It’s A Start

Homeschooling triples during the pandemic.

It may be the closest thing we have to a good side-effect of this past year.

The state – SD? FL? – who makes tax money given to education completely portable for things like home schooling (individual or group) or vouchers will see an economic and population boom like this country hasn’t seen since the days of Ellis Island.

All In This Together. Yuuup.

Vice President – and let’s be honest, future President, most likely after January 2023, so she has the statutory opportunity to “serve” two full terms of her own – Harris, expressing her deep empathy for working parents with kids at home:

If homeschooling, charter school and private school activists don’t start using this in their ads, they have only themselves to blame.

Logic

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

No less an authority than Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream informs me that public schools are hotbeds of systemic racism.

No less an authority than President Trump informed me that racism is evil.

Plainly, then, the conclusion must be obvious: public schools are evil.

Minnesota spends more than $13 Billion per year promoting evil.

We should stop doing that. 

We should close all public schools at once.

Parents who care about education and who can afford to send their children to private school, will.

Parents who care about education but who can’t afford to send their children to private school, will home school.

Parents who care about education but who can’t afford to send their children to private school nor to home school them will be out of luck and their children will grow up ignorant and poor like their parents who probably were Trump voters anyway, so they deserve it.

Teachers, administrators, support staff laid off when the schools close, should learn to code.

Joe Doakes

The thing about calling racism “structural” is you gotta get rid of the “structure” to fix it.

For Me But Not For Ye Yadda Yadda Bla Bla

California teachers union official who’s spent months claiming that schools are unsafe…

…you already know where this is going, don’t you? Yet another Democrat official demanding compliance from the proles, while seizing special treatment for them and theirs. Right?

Right. And you know he’s a Democrat, because, well, he’s white, and elected, and in Berkeley, and I’ll just defer to the physical description:

“White man with dreads”. Only Urban Progressive Privilege conveys that level of immunity to charges of “cultural appropriation”.

Anyway – Meyer was caught on tape by “reopening” activists dropping his kids off at a private pre-school. I’ve added emphasis:

“Meet Matt Meyer. White man with dreads and president of the local teachers’ union,” the group wrote in a tweet on Saturday along with video footage of Meyer. “He’s been saying it is unsafe for *your kid* to be back at school, all the while dropping his kid off at private school.”

Meyer told Fox News in a statement that the video, which blurred out his child’s face, was “very inappropriate” and an intrusion of his child’s privacy. He added that there were “no public options for kids her age.”

Right – because of him, his union, and the state government over which both have inordinate control.

The Democrats are going to need another Republican to go to Cancun, and stat.

But Don’t You Dare Call Big Left Horrifyingly Reductionist

SCENE: Mitch BERG is at a local roastery, picking out some bourgeois coffee. Avery LIBRELLE walks in. BERG can’t quite react fast enough.

LIBRELLE: Merg!

BERG: Oh, f…for crying out loud, it’s been a long time, Avery. What’s…

LIBRELLE: (Interrupting) You say Democrats have trouble with critical thinking…

BERG: (picking a medium roast, ordering a half pound ground for french press) Yup.

LIBRELLE: …and that conservatism takes more mental energy…

BERG: …and it absolutely does, for people in modern society…

LIBRELLE: and that the modern left is hopelessly reductionistic.

BERG: You bet.

LIBRELLE: That is so wrong.

BERG: Nah. Here’s one of the modern left’s intellectual thought leaders at work:

BERG: Boiling a complex argument with lots of real world context down into an evil cover of a nursery rhyme is…

(BERG looks at LIBRELLE – who is happily clapping along and whispering the words)

(BERG silently pays for his order, leaves)

(And SCENE)

(

Indoctrination

Whatever you do, don’t you dare suggest public schools have become leftist indoctrination factories:


According to whistleblower documents and a source within the school, a fifth-grade teacher at the inner-city William D. Kelley School designed a social studies curriculum to celebrate Davis, praising the “black communist” for her fight against “injustice and inequality.” As part of the lesson, the teacher asked students to “describe Davis’ early life,” reflect on her vision of social change, and “define communist”—presumably in favorable terms.

