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Category: Education (Page 1 of 3)

A Turn for DeWurst, an alternative to the state of education in America

One of the personally most important books that I have read is Sydney Kendall’s novel A Turn for DeWurst. I read it with my youngest daughter; its theme, plot, and character helped establish a solid foundation for real fact based dialogue between my daughter and I on the value and methods of education.

The drama of the novel brings uncomfortable facts about public education to the forefront in a way that they can neither be evaded nor accepted as in the best interest of the child. Unfortunately, these facts are well known to parents from their own experience in public schools and the experience of current students, but for the most part parents and children are not openly and honestly talking to each other about them.

In addition, as a work of romantic fiction, the novel through its characters and their choices demonstrate a correction, not a reform, to the cause underlying the problems in today’s public schools. Yet, throughout, the book is full of benevolent passion and love for education and the developing lives of children.

In general, the novel is a wonderful story of many rich characters confronted with challenges and making choices. The young reader will see dramatized how some of the choices foster life and others corrupt it. The novel includes both children and adults who act as heroes in normal real life circumstances of school, but also both children and adults who choose to act as villains.

While I have purchased more copies of this book than any other and given them as gifts, the best testimonial for this book comes from my youngest daughter now grown. Many years after we had read the book together, my daughter told me that she wanted to name a future daughter Astrid specifically after the main character of A Turn for DeWurst ; what a wonderful legacy of a heroine to give to the next generation.

Extra Point

Fifteen books that I have read that will always stick with me

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The Prometheus Inquiry Concept

The following is a draft for an elevator speech.  At 3.5 minutes, it is probably too long:

Education in this country sucks; it wastes time and money without really adding proportional value.

Schools are in a repetitive and unsuccessful loop of reform, yet: college students require remedial classes, the problems of drop outs and illiteracy have been unresolved, ineffective public school education traps the poor in poverty, and unchallenged students complain that lessons are not relevant to real life.

Students and parents should have better options available; especially those stuck in public schools, which should be called “welfare schools.”

Yet technology today provides the means to overcome constraints.

Great teachers and curriculum exist, but they DO NOT scale. Most students suffer under the direction of inferior teachers and methods, when better exists and could be available to them with the click of a mouse.

The path to enhanced compensation to the best teachers is not merit pay in the public schools, but greater productivity…teaching more students by scaling through technology.

Truly today, a student’s ability to learn is limited by the time wasted on public school assignments and the parental wealth destroyed through taxation. But that limited time and those limited funds available could be leveraged to bring enhanced results; like a flywheel, slowly building momentum to ever increasing learning.

Having worked in postsecondary education finance, I am aware that no honest partnership is possible between a private company and public education; as the public will parasitically drain the capital from the private company. Unfortunately, most private education ventures seek to leverage the public schools as their market; in the long run, that will diminish the shareholders for the sake of the “stakeholders”.

Therefore, the foundation the Prometheus Inquiry proof of concept is to start by creating on-line courseware to supplement the education of students wherever they may be. By using the correct conceptual approach to education, students and parents can access on-line courseware to remediate, maintain, and enhance the students’ educational development at a fraction of the present cost in time and funds. Contrary to the Japanese model of rote and memorization, the Prometheus Inquiry scales by leveraging the student’s ability to think conceptually and independently instead of them becoming a parrot or automaton. Starting with supplemental education for children and adults, this bootstrapped enterprise will expand to provide multiple educational solution channels at multiple price points, including eventually brick and mortar classrooms, focused upon enhancing the ability of individual students (children and adults) based upon the resources available for student time and private financing.

Re-posted from The Prometheus Inquiry.

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Vocab: peregrinations

As his family’s patriarch, Thomas Jefferson took personal interest in the education of his grandchildren:

[Jefferson] was not directly responsible for all the subsequent peregrinations of his grandson [Francis Eppes], but by the spring of 1816 he was fully recognized as the boy’s mentor.

[Source: D. Malone, The Sage of Monticello (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1981), p. 290.]

Whereas Jefferson is well known for his leadership in the founding of the University of Virginia, Francis Eppes’ championing of education led to the founding of Florida State University. Perhaps when they play football in Tallahassee on 11/19/2011, they should compete for a Jefferson-Eppes trophy and establish a family rivalry; as I am a Hokie, I do not know whether such a rivalry already exists.

