Never give up column


We can’t cut and run from
our public schools (or Iraq, either)

By Brad Warthen
Editorial Page Editor
THE CRITICS SEE themselves as realists, and can’t imagine why those of us who believe we must continue to slog on refuse to see things as they are.
    The whole thing is futile, they say, and it would be madness to keep sacrificing billions of dollars, much less all those fine young people, on our stubborn hubris.
    Don’t we know that “those people” will never embrace the opportunity we’ve sacrificed so much in order to give them? Chalk it up to DNA, or simply growing up in horrific poverty and having never known any other way. Either way, we’re wasting our time.
    Look at the generations — the centuries — of culture and tragic history that we’re presuming to overturn.
    It would be better, they say, to begin a phased withdrawal.
    The more sensible among us over in the “never say die” camp — those of us who believe we would be sacrificing our society’s future to cut and run — agree that mistakes were made. But rather than put it in such passive, Reaganesque terms, we know whom to blame. We are appalled at the “stay the course” fanatics who dig in their heels against new tactics.
    We want new approaches — but in the pursuit of success, not surrender. The odds are long, we know. Progress is slow, and sometimes — such as in recent weeks — it doesn’t look like progress at all. We see how it could look to some as though our best efforts have led to nothing but ruined lives and wasted money.
    To keep going takes determination, resolve, and a practically Churchillian refusal to give up.
    Of course, we’re talking about public education in South Carolina. Oh, you thought this was about the war in Iraq? Fine, because it is. I see both struggles in the same terms:

It’s not optional. South Carolina has no choice but to provide the opportunity for a good education to all of its young people. We know we can do education well; just look at the public schools in our affluent suburbs. More relevantly, look at how successful Richland 2 is at educating even the disadvantaged. We must duplicate that kind of success throughout the state, particularly in the most stubborn pockets of resistance — the poor, rural areas.
    Invading Iraq was optional. We once had the choice of other ways and other places to insert the lever of change in the Mideast (our strategic objective; 9/11 taught us that our old strategy of promoting stability in the region was suicidal). But we didn’t, and now the choices are success, or handing a titanic victory to Islamist terrorists, tribalists and totalitarian thugs. Success is going to be extremely difficult to achieve at this point, but failure is unthinkable.
    The I-95 corridor is South Carolina’s Sunni Triangle. We have to figure out how to succeed there, or we fail.

If we don’t do it, no one will. No one’s going to help in Iraq; that much has been made quite clear over the last three years. Certainly not the feckless Europeans. Even the Brits are just barely hanging in there with us, thanks to the courage and vision of Tony Blair. The only other entities with a motivation to stabilize any portion of Iraq are people we would not want to see doing so — Iran’s mullahs, or the Ba’athists in both Iraq and Syria.
    Universal education can only be achieved by pooling our resources as a society and doing it, inSoldieriraq
spite of the odds and the cost. The fantasy that the private sector would create wonderful schools in communities that can’t even attract a McDonald’s is dangerously delusional. The amazing thing is that this approach is espoused by people who insist they believe in markets, when market forces are precisely why those areas have fallen so far behind. The state has to do the job — the market lacks the motive.
    The appointment of a new secretary of defense may not get the job done, but it’s a very encouraging sign. So is the election of a state superintendent of education committed to real reform.

We can win, but it’s going to take a long, long time. We’re talking about a generational (at least) struggle here, both in Iraq and S.C. public schools. Anyone who expects us to either win quickly or pull out simply doesn’t understand either the odds or the consequences of failure.

We can’t quit. South Carolina has too many problems — we are at the bottom of too many rankings — to give up on educating our people so that they can attract, get and hold good jobs.
    In this profoundly dangerous post-Cold War world, history’s most powerful and essential republic cannot be weakened by another Vietnam. After three years of horrific mistakes, President Bush has now done two things worthy of praise: He dumped Donald Rumsfeld, and he went to Vietnam (finally) and drew this distinction between the two conflicts: “We’ll succeed,” he said, “unless we quit.” Iraq isn’t Vietnam, but there’s a sure-fire way to change that fact: Give up.
    We could pull out of Vietnam in the middle of the Cold War, and the Russians still knew we had all those nukes pointed at them. So the world didn’t fall apart, even though our nation’s ability to affect world events atrophied for many years.
    Today, too many forces of chaos, from al-Qaida to totalitarians with nukes, are poised to fill any vacuum we leave behind.
    So we can’t quit — either here or over there.


67 thoughts on “Never give up column

  1. John Warner

    Richland 2 is not successful at educating the disadvantaged. They are not even successful are educating the wealthy. There’s not a school in Richland 2, or all of Columbia for that matter, that is in top 25 in average SAT scores among high schools in North and South Carolina. Not one.
    We’re in denial. Our problem is not just that we have a lot of poor children in this state. Andrew Coulson documented that, “the better educated a SC student’s parents, the further he trails peers nationally.”
    Saturday I was in a seminar organized by Furman’s Richard Riley Institute, and a superintendent of a school district in South Carolina said we need to “implode the current system at its core and start over.” This wasn’t some radical Republican politician running for office who knows nothing about education. This was a public school district superintendent in the trenches every day trying to educate students. In the room were six other public school teachers and one superintendent, and they all agreed.
    Public education is full of wonderful, dedicated people who are working incredibly hard every day to make South Carolina a better place. They system we have is failing them as well as our students. As Bill Gates has observed, “America’s high schools are obsolete… and ruining the lives of millions of Americans every year.” Ken Robinson, an expert in creativity from Oxford, noted, “Our education system has mined our minds in the way that we strip mine the earth for a particular commodity. And for the future it won’t serve us. We have to rethink the fundamental principals on which we educate our children.”
    Brad, it is time to face reality that our current system of public education is not giving our children the education they require and no amount of incremental tweaking will fix it. I know it, I believe in your heart of hearts you know it, and most of all I am certain that educational professionals in this state know it.
    It’s past time to get on with the hard work of reinventing public education for the 21st century so it is much more innovative and entrepreneurial to meet the needs of the wide diversity of children in the state.
    I would love to see you become a leader in doing what needs to be done.

