New Hampshire public education goes in the ignorance business

I missed this while it was happening, but it got some attention in the NYT today.  New Hampshire has enacted a law that seems to give parents unilateral power to line-item veto their kids’ curriculum in public schools.  The law looks like a can of worms, because the parents’ substitute material has to be “sufficient to enable the child to meet state requirements for education in the particular subject area“.   Here’s some text from the state’s science curriculum framework:

Science is not a matter of belief; rather, it is a matter of conclusive evidence that can be subjected to the test of observation, reasoning and peer review….

The science is based on two fundamental assumptions:

  1. A naturalistic explanation is sufficient to account for the functioning of the universe.
  2. The universe can be understood using logic and rational thinking.

It’s easy to imagine a parent who finds these offensive, and hard to imagine what could replace them that is both different and the same enough to satisfy them if they are viewed as “state requirements”. Perhaps “state requirements” for science is something content-free, like “X classroom hours of instruction labeled science“.  It will be interesting to see how this unfolds in practice.

However it goes forward, the idea is simply stupefying, figuratively (for me) and literally (for the kids).   It’s right that parents have a lot of power over their children, but there are rights they don’t have, like physically abusing them and denying them adequate nutrition. Maybe Plato was wrong about the relative importance of what you eat and what you think. The idea that someone educated twenty or thirty years ago knows everything that should be known by someone in school today is a spectacularly reactionary proposition; let’s bring the world to a stop now, and forever.  I guess I’m not surprised that there are parents, perhaps after too many long cold winters alone in isolated farmhouses, cruel and vengeful enough to want to make their kids as dumb as they are, or dumber.  But this was passed over the governor’s veto, and in a state with a well-regarded public education system that’s cheap, has a very low dropout rate, and good test scores.

This piece of evil does raise questions about what schools can and can’t demand of students (note to self: remember to go over this with students early this semester).  Assuming there is a collective public education obligation at all, with grades and some sort of testing, what can we demand of students?  There would seem to be a category of facts like mathematical theorems, uninteresting and vacuous to debate, that we can just require students to recall to pass a course.  But what about evolution: when we “teach it”, are we demanding that students say  “organisms evolve over time through natural selection for fitness” on the exam?  If a student doesn’t believe it, who gets the failing grade – her, or the teacher? – or does she have to lie to pass the course?  My view is that the school has the right to force students to recount the principles and processes, and the evidence that supports the model, but all they have to believe/know is that “Miss Smith and the textbook say that the theory of evolution says A,B,C, and they offer reasons A,B,C for saying so.”  The words in italics are tacit and easy for students to miss, and I think we owe it to them to point out that they are assumed as part of any exam answer and almost any lecture even though we don’t say them every time. After all, we can teach classical Greek theology without worrying about seeming to tell students that Zeus is the source of lightning, or even that there is a literal Zeus.

Of course there are parents who don’t even want their kids to hear what scientists believe about evolution, or what Communists say about economics, just as theocratic states don’t want alternative religions on offer at all.  I believe this view comes from a deep insecurity about whether what we believe will actually hold up against an alternative, and a natural desire to avoid starting a process that might end with me discovering I’ve been wrong about something important for a long time, or my child doing some independent thinking (and maybe going to Hell).  In my father’s formulation of this childishness, “I’m glad I don’t like lemons, because if I did, I’d eat them, and I hate the things!”

I can feel my policy analysis students tightening up when we start looking at markets and what prices do, and I think their resistance is similar to what’s going in in New Hampshire, and perfectly understandable (note to self: see previous note to self): “This is starting down a path that seems to lead to valuing everything at how much money people will pay for it.  I don’t want to be a person who believes that, but the prof has been doing this for a long time and I don’t think I’m quick enough, or know enough, to get off the path by arguing with him if it leads where it seems to be going.  [Furthermore, I have no idea how delicate his ego is nor how vengeful he is when students push back.]”  This condition is not the level of arousal and curiosity that leads to learning, it is a state of fear that arrests it.  It seems to help to recognize it explicitly in the classroom, but it’s really hard to reassure adults who feel the earth moving under them in many ways, including very scary ways (factory closing? job lost? house foreclosed? priests and coaches abusing children? the president is going to be either a member of a weird cult, or a black guy who talks better than anyone I ever met,  or a serial adulterer? my daughter what? …I want the world to be the way it was when I felt like I could deal with it!).

