Public schools — un-educating Americans, one student at a time

School suppliesI was livid this morning. One of my children asked me to quiz her about rhetorical fallacies, which she was studying for a test. The teacher had put the examples together himself and they included such gems as saying it’s a logical fallacy to argue that guns are tools in the same way hammers are tools. Another example was that it’s a logical fallacy to argue against gay marriage. To give students an insight into good arguments against logical fallacies, he directed the students to Jon Stewart’s hyper-partisan The Daily Show. Indoctrination much?

When I complained to my resident Leftist, all I got was bewilderment. Guns are evil, gay marriage should be accepted by all, and Jon Stewart was the smartest, most informative man in television — so why am I fussing? The fact that all of those represent partisan views and the principle that they therefore should not be introduced on the taxpayers’ dime completely eluded him. School, after all, is there to teach students how to “think.”

School indoctrination is a sore subject with me, since it’s endemic in Marin, as it is in any school district that has a teacher’s union. Math is tainted both by Common Core and the fuzzy math approach that’s meant to give a pass to women and minorities who apparently struggle with actual math (you know, the kind where the results are correct).

As someone who’s bad at math (Common Core’s crazy complications are familiar to me because that’s the way they were teaching back in the San Francisco public schools’ 1960s/1970s experimental phase), I recognize the advantage of being able to reach roughly correct answers for such inconsequential things as calculating tips, measuring something that doesn’t need precise dimensions, or keeping vague track of a family budget. I also recognize what a weak reed this fuzzy math is. When the situation demands precision, I struggle.

English as taught in America’s public schools is a joke. I’ve already shared here my fury at the way an English teacher in Sandy Hook’s wake, handed out to the students strong gun-control articles. I politely protested (because my child, after all, was a hostage to grades in his class, but got nowhere). While the students get Leftist politics and lots of sex in their English classrooms, the students emerge without fundamentals such as grammar, spelling, structure, and narrative. Eileen Toplansky describes in heartbreaking detail trying to teach under-educated American youngsters  when they reach college.

As the recently AP U.S. History fight showed, history is taught through a purely Marxist, anti-American lens. The books subtly and not-so-subtly tell those pliant young minds that America is the root of all evil and that the purifying answer to our nation’s wrongs is top down collectivism.

It doesn’t seem to occur to these geniuses that the things about which they complain — whether slavery, Indian relocations, Jim Crow laws, etc. — were only able to happen because of government power. The corollary is that diffusing government power dilutes a nation’s ability to do things that bug Leftists.

Typically, each Leftist cadre assumes that, when it acquires unlimited power, it will get it right. That’s why Bernie, who shrilly screams for a government that uses its guns to confiscate individual wealth, is looked upon as some type of savior, rather than the power-hungry, crazed madman he really is.

Lastly, there’s the wreckage of science in America’s public schools. The kids still get taught useful basic stuff, such as chemistry and biology, but the higher up they go, the more tainted it gets.

I have in front of me the textbook used in our local school’s AP Environmental Science class. Published by Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning, G. Tyler Miller’s and Scott E.Spoolman’s 14th edition of Environmental Science purports to be a comprehensive textbook, teaching children everything they need to know about the natural world that surrounds us.

In the introduction to teachers (p. xiii), we learn that the book is all about “sustainability — the integrating theme of this book.” This theme leads to the boast that, in the new edition,

Climate change is emphasized with new coverage on the warming of the world’s lakes, climate change tipping points, and innovative [and, no doubt, prohibitively expensive] efforts to reduce methane and soot emissions.

I’m all for sustainability. Speculations about Mars’ potential habitability notwithstanding, we only have one planet that’s a sure thing for human survival, and it behooves us to treat it well. Treating it well, however, does not mean either falsifying science or destroying human kind. The environmentalists’ shtick to the contrary, we are a part of the planet’s diverse life forms, rather than an alien being that must be destroyed.