From n. travel from one place to another, especially on foot.

This post is part of a series, in which I look up words from my reading. These entries include foreign phrases, archaic and technical terms, and words for which my understanding is too approximate for my liking.

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Crying Teacher Threatened to Massacre Students, Still has Job

Evidently, threatening to kill students is not sufficient cause for termination of a teacher in NYC public schools.

A couple weeks ago, the NY Daily News reported:

A Brooklyn teacher busted for making threats vowed it would be “Columbine all over again” when she smuggled a machine gun into school under a trench coat, prosecutors said Saturday.

Three frightened co-workers were inside the teachers lounge with a sobbing Sabrina Milo, 34, when the arts instructor allegedly warned of a killing spree like the 1999 Colorado school massacre that left 13 dead.

Today the NY Times reports : (1) the grand jury decided not to indict her, (2) the teacher is on temporary reassignment pending school disciplinary charges, (3) the teacher’s attorney expects that she will be returned to her classroom, and (4) the teacher claims it was a joke.

Given zero tolerance policies in public schools toward students, which has resulted in a couple student suicides in Fairfax Co., it is amazing to see how this teacher remains employed, and that she expects at most a mean letter in her file.

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Vocab: nunc dimittas

Related to pending legislation that Thomas Jefferson championed for public education in Virginia, he wrote to Joseph C. Cabell:

Pray drop me a line when any vote is passed which furnishes an indication of the success or failure of the general plan.  I have only this single anxiety in the world.  It is a bantling of forty years’ birth and nursing, and if I can once see it on its legs, I will sing with sincerity and pleasure my nunc dimittas.

[Source: D. Malone, The Sage of Monticello (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1981), p. 270.]

From The Free Dictionary:   n. A Christian canticle or hymn using the words of Simeon in Luke 2:29-32, beginning “Nunc dimittis servum tuum” (“Now lettest thou thy servant depart”).


This post is part of a series, in which I look up words from my reading.  These entries include foreign phrases, archaic and technical terms, and words for which my understanding is too approximate for my liking.

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Mailbag: If Not Public Education?

In comments to my post Islam vs. Islamism, Fareed made a comment asking about my views on education.  Finding his question very interesting, I wanted to chew it.

“…since you are a supporter of free market education…”

I do not think that accurately describes my position.  While not necessarily by Fareed, this framing smuggles in the premise of government regulation of market activity.  Thus, I think about it more fundamentally.  I am supporter of freedom of association in education.

For me, it is an issue of both a fundamental and enumerated right.  As such, I challenge the argument by statists that government coercion by a majority is the only means of people acting together.

“…under your system, who decides what is taught?”

Ultimately, and rightfully, the choice belongs to the parents.

“Who decides curriculum across the country?”

No one would; there would not be a uniform curriculum.  I also point out that we do not now nor have we ever had a uniform national curriculum, which remains a utopian fantasy of some.  Further, such national uniformity contradicts one of Thomas Jefferson’s objectives in his founding of public education: local governance.

“How do people of one state, or tax bracket even, ensure their kids get the same quality education as the next state?”

Equality of education is not a legitimate goal.  Even within the same public school today students are assigned unequal educations as a matter of school policy.

As a parent, I always wanted my children to have a superior education.  Those who seek educational equality in the name of the state or the general will are the enemies of parents who want the best for their own children.

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My Recent Book Purchases


>> List of Books <<

Presence of Mind by Edward Cline

Complex Justice: The Case of Missouri v. Jenkins by Joshua M. Dunn

Educational Wastelands: The Retreat from Learning in Our Public Schools by Author Bestor

also see:  Van Damme Academy’s YouTube channel

The Logical Leap: Induction in Physics by David Harriman

also see:

Cultural Literacy:  What Every American Needs to Know by E.D. Hirsch Jr

Real Change: From the World That Fails to the World That Works by Newt Gingrich

To Save America: Stopping Obama’s Secular-Socialist Machine by Newt Gingrich

The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement by Eliyahu M. Goldratt and John Cox

The Clue Train Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual by Rick Levine, et al

The Path to Power by Robert A. Caro

The Objective Standard

also see, “The Curious Life of Richard Feynman” by Daniel Wahl & “Herman Boerhaave: The Nearly Forgotten Father of Modern Medicine” by Richard G. Parker

Disclosure:  Many of these links use the Amazon Associate program to possibly put pennies in my pocket.

