Thought You'd Never Ask

Just mouthing off -- because I can.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

United 93

I went alone as an act of homage to see the film "United 93" directed by Paul Greengrass that opened this weekend. The theater was crowded, but the moviegoers were unusually silent throughout the film, until the audience burst into applause at the final narrative frames.

That watching this film was a heartwrenching, harrowing experience is an understatement, and in fact I have to admit that words fail me in trying to describe how unique and important I think this film is. I think it deserves to be and will become a classic film for all time, for a lot of reasons, not the least that it is extremely well-made on so many levels, which contributes to making it so affecting. I have never seen anything like it. In some ways it is a new kind of cinematic storytelling, for a new kind of story in a new kind of age. In other ways, it is as old as the classic Greek tragedies--those audiences too knew how their stories ended.

Those who shy at gore displayed in "entertainment," like me, do not need to be afraid of the film on that level. It does not take any cheap shots. It is a sensitive and intelligent film of dread and redemption. I would urge anyone to go see it, and I will see it again.

American Digest posts a review (he's a much better writer than I).

Instapundit links to the ongoing reviews at

Today's amusing column by Mark Steyn made me chuckle and points out an apt observation about the Democrats, while also pointing out that their favorite Jefferson quote is a (deliberate?) misquote:

But the high holiness of dissent for its own sake is now the core belief of the Democratic Party: It's not what you're for, it's what you're against. Their current denunciations of Big Oil have a crudely effective opportunism but say to them "OK, what's your energy policy?" and see what answers you get: More domestic oil? Ooh, no, we can't disturb the pristine ANWR breeding ground of the world's largest mosquito herd. More nuclear power, like the French? Ooh, no, might be another Three Mile Island. Er, OK, you're the mass transit guys; how about we go back to wood-fired steam trains? Ooh, no, we're opposed to logging, in case it causes global warming, or cooling, or both.

Dissent for its own sake is like the Democrats' energy policy: We're opposed to any kind of energy; we prefer to be mired in enervated passivity. If the right is full of armchair generals, the left is full of armchair generalities: Nothing can be done, any course is futile, everything's a quagmire. All we can say for certain is that saying so for certain is the highest form of patriotism.

Spot on!

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Out of the shadows and across the river...

Here's a lead from today's Drudge Report:

MIAMI (AP) - Thousands of illegal immigrants stayed home this week amid rumors of immigration roundups that federal officials say were unfounded, leaving some industries scrambling for workers.

Len Mills, executive vice president of Associated General Contractors of South Florida, estimated at least 50 percent of workers on construction jobs in the region had not shown up for work.

"This is costing millions of dollars a day, and I don't know who is going to pay for it," he said....

Who's going to pay for it? You are, buddy. You and all the other people who have been getting rich and prospering off the backs of illegal workers, to the detriment of our country. You are going to pay for it out of your previous profits from your illegal hiring practices, and you're going to consider yourself lucky if you aren't fingered by the Feds for a fine or even some jail time. Got it? Party's over, dude. Get your business back into legal territory or start looking for another line of work. It was great while it lasted, and I hope you made some smart investments while you were breaking U.S. hiring laws.

"Everybody's edgy," said Chris Ruske, owner of a southern New Jersey nursery. "There's an awful lot of rhetoric, and you wonder what's true. You wonder if the immigration Gestapo are coming to get you."

"Immigration Gestapo?" Yeah, I suppose if you know you're doing wrong and you run your business in a shadowland of chronic lawbreaking, that's what law enforcement would look like to you. All I can say is, it's about time. I'm sure if any of the illegal aliens quoted in this article decided to hop back south across the Rio Grande, they'd get no hassle from the U.S. Border Patrol.