What got my knickers in a twist about the book was the random happenstance that, as I was moving it off the kitchen table, I dropped it and it opened to this page, which introduces the chapter on “Sustaining Biodiversity : The Species Approach”:

Brooks Cole Environmental Science

[Click on image for full size page.]

You know you’re in for it whenever you see anything about polar bears and climate change.  The entire page is a sustained sob about the poor declining Arctic polar bears.

Those pathetic bears, trapped forever on teeny little ice floes that carry them out to sea, where they die a bitter, lonely death.  Indeed, according to the book:

Scientific measurements reveal that the earth’s atmosphere is getting warmer and that this warming is occurring twice as fast in the Arctic as in the rest of the world.  Thus, the arctic ice is melting faster and the average annual area of floating sea ice in the Arctic during the summer is decreasing.  The floating winter ice is also breaking up earlier each year, shortening the polar bears’ hunting season.  And much of the remaining ice is getting too thin to support the weight of a polar bear.

That’s so affecting.  The only problem is that, unsurprisingly given the continuously dynamic nature of planet earth, none of that is true:

After the shortest melt season on record, and the most rapid growth on record, Arctic sea ice extent is the largest in a decade.

Arctic sea ice

Ocean and Ice Services | Danmarks Meteorologiske Institut

Arctic sea ice 2

Not only is extent increasing, but Arctic sea ice thickness has also increased by 40% over the last five years.

Arctic sea ice 3

Bpiomas_plot_daily_heff.2sst.png (2488×1960)

Steve Goddard, who wrote the above post and generally provides invaluable actual climate facts at Real Science, concluded by saying “None of this will be reported by the criminals at US government agencies or in the press.”  I’ll add that none of this will appear in school books either, which are completely invested in the pathetic polar bear scenario.

Goddard also caught the fact that the climate changistas have had to scale down their dire predictions about the declining polar bear population.  The textbook indoctrinating. . . . er, “teaching” our children insists that

According to a 2006 study by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the world’s total polar bear population is likely to decline by 30-35% by 2050.  By the end of this century, polar bears might be found only in zoos.

I’m dubious about anything the purports to predict with exactitude what will be going on in the natural world in 35 years, let alone 85 years.  Right off the bat, that confidence about a future that will be affected by data we can’t even begin to imagine suggests a con.  And indeed, with the con collapsing, these vague “scientist” collectives have abandoned the line that those polar bears on itty-bitty icebergs are dying now and, instead, are saying, “It’s still going to happen, we promise, but not for another ten years.”

Polar Bear Science is a useful site that looks at actual, you know, facts and data, rather than loosey-goosey futurist predictions. For example, the Western Hudson bears, one of the more studied bears, have shown population stability for eleven years now, no doubt explaining the new claim “scientific” announcement, above, that climate change won’t affect them for another decade. Indeed, if you scroll through the Polar Bear Science site, which relies solely on field study data, you come away comforted to know that the polar bears are doing fine, thank you very much.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (“IUCN”), which authored the 2006 study that the book cites with such elan, probably isn’t the best source for information in any event.  You see, it’s guessing:

The IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group admits its global population estimate is simply a qualified guess with a large potential error.  So perhaps it’s time to acknowledge that for the purpose of comparing polar bears to other species of concern, the upper limit for polar bear numbers worldwide could be more than 30,000?

In subsequent updates to the above post, it appears that the polar bear population is a stable 26,000 or more and holding steady.  (For more facts, not guesses, about polar bear population trends, check out these links.)

And here’s one other interesting thing about the IUCN: It’s an old organization, formed shortly after the UN, and seems to have the UN’s same impulse toward’s tyrannical insanity.  Wikipedia isn’t always the best source for this information, but it offers an interesting criticism about the IUCN:

It has been claimed that IUCN put the needs of nature above those of humans, disregarding economic considerations and the interests of indigenous peoples and other traditional users of the land. Until the 1980s IUCN favored the “Yellowstone Model’ of conservation which called for the removal of humans from protected areas. The expulsion of the Maasai people from Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is perhaps the best known example of this approach.