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A Very C Collection of Podcasts

I’m not sure why all the sources for these podcasts from Thursday begin with the letter ‘C’, but they do.

As before, the following is a list of podcasts that I consumed the other day.  In addition to the title, link, and descriptions copied or adapted from the source, I have provided a grade for the relevancy of the topic and the quality of the ideas in the podcast.  Of course, these grades are objectively based upon my own individual values and judgment.  In this variety, you might find something to tickle your fancy.

1) Free Range Parenting (2010-05-27 Cultivating the Virtues)

Relevancy A, Quality A – Situation of the Week (Jenn): Dealing with pointless bickering, Topic: Free Range Parenting (begins 4:26), and Q&A: Childhood Fears (begins 18:45).

This discussion references Lenore Skenazy’s book Free-Range Kids, How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry).

2) Cold War Reflections and Today’s Realities (2009-11-16 Council on Foreign Relations)

Relevancy B, Quality B – Bernard Gwertzman, Consulting Editor, at, leads a discussion about “Cold War Reflections and Today’s Realities” with Bob Kimmitt, who’s now with WilmerHale, but in those times was undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, and later became, probably, our first ambassador to the unified Germany; and Jim Goldgeier, who is the senior fellow for transatlantic relations at the council, and also is a professor at George Washington University.

Goldgeier is author of Power and Purpose: U.S. Policy Toward Russian After the Cold War.

3) After Words: Schmidle interviewed by Peters (2009-05-29 C-SPAN BookTV)

Relevancy B, Quality B – Nicholas Schmidle went to Pakistan in 2006 to learn about the country and the people who live there.  He stayed for two years and wrote about his experiences in his book “To Live or to Perish Forever.”  Mr. Schmidle talks about his book with Ralph Peters, columnist for the New York Post and strategic analyst for Fox News.

4) State and Local Officials Conference Call: U.S. Immigration Policy (2009-11-18 Council on Foreign Relations)

Relevancy B, Quality B – Edward Alden discusses the results for a bi-partisan task force on immigration.  The task force’s report examines immigration into the United States in a foreign policy context. It broadens the debate by analyzing issues of economic competitiveness, terrorism and national security, human rights, and public diplomacy in the context of globalization. The report then offers recommendations for a twentyfirst-century immigration policy that serves U.S. economic, diplomatic, and national security interests.

Alden is the coauthor of U.S. Immigration Policy: Independent Task Force Report No. 63.

5) Trial of Accused 9/11 Terrorists (2009-11-08 Council on Foreign Relations)

Relevancy B, Quality C+ – The decision to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the accused mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, in federal court in New York has elicited strong reactions from across the political spectrum. CFR Adjunct Senior Fellows John B. Bellinger and Steven Simon  support the Obama administration’s decision, arguing that it gives the United States the opportunity to demonstrate globally the administration’s commitment to fair trials for detainees.

Simon is coauthor of The Age of Sacred Terror: Radical Islam’s War Against America and The Next Attack: The Failure of the War on Terror and a Strategy for Getting it Right.

6) Update on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (2009-11-12 Council on Foreign Relations)

Relevancy B, Quality C – CFR’s Steven A. Cook discuss the Israel-Palestinian conflict in light of the release of the Goldstone Report, which was recently completed by the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, as part of CFR’s Religion and Foreign Policy Conference Call series.

Cook is author of Ruling But Not Governing: The Military and Political Development in Egypt, Algeria, and Turkey.

7) After Words: Wangari Maathai, author of “The Challenge for Africa” interviewed by Nicole Lee (2009-05-26 C-SPAN BookTV)

Relevancy C, Quality C – 2004 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Wangari Maathai talks about her latest book, “The Challenge for Africa.”  In the book, Ms. Maathai looks at the problems facing the continent and provides advice on how to improve things there.  She discusses her book with Nicole Lee, executive director of TransAfrica Forum.


8 ) After Words: Eduardo Galeano, author of “Mirrors” interviewed by John Dinges (2009-06-20 C-SPAN BookTV)

Relevancy B, Quality D – Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano talks about his latest book, “Mirrors,” a history of the world told through 600 brief stories.  Mr. Galeano is interviewed by Columbia University journalism professor John Dinges, author of “The Condor Years: How Pinochet and His Allies Brought Terrorism to Three Continents.”  The two men also discussed Mr. Galeano’s 1971 book, “The Open Veins of Latin America,” which Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez gave to President Obama during the Fifth Summit of the Americas.