  2. Mark Whittington

    There is a common thread concerning the woes of our educational system and the Iraq war, and it’s called Corporatism. More specifically, the modern failed Corporate State is a direct result of neo-liberal/neo-conservative philosophy. Reactionary governance filled the void caused by the failure of a three hundred year old political philosophy that even by the mid twentieth century was no longer consistent with modern knowledge. Unlike Northern Europe, which long ago updated its system of governance to accommodate and benefit its people, the US was co-opted by corporate interests and all the positive reforms of the New Deal have either been abrogated or denigrated to the point where the US is no longer a democracy, but rather a plutocracy. Just a short while ago, the remaining vestiges of democratic governance made a last stand. We have but one chance to repair the damage that has been done and to get on the right path.
    In order to create a new, better system however, we’re going to have to honestly assess what was wrong with the old system. Here are the two main reasons as to why classic liberalism failed:
    1. The failure of capitalism. Pure capitalism can never work because it concentrates wealth to such a degree outside of the bounds of what either true merit or differential ability would otherwise produce. Most people have no idea just how concentrated wealth is in the US because the corporate controlled media and government rarely let on to the problem. Here is a computer-generated representation of the US wealth distribution. The distribution shocks most people because we have been taught all of our lives that success depends on merit and hard work and that wealth is distributed based on positive personal qualities. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth. This wealth distribution was generated using statistically equal entities in a simulated free market economy and yet it matches almost exactly the US wealth distribution. Today, stochastic programming methods are readily available to prove that capitalism is basically a giant pyramid scheme that takes the wealth generated by the population and re-distributes it to a tiny minority. Egregious levels of wealth inequality are statistically built into capitalism, so the people with most to begin with usually win.
    So arguably, a poor educational system is a result of the wealth inequality caused by capitalism rather than the cause of wealth inequality. This is a salient point to remember because it shows the futility of trying to improve the educational system alone, and then expecting that improvement to fix the wealth inequality problem. It won’t. It can’t. Statistically one can prove that it’s just not going to happen.
    Improving the educational system in South Carolina will however let more native people into the aristocracy, but still, that is skirting the real problem, and even then, the local aristocracy will continue being the vassals of more affluent geographic regions in the US.
    The real solution is stop supporting the economic policies that put poor states at such a disadvantage (i.e., outsourcing, stupid free trade agreements, regressive taxation, etc.) and to concentrate on creating democratically determined divisions of labor. If we base the educational and economic systems on the premise of doing that, then we might have a chance-otherwise, we are pretty much doomed.
    2. The outmoded theory of cognitions. Cognitions are very important because they determine how the society approaches and attempts to solve problems. To this day, Locke’s and the Enlightenment’s view of knowledge is built into our government to our detriment. The idea of the blank slate of the mind, where knowledge is only gained through the senses and through empiricism worked fine back when there was very limited scientific knowledge in the horse and buggy era, but is today totally inadequate. Today, we have mountains upon mountains of data and knowledge about just about every aspect of practical physical systems, yet we keep trying to do things in the same old way.
    Rather than trying to use empiricism to restate knowledge again and again that we already have, we should be using the incredible amount of knowledge that we already have to deduce new knowledge and new ideas. We should be facilitating the creativity of people in a democratic fashion rather than stifling the creativity of people in a capitalist class hierarchy. Undoubtedly, today we are a technological society rather than a scientific society (as the founding fathers envisioned having a scientific society), but we keep modeling government (and corporations) on the empirical model. In modern times, the notion of a few people at the top designing and implementing an ad hoc system and then using empirical information to go back and try to repair the system just won’t work. It’s expensive and wasteful to do things this way. It destroys the environment and it causes us to burn through valuable, irreplaceable national resources at an alarming rate. We can easily solve most of our problems through the democratic process, but our system isn’t designed that way and at this point, there isn’t much on the horizon for positive change.
    People at the top don’t want it to change because that’s how they remain in power-we don’t have much time left. Rome is burning.

  3. chrisw

    In my humble opinion, mixing Iraq and SC public school is a grave mistake. I understand your rhetorical adventure…but nonetheless, it was an act of intellectual hubris, and beneath your position in the community.

  4. Ed

    1. It’s not optional.
    Answer: No one is saying that it is, Brad, in the sense that you’ve used the word. Surely you’ve tried to use the ridiculous extreme to make your point here, and it just doesn’t fly. No one that I know of or have heard speak on the school choice side of the arguement has ever said that educating the kids in SC is “optional,” meaning we can choose either to do it or not. We simply say that we needn’t continue to try and do it the same way we always have, a way which has been and is pretty horribly unsuccessful. Providing education isn’t optional, but failing miserably at it is.
    2. If we don’t do it, no one will.
    Answer: See above, we ARE committed to doing it.
    3. We can do it, but it’s going to take a long, long time.
    Answer: Brad, it already has taken a long, long time, and thousands if not hundreds of thousands of kids have been irreparably hurt in the process. Again, radical change is long overdue.
    4. We can’t quit.
    Answer: We can’t quit providing educations for kids in SC, but we certainly can, and must, quit failing kids and harming them because we are to entrenched in the status quo to make changes.

  5. bud

    I second chrisw’s comment. Iraq and education are very different animals. Let me just make a few comments regarding Iraq, without belaboring my position which everyone is familiar with by now.
    Let’s compare Brad’s column with Joseph Galloway’s which appears opposite Brad’s. Brad continues to argue in favor of “staying the course”. He even suggests that the president has made 2 good decisions in advancing endevour, (1) firing Rumsfeld and (2) visiting Vietnam. Yet, as in every previous column Brad offers absolutely not one single suggestion as to what to do. Nothing. No call for increased spending for equipment. No call to bring back the draft. No appeal for help from other nations, only the old worn-out dig at the Europeans. He offers no suggestion of any timetables or benchmarks. No reference to political reform in Iraq. Nothing at all. So Brad’s article is basically worthless.
    Now, Joseph Galloway’s article. Here we have a well thoughtout discussion of the issues. He mentions the worn out equipment, long tours of duty, declining standards for our recruits. In effect, he’s suggesting our security is threatened by, not enhanced, by our involvement in Iraq. And he explains why, and offers solutions. He alludes to the fact that we’re spending huge amounts of money for expensive, and largely worthless, weapons systems while ignoring the needs of the ground troups. Galloway also suggests a need to spend more money overall to fix our military’s problems. In the past Galloway has suggested withdrawl from Iraq.
    Everyone that reads this blog should critcally evaluate what is actually said. The “cut and run” crowd generally offers sound evidence in an honest, forthright manner. The “stay the course” group is all about scare tactics and stubborn, incoherent rhetoric. Since the “stay the course” crowd has never gotten anything correct in this long, draw-out quagmire it’s time to do the sensible and safe thing and simply cut and run.

  6. Randy Ewart

    John’s use of the SAT as an indicator of school success reveals a major problem in reforming education.
    THE best indicator of success in college is high school grades and NOT the test scores John and others champion.
    Here are three good examples of why the SAT is a poor metric for overall school peformance:
    1) There is a strong relationship between score and household income.
    2) There are 9th graders who score at the national average. Certainly this does not reflect their mastery of all subjects required in high school (US History, Econ, algebra 3).
    3) I personally increased my verbal SAT by 70 points simply by using practice SAT book at home – this had nothing to do with my school.
    Take a look at the top schools in the state and you find suburban schools which are much more homogeneous than the others. For example, the top schools in the Midlands area are Chapin, Gilbert, Lexington, Irmo, and Dutch Fork. You could have predicted this by looking at average household income of the students at these schools.