But back to that textbook, which is preaching to the best and brightest kids throughout America’s high schools.  It shares IUCN’s anti-human slant:

Many biologists consider the rapid loss of the earth’s vital biodiversity — largely resulting from human activities — to be one of the most serious and long-lasting environmental problem [sic] that the world faces.

Children!  You’re murderers!  Every last one of you.  And just ignore the fact that this publishing company is responsible for printing up gazillions of copies of this 500-or-so page book, with its nice laminated covers, and shiny ink-coated pages.  The problems of the world are due to you, not to us.  We’re just trying to profit off of the destruction you wreak.

When it comes to socialism, Lefties are just like little children.  You can tell them forever that freebies are never free, and can come with a dangerously high price (whether it’s a child being kidnapped and killed by a predator offering “free” candy or puppies, or a nation having its economy and individual liberties by socialists offering “free” benefits). No matter the proof about freebies carrying risks, and no matter how often you dun that information into their heads, Lefties are no more capable of resisting temptation than is a five-year-old child.

If anything, Lefties regress even further mentally when it comes to climate science.  Have you ever played peek-a-boo with a baby.  It’s so cute.  You cover your face, and the baby thinks you’re gone.  And when the baby covers his own face, everything vanishes.  What a fun game.  Now you see it, now you don’t.  And when you don’t see, not only doesn’t it exist, it never existed.  It’s baby magic!!!

Scientists have been monitoring the environment somewhat closely for the past, say, 50 or 60 years.  Because of the Victorian passion for record keeping, we’re able to access some data going back as far as 150 years.  Hard science, such as core samples or clues (fossils, bones, etc.) found in sediment, rounds out that data.  And that’s what we’ve got.  But anthropocentric scientists are convinced that all the knowledge they’ve acquired now — and some of it’s pretty darn patchy — constitutes the sum total of all human knowledge, from which everything can be extrapolated.  The fact is, species have been going extinct forever — since earth was first formed.

Examining earth trends starting with the dinosaurs, we can readily identify things that cause local or mass die-outs.  Sometimes the earth’s climate changes.  Sometimes an earthquake, volcano, or catastrophic flood rejiggers the landscape in a certain region.  Sometimes a meteor wipes out life.  Sometimes the meeting between two species results in one getting destroyed.  Humans definitely did in the dodo and the mammoth.

As an aside, it’s likely that the Lefties’ beloved Native Americans, who are invariably presented to children as hippie types who would never dream of committing violence against the earth, had they populated North America in greater numbers probably would have destroyed the buffalo.  After all, one of the Comanches’ hunting techniques was to drive a whole herd off a cliff.  The Comanches would then take what they could carry (not much), and leave the rest of the herd to die slowly and painfully, and then to rot in mangled heaps at the bottom of the cliff.  The Aztecs almost certainly turned to human sacrifice because they’d destroyed all animal food sources — i.e., protein and iron sources — in their region.

But here’s the deal:  Because modern scientists, baby-like, uncovered their eyes to view Western interactions with nature only a few decades ago, they’re pretty clear that none of the previous occurrences existed or mattered.  Like a baby revealing the world to itself, today’s scientists consider only what they see before them when they see it.  Everything else is pushed aside and ignored.

I remember many years ago spending a vacation day in Cartagena, Columbia.  It was one of the most depressing places I’ve ever seen.  The encroaching jungle bore down hard on that city, and the city seemed inclined to give up the fight.  It was obvious that, if the city stopped for even a while to keep the jungle at bay, the city would vanish.  Nature is powerful.  Nature is merciless.  Nature is adaptable.  Nature, by its nature, is change.

Modern science’s fear of change and rejection of Nature’s powerful adaptability means that the scientists are driven to irrational, rather than rational, analysis.  Worse, once locked in the grip of this irrationality, our modern ideological science is driven to two dangerous paths:  ignoring the data and indoctrinating the young.