I think I understand the pain of the Granite State citizens who have grasped at this very ill-advised device for reassurance and comfort. It’s a rare political leader who can guide them to a more adaptive response; I hope they get one, because this little cry of anguish may be the source of a world of hurt for a lot of kids who deserve better.

 

 

 

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.

39 thoughts on “New Hampshire public education goes in the ignorance business”

  1. Did some new black dude get into the race? ‘Cause I assure you that Obama does NOT talk better than anybody *I’ve* ever met. Honestly, I find the way he talks rather off-putting; There’s something about his cadences that are subtly jarring; Each individual sentence is just fine, but they don’t flow, it’s like he’s reading each one separately. Maybe it’s an artifact of reading off the teleprompter? But it’s been evident from the very start.

    Setting that aside, I may find the choices that parents make objectionable, but I don’t find parents getting to make choices objectionable. Perhaps infeasible, but not objectionable.

    Where the state is standing in place of the parent, it shouldn’t be over-riding the parent save in extraordinary circumstances. I guess it comes down to whether you think the state or the family is primary. Are families just convenient administrative units for the state? Some people think that…

      1. Parents have choice: they can homeschool, or pay to send send their kids to private schools, where they can pick and choose all manner of silly pseudoscience. But at public schools, they have to give up some level of personal choice in exchange for a free education. If they want to change the curriculum, they can lobby for it along with every other citizen. But the idea that individual parents should be granted special privileges to receive curriculum tailored to their particular ideology is as silly as asking road workers to build special lanes for individuals, etc.

        1. “Parents have choice: they can homeschool, or pay to send send their kids to private schools,…”

          Which means that most parents have no choice.

          1. This is true. But neither do most parents have a choice in the streets we drive, the books our library carries, etc. You want the luxury of private goods, you pay for it.

    1. I guess it comes down to whether you think the state or the family is primary. Are families just convenient administrative units for the state? Some people think that…

      There probably are, but it’s a vanishingly small number. As with most things, you insist that the world boils down to simple binary explanations. It demonstrates a rather severe lack of understanding.

      Which is primary, the family or the state? It depends upon the exact circumstances of the specific situation. As pointed out, when it comes to systematically beating children or engaging in sexual contact with them, the state is absolutely primary; parents’ desires to do such things can and should be overridden. When it comes to choosing a religion, the family is primary, within very broad boundaries set by the state, such as no human sacrifice.

      And this is the model for most things. The state sets boundaries and allows parents freedom within them. When it comes to public education, as Eli points out, the boundaries are somewhat narrower. One would think that, since public dollars are involved, you would understand that.

      But I guess not.

    2. “Did some new black dude get into the race? ‘Cause I assure you that Obama does NOT talk better than anybody *I’ve* ever met. ”

      Perhaps, but judging from you, it’s unlikely.

    3. Why do, in your view, only parents have rights, but not children?

      Why should parents have near absolute authority to control the lives and futures of their children? Children aren’t the property of their parents; they’re individuals, which means they have rights of their own, and may need means to assert those rights. That also means that if their parents make poor decisions with regard to their upbringing, you want safeguards to limit their effect or countermand them.

      The nebulous concept of “family” doesn’t help here; it seems like either a proto-communist thing where the individual family members are subordinate to the family as a social aggregate or a 19th century English concept, where the father has absolute authority over the other family members, which are subordinate to him. Neither seems a good fit for modern American society.

  2. This isn’t a cry of anguish, it’s a scream of craziness.

    But more than that, I think the hypothetical analysis of what to do about things like kids whose parents refuse to let them learn about evolution or astronomy or geology or who-knows-what-else is terribly wrong. There are some subjects (economics is definitely one of them) the data are absolutely susceptible to multiple interpretations, based on multiple paradigms, all of them plausible. But the big so-called alternative to learning the basics of biology, astronomy and geology is not plausible in the same sense. I just can’t see any difference between that and “I know Ms Smith says 2+2=4 and pi=3.14…, but I don’t believe that number systems work that way” or “I know that Mr Jones says the US was founded by a bunch of guys in 1776, but I believe it was really established in 1913 by the Trilateral Commission, and all the history books and monuments were rewritten.”

