Matt Taibbi worries that the Dems are shooting themselves in the foot again

December 31, 2021 • 1:00 pm

In Matt Taibbi’s latest piece on Substack (click below for free access, but subscribe if you read often), he’s worried that the Democrats aren’t really parsing what happened when a Republican, Glenn Youngkin, defeated Democratic incumbent Terry McAuliffe in the recent race. A lot of it was about schooling, and about McAuliffe’s comment that “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what to teach,” which apparently drove a lot of voters towards Youngkin.  Taibbi sees this gaffe as on par with Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” comment during her run against Trump, and thinks that Democrats are dismissing McAuliffe’s statement as one that simply appeals to racists.

Taibbi, on the other hand, thinks there’s more to it than that, and Dems should be thinking hard about education. 23 Democrats are planning not to run for re-election in Congress next year, and that’s a big worry.

Click the screenshot to read (if you’re paywalled, try a judicious inquiry):

Once again this falls in the category of words and actions that make Democrats look like elitists in the eyes of Middle America, and there’s something to that. The dismissal of parents’ concerns is exemplified, says Taibbi, by recent words of Nikole Hannah-Jones, head of the NYT’s 1619 Project:

On the full Meet the Press Sunday, Todd in an ostensibly unrelated segment interviewed 1619 Project author and New York Times writer Nikole Hannah-Jones about Republican efforts in some states to ban teaching of her work. He detoured to ask about the Virginia governor’s race, which seemingly was decided on the question, “How influential should parents be about curriculum?” Given that Democrats lost Virginia after candidate Terry McAuliffe said, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what to teach,” Todd asked her, “How do we do this?”

Hannah-Jones’s first answer was to chide Todd for not remembering that Virginia was lost not because of whatever unimportant thing he’d just said, but because of a “right-wing propaganda campaign that told white parents to fight against their children being indoctrinated.” This was standard pundit fare that for the millionth time showed a national media figure ignoring, say, the objections of Asian immigrant parents to Virginia policies, but whatever: her next response was more notable. “I don’t really understand this idea that parents should decide what’s being taught,” Hannah-Jones said. “I’m not a professional educator. I don’t have a degree in social studies or science.”

Even odder were her next comments, regarding McAuliffe’s infamous line about parents. About this, Hannah-Jones said:

We send our kids to school because we want our kids to be taught by people with expertise in the subject area… When the governor, or the candidate, said he didn’t think parents should be deciding what’s being taught in school, he was panned for that, but that’s just a fact.

In the wake of McAuliffe’s loss, the “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what to teach” line was universally tabbed a “gaffe” by media. I described it in the recent “Loudoun County: A Culture War in Four Acts” series in TK as the political equivalent of using a toe to shoot your face off with a shotgun, but this was actually behind the news cycle. Yahoo! said the “gaffe precipitated the Democrat’s slide in the polls,” while the Daily Beast’s blunter headline was, “Terry McAuliffe’s White-Guy Confidence Just Fucked the Dems.”

If Hannah-Jones abjures expertise in educaiton, why is she trying hard to foist the message of the 1619 Project on American secondary schools? She’s being disingenuous.

What’s happened, says Taibbi is that Dems are fobbing off McAuliffe’s loss as on racist parents who don’t want their kids to learn about Critical Race Theory, and those Democrats who still adhere to mantra “defer to the experts” that they use, usually justifiably, for science. But it didn’t work for economics or foreign policy, and, says Taibbi, is certainly doomed to fail when it comes to education:

But parenting? For good reason, there’s no parent anywhere who believes that any “expert” knows what’s better for their kids than they do. Parents of course will rush to seek out a medical expert when a child is sick, or has a learning disability, or is depressed, or mired in a hundred other dilemmas. Even through these inevitable terrifying crises of child rearing, however, all parents are alike in being animated by the absolute certainty — and they’re virtually always right in this — that no one loves their children more than they do, or worries about them more, or agonizes even a fraction as much over how best to shepherd them to adulthood happy and in one piece.

Implying the opposite is a political error of almost mathematically inexpressible enormity. This is being done as part of a poisonous rhetorical two-step. First, Democrats across the country have instituted radical policy changes, mainly in an effort to address socioeconomic and racial disparities. These included eliminating standardized testing to the University of California system, doing away with gifted programs (and rejecting the concept of gifted children in general), replacing courses like calculus with data science or statistics to make advancement easier, and pushing a series of near-parodical ideas with the aid of hundreds of millions of dollars from groups like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that include things like denouncing emphasis on “getting the right answer” or “independent practice over teamwork” as white supremacy.