And here's another thought about the so-called boycott coming up on Monday, when illegal immigrants are supposedly ready to "come out of the shadows" in huge numbers (according to breathless media predictions) and demand amnesty, special protections and pandering, and all kind of rights they don't now legally qualify for, from their American "hosts" who may or may not be sympathetic to being pushed around and intimidated and inconvenienced (little old ladies, grandpas, children, and businesspeople stranded at a taxi-less Los Angeles International Airport, just to mention one faction)--

Monday, May 1st will be a wonderful, windfall opportunity for all Americans across our country to identify personally exactly who are these illegal aliens who have been "living in the shadows," exactly which are the high schools filled with illegal-alien students, and exactly who are all of the employers who have been hiring illegal aliens in defiance of U.S. law.

Make the best of it. Knowledge is good. Take notes for future reference. Do not do business with these employers again until they can truthfully say they no longer hire illegal aliens.

And me, I'm going shopping! Time to boost the U.S. economy through some of our law-abiding employers and businesses NOT crippled by the walkout of illegal-alien employees. That's the beauty of market competition at work.

I apologize if I sound harsh, but my sympathies lie with those immigrants who followed and obeyed our laws to come here legally, and those who are still waiting, legally, while illegals of all races and nationalities keep jumping the river with impunity--and evidently with sometimes bizarre, bellicose, and even terroristic intent.

A sobering P.S. from Phyllis Schlafly, in case you didn't notice this earlier:

A study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research reported that the surge of immigration in the 1980s and 1990s lowered the wages of our own high school dropouts by 8.2 percent. The surge has accelerated since that report was issued. The Congressional Budget Office reported that 60 percent of Mexican and Central American workers in the United States in 2004 lacked a high school diploma.

The Kennedy-McCain-Bush guest worker plan would import more uneducated, unskilled workers, and thereby deny our own high school dropouts (of whom we have too many) the opportunity to get started in building their lives in the labor force. U.S. citizens are threatened that the cost of lettuce will rise precipitously if we don't continue to import Mexican agricultural workers. But a farm worker gets only 6 or 7 cents out of a $1 head of lettuce, so even if the pay doubles, consumers would hardly notice the difference.

On the other hand, the costs taxpayers are forced to pay for social benefits for low-paid workers are astronomical. The National Research Council reports that an immigrant to the United States without a high-school diploma consumes $89,000 more in government services than he pays in taxes during his lifetime.

Low-paid illegal immigrants obviously pay very little taxes, but they cash in on all sorts of benefits paid by other taxpayers, such as schooling for their children, emergency health care, housing subsidies, Earned Income Tax Credit and law enforcement. If the 20 million illegal immigrants are legalized, they will also become eligible for Medicaid, and that's a real break-the-bank prospect.

These figures don't even count the rapidly growing underground economy, in which millions of illegal immigrants are paid off the books in cash. That enables both employer and employee to avoid paying taxes, and enables employers to avoid paying workers' compensation, unemployment compensation, and assorted other taxes.

If the Internal Revenue Service collected all the taxes that should be paid by the underground economy, our current budget deficit would disappear overnight, according to a Bear Stearns study released in 2005. The Americans who pay taxes are giving a free ride to those who are not paying taxes, and a 7-cent increase in the price of lettuce should not be on our worry list.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Not all Americans are stupid

Neal Boortz has some great ideas on how to deal with the illegal immigration crisis, including this one (brilliant!):

I heard of one other possible solution recently ... one that is apparently being given some consideration in Washington. Simply pass a law about illegal immigration that matches, word-for-word, the law in Mexico. Being in Mexico illegally is a crime, yet Mexico screams when we try to criminalize illegal aliens in this country. If our law read exactly the same as does theirs, what are they going to say?

Neal also gives a basic econ lesson on gas companies and "price gouging." Now, don't get me started.... I am disgusted that so many Americans seem to have never learned the basics of supply and demand, and so haven't the faintest idea of what's going on as gas prices rise these days, other than have a knee-jerk seizure to call their local politician to demand restitution from the greedy gas companies "manipulating" the market. And of course, it's the fault of George Bush (diving polls! diving polls!). News items on radio and television this past week talking about these issues have been driving me crazy for their petulant, insistent, moronically repetitive ignorance. But Nancy Pelosi's soundbyte of today takes the cake, saying that high gas prices were the inevitable result of putting two "oil men" in the White House: Bush and Cheney! Puhleeze!