At the conclusion of the unit, the teacher led the ten- and eleven-year-old students into the school auditorium to “simulate” a Black Power rally to “free Angela Davis” from prison, where she had once been held while awaiting trial on charges of conspiracy, kidnapping, and murder. The students marched on the stage, holding signs that read “Black Power,” “Jail Trump,” “Free Angela,” and “Black Power Matters.” They chanted about Africa and ancestral power, then shouted “Free Angela! Free Angela!” as they stood at the front of the stage.

Apologists may respond “this is an anomaly! Not all public schools try to get away with this kind of thing!”

No. Just the ones in districts so blue that there will be no consequences – serving both to socialize (heh heh) the concept with other teachers, and to lower the bar of what’s “acceptable” elsewhere; “Oh, fer gosh sakes, Edina doesn’t have them chant “Free Angela” and talk about black “ancestral power”. No, perish the thought. We just study why Angela Davis is a hero (omitting all context about her crimes and communism itself, naturally), and why “whiteness” is a social cancer. Totally different things!”

Remember – Berg’s 21st Law is pretty clear on this: “When it comes to “progressive” policy, yesterday’s absurd joke is today’s serious proposal and tomorrow’s potential law”

Don’t be surprised.

Bad News / Good News

The bad news: As I observed with Ann Bauer while filling in for Brad Carlson last week, lockdowns are killing kids – especially kids who are, like so many these days, predisposed to mental illness:

Millions of American kids are struggling, and their chances for long-term improved mental health is predicated on the notion that we will now prioritize their emotional well-being, which our society has tragically shown it has no intention of doing.

Our hope for raising an emotionally healthy and mentally stable generation is dissipating with every day kids are kept locked in their bedrooms and out of schools. Skyrocketing rates of depression and anxiety are in no small part due to the fact that children feel neglected and forgotten, and they are not wrong to feel that way.

Our society has abandoned them and treated them as disposable. The damage caused by this abandonment is incalculable, and compounding every day we allow inertia, irrationality and the craven priorities of teachers unions to rule our decision-making.

The good news?

What, are you new around here? This is progressivism at work, operating through its wholly owned subsidiaries “Big Education” and “Big Karen”. Short of turning our culture around, there is none.

I Tried

I tried to warn everyone.

During the presidential campaign, every time candidate Biden went on one of his roughly 200000,000,000,000 television ads saying “… I have a plan…“, I warned you.

“Ask for specifics“. What is the plan. Tell us.

I mean, neither I nor any of you could ask the campaign directly, of course. That fact got me thinking – wouldn’t it be cool, and salutary to democracy, if we had an institution with printing presses and transmitters and – work with me, here – perhaps rooms full of people who consider themselves a nearly monastic class of information gatherers, processors and disseminators, who take it not merely as their job but their calling to ask questions of those who would aspire to power, to hold them accountable, who might have asked those questions in our stead?

To paraphrase John Lennon, you might say that I am a dreamer.

And when it comes to schools – they of the infamous “plan“ to re-open them all within 100 days of coming in the office?

The “plan“ is apparently to put the goal posts on a C117 Globemaster and fly them to Diego Garcia.

If I Were A Harvard Alum…

…I’d be passing the hat to get David Hogg…

…to transfer or drop out.

But have no fear, Master Hogg. Logically, factually and intellectually, the intellectual foam pillow that is your worldview and movement has been on Mars for quite some time now.

Ivy League Alums Ponder Restraining Orders, Injunctions

David Hogg, who has built a very rewarding career slandering law-abiding gun owners, is his immense expertise from “gun safety” to industry. Seeking to “own” Mike Lindell [1], he announced last week he seeks to start a pillow company.

Last Friday, it turned out Hogg’s big idea had run into the same roadblock as his gun control agenda – reality:

That Harvard education is serving the lad well, isn’t it?

Not An Animal

“Protect” Minnesota has a new executive director.

We’ll come back to that.


Modern American “progressivism”, like all its many forebears in the past 200 years, has been all about rallying people against boogeymen. From “monarchists” in the French Revolution, to “Wreckers” in Stalin’s USSR to the Wobbly’s “Bosses”, up through “the patriarchy” and “the man” and “counterrevolutionaries” in Red China and San Francisco in the sixties and seventies, and if you have a hard time distinguishing between ’em, join the club.

