Silly government, parenting is for parents

There has been ample debate lately about who is really committed to making our children healthier. The argument goes something like this: If food manufacturers were seriously concerned about children’s health, they would make parents’ jobs easier by getting rid of the cartoonish characters they’ve used since the 1950s to market their products. They would also stop running television advertisements on programs ranging from “Dora” to “American Idol,” stop sponsoring sporting events and children’s charities and neglect to advertise the market-driven nutritional improvements they’ve made to their products.


Helping military families with DonorsChoose

I'm a big fan of, helping teachers get the job done. A teacher can post a project there, and anyone can help out by giving a few dollars until the project gets funded. A project could be as simple as getting enough pens and paper to last the school year, which is a real problem in many schools. There're a lot of underfunded school districts out there, and it's really unfair for teachers to fund stuff from their own (inadequate) salaries.


Fear of math and science

We can all agree that many children these days prefer not to study very much. I’m not sure if it’s because they are so busy with other things, or that they have been handed so much that the idea of hard work is foreign to them.

Whatever the reason, it’s obvious to parents and teachers across America that kids aren’t putting in the effort to excel in math and science. One explanation may be because math and science generally demand specific solutions, meaning either a right or wrong answer, so for a lot of kids who are scared to fail, or sadly even scared to try, math and science are just pushed away at all costs.


White House committed to failing schools … and the NEA

In case there were any doubt, the White House is still committed to failing schools — oh, and the NEA.

The House of Representatives is expected to vote today — and pass — H.R. 471, the SOAR Act, or reauthorization of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship (DCOS) program. Like clockwork, the White House released a statement in anticipation of the vote asserting it “strongly opposes” bringing back the program or expanding it to new students.

They were quite clear, in fact: “Private school vouchers are not an effective way to improve student achievement.”

Not so long ago the DCOS program helped more than 3,000 low-income students escape one of the most expensive and ineffectual school districts in the nation. Students lucky enough to participate in the program had an opportunity to seek out alternative educational opportunities that produced real results.


D.C. scholarships

I was driving into work this morning, listening to Tim Farley’s always-excellent morning show on the POTUS channel of XM/Sirius radio as he interviewed D.C.’s delegate to Congress, Eleanor Holmes Norton (D).

Eleanor lives in my neighborhood on Capitol Hill, and when you meet her in person, she can be rather pleasant.

But politically, she is a disaster. For example, she helped to deliver us Vincent Gray, the current joke of a mayor in the nation’s capital.

Norton — or Eleanor, as she is known by her campaign signs — likes to believe that D.C. is her own private domain that she can rule as she likes. She likes to think that, despite not having a formal vote on the floor of the House of Representatives and no real power in Congress, other than the power to shoot off her mouth, which she does with great skill.


The purpose of mass education

Mass education has two components. The first is to impart knowledge to children that they need to effectively function as a member of society. This includes literacy, basic arithmetic and a basic understanding of civics in order to participate in our republic. At a higher level this imparts technical knowledge to various professionals, technicians and artisans.

The second function is a sifting process, designed to separate the wheat from the chaff. It recognizes that not everyone can become a doctor, lawyer or engineer. It gives employers a basis for choosing the most appropriate employees for various jobs.


Where are the boys?

A common refrain among coeds these days, as college attendance and graduation rates among males are tanking across the nation.

More and more, American teenage boys seem to be falling behind their female peers in educational attainment, causing a gender schism and disrupting the social pecking order. Curiously, the drop in attendance by males seems to correspond to the rate of increase in female-headed single-parent households nationwide. The ultimately more important question might be, Where are the fathers?


Broken promises, wasted futures

This morning I joined “Fox and Friends” to talk about “Promises Kept and Promises Broken” since last year’s State of the Union address. We hit a lot of the big-ticket issues — spending, taxation, healthcare reform — but there was another promise we didn’t get to touch on: education. 

Considering this is School Choice Week, I was particularly interested in what promises the president made last January about K-12 education. When it comes to education, Obama said, “the idea here is simple. … Instead of rewarding failure, we only reward success. Instead of funding the status quo, we only invest in reform — reform that raises student achievement.”

I have to admit I was suspicious. Rewarding success? Isn’t that what the DC Opportunity Scholarship program was — a successful alternative for D.C. students that resulted in higher student performance and increased graduation rates? But the president — with the help of Democrats in Congress like Sen. Richard Durbin (Ill.) — ended that program shortly after arriving in the White House.

Still, that was then, this is now. How did President Obama’s promise to “reward success” hold up over this past year? Turns out, not so well.



While people are justifiably praising President Obama for his string of victories during the lame-duck session of Congress, there were several items left undone by his administration during its first two years that sorely need addressing during the remainder of his first term. Chief among this is improving the state of public education in this country.

It has been widely reported that test scores of U.S. students in reading, math and science lag badly behind many other industrial nations. We used to be No. 1 — now we are often not even in the top 10. In fact, according to the 2009 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), 15-year-old U.S. students ranked 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math among 34 countries.


Bring ROTC back to the Ivy League

Suppose we here in the Northeast, citing the foibles and earthy prejudices of the gnarly red-clay heartlanders, decided not to send ours to Congress or the Supreme Court or any court until they became more refined, like us. Congress might then consist of senators exclusively from Baylor and Southern Methodist and the Supreme Court of justices from Liberty University and the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

That is what we have done with the refusal to allow ROTC to recruit on Ivy League campuses. To become an American military officer, you would have to go to another college. Without a doubt, it has influenced foreign policy, including our current missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. But we in Boston suffer the most. Gone is the memory of Joshua Chamberlain, and although the tourist bus makes its first stop on Boston Common at the monument to the historic Black Civil War Regiment, Robert Gould Shaw, who died and was laid to rest with his men, is likewise lost to our collective memory. Barney Frank, Bart Simpson, Bob Dylan: This is what we are today. This is what we have become since the Vietnam period.