Category Archives: Education

The Pension Crisis Gets A Catchy Name: “Silver Tsunami”, by John Rubino

Promises, promises. Inadequate contributions, ever-escalating benefits, and an aging baby boomer population are behind a pension crisis that’s becoming more apparent by the day. From John Rubino at dollarcollapse.com:

Pensions really are in crisis, but the story is so full of large numbers, obscure projections, and dry terms like “unfunded liabilities” that not many people are paying attention.

The same is true for a lot of other big trends out there, which is why those sounding the alarm eventually settle on pithy/scary (if not always accurate) terms to get people’s attention. Global warming, for instance, or nuclear winter.

Now the pension crisis may have found its hook:

‘Silver Tsunami’ hits as pension costs devour California school budgets

(San Francisco Chronicle) – What happens when state funding improves, but local school budgets get worse? And how did we get into this situation in the first place?

It’s simple. School systems are getting hammered by the rising costs of pension and health care commitments. Meanwhile, they are being pinched by external factors including declining student enrollment, increased competition and frozen federal funding.

California is not an anomaly. Districts throughout the nation are facing the same squeeze.

So why isn’t anyone paying attention? Three main reasons:

Money is boring: And only boring people like chief financial officers talk about money and use phrases like “unfunded liabilities.” Interesting, cutting-edge people talk about “disruptive innovations” like personalized learning, or anything with the word “maker” in it.

Money is politically messy. Everyone wants funding for their favorite education project. In this zero-sum world, no one wants to talk about making tough choices. Even fewer want to discuss sensitive topics such as pension and health care liabilities.

Education finance has never been part of our nation’s education wars. Most of the opinion makers in education are like the Great Houses of Westeros in the HBO series “Game of Thrones.” They are much happier fighting each other to the death about issues like unions and charter schools than focusing on the more powerful forces that could destroy them all.

In “Game of Thrones,” that force is the White Walkers. In education, it’s the “Silver Tsunami” — the tens of billions of dollars in pension and other post-retirement benefits guaranteed to retirees.

To continue reading: The Pension Crisis Gets A Catchy Name: “Silver Tsunami”

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The Four Terrible Things That Are Destroying Boys In Our Culture, by Matt Walsh

It’s getting increasingly difficult for boys to emerge from childhood and become responsible men. From Matt Walsh at theburningplatform.com:

Our culture is very bad for boys. It’s bad for girls, too. It’s bad for everyone. But I think we fail to recognize and appreciate the unique struggles that boys face. Partly we fail to recognize it because we are too busy worrying about the Patriarchy’s persecution of women. Partly we fail to recognize it because, collectively, we just don’t care that much about boys. Partly we fail to recognize it because men are not as likely to talk about their own plight. And partly a man will not talk about it because everyone, even his fellow men, will only laugh at him and downplay the problem.

There are many factors at play, and they all lead to a pretty dire situation. Men are told about their privilege, but if you look at things honestly you will not see much evidence of this privilege. On the contrary, you will see several profound disadvantages suffered by men in general and boys in particular.

Here, I think, are the four biggest:

1) Our culture preys relentlessly on a boy’s weaknesses.

Let’s imagine the world the average 13-year-old boy inhabits. He has long since been exposed to hardcore pornography, and probably watches it regularly. Then puberty hits. His hormones are going haywire. His brain is hardwiring itself to focus obsessively on sex. He cannot really help it. He is now fertile, even as the girls his age, for the most part, are not. He feels the biological impulse to go out and find a sexual partner, though he does not understand this urge and his conception of human sexuality has been perverted and confused by the porn habit he developed in sixth grade.

The boy cannot escape sex. It is all over his computer. All over his phone. All over social media. All over the TV. All over the music he listens to. He goes to school and his female classmates are dressed like strippers. He goes anywhere and that’s how the women are dressed. It seems that everyone is doing everything they can to make a degenerate and a creep out of him, even as they demand that he control himself. We ask for self-discipline and self-control from the boy while providing him with no tools to develop them. Rather than tools, we give him temptation. Non-stop temptation, everywhere he goes, all day, every day, right at the moment when his brain is least capable of overcoming it.

To continue reading: The Four Terrible Things That Are Destroying Boys In Our Culture

What the L is Missing?

https://www.theburningplatform.com/2018/04/13/pubic-schools/

A Last Look at The West That Was, by John Moon

Within the memory of one generation, America was a very different place than it is now. From John Moon at thesaker.is:

Then:

Sputnik 1 was launched in October, 1957. I remember exactly where I was when the news story broke on the radio. My friend and I were being driven to a high school football game by his father, an aeronautical engineer at one of the largest manufacturers of helicopter rotor blades in the world. News of Sputnik was so important that he pulled the car to the side of the road so the three of us could listen to the lengthy newscast without distraction.

The following year in 1958, at the height of the Cold War, an unknown 23 year old American pianist won the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. Despite the tension between the two countries, the Soviets treated him graciously before he returned home to a hero’s welcome. A fine example of the “promotion of world friendship through the universal language of the arts”, which was a sentiment inscribed prominently at the venue where I met Van Cliburn less than a decade later.

At age 11 I joined the Boy Scouts. Our troop was led by an exceptional man, kind, strict, and strong, who believed that the best way for boys to learn was by doing. Every three weeks during the school year, we went on a weekend camping trip. Good weather or bad, we went.