When criticism ensued, pundits first denied as myth all rumors of radical change, then denounced complaining parents as belligerent racists unfit to decide what should be taught to their children, all while reaffirming the justice of leaving such matters to the education “experts” who’d spent the last decade-plus doing things like legislating grades out of existence. This “parents should leave ruining education to us” approach cost McAuliffe Virginia, because it dovetailed with what parents had long been seeing and hearing on the ground.

So, he says, it’s not merely resistance to teaching Critical Race Theory in schools. All of us hear constantly about the trend to lower school standards in the name of equity, and if you care about your kids’ education, that rankles, especially if you want your kid to excel.   I’ll give just one more quote:

The complaints of most Loudoun parents I spoke with about curriculum were usually double-edged. The first thing that drove many crazy was the recognition that whatever their kids were learning in school, it was less and less the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Kids were coming home showing weird deficiencies in obvious areas of need, forcing parents, and especially working mothers, to devote long evening hours to catching their kids up on things like spelling and multiplication tables. “I grew up laughing at the idea of homeschooling. I thought that was an idea for religious kooks,” one mother told me. “But after a while, I caught myself thinking, ‘I’m doing all the teaching anyway, why not just cut out the middleman?’”

Parents talked incessantly about the lowering of standards in Loudoun, whether it was the dropping of midterms and finals in 2015, or the school’s new “Retake Policy,” which not only set an arbitrary floor of 50% on all “summative assessments” (the word “test” has been mostly out of use for at least a decade there, apparently because it puts too much pressure on students), but automatically allowed students to retake tests if they scored below 80%. The rule also required teachers to accept a humorous euphemism called “late-work.”

School bureaucrats are motivated in almost every case to not only avoid giving bad grades, but to pre-empt efforts to track children as ahead or behind by slotting them in certain classes. In a phenomenon replicated in other parts of the country, kids in Loudoun take the same math classes all the way through their junior years in high school, when they’re finally allowed to take advanced courses. As a result, students who are ready for calculus sit in the same classrooms as students still struggling with pre-algebra, putting teachers in a nearly impossible bind — how do you design “summatives” for kids on such different levels? — and all but guaranteeing that the bulk of kids don’t learn much, or near enough.

Some version of this dysfunction story is going on in districts all over the country. If you drill down into reasons, they usually come down to local bureaucrats discovering that lowering standards and eliminating measurable forms of achievement works as a short-term political solution on a variety of fronts, from equity politics to dealing with parent groups, teachers’ unions, and public and private funding sources.

Those who lower standards never admit what their real reasons are, but you’d have to be without neurons not to know the real reason.

I think all of us who mourn the lowering of standards will understand that: it’s not just about CRT, but about all the changes being made for one reason only, to ensure “equity” in achievement and representation.  Middle America, apparently, isn’t as woke as Upper (Middle) Class America, and they want their children challenged to achieve. Eliminating SATs, homework, tracking, and so on, will, assets Taibbi, help “Bring back Trump”, for it tells worried parents that the message of the Democrats is “we know how to raise your kids better than you.”

I am no pundit, but at least this makes sense. And I’m sure James Carville would agree.

46 thoughts on “Matt Taibbi worries that the Dems are shooting themselves in the foot again

  1. During my UK school years 58 to 72 … I don’t recall my parents ever having a say in what subjects and what was in the subjects. Even as I progressed through high school … subjects were whittled down, dropping art and history and eventually everything but maths, physics, and chemistry for the final two years. It was my choice … so to speak.

    I’m wondering the issue is how children are being taught. When we look at critical race and evolution theories, we are using theory in two very different senses.

  2. Taibbi is very much correct, but he doesn’t go nearly far enough. I know multiple families in places where the school district is considered among the best, and they are absolutely distraught about what their children aren’t learning and the opportunities they’re no longer being given. Some of them have truly gifted children who go home and spend their entire nights watching lectures on YouTube because they’re not being taught the kind of math or science that they deserve and from which they’d actually benefit; instead, they’re constantly retreading ground they covered well before and know inside and out. Even for the kids who aren’t gifted, the parents of course still think that they’re not being given the opportunities to learn nearly as much as they can. I also have friends within education who are seeing standards and opportunities stripped away bit by bit, and they too have no idea what to do about it. And, no matter how many times the media tells all these people that these kinds of complaints are “racist propaganda,” the parents know the facts on the ground.

