Daniel Webster School, a CPS school on the West Side

By John Ruberry

On Friday a friend of this very blogger forwarded a Chicago Tribune Breaking News Alert to me: Chicago Public Schools enrollment drops by nearly 10,000 students. And the year before CPS enrollment slid by 11,000.

There are 371,382 students taking classes in CPS schools  In 2002 there 438,589 kids running the halls, with some of them learning something.

So, taxes for schools will go down, right?

Not in the Prairie State, the home of “Illinois Math,” where two plus two equals five.

For a while, that is.

CPS is expected to raise property taxes soon–a state bill that will likely pass to pass gives them that power–by $120 million to pay for, wait for it, teacher pensions. That’s on top of $100 million in a tax jump already sanctioned

“Building a New Chicago” at Dunne School on the South Side, where your blogger attended kindergarten

The sad tale of the Chicago Teachers Pensions Fund [CTPF] goes back to 1981 when the Chicago Board of Education agreed to pick up most of the teachers’ obligation to pay into their pension plans. Out of sight–out of mind. Yes, Chicago Teachers Union, I’m looking at you! In 1995 a lost weekend of retirement funding began–it lasted ten years–and all of that money that was supposed to go to pensions instead went towards teacher salaries and nuts-and-bolts school expenses. Oh, don’t forget to throw in a calorie-loaded Chicago-style pizza buffet line of cronyism, giveaways, and malfeasance into this toxic dish.

Illinois still hasn’t completely recovered from the Great Recession–government corruption and incompetence, in my opinion, are the sole reasons for that–so naturally a partial CTPF “pension holiday” was declared from 2011-13 and the can was kicked down the potholed road again.

Chicago Public Schools bonds are rated as junk.

Two years ago Chicago property owners had to swallow the largest property tax hike in the city’s history to help shore up police and firefighter pension funds, which are even more underfunded than the teachers’ pensions. And last week Chicago’s embattled mayor, Rahm Emanuel, released his 2018 budget proposal, which of course includes tax increases. When asked if more tax hikes were coming, Emanuel dodged the question.

Chicago is the only large American city with a shrinking population.

As bad as Chicago’s financial situation is, the reality is probably far worse because Illinois Math is very likely disguising the wretched truth.

Decline and fall.

Blogger in downtown Chicago

Here is some more Illinois Math for you: The free-market Illinois Policy Institute says, “There are now more inactive employees and beneficiaries in CTPF than there are active workers paying into the pension fund.”

Someday there will be a new Illinois Math equation. Two plus two won’t equal five–it will equal just one.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Let’s talk Common Core one more time.  I don’t know why this is still an issue, why this is still a thing, why it still exists, but it does.

Many states have renamed it, but no matter what name you give it, it’s still Common Core, and it’s rotten.

Besides the constant barrage of standardized tests (in many cases at least once a month), students are also forced to endure a scripted curriculum, mind-numbing pre-prepared slides, and endless waves of graphic organizers, Cornell notes, and pages of non-fiction to endlessly annotate, day after day after day.

Do parents really know this is still going on?  Do parents approve of this?  Do parents consent to having their kids put under the pressure of fifteen standardized tests per semester (not counting the endless Cold Read Tasks, Extension Tasks, and other actual classroom tests)?

This massive over reach into America’s classrooms has robbed teachers of any innovation and creativity in the classroom.  After years of Kagan strategies and Harry Wong strategies, now teachers are told that all kids learn the same, by the script, by the worksheet.

College professor, and former middle school teacher, John Spenser is an advocate for innovation in the classroom.  He writes:

Now, I don’t see anything inherently wrong with boxed curriculum. After all, a great novel is essentially “boxed.” The issue is when institutions force teachers to use boxed curriculum in a lock-step way where they lack the permission to make it their own.

This district adopted the prescribed curriculum as a way to embrace “best practices in education.” And yet . . . the district also describes the needs to meet the demands of a “21st Century Learning” and “spark innovation.”

But here’s the thing: innovation requires you to step into the unknown. If we focus all of our attention on best practices and codify these ideas into tightly packaged curriculum, we will inevitably fail to experiment.

When teachers are required to use these scripted programs with fidelity, by the letter, all creativity is gone.

