Commentary: Education in the Pursuit of Happiness

People should make decisions that result in their best life possible which should include intellectual and moral effort. The Declaration of Independence identified our national identity and the moral standard by which we would live as a nation. The Declaration of Independence was identified by Harry Jaffa as the soul of America, and the Constitution as its body.

The critical elements needed in society today are virtue and character. Aristotle warned that educating the mind without educating the heart is “no education at all.” Although Thomas Jefferson never explained the phrase “the pursuit of happiness” found in the Declaration of Independence, he used a concept put forth by both John Locke and George Mason.

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Commentary: On Critical Race Theory, the Left’s Manipulations and Double Standards Are No Match for the Truth

"End Racism Now" sign and "Black Lives Matter" in a crowd

People old enough to remember the academic culture wars of the late 1980s and early ’90s have a special insight into this year’s controversy over critical race theory. I don’t mean insight into the identity politics of the old days and into the identity politics of 2021, though the basic features are the same whether we are talking about the English syllabus in college in 1989 or the equity lesson in elementary school this fall. I mean, instead, the particular way in which liberals have handled the backlash once the trends in the higher education seminar of yore and in the 6th grade classroom of today have been made public. 

Here’s what happened back then. In the 1970s and ’80s, a new political awareness crept into humanities teaching and research at elite universities, casting the old humanist ideals of beauty and genius and greatness as spurious myths, as socially constructed notions having a political purpose. We were told that they are not natural, neutral, or objective. No, they are Eurocentric, patriarchal, even theological (in that they presumed a transhistorical, universal character for select masterpieces). Shakespeare, Milton, Bernini, et al., were not on the syllabus because they were talents superior to all others. No, they were only there because  the people in control were institutionalizing their biases. This whole canon thing, the revisionists insisted, was a fake. As Edward Said put it in “Secular Criticism,” “The realities of power and authority . . .  are realities that make texts possible,” and any criticism that skirts the power and authority that put Shakespeare on the syllabus and not someone else is a dodge. 

They could diversify, then. That’s what the skepticism enabled them to do. They could drop requirements in Western civilization. They needn’t force every student through a “great books” sequence. The “classics” are just one possibility among many others. That was the policy outcome at one tier-one campus after another. 

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Parents Allege Arizona School Disregarded Opt-Out from ‘Gruesome’ Curriculum

The parents of a seventh-grade student in an Arizona school district claimed that a teacher disregarded an “opt-out” from an assignment while speaking before a school board Thursday.

“After being made aware of inappropriate racial and political content being taught in our daughter’s seventh-grade social studies class, we reached out to the teacher, then the principal, then the curriculum department, and finally the superintendent to obtain curriculum for us to review ahead of time,” Amy Souza told the Peoria Unified School District Governing Board in a video posted to Twitter by Free to Learn.

After relating how she and her husband finally obtained the curriculum following “exhaustive efforts to get it,” they determined an upcoming lesson would be “gruesome, violent, and inappropriate” for their daughter.

They emailed their concerns to the teacher, announcing they would “opt out” of that lesson. They stated in the video that the teacher emailed back, agreeing to an alternate assignment.

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Commentary: Florida is Overcoming ‘Systemic Privilege’ by Putting Students Before the ‘System’

Students in shop class at school with safety goggles on

Throughout America, a very important – and highly racialized – conversation is taking place about overcoming injustice. Here in Florida, that conversation has often gone in a markedly different and very promising direction. And schoolchildren of color are among the greatest beneficiaries.

The conversation in Florida, at least as it pertains to education, has focused on what might be called “systemic privilege.”

If you are unfamiliar with this (de-racialized) mash-up term, try this: Go to a public forum and suggest that all families should be treated fairly – that all parents should have access to the per-pupil funds for their children even if they choose to educate them outside the public school system.  

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Analysis: Busing, Segregation, and Education

by James Agresti   During the second Democratic presidential debate, Kamala Harris stated that Joe Biden was “wrong to oppose busing” and equated this to support for racial segregation. In reality, supporters of integration broadly opposed busing because of its downsides. After busing was implemented in the early 1970s, national polls found that 84%…

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Less is Better? West Palm Beach Teacher Fired for Expecting More Out of Student’s Performance

On Tuesday’s Gill Report – Tennessee Star Political Editor Steve Gill was baffled by a recent firing of a West Palm Beach, Florida elementary teacher who refused to give a fifty percent score to students who chose to ‘do nothing’ in class. The school’s “lowest grade possible-50% policy”  encourages students to do…

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How a 1934 New York Graduation Exam Shows How Far Academic Standards Have Fallen

by Annie Holmquist   Today’s education system has a myriad of advantages that earlier generations never would have dreamed about. Smartboards. Tablets. Advanced science labs. Massive libraries. These perks are wonderful and suggest that our schools are giving children a much better education than they would have had at an earlier…

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