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Showing posts from August, 2023

Move over, Hester: Speaker Mikey's in town...

Remember Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Puritan society in his novel, The Scarlet Letter?  Poor Hester Prynne violated the laws of the church, which meant that she broke society’s laws, too.  At the beginning of the novel, the reader joins Hester as she leaves the safety of the town prison and makes her way back into the society that jailed her.  Reading the book for the first time in the 11th grade, I had a hard time understanding how, in a free society, the religion of one group could also form its judicial system.  That makes the laws of God the same thing as the laws of man.   Separation of church and state was also an 11th grade U.S. history lesson, so we students figured no more Hesters could be jailed for breaking the laws of her religion .  Or so we thought.  We fought a war 250 years ago to separate the colonies from a king who was not only ruler of the government but leader of the church.  A quick walk through British history shows what a mess that ideal leads to:  remember Henry VIII

Thoughts on “Common Sense” Education in Virginia

Governor Glenn Youngkin, in interviews and presentations, often refers to his policies as just “common sense.” For example, “common sense” is the typical description he provides for his views on public education in Virginia, a topic that played an important role in his winning the 2022 election. Imagining myself to be a sensible individual, and having spent much of my adult life as a (public) university professor of ancient history, I happen to care a great deal about real, life-long, and life-changing education, and I do not believe that Youngkin’s policies deliver genuine goods. Youngkin’s Executive Order Number 1 (2022) was entitled: Ending the Use of Inherently Divisive Concepts (my italics) Including Critical Race Theory, and Restoring Excellence in K-12 Education in the Commonwealth. The words “inherently divisive concepts” occur numerous times in the Order, which promises “professional development and training so teachers and schools are prepared to engage students on important

O this learning, what a thing it is!

Florida schools have now decreed that nothing from Shakespeare can be taught, if it’s sexual in nature.   I’ve got news for you, Ronnie.  All of Shakespeare is sexual in nature.  In fact, pretty much all of life is, too.  Think of Verona, Italy - the setting of Romeo and Juliet - as a microcosm of Florida.  Adults make all the bad decisions:  two groups live to fight each other, the prince decrees death to those who don’t follow his rigid laws, a priest gives bad advice to teens.  Romeo and Juliet are simply trying to survive and grow up in this not-very-conducive environment.  Kind of like teenagers in your state.  The good news for you, Ronnie, is that Romeo and Juliet get married before sex.  But sex it is, and without teaching that part of the play, the rest makes little sense.  And if students are lucky enough to have a Shakespeare-loving teacher who attempts to teach the comedies, high school students might run into A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Fairy dust and lust is probably bann