• Why don’t politicians who think “anyone can teach” all become teachers?
• The nationwide shortage of teachers is likely caused by media and politicians bad-mouthing public schools and public school teachers. Legislatures are trying to find ways to increase the number of teachers, but there are fewer and fewer young people going into the profession. Diane Ravitch suggests that “The best way to increase the supply of teachers is to raise salaries and reduce class sizes.”
So, I guess we’re stuck with the shortage given that our legislators don’t like spending money. We need to change our ways and make our children a priority.
• Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn said about teaching, “Anybody can do it” and claimed that teacher training programs were “the dumbest part of every college.” In his mind, it follows that “teachers are trained in the dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges in the country.” That attitude along with salaries more than 20% lower than other similarly trained college graduates, might have something to do with the teacher shortage. Prospective teachers either believe what they hear, or don’t want to enter a profession whose practitioners are overworked, underpaid, and regularly insulted.
VOUCHERS: FUNDING RELIGION
• Instead of fully funding public education, legislators fund those who fill their campaign treasuries. Last school year Indiana sent nearly a quarter million BILLION dollars ($241.4 million) to private, mostly religious, schools in the form of school vouchers. But Article 1, Section 6 of the State Constitution says that “No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution.” Luckily for the religious schools, the state supreme court ignored the concept of church-state separation.
• Speaking of church-state separation, here are quotes from two American politicians about the topic…
Lauren Boebert said in a speech last month,
I’m tired of this separation of church and state junk — that’s not in the Constitution. It was in a stinking letter and it means nothing like they say it does.
Thomas Jefferson wrote this in 1802 — the letter that Boebert says “means nothing,”
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.
Does the phrase “separation of church and state” mean nothing?
NO MORE STALE IDEOLOGIES
• It seems that the Florida legislature wants to keep tabs on the number of post-secondary students and faculty who believe in a “stale ideology.” Does the new law, approved and signed by Governor DeSantis, define what a “stale ideology” is, or who decides what’s stale and what’s not? Stale colleges and universities might be punished by funding cuts. What’s next? Loyalty oaths? A Florida House Un-American Activities Committee?
Does this mean that the funding from the right-wing Charles Koch Foundation to various Florida universities (see here for example) will have to end? Does it matter that Governor DeSantis gets campaign contributions from Koch Industries?
• Sheila Kennedy wrote about the lack of civic knowledge in the United States.
America’s political culture is the most toxic it has been in my lifetime– and I’m old. There are lots of theories about how we got here—from partisan gerrymandering and residential sorting to increasing tribalism to fear generated by rapid social and technological change and exacerbated by dishonest partisan media. But our current inability to engage in productive civic conversation is also an outgrowth of declining trust in our social and political institutions—primarily government. Restoring that trust is critically important —but in order to trust government, we have to understand what it is and isn’t supposed to do.
I would add that we’ve also lost the ability to see things from the “other’s” point of view which makes coming to a reasonable compromise impossible. We have allowed ourselves to fall into a Gingrichian, all-or-nothing mentality that defines compromise as impossible. Currently, the loudest politicians in the country are those who see winning or losing as the only options. They see governing as a zero-sum game, a false dichotomy, a “my way or the highway” mentality. They don’t understand that a free society cannot function without cooperation and compromise (think traffic laws, for example). We don’t have to agree with each other, but we need to open our minds and at least listen to other points of view.
AND A COUPLE OF TRIVIAL THOUGHTS
• I love baseball…and don’t care that it’s a “slow” game. The pace of baseball gives fans time to do something that doesn’t happen often enough — engage in conversation — and specifically, engage in conversation about the game. The digital revolution has damaged our attention spans. We’re losing the ability to concentrate for an entire baseball game to social media like TikTok, Twitter, and texting. IMHO, the length and speed of a baseball game is a feature, not a bug.
• Watch your dog when you yawn…chances are he’ll yawn, too…and vice versa.