Medicine taught us that scientific rigidity is terribly dangerous.  Just look at germ theory, which scientists at first couldn’t recognize, but then wouldn’t recognize.  Even when knowledge was available, ideologically driven men of “science” continued to kill patients.  But maybe that’s what the scientists want in the end:  a lot of children who have been trained to a suicidal mindset they’re told is absolutely necessary to save a natural order that needs their stewardship, rather than their disappearance.

American schools are becoming segregated as a result of “culturism,” not racism

Desegregated classroomA friend asked me what I thought of an Atlantic article pointing to the fact that, sixty years after Brown v. Board of Education, America’s schools are once again becoming segregated, as whites (and Asians and East Indians) do whatever they can to flee predominantly black schools. Black schools are academically much, much weaker than white schools and, as the whites flee, the infrastructure of the schools declines.

The article focuses heavily on the fact that academically-oriented black children suffer badly from this de facto segregation, and strongly implies that white racism is at fault. I readily concede that this re-segregation is happening and that the tragic result is that bright black kids are having their futures destroyed. I don’t believe, though, that whites (and Asians and East Indians) are motivated by racism when they abandon previously integrated schools.

The problem isn’t race, it’s culture. (Call it “culturism,” if you will.)  Thus, white parents aren’t saying “I can’t let my little precious go to school with those black people because they are an inferior race who will taint her through contact.” Instead, what they’re saying is “I want my precious to have the best education possible and that requires, among other things, that the other families at the school have the same goal.”

What these white (and East Indian and Asian) parents know is that black culture is not education-oriented. Indeed, for some time, among the children at least, it’s been anti-education, with black children who work hard at school castigated by their black peers for “selling out” or being “Oreos.”

Hispanic culture is also resistant to education. As to that, I actually have some first hand anecdotal data from people who have worked closely with the Hispanic community in the education context.  In the late 1980s, very upper crust Hispanic friends of my family had set up an institution to try to teach Hispanic parents to encourage their children at school. These friends told me that the parents, most from rural areas, had the farmer’s mindset, which is to get the kids out of school and to work as soon as possible. Even though the parents came to America for economic opportunity, they couldn’t wrap their minds around the idea that, subject to some exceptions, education is the key to economic success in America. Children old enough to work were actively discouraged from seeking an education.

Twenty-five years later, my sister-in-law, who works in the Los Angeles school district, tells me the same story: Many Hispanic parents prefer their kids to earn some money sooner, rather than more money later. Sure, there’s a bell curve, with certain black or Hispanic kids and their families focused hungrily on an educational goal but, for the most part, neither the children nor their parents focus their energy on education.

White, Asian, and East Indian cultures, for the most part, are obsessed about education as a necessity for thriving in America. Parents in these cultures understand that the school’s intellectual environment matters.  If the school culture sees every parent in the community demanding hard work and high grades, that will trickle down to the children, who will create a competitive, exciting academic culture. So yes, white parents are fleeing predominantly black schools (and doing so in whatever way possible), but they’re not doing so for the old-fashioned racial reasons. It’s all about education cultures versus anti-education cultures.  Culturism, right?

I anticipate that someone will point out that the same article says that, when the schools were first integrated, the integration was successful. I don’t doubt that. Back then, integrated schools were thrilling, shiny, new toys. As the toys lost their gloss, though, people made less of an effort.

More importantly, though, the integration happened thirty-five years ago. That’s an important date, because it was before political correctness came along to poison things. In the late 1970s and throughout most of the 1980s, teachers could reasonably expect equal effort from Joe Black and Moe White.

Thanks to the scourge of political correctness, however, it’s now racist to expect black students to work as hard and perform as well as white students. Heck, with microaggression, a new twist on political correctness, it’s even racist if the teacher, when he walks into the classroom, says good morning to Moe White before he says it to Joe Black — never mind that Moe White sits next to the door, while Joe Black sits on the opposite site of the classroom.