    I’d also note the mainstream liberal media’s rather brilliant pivot once those “anti-CRT” bills started popping up. At first, the media dismissed them, but soon it turned to painting them as a way to whitewash American history, part of a wider conspiracy to continue “white supremacy.” (By the way, is there anyone here under the age of 40 and educated in the US who didn’t learn in public school about the many atrocities we committed as a country, from the Trail of Tears to the slave trade? Who didn’t have tons of hours spent on learning our sordid history, like opposition to the Civil Rights Movement, integration? I was sure as hell taught that stuff from a very early age and beyond. It was never glossed over or whitewhashed). The media needs to learn an important lesson: most white people, like most people of every race, are not rich or upper class or even upper-middle class. Many if not most of them are struggling. The Dems and their allies in the mainstream media haven’t learned yet that these culture war issues are no longer helping them to distract the regular voter (and not just white ones! Look at the ways Latino and even black voters are trending) from the biggest issue: economic inequality. And, as a side-note, the idea of the same outlets that push the well-documented dishonesty of the 1619 Project and its ilk, while at the same time claiming their opposition wants to teach historical BS in school, is shameful. But saying this increase in concern over education is just coming from racists is the best pivot they have available to them right now, so they’re pushing it with everything they can, because they seem totally committed to this cause of dumbing down education and inserting propaganda into curricula.

    I know that the upcoming elections will be disastrous for the Dems on both the state and federal levels, so I’m already looking beyond that. I desperately hope that the Party will learn the proper lessons from the upcoming disaster, but my fear and best guess is that they will become even more entrenched in the bad ideas and rhetoric that led to it, and that the supporting media will continue to talk down to the public for not going along. It’s time to change strategy. People aren’t buying what the Dems are selling right now, and trying even harder to sell a turd doesn’t convince people that it’s gold; it just makes its stink even more apparent.

    1. I’m way NOT under the age of 40.

      I didn’t find out about the Japanese-American internment during WWII until I was in college. My history classes were very much focused on the exceptional wonderfulness of the US. Women and minorities were pretty much invisible, except for maybe Clara Barton. Susan B. Anthony? Um, no. Anyone at all with dark skin? No again.

      Surely there must be a middle ground here somewhere.

      L

      1. But…you just admitted that you’re “way NOT under the age of 40.” So, for at least several decades, we’ve been teaching all the things I mentioned, all the things you mentioned (yes, there was a ton on women and minorities, and even months devoted to them, several decades ago and now), and much more. What middle ground do you still want?

      2. The story of how our school history books became a propaganda tool is well told in Dr. James Lowen’s book “Lies My Teachers Told Me”. Free in PDF. I was in university when the first Black Studies curriculum came out. My privileged white upbringing had left me wondering, at the time, “What do they need that for?” I’ve since learned much.

  3. I do not think this particular area is all that important right now but I am not in the education business. Yes, I went to school but that was long ago. The important things right now for the democrats is to get loud and fight back against the republicans and their goal of undermining democracy and our election systems in this country, particularly at the state level. That means getting rid of the filibuster and passing some federal laws to re-establish voting rights, including the running of elections and process, removing gerrymandering and installing meaningful punishment for anyone who attempts to interrupt voting process. They also need to remove the filibuster to pass important climate change legislation and women’s rights. I just think the fight to overhaul the public school system has to come after all of this. It is important but not at the top right now.

    Determining if we can even still have a fair and free election is first on our list. Everything else must come after. What the republicans are building right now will eliminate voting completely. It will be literally – not who gets to vote but who counts the vote.

        1. Thanks Linda. I do not mean to downplay the education part, but the thing between democrats and republicans is mostly a debate that never gets resolved. Right now in Oklahoma they have passed a law allowing any parent to ban any book from the library. Yes sir, that’s who I want making the decisions for my kids.

        2. > Will their children’s welfare be protected in a right-wing dictatorship?

          My understanding is that more and more parents want to be (or empower) the dictatorship protecting their children’s welfare (many parents I know believe that their underage children do not have basic adult-level human rights or civil rights. The only rights the US Constitution grants humans of a certain age are the ability to vote and the ability to take certain offices.). Interestingly, I have watched media featuring adult millennials lately where significant others view themselves primarily as their partners’ protectors, too. People seem to be building up more and more layers of protecting – and of being protected.