Kids are reading very little fiction these days and there’s a much heavier focus on non-fiction.  In fact, in some districts the curriculum might include a novel, but only certain chapters.  Novels are now called “Anchor Texts” and students read articles, or “informational texts” about the novel, and perhaps will read the Prologue and a couple of chapters of the novel.

This is absurd. When teachers are required to use these scripted programs with fidelity, by the letter, all creativity is gone.

Teachers quit loving their job, they lose their passion, because really a robot could read a script and pass out a worksheet.

This is what’s going on in many classrooms across America.

Some districts, thank goodness, have rebelled and refused to participate in this indoctrination nonsense.  Some districts still believe that the teacher is the one who knows what the student needs because the teacher knows the student.

See, kids aren’t data.  Kids aren’t test scores.  They aren’t numbers.  They’re kids.  And it’s time school districts start remembering that.

Years of school letter grades and skewed teacher accountability programs have distracted us from the real goal – teaching kids not just how to take a test but how to be productive, compassionate, educated citizens.

Parents need to be involved and ask questions.  Meet the teachers who spend most of the day with your kids.  How often are your kids being tested?  What’s the curriculum look like?

This needs to change and teachers need to reclaim their autonomy.  We’re raising a generation of kids now who can annotate the heck out of an article on microbes but can’t tell you who Atticus Finch is or why he is important.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

Monday morning was a contradiction, because Sunday had been so busy there had been no real time for the letdown of the high from Saturday’s Buffet Books and Blather event but as I hit the adoration chapel after daily mass there was a sense of urgency as Stacy’s TV appearance so I cut my prayer time down figuring I could get my decades in during the course of the day heading back to the house hoping that Stacy wasn’t completely in the zone.

This statement requires some clarity for those who have never shared a room with Robert Stacy McCain.  One Stacy McCain starts writing on a subject he enters a zone where it is nearly impossible to get his attention on anything else.  You won’t get him out of hotel room , you aren’t going get him to leave a McDonald’s to avoid the rush hour, and even getting out of the house for a TV appearance can be iffy.

Fortunately Stacy while writing had been pretty much prepared so when we left the house at 11 we figured there was plenty of time to make it to the studio in Worcester even when picking up gas for the car and a coffee for Stacy.  If only the traffic , namely the construction on I190 had cooperated, but in the end I dropped Stacy McCain off at the studio at noon on the button and headed over to the parking garage a block away and walked to the studio.

Stay was still out front, as Mrs. Finn was also delayed, when she did arrive her producer had still not arrived so it meant further delays but Stacy filled it with stories and conversation that continued to hold our host’s attention.

When he did arrive it was decided to tape a pair of shows back to back as this would be her only chance to have Stacy live in studio so they recorded two shows back to back but even with two shows it was impossible to cover all that Stacy had to say about feminism and culture.

When the shows were done it was time for more Mexican food. It turned out that the nearest restaurant was back across from the DCU center the site of yesterday’s event, so we walked the four blocks over. When we got there I was surprised to find Alan Napelton the head of the Catholic Marketing Network whose event I had covered in Chicago the previous month and who I had only managed to speak to for a few minutes the day before at the bar next to the place where we were seated. I took advantage of the moment to have the meeting that I had hoped to have the day before with him while Stacy shared a lunch with Mrs. Finn still regaling her with stories of which he has a seemingly inexhaustible supply.

When everyone was done eating it was getting pretty late in the day and we still hadn’t gotten to UMass Amherst which was on Mr. McCain’s “must do while I’m in Massachusetts list” so after saying our goodbyes to Mr. Napelton we hustled the five blocks back to the parking garage where we parted company with Mrs. Finn and headed west.

We arrived in Amherst near 6 pm and found ourselves at the Franklin Dining center where we got our bearings. As always the first thing we did was check out the bulletin boards to see what the feel of the place was and that fell wasn’t just left, but ultra ultra left.  Flyer after flyer advocated everything from the various gay, bisexual , Islamic, Socialist, and Transgender clubs but oddly not a single sign up or poster for the college republicans (we had our suspicions why but that’s for later in the story).

The plan was for Stacy to touch bases with the president of the college republicans and basically repeat what he had done at Harvard College the previous Thursday, however the delay in getting there complicated matters and the College republicans president was not available, however the VP of the college republicans had some free time so we drove over to her dorm area, picked her up and headed back to a lounge area where Stacy conducted an interview on audio.