Building fires, we were each allowed one kitchen match, whether the firewood was wet or dry; whether it was windy or not. Success was anticipated, and so usually internalized. Failure meant (marginally) good natured jeers from the others, and the next boy would test his skill and try his match.

Occasionally on a moonlit night we’d be awakened at 1 AM, and told to collect a compass, matches, canteen, and flashlight, as we were going on a hike. We’d be led along a river or road for a ways, and then led off into the woods on one side or the other. After a kilometre or two of fast walking away from the road through the bush in the dark, we’d be broken into groups of 3 or 4, with one being an older boy. The group would be told to wait for 15 minutes, and then find its way back to camp. More experienced groups would be led farther on and told the same. Other than illuminating the compass from time to time, use of a flashlight was discouraged, and shouting was strictly forbidden. We learned to keep calm, and realize that all we had to do was use our compass and common sense to intersect the road or stream, which would then lead us back to camp. Sounds easy now, but when you’re 12 years old it was less so.

To continue reading: A Last Look at The West That Was

He Said That? 4/2/18

From Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), Irish poet and playwright:

You can never be overdressed or overeducated

What the Hell Are These Colleges Talking About? by Joe Jarvis

It’s no wonder that many kids come out of college dumber than when they went in. Look at the way language is bent to the breaking point. From Joe Jarvis at thedailybell.com:

Maybe I’m the dumb one for not understanding what this lecture was supposed to be about. The description on the University of Texas at Austin’s website says:

In the wake of renewed attacks on Muslim and Muslim-adjacent communities, the hijab and turban continue to be enveloped as important material objects in the racialization of Muslim and Sikh bodies.

Okay, so far I think I understand. The sight of turbans and hijabs triggers racists (religionists?).

Analyzing contemporary visual culture as both testament and counter-archive to a geopolitical project of Islamophobia, “Sacred Wear, Endless War” moves to both assemble and update how we apprehend these unsettling figures.

Not sure what visual culture is, but I could certainly make something up that would likely be pretty accurate. That’s basically how I did so well earning my sociology degree in college way back in 2011. But I never did get around to taking a gender studies class.

Never-the-less, I think I can tap into my inner intelligentsia to interpret this. The professor wants to take stock of how people use visual cues to fuel their Islamaphobia. And apparently what she has found has unsettled her.

Comparative in scope, this talk looks at the racial, gendered, and queer configurations that the religious symbols and objects of hijab and turban provide.

Aaaand they lost me. What the hell is a racial, gendered, and queer configuration have to do with turbans and hijabs? Perhaps I would know if I went to the talk–or could find it on youtube. But I suspect that the lecture consisted of similar lunacy masked by an intelligent sounding–but incomprehensible–mashup of words.

It costs $35,000 a year for out of state students to attend the University of Texas at Austin.

I’m sure some people go there and devote themselves to engineering or pre-med.

But why on earth would you waste that kind of money on this garbage? Where does that get you? Does analyzing queer turbans pay well these days? Can understanding the gendered configuration of the hijab provide value to someone?

Look, if this professor wants to give a talk about how some people respond to visual cues like turbans and hijabs, fine. But why can’t she just say that in plain English? Does speaking in academic code add value, or is it a way of signaling intelligence, whether or not she actually has any?

This is how the intelligentsia operates when what they have to say is really not compelling, novel, or insightful. Often they have nothing to add but need to stay relevant, and this is what you get.

You also get outlandish theories that seem intended to shock rather than add a useful perspective to a conversation.

To continue reading: What the Hell Are These Colleges Talking About?

It’s Right and Necessary to Let Boys Be Boys, by David French

Boys will be boys, and when you try to turn them into something else, especially if they don’t have adult male role models, they often end up pretty messed up adults themselves. From David French at nationalreview.com:

What Jordan Peterson understands and Swedish preschools do not

When you spend time with boys and girls, one of the first things you notice is that they’re generally profoundly different. I say generally, of course, because there are exceptions to every human behavioral rule. All girls aren’t the same. All boys aren’t the same. But there are general truths, and those who view the world with honest eyes can see them every day.

I sometimes think back to the week I spent a few years ago chaperoning my daughter’s eighth-grade class trip to Washington, D.C. It was like shepherding two different colonies of humans. There was the girl group — quiet, dutiful, occasionally tearful, but handling their drama via text message and social media. Then there was the boy group, best described as a rolling, nonstop low-level brawl. They were constantly pushing, grabbing, and mocking. One could often discern the best friendships by finding the guys who most aggressively attacked each other, verbally and physically.

The patterns — though less pronounced, since everything is less pronounced outside of middle school — persist throughout life. Boys are stronger than girls. They’re more physically active, less willing to sit still. They’re more aggressive. In many ways, their very nature rebels against the increasing emphasis on order and quiet in American schooling. There is less room for play. There is less room for conflict. There is less room for boys.

At this point, no serious person can argue that boys as a group aren’t facing profound challenges. No recitation of statistics about the composition of boardrooms or the ranks of computer programmers (representing high-achieving outliers) can change the fundamental fact that boys by the millions are falling behind. Boys by the millions are lost. They’re losing ground at school. They’re more than three times as likely to commit suicide. They’re more than twice as likely to die in an opioid overdose. They’re almost seven times as likely to be a victim of gun violence.

To continue reading: It’s Right and Necessary to Let Boys Be Boys