        3. Well, if you want to avoid that, you should probably start listening to the swing voters who decide elections.

          1. That’s part of the problem with first-past-the-post/two-party systems. They reach a point of extremist stability and the people classed as swing voters shift depending on which of two parties is in power. Listening to the swing voters becomes less important than deciding who the swing voters will be. Of course, the members of the two big parties typically try to dissuade swing voters from voting for the opposition, hence all of the negative ads people see in the US.

            Only 155M of 300M+ US Americans voted for either of the two leading candidates in the 2020 US Presidential Election. If everyone who didn’t vote did, whether child, criminal, non-citizen or otherwise disenfranchised or disinterested, we would actually have some useful data.

            1. I agree, we desperately need a third party (and a fourth, and a fifth). But, since we don’t have a viable one right now, and it doesn’t seem like the system is going to change any time soon, all of these people shouting about a vague fascist right wing dictatorship nearly upon us should probably stop doing that and start figuring out how to connect with the average person regarding issues average people care about. Like maybe the Democrats and their supporters could, I don’t know, start supporting unions again (since they abandoned them nearly three decades ago). Maybe talk much more about what average people care about, and stop talking down to them when they don’t agree about stuff they don’t care about or that even actively hurts them.

      1. Yes Coel, for most parents their children’s welfare is first on the list.
        IIRC there was a study that found that 90% of drivers think their driving is well above average.
        I think that 90% of parents think their children are above average, if not truly gifted.
        If so, equity is anathema to most parents. Not pushing back agaist the ‘war on meritocracy’ is political suicide.

    1. I could not agree with you more that the Republican threat to democracy is by far the greatest threat to this country. But, I fear that for the voters that can swing elections this may not be the case. Indeed, probably for most voters the threat to democracy, even if they are aware of this threat, does not place high on their list of priorities or, if they do, many buy the Big Lie and view Democrats the threat. For most cultural and/or economic issues top their agenda. This is why local school issues or similar issues will determine their votes regardless of what Trump and his scared stiff yes-people in Congress may do.

      The Democrats are in political trouble for many reasons including Covid, inflation, and political infighting. I think they are aware of this. But, they don’t seem to be aware that elections, particularly on the local level, are often determined by local, cultural issues, such as school issues. Republicans make wild or exaggerated charges and Democrats find themselves like a deer caught in the headlights. Until they learn how to speak to voters, particularly white voters, on the local issues that concern them greatly, they will remain in political trouble. In fact, I think that almost all voters that are parents are not happy with the degradation of standards in school, regardless of race or ethnicity. I’ve asked this question before: will Democrats ever learn?

      On a slightly unrelated note, I disagree with Taibbi when he thinks that the replacement of calculus with statistics is a degradation of standards. Statistics is not all that easy a subject, but it is invaluable to learn it to understand when so called statistical analyses are legitimate or bogus.

      1. I think that Democrats would do well to describe what a right-wing dictatorship will look like. Most readers here understand that there will be political imprisonments, free speech will be illegal, and other First Amendment freedoms will disappear.

        But in terms of day to day effects, most people don’t care about that stuff. They will, however, care when Social Security and Medicare disappear. Ditto the Affordable Care programs and Medicaid. Birth control will be outlawed. The Post Office will be privatized, and possibly killed off altogether.

        We may very well see road tolls nationwide, as road maintenance is privatized. Drug prices, already high, will skyrocket.

        I could go on, but the main thing is that all the culture war stuff is to distract from the 1% plundering the economy. Unless we can save our democracy, the culture wars will continue, as will the theft.

        L

  4. … McAuliffe’s comment that “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what to teach” …

    Sure, Terry McAuliffe’s statement was a “gaffe” — in the sense that Michael Kinsley defined that term: “a truthful statement told accidentally.”

    Parents should have the opportunity to express their views on the matter to those who set public school curricula. But they should not themselves be performing that task or be given a veto over what’s taught. Were they, we’d undoubtedly still have prayer in public schools, though not sex education or students’ being taught evolution by naturalistic processes.

    1. Way back when I was a kid going to school my parents were in the PTA. They had meeting to attend and also got one on one time with the teachers. I am sure most of it was about us, their kids. I do not think they had any direct input into what was being taught in the classroom. The idea that they, the parents would have any say in what was taught simply did not come up.