And I interviewed Miss Bishop directly after Stacy on camera

where we discovered that the reason why there were no posters for sign ups for the college republicans is the no-hate on campus meme

Republicans and Americans excluded of course
that we saw plastered all over the place apparently doesn’t apply to the college republicans whose sign up posters were constantly torn down so as to make it a waste to put it up as nobody would ever be scolded or caught for it.

Apparently while we were at UMass Amherst on 9/11 the student body did not confine their suspension of the “no hate” policy to the GOP but extended it to the US itself:

The banner, which first caught students’ and officials’ attention yesterday morning, was slung above a doorway on Valentine Dining Hall and read in large, capital letters: “There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people,” a quote that is largely attributed to American historian Howard Zinn.

Below that was the phrase: “In honor of those killed and displaced by America’s so-called ‘war on terror.’ ”

There are 3000 Americans who might have taken umbrage at the “so called” in that banner that is if they hadn’t been slaughtered 16 years prior to the day.

But this was unknown to us at the time, for now we contented ourselves with our interviews discovering that like Harvard UMass had plenty of conservatives in the closet but unlike Harvard the percentage willing to go on record was 1/6 of 1% vs Harvard’s 2%.

However like the students at Harvard young miss Bishop defended both her school and the education she got there even though it seemed that when it came to college republicans clear love their alma maters said love was apparently not returned.

By the time we finished it was well after dark so after thanking Miss Bishop for giving us so much time on such short notice, we headed toward home stopping only in Gardner for one last Mexican meal and a chance to record one more segment for the podcast (available here) with Stacy while we had the chance.

For it would not be so many hours before we would be heading for the airport our adventures in Massachusetts concluded.

In the end we had covered the state several times, Boston, Cambridge, Lexington, Worcester, Amherst, Gardner Leominster and of course Fitchburg, we had put almost as many miles on my car as we did during the Scott Brown election (and said car died when it returned from taking Stacy home) and in addition to our events and speeches we had done some first class shoe leather reporting with the stories to back them up.

That above all else, made the week worthwhile, because first hand reporting and seeing things for yourself is what this business is all about. The gallery follows the Tip Jar Pitch.

Robert Stacy McCain in Massachusetts the Story so far:

9/15 Interviews from the EWTN Family Celebration in Worcester Williams, Warsaw, Grodi, Conroy, Radlicz and Pacwa
9/14 Robert Stacy McCain In Massachusetts Day 5: EWTN & Many Colleges
9/13 Robert Stacy McCain in Mass: Day 4: Buffet Books and Blather
9/11 Robert Stacy McCain in Mass Day 3: Tom Jones in Lexington
9/9 Robert Stacy McCain in MA Day Two: Shock and Awe at Harvard University
9/8 RSM in MA Day 2: Reverses, Feminists in NYU & The Kids at Espresso Pizza
9/6 Robert Stacy McCain Now in Massachusetts

At the Other McCain

9/12 Fear and Loathing at Logan International: Massachusetts is Depraved and Decadent
9/9 Feminism Is a Totalitarian Movement to Destroy Civilization as We Know It
9/8 VIDEO: Kent Haeffner, President of Harvard University College Republicans
9/7 Heading to Harvard Yard
9/6 Fear and Loathing and BWI


My time with Stacy McCain resulted in 8 posts of original reporting and one large event livestreamed. I think it was good and worthwhile work worth the time, effort and expense involved. If you agree please hit DaTipJar Below and let us know you appreciate real actual reporting done by the new media and are willing to support it.



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By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT —  Despite what anyone tells you, Common Core is alive and well across the country.  It’s not always called Common Core anymore because of all the negative connotations and observations after its launch, but it’s still there.

Some states have renamed the program.  In Louisiana, it’s called Louisiana Believes.  In New York, it is now called Next Generation.  Iowa now calls it The Iowa Core.

It’s still Common Core; the standards and tenets are still there.

It is an endless barrage of scripted lessons, mindless graphic organizers, and multiple standardized tests.  It’s mind-numbing.

In districts with scripted lessons, teachers must follow the script, use the pre-written slides, and read prescribed texts.

Yes, they’re called simply “texts” now, not stories, novels, or literature.  Students read predominately non-fiction now; treatises on how microbes work in the human body (in an ELA class), or foundational speeches.  There are a few token fiction pieces, but there is little opportunity for students to read “stories,” to get lost in the prose of Eudora Welty or Harper Lee.