Betsy's Page speaks for me when she says Stop the Demagoguery on Gas Prices! ... so does this Powerline blurb on "Price-Gouging Defined." And Michelle Malkin points out that Neil Cavuto gets it:

I see Chuck Schumer wants to investigate the oil companies for price gouging. Why doesn't he ask his fellow politicians to do the same about tax gouging?

After all, oil companies' profit works out to nine cents a gallon. Taxes total more like 40 cents a gallon.

But you don't hear Schumer whining about the taxes. After all, that's an easy source of revenue for a monotonous list of social programs whose failures are legendary. Better to keep funding them through taxes that are killing us, than demanding accountability due all of us.

Senator, if you want to bring gas prices down, start offering solutions and stop playing games.

In this age of internet information, more and more people are sharing ideas and news and wising up. If Nancy Pelosi and her cohorts want to make gas more affordable, she can get out of the way of new drilling and repeal some federal gas taxes and regulations. It's as simple as that.

For a calm, ordered overview of the entire economic situation of rising gas/oil prices, read this essay by Herman Cain.

Great Literature in the Public Schools, Part 2

For Part 1 of this series, click here.

"Mommy, this is a really weird book with bad words in it."

My 10-year-old daughter had just stuffed everything into her backpack and was about to run outside to catch her bus to fourth grade. But she looked a little tentative and troubled, as she held a book out to me. “I don’t think you’ll like this, Mom.”

“What is it, honey?”

“It’s the book we’re reading in class right now, and it’s got bad words in it—and other weird stuff.”

It was a novel called The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson. I had never heard of the book or the author. “Hmmm,” I said to her, flipping through the book to try to get a quick sense of what my daughter had found disturbing. It didn’t take longer than a moment to find out. Gilly Hopkins, the 11-year-old protagonist and narrator of this novel for children, had a foul mouth. The book was studded thoughout with swear words and profanity--“hell,” “damn,” “dammit,” “Jeez,” and “my God.” No wonder that my daughter, who does not hear language like this at home, and who has been taught at Sunday school not to take the Lord’s name in vain, was disturbed not only by encountering this book, but by being assigned this book by her teacher in school. And so was I.

“Look at this,” my daughter said, pulling the book out of my hands and turning to a page early on in the book. “Read this, Mom. It's just...weird.”

The passage she had turned to was one where Gilly Hopkins comes face-to-face with an elderly black man. Evidently Gilly is also a racist, for the reader is then treated to Gilly’s bigoted internal dialogue against blacks and not wanting to ever have to touch “one of those people.” But that was not all. Gilly also called people all kinds of names, like “lard can,” and “bale of blubber,” thought Christians were “religious fanatics,” and on and on.

I don’t know who was made sicker by this passage—my daughter, for encountering its graphic ugliness and racism which she, in her innocence, barely even understood—or me, for realizing that this ugliness was being injected into my daughter’s life by her own teacher, without even a “by-your-leave.”

“You’re right,” I told her. “This is a weird book. You were right to bring it to me and tell me about it. I’m going to talk this over with your teacher.”

Having only recently wrangled at length with my son’s 9th-grade English teacher over the extreme profanity in his first assigned text (to no real avail), I was now in no mood to yet again open an extended diplomatic discussion about literary values or community standards. And I was really riled. Twice this situation was happening in our family in the span of just a few weeks. Not only was this déjà vu all over again, but now it was my 10-year-old being slipped swear words in fourth grade. My mother-tiger reflexes were in an uproar. What next? What’ll they do to up the ante in fifth grade—or in seventh? And why did somebody think that fourth-graders needed to study a book with this content and this language?? What educational goal was this intended to serve? And what or who was it actually serving?

My anger distilled my shock about all of this down to one point. I pounded out a brief, polite email to her teacher: “After the ‘Gilly Hopkins’ class assignment is completed, would you please not require my daughter to read any more books containing profanity?”

Then I checked my own copy of the book (a Newberry Award-winner, by the way) out of the public library and sat down and read it.