    2. FWIW, in the UK we have a National Curriculum, which attracts occasional brickbats from all corners of the political spectrum, but is largely apolitical, wholly knowledge-based, and seeks the most effective teaching methods for each subject. It has many defects: the science curriculum, in particular, is far too theoretical and not experimental enough. (When I was at school in the 60s, what made me want to do science was the delightful prospect of being able to mess around with exotic substances in labs).

      I have been a Primary School Governor for over 30 years, and have never in that time come across any parent who seriously questioned what the school was teaching or how. There are procedures for consulting parents over subjects such as Relationships and Sex Education (RSE), which is taught on a graduated basis from the age of 7. My school has recently revised its RSE curriculum and sent the draft proposals out to parents, without any objections or even queries. Parents are basically not allowed to withdraw their children from any part of the NC, apart from the ‘daily act of worship’ , which is regrettably still a legal obligation in all schools (although widely ignored).

      It mostly works. The number of kids who are withdrawn altogether and home-schooled is a serious concern. There are occasional protests, mostly by Islamists, about things that they regard as unacceptable, such as discussions about the Mahomed cartoons in a lesson about freedom of speech. And there are hundreds of unofficial schools, from madrassas to Jewish Haredi establishments, to frankly loony Christian outfits, that pass under the radar. But in general there is no sense that parents have the right to dictate to schools what they should be teaching or how.

      Sorry for the lengthy post.

      1. The reason why it doesn’t work like that in America is the Americans’ unique obsession with democracy. Just as in some states in America people vote to elect judges and sheriff’s leading to election campaigns where prospective judges and sheriff’s promise to lock up more people, so in other places voters think they should decide what gets taught in schools.

  5. The doctrines of our Progressive educrats have a certain logical consistency.
    Once old-fashioned subjects like arithmetic are recast into a social justice
    form (e.g., there are no correct answers), students will no longer learn any
    useable form of the subject matter (e.g., how to do arithmetic). At that point, testing (or rather, Summative Assessments) will reveal this deficiency, and so testing itself must be sidelined, and ultimately abolished. Since admission to advanced classes requires prior testing, the advanced classes cannot be
    continued once testing is out. In any case, the very term “advanced” implies a progression, which violates the principle of universal Equity, so advanced
    classes are out for this reason as well.

    Nonetheless, one cannot help noticing that educrats always take pains to display their advanced degrees, and thus their expertise. When all training is in the hands of experts with a BA in Critical Justice Theory and a PhD in Educational Leadership, what can possibly go wrong? Don’t the airplanes
    fly themselves, the smartphones appear spontaneously, the electricity come magically out of the walls, and doesn’t our medical well-being really depend only on correct attitudes and then on indigenous folk-remedies?

  6. You should see The NY state department of health policy on antiviral Covid treatment. If you’re white, best luck. Racism is a health emergency per our current Governor. I guess they are fighting racism with…. racism?

  7. I think the pundit analysis of the Virginia governor’s election is correct. McAuliffe was a tone-deaf candidate, much as Hillary Clinton was in 2016. His statement about parents and education typified his lack of understanding voters and his overall lack of energy and sense of entitlement. As far as I know, he didn’t even attempt to walk it back or, if he did, the media ignored it.

    Dems seemed to try to parse McAuliffe’s “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what to teach” as if he had said “Leave the curriculum design to the experts.” Instead, the parents read it as
    “Parents should have no say in their children’s education.” I think that would have been my interpretation if I were a VA parent. Couple that with the obvious urge in some Dems to eliminate meritocracy and teach race theory, it was a ridiculous statement. Finally, the Dems silly denial that CRT is only taught in law school, it is no wonder Youngkin won.

    Still, I suspect that the GOP will have a lot of trouble coming up with “perfect” candidates like Youngkin in most other races. The delicate dance he performed of being pro-Trump without looking too pro-Trump is going to be much harder for others to pull off. Trump may have been able to stop himself from interfering in that one race but he won’t be able to stay out of hundreds of races nationwide that try to distance themselves from him. The press is wise to the ploy and will ask hard questions that will trip up most of them, if it even gets that far. In many races, the most Trumpy candidate will win the GOP primary and that will make them losers in the general.

    Finally, the problem with the GOP being a “threat to democracy” is that most voters don’t perceive the battle as anything but the usual partisan bickering. They won’t know the threat was real until they discover that democracy has died.

    1. Regarding that last paragraph. If the “voters” are that ignorant as to what is going on at this time, we are lost. I have to believe things will pick up very soon. The democrats in the Senate must act and it must be now..

