Flypaper

Former presidential aspirant Fred Thompson has a piece on conservatism in the Wall Street Journal today that's getting lots of attention. He argues that "smaller government will always appeal." On education, he writes:

An education system cannot overcome the breakdown of the family, and the social fabric that surrounds children daily.

This is the way to "revive the conservative cause"? Through Charles Murray-style defeatism? Of course parents are a child's first and most important teachers. Of course we're never going to eradicate our social ills until we stem the decline of the family. Still, there are three big problems with Thompson's statement.

First, we aren't, by and large, even trying to use our education system to overcome family breakdown. In the inner-city, where such meltdowns are most acute, typical public schools remain awful and resistant to reform. If we had excellent public schools (or lots of urban kids in excellent charter or voucher schools) and they still couldn't overcome the challenges of family dysfunction, then this statement could be plausible. But we're light years away from that.

Second, the excellent schools that are getting amazing results and preparing their students for college and for success in American society reject this notion out of hand. The KIPPs and the Amistads and the Cristo Reys take in loco parentis to an extreme, intervening in all corners of their students' lives if that's what it takes. We need inner-city schools to be...

Liam Julian

Mike Antonucci tracks the latest media wave, about teachers who don't teach.

The other day it was solving the childhood obesity epidemic; today it's improving the state of family life: "State curriculum on legalities of parenting coming to Texas high schools this fall."

Do you know the difference between an "alleged father" and a "presumed father?" Your child soon will.

The Texas attorney general's office has created a new parenting curriculum that will be required in every public high school this fall. It will cover everything from the legalese of paternity to dealing with relationship violence.

Governor Rick Perry, not wanting to commit political suicide in his socially conservative state, allowed the bill to become law, though without his signature. And he offered a gem of common sense that should be mailed to all state legislators in the country: "It is always my preference to focus on preserving a high-quality core curriculum that focuses on college and workforce readiness," Mr. Perry said in a statement.

Liam Julian

Psst.... Checker's had work done. (Via Russo.)

No, I'm not referring to my supposed McCarthyite tendencies, but this: "Girl barred from school over red highlights." (More here.)

Officials at Bowling Green Junior High say Angelica Hummel must dye her hair back, because the school's dress code prohibits hairstyles that bring undue attention or make the wearer conspicuous.

I know we at Flypaper tend to defer to school leaders' discretion on cultural issues like this, but haven't teenagers been trying to "bring undue attention" to themselves for eons? And isn't this a classic "do as we say, not as we do" situation? As far as I can tell, if workplaces disallowed highlights, most women in Washington, DC would go grey overnight.

Liam Julian

Over at NRO, two writers, Carrie Lukas and Kathleen Parker, are displeased about the recent American Association of University Women report that finds education's so-called "boys crisis" to be fiction. Lukas claims that the AAUW simply seeks a monopoly on gender grievance, and Parker claims that boys are, actually, not fine, and that those males who lag academically excel at activities such as abusing drugs and alcohol.

Parker's piece has its rougher patches, but it ends well: Educators should understand that differences between boys and girls exist, and they should develop strategies thereby. (Some principals, in fact, believe single-sex education is the answer.) What's most important is that school leaders have the autonomy to make the educational decisions that work best for their pupils, and that they can do so without worrying about the PC police.

Groups such as the AAUW or The Boys Project, which advocate exclusively on behalf of one gender, are susceptible to doing more harm than good by overstating the problems that their preferred gender faces.??And isn't it rather silly to look at test data and then construct overarching conclusions about all American male or female students?

Liam Julian

Calexico (a U.S. border town) is kicking out of its schools Mexican students, who bring down test scores.

So, after posting this, Mike drops me an email asking if I've got his back... I, of course, ask if he is insinuating that my blond highlights are not completely au naturelle.?? Alas, he merely fears??a backlash from the female constituency (not unusual in a campaign year). While I agree with him that hair color rights are a must in the workplace (not that I need them, mind you), I'm not sure I would take it much farther. I happen to like, for example, things like dress codes. And I'm reminded of the dress code section of the Fordham personnel manual (yes, I actually read it after being hired recently). It states, "Business casual attire is required. Managers reserve the right to require business attire for special situations (board meetings, important visitors, for example)." Hmmm... I'm not so sure that the Bowling Green administrators and workplace administrators are all that different, and that's a good thing. I, for one, (a former high school teacher who chaperoned many a school dance) have had my fill of prom-dress bikinis.?? Back to work....

Update: This post was originally and erroneously attributed to Liam Julian, who does not have blond highlights.

Liam Julian

We must excavate the salient parts. If the title of this AP story is true, then the chaperone in question possesses a supreme mastery of duct-tape techniques??and probably should write a book. It's not true, though. I know. It's impossible to seal a door with duct tape. In college, I tried it several times, and even the most weak-muscled victims were able to break the barrier.??(I think it's obvious that the chaperone in question was simply implementing the old tape-on-the-outside-of-the-door-so-if-you-leave-I'll-know-and-so-will-your-parents-and-Susie's-parents trick.) AP: Get your facts straight. This stuff matters.

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