Some may say that the average 10-year-old child has already heard (on TV, or even at school or on the bus) these swear words, or that the average 10-year-old has already encountered lots of name-calling and instances of racism, aggression, stealing, cheating, lying, and all the other unsavory traits served up for contemplation and entertainment in The Great Gilly Hopkins. I can even hear the most cynical social critics saying that all children, even the most innocent and protected, should be forcibly exposed to such realities as part of their education. That the fictional Gilly Hopkins is an abandoned foster child struggling with these issues, and that she straightens out in the end of the book can be argued to be a moral tale.

But some argue that these kinds of dark, "realistic" moral dramas are being foisted upon our young readers too much, too soon.

That protected, privileged, well-behaved, civil, non-racist, non-profane children who come from a loving home (like mine, who are not average, do not watch network TV, and do not run unsupervised in the neighborhood or on the internet) need to learn sometime about what people are like who are not like them is a truism.

But so what? Beyond all of that, is it up to the school to decide when, where, and how to actively instill these moral lessons, or is that the business of the parents in conjunction with their churches, synagogues, Scout lodges, and community organizations?

And since when did the well-educated child have to be instructed in profanity by the schools, as part of their so-called education? I thought profanity on the school campus was rightfully discouraged and frowned-upon, grounds for detention or a visit to the principal’s office, not spoon-fed to the students in language arts reading circles. How ignorant I was.

For if your teacher is teaching you (by the detailed examples in novels like this one) how to swear (and along with it, how to steal, lie, cheat, and bully--especially if you are an unhappy "victim" of circumstances) then how can your teacher or your principal then turn around and without hypocrisy of the worst sort, demand you not do it? If it is so important that you must study it and include it in the classroom, then why rule out profanity on campus in the student handbook?

Am I the only one who sees the contradictions here? If this is confusing me, wouldn’t it confuse a child? And most bizarrely, why is this controversy between the home values and the school assignment taking place in the fourth grade? Am I the only one who suspects an agenda here? Is this the best our teachers can offer our students? Are these books intended to desensitize children to such language, and is that a valid educational goal? Or are they merely pandering to what they think is the “average” child’s curiosity and/or prurient interest in the “bad” and the “forbidden”? That my daughter found the book disturbing and “weird” I felt revealed a good honest reaction that I shared and applauded. That she told me it made her uncomfortable, I was glad of. She told an adult about something that made her uncomfortable, as she had been taught to do in the very same school. She did right; but what about the school’s role and responsibility in this particular encounter?

I thought parents and teachers were supposed to be working together for the good of the children. How much controversy can there be about that in the fourth grade? How much of what children need to be taught in the lower grades is open to controversy anyway—unless opened by the school, that is?

My daughter’s teacher emailed back and apologized, saying my daughter could be given an alternate assignment, and assuring me the book had been approved by our county. (Big whooping deal; my internet surfing had by now taught me that this is no longer any guarantee of anything). I wrote back and said it was probably too late to excuse my daughter from the reading assignment without singling her out among her classmates for undue attention. But in the next week or so my daughter told me that the teacher had let the whole class drop The Great Gilly Hopkins and was reading something else without such sensational content. Whatever educational value fourth-graders are meant to receive from Gilly Hopkins, I hope they are able to find substitutes for it among the thousands of other high-quality books used by good teachers for generations.

Perhaps I wasn’t the only parent who had registered an objection. That thought cheers me.

I did not voice my displeasure earlier in the year, when the same teacher was reading aloud to my daughter’s class “a really funny book” (as my daughter described it) called There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom by Louis Sachar. My daughter came home talking about “making out” thanks to this book, so I checked it out of the library and read it myself. It had more name-calling, violence, and bathroom matters in it than I cared for, but I decided it wasn’t worth making a fuss about, and let it pass. But why a teacher would dwell on bathroom subjects in the classroom, in lieu of other, better books to read to the children, I couldn’t fathom (and I wished she hadn’t). Maybe I should’ve mentioned my alternate viewpoint to her then.

