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Obama’s Little Back to School Special

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One of the few things I have  gone on record as having disagreed with George W. Bush about has been No Child Left Behind (NCLB).  It was a good idea.  Unfortunately good intentions often go awry.

The big problem with NCLB is the fact that the average school administrator is nothing but a sniveling coward.  They are terrified their schools will not score well in testing, so they now demand teachers not teach but prep for tests.  If the average administrator had the backbone of a jellyfish it would be an improvement to the pathetic excuse of men and women who are only interested in looking good in the next report.

They are so terrified of their own shadows that they enact draconian zero tolerance rules which have seriously contributed to the dramatic rise in drop-out rates throughout the nation.  I could tell you the story of a young woman I know, a National Merit Scholar, getting ready to graduate with honors and a fortune in scholarship money.  A few weeks before her graduation she was caught smoking in the parking lot, and suspended for two weeks.  A downward spiral began that led to her dropping out, losing her scholarship, involving herself in a dramatic early marriage, and no college. 

Yes, smoking in the parking lot was a bone-headed move, but it was one that should not have destroyed her life. What was once an extremely bright future turned into yet another New Mexico statistic.  Administrators are so worried about lawsuits they are willing to sacrifice, to cannibalize their young.  Just a thought, perhaps they should be subjected to a lawsuit every time something like this happens.  I wonder what would happen to dropout rates then?

They sure taught her a thing or two. Gone are the days when being busted on school property while smoking pot would result in a week long suspension.  Now the same kid is expelled, out on the streets.  The teachers who do have the milk of humanity within them, those who want to salvage a kid like this, are no longer allowed to do so.  It could result in a lawsuit.

Instead they must cater to administrators who are so woefully ignorant that they do not recognize the professionally acted words of the Witches of Macbeth.  Rather than admit a mistake, the administrator to whom I refer castigated the English lit teacher, demanding to know what sort of thing she was teaching her students.  She glared at him and handed him the literature book they were using that year, with the page marked to the offending passage.  She then suggested he  never set foot in her classroom again if he was that poorly educated.

So, he went back to his zero tolerance, making the school safe from parents who might want to file a lawsuit if their precious darling happened to be the victim of a alien terror attack.  He never did bother to check on a couple of the kids in his school who had serious behavioral problems. Never fear, his crocodile tears were prolific when one of those young people committed suicide.

We can just about guarantee that the pot smoking young Barry Obama who was chilling out in the parking lot of his very exclusive prep school in Hawaii would no longer get a second chance.  Instead, someone like that would be yet another statistic, advertising the joys and pleasures of zero tolerance.  That would bring on a lockdown while the local cops brought in drug dogs and sniffed down every locker and checked every single backpack and handbag on the campus. 

About SJ Reidhead

  • Mark Schannon

    Anyone hear a mosquito buzzing? Probably a Lyme disease carrier. Time to get that 100% Deet out.

  • Cindy

    Mark (S),

    As people become more frightened for physical and economic security, I think there’s a tendency to become more tribal, to pull inwards to protect those most near and dear.

    That is interesting to me because it is exactly what people who are limited to your ‘hypothetical caveman’ qualities would do, but exclusively.

    That is the story we’re told about why there needs to be a free market. Because people are like your ‘cavemen’. We have to have some constraint and delineation of rights to stop all these cavemen clubbing each other and taking over things.

    You have acknowledged we are more than that. What I don’t understand (and I am thinking of your comment that ‘education’ isn’t the ‘way’. And I agree if you mean what passes for education here. These institutions are all wrong for changing things and serve more to hold the status quo in place.) is how you explain solidarity and acceptance among people of very different groups even past language barriers sometimes.

    How do you explain social movements, with participants from divergent groups, who all recognize something similar.

    Because you do say we are capable of more. So, if we are capable of more, then what is the difference between the person who recognizes this and the one who doesn’t?

    (I’m not sure how to phrase what I want to know, or if these questions will elicit the right info.)

    (I’ll have some wine in case it might help me see the truth :-) Cheers!)

  • Mark Schannon

    Whew, Cindy, do you ever ask easy questions? I’ve never intended to suggest that we are purely primitive creatures–cavemen, and I hope that’s not the impression I’ve left you with. Our prefrontal cortex & other relatively modern parts of the brain are what give us the ability to withstand the almost always unconscious urgings from the more primitive parts which evolved in a society far different and far more dangerous than the one we face today.

    I probably spend more time reading, thinking, and writing about primitive brain elements and how they influence us because it’s so bizarre and is in such conflict with the good Enlightenment education I received.

    We have evolved to the point where concepts such as justice, fairness, equity, liberty, and others can mobilize vast numbers of people.

    You ask what’s the difference between people who recognize this & those who don’t. You might not like my answer, but it’s difficult to deal with issues such as these in a damn comments section where I don’t have the ability to write something, put it away for a while & come back and edit it. So I’ll just throw this out:

    We are all of us driven by “self interest” even if we’re not always aware of it…but try to think of the term in a values-neutral sense. The Golden Rule is a perfect example of enlightened self-interest. We tend to behave in ways that make manifest the environment in which we believe we’ll be most likely to thrive.

    If we’re frightened and see the world as hostile and violent with no real hope for anything else, we’ll be protective. Our self interest is to keep what we have believing that “they” are out there to take it.

    But if we have a different world view, then our self interest is different. Instead of right-wing gun-wielding cohorts manning the barricades, we become “doers of good deeds,” as the Wizard of Oz said (or so I remember.)

    Obviously, I favor the latter approach, and when I’ve said education isn’t the answer, I was using the term in the top-down, teachers smart, students dumb, teachers make students less dumb concept. I am a big fan of the “aha” moment, the sudden awareness of a new way of looking at the world that offers a hint of understanding.

