Wednesday, September 8, 2004

Logically Impaired

Senator Kerry seems determined to enhance his reputation as a man perfectly comfortable advancing two completely contradictory opinions almost simultaneously. Hugh Hewitt has this:

Kerry on Monday:

"It's the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Kerry yesterday:

"More than 1,000 of America's sons and daughters have now given their lives on behalf of their country, on behalf of freedom in the war on terror."

Kerry Spokesman David Wade, today:

"Kerry was referring to U.S. soldiers fighting in parts of Iraq that have now become a breeding ground for terrorists."


Oh, okay. All 1,000+ died "fighting in parts of Iraq that have now become a breeding ground for terrorists," but other than that , it's the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time. That clears up everything.

No wonder people are saying that before Kerry takes on Bush in debate he ought to settle the debate with himself.

The Sociological Facts of Life

Ryan Sager at Miscellaneous Objections takes Bush to task for not pushing school choice harder and for not enforcing No Child Left Behind. Well, okay.

Viewpoint realizes that it's flirting with conservative heresy here, but having spent parts, or all, of five decades teaching in a public school we're unconvinced that any effort to reform schools is going to work until there is a fundamental transformation of the culture.

Here's what happens. The only way to assess how well a school is doing is to test students. In Pennsylvania they devised a battery of standards that students at various grade levels are tested upon. The standards themselves are problematic, but that's a topic for a different post. The problem the state faces is this. How difficult should they make the test? If they make it rigorous, most suburban students will do okay, but urban students will struggle.

This is just a sociological fact of life, but it would be politically untenable to have it splashed across newspapers every year. Poor performance in minority communities would elicit complaints of racist tests and racists in the government, and so on. Bureaucrats react to the charge of racism as if it were political HIV. So what will they do? Eventually the difficulty of the test will be diluted until anyone with an IQ in double digits can pass it. At this point it'll become a joke and a complete waste of time for the suburban kids. It won't measure much of anything, educational reform will suffer another setback, and all the pundits will be wondering what went wrong.

We've said it before but it bears repeating: The quality of education tracks the quality of family life in a community. A school filled with kids from disadvantaged and/or dysfunctional families will find it very difficult to succeed with those youngsters no matter how many reform measures the bureaucrats toss at them. Schools filled with kids from affluent and/or well-adjusted and healthy homes, on the other hand, will do well almost without trying. It's another sociological fact of life, and the sooner it becomes acknowledged that the family is the key to educational success, the sooner we'll be able to direct our energies away from band-aid nostrums and devote our energies to the radical surgery on our culture that's needed to restore health and strength to our families.

We Can Say it But You Can't

So Dick Cheney opines that the United States would be less safe from terorism under Kerry/Edwards than under Bush/Cheney, and Senator Edwards takes major umbrage:

"What [Cheney] said was meant to scare voters, period. And it's completely contrary to what's in the best interest of the American people....It was way over the top and I think un-American."

This reaction seems a bit ridiculous in light of the constant iterations of the Democratic mantra over the last year that George Bush's war has made us less safe, not more. Maybe there's a difference between what the Dems have been saying loudly and often and what Cheney said the other day, but we here at Viewpoint are scratching our heads trying to figure out what it is.