    I think, paradoxically, that most sane people have internalized the idea of evolution so thoroughly that they don’t recognize how important it is, and how integral to so many parts of everyday life. You can’t do biology without it, or agriculture, or non-equilibrium economics, or pretty much anything that involves changeable entities. Which is why kids have to be able not only to answer questions about the principles on exams, but also to act as if they believe in the evidence of their eyes.

  3. http://classiclit.about.com/library/bl-etexts/mtwain/bl-mtwain-huck-5.htm

    “You’ve put on considerable many frills since I been away. I’ll take you down a peg before I get done with you. You’re educated, too, they say — can read and write. You think you’re better’n your father, now, don’t you, because he can’t? I’LL take it out of you. Who told you you might meddle with such hifalut’n foolishness, hey? — who told you you could?”

    “The widow. She told me.”

    “The widow, hey? — and who told the widow she could put in her shovel about a thing that ain’t none of her business?”

    “Nobody never told her.”

    “Well, I’ll learn her how to meddle. And looky here — you drop that school, you hear? I’ll learn people to bring up a boy to put on airs over his own father and let on to be better’n what HE is. You lemme catch you fooling around that school again, you hear? Your mother couldn’t read, and she couldn’t write, nuther, before she died. None of the family couldn’t before THEY died. I can’t; and here you’re a-swelling yourself up like this. I ain’t the man to stand it — you hear? Say, lemme hear you read.”

    I took up a book and begun something about General Washington and the wars. When I’d read about a half a minute, he fetched the book a whack with his hand and knocked it across the house. He says:

    “It’s so. You can do it. I had my doubts when you told me. Now looky here; you stop that putting on frills. I won’t have it. I’ll lay for you, my smarty; and if I catch you about that school I’ll tan you good.”

  4. Your father’s line about lemons is actually due to Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll).

    Small girl: I’m so glad I don’t like asparagus.
    Friend: Why?
    Girl: Because if I did I should have to eat it, and I can’t bear it!

    According to Martin Gardner, this was from a letter to his sister Luisa.
    http://bit.ly/yzRifF

    A good man, your father, if he made a point of exposing you to Lewis Carroll’s best nonsense.

  5. Once Brett gets off his Obama teleprompter snark, he has more than half a point.

    Public education is Constitutionally very problematic. The family has some Constitutional status, although the Supreme Court has been fairly vague on the contours of this. (This is one bit of non-literal Constitutional interpretation that conservatives like!) And certainly, the First Amendment religion clauses have clear Constitutional status, although the tension between the Free Exercise and the Establishment Clauses is never a simple one. Everybody on this thread, I hope, would agree that a public school cannot affirmatively teach religious doctrine. Can they do by negation what they cannot do by affirmation: teach that the tenets of a religion are crap?

    (Yes, yes, I know. Creationism owes far more to cultural ressentiment than Christianity or the Book of Genesis. But our First Amendment jurisprudence does not let us psychoanalyze religion.)

    It is not enough to say that parents can opt out with private or home education. If it were, Brown v. Board would necessarily have been limited to prohibiting a ban on integrated private schools. The Constitution places prohibitions on state action, irrespective of the availability of private choices.

    If you think I’m presenting you with an unreasonable choice, I agree with you. I don’t think that our Constitution does a good job here. [Insert Katja post about Germany and Scientologists.] The courts, IMO, have been responding with inconsistent fudge. And maybe that’s the best we can do. Public education is absolutely necessary, so we can’t let every nut with a religious objection dictate the curriculum. (Think what would happen if the Gospels were imposed on the economics curriculum. It takes a mighty athletic reading of the Gospels to support capitalism!) But the First Amendment might demand just that.

  6. I appreciate the different points of view here, I can’t say I have an answer to the question of ‘how do we stop these people from making the populace less educated?’, presumably so they can more easily take their money and control them. I see the slow erosion of quality via my sister and niece, both teachers, and friends who are teachers, and our schools hereabouts and their annual surveys showing decreasing teacher happiness. It is a travesty, surely, and we need to figure out how to stop these people.