  7. Brad Warthen

    What’s the point of writing if no one reads what you say, but insists that you’re saying something else.
    John, and Bud: Nobody’s advocating incremental tweaking, and nobody’s arguing for “staying the course.” What I’m advocating is trying whatever it takes (as long as it’s not obviously harmful), but NOT GIVING UP.
    Here are some of the things we have been advocating (but no one hears it because all this “choice” nonsense is so loud): Merit pay for teachers, based on performance rather than degrees and years of experience; letting kids go to whichever PUBLIC school they want (as long as we make sure transportation is provided); essentially doing away with tenure by letting principals hire and fire at will; eliminating vast amounts of administrative overhead by consolidating school districts to no more than one per county.
    How is that “staying the course?” How is that “tweaking?” Those changes are more radical, and more countercultural, than the “choice” proposal. The difference if that they are about IMPROVING public schools, not about destroying them — which is basically what the really committed advocates want, because eliminating public schools means eliminating about half the taxes they pay on a state and local level. And THAT’S what the Howard Riches and such care about.
    Where on Earth do y’all GET this “status quo” stuff? It’s certainly not from The State’s editorial pages.
    I couldn’t care less what form public education takes, as long as it is public education. As long as it IS public, we, the people of South Carolina, can keep holding it accountable and demanding change. They are OUR schools, and we can do whatever we want with them.
    Libertarians just don’t get it. They say “public schools are failing, so we should try something else.” OK, let US do so. Do not take OUR money and throw it randomly at the private sector, without any accountability to US, the taxpayers. Anything that WE do will be PUBLIC education, because otherwise it’s not us taking responsibility for it. If money were diverted to private schools and they were somehow held accountable to US, the people, then they would be public schools — which of course, is inimical to what the libertarians hold dear.
    That’s what gets me about the folks who want to give up — both on public education and Iraq. All of the arguments for giving up amount, in one way or another, to “It’s too hard and it’s not worth the cost.” I find such nihilism appalling. If it’s hard, try harder. Innovate, invent, keep pushing, keep trying. And if you want to talk cost, the cost of failing is incalculable.
    And the only way to GUARANTEE that we fail — either in S.C. public education or Iraq — is to quit.
    Make no mistake, giving up on public schools is quitting on the idea of universal education. It’s about accelerating the process that began with White Flight in the 1970s. The motivated parents of means would abandon public schools, and that middle class support for universal educational opportunity (public schools) would collapse completely within a generation. And the people advocating this wouldn’t give a damn, because THEIR kids would be OK. But the Great Unwashed out there — the faceless poor, who are the ones who make public education so difficult and expensive to begin with — will be totally abandoned.
    Ditto with Iraq. The most shameful thing my country has done in my lifetime was to encourage the Iraqi people to rise up against Saddam, and then, when some of them did, we sat by with a force MUCH larger than what we have today just SITTING there. And the fatalists, the nihilists, want to do that to them again — after having gone much farther in drawing them in to their doom. A decent and worthwhile nation cannot do that to another.
    Oh, and ChrisW — this is no rhetorical adventure. This column just spells out something that occurs to me almost daily. When I argue that we must do whatever it takes to succeed and never give up on these two daunting enterprises — public education and Iraq — I come up against the same kinds of arguments.
    I feel the exact same frustration coming up against both stripes of contagious negativity: “We all know that public schools are total failures,” and “we all know that Iraq is a lost cause.” They say these things over and over, to the point of wearing down people who aren’t as committed as we should be to either. And society drifts into a fatalistic dark void, and fails.

  8. chrisw

    I think you misread me. The point I was making is that by linking the two, you make a grave mistake.
    We South Carolinians have the knowledge and ability to make substantial and meaningful change in our public schools, but we just repeatedly choose not too.
    We South Carolinians do not have the knowledge and ability to make substantial and meaningful change in our policies in Iraq.
    To assert that we are in similar positions to the two issues is untrue, and unwise.

  9. bud

    Brad, your arguments in favor of making changes to public education are coherent and substantive. I applaud your comments. As a product of public education and a father of 3 children attending Dreher High School I’m certain that public education can succeed and for many in this state it does a fine job. Keep up the good work on this subject.
    But your arguments regarding Iraq are simply incoherent. I just don’t understand what you’re trying to say. We don’t have a vast array of options available to us in Iraq the way we do with education. We basically have about 4:
    1. Immediate withdrawal. Call it defeat if you like but there is much to be said for this. Many very intelligent people believe that we are simply increasing the threat level from terrorists by staying and trying to win. That, plus the fact that our troops are dying and getting wounded in increasing numbers suggests this approach is not nihilism but pragmatism.
    2. Increase our troop levels. This is the approach favored by John McCain. Many high ranking officers early-on suggested we had too few troops to control the violence. There are many logistical and political problems with this suggestion, but if we are hell-bent on staying it makes sense to go all out. For a very short time we could probably scrap up another 50,000 troops or so, but if progress is not obvious within about 3-4 months our entire military capability could be seriously compromised unless we resort to a draft.
    3. Set a timetable for withdrawal. Advocates argue that this would spur the Iraqi government to get its act together and seriously crack down on the various insurgents. Typically, this approach involves a significant international element by involving nations like Syria, Iraq and perhaps the Europeans to become more involved. If the Iraq government is unable or unwilling to crack down then we’d basically revert to option 1.
    4. Continue with some minor tweaking. Advocates of this approach suggest that we’re winning and we just need more time. The number of supporters for this option are growing fewer by the day.
    Any of these options could include the 3-state political division that creates separate autonomous regions for the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. But that’s about it. Which approach do suggest Brad? I’d really like to know.

  10. Lee

    Brad Warthen wants another generation of students to serve as lab rats for the same social experiment which has failed America since 1968, losing 3 entire generations of K-12 students.
    The really smart students can learn on their own, or from a set of encyclopedias. They will make 1200 to 1500 on the SAT with almost no help from a school, unless they are so dreadfully poor that the student has to work every hour not spent sleeping in a classroom. Students with high SAT scores come from families with higher-than-average incomes, because their parents are probably intelligent people, married, with careers.
    At the other very end of the spectrum are the students whose parents never got married, and only one or none lives at home, probably didn’t finish high school, and has no job or a very low-paying job. The schools claim they cannot be held responsible for educating such persons, but want lots of money to go through the motions.

  11. Randy Ewart

    Brad, I think your discouragement regarding the noise of choice is partially self-inflicted. Since May, you and The State framed the superintendent debate almost singularly in terms of choice.
    Yes, it is an important issue but pales relative to sheer importance and complexity of education. Vouchers would do little more than rearranging the deck chairs. The problem students would still exist. The racial and class differences would still exist. The faulty measurements of performance would still exist.
    Rex was given a free pass. He didn’t have to offer any real reforms that would impact the problems I face daily in the classroom. Now he doesn’t have a platform of intiatives against which we can measure his progress. His mission has been accomplished – save public schools from Floyd.
    For the next 3 1/2 years, education will only be discussed when SAT and Report Cards come out. The interest generated by the campaign is a lost opportunity.