Culture, not race. Culture, not race. Culture, not race…. Although that’s not quite true.

There is a horrible racism pervading the American education system, but it comes from the Left. The Left has successfully argued that blacks are so mentally inferior to other races that they are incapable of elevating their culture to include good behavior, hard work, and ambition. Until that grotesque Leftist racism is killed, and blacks are recognized as fully equal to other races, and therefore capable of academic rigor, whites, Asians, and East Indians will do anything they can to insulate their children from black (and Hispanic) culture in America’s public schools.

Appropriate or inappropriate? Public school sends out Kaiser Obamacare education flyer

The principal at the kids’ public high school routinely sends out emails notifying parents about upcoming events, exposures to diseases such as whooping cough, sports victories, etc.  Today’s email, in addition to scheduling and sports information, contained this snippet:

Lastly, Kaiser Permanente has asked our help in spreading the word about a free workshop open to the community about the Affordable Health Care Act and options available for health care coverage.  The workshops will be held this Saturday, December 7, in San Rafael and Petaluma. See the attachment for more information.

Here’s the flyer:

Kaiser Obamacare flyer

Appropriate or inappropriate?

Double paying in Britain for health care

When I lived in England, those who could afford to escape from government medicine by paying twice did so.  I addition to their high taxes, they bought a private insurance that I remember rejoiced in the name BUPA.  Things haven’t changed.  I don’t know why I’m on the mailing list, but I just got this announcement in today’s email:

NHS Waiting Lists Soar by 50% in the Last Year !!

Can you afford to be without Health Insurance ??

With the NHS waiting lists out of control, it’s no surprise millions of UK residents are protecting themselves with medical cover.

Premiums have dropped dramatically in recent years and are now at an all time low due to increased competition.

There are more providers and more plans available which has had an impact on price. Providers also offer more flexible underwriting terms which means helps people switch even if they have pre-existing conditions.

For many people, medical insurance may seem like a luxury that they just cannot afford to have. The reality is that medical insurance is a necessity that they cannot afford to live without.

Whether you have still not yet taken out Medical Cover, or wish to review an old one – let us do the hard work for you and compare the leading providers for you.

If you don’t have Health Insurance Click here

If you are about to renew Click here

We’re actually all familiar with this situation. Everyone pays for public schools. Thanks to unions, though, even the best public schools indoctrinate as much as they teach. The worst public schools are dangerous slums where children learn basic survival skills. Parents who want out, in addition to paying high taxes, also end up paying tuition for private schools. Poor parents, of course, are trapped, and beg for vouchers, which their elite Democrat masters deny them. (And yet they still vote Democrat. Go figure.)

Socialized anything is low-quality, crowded anything. Only the rich, who can afford to double pay, escape.

San Francisco School Board cuts academic programs to fund gay rights at school

Two days ago, I brought to your attention the fact that the San Francisco School Board — despite facing a $113 million dollar budget shortfall over the next two years, despite its admission that it will be cutting summer school and academic programs, and despite the fact that there has not been a sudden outbreak of extreme prejudice against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) students in San Francisco’s public schools — was seriously contemplating putting into place a whole new program aimed at tracking discrimination against the GLBT crowd and at educating the San Francisco student population to drop words such as “dyke,” “fag” and “queer” from its insult lexicon (although I’ll just note here that all those words are very “in” with the Queer activist crowd).

I was careful to point out that this program was simply the subject of debate at the Board meeting.  To be honest, I thought it would die on the vine, because even San Francisco politicians can’t be so crazy that they’ll openly undermine academic programs during a budget shortfall while simultaneously creating a whole new layer of costly victim class bureaucracy.  But as Mencken should have said, “No one ever went broke underestimating Progressives’ pathological need to tax the public to obtain reparations for self-defined PC victim groups.”  And so, in a turn of events that appears to have surprised even the SF Chronicle‘s reporter, the San Francisco School Board turned its back on the academic needs of the majority of the students trapped in San Francisco’s mediocre public schools, and pandered:

The San Francisco school board added to the district’s massive $113 million shortfall over the next two years by voting Tuesday night to fund a substantial increase in instruction and services related to gay and lesbian issues.

