Harrison Bergeroning

I have noted stories of high schools dropping honors and AP classes in the name of so-called ‘equity’ like this lately, with a great deal of sadness and sympathy for those kids who would have benefited most from more challenging classes. The intelligent, motivated and intellectually-gifted students are bored beyond all reason by the standard classes – I know that I certainly was, and my high school days were from 1969-1972 in a largely white blue-collar working-class to no-class suburb of Los Angeles. This was when California public schools were still pretty good, and students were ‘tracked’ by abilities as well as interest in higher learning. I’d estimate that only thirty or forty out of a graduating class of 600 or so were tracked towards the Honors/AE classes; Sunland-Tujunga was, as I said before, a blue-collar, working-class community, with a small sprinkling of middle-class. My own mother was about as pushy a tiger-mom as there was, and her collegiate ambitions for us didn’t go much beyond the state university system, never mind any of the west coast Ivies. An east-coast Ivy wasn’t even in the same universe.

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It’s A Little Late to Develop A Conscience.

Matt “Dean Dad” Reed offers an instructive look at what Jascha Mounck felicitiously describes as the “cage of norms.”  That book is among those stacked to be reviewed.  Maybe this year?
Some of my earliest lessons in ethical behavior, as a child, came in the form of a question: “How would you feel if someone did that to you?” It was reasonably effective because it was simple. I could guess how I would feel, and I didn’t want to make anyone else feel that way. Although I couldn’t have spelled the word at the time, the theory underlying that lesson was reciprocity.

Reciprocity relies on an underlying sense of relevant equality. You and I may be different people in any number of ways, but we’re both fully human, and that entails some basic respect. There’s an implicit politics within the ethical norm of reciprocity, too. I’m no better than anyone else, but I’m no worse, either. Taken seriously, that ethical position tends to lead to a rough egalitarianism. There may be hierarchical roles for various reasons, but the people occupying those roles are just people. They have the same human flaws as everybody else. And the power they’re granted is both a grant—that is, removable—and for a limited purpose. It is not license. Nobody is entitled to abuse anyone else, and nobody deserves abuse.
There’s a lot going on in those two paragraphs.  In that “How would you feel” is the basis for the first rule of interaction in the three Faiths of the Book.  There’s an important corollary, as well: the precocious child might ask Mom or Dad “How would you like being put in time-out?”  Kids don’t like being put in time-out, and the wise parent will note something to the effect that the grown-up version of time-out lasts for days, not minutes, in a place called “jail”.  The concept of reciprocity, though, is a straightforward elaboration of the things that matter that are learned in kindergarten.

The second paragraph appeals to the Framing of the Declaration of Independence.  The “endowed by their Creator” passage vesting rights in individuals is a rebuttal to the divine right of kings: it was not the Hand of God that made the Stuart Tudor Hanover Battenberg Windsor family Defenders of the Faith, Emperors of India, and sovereigns over British North America.  People consented to their rule, and people had the right to withdraw their consent.  Note, dear reader, how the Holy Spirit has been more catholic in identifying popes, a position of power that up to 1978 seemed to be reserved to Italian cardinals.  Ideally, a rough egalitarianism ought to hold in education as well. Yale Law do not hold the franchise on staffing the High Bench, nor is the Southeastern Conference endowed with the right to dominate football.

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Long Remembered?

In the last year that we lived in Spain, I came to the knowledge that many very supposedly-well educated people had the most surprising gaps in their general knowledge of things. This realization came sometime in 1991, I think – and since then, evidence of this has mounted into a heap the size of the Matterhorn. But this was the first time that I saw proof of this in someone that I had assumed to be somewhat well-educated. I took a neighbor and her children on an excursion downtown. (I had been assigned to the base there for more than five years, the neighbor and her family were recent arrivals – the father of the family was our newest Protestant chaplain.) I wanted to show them the fascinating and quaint old city heart of Zaragoza; the Cathedral of the Pilar, the ancient cathedral, La Seo, the central plaza with the old palace of the city hall at one end, a stretch of ancient Roman wall at the other, and the 19th century food market with its’ ranges of individual tiny stalls under the iron roof. The children were of an age to appreciate all this, enormously.

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Terf War

It’s truly become amazing to me, how very vicious the trans war is getting to be; so far, it’s only words, but only words is how unspeakable atrocities begin. And all this is over what is a vanishingly small minority, but which happens to be “the fashionable hot new thing to shock the normies with” among overexposed celebrities, activist academics, and the desperate-seeking-relevancy activists battening onto a cause to give purpose to otherwise empty lives. It’s a trend amplified a hundred times by such advocacy, and then another hundred by the leviathan of social medial; a leviathan before which established corporations and businesses tremble. Candidly, one might have expected titans of commerce (like Target and the Disney company) possessing sufficient market knowledge to stay away from advocating causes which might – just might – piss off a large portion of their customer base. And one might be wrong. Never underestimate the mad urge to be a dedicated follower of fashion, I guess.

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Academic Malpractice

The post at Legal Insurrection (link) says in part, that the goal is to “…to equalize test scores among racial groups, OPRF will order its teachers to exclude from their grading assessments variables it says disproportionally hurt the grades of black students. They can no longer be docked for missing class, misbehaving in school or failing to turn in their assignments, according to the plan.”
So basically, this is an administrative rubber-stamping a passing grade on the report cards of black students who can’t be arsed to attend class, behave properly as students when they do, or turn in required assignments. Frankly, one wonders why such students even bother with school anyway, if they are so vehemently disinclined towards the life intellectual, but truant law and free daycare for such parental units as they have probably account for it, as well as money for butts in seats on the part of the school itself. At this rate of scholastic malpractice, urban schools might just as well hand out high school graduation certificates as if they were Pokemon cards, one to a customer and save themselves time and effort in the classroom. Any serious education of pupils appears as merely a happy afterthought to a means of employing large numbers of administrators, assistant principals and teachers whose union membership is vastly more important to the powers that be than imparting knowledge to that handful of rare-as-hen’s-teeth pupils who seriously want to learn.

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