This would have a more interesting interview if Dinges had not been such a smitten fanboy, and had engaged and exposed Galeano’s premises.


9) After Words: Tierney Cahill, author, Ms. Cahill for Congress, Interviewed by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-DC (2009-05-28 C-SPAN BookTV)

Relevancy C, Quality D – The story of how an elementary school teacher told her class that anyone can run for Congress and was challenged by them to prove it.  With a $7,000 initial campaign chest and her students as her campaign staff, she won the 2000 Democratic nomination in Nevada’s 2nd district, which includes Reno.

Cahill is coauthor of Ms. Cahill for Congress: One Fearless Teacher, Her Sixth-Grade Class, and the Election That Changed Their Lives Forever.


10) The Challenge of Somalia (2009-11-05 Council on Foreign Relations)

Relevancy B, Quality F – Bronwyn E. Bruton proposes a strategy of “constructive disengagement” to combat terrorism and promote development and stability in Somalia. Instead of supporting Somalia’s unpopular Transitional Federal Government, Bruton argues that the United States should accept an Islamist authority as long as it does not impede international humanitarian activities or support international jihad. Bruton also advocates for a decentralized approach to U.S. foreign aid distribution by working with existing local authorities. And she counsels against an aggressive military response to piracy, making the case instead for initiatives to mobilize Somalis themselves against pirates.

Burton’s book is Somalia: A New Approach.

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Wednesday’s Podcasts

The following is a list of podcasts that I consumed Wednesday.  In addition to the title, link, and descriptions copied or adapted from the source, I have provided a grade for the relevancy of the topic and the quality of the ideas in the podcast.  Of course, these grades are objectively based upon my own individual values and judgment.  In this variety, you might find something to tickle your fancy.

Also, check out this week’s Objectivist Round Up for insightful posts.

1) Temperment (2010-04-24 Cultivating the Virtues)

Relevancy A, Quality A – Situation of the Week (by Kelly), Topic: Temperament (begins around 4:54), and Q&A (begins around 28:17).  Yes, we went REALLY long on our topic, partly because it’s a favorite one of ours, and partly because we forgot to watch our time!

This podcast mentions two books: Elaine Aaron’s The Highly Sensative Child and Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka.

2) Why Non-Punitive Discipline? (2010-05-03 Cultivating the Virtues)

Relevancy A, Quality A – Situation of the Week (Jenn): A child models correct behavior for another child, FTW!  Topic: Why Non-Punitive Discipline/The Ambassador Analogy (begins 3:42)  Q&A: Celebrating Holidays as non-religious parents (begins 12:55)

RationalJenn provides a number of resources related to this podcast at her site, including How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.

3) Independence (2010-05-12 Cultivating the Virtues)

Relevancy A, Quality A – This podcast features a discussion on the virtue of Independence and how parents can encourage independence of thought and action in children. Here’s the lineup:  Situation of the Week (Kelly): Handling conflict with a child/choosing battles, Topic: Independence (begins 5:30), and Q&A: What are some ways to deal with kids interrupting? (begins 19:06).

4) I Am Murdered: George Wythe, Thomas Jefferson, and the Killing That Shocked a New Nation (2009-08-02 C-SPAN Q&A)

Relevancy B, Quality B – Bruce Chadwick recalls the murder of George Wythe, who represented Virginia at the Constitutional Convention and was a close friend and teacher to Thomas Jefferson.  Mr. Chadwick examines what he deems America’s first “trial of the century” as former representative Wythe lived long enough after his deliberate poisoning to attribute the murder to his grandnephew, George Wythe Sweeny.  However, despite Mr. Wythe’s claim and the first-hand account of his maid, Lydia Broadnax (who survived the poisoning), Mr. Sweeny was never found guilty of the charge.

I have added I Am Murdered to my Amazon wishlist.  Also discussed in this podcast is Chadwick’s book Triumvirate: The Story of the Unlikely Alliance That Saved the Constitution and United the Nation, which is about Madison, Hamilton, Jay and the Federalist Papers.