Though the district is facing layoffs and significant program cuts, board members unanimously agreed that the estimated $120,000 annual price tag was worth it to support gay and lesbian students – children who are more likely to experience bullying and skip school because they are afraid.

The resolution calls for adding a district position to manage “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning” youth issues. It also requires the district to keep tabs on harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation and distribute educational packets every year to parents encouraging them to discuss sexuality, gender identity and safety with their children.

The measure, sponsored by the city’s Youth Commission and Human Rights Commission and the district’s Student Advisory Council, requires district staff to seek outside funding to cover the costs, but guarantees at least a half-time position and other services regardless.

About 13 percent of San Francisco’s middle school students and 11 percent of high school students self-identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, according to a district survey.

Read the rest here.

(As an aside, the last paragraph I quoted has a very high level of self-identification compared to national numbers.  One reason there might be such a high level of self-identification is that GLBT kids in SF do feel fairly safe, despite the fact that they are bullied more than their peers — or, at least, safe enough to explore and recognize their sexuality.  It could also be that gay parents raise gay children, something that does not answer the nature/nature debate about gayness, but that seems to happen fairly often to the extent I’ve observed gay parents.  San Francisco, of course, has a lot of gay — and, I might add, loving and wonderful — parents.  It could also be because the constant focus on gay sex in San Francisco’s schools and streets affects youngsters’ sexuality, pushing them in experimental directions they might sublimate, happily or not, in a slightly more repressive environment. )

But even with a high 13% GLBT self-identification, and even accepting that these kids are less happy than your average teenager (who is often plenty unhappy), and even accepting that GLBT youth are the subject of greater bullying, it strikes me as unconscionable to for a School Board, which is tasked with the well-being of all students in the district, to engage in this type of touchy-feelie programing when the district as a whole is going broke. The fact is that bullying should be unacceptable regardless of the nature of victim.  Heck, I got bullied unmercifully at some rough schools because I was short and wore glasses.  The solution is to de-rough the schools, many of which are worn out and gang-ridden, rather than to focus on a specifically identified victim group.  This is a weird version of the Left’s obsession with equality of outcome, rather than equality of opportunity.  Rather than making a better, safer environment for all, the Progressives are trying to ensure that GLBT students are picked on at precisely the same statistical rate as their non-GLBT peers.

As I pointed out the other day, San Francisco isn’t alone in this desire to appease minority sensibilities at the expense of the majority.  Berkeley, right across the Bay, garnered significant headlines when its school district proposed cutting science programs (that is, solidly academic programs) because not enough minorities were signing up for them.  After an uproar from parents who care more about their children’s education than parading them as sacrificial lambs to Progressive politics, the school district has backed off the plan, at least for now.

Fundamentally, this isn’t about GLBT safety, no matter how the School Board dresses it up.  This is simply the Progressive mindset at work:  minorities are victims; victims need reparations; within the context of public education, reparations come in the form of denying academic opp0rtunities to all students (including, of course, the victims themselves).

I side with the Muslims (and Christians) on this one *UPDATED*

The article only interviewed Muslim parents, but it’s clear Christians were involved as well.  These were the parents in England who pulled their young children out of school rather than have the children be subject to a month long GLBT indoctrination, er, education sessions — and who are now being threatened with government sanctions.

Let me state here what regular readers already know:  I am a libertarian.  I do not care with whom you sleep or with whom you fall in love.  I do not wish any ill on any people because of their sexuality.  I believe that there is a graduated scale of sexuality, with some people being completely heterosexual and some people being absolutely homosexual (I’ve known both kinds), and many people floating in the middle, amenable to cultural pressures (and I’ve known many of these too).