  12. Steve

    The good thing, Brad, is that you can trot this editorial out again in 2010 and it will probably still be relevant. Jim Rex will just be getting started on some pilot program that will be dead on arrival.
    What makes you think anything will change in the public school edu-ocracy that will make a bit of difference?
    Our problem with public schools in SC is not with teachers or principals, it is squarely in the hands of two groups – parents and bureacrats. Children of parents who do not care are destined for failure. Edu-crats are only interested in public relations and keeping the money flowing. They implement ridiculous programs like PACT testing because they think collecting data somehow solves a problem. As a parent of four children who have been indoctrinated into the farce known as PACT, I know firsthand how useless it is.
    Stop all the testing. Let teachers teach.

  13. Lee

    Richland One this year spent a ton of money on a new teaching initiative, training teachers, buying materials, etc – and last week cancelled the entire program just before it was to be implemented.
    This sort of fad chasing waste is all to typical with the educrats.

  14. Doug

    Here’s some ideas that will immediately improve education in SC:
    1) Fund a program that provides summer teaching jobs for SC resident college students (in education degree programs)
    to teach reading and math to elementary school kids. Make it into a Peace-Corps
    style program and promote the heck out of it. 1000 student teachers teaching a couple kids the basics. At $250 bucks a week for 8 weeks that’s $2.0 million plus maybe another $1 million to pay real teachers to oversee the students.
    Make attendance mandatory for promotion to the next grade for students who score Below Basic. We could fund this program by:
    2) Stopping PACT tests for Science and Social Studies. I’d love to see any data that suggests a student who scores Below Basic in English can do well in either of these other two.
    3) Provide two curriculum tracks in high school – one for college bound and the other for high school graduate status.
    The high school track could focus on core skills, and provide a more real world oriented math track (anything post-Algebra
    could be replaced with business math, personal finance, etc.)
    Eliminate the P.E. credit requirement and
    the computer keyboarding requirement.

  15. Doug

    Here’s a direct cut-and-paste from a message by Inez on the webpage in response to the report card results. Here’s what she says the Dept. of Ed is going to focus on to correct the situation
    (with my comments included):
    The Department of Education is undertaking a number of other initiatives to improve student performance, including:
    • Continuing to press for quality, full-day pre-kindergarten programs for all at-risk children in the state [DR: Free daycare and no guarantee that it will make a bit of difference; spend the money on K-5 literacy programs instead]
    • Requesting funds for a statewide “formative” testing system to provide diagnostic data for individual students;
    [DR – Yeah!! More testing!!
    More FUNDING! Keep that tax $$$ flowing]
    • Revising academic standards in core subjects to give teachers more specific direction in developing classroom lessons that support state standards;
    [DR – blah blah blah; sounds like “we’re
    going to create even less opportunity for trained professional teachers to be innovative and creative in the classroom”.
    Teach to the test, because that’s all that matters.]
    • Developing an extensive online library of resources to assist teachers in day-to-day classroom instruction;
    [DR – More tax $$$ for unused technology]
    • Introducing a computer software system to track the progress of all students, reducing the paperwork burden for local schools in complying with state and federal accountability laws, and encouraging more data-based decision-making;
    [DR – Someone’s going to get a nice kickback on this waste of tax dollars;
    Why not tell us what it will cost beforehand?
    And why not just tell the federal government, “Thanks but no thanks… No Child Left Behind is a crock and we’ll take care of ourselves”]
    • Implementing the Education and Economic Development Act (EEDA) to keep students engaged and focused on the future;
    [DR – mandatory “feel good” hot air nothingness]
    • Piloting South Carolina’s first “virtual high school,” to help students catch up, keep up, and move ahead
    [DR – probably only be used by upper class kids who have access to computers and broadband… How’s this going to help a kid in Allendale???]
    What do you think, Brad? Is this the kind of stuff you believe will turn the corner in education in SC? What’s Jim Rex going to do?
    The bottom line is that educational performance is going to follow a bell shaped curve with the center point somewhere around the median income of the family. Want to improve education in SC? Move the median income upward. Do the things on a state level that will encourage economic growth and attract high tech industry to the state. Start by cutting taxes in general and offering incentives for companies to move here. Why can’t we have the equivalent of the Raleigh-Durham research triangle here in SC? Because we choose not to.

  16. Doug

    Facts to assess Brad’s comment about
    “look at how successful Richland 2 is at educating even the disadvantaged”
    For students on reduced/free meal plans, 28% scored Below Basic on English and 29% Below Basic in Math across grades 2-8 last year. Only 25% of those students scored proficient or advanced.
    The graduation rate for high school students on reduced/free meal plans in Richland 2 was 71% (compared to 75% for similar school districts in SC).
    What exactly led to the “successful” claim?

  17. some guy

    Those aren’t bad suggestions, Doug. I really like the summer college student concept….except I’d open it up even to students who aren’t in teacher education programs.
    Cutting the science and social studies sections of PACT would make sense, I agree.
    The state , in a way, has a two-track curriculum already. There’s college prep and tech prep. I think any system like that has trouble, though, because schools generally allow students to follow their interests…..schools are very, very reluctant to advise kids AGAINST college prep or courses or whatever that student might want to do.

  18. Lee

    Saddam Closer To Bomb Than Anyone Thought
    New York Times 11-02-06
    The New Yorks times confirms that in 2002 Saddam Hussein’s “scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away:”
    Among the dozens of documents in English were Iraqi reports written in the 1990’s and in 2002 for United Nations inspectors in charge of making sure Iraq abandoned its unconventional arms programs after the Persian Gulf war. Experts say that at the time, Mr. Hussein’s scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away.
    Had the United States not eliminated this threat, today we would be facing a nuclear armed Iraq and possibly a nuclear armed Iran.

  19. bud

    Lee, you’re probably the last person on earth that actually believes Iraq had a serious nuclear weapons program in 2002. Would you like some me to send you some literature from the Flat-Earth society? That has about as much credibility.
    As I mentioned above there are 4 possibilities for U.S. military involvement in Iraq. I’ll refer to them in the future as follows:
    Number 1, Withdraw immediately will be called: “Cut and Run”
    Number 2, Increase troop levels: “Go All-In” This is an old poker expression that describes this strategy well.
    Number 3, Setting a timetable for withdrawal: “Tough Love”
    Number 4, Continue doing generally what we’ve been doing with the same troop levels is …: “Stay the Course”
    I’m a “Cut and Run” guy. I can’t tell exactly what Brad, Lee, Dave and Lex are since they never exactly say. I think it’s just easier and more fun for them to just slam liberals. It’s not intellectually honest though.

