That's how this Investor's Business Daily (IBD) article describes Senators Barack Obama and John McCain when it comes to education.

While both senators have tried to build an independent image on other issues, on education they are staunch partisans.

Well, not exactly. By all accounts, John McCain strongly supports No Child Left Behind--which isn't exactly a favorite of the GOP base. And Obama has gone out of his way to promote merit pay and charter schools, which are anathema to the teachers unions. It's true that McCain supports vouchers and Obama supports more spending--typical partisan positions--but for better or for worse, education politics are still too mixed-up and fluid to define along party lines.

Ah, the revered IBD. First it got it wrong on beer, and now this.

Liam Julian

Re my post about a national service academy, Jonah Goldberg makes some fine, related points in the Los Angeles Times by arguing against what he calls "national service mania." His piece has attracted some 360 comments, which shows that this subject resonates. National service is surely good and something worth encouraging, especially in schools. But it can be taken too far.

Update: Over at The New Republic blog (yes, they have a blog... and yes, TNR is still hanging around and publishing a magazine), Eve Fairbanks responds to Goldberg's article and totally misses the point.

Liam Julian

Re Coby's post: It's worth noting that if frat houses throughout the country substitute video game beer pong for the real kind, then it stands to reason that fewer drunken antics will ensue. And why all this beer bashing, anyhow? George Will writes today that beer has, in fact, saved civilization.

The article to which Coby links??leaves the important questions unanswered, though, such as, Does a player's accuracy decrease as the game wears on and??the number of his cups dwindles? Can one choose from a variety of virtual partners, each with his own characteristics and ratings in various categories (accuracy, alcohol tolerance, etc.)? There are??a lot of ways to get creative here, and I hope the game's designers took advantage of them.

Karl Priest comments on Liam's recent post:

If you thing evolution is "modern science" you need a healthy dose of reality?

With all due respect, if Mr. Priest thinks the above sentence is coherent as written, he needs a healthy dose of Strunk & White.

While we're on the topic, Checker had this to say of the New York City ed department's new Truth Squad (from the same New York Sun article):

"I'd rather see them use their money to fix NCLB or to give a kid a voucher," Mr. Finn said. "But I really do see this as a kind of natural evolution of a long-standing government activity."

I'd like to see that, too. On the other hand, I'd argue that the ed department's aggressive PR machine serves an important, under-appreciated role.

Readers of the Sunday New York Times find each week a rented column by union head Randi Weingarten, a space in which she typically appeals to the newspaper's wide, influential readership to oppose sensible reforms. The Times and the city's other dailies also run her (usually preposterous) comments any time Mayor Bloomberg or Schools Chancellor Joel Klein propose new ideas, a great many of which have real merit. And while Flypaper unequivocally has just cause when it elects on rare occasions to pillory a proposal out of the Big Apple, it's equally clear that many of the bloggers falling under the Truth Squad's watchful eye are guilty of...

According to New York Sun reporter Elizabeth Green, Flypaper is among two-dozen education blogs being monitored by the city ed department's new "Truth Squad," composed of press secretary David Cantor, five of his deputies, and a deputy communications director, Melody Meyer. Ms. Meyer seems to have drawn the plum assignment; she's on the Flypaper beat.

I've already been set aright once by Mr. Cantor himself. Here's wishing Ms. Meyer a light workload in the future.

A new video game for the Nintendo Wii gives new meaning to "college prep."

Recently chastened, I offer this less controversial fare:

I recently stumbled across a blog called Learn Me Good, written by a teacher who is plagued with the martyrdom syndrome. I won't rehash that issue, which Liam so boldly took on last week, but I will address the whiny tenor of this article, written by said blogger. I agree with his premise--we do treat teachers like unskilled laborers; that's exactly why we Fordhamites hate on unions and support merit pay--but still I wondered, why the exceptionally whiny tone? I thought maybe I was being unfair to Mr. Learn Me Good, until I saw my observation corroborated in the comments section by someone named Roger:

I've never run across a group of professionals who whine as much as teachers. The only explanation I can think of is that since they spend so much time in the company of children, they take on this quality.

Roger, you're a riot! Of course, the other readers of this article didn't find him so funny as they proceeded to clobber him for never having taught before. That may be true, but you don't need to spend time in the...