Today, the boogeymen…er, boogiepeople on the left are pretty much all the things that people who are included are told to be “anti”. “Anti-Racism” “Anti-Misogyny” (not just sexism, anymore – it’s the more active, more malevolent noun these days), “Anti-Fascism”, “Anti-Transphobia”, and on and on – all of which sounds like good things to be “anti”…

…and, unsurprisingly, when you dig into the “Root Causes” of all those nouns, all things trace back to “Western Civilization” in all its particulars: the Judeo-Christian value on the individual and their worth, value, rights and responsibilities and potential of each and every person, as a person with a mind, a point of view, and at the end of the day an indivisible soul of personal, societal, political, intellectual and metaphysical worth.

Those aspects of humanity are anathema to progressivism in all its flavors. The focus is on the group – the Marxists “classes”, the Nazi’s irreducible focus on race, the modern academic Left’s obsession with a byzantine network of intersectional identity groups. The individual is nothing but a vote (for now), an appetite, a widget to be moved through the production line of life (like Obamacare’s awful caricature of Progressive humanity, “Julia”). Progressivism is “Materialist”. Souls, individual intellects and thoughts and reams, all are ephemeral; humans are widgets that consume and produce, and whose worth and value (to those in power) is expressed via their membership in the collective.

Those widgets have a term. “Bodies”. Not people. Not brains. Not souls.

Bodies.


Anyway – “P”M has a new director. And unlike the dotty, dizzy neverending font of comedy that was Heather Martens, or the serial fabulist The “Reverend” Nancy Nord Bence, the new director presents us with a few surprises.

She’s “a gun owner herself” – which might be seen in several ways. Is “P”M moderating? Are they realizing that the culture war has slipped far enough away from them, especially over this past year, that they have to start speaking to people who need to be convinced?

And she’s apparently incredibly famous, since she apparently just goes by “Rashmi”. I’ve turned “Protect” Minnesota’s website, Facebook feed and other social media upside down, and not been able to find any reference to a last name, which is Seneviratne, by the way.

But even during the reign of the serial fabulist the Reverend Nord Bence, “Protect” MN wasn’t nearly extreme enough in its hatred of guns and (law-abiding) gun owners, enough for some people.

“P”M spawned a breakway group, “Survivors Lead” – basically a woman, Rachel Joseph, with a long history of progressive activism and a story; an aunt who was murdered, according to Ms. Joseph’s story, by a gun.

Quick aside: I don’t minimize anyone’s trauma over having a loved one murdered. But in the many times I’ve heard Ms. Joseph’s story, she’s never once mentioned a perpetrator, someone actually holding and using the gun that killed her aunt; that persons evil motivation, the legal fallout from the murder, whether that person was sentenced or not. It’d be wrong to crack wise – “what, did the gun animate itself?” – but omitting a perpetrator, his/her motives and the like from the conversation is incredibly intellectually dishonest.

Anyway – “Rashmi” and her apparent moderation are not going over well with “Survivors Lead”:

The extreme heckling the not-as-extreme about getting less extreme. That qualifies as “dog bites man”, at the very most.

Rather less so? There followed some more, er, ethnically pointed traffic on one social media feed (from which I’ve long been blocked) or another.

After which “P”M – operating through its usual social media persona, the omniscient third person that used to be Martens and Nord Bence – responded:

On the one hand, watching the agents of Big Left eating each other is one of my favorite spectator sports.

And if the biggest semi-organic anti-gun group in MInnesota (shaddap about Moms Want Action already) is pivoting from pushing Linda Slocum’s gun grab bill to highlighting the inequity of gun control (“Race, class and geography all play into who gets to have a gun and who doesn’t” – which is something every Second Amendment activist has known for 50 years) and speaking in the first “person” to the prudence of victims of violence to arm up, then in culture war terms that’s the sound of the first tank crossing the pontoon bridge at Remagen.

But…”white bodied privilege?”

What the flaming hootie hoo?

I thought for a moment – is this a shot back at the Rachel Dolezals and Elizabeth Warrens of the world, with their flip-flopping identities, by “actual” “people of color”, reinforcing the idea that while you might “identify” with one degree melanin or another, your apparent appearance still wins out in the great privilege lottery (which will, I suspect, get pilloried hard by the Trans crowd, for whom perceived identity is everything? I’ll let the fight that one out).

