On [August 16] The Wall Street Journal published a joint op-ed by [housing secretary Ben] Carson and President Donald Trump in which the two warned that eliminating single-family zoning would import urban dysfunction into thriving suburban communities.Not surprisingly, he’s getting called out for that sort of language. “Inclusive and equitable suburbs build more affordable housing, advance fairness in education, and centers environmental justice.”
He was being funny, late on last Thursday’s show, and he came up with this. “My favorite conspiracy theory is that this virus is the work of a bunch of lunatic billionaires who really believe that we are destroying the planet and they have discovered that we can’t get to Mars in time and we can’t colonize the moon so they have come up with a way to get rid of billions of people to make the world have a longer survivability potential.” I’ve been referring, recently, to Tom Clancy novels, but I had no plans to go anywhere near Rainbow Six.
As the novel involves precisely that kind of lunatic billionaire, as well as some clandestine work to shut down the plan and disappear the plotters, because of the risk of “a global panic when people realize what a biotech company can do if it wants,” though, well, perhaps there’s another story in it.
Regular readers of Tom Clancy know that the likelihood of a secret being blown is proportional to the square of the number of people in on it. The novel left a number of possible dots to connect to put together yet another story, one with the potential to topple governments. If I had any sort of novel-writing skills, I might essay such a thing, although it might be more productive to offer some of the dots, as if a mental exercise in quarantine, should anyone wish to essay such an effort.
There are almost enough dots to make a post as long as a Tom Clancy novel. They’re below the jump.
We begin with a general lament by Max Boot.
Kids, don’t become like Donald Trump. Study history. The fact that so many Americans know so little about the past means that we as a society are vulnerable to demagogues. “Don’t know much about history” is a catchy song lyric but a dangerous motto for a democracy.
Historians may not want to admit it, but they bear some blame for the increasing irrelevance of their discipline. As historians Hal Brands and Francis Gavin argue in War on the Rocks, since the 1960s, history professors have retreated from public debate into their own esoteric pursuits. The push to emphasize “cultural, social and gender history,” and to pay “greater attention to the experiences of underrepresented and oppressed groups,” they write, has been a welcome corrective to an older historiography that focused almost entirely on powerful white men. But like many revolutions, this one has gone too far, leading to the neglect of political, diplomatic and military history — subjects that students need to study and, as enrollment figures indicate, students want to study but that universities perversely neglect. Historian Jill Lepore notes that we have ditched an outdated national narrative without creating a new one to take its place, leaving a vacuum to be filled by tribalists.
Put another way, democracy dies in a darkness brought about by, inter alia, writers at influential newspapers. Consider, for instance, the 1619 Project from New York’s Times, which somehow wrote about slavery and secession and emancipation without asking any history professors.
Good afternoon, dear reader. Jonathan Gewirtz and David Foster have invited me to participate in Chicago Boyz. I’m going to limit my presence here to occasional mini-dissertations on education, political economy, or transportation.
My first post is a cross-post from my primary web journal, Cold Spring Shops.
Inside Higher Ed’s Elin Johnson shares the bad news. “Percentage of students who have met English and math benchmarks lowest in 15 years.” The proximate cause appears to be a lack of preparation.
Almost 1.8 million students, or 52 percent of the 2019 graduating class, took the ACT.
Of the Class of 2019 who took the test, 37 percent met three of the four College Readiness Benchmarks, and 36 percent did not meet any. The latter number has grown over the past few years, reports ACT. Students who took the recommended high school core curriculum stayed steady in their readiness in English and math.
“As we’ve been pointing out for many years, taking the right courses in high school dramatically increases a student’s likelihood to be ready for success when they graduate,” said Marten Roorda, ACT CEO, in a press release. “Students who don’t take challenging courses — particularly those from underserved populations — may lack the self-confidence and ambition to do so, and social and emotional learning instruction can help them improve in those areas.”
I’d like to think that, oh, inculcating bourgeois habits and teaching the substance would work, but that’s not how the people whose salaries depend on them not seeing it respond.