Even worse, under a scripted curriculum, teachers lose the freedom to be inspiring.

Note this article in The Atlantic by one teacher about her experience. Her district was using a strict curriculum:

The sense of urgency in the building was palpable, and the pressure on teachers to increase student achievement was often overwhelming. The district required us to teach a curriculum rigidly aligned with a 15-year-old reading textbook containing outdated articles about Ricky Martin, ice fishing, and cartography in an attempt to provide relevant, entry-level reading for students. I refused to teach from this text on the grounds that it was both condescending and uninteresting. But district personnel insisted that teachers use the textbook, citing evidence that it brought up test scores.

And she rebelled.  She and her co-teacher used a variety of outrageous, engaging strategies to inspire their students:

A body of research illustrates the self-evident reality that students’ interest in what they’re learning is critical to their achievement. And student engagement, according to various studies, is often a direct result of teacher engagement. When Alice and I decided to teach outrageously, our attitudes about our work improved, which data suggests improved our students’ attitudes.

Scripted curriculums are proving to be a large cause of teacher burnout and contributing to an exodus of veteran teachers from the profession as it becomes clear than anyone can read a script and their veteran experience is no longer valued:

“…letting an ill-equipped teacher do what she pleases isn’t smart policy. But does a top-down trickle of scripts and mandates detached from students’ day-to-day lives really improve a teacher’s effectiveness? It could have the reverse effect, forcing educators who might otherwise gain a real knack for teaching over time come to rely on others to make decisions for them and become stunted in their ability to improve.”

There’s nothing wrong with rigorous standards or high expectations for both students and teachers, but these scripted curriculums should be used as a platform for teachers to pull from rather than as a rote teaching experience.  Students don’t all learn the same way and teachers don’t all teach the same way. After years of Harry Wong and Kagan, Jane Schaffer models and others, it’s clear that this is just another fad or flavor of the month in education, but at what cost?

Even the creator of LearnZillion indicates that teachers should retain some autonomy in their classrooms and that these scripted curriculum programs should be used to ease the burden of creating a curriculum rather than stifle teacher creativity, but not all districts use it that way.

The endless testing in and of itself is stifling to kids.

As parents we need to be aware of what’s happening in the classroom.  Just because it doesn’t say Common Core doesn’t mean that it isn’t.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

Once we confirmed that Stacy’s scheduled TV appearance in Leominster was kaput he informed me that the college republicans that he had been in contact with wanted to have him visit the college for 5:30 or so.Stacy and I headed toward cambridge.

Rather than take the long drive into Harvard Square as my dad used did to take me Million Year Picnic back when I was thirteen in the days when Harvard Square was the western most stop on the Boston Subway  We headed to Alewife station parked on the the 4th floor grabbed our red line tickets and grabbed a seat on the subway heading to Harvard Station and the square and college that it led to.

When we emerged into the daylight and crossed over to the gate, we found ourselves smack in the middle of a protest

There was a circle of several hundred people who surrounded a few folks taking turns with a bullhorn denouncing dropping DACA. We had gotten there early for our meeting but late for the start of the protest so we checked out the signs and the crowd and campus police that looked on with the same half amused resignation as people at the most exclusive school in the world talked about oppression.

We watched for a while, saw the various signs (invariably anti trump) then left for our meeting location (missing the human chain and subsequent arrests).

We found the hall where we were supposed to meet and happily stumbled on a presentation by professor Robert George. of Princeton.

As Stacy went out to find the fellow we were looking for I sat in on his presentation. His talk concerning culture and the humanities was a great pleasure and his observation that in the end those Harvard Students in the room were not just the top 1% but the top .0001% of all time in human history was a fact that seems to be lost when students in higher education find themselves triggered.

At this point Stacy had met our guide President of the Harvard College Republicans Kent Haeffner

As one might guess Kent was an impressive young fellow and while he spoke of some of the oddities of the liberal atmosphere as illustrated by this Woman Studies syllabus as read by Stacy McCain

He vigorously defended Harvard as an institution both in terms of the educational environment but for it’s ability to inspire symbolized by one particular gate with the inscription as you come in “Enter to grow in wisdom” and as you pass out “Depart to serve better your country and your kind.”

after a rather pleasant lunch (mentioned by Stacy here) we returned to the quad for a long interview

The camera failed during the last question so Stacy repeated it

It turned out he had been on campus during the Black Mass business so I also interviewed him on the subject

He was also kind enough to show me the Chinese restaurant where in the end the black mass was held (I was liberal with the Holy water on the building area) and then showed me to St. Paul’s the catholic chapel where the Eucharist Procession and adoration had taken place.