But no. It’s much less hilarious than that.

It’s “inclusion language” – slang or argot that one class of people use to track who is in, and who is “out” – to be sure. That’s part of it, and people are noticing:

Referring to people as bodies is a reminder, writer Elizabeth Barnes says in an interview, that “racism isn’t just about the ideas that you have in your head.” Barnes is the author of “The Minority Body: A Theory of Disability, The Girl Behind the Wall.” In intellectual discussions, theories about social oppression sound almost disembodied; “we talk about prejudice,” Barnes says, “like it’s just a matter of ideas.” The point is to emphasize the physical violence done to black people through slavery, lynching, and police brutality. In the case of women, the term “bodies” highlights “what happens to women’s bodies in health care contexts, in sexual contexts, in reproductive contexts.”

But behond that?

It’s a nod to the materialism of the left – that the mind, the thoughts, the indivisible soul of the indivisual human being is not merely irrelevant, but inconvenient to the obsession with identity.

Your melanin defines you.

In some ways its a cheap ad hominem – “of course you’d think that, you are (add a reference to your target’s melanin, or lack thereof)”. But pointing logical fallacies out to the foot soldiers of Big Left is a little like arguing salinity with sharks; it’s just part of the water they swim in.

So – gun groups eating each other? Good.

The debate contributing to the ongoing hijacking of the language? Bad.

The whole thing participating, in its own little way, in the further erosion of one of the ideals that’s made Western Civilization the most successful, and humane , civilization in human history?

Worse.

Government By Platitude

Governor Walz released…

…well, he called it his “education plan”, earlier this week.

Those of us who work in business – which significantly, has never included anyone in our executive branch – can identify what this…thing, is.

It’s a two page list of platitudes. One and a half when you leave out the header.

None of it has specifics. None of it is testable to see if it’s working or isn’t, in any way. And while we are assured that there’s more “plan” coming, mark my words – there’ll be no more substance in the thousands of pages of institutional gobbledigook that are surely to come.

But let’s translate the terms from their current Educational/Bureaucratic dialect – the form of English with the lowest signal to noise ratio of all our many argots – into actual English:

  • “‘Caring and Qualified’ Teachers” – Get ready to get logrolled with a few years of sob stories about how underpaid teachers, especially in the Metro, are.
  • “Expand opportunities and mental health staff” – Full employment for soft-science and non-profiteers in the school system.
  • “Statewide Mentor Program to help retain teachers” –
  • “Expand full service community school model statewide” – We need to expand the system’s efficiency at transferring taxpayer dollars, not just to Education Minnesota, but to the non-profit/industrial complex that’s attached to it like a remora fish – and all you schools in greater Minnesota need to step up and do your bit.
  • “Establish an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Center” – Because why should we pay Pacific Consulting Group millions to screw up our schools when we’ve got PCG-trained career bureaucrats who can do it for us. Although we’ll still be transferring plenty of wealth to PCG.
  • “Expand rigorous coursework options” – You bought an education system! Now, for just a few billion more, you can have one that actually teaches stuff to kids! Maybe!
  • “Prioritize school funding to the students that need it most” and “Guarantee that compensatory aid funding supports students traditionally left behind” – jigger the various knobs and levers to move more money to the Metro.
  • “One time investment to ensure pandemic enrollment loss does not negatively affect students.” – parents and students are bailing on the public schools in record numbers. We need a bailout.
  • “Strengthen community and school partnerships” – No “community” non-profit left behind.

Hope that helps.

Bigotry Of Bizarre Expectations

Kind of a good news, bad news situation here. But maybe not in the way you think.

A teachers union president in Washington State refers to reopening schools as a “white supremacist” initiative.

The good – or “good” – news: this is an example of the type of rhetorical, social and policy overreach one can expect when “progressives” – in this case invariably white, middle-class, and visibly “progressive” – find themselves in power. This statement – literally, “wanting your kids back in schools, and wanting some sense of stability and normalcy for their mental health, at a time when teenage suicide is exploding all over the country, is racist” is the very definition of “2+2=5” – mental health is mental illness, concern for kids is a pathology, truth is lies. (And the ability to say it without having ones own peers pelt one with rocks and garbage is Urban Progressive Privilege).

ut another way, evil – no scare quotes. Inverting moral truth and moral falsehood is as textbook a definition of venial evil as exists.