    That can be discussed. People with open minds can learn. But it’s not a collection of facts; read John Spivey’s book, The Great Western Divide (John used to be a BCer) if you want to experience learning without education or teaching. John’s a master of showing rather than telling.

    Oh well, I hope you’ve had enough wine to understand at least some of this. Maybe we’d be better off e-mailing each other. This is such an awkward forum.

    In Jameson Veritas

  • roger nowosielski

    One does indeed a whole bunch of vino, probably a gallon of Gallo, to understand this. YOU said it.

    For starters, what does “self-interest” comes to if it can come out either way. It’s of no account on your account.

    Yes, you had better try another forum, more congenial to this kind of nonsense.

  • Clavos


    Mark Schannon, one of the most thoughtful and intelligent voices to grace these pages in all my years on BC, accused of spouting “nonsense.”

    And by Roger, no less.



  • Mark

    Don’t knock nonsense. It’s one of our best methods of communicating.

  • roger nowosielski

    Why don’t you get engaged in a conversation, Clavos, rather than comment from the side? Do you have anything particular in mind or is it just off the cuff?

  • roger nowosielski

    I don’t Clavos would understand that there’s more than one kind of nonsense – the kind that MS is spouting – either to hide or generate confusion – or the other kind, to uncover the bewitchment of language. It’s a matter of how you want to take Wittgenstein – straight up or upside down.

    Figure that one, Clavos, and get back to me.

  • Mark

    So Mark, what do you make of those amygdala fippers? (I’d add a link, but asskissmet thinks it’s spam.)

  • roger nowosielski

    I don’t think . . .

  • Cindy


    If we’re frightened and see the world as hostile and violent with no real hope for anything else, we’ll be protective. Our self interest is to keep what we have believing that “they” are out there to take it.

    But if we have a different world view, then our self interest is different. Instead of right-wing gun-wielding cohorts manning the barricades, we become “doers of good deeds,” as the Wizard of Oz said (or so I remember.)

    Well, if you say so. But you can’t be my nemesis then, since we see that about the same way.

    I think your caveman proposition was in stronger contrast to my anarchist ideas in the last large conversation we had.

    It was more like a headache yet it seemed like a brain tumor. :-)

    (not yours or mine…of course)

    (P.S. I know what you mean about writing and coming back and editing. So, I understand you might not say it just like you’d prefer. That’s how I do it too. I have probably 75 word docs with ideas. One day I will go back and look at them instead of going forward making new ones. By that time I can edit them into a book.)

  • Dave Nalle

    Obama doesn’t need health care professionals to work on health care bills for him, because the insurance companies are glad to write the legislation for him. It’s so convenient.


  • zingzing

    i know there’s a republican bill out there written by a former insurance higher up, but what are you talking about dave?

    it also seems like a bit of a random outburst from you. very arch-like. no one’s sure what you’re talking about, you have no back up, and it’s on the wrong thread as well…

  • Mark Schannon

    Clavos & Mark,

    When I first stumbled upon that pesky little insect, also known as RN (not Richard Nixon), I realized that he has no sting. He exists solely to annoy, so I ignore him. It’s simple. I used to enjoy ripping the wings of little insects but I’ve grown mellow in my golden years.

    Mark, amygdala fippers are at least useful for swimming in shark infested waters. What about brain tonsils which can grow longer as one gets older?

    Cindy, yeah, I didn’t think we were that far apart in our views. Do get that book by John Spivey–I really think you’ll enjoy it. Very powerful.


    In Jameson Veritas

  • Cindy

    Oh yeah. John Spivey. I remember now, he popped in to chat with you once. I will see if I can find his articles here.

  • Cindy


    Self-interest. I can say yes. Where we might take a different path around the tree is what people are doing in their own ‘self-interest’ isn’t in their ‘self-interest’ as a species. Therefore, evolutionarily speaking, there must be something beyond personal ‘self-interest’ at work…some thing about our ‘self-interest’ as humanity. Unless you think it’s time for extinction.

    I want to present John Stewart’s ideas to you again, some time. I know you say evolution is on an infinitesimal level. But he proposes an idea based on how things develop to complex levels. His proposition is that we have reached a level of complexity–our brains. He proposes that now, rather than the environment haphazardly selecting for us as evolution unfolds, evolution demands it will be driven by selected choices of these complex organs–human brains.

    We are, compared to all the other species, capable of changing our environment. If you see humans in the mix with other species, can you get your thinking around the possibility that ‘survival of the fittest’ entails that ‘the fittest’ have now evolved to allow direction of evolution?

    Although evolution is unfolding at a micro-level, it still entails specific concrete changes to happen in time.

    (You can reply via e-mail, if you prefer. I am a shameless thread usurper. I occasionally get the idea that this stuff makes a nice intermission amid the battle of “Who’s mother is uglier–the Republicans or the Democrats?”)

  • Mark Schannon

    Cindy, your question is a no-brainer. Republican mothers are much uglier. I’d have thought you knew that.

    I have an idea for a joint article we can publish where we have the time to hash these ideas out. Let me play with some of the comments on this threat & e-mail one of the uber-editors & see if we can start something fun.

    In Jameson Veritas

  • Cindy

    (I agree. Republican mothers are far uglier. :-)

    That sounds very cool. Count me in. :-)

  • roger nowosielski

    It’s not my intention to deflate you, MS, nor to sting you. It’s you who apparently have no other recourse in a losing argument but to resort to name calling. But I am going to call you out on your nonsense, whenever to decide to pontificate rather than think, or on your lack of intellectual integrity, or lack of courage, or whatever it is that makes you keep on coming our with pretentious little bullshit theories you’re apparently so fond of.

    You may be thinking you’re fooling some people, but you’re not fooling anybody.