Booker T. Washington’s Racial Compromise?

Booker T. Washington indeed might have sought reconciliation between white and black, but his call was truly to his own race alone to educate themselves and to work hard to improve mind and character. Does that make Washington a lesser advocate for racial equality, a less successful one?

I first read Up from Slavery ten years ago and was quickly surprised that it wasn’t required reading for every educator, that is, until I read the critics. In his autobiography, Booker Taliaferro Washington (1856-1915) leaves us an equal bounty of moral wisdom and caution that all began with his dream to learn. Education and merit are central to his story. He writes, “There was never a time in my youth, no matter how dark and discouraging the days might be, when one resolve did not continually remain with me, and that was a determination to secure an education at any cost.” Continue reading

Teacher: Students Crave Ethics Instruction

High school English teacher Paul Barnwell made two interesting observations in July of 2016 in The Atlantic.

The first was that his students have no moral compass. Barnwell discovered this when discussing various ethical issues with his class. His students were, he found, quite oblivious to internationally and historically accepted values of moral living. Continue reading

Robert E. Lee Reconsidered

Clearly, Robert E. Lee’s reputation has plummeted from the lofty height it once occupied. It is time to clear a path through the rubble of toppled statues and discarded plaques to examine the qualities of the authentic Lee, as well as the turn of mind that would relegate him to historical ignominy…

Robert E. Lee by Matthew Brady

I.

“What excellence is there in a nature which merely rejoices in its own well-being and does nothing, never has done anything and never will do anything?” ~ Cicero, The Nature of the Gods, Book I

The greatest human heroes, from the beginning of recorded history and lore, all share a common trait: a flaw in character that often proves to be their undoing, and perhaps even leads to their death. There are many examples from antiquity: the fatal arrogance of Achilles; Odysseus’ disastrous taunting of Polyphemus; King David’s lust for Bathsheba; the unquenchable thirst for conquest of Alexander the Great; and the pride of Oedipus and Agamemnon. Taken together, they remind us of an eternal verity: man—especially the man who wears the laurels—is imperfect. In his short biography of Napoleon, Paul Johnson hammers home this point:

We have to learn again the central lesson of history: that all forms of greatness, military and administrative, nation and empire building, are as nothing—indeed they are perilous in the extreme—without a humble and contrite heart.

He added that the integral part of this lesson comes from stripping away the myth surrounding the man so that his reality can be revealed. Continue reading

Teacher: Stroking Egos Does Nothing for Students. Raising Expectations Does.

Armed with a bachelor of science in elementary education, I charged into my career as a teacher. I was immediately exposed to students at three levels of public schools:

1. A rather wealthy district with an average IQ of 120.

2. A classic, middle-class school.

3. A school that is best described as a mini United Nations.

In the “UN” school, approximately 25 percent of students were new immigrants, 30-35 percent were American-born blacks, and the remainder were 40-45 percent Caucasian. The economic structure ranged from welfare to upper middle class. Continue reading

Homeschoolers: Guilty Until Proven Innocent?

My eight-year-old daughter and I recently read about the Salem witch trials. She had heard about Salem from a friend who visited the nearby town during its popular Halloween festivities, and she was curious about the witches. We went to the library to get some books on the topic of how 20 innocent people were put to death for “witchcraft” in 1692, with scores more accused and jailed.

What struck me most about revisiting the Salem Witch Trials with my children was the fact that these English Puritans who had recently settled in Massachusetts Bay Colony had no presumption of innocence. Those accused of a crime at the time, both in the New World and elsewhere, were guilty until proven innocent. The presumption of innocence in trials, with court defenders and impartial juries, would take centuries to catch on. The phrase “innocent until proven guilty” was coined by an English lawyer in 1791, but even then it took a long while to become the legal precedent we all now take for granted. Continue reading

Benson: Socialist Education in America

Dewey’s ideas were apparently judged as crucial to the revolution as any weapon in the arsenal of the Red Army.” ~ Paul Kengor

That America’s public education system is rooted and grounded in socialism has become more and more evident in recent years.