    [/cynical]

  7. Another trickle feeding into the “parents should be able to choose” stream is sex education and parents’ varying levels of comfort with what happens there (and this is one area where there are already opt-out provisions, although not alternate instruction ones). Plus, the choice of reading material in MS and HS literature classes — even ES sometimes. Parents could object to the teaching of evolution decades ago, but that was pretty much the only thing for them to feel dissatisfied with, Huck’s dad notwithstanding. Now there are multiple pressure points for parent anxiety.

  8. I want the police department to deter, investigate, and prosecute crimes in my neighborhood—but they shouldn’t use fingerprints. Me and my neighbors think fingerprints are an unproven forensic technique, so if any of us are victims of a crime, we have the right to prevent the police from taking fingerprints from the crime scene, or fingerprinting suspects. If the families in the next neighborhood over (served by the same police department) have drunk the dactylographic Kool-Aid, that’s their business, but I have my rights.

    Also, I want the water department to filter out all the impurities from the water between the reservoir and my house—except for bismuth. A little bismuth in the coffee is good for the digestion, I say. And I have the right to choose.

  9. The NH official statement of two fundamental assumptions of the scientific method has the merit of bringing out their entirely a priori and programmatic character. There is no evidence they are true, nor could there be. You could argue that they are contradictory: for they only way to guarantee postulate 2 is to bring in a rational Creator, determined to make the universe comprehensible to rational creatures, which violates postulate 1.

    The alternative and more New Englandy approach would be pragmatism: science is the historical group endeavour to make sense of the universe using only naturalistic explanations and compact laws; which endeavour has worked pretty well so far, and deserves our support as an approach to unanswered problems until such time as it conclusively hits the buffers, like Hilbert’s programme for axiomatising mathematics.

    I reckon New Hampshire should teach the Kant-Dewey meta-scientific controversy.

  10. Can they do by negation what they cannot do by affirmation: teach that the tenets of a religion are crap?

    Well, teaching science properly is hard, particularly with children. The thing is, when done right, science says nothing whatsoever about the tenets of most religions, including Christianity. By invoking the supernatural, theology pulls religion entirely out of the purview of science, which can deal only with what is empirically demonstrable. The proper answer to someone who says that science and religion are incompatible on the subject of evolution is that nothing taught in class undercuts creationism at all. It just says that, if creationism is true, God did it in a way that an explanation of life that depends solely upon the natural, with no element of the supernatural, *appears* to involve evolution. If you put a religious explanation above science, then science can’t touch it.

    As I said, this is all very hard to explain to junior high school students. When I was growing up in Ann Arbor, my 8th grade biology teacher struggled with it despite half of her students being professors’ kids. Humans in general don’t like conditional answers, and kids even more so. Nevertheless, that’s the real distinction.

    1. Why must a religion distinguish between the natural and the supernatural? And even if it must, the Bible goes well beyond science. What do you do with 1 Kings 7:23, the Biblical verse that “proves” pi=3? Or the risible (if arguably sincere) claims by various Christianists that the “insights” of Ayn Rand are entailed by their reading of the Bible?

      1. Why must a religion distinguish between the natural and the supernatural?

        No particular reason. But in practice, almost all of them do. It seems to be inherent to the form, although not logically necessary. In fact, if a religion starts to dispense with the supernatural, as certain forms of Buddhism do, the argument begins as to whether or not it is a religion.

        What do you do with 1 Kings 7:23, the Biblical verse that “proves” pi=3?

        I have no idea. If it ever becomes a significant public policy issue, I’ll get back to you. But until we have people screaming, “No geometry in schools!” I’m not going to worry about it.

        As for Ayn Rand and the Gospels, let’s face it: economics doesn’t really have much of a claim to be a science at this point. There isn’t any set of agreed upon principles that get you very far. As such, it should not be taught as a science. In a public school class, as pretty much anywhere else, you don’t make claims with the kind of certainty that you can about evolution in a science class. It’s the difference between teaching a theory and teaching a bunch of partially supported but still iffy hypotheses.

