Tuesday, February 25, 2020

How to Educate an American

Like a growing number of American families, my wife and I homeschool our young children. Why? A number of reasons, primarily the fact that studies show homeschooled kids are better-educated, better-socialized, and better-behaved than public schoolchildren. But our initial motivation was the conviction that the current American educational system is hopelessly broken, from pre-K all the way through college graduation. As every conservative knows, the leftist death grip on our schools has largely replaced education with indoctrination.
But we are fortunate; not every concerned family is in a position to homeschool, and simply abandoning our public schools to their ugly, Progressive fate is a surrender, not a solution. How then, do we reclaim American education so that all our children can be put back on track to a more prosperous, civically literate, empowered future? That is the theme of an important new book from Templeton Press titled, How to Educate an American: The Conservative Vision For Tomorrow’s Schools, a collection of essays from over twenty stellar contributors ranging from William J. Bennett and Mona Charen to Heather Mac Donald and Arthur C. Brooks, edited by Michael J. Petrilli and Chester E. Finn, Jr.
Petrilli is president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, executive editor of Education Next, and a Distinguished Senior Fellow for the Education Commission of the States. Finn is Distinguished Senior Fellow and President Emeritus of the Fordham Institute and a Senior Fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution. In other words, they know this field, and for this volume they sought out, not fellow policy wonks, but “big thinkers – public intellectuals and scholars whose work includes education but doesn’t focus on policy prescriptions.” This makes for a highly readable and more wide-ranging collection of creative answers to the questions of where America is headed and the role education should play in getting us there.
In their conclusion, Petrilli and Finn argue that three aspects of education should be emphasized in the years to come: preparing young people for informed citizenship; restoring character, virtue, and morality at the head of the education table; and fashioning an education system that confers dignity, respect, and opportunity upon every youngster, including those who don’t go to college: “Supplying knowledge. Forging citizens. Forming strong character. Bestowing dignity.”
These aims inform the structure of How to Educate an American, the essays of which are grouped into four sections of overarching themes: Part 1 is “History, Civics, and Citizenship”; Part 2 covers “Character, Purpose, and Striving”; Part 3 focuses on “Schools, Families, and Society”; and Part 4 finishes with “Renewing the Conservative Education Agenda.” Below are some, but not all, of the highlights of each section.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

The End of Hollywood

One week ago, the Dolby Theater in Hollywood hosted the 92nd annual Academy Awards show. If you are like most Americans, you didn’t even know it happened and you don’t care, because Hollywood has renounced its central position in American culture. It has imploded under the weight of its own virtue-signaling, America-loathing self-righteousness.
Many decades ago, the Oscars was a noteworthy pop culture event because the show featured captivating, adult screen idols Americans loved who knew how to exude glamour and keep their politics to themselves. This year, the ceremony’s ratings plunged to an all-time record low, down twenty percent from last year’s already-low viewership. The New York Times couldn’t figure out why; it put forth different theories – too many commercials, a crowded TV season, the lack of a host – and ignored the most obvious explanation: American viewers, sick of forgettable left-coast elites lecturing them about what climate-denying, meat-eating, white nationalist rubes they are, have turned their backs on the entertainment industry in massive numbers.
For the same reason, the Oscars ratings-fail mirrored last month’s epic crash-and-burn at the Grammys. This year’s music industry freak show was the lowest-rated in Grammy history. The Golden Globes ratings fell too, hitting an eight-year low. The audiences of all showbiz awards events (and there are far too many) have been trending downward, largely because the shows are dominated now by foul-mouthed children (of all ages), who think they’re being morally courageous by slamming President Trump, crying about climate extinction, or “shouting their abortions” in acceptance speeches. Sane Americans have had enough of this relentless politicization of the culture and trashing of their values.
The snowballing apathy toward the entertainment industry’s biggest nights of the year should be a wakeup call to celebrities that The End is Near – the end of Hollywood, at least in America – but it won’t be. They will go down with the ship, clinging to their political self-righteousness to the last breath because they would rather die than humble themselves before the “flyover” Americans between the coasts whom they have so openly despised for decades.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

West Point Tackles 'Toxic Masculinity'

If you are a good, committed cultural Marxist and your mission is to help dismantle the cultural, economic, and power structures in the capitalist West from within, how do you undertake such a grand task? How do you subvert an entire civilization? You undermine its foundations, and the most basic building block of all is the nuclear family. To deconstruct the family successfully, you must subvert masculinity, because masculinity is the warrior spirit of that nuclear family. To emasculate a civilization, you indoctrinate its youth to believe that the natural traits typically associated with masculinity – such as aggression, competitiveness, and emotional self-control – are poisonous to society and even to boys and men themselves. You convince men – especially society’s warriors – to reject their very nature altogether.
This January, cadets at West Point, the United States Military Academy, were required to attend educational events for “Honorable Living Day,” the academy’s third such day hosted during the short tenure of Superintendent Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams. The first was held last February and focused on eliminating sexual assault and harassment at the academy, which has been co-ed since 1976. The second, held last semester, called upon cadets, staff and faculty to improve the culture in order to combat sexual assault further.
At this most recent Honorable Living Day, the goal was to “expand the discussion beyond sexual assault and talk about how all aspects of the community can come together and promote an atmosphere of honorable living to include diversity, inclusion and acceptance of people from differing backgrounds, races and genders.” Lt. Gen. Williams described the curriculum as being “connected” to improving combat readiness.
Eradicating any sexual assaults or harassment at West Point is a worthy goal. They shouldn’t be tolerated in any work or study environment. Encouraging cadets to live with personal integrity and to treat others according to the content of their character and not the color of their skin are also vital aims. But if reports from several male West Point cadets are true, there appears to be more going on in this past Honorable Living Day than meets the eye. Breitbart News reported that it received comments from some cadets, on condition of anonymity, complaining that the program went beyond merely discouraging sexual harassment. As one cadet put it: “I’m being taught how not to be a man.”