That’s the “good” news.

The bad news? About half the country, as this is written, doesn’t know any better, or just doesn’t want to think about it that hard.

The Fix

Macalester students, forced to “study” remotely, get not a dime’s worth of break on their tuition.

Their institutions’ president has other priorities:

Now might be a fine time for conservative entrepreneurs to start getting into the higher ed business.

He/She/Whatever Who Forgets History Is Susceptible To Democrat Drivel

It’s possible that the collapse of public education isn’t a plot to make society dumber and more susceptible to totalitarian meddling.

But it’s hard to figure how they’d do a better job of it if they were trying:

Nearly 20 percent of millennials and Gen Z in New York believe Jews caused the Holocaust, according to a new survey released Wednesday.

The findings come from the first-ever 50-state survey on the Holocaust knowledge of American millennials and Gen Z, which was commissioned by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.

For instance, although there were more than 40,000 camps and ghettos during World War II, 58 percent of respondents in New York cannot name a single one.

Additionally, 60 percent of respondents in New York do not know that 6 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust.

It was my observation when my kids were in school – over a decade ago, in the Saint Paul Public Schools – that the only things they learned in their various social studies classes were slavery and civil rights.

No “Federalist Papers” or origins of the Constitution. Nothing about the Civil War but slavery.

Nothing about the rise of progressivism, the causes of the Depression, World War II. Nothing about the sixties but Civil Rights.

Again – that was anecdotal, and entirely possibly wrong. But I’ve found little reason to not assume I’m at least largely right on this.

And this article is certainly a plaintiff’s exhibit.

And Then…

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

White, Jewish girl from Kansas City pretends to be Black girl from the ‘hood, for her entire career.  

She has a Ph.D.  from U-W, Madison.  Figures.

What do you bet she rode the Affirmative Action express all the way up?  “Black” woman applying to college and then to grad school – guaranteed admission.  “Black” woman doing “research” for a Ph.D – easier grading, more help, less criticism.  “Black” woman academic with excellent grades applying to be college professor – the script writes itself.

The news story compares her to Rachel Dolezal, the White woman who pretended to be Black to get a white-collar job (running a branch office of the NAACP).   True, but oddly, the story makes no mention of Elizabeth Warren, the White woman who pretended to be an American Indian so she could ride the Affirmative Action escalator into a professorship at Harvard.

That’s all fine, this woman confessed, she’s out in the open, and then . . . well, then what?  The college says they can’t comment on personnel matters, which implies she’s still working there.  She didn’t quit?  She didn’t give back the job she gained under false pretenses, the money that should have gone to another, more morally deserving person?

I see the confession . . . where’s the penance?

Joe Doakes

Penance is a form of white supremacy.

Haven’t you been paying attention, Joe?

Hail To The…Er, VIP

A friend of the blog emails:

Last night at a prayer meeting one of the members of the group told us that Minneapolis public schools made a change to job titles. This friend of mine is a teacher at Minneapolis South. He said it was announced yesterday that all titles in the Minneapolis public school system with the term Chief in them will be changed. It’s the end of racism as we know it.

Excising a word that existed in a constant context in the English language for hundreds of years?

Yeah, that oughtta fix it.

Cop Out

Hopkins School Board Vice-Chair Chris LaTondresse – did he tell you he’s an “Obama administration alum” yet?

The Defund the Police movement hitches it’s wagons into the western suburbs.

In the apparently halcyon days of April 2018, students and school officials of the Hopkins School District gathered together in what was called “National Walkout Day” in memory of the horrific tragedy of the Columbine school shootings 19 years earlier.  Students spoke of issues of gun control and school safety.  And while none of the student speakers were even alive when Columbine occurred, a common theme of seeking safety at school echoed in the various speeches.

A time-traveler from that April day in 2018 would have a hard time reconciling the Hopkins School District of just two and-a-half years later as the School Board voted to keep guns out of their schools – guns in the form of local police protection:

The Hopkins school board on Tuesday night embraced a student-led call to remove police from Hopkins High School — with the action to come at year’s end.