  20. Lee

    Bud, you are just in denial.
    Even the New York Times admits the truth, right after the elections.
    Iraq was running WMD and terrorist operations right up until we invaded. Accept the fact.

  21. Lee

    Iraqi nuclear bomb plans taken off Web
    By William J. Broad
    New York Times
    Published on: 11/03/06
    Last March, the federal government set up a Web site to make public a vast archive of Iraqi documents captured during the war.
    The Bush administration did so under pressure from congressional Republicans who said they hoped to “leverage the Internet” to find new evidence of the prewar dangers posed by Saddam Hussein.
    But in recent weeks, the site has posted some documents that weapons experts say present a danger themselves: detailed accounts of Iraq’s secret nuclear research before the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The documents, the experts say, constitute a basic guide to building an atom bomb.
    On Thursday night, the government shut down the Web site after The New York Times asked about complaints from weapons experts and arms-control officials. A spokesman for the director of national intelligence said access to the site had been suspended “pending a review to ensure its content is appropriate for public viewing.”
    Officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency, fearing that the information could help nations like Iran develop nuclear arms, had privately protested last week to the U.S. ambassador to the agency.
    The documents, roughly a dozen in number, contain charts, diagrams, equations and lengthy narratives about bomb building that the nuclear experts say go beyond what is available elsewhere on the Internet and in other public forums. For instance, the papers give detailed information on how to build nuclear firing circuits and triggering explosives, as well as the radioactive cores of atom bombs.
    “For the U.S. to toss a match into this flammable area is very irresponsible,” said A. Bryan Siebert, a former director of classification at the federal Department of Energy, which runs the nation’s nuclear arms program. “There’s a lot of things about nuclear weapons that are secret and should remain so.”
    The government had received earlier warnings about the contents of the Web site. Last spring, after the site began posting old Iraqi documents about chemical weapons, U.N. arms-control officials in New York won the withdrawal of a report that gave information on how to make tabun and sarin, nerve agents that kill by causing respiratory failure.

  22. Ready to Hurl

    Brad sez:
    That’s what gets me about the folks who want to give up — both on public education and Iraq. All of the arguments for giving up amount, in one way or another, to “It’s too hard and it’s not worth the cost.” I find such nihilism appalling. If it’s hard, try harder. Innovate, invent, keep pushing, keep trying. And if you want to talk cost, the cost of failing is incalculable.
    No, the cost of doing what you suggest is “incalculable.” You just don’t want to admit it. Why is it “nihilism” to face the reality that should have been learned post-Vietnam?
    Your “American can-do” spirit is just blind stupidity in this case.
    You, Bush and the neo-cons have fallen into Santayana’s pit. How incredibly appropriate that Bush should visit Vietnam at this point in history and confirm the fact that his ignorance of modern history is abysmal and tragic (especially for American wounded and dead).
    And the only way to GUARANTEE that we fail — either in S.C. public education or Iraq — is to quit.
    Bush has never claimed to be a student of modern history. What’s your excuse?
    The most shameful thing my country has done in my lifetime was to encourage the Iraqi people to rise up against Saddam, and then, when some of them did, we sat by with a force MUCH larger than what we have today just SITTING there.
    What was shameful was any false promise of material support. Maybe Daddy Bush thought that the Iraqi people should overthrow Saddam on their own and control their own destiny. Maybe Daddy Bush understood that the American armed forces aren’t some sort of magical Santa Claus bringing Democracy to deserving peoples around the world. Perhaps Daddy Bush actually took seriously Colin Powell and others who had not only participated in Vietnam but studied it extensively afterwards.
    And the fatalists, the nihilists, want to do that to them again — after having gone much farther in drawing them in to their doom. A decent and worthwhile nation cannot do that to another.
    No, Brad, those of us who bothered to learn the lessons of Vietnam are only realists– not fatalists nor nihilists. (OTOH, you’re a “fantasist” who gets his cusomary “F” in understanding current history.)
    Most of us realists opposed opening the Iraqi Pandora’s Box from the beginning. The forecasts of realists have come to pass and the Bush rationale has proven to be carefully constructed falsehoods. The Bushies have botched the job even worse than the most pessimistic realist could have foretold.
    The challenge for the U.S. now is to exit Iraq with a shred of credibility, as few additional casualties as possible and leave a state which will not become a breeding ground for terrorists.
    Your challenge is to understand that we can’t export democracy with the force of arms. Your challenge is to the “fallacy of sunk costs.”
    Unfortunately, Vietnam ended decades ago and you apparently haven’t been able to draw any correct conclusions. I’m not optimistic about “fixing stupid.”

  23. Randy Ewart

    Doug, here are some more details regarding the success of R2 with students receiving free or reduced lunch, aka “the disadvantaged”.
    For high schools, there are three common metrics aside from everyone’s beloved SAT scores; HSAP passing rate, End of Course State tests, and passing rate from the 2006 Report Cards.
    I wonder about these “districts like ours” comparisons because R2 is a rare combination of suburban and high diversity. I looked up the districts centered in the main SC cities; R1, Gville, Char, Horry, Flo 1 (W and S Flo), Anderson 5 (Hanna), Lex 1,2,5. I left out Spartanburg because they are mainly one high school districts.
    Out of these 10 “city” districts, only the Lex districts had a higher passing rate for the “disadvantaged” on HSAP with Horry beating R2 by .1.
    Only the Lex districts and Horry beat R2 in graduation rate.
    R2 had the highest EOC Test passing rate for disadvantaged students. This is especially significant because this is the ONLY test that directly measures learning in courses.
    Just an FYI.

  24. Randy Ewart

    There you go again Chris with your simplistic demogoguery. Throwing around the expression “status quo” is a lazy and uniformed analysis.
    Are you suggesting absolutely nothing has changed in the past 5 years? 10 years? 20 years? Be specific. How do you justify your statement?

