  I once saw my Chief Petty Officer perched on a chair barking like a dog for a Benson & Hedges 100. 

Secretaries of US Government departments like seeing the states beg and degrade themselves, too.  The states that demonstrated the most pathetic, degrading, obsequious groveling got the money.  Obama got their school districts.

Who Has the Fear?

For 100 years in America, government, business, and the education establishment built schools and laws about education. The purpose of these government schools and education laws was to produce compliant, unimaginative, order-taking automatons

Don’t believe me?  Here’s Woodrow Wilson, educator and president, speaking on the American plan for education:

We want one class of persons to have a liberal education, and we want another class of persons, a very much larger class of necessity in every society, to forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks.

The Tea Party scares the hell out of the ruling class. The NEA, Washington, DC, and Washington University fear the idea of the class of people they programmed to “perform specific manual tasks” thinking and voting independently. Think unions want workers who think independently and create things of meaning?  Are you kidding me?

We who march, rally, speak, make videos, and vote are the enemy of the ruling class, not a mere alternative. 

We are the people, and we no longer need rulers. And that has the rulers panicked.

November 2 marks the beginning of the end of elitism in America.