The 6-1 vote brings a suburban voice to a national movement that has sought to end the use of school resource officers, or SROs.

The move to defund Hopkins School Resource Officers comes after several months of intense online lobbying by a group calling themselves “CopsOutHHH” and a poll of Hopkins students in favor of the movement – a poll in which only 183 of the District’s 1,600 students voted.  By the end of the year, Hopkins will sever it’s relationship with the Minnetonka Police Department (the Hopkins School District includes parts of Edina and Minnetonka) in a move that supporter and Board Vice Chair Chris LaTondresse bizarrely described as not actually “defunding” the police since the contract was due to expire anyway.

LaTondresse, a DFL endorsed candidate for Hennepin County Commissioner who touts his consulting work for USAID as making him an “Obama administration alum” in the same way that I apparently was a member of Congress because I visited Washington D.C. once, claims the move will allows for more mental health funding.  Considering the SRO budget is $113,142 out of a budget of $91,502,418, the idea that shifting 0.01% of the School Board’s resources away from security and towards mental health will address either issue is laughable at best and incredibly dangerous at worse.

It’s also a conclusion that files in the face of peer-tested research.  Carleton University conducted a two-year study of SRO programs and in their report, published by Routledge in 2019, they concluded that for every dollar invested in the program, a minimum of $11.13 of social and economic value was created.  While attention would likely focus on the role the SRO could or did play in the estimated 525 school shootings over the past decade (a number in partial dispute as it groups any gun-related incidents on a school campus together), left unreported are the number of incidents prevented by early SRO intervention.  The group Averted School Violence has begun to attempt to collect and analyze such data, a task made somewhat difficult by the very nature of the endeavor – incidents that don’t escalate into violence rarely make the news.

LaTondresse and the Hopkins School Board also want to cite that SROs make students of color fundamentally uncomfortable.  While data can’t contend with feelings, even a Brookings Institute report from 2018 which was less than fully supportive of SROs as agents of school safety didn’t see any correlation between SROs and race.  Brookings believed context for arrest records and racial backgrounds were lacking and thus a poor metric to judge whether or not SROs were more likely to discriminate or otherwise negatively impact minority students.

But no amount of data – or even common sense – was present on Tuesday night as the Hopkins School Board voted to eliminate basic security without even so much as a concept of what would replace their School Resource Officers.  Instead, a small but vocal minority has continued to push a partisan agenda that endangers students for the goal of striking symbolic blow against the police.

Choice

A friend of the blog writes:

Just had an online meeting with our kid’s teacher. Expectations were laid out and kid is expected to be on time and we can expect a daily schedule that has the kid doing school work live, on line from 9-3:30. (There are breaks built in as there are during in person learning). 

We are at a charter school. Compare that expectation with the public school teachers union, who wanted one hour weekly of live in person, online learning.

We need more advocacy work like what Rashad Turner is doing. here. 

These are crazy days indeed, with me being on the same side of an issue as Rashad Turner.

Urban Progressive Privilege: The Free Market Of Ill-Informed, Class-Privilege-Sodden Twaddle They Are Pleased To Call “Ideas”

I listen to NPR so you don’t have to.

And there are some reasons it’s worth it. I mean, that’s where you get Live From Here with Chris Thile.

Well, for now, anyway.

Otherwise, there’s…

…well, a lot of racial virtue-signaling. I suspect the most lilywhite of America’s organizations is fearing a lot of backlash when the Bolsheviks come for the Mensheviks.

Speaking of which, it’s always a bit of a chuckle when the “progressives” that are NPR’s staff, social circle and pool of sources try to explain things like economics to the pool of “progressives” that are NPR’s audience.

Case in point – a piece from yesterday’s All Things Considered, an interview with one Eula Biss, about her new book about Capitalism.

Biss – a “non-fiction writing” major who has lived within the academic echo chamber her entire career, is the author of “Having and Being Had” – a primer on…

…wait for it…

…Capitalism.

Or, rather, a coddled, over-schooled/undereducated resident of the academic echo chamber’s perversion of the cartoon term “capitalism”, itself a hijacked representation of “the free market”…

…not that either term isn’t completely lost on Professor Biss.