  25. Doug

    > Are you suggesting absolutely nothing has
    >changed in the past 5 years? 10 years? 20
    >years? Be specific. How do you justify
    >your statement
    I’m not Chris, but I’ve had one or more kids in public school since 1994. The quality of education is worse in my opinion.
    Part of decline is due to the emphasis on PACT, which adds no value to the educational process and, in fact, ends up costing students between 5-10 teaching days per year… I also have plenty of personal anecdotal evidence of teachers who have told students, “Sorry, I can’t review that material most of you failed because I need to get through this chapter to be on track for PACT”…
    Another aspect to the decline is the inreasingly undisciplined behavior of the students. I hear stories nearly every day about kids doing stuff that would have resulted in suspensions in the past.
    Then there are the really good teachers out there who have just given up on the profession because of the cookie cutter approach and bureaucratic B.S. that they have to go through. Three of the best elementary school teacher’s my kids had all walked away from teaching. Dealing with over-demanding parents, brats, and district policies is too much.
    Finally, we have a school district in Richland 2 that values the sprawl that has choked Northeast Columbia in the past decade. More houses = more students = more tax dollars = more money to spend on the fad program du jour = more money to funnel to the school construction companies who have no interest in doing anything but maximizing their profits. As the district expands, the ability to attract the best teachers decreases. We are on the inevitable path to mediocrity that comes with increasing the population faster than you can develop good teachers.
    I am encouraged, though, that I will be able to work well into my senior adult years because there are so many kids these days who are either ignorant or unmotivated.
    The coddled youth of today will be tomorrow’s slackers stumbling through life.
    Luckily, I’ve only got five more years to deal with the school system. After that, they can do PACT testing every single day for all I care.

  26. Randy Ewart

    Doug, your suggestion of some school district imperialism is misguided. Hefner and the D.O. hardly control housing developments, roads, county regulations etc. He doesn’t have a part time job at a realor firm nor does he sit on the county council which does oversee the growth.
    This is another example of piling on schools and districts for the ills of our society in general. School board members, the county council, the legislature get a free pass as critics focus on the easy targets for their demogoguery.

  27. Doug

    If the school board and the superintendent came out publicly against the sprawl five years ago, do you think the county council would be able to get away with their tactics? They have been complicit in their support of the sprawl.
    Did you know the school board / administration authorized the payment of $50K to the M.B. Kahn construction company to develop a ten year development plan for all the schools this district will build? When you let the one of the primary builders of schools come up with the plan to build those schools over a ten year period, whose interests are being served? Check out the plan sometime. It’s a testimony to what can be done when a bureacracy gets into bed with well connected builders. The inflation rate for school costs was about triple the normal inflation rate.
    Just wait til the next bond referendum comes in 2008. You think anyone from the district office will say anything but “We need more money!” It’s a coordinated public relations effort orchestrated by the district office.
    I’ve been open in my disregard for the school board. Unlike other people, I actually put my money where my mouth was and actually ran for the job in 2002. I’m not afraid to criticize those who waste the public’s money. I know many of the board members all too well from when I ran. They are more than willing to tell tales on each other… there’s the one who uses the office to fund her personal vacation junkets to Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head for those sham School Board Assoc. conferences… there’s the one whose husband is the actual person making all the decisions from behind the scenes… there’s the one that had to resign this past year due to embezzlement charges… and these are the people who never say NO to anything the district asks for. It’s a rubberstamp board with no interest in anything but keeping the public in the dark.
    So I’m not some random demagogue. I’ve been a PTO president, run for school board, had three kids in R2 schools for a total of 30 years combined, been on the field trips, and been in the classrooms to volunteer many times. I’ve done my homework… I’ve filed my Freedom of Information Act requests (and been denied information by the district office)… I’ll put my day-to-day experience dealing with Richland 2 up against anyone. I’ve seen far more of it than you have. That’s not a demagogue – it’s an informed opinion. It’s too bad your fear of retribution prevents you from being anything but a Richland 2 cheerleader.

  28. Ready to Hurl

    Hey, Brad, check out Keith Olberman’s commentary on Bush’s F- Vietnam comments.
    I don’t expect a “print guy” to admit that a teevee talking head has greater insight (especially a former sportscaster) but it’s all too apparent to us realists.

  29. Randy Ewart

    Doug, that’s a weak analysis suggesting I’m little more than a cheeleader. Disagreeing with you on a single point doesn’t reflect a broad endorsement of the board. In my “cheerleader post” I question why school boards are not held accountable.
    My point is how easy it is for you and other critics to blast away at our schools and “educrats”. Often there is limited substance behind such criticism and you and others will use a broad brush to disparage us as a whole.
    Paying Kahn for a 10 year study, while it may be a questionable tactic, is hardly an endorsement of sprawl. You are painting Hefner and his crew as imperialist by suggesting they WANT more people, more taxes, more money, and more schools. I fail to see how you can justify this and find it a silly notion.
    Again, you point the finger at the board but absolve the county council of responsibility. This appears to be a vendetta against the school system, which is largely my point. I am for an honest critique of our education system, but am strongly against the demagoguery that is so common.

  30. Lee

    Lexington 2 needs more people and more taxes because they are running a Ponzi scheme to finance school construction. If the new suckers stop coming, the scheme unravels.

  31. Steve

    Isn’t it “convenient” how the school districts know where all the housing development is going to occur over the next ten years so they can link up school construction to the master plan?
    You think the developers would create as much sprawl if they didn’t know beforehand that there would be schools built (often inside the development or right on the edge)?
    A development like The Summit in northeast Columbia represents over a billion dollars of real estate sales and tens of millions in tax revenue. When there’s that much money involved, you can believe there’s money flowing under the table to make sure things get done.
    You think The State will ever complain about sprawl? No way. More homes lead to more potential subscribers which means more ad revenue.
    It’s all about the Benjamins, baby.

  32. Spencer Gantt

    All you education wizards out there, answer this.
    Why are school boards necessary in the first place. They seem to be just political entities. Why couldn’t schools be run by themselves? You know, by parents, teachers and administrators. The old PTA thing.
    You could have district admins only for athletics and other extra-curricular crap. Only what is taught is “regulated” or “mandated” by Der Shtadt and that should be minimal.
    Also, equal funding by Der Shtadt (taxpayer’s money) for each and every school so we can eliminate the “corridor of shame”.
    Oh yeah, and vouchers for all – public and private, rich and poor.

  33. Lee

    As Randy stated, The State and Brad Warthen distorted this campaign with converage of only one issue: school vouchers. That was intended to simplify the issues in order to defeat Karen Floyd.
    It did a disservice to the readers by ignoring the other issues, and insuring that whoever won would not have an promises or expectations to fulfill.
    One way to remove the corrupt relationship between school administrations and real estate developers is to end the subsidies to developers. Make them pay for the new schools, roads, water and sewer lines, and build the financing into the mortgages of the home buyers.

  34. Randy Ewart

    Isn’t it “convenient” how the school districts know where all the housing development is going to occur over the next ten years so they can link up school construction to the master plan? – Steve
    What would you have them do Steve, wait a few years then discover all the population growth AFTER the fact? They have population projections to anticipate congestion and to buy land ahead of time.
    Is their approach as effective as it should be? No, but your suggestion that some some “Benjamins” are finding their way to the superintendent is better suited for a Sopranos script.

  35. Dave

    One thing I have to give teachers credit for is they vote, and they vote their self interest. Teachers and administrators defeated Floyd more than The State or any other group. I predict post election stats will prove that if not already published. Years ago, Al Fondy, then head of the AFT, said “When students can vote then I will be interested in the needs of students”. That says it all about where the real priorities are. So we have what we have and Rex can now commission lots of studies but nothing will truly change. I hope I am wrong on that score but time will tell.