Commentator Charles Morse noted on March 25, 2002 in an article wherein he stated: “That the prevailing philosophies and methodologies of American public education are leftist is not up for debate. Leftists have dominated the federal Department of Education, most state Departments of Education, the teachers’ unions, many teachers colleges, and education foundations for several decades. Many rank and file teachers know this, and have observed the catastrophic results, yet the situation is so rotten that they dare not speak out…On December 5, 1928 The New Republic published an article written by self-described socialist John Dewey, the revered father of so-called progressive education, in which he revealed the true nature of the leftist education agenda. In the article, Dewey spoke of “the marvelous development of progressive educational ideas and practices under the fostering care of the Bolshevist government.” That’s where Mr. Dewey sought to take public education in this country and where his spiritual descendants have indeed taken it. Continue reading

Spivey: I Believe…

Here I sit, once again, feelin’ the compulsion to write, and havin’ more to say than is reasonable to put into one piece (which my faithful readers can tell you, is a LOT), and not knowin’ what to talk about, let alone how to start talkin’ about it. And, yet again, the top of the page simply says “Title Pending.” Maybe that’s why I’ve decided to let y’all in on this part of the process once again, ’cause it seems to help me focus; that and the fact that it makes the writin’ feel a little more… personal… Continue reading

The Founding Fathers of the Public (government) School System in America

Horace Mann

Alex Newman has written an excellent article in the February 4th issue of The New American magazine entitled From Educational Excellence To Mediocrity in which he brings up several issues I have also dealt with in the past.

He noted that the Puritans in Massachusetts were “outliers in America” in the area of having the government start to enact governmental education laws. For all the good things the Puritans may have done, in this one critical area, the promotion of governmental education laws was a horrible mistake. In fact, labeling it as a grievous error would not be an exaggeration. Continue reading

Why Johnny Still Can’t Read…

In 1955, prompted by the reading problems experience by the child of a friend, Rudolf Flesch wrote the book Why Johnny Can’t Read. The book became a huge bestseller and is still in print today.

Flesch realized that the reason many children were not learning to read was because of method of reading instruction they were exposed to in school. Hirsch called the popular method of his time the “look-say” method. The look-say method was just one of many whole word or whole language or word-guessing methods of teaching reading that have plagued students since the early twentieth century. Continue reading

Due to Lack of Interest… Tomorrow has been cancelled

Last Rites for the Promised Land!

Grammy Award Winning Cover art: Evelyn Kelbish

Over the past few years I have been reaching further back into my personal history specifically with memories of my youth and my time spent in Country while flying over the rice-paddies and picking up wounded soldiers, civilians and enemy combatants.

Recently I realized that a song which I had considered to be my theme song from those 21 months ~ Inna-Gadda-Da-Vida was released within days of my arrival for the Adventure of a lifetime. You’ll note that it is also a permanent audio fixture of the Federal Observer site in the right-hand column. Some additional thoughts on the song I have also penned as part of the description of our category, ‘Nam – Some Came Home: (Continue to the Federal Observer)

How Public Schools Suffer from the Tragedy of the Commons

Public schools, despite being collectively owned in theory, are in reality owned by no one.

Politico recently commented on a tweet from President Trump regarding “Bible literacy classes” in public schools. The article notes that several state legislatures have introduced the idea and that such classes would be electives and not part of the core curriculum. Inevitably, many will decry the ostensible conflict of church and state, while defenders of the idea see it as an exercise in state autonomy or a return to America’s so-called Christian past. Gray areas of constitutionality, religion, federalism, and local government make for interesting conversation, but I propose a simpler solution and a simpler way of looking at this. Continue reading

Public Education ~ The New Marxism For Our Day

Karl Marx

Back during the “conservative” Reagan administration we got the federal Department of Education. Reagan was supposed to kill it, but he didn’t because he realized where his bread was buttered. I wonder if even he realized where the idea for that federal department came from. Most folks don’t have a clue. However the idea of a federal department of education was not new with Reagan, or even with Carter before him.

The idea wasn’t new with either one of them. It goes all the way back to 1932, and possibly before that.

In 1932 American Communist Party leader William Z. Foster wrote a book, Toward Soviet America and in it Comrade Foster listed several objectives to be forwarded to make this country into a Soviet America. Continue reading

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (The McCarran-Walter Act)

NOTE: Although we do not agree with the direction that the United States Congress has taken in late 2018 going into 2019 as relates to Muslims “serving” in public office – which does not even include Political offices in various state and other Federal positions… there are many “stories” going around the nation which state that the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 prevented Muslims from holding Public Office. What follows below would seem to be a more reasonable assessment, yet what we are witnessing across the land – would appear to indicate a further erosion of this nation’s sovereignty. ~ Ed.

Patrick McCarran

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 upheld the national origins quota system established by the Immigration Act of 1924, reinforcing this controversial system of immigrant selection.

It also ended Asian exclusion from immigrating to the United States and introduced a system of preferences based on skill sets and family reunification. Situated in the early years of the Cold War, the debate over the revision of U.S. immigration law demonstrated a division between those interested in the relationship between immigration and foreign policy, and those linking immigration to concerns over national security. Continue reading