By now his time was getting short so we escorted us back to the Mexican Restaurant where we had lunched so we could wait for the young lady who we would speak to next, a passer by was kind enough to take a shot for us.

A few minutes later we were joined by Emily Hall who was both an officer of the college republicans but a member of the Network of Enlightened Women. Kent left us in her capable hands.

Capable frankly is too weak an adjective for this young lady. She spoke of being a pro-life Catholic woman on campus and how, like Kent she had grown stronger in the crucible of education and pushback while demonstrating very publicly that the woman of Harvard University were not monolithic in their beliefs. She also sat for and interview with Stacy

And myself.

at this point is was getting pretty late so Stacy and I escorted her back toward her dorm talking more about the environment and her plans for the future on the way.

As we headed back to the car and drove home Stacy spoke to his wife concerning his impressions of Harvard and the fine young people we had met it was evident that whatever idiocy might take place on campus either via protest or within the Woman’s Studies department it was clear that he had been provided with ample proof that Harvard was more than capable of allowing a well grounded conservative with the courage of their convictions and a good work ethic to grow into an even stronger conservative ready to in the words of the gate serve better their country and their kind. and by the end of the day it was evident that the Kansas City Chiefs had not been the only folks to change a narrative in Massachusetts that day. These two tweets said it all.

If you told me that it was even slightly possible for Robert Stacy McCain to make that statement aloud one week ago I, like Wombat would not have believed it.

A gallery of photos follows my tip jar pitch:

Update:  Somehow 1st paragraph words were corrupted at posting fixed


This week with Stacy McCain is a week without work or pay for me. If you like what you see and think Stacy’s trip and my reporting from and on it is the type of journalism you’d like to keep seeing I’d really appreciate it if you would hit DaTipJar below




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by baldilocks

Around the time of 9/11, during one of my many sojourns into higher education, I was in a CAD program–which I regret not finishing. One of the required courses was Algebra and I did well, out of 100 achieving a 96 average — math being one of my favorite subjects.  And, most heartening, in an admittedly chauvinistic way, the only other person who did better than I did in the subject was also a black woman. (We were the only women there of any coating.)

By no means were the men in that class either stupid or ungifted. However, they were uniformly very young—at least they seemed so to my then forty-year-old self.  One of the things that they marveled at about me was that I could do simple arithmetic in my head.  When one of them asked me how this came to be, I explained that I was born well before the advent of the calculator and was taught at home to memorize multiplication tables.  Another of the young men made some joke about my age and a slide rule and, though I laughed, I realized how archaic that device had become. Following on the realization that I hadn’t seen one since the early 1980s, I was impressed that the guy even knew of the tool.

Being around so many innately very intelligent young people who had been—as far as I could see then—short-changed by the very same type of technology that they were learning to manipulate to make a living, made me a little sad. However, now I know that those men—and that young lady who kicked my behind in Algebra–are the blessed ones. They had the desire to know — something that is all too rare.

I still plan to return for my B.S. in mathematics.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel tentatively titled Arlen’s Harem, will be done one day soon! Follow her on Twitter and on Gab.ai.

Please contribute to Juliette’s JOB:  Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

Or hit Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism!

it came to be that if I agreed with my church I’m a catholic and I’m very catholic and I’ve been all my life ,that people were calling me a racist and a bigot for believing my beliefs and that, that was the final straw for me cause I’d been a democrat all my life and my mother the same way and I felt I wasn’t welcome.

DaTechGuy Feb 2010 on Why I was (at the time) A Republican

At the Hill they’ve discovered what I figured out last century. If you are a Roman Catholic who actually believes the doctrines of the church concerning the sanctity of life, the Democrat Part is simply not for you.

The raging debate among Democrats about whether to support candidates whose views on abortion differ from the national platform obscures a crucial fact: There simply aren’t that many “pro-life” Democrats left.