  36. bud

    I might have voted for Floyd if she hadn’t come out in support of teaching creation science in schools. It’s time to support Rex, a true professional who will move the education process forward. And good riddance to the kooky Ms. Floyd.

  37. bud

    Wake up call. Here’s the latest news from Iraq:
    BAGHDAD, Iraq – The United Nations said Wednesday that 3,709 Iraqi civilians were killed in October, the highest monthly toll since the March 2003 U.S. invasion and another sign of the severity of Iraq’s sectarian bloodbath.
    Ok Brad, Lee, Dave and the rest of you war-mongers out there, this is what we’ve accomplished in Iraq. More civilian deaths than ever before in this troubled country. And you have the nerve to call those of us who want to bring the troops home nihilists. That’s a sick joke. We’re not helping these people we’re just creating more death and destruction.
    Here are the 6 definitions of nihilist. All seem to apply to the war-mongers who insist on “staying the course”:
    –noun 1. total rejection of established laws and institutions.
    2. anarchy, terrorism, or other revolutionary activity.
    3. total and absolute destructiveness, esp. toward the world at large and including oneself: the power-mad nihilism that marked Hitler’s last years.
    4. Philosophy. a. an extreme form of skepticism: the denial of all real existence or the possibility of an objective basis for truth.
    b. nothingness or nonexistence.
    5. (sometimes initial capital letter) the principles of a Russian revolutionary group, active in the latter half of the 19th century, holding that existing social and political institutions must be destroyed in order to clear the way for a new state of society and employing extreme measures, including terrorism and assassination.
    6. annihilation of the self, or the individual consciousness, esp. as an aspect of mystical experience.

  38. Lee

    The primary target of terrorists is the civlian population. Islamofascists are in the same mode as the Viet Cong was in 1968, when we wiped them out. They use the same Marxist tactics.
    If the Democrats lighten up on them, they will do just as the communists did and kill 2,000,000 innocent civilians after we leave.
    But liberal Democrats sat silently while Saddam bribed Kofi Annan and other UN officials, diverting oil money from food to WMD machinery, and starving 1,000,000 Iraqi children and women to death ( source: UNICEF ).

  39. bud

    Spencer, the point is we’re not making things better. In the years immediately prior to our invasion there certainly weren’t 3,700 civilians dying each month. Most of the civilians killed during Saddam’s “reign of terror” died while we were supporting him in the 1980s. We can’t pretend any longer that our occupation is for the sake of the Iraqi civilians. It’s simply not a credible rationale for continuing what amounts to an imperialist occupation.

  40. Dave

    Saddam Hussein was responsible for the deaths of between 2 to 3 million people with his wars against Iran, Kuwait and the internal slaughter of his political foes and the Kurdish minority. 300 to 500,000 have been found in mass graves within Iraq with more graves to be found. Bud is part of the Blame America crowd so somehow we did all that. Bud, you are living on occupied land right now, taken from the native Indians. Do you propose giving it back, since that makes you an imperialist?

  41. Spencer Gantt

    I think we are making things better in Iraq for many according to the “news that’s not reported”, but overall, I’m totally dissatisfied with the way the “war” is going over there. It’s hard for me to believe that the greatest army in the world, yes it is, isn’t able to overcome roadside bombs, IEDs and car bombers after what, 3-4 years? Our troops could do the job and get out of there if allowed to truly fight. But, this is another politicians’ war as was Vietnam. That’s the tragedy of the whole situation.
    As Steve McQueen said in The Sand Pebbles, “Shoot SOMETHING!” If only they were allowed to.

  42. Lee

    Liberals want America to fail, because the feel guilty about the success and power of America. They feel that they personally don’t deserve the properity and soft lives they lead, and they extend that guilt and self-loathing to at least the Western civilization of which America is the pinnacle.

  43. Randy Ewart

    One thing I have to give teachers credit for is they vote, and they vote their self interest. – Dave
    Who doesn’t vote for their self-interest Dave?

  44. Lee

    Lots of real Americans vote in the greater interest of their country. If your self interest is not aligned with what is best for your country and your fellow man, you probably are a leech who shouldn’t be voting.

  45. Steve Gordy

    Lee, exactly who is the judge of “what is best for your country and your fellow man”? In a free nation, the answer is “each individual American.” Or do you think the Founding Fathers got it wrong?

  46. Dave

    Randy, a large percentage of public school teachers send their kids to private schools to avoid the failings of public schools, yet vote to keep those who cannot afford private schools captive to those same failing schools. That is the height of self interest.

  47. Lee

    Mr. Gordy, I cannot give you 12 years of remedial education in citizenship. It’s up to you to learn what should have been a basic part of your public school education.
    Since the day the Constitution was written, there have been subversives encouraging division by dangling the temptations to vote wealth for yourself by stealing from others.
    There will be no wealth or security for anyone in America unless we eradicate these Islamic terrorists who seek to eradicate us. Only fools and cowards want to believe that letting these thugs seize control of the Mideast will pacify them into a laissez faire attitude toward Western welfare socialist states. Wake up!

  48. Randy Ewart

    a large percentage of public school teachers send their kids to private schools to avoid the failings of public schools – Dave
    Dave, cite for us the number of SC teachers that do so. With only 4 private high schools in the Midlands area, their classrooms must overflowing with public school teacher teenagers.
    I’m confident your statement is little more than parrotting what someone else wrote and you assumed it was true.
    This, in turn, undermines your asinine conclusion that teachers are against voucher schemes for their own “self-interest”. It also doesn’t explain why the majortiy of voters in a deep red state(including almost 50% of Floyd’s home county which is very conservative) voted against vouchers as well.

  49. Dave

    Randy, see below data from an article in the Wash. Times. I dont have SC stats but these are representative across the nation.