      1. I hope so but the Dems aren’t doing much to combat the Big Lie. If I were running their party, I would make this my main message. Waiting for the Jan 6th Commission to do something is time wasted, IMHO. It has to be done but it will always be portrayed by the GOP, and accepted by most of their voters, as just more partisan in-fighting. Even if they get the DOJ to charge some of the ringleaders and convict them, the GOP will still claim the party in power is abusing that power and vow to do the same but worse when they win back Congress and the presidency. I really don’t see how this ends well.

  8. Let’s not get pulled into a false dilemma where the only two options are “parents determine the courses their kids are taught” and “parents should keep out of the way and let the teaching professionals decide what is taught.” I don’t want us parents micromanaging school administration and faculty. I do want us parents to communicate to our elected representatives on the school board our views on the mission and vision of the school. This is where parental input is not only desirable but required: limning the outlines of the big picture of life that we want our kids to enter happily and healthily both in the near term and long term.

    1. This gaffe has an important context, a campaign duel and a zeitgeist, and is at least to some degree also about rhetorics. A politician should never tell voters that they don’t have a say in what is taught to their own kids. `That’s a big blunder, especially when the situation is more nuanced as you write.

    2. Well put. Parents, and all local taxpayers funding the schools, should have a voice in issues like eliminating gifted programs or including the execrable 1619 program in the curriculum.

  9. In an ideal universe, the silver lining to this kind of insanity (at least in the long term) would have Republicans recognizing that they can win elections all over the country by running non-insane candidates, without needing to resort to flagrantly anti-democratic means. To have any hope of competing, Democrats would eventually need to respond by pulling back from their own abyss and everyone would live happily ever after.

    Possibly naive.

    1. I’d love to find out you’re right. Unfortunately, sanity will be off the table for both major parties as long as Trump is involved in American politics. He’s the equivalent of The Mule in Asimov’s Foundation series.

  10. “I don’t really understand this idea that parents should decide what’s being taught,” Hannah-Jones said. “I’m not a professional educator. I don’t have a degree in social studies or science.”

    This lack of formal credentials in education, social studies (including history, sociology and political science) and science did not stop Hannah-Jones from holding forth with her 1619 history project with, I gather, a goal of imposing it (and pedagogy informed by Critical Race Theory) in the K-12 system.

    This from someone who expected to be hired at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, an institute of education, as a full professor – a professional educator – with tenure in the school of journalism.

    My impression, however subjective, is that journalism types fancy themselves qualifed to hold forth on any topic by virtue of being journalists. (Same with economists, politicos and corporate CEO’s.)

    1. The likes of Hannah-Jones are not shooting the foot of the Democratic party, but right between the eyes. And possibly of democracy too.
      Carville is right, the Democrats should push back way more forcefully agaist lunatic ideas (the lunatic ideas that are so often exposed on this site).

  11. Surprised at the number of responses that seem to believe parents should sit back passively while the “experts” decide how and what is taught in public schools. Parents- and other citizens who care about the future of our nation- should have a say through various democratic processes to speak up about the quality of their childrens’ education. Based on studies, hasn’t the average US child continued to fall behind other industrialized nations in reading, math, and science? Why should we have faith in professional educators, when their outcomes are poor? Liberals need to grab this topic and talk about the future US competitiveness world-wide needing an educated citizenry. The extremist progressive ideology coming out of our colleges of education does not reflect most Americans viewpoints, and more to the point is not setting our children up for success. While the Dems are telling parents to stay out of their children’s education, republican-led areas of the country are passing reactionary laws censoring what can be taught in public schools. Getting involved instead of leaving it to the “experts” is democracy in action. If I sound as if I am only concerned about education for its economic value, let me clear that up. A democracy needs educated citizens who can think critically. If we care about democracy, we care about education.

  12. As usual, I need some help here. So, Ms. Hannah-Jones said: “I’m not a professional educator. I don’t have a degree in social studies or science.”

    From Wikipedia:
    “Hannah-Jones…. accept[ed] a tenured position at Howard University [in 2021], where she will be the inaugural Knight Chair in Race and Journalism.”

    Please reconcile those 2 statements for me…..BTW, I saw a tweet from her stating that Taibbi is twisting her words:

    https://twitter.com/mtaibbi/status/1476025160574640131

    Do read the comments to the thread.

    Happy New Year!