Only six members of the House Democratic Caucus voted for a 2013 proposal to ban abortions after 20 weeks in the District of Columbia. Of those six, only three – Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) and Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) – are still in Congress. Lipinski and Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) are the only Democratic members of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus.

and it’s not just a question of being pro-life,

In 2016, just one Democratic senator, Indiana’s Joe Donnelly, scored less than a 100 percent rating with NARAL Pro-Choice America. Donnelly and Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) are the only three Democratic senators with lifetime scores under 100 percent with Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Bottom line if you aren’t on board with the whole, baby killing, selling human parts agenda of Planned Parenthood, you can forget about any kind of future on the national level state or even local level.

And no matter how popular you are in the party,  if you dare come out in favor of a Pro-life democrat, there will be hell to pay.

NARAL Pro-Choice America had condemned Sanders and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez for endorsing Mello and intending to campaign with him. NARAL’s president, Ilyse Hogue, called the campaign stop “politically stupid”; Daily Kos, the progressive site that had been crowdsourcing donations for a series of campaigns in red states, pulled its endorsement of Mello after admitting it was unaware of his views about abortion.

Now the Democrats have a perfect right to decide that Abortion should be a litmus test for them if they wish, and such a decision is very consistent with their party becoming pretty much a secular party.

The only problem is that this comes with consequences:

In fact, Blume’s research also shows quite vividly that secular, nonreligious people are being dramatically out-reproduced by religious people of any faith. Across a broad swath of demographic data relating to religiosity, the godly are gaining traction in offspring produced. For example, there’s a global-level positive correlation between frequency of parental worship attendance and number of offspring. Those who “never” attend religious services bear, on a worldwide average, 1.67 children per lifetime; “once per month,” and the average goes up to 2.01 children; “more than once a week,” 2.5 children. Those numbers add up—and quickly. 

Or put simply,  if you kill your children they can’t grow up to vote, not even in chicago.  This is known as the Roe effect and  while disputed at the time by some, 12 years later the results for Democrats are clear both in Nebraska:

They lost the mayoralty in 2013, one in a string of defeats that had seen the party wiped out in Nebraska’s major elected offices; in 2016, they lost the Omaha-based 2nd Congressional District

and in the congress

“Back in the early ’90s, when we had 290 members of the House, we had 100-something pro-life Democrats. Today, we’ve got three or four pro-life Democrats,” said James Zogby, a long-time Democratic National Committee member and a national advisory board member of Democrats for Life of America.

Subtract those 100 members from the Democrat Caucus and what are you left with, a permanent minority.

Now if the Democrats want to remain the Party of Lena Dunham, Amanda Marcotte, Channel Dubofsky, Shulamith Firestone, Andrea Dworkin, Sidney Abbott, Ti-Grace Atkinson, Gloria Steinem, Jaclyn Friedman, Meghan Murphy and Jean Houston instead of the party of DaTechGuy and his Wife, they are welcome to do so, but let me point out one thing. As of Today my wife and I have produced more voting age children then all of those NARAL supporters combined.

A quick Layoff bleg update.  Aug 10th was the scheduled end to my layoff bleg and I’m sorry to say we didn’t manage half of the goal I had set (UPDATE: Now we have) although we did manage to raise enough to get me a paycheck this week and next week. This will make August a very lean month.

So if you are inclined and at all able I would ask you to hit DaTipJar at this time even if we don’t make the goal another $315 will mean a full paycheck for August 25th. (made that goal!)

UPDATE: replacing the layoff bleg with a weekly paycheck goal details to follow.




Please consider subscribing, Not only does that get you my weekly podcast emailed to you before it appears either on the site or at the 405media which graciously carries it on a weekly basic but if you subscribe at any level I will send you an autographed copy of my new book from Imholt press: Hail Mary the Perfect Protestant (and Catholic) Prayer


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I speak to author Katherine O’Brien about her book Every Catholic’s Guide to College 2018 at the 2017 Catholic Marketing Network Event

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And as I’ve said before if you can’t spare the cash we will be happy to accept your prayers.

This is your child’s mind on public education.

by baldilocks

Filling in for Fausta. She will return in the second week of August.

Writer Sarah Hoyt expounds on education – and miseducation – in a great series of essays, Teach Your Children Well.

From the first essay:

My son in third grade was assigned to do an essay on “My best friend.” He proudly showed me a paragraph. And I hit the roof.