    More than 25 percent of public school teachers in Washington and Baltimore send their children to private schools, a new study reports.
    Nationwide, public school teachers are almost twice as likely as other parents to choose private schools for their own children, the study by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute found. More than 1 in 5 public school teachers said their children attend private schools.
    In Washington (28 percent), Baltimore (35 percent) and 16 other major cities, the figure is more than 1 in 4. In some cities, nearly half of the children of public school teachers have abandoned public schools.
    In Philadelphia, 44 percent of the teachers put their children in private schools; in Cincinnati, 41 percent; Chicago, 39 percent; Rochester, N.Y., 38 percent. The same trends showed up in the San Francisco-Oakland area, where 34 percent of public school teachers chose private schools for their children; 33 percent in New York City and New Jersey suburbs; and 29 percent in Milwaukee and New Orleans.
    Michael Pons, spokesman for the National Education Association, the 2.7-million-member public school union, declined a request for comment on the study’s findings. The American Federation of Teachers also declined to comment.
    Public school teachers told the Fordham Institute’s surveyors that private and religious schools impose greater discipline, achieve higher academic achievement and offer overall a better atmosphere.
    “Across the states, 12.2 percent of all families — urban, rural and suburban — send their children to private schools,” says the report, based on 2000 census data.
    “Public education in many of our large cities is broken,” the surveyors conclude. “The fix? Choice, in part, to be sure.”
    Public school teachers in Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Chicago, Rochester, N.Y., and Baltimore registered the most dissatisfaction with the schools in which they teach.
    “These results do not surprise most practicing teachers to whom we speak,” say report authors Denis P. Doyle, founder of a school improvement company, SchoolNet Inc.; Brian Diepold, an economics graduate student at American University; and David A. DeSchryver, editor of the Doyle Report, an online education policy and technology journal.
    “Teachers, it is reasonable to assume, care about education, are reasonably expert about it and possess quite a lot of information about the schools in which they teach. We can assume that no one knows the condition and quality of public schools better than teachers who work in them every day.”
    “They know from personal experience that many of their colleagues make such a choice [for private vs. public schools], and do so for good and sufficient reasons.”
    The report says the school choice movement has begun competitively forcing public school improvement, particularly in cities like Milwaukee, called “a hotbed of school reform,” where 29.4 percent of public school teachers sent their children to private schools, the study finds.
    “Narrow the search to teachers making less than $42,000 and the percentage enrolling their children in private schools drops to 10 percent. Because Milwaukee is a hotbed of school reform, it’s possible that teachers making less than $42,000 are beginning to favor the public school system.”
    “If so, it might be evidence that choice is having the intended effect of spurring improvements in public education there. Or perhaps the emergence of [public school] charters has provided another free option to lower-income teachers who might otherwise choose private schooling.”

  50. Ready to Hurl

    Shorter Dave:
    “I can’t back up my slander of SC teachers but Rev. Moon’s rightwing propaganda organ gives me enough blather to cut and paste.”

  51. Lee

    All those factual statistics about public teachers preferring private schools just knocked the stuffing out of RTH, the blog turkey.

  52. Dave

    Hurl cant handle actual facts as he gags on them. Hopefully he kept his Thanksgiving feast in rather than out.

  53. Ready to Hurl

    The primary source of these “factual statistics”– a rightwing “think tank” whose mission is to replace the public school system with private schools.
    The media channel purveying this canard is a money-losing fish wrapper published by self-annointed messiah Rev. Moon in his effort to insert his loony-toon version of Christianity into the U.S.
    Dave and Lee, it’s best to remember an old IT maxim: garbage in, garbage out.

  54. Lee

    And the socialist “think tanks” spin reports and studies justifying the replacement of voluntary, free market purchase of educational services with government schools financed by forced extraction of taxes from a minority of taxpayers, run by bureaucrats who feel no obligation to answer to their students or parents.

  55. Lee

    Quality food put into a garbage can = garbage.
    Same with good students put into a rotten educational system.

  56. Steve Gordy

    Lee, you need not worry yourself about my citizenship education. I got it from people whose shoes you aren’t fit to hold (i.e., my parents, grandparents and assorted others).

  57. Lee

    I didn’t mention your citizenship being slack, Gordy – something else must have made you feel guilty.
    I have criticized the lack of citizenship taught in our schools and the misinformation taught there, but you didn’t disagree with me on any of that.

  58. Dave

    Hurl – Show facts to dispute the facts from the study I cited instead of blabbing about right wing nonsense. I dont think Randy is disputing these facts. Stop hurling and start thinking.

  59. Steve Gordy

    “Mr. Gordy, I cannot give you 12 years of remedial education in citizenship. It’s up to you to learn what should have been a basic part of your public school education.”
    Lee, if this isn’t directed at me personally, you and I must speak different variants of the English language. I was educated in L.A. (Lower Alabama), so that may account for different interpretations.

  60. Phillip

    Brad: “The most shameful thing my country has done in my lifetime was to encourage the Iraqi people to rise up against Saddam, and then, when some of them did, we sat by with a force MUCH larger than what we have today just SITTING there.”
    The error there was in the encouragement, not the non-invasion.
    But more astounding to me is the part that says that was the “most shameful thing” the US has done in your lifetime. Vietnam? Support of right-wing death squads in Central America? Wiretapping and surveillance of political opponents by the FBI? Even if one agrees that the post-Gulf War policy was shameful, your number one ranking of it on a list of shame is surprising.

  61. Brad Warthen

    What do you mean by the one-word statement, “Vietnam?” I realize that in the post-modern world, that’s supposed to suffice as volumes of argument in and of itself, but it doesn’t work for me. I don’t consider “Vietnam,” without qualifying specifics, to be a bad thing, therefore no, I could not put it on the same level as betraying the dissidents in Iraq. A nation as powerful as ours standing by when it has the power to stop an evil thing being done to a people, when that thing is happening because of actions WE encouraged (and encouraging them was NOT a bad thing, as long as we were willing to help, as the president seemed to imply) is bad on a massive scale. Of all the mistakes we made or didn’t make in Vietnam, I can’t think of anything with quite that sweep.
    Wiretaps are practically nothing to me. And even a person who thinks they are bad should be able to admit that they are nothing to mass murder.
    The death squads? Shameful indeed, to the extent that Americans supported them. But before I can rank that one, I need you to help me refresh my memory by pointing to the conclusive, out-in-the-open proof of that. In Iraq in 91, the president was on worldwide TV saying rise up; throw off your chains. It was betrayal on the grand scale, right out on the world’s center stage. Our connection to the death squads is less certain — as I remember. But I stand ready to be corrected on that, because I haven’t gone back and studied it.

  62. Lee

    Philip –
    You write in such shorthand that I, like Brad Warthen, am not sure what you think you mean.
    Death squads? Which ones? The communist ones run by the dictators in Nicaragua whom the Democrats supported?

  63. Ready to Hurl

    Dave, I don’t feel compelled to disprove a “study” from an obviously biased source for the same reason that I don’t waste my time debunking Scientology.
    Show me confirmation of these “facts” from a less partisan and more disinterested source. Then I’ll take it on.
    As it is, neither Randy nor I think that these “facts” are even plausible in SC given the paucity of private schools and the number of public school teachers with school-age kids.
    I would be surprised if the allegations hold up in places like Detroit, Cleveland, or Milwaukee where teachers are paided better; public schools are ailing; and parochial school systems are more prevalent.
    You can keep yammering about this “study” but it has little credence in my book– like a “survey” of Darwinism from the Discovery Institute.

  64. Lee

    Of course the anti-intellectuals don’t feel compelled to make any sort of argument against any studies that threaten their belief system. They don’t even read opposing points of view, or facts. They just dismiss those who deliver the facts as being biased.

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