One thing I do know is that I will now continue to raise my objections and at least let my voice (crying alone in the wilderness?) be heard. My hitherto innocent/ignorant trust and good-will faith in the teachers is gone and I can no longer assume all of them are my buddies or partners or share my values as they (otherwise nice people that they are) diligently dedicate themselves for hours on end to educating my children.

I have always been involved in my kids’ schooling (considering their education to be ultimately my responsibility, and viewing the public schools as merely our place to outsource the bulk of the daily instruction and resources for the present, subject to revision or revocation at any time). I keep in touch with the teachers, volunteer in the schools, monitor what I think is going on. Now I also check in advance (on’s reviews or by Googling) the books my children are assigned.

Sad to say, I believe now that some teachers, counselors, staff (including librarians), and administrators deliberately slip in sensational, controversial, and inappropriate texts and lessons to our children without wanting the parents to know. This is unconscionable (and unfortunately does not only happen in public schools but in private ones as well). There does not really need to be any controversial content delivered to elementary school children unless the teachers, administration, or staff have a personal, ideological, or political agenda driving them to do so. That they would do this against parents’ wishes or behind parents’ backs in the name of “educating” the children is despicable.

It’s all over the U.S. and it’s getting worse.

And the literature waved in front of my daughter will only get worse as she gets older.

And worse. (Have you checked out the PreTeen and Teen or Young Adult sections of your local book store or public library lately? Meanwhile, some parents are still trying to get Harry Potter banned from school libraries!)

I feel sorry for the next generation of girls.

Where are the teachers who want to pass on the love of real literature?

Here's one: Beyond Nancy Drew and back into literature...

(I'm relieved at this point that my daughter is choosing Nancy Drew from her school library instead of something worse, but how long will that last?)

To be continued.... Part 3: “Banned Books Week” at the school library

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Can't resist posting some Steyn links

"Iran with nukes will be a suicide bomber with a radioactive waist."....Mark Steyn's essay, Facing Down Iran (read it all), including history and sad unheeded warnings of what was to come, puts Iran's nukes in a 27-year pattern of behavior:

With the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, a British subject, Tehran extended its contempt for sovereignty to claiming jurisdiction over the nationals of foreign states, passing sentence on them, and conscripting citizens of other countries to carry it out. Iran’s supreme leader instructed Muslims around the world to serve as executioners of the Islamic Republic—and they did, killing not Rushdie himself but his Japanese translator, and stabbing the Italian translator, and shooting the Italian publisher, and killing three dozen persons with no connection to the book when a mob burned down a hotel because of the presence of the novelist’s Turkish translator....

Steyn also writes this on Iran: "Dance of the Seven Vials" (it does kind of smell like 1939 around here, doesn't it?).

Mark Steyn's point-blank vitriol (and good arguments) concerning U.S. immigration problems.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Light blogging: it's Spring

Hey! This past week I have fallen behind in my blogging, partly due to circumstances beyond my control, and partly by choice (putting the time into other pursuits). Spring definitely has something to do with it. With the warming weather we are getting outside more, spending more time together as a family, letting work (housework, internet surfing, blogwork) slide as we enjoy the beauty and the blessings of returning warmth and sun. A couple of my other hobbies have recently taken precendence, along with spring cleaning, yard work, and more exercise. So be it. There are only so many hours in the day. Luckily I don't HAVE to blog to eat, so my posts here seem to have slacked off for a time.

Go outdoors and enjoy the day if you can! It's time well-spent.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

March of the lawbreakers

Michelle Malkin has a comprehensive roundup of yesterday's parades of illegal aliens. I wonder if these people and their histrionics are actually changing anybody's minds, or if it's all show and blow intended to intimidate craven politicians. I intend to write my representatives and urge them to 1) secure our borders and 2) start enforcing our current immigration laws.