5) Neil Sheehan, Author, ”A Fiery Peace in a Cold War” (2009-09-20 C-SPAN Q&A)

Relevancy B, Quality B – Neil Sheehan is the author of a new book, ”A Fiery Peace in a Cold War: Bernard Schriever and the Ultimate Weapon.” The book tells the story of the nuclear arms race and the intercontinental Ballistic Missile through the eyes of Air Force General Bernard Schriever. In 1954, General Schriever was the head of a research team that led to putting satellites in space and the development of missiles like the ICBM.


6) Fiscal Irresponsibility Clouds The Future Of The United States (2009-11-04 Council on Foreign Relations)

Relevancy A, Quality C – Richard A. Posner, judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School, analyzes how past fiscal irresponsibility has led to challenges to the global standing of the U.S. financial markets.

Posner has written A Failure of Capitalism: The Crisis of ’08 and the Descent into Depression.

7) Christopher Caldwell, Author, ”Reflections on the Revolution in Europe” (2009-09-13 C-SPAN Q&A)

Relevancy B, Quality C – Christopher Caldwell  is the author of the new book, ”Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West.” The book looks at the immigrant experience in Europe, specifically immigration from non-European countries. Caldwell explains that there are 1.7 million new arrivals in Europe each year, half of which are followers of Islam. In his book, he says, ”Europe’s future peace and prosperity depend on how easily these newcomers (and their children and grandchildren) assimilate into European life.’


8 ) Tracy Kidder, Author, ”Strength in What Remains” (2009-10-11 C-SPAN Q&A)

Relevancy C, Quality C – Pulitzer Prize Winning author Tracy Kidder  talks about his newest book, ‘‘Strength in What Remains: A Journey of Remembrance and Forgiveness.” It’s the story of a young man from Burundi who comes to the United States after narrowly escaping civil war and genocide in his home country. With little money and few English skills, he works delivering groceries, sleeping in Central Park. Eventually, he meets people who help me in his quest to become a doctor. The man, named Deogratis (Deo), returns to Burundi and builds a clinic and health care system through his organization Village Health Works.


9) International Security: A World Free of Nuclear Weapons: Illusion or Possibility (2009-11-04 Council on Foreign Relations)

Relevancy A, Quality F- – Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, speak about the current nuclear situation, threats to stability, and ways to further promote nonproliferation.

10) T.R. Reid, Author, ”The Healing of America” (2009-09-06 C-SPAN Q&A)

Relevancy B, Quality F- – This week, our guest is T.R. Reid (Reed), author of the new book ”The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care.” The former Washington Post reporter traveled to a variety of  countries, including France, Germany, Japan, India, Canada, and the United Kingdom, for a first hand look at their health care systems. He also looks at the moral question of the right to equal health care notwithstanding ability to pay.

Reid makes a moral argument founded in altruism; thus his book, perspective, and conclusions are utterly EVIL. For an objectively moral investigation of the health care issue see Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine (FIRM).


11) After Words: Peniel Joseph author of ”Dark Days, Bright Nights” interviewed by Kevin Merida (2009-01-16 C-SPAN Book TV)

Relevancy D, Quality F – Peniel Joseph recalls the black power movement in his book, ‘‘Dark Days, Bright Nights: From Black Power to Barack Obama.” Mr. Joseph contends that the 1965 Voting Rights Act played a significant role in the ascendancy of black radical politics and assisted in paving the way for future African-American political leadership. Peniel Joseph profiles several of the movement’s key figures, including Stokely Carmichael, Malcolm X, and Paul Robeson. He discusses his book with Kevin Merida, national editor of The Washington Post.

Having studied this subject myself, I find Joseph’s historical analysis to be ideologically corrupt in a way that would make Karl Mannheim proud.


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Vocab: encomium

After retirement, Thomas Jefferson engaged in the founding of the University of Virginia.  In a response to a letter from Jefferson explaining the planned innovations in education, John Adams expressed support.

To his encomium, [John Adams] added a grim prophecy: namely, that if there should be anything “quite original and very excellent” in the institution, deeply rooted prejudices would prevent it from lasting long.

[Source: D. Malone, The Sage of Monticello (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1981), p. 249.]

From Merriam-Webster online:  n. an expression of glowing and warmly enthusiastic praise.

This post is part of a series, in which I look up words from my reading.  These entries include foreign phrases, archaic and technical terms, and words for which my understanding is too approximate for my liking.

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