  13. So whaddya think of the Oklahoma initiative to allow any parent to have a book removed from a school library just on their initiative? That’s stickin’ it to The Woke, eh?

    1. By “initiative,” do you mean the bill proposed by one guy in Oklahoma and hasn’t gone anywhere yet? Let me know when it actually becomes law.

      Also, the very first sentence of your link makes your description seem rather…dishonest.

  14. CS Lewis’s demonic Screwtape character understood well the Zeitgeist of our day and age. Just replace each instance of “democracy” with “equity”, in this passage from “Screwtape Proposes a Toast”:

    “What I want to fix your attention
    on is the vast, overall movement towards the discrediting, and finally
    the elimination, of every kind of human excellence — moral, cultural,
    social, or intellectual. And is it not pretty to notice how [“equity”]
    (in the incantatory sense) is now doing for us the work that was once
    done by the most ancient Dictatorships, and by the same methods?
    You remember how one of the Greek Dictators (they called them
    “tyrants” then) sent an envoy to another Dictator to ask his advice
    about the principles of government. The second Dictator led the en-
    voy into a field of grain, and there he snicked off with his cane the
    top of every stalk that rose an inch or so above the general level. The
    moral was plain. Allow no preeminence among your subjects. Let no
    man live who is wiser or better or more famous or even handsomer
    than the mass. Cut them all down to a level: all slaves, all ciphers, all
    nobodies. All equals. Thus Tyrants could practise, in a sense, [“equity”]. But now [“equity”] can do the same work without any
    tyranny other than her own. No one need now go through the field
    with a cane. The little stalks will now of themselves bite the tops off the big ones. The big ones are beginning to bite off their own…”

  15. I just watched the new Democratic NY Mayor get sworn in on CNN about 5 minutes into the New Year, in Times Square, Wow. Thx for politics 5 minutes into the new year. All I wanted to see was if Cooper’s life-partner was more crazy-drunk funny this time around. (He was about the same). Talk about an own goal. It was like watching all of those old white democrats taking a knee in African outfits. Except it was New Year’s, Cooper’s lifemate’s time to shine. Clueless. If they hired me as their pr manager I would pay for my wages by simply telling them ‘nope, don’t do that’ pretty much every time they asked me how I thought their photo-op would work. Unless Cooper’s partner is being sworn in as NY mayor 5 minutes into the New Year, don’t do it.

  16. During Brexit a telling political slogan for Leave was “Take back control”. The idea that (true or not) ordinary peoples’ lives were being affected by an Establishment they couldn’t change.

    So Republicans are exploiting a similar idea that leaving ordinary life affecting decisions in the hands of ‘experts’ removes control. If Democrats were wise they wouldn’t double down on ‘trusting the experts’, they would exploit areas where Republicans make decisions ignoring local concerns.

    None of this directly validates or challenges the capabilities of experts but ‘taking back control’ potentially reverses a slide to greater centralisation and authoritarianism.

  17. A large part of this discussion seems to be about what is best for ensuring that one political party remains in power, and the dread that another might gain that power.
    I don’t see what they have done to earn that allegiance. A person employed by the party or an elected official who belongs to that party might reasonably have such motivation.
    For the rest of us, it seems more sensible to vote for a candidate or a party because their current platform more or less aligns with your own priorities or values. When the party shifts their priorities, or adopts a particularly repugnant stance on an issue, you should move on.

    As for the school situation, it seems to me that the teachers and administrators are motivated by their political views, while the parents are motivated by their basic need to protect their children. It is sort of absurd that schools should pose a real danger to people’s kids, but that is the world we live in now.
    For parents, the welfare of their kids should go beyond political affiliations, and is not an issue that they can back down on.

    There is something really terrible happening in our culture. A lot of teachers have not just become politically radical, but really unhinged. They seem comfortable posting their ravings on social media, which illustrates another facet of the issue. I don’t know exactly why this has come about, but it is not sustainable. We don’t want or need our kids turned into revolutionaries. To quote a film I saw the other day- “One plumber is worth 10 revolutionaries. One engineer is worth 50 revolutionaries”.

  18. The Dems left on a course of no return years ago, and even the best PR cannot help them now. it’s not just educational policies, although that is a major part of it. It is the mob attacks on those with contrarian opinions, open Marxism, failed economic policies, and a culture of elitism which has lost touch with blue collar and “fly over” Americans. RIP and good riddance. Another, more enlightened party will take it’s place.

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