The news this morning on CNN mentioned that the boycotts by illegal aliens had an impact and were noted in the chicken-plucking, hotel service, and landscaping/buildinging communities. The conclusion I draw from this is that these are the employers that have been most egregious at violating our immigration laws. It has been illegal to hire illegal aliens since the 1986 immigration reform act. The boycott is a great indicator of who has been 1) undercutting wages for legal Americans and 2) violating U.S. law. Lawmakers and law enforcement have been letting this problem slide for 30 years. I intend to let these employers know I will not be a customer as long as they hire illegal aliens.

I'm no Einstein, but even I could realize and say to my Dreamboat in the week after 9/11: "Gee, I would sure hate to be an illegal alien in the U.S. now!" 9/11 was a wakeup call to us that our homeland security procedures needed to be reformed, and that the illegal alien problem was a big factor that had to finally be looked at, admitted, and dealt with. 9/11 should have been a wakeup call to all illegal aliens at large in or entering the U.S. that conditions had changed and it was imperative they get their affairs in order for the day of recknoning the consequences of their illegal behavior. That it has taken FIVE YEARS for us to get this far--where we are now just beginning to discuss the problem--is a travesty in itself. That illegal aliens are marching for "rights" they do not have, in this or in ANY country, is an offense.

People who do not respect our laws enough to obey them, as our legal immigrants do, do not deserve to be protected from prosecution. Let alone registered to vote Democratic!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Secular diversity vs. Christian unity?

After writing here on my blog for the past several months, I have discovered that there are a few key topics that keep drawing my continuing interest, over and over--those being, especially, education at all levels; U.S. history and heritage; immigration; and freedom (freedom of speech, conscience, the press, politics, religion, the marketplace, etc.).

Regarding education, I have come across two books recently in my search to make sure my children receive a decent education before they escape from my nest. The first is Life Prep for Homeschooled Teenagers by Barbara Frank (Cardamon Publishers, 2003). This handbook pulls together several important lessons that any adolescent should learn before leaving home (whether he or she is homeschooled or not), such as how to purchase a car or obtain a mortgage, how to bank, invest, and budget, how to do your taxes, etc. I have been working my way through the good reading list provided in this book, and one of the books included there I have found to be particularly good. It is: Life on the Edge: A Young Adult's Guide to a Meaningful Future by Dr. James Dobson (Word Publishing, 1995). (A later edition is here.)

This is definitely a book I will make sure my children read before they leave home. It provides a good look at some of the key choices everybody should think about between the ages of 16 and 26 as they make decisions that will have lasting effects (careers, colleges, mates). Although the book is written from a Christian perspective, it provides a good, common-sense discussion of topics that anyone would benefit from thinking about, preferably before major forks in one's road are taken.

One passage in the chapter entitled "Where Should I Go to College?" struck me with an argument I had never considered before, and I share it with you here, as just one nugget to ponder.

Christian education places its emphasis on "unity" in relationships between people.

As we have indicated, secular institutions have become almost obsessed with the concept of diversity in university life. What this means in practical terms is that people become fractionalized into competing self-interest groups. African-Americans are pitted against Hispanics who are at war with Asians who resent Native Americans who must compete with homosexuals and lesbians for status and territory. At an Academy Awards event a few years ago, for example, the emphasis on "women in entertainment" was a prime case in point. It is impossible to credit one gender with every good and perfect gift without slighting the other. That's what extreme diversity does to us. Indeed, a recent issue of Newsweek featured the last American group to be victimized--white males. Now we all have something to fight for.

Abraham Lincoln quoted the Scriptures in an 1858 speech to the Illinois Republican Convention. He said, "A house divided against itself cannot stand." That, I fear, is where diversity leads. If by that term we refer to love and tolerance for peoples who are different from one another, it has great validity for us. But, if by diversity we mean all of us have been given reason to resent one another, having no common values, heritage, commitment, or hope, then we are a nation in serious trouble.

Whether right or wrong, it is my belief that Christian colleges place their emphasis not on that which divides us, but on the substance that binds us together. That commonality is the gospel of Jesus Christ. He commanded us to love one another--to set aside our differences and to care for "the least of these" among us. It is our unity, not our diversity, that deserves our allegiance.