    2. As a philosophical exercise, this is fine, but not very many people will commit to this as a model of the world after thinking it through. You don’t see geologists raised in fundamentalist communities saying things like “After drilling to such-and-such depth, I found such-and-such fossilized pollen. God put those pollen in the rock when He created the world 6,000 years ago, and because they look like they come from trees that lived so many million years ago, I think this is a good place to drill for oil.” They either abandon the idea that the world is literally 6,000 years old, or they double-down and insist that the fossil record is consistent with that literal belief. And strangely, the folks in the first group have a much better track record at finding oil.

      Fundamentalists realize this, which is why they see the teaching of evolution as a threat.

      1. I once remember reading about a fundamentalist biologist. He said that all the evidence pointed to old-earth evolution, but since his reading of the Bible was young-earth creation, the evidence must somehow be false or planted by God or something. I suppose he would have drilled for oil where he saw the pollen, because whatever tricks God was playing appeared to be consistent.

        He viewed this contradiction between reason and revelation as a test of faith.

        Fundamentalists see the teaching of evolution as a threat for at least two reasons, apart from the words of Genesis. First, in their eyes, it denigrates humans as the crown of creation, and makes them mere animals. (They have a point here.) Second, I think, is the alliance between fundamentalist Christianity and modern ressentiment.

        1. Again, all that is fine. What it is not is what you originally claimed the problem was: teaching kids things that contradict their religion. Teaching science properly simply does not do that. It may lead people to change their minds about their religious beliefs, but so what? If we stripped education of everything that might cause someone to think about their beliefs and perhaps change them, there would be nothing left.

          If this is the level at which you have an objection, you are objecting to the entire idea of public education, not simply parts of science.

          FWIW, I know plenty of Catholics that embrace evolution and simply claim that this was the method through which he brought about Creation. That’s not surprising, given that it’s the official position of the Church. But again, it points to the fact that science does not negate religion. Among other things, this demonstrates that it is also wrong to say that evolution reduces humans to simply being animals. Nothing in evolution requires that. If fundamentalists are complaining about that (and I realize that they are), then it betrays a very limited imagination. Honestly, for a bunch of people who supposedly bbelieve in an omnipotent God, I find a lot of evangelicals I’ve dealt with to rather lack faith in that God’s capacity to do something.

          We simply can’t hold public education hostage to people who can’t even think through their own theology.

          1. I am objecting to the whole idea of public education.

            Not objecting, precisely. I’m just pointing out that it is in some tension with the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses, and perhaps the ill-defined Constitutional status of the family. I side with public education. I also side with teaching real science in public education. But I view this as a contestable choice among competing values. Because of our Constitutional framework, it’s not a no-brainer. The other guy has a real argument, even though I disagree with it.

            (Just to be clear, there is no argument for crap like “creation science” or “intelligent design.” The argument is about the Constitutional propriety of public education.)

          2. When you find yourself objecting to the constitutionality of public education, you’re swimming in the Ron Paul, completely insane concept of the constitution.

      2. And this is a problem how? Contra Ebenezer, all of that teaching does not, in and of itself, contradict religion. There is no church/state question involved. If it prompts some of the religious to think through their beliefs and come to new ones, that great. I welcome it. But it is not what Ebenezer was complaining about.

  11. Am I the only one shuddering at how much a pain the implementation would be? To tell teachers and administrators that any student at any time may be able to opt out of curriculum, and have a substitute instead? Who gets to approve the replacement as sufficient to pass state guidelines. How much notice, etc.

    Gadzooks, they will push this on school districts, then complain about how inefficient public education is.

      1. Which I suspect is the long game.

        You can imagine tracking the metrics by inspecting the ‘trust in federal government’ numbers since Reagan. Likely the same time and trajectory.

  12. Teaching theology in place of science is beyond troubling but I wouldn’t waste a second on worrying about kids learning “what Communists say about economics,” at least in my state.

    For a couple of quick examples, in sixth grade my kid came home with a worksheet that explained that public goods are “businesses run by the government.” Right now, in eighth grade, he’s learning that the Federal government has no role in education, a proposition made ironic by the fact his little autistic bottom wouldn’t be seated in a classroom if it weren’t for Federal legislation and funding that enables special education.