Let’s start with this passage, which the NPR crowd will no doubt take for an emanation of wisdom, but merely proves that Biss’s son and babysitter are smarter than she is:

PFEIFFER: At one point, you’re talking about your son paying for a Pokemon card, although someone else thought he overpaid for the Pokemon card. What was it like for you to watch your son try to figure out what something was worth and why and maybe not figuring it out correctly?

BISS: Oh, it was amazing. In watching him learn how to play Pokemon the way it was being played in first and second grade at his school, I felt like I was seeing an economy be invented. But it was also somewhat excruciating to me because I saw the ways in which other children and his babysitter and I were training the values of capitalism into him. So, yes, at one point, he gave away a valuable Pokemon card because he just didn’t like it very much.

And then I heard his babysitter saying to him, were you a smart negotiator? And I thought, oh, no. What are we doing? This kid is only 6, and we’re already training him not to be generous and to get as much out of an exchange as he can possibly get out of it even if he doesn’t care about the thing he’s giving away.

PFEIFFER: Oh, that’s so interesting. I mean, diamonds are objectively very expensive and valuable, but if I don’t care about them and I just want to give them away, is that fine, or is that flawed financial thinking?

BISS: Under the logic of capitalism, it’s insane, right? But by some other logic, it makes perfect sense, especially since diamonds aren’t incredibly useful. You can’t eat them, and you can’t live inside them.

The interview – and one suspects the book – is a cavalcade of white progressive guilt, the sort of consequence-free wailing that afflicts our current layer of pseudointellectual societal overburden:

BISS: One of the things that I didn’t want to have happen to me as I entered this new life and lifestyle [i.e. – bought a house in a tony neighborhood near Northwestern Universitiy] was I didn’t want to begin to think that I had what I had because I’d worked hard, which is one of the patterns of thought very common to upper middle class. I don’t believe that I got what I got because I worked hard. I believe that I got what I got because the system favors me in a number of different ways – one, because I’m white, but also because I started out middle-class.

Notice she doesn’t mention “…because I’m part of an academic-industrial complex to which being a recipient of Urban Progressive Privilege gives me a priority ticket”.

Ms. Biss: If you’re that concerned about the things your “work” didn’t “earn” you, give up your teaching gig at Northwestern and become one of the people you describe later in the interview:

I think one of the possibilities that I could perceive, especially once the pandemic arrived, was the possibility of – what if we compensated the people we speak of as essential workers? So what if everyone who is essential to the daily workings of our lives was paid well and had health insurance and had basic security? That’s entirely possible. It’s even possible within capitalism, but that involves us making a series of changes in policy and, to some extent, in what we collectively value.

It’s entirely possible – say, within the context of a real epidemic, a modern-day Plague with a two-digit mortality rate, something that legitimately shuts down society for the duration of a disease serious enough to impinge even Nancy Pelosi or Lori Lightfoot’s lifestyles – for the skills and presence of “supply chain” workers, from the farm to the Walmart, to become very, very valuable. Vastly moreso than, say, writing professors at Northwestern.

But I don’t think that’s the “policy change” she’s referring to.

The bad news: these are the people teaching the “next generation of leaders”

The not-so-bad news: nobody she teaches will amount to anything outside the academic-industrial complex.

Badly Conceived

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The governor’s hybrid school plan troubles me.


 I’ve been informed integrated schools are neccessary so white students get the rich diversity of Black Latino and Asian students in the classroom to share their experiences. Will students coming to school on even-numbered days be carefully selected to balance racial and gender diversity?

I’ve been informed slow students should be mainstreamed with excellent students so they get a social experience. Will the students attending class on odd numbered days be carefully selected to maintain the ratio of geniuses to dummies?

What happens to students who fall behind, perhaps because they lack Wi-Fi, their parents work, they’re unmotivated… Will we still pass them along to maintain progress through grade levels, or will we flunk them?

Troubling

Joe Doakes 

The answer: the same “cracks” into which millions of kids, including a hugely disproportionate number of Twin Cities “students of color”, fell before Covid, just turned into chasms.

The union will wash their hands of those kids (after blaming Orange Hitler and Paul Gazelka); afterwards, of them no more will be spoken.