Though Christian professors and administrators have not always succeeded in this effort, unity has been (and continues to be) the goal. In short, they seek to bring their students and faculty together rather than dividing them into competing self-interest groups. I think that is a vitally important distinction.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Closed classrooms

Here's the latest development in reporter John Stossel's tussle with the New York City teachers' unions (via Boortz). When he pointed out some obvious truths about the teachers' unions' interests lying more in themselves than in the welfare of the students, they sarcastically challenged him to try his hand at teaching. When he agreed, they hemmed and hawed, and finally backed out of the deal. No doubt they had second thoughts about letting "20/20" news cameras into their classrooms, for various reasons.

Randi Weingarten, head of New York City's union, took the microphone and hollered, "Just teach for a week!" She said I could select from many schools. "We got high schools, we got elementary schools, we got junior high schools!"

I accepted. I even said I'd let the union pick the school. I thought I'd learn more about how difficult teaching is. Above all, it was a chance to get our cameras into schools -- something the N.Y. bureaucracy had forbidden -- so we could show you what was really going on.

But it won't happen....

I can relate to this episode, in my own small way. When my son entered our local public high school, I wanted to find out what the required sex education program consisted of. I began calling and emailing various people and got the big run-around when the folks who were supposed to have the answers would not respond to my queries.

Finally after several weeks, I wrote a letter to the principal, and this resulted in an email to me from the head of the sex ed program. This person gave me the standard outline of the course and the requirements (hardly reassuring for being couched in generalities), and mentioned that there was a possibility a parent might attend the classes to see what was covered and how it was handled.

Of course the upshot was that when I accepted this offer, this person stopped responding. Again, after tracking down this idea with others, I was finally point-blank refused the chance to sit in on the sex ed classes because 'the presence of somebody's mother in the classroom might be embarrassing to the students.'

And I thought sex ed was ostensibly intended to take the "embarassment" out of sex.

Granted, a public high school probably doesn't want and isn't required to accommodate 300 parents sitting in on sex ed courses meant for adolescents. (As if! I am pretty sure I am the lone fly in this ointment at our high school, given the lame response to my inquiries. I am sure little ol' me would not present any more of a distraction or embarassment in the back of a classroom than would any other grad student, counselor, advisor, observer, or administrator sitting in on a class.) But more probably (and problematically) your typical public middle school or high school doesn't want ANY parents attending ANY classes. The question remains: why not? Why the closed classrooms? Why aren't they proud of what they do, instead of secretive and defensive? Why don't they welcome accountability and openness to parental interest and partnership, beyond the donations of money and volunteer hours on extracurricular projects they so assiduously seek?

Our children's classrooms are open to a panoply of educational bureaucrats and other outsiders. They are open to pollsters, survey-takers, counselors, state officials, and internal and external "educators" of every stripe, including "sex educators" and "health educators." Our children's schools are open to vendors of all sorts that we parents at home will never hear about (beyond the suppliers of soft drinks and candy who stock the vending machines in the halls). But a simple parent has no comparable access to the classrooms of her own children. We consider ourselves "lucky" and "involved" to be given five minutes of face-time with each teacher during the high school's Open House event.

As a taxpayer funding the salaries, programs, and facilities of my school system, and as a parent of children turned over to these unknown people and their closed classrooms, I want more accountability and transparency. I remain very interested in John Stossel's experiments in pressing the public schools for just that.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Hiatus -- spring break

Allahpundit has been posting some interesting commentary over at Michelle Malkin's blog.... Bookworm Room and Betsy's Page have been interesting reading in the last few days of the past week. ...Simi Valley Sophist has some words on the Los Angeles illegal alien rally and the anti-Christian backlash in San Francisco....

...And it's a sad day when you see so much racist hate in America.

But it's time for me to take a break. I will not be blogging for awhile, since my kids are out of school for a week, and when spring break arrives a mother's thoughts turn to Virginia's historic triangle. I'll return next week and will take up blogging again after our brief vacation. In the meantime, I am not turning over the keys to the blog to anybody else....I am just out and about, living life.

Happy Spring!