I am also a parent.  If my children are gay I will love them and wish the best for them, whatever their choices.  However, I don’t want them to be gay.  The gay culture is not a healthy one, with higher rates of alcoholism, drug abuse, sexually transmitted diseases and partner abuse.  This is something I’ve seen first hand, growing up and living in the San Francisco Bay Area, one of the most gay friendly environments in the world.  I don’t know why the gay lifestyle seems to carry with it more lifestyle problems, and I won’t hazard any guesses here.  Whatever the reason, it’s not what I hope for my children.

Therefore, while I believe it is extremely important that children are taught to be tolerant of people’s lifestyle choices, I do not believe it is up to the public school system to present a cheery perfect view of homosexual life that, quite sadly, is often at odds with the reality of the GLBT culture.  I’m concerned that, in addition to providing rah-rah cheer to that small number of children who are indubitably at the homosexual end of the sexuality scale, it will also provide a little too much encouragement to those who float in the fluid middle.  Additionally, given that these classes were aimed at 3rd and 4th graders, who have, at best, a hazy view of sexuality, these lessons struck me as teaching way more than the kids needed to know.

P.S. (and warning): This post is about children and education and sexuality and the state assuming the role of parent when it comes to teaching sexual values, especially to very young children .  If you wish to engage in gay bashing, do not do it here.  I will delete any comments I deem threatening or offensive or just plain crude on that subject.

UPDATE:  And, coincidentally, here’s an article from today’s Chron about the fact that lesbians have more health problems, both biological and lifestyle related.

What to do when your candidates are hypocrites

Full marks to Sandra Tsing Loh for honestly expressing her disapproval of the fact that both of her candidates (that would be Obama and Biden) abandoned the public school system when it came to their own children.  And she explains why their abandonment is more than merely symbolic:

Let us not even touch the term “community organizer,” so buffeted about, by both sides, like a balloon at a rock concert. Let us just say that if Mr. and Mrs. Obama — a dynamic, Harvard-educated couple — had chosen public over private school, they could have lifted up not just their one local public school, but a family of schools. First, given the social pressure (or the social persuasion of wanting to belong to the cool club), more educated, affluent families would tip back into the public school fold. And second, the presence of educated type-A parents with too much time on their hands ensures that schools are held, daily, to high standards.

But the significance of educated families opting in to their local public schools goes deeper than that. Research done by Richard Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation, indicates that poor children benefit hugely by mixing, daily, with middle-class children (particularly those from families who value education). Conversely, as long as the deleterious effects of poverty, like rampant absenteeism and serious health issues, do not overwhelm the school culture, middle-class children suffer no ill effects. Furthermore, studies have shown that new immigrant children learn English faster and master the complex linguistic skills they need to succeed on standardized tests when they are in classrooms with native English speakers. Sadly, because of the widespread flight of higher-minded families, ethnic segregation (not to mention class segregation) in public schools today is so extreme that only one in five immigrant children will have even one native English-speaking friend.

So it is with huge grief-filled disappointment that I discovered that the Obamas send their children to the University of Chicago Laboratory School (by 5th grade, tuition equals $20,286 a year). The school’s Web site quotes all that ridiculous John Dewey nonsense about developing character while, of course, isolating your children from the poor. A pox on them and, while we’re at it, a pox on John Dewey! I’m sick to death of those inspirational Dewey quotes littering the Web sites of $20,000-plus-a-year private schools, all those gentle duo-tone-photographed murmurings about “building critical thinking and fostering democratic citizenship” in their cherished students, living large on their $20,000-a-year island.

Loh is even more heartbroken to discover and admit that the only person running for public office who has committed to public schools is — yup, Sarah Palin.  It’s yet another illustration of the fact that Palin, rather than running from the system and ranting from the sidelines, chose to engage and fix things from the inside out.