    It’s neo-liberal economics all the way and I think in many ways, that has the potential to be even more damaging than what is and isn’t taught in science.

    1. my kid came home with a worksheet that explained that public goods are “businesses run by the government.” Right now, in eighth grade, he’s learning that the Federal government has no role in education,

      If that happened to us, we’d be in the Principal’s office the very next day demanding an explanation for teaching our daughter falsehoods, and if the answer was unacceptable we’d be a the next School Board meeting, then on the phone with a reporter asking why our tax dollars are being spent teaching falsehoods to innocent children. This may not work in all areas, granted.

      1. A couple of years ago I did complain to the superintendent that they weren’t making clear to families that they could opt-out of having their kids’ contact information to the military and the next year, in the flurry of forms to be filled out at the beginning of the year, there was a notice about the opting-out procedure. Of course, there could have been other reasons this was finally included but I like to think I helped a little.

        For those of you who are scratching your heads, one of the provisions of NCLB is that military recruiters are automatically given contact information on all high school students, unless they specifically opt-out. And don’t think they don’t find ways to use it.

        Other than that I have bitten my tongue about any number of curriculum issues — right now, it’s pretty sore at learning that the junior high health curriculum is abstinance-based. When you have a kid on an IEP there’s always something about his school day that you’re complaining about, or demanding or suggesting be done, or otherwise annoying the teachers and adminstration about, so I end up limiting my advocacy efforts to those things.

        Unfortunately I live in an area where most of the parents probably already believe public goods are businesses run by the government (Jean Schmidt’s district) so there aren’t too many to pick up my slack. But it is a very well-funded, well-run district that provides much more of what my kid needs than most would so here I am.

  13. My American Politics professor – a generation or more ago – used to describe New Hampshire as the Mississippi of the north. This sounds like a reversion to form, if that was the form. I share the scepticism expressed above about how one administers such a line-by-line opt-out.

  14. At bottom, I don’t see why the government has to recognize any NEGATIVE right with respect to giving truthful information to children. In other words, the government can’t stop parents from teaching their kids whatever garbage they want to, but the idea that the government doesn’t have the power to say, for instance, as a public policy matter, that everyone in America needs to know about the theory of evolution or that everyone of a certain age needs to know about basic reproductive biology or that everyone needs to have a basic education in American history is completely meritless.

      1. Not “right-thinking,” as you mean it, Charles, and not “everyone.” The requirement is that in public school biology classes the material taught will include the actual principles of actual biology. There will be no time or money wasted teaching nonsense.

        And before someone asks who decides what’s the nonsense, I’ll answer: the biology community. It’s a biology class. We teach what people who have spent their lives studying biology agree is accurate. We don’t care what preachers think about it.

        This is not hard.

      2. Nobody stops you from teaching your children things above and beyond what they learn in school. You just can’t stop them from learning things you don’t like (though you are still free to tell them when you think the school is wrong).

        For a simple, non-political example, my family moved to Berlin when I was 10 years old (Berlin (West) back then, to be precise. We lived there for five years, with me attending a German school. And while the school was excellent, the curriculum was by its very nature pretty different from what you learn in an American school. That didn’t stop my parents from teaching me additional things that I would need to know when we returned to America (such as more in-depth knowledge of American history). What they didn’t do was subtracting anything from the curriculum I was exposed to; they didn’t tell my teachers that it would be pointless for me to read Dürrenmatt’s “Der Richter und sein Henker” or to learn about the German constitution because an American girl didn’t need to know these things. Oddly enough, they instead were happy that their daughter received a broad, solid education.

  15. Maybe this is the place to implement the Newt Plan. When proud Mom-n-Pop demand that they don’t want Junior hearin’ about all that Devil spawned everlooshun stuff, it’s OK because there is an alternative program and pull out the mop and bucket. Junior gets to learn about the work ethic and gets real on the job training in his future profession.

    An old friend serves on the NH legislature and was bemoaning the idiocy they have been putting up with since the Tea Party took control. Seems they are just as stoopid as you would guess.

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