The sentences – as far as I could tell through the horrible spelling – were ungrammatical and incoherent. There was no thought progression, nothing the reader could follow. It was as though he thought if he included “my best friend” in every sentence it would work, even if it was “my best friend is rocket fire.” It read like absurdist poetry. And it was maybe all of 300 words.

I thought, “He’s ill. He’s having a bad day.” So we went into his book bag (my son hates the very concept of lockers. Still does) and looked at his graded essays. They were all As.  They were all horrible. The teacher routinely gushed about his writing in parent-teacher conferences. I later had reason to realize that the fact he could write at all, with words and everything, as his younger brother would say, was amazing to his teachers.

Which didn’t make any of this better. Further inquiry elicited information that they weren’t actually teaching spelling or grammar or any of that stuff because it was better if the students picked it up “organically” because it encouraged “self-expression.”

Of course, what it mostly encouraged was incoherence.

So I dug out my books on “English for Foreign Learners.” I figured by then it was what my poor child had become. I started assigning him grammar exercises and spelling lists (they actually introduced these in fourth grade, probably because of parent rebellion. They were mostly puerile words the kids should have known). When he got home from school, there was work to do.  He got published professionally at thirteen. And he can write with verve, fluency, and coherence, as can his brother.

Hoyt’s children are blessed to have a mother who cares about true literacy, but it seems to me that people like her, even non-writers, existed in greater abundance 30 or more years ago than they do now. (I was taught to read, write, and compute — before Kindergarten — by my first custodial parents, my great-aunt and great-uncle: a beautician and a city employee, respectively. Both had high school diplomas earned during the heyday of segregated public schools.)

The reasons for the dearth should be obvious: the maleducation of American children began at least two generations ago. Today, many of those who are parents and grandparents are unable to grasp the importance of true literacy, much less pass it on to their progeny. But those who are able need to pay attention to the chaos being intentionally inserted into the minds of their children. If you don’t plant your form of order into those minds, government schools will plant their form. We’ve seen these weeds all around us for decades.

Read the entire series.

And read Peter’s post.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel tentatively titled Arlen’s Harem, will be done one day soon! Follow her on Twitter and on Gab.ai.

Please contribute to Juliette’s JOB:  Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

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Yes, I know you’re busy and don’t have time to read, and this list is so hoity-toity you could puke, but please bear with me.

We are enduring a long-term warn against Western culture and values. Universities are throwing out rigorous curricula for victimology “studies” while making sure any dissenting views are not merely discouraged but downright expelled. Not even the long-gone Puritans are safe.

And the sad thing is that those who value Western culture are frequently unfamiliar with it.

Enter the Western canon: A list of the world’s literary tradition since antiquity, divided in four eras,
A. The Theocratic Age: 2000 BCE-1321 CE
B. The Aristocratic Age: 1321-1832
C. The Democratic Age: 1832-1900
D. The Chaotic Age: 20th Century

That’s four thousand years of literature.

The list itself has an interesting history, and it came about from the publishers of Harold Bloom’s book The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages. Bloom’s book presents his (emphasis added),

arguments for a unifying written culture, it argues brilliantly against the politicization of literature and presents a guide to the great works of the western literary tradition and essential writers of the ages

That is, Bloom was arguing against the politicization of literature in 1994, twenty three years ago. As Wikipedia correctly describes,

Bloom argues against what he calls the “School of Resentment“, which includes feminist literary criticismMarxist literary criticismLacaniansNew HistoricismDeconstructionists, and semioticians.

In practical terms, reading literature has now become a form of guerrilla warfare against Marxists, deconstructionists and their destructive pals.

So where to start?

You may have read a few already without realizing it, such as the Bible, which the Vatican recently removed from its website, Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, which is part of his Christmas Stories, or Orwell’s 1984. So browse through the list and pick one you haven’t read. Many of the books are available for free in Kindle editions.

Once you do, commit fifteen minutes a day to reading it. If you are able to listen while you commute, most of the titles are available in audiobooks for free at your local public library.

If you like to watch movies, Shakespeare plays have come to life on film for over a century. I recommend Much Ado About Nothing for a comedy, and both of The Hollow Crown series for the tragedies.

(A caution: Watch the movie, read the book doesn’t always work. Beowulf was a disaster.)

If you prefer to build up your list, start with short books.

You can’t win a war if you don’t understand what you’re fighting for. I suggest you start with reading from the Western canon to focus your understanding.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

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