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Zippy Notes

with 3 comments

But just a few.

Yesterday, I managed to get myself hit by a car, more or less–not run over, just hit, and it was doing about 4 miles an hour in a parking lot, but I’m a bit bruised up and achy.

I can type, but I’m not thinking too well.

But, a couple of things on the present topic:

1) John says I want to go back to the frontier West, but all I really want is to go back to, say, 1975 or 1980.

Most American public schools operated on the scheme I outlined here until about then, and the real attempts by state boards of education and the Federal Government to control local decisions didn’t hit until the 1990s.

The US Department of Education didn’t even exist before the Carter administration.

And, even now, lots of towns throughout the country operate in the way I’d like, or more that way than otherwise.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the state mandated that everybody who got a high school diploma in CT had to have passed a year of American history and a year of civics, plus a year of “practical science” (home ec for girls, shop for boys).

Beyond that, towns did what the wanted, with the schools run by elected school boards.

And that’s still mostly the way it is–CT does not mandate textbooks at the state level, for instance, and elected school boards still run the local schools.

There has, however, been a lot of bracket creep–the CT state board of education now mandates a lot of other stuff (particular kinds of math in elementary and middle schools, for instance, and the endless “awareness weeks” for one thing or another, anti-bullying, DARE, whatever).

But I could have lived with most of that if it hadn’t been for the one real change in the balance of power–the state now mandates how teacher’s contracts may be negotiated.

That takes significant power over the conduct of education away from local school boards, and I’d like to see it stop.

As for the federal government–it can’t actually mandate anything.

What it can do is to make federal education funds contingent on local districts’ accepting sets of conditions, like NCLB.

A school district, or a state, that turns the money down can do what it pleases no matter  how the Dept of Education feels.

I’m not suggesting anything strange, outrageous or old fashioned.  I just want schools in the US to be run the way they have tradtionally been run until very recently.

That having been said, I came across a story today from Hoke County, North Carolina, that illustrates perfectly why programs are always programs and bad for you.

You can go here for an overview of this thing:


It’s not a site I know, but there are dozens reporting this story and googling it will get you one you like better if you don’t like this one.

Here’s what happened:  a little girl attending a federally funded preschool program brought a brown bag lunch to school consisting of a turkey and cheese sandwich, a banana, some apple juice and a small bag of potato chips.

A nutrition inspector charged with enforcing nutritional guidelines from the Department of Child Development and Early Education at the HHS department inspected this lunch, declared it to be nutritionally inadequate and took it away and insisted that the child eat the officially provided lunch instead, which consisted of—chicken nuggets.

The kid apparently didn’t like the nuggets and ate only three.

Then the school billed the girl’s mother for the lunch she didn’t eat.

Now, the articles I have seen have all concentrated on the fact that the girl’s brown bag lunch was actually nutritionally better than the one the school gave her.

But to me, that’s hardly the point.

The point is–what is ANY government worker doing telling a mother what kind of lunch she can send her child in to school with?  why is ANY government worker even allowed to look at it and check?

And, of course, there’s an answer to that.

It’s a program, and like all programs, it has conditions–specifically, the condition that you must accept “oversight” of whatever it is the program wants overseen.

You must accept, that is, that ‘experts” know more than you do about how to raise and feed your child, and that they have the right to correct you (and even penalize you) if you don’t follow their directions.

You are required to understand that YOU, of course, are too ignorant and uneducated to know what’s good for yourself or your family.

Programs are wrong BECAUSE THEY’RE PROGRAMS.

They’re wrong because they change the relationship of the people to the government from self-governing citizens to clients, patients and dependents who need to be told what to do and how to do it.

And in the end, ALL programs teach is the learned helplessness and passivity that are required to go on getting the “benefits.”

Preschool is good for your child?

You agree!

But you only get to get it for her if you learn to be as dysfunctional as possible and follow along like a pouting little child.

Written by janeh

February 15th, 2012 at 2:40 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses to 'Zippy Notes'

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  1. I wasn’t talking about going back to the wild west but I was trying to point out that what Jane wants used to be the traditional way of running schools.

    I don’t know who chose textbooks when I was in high school (1950 – 1954) but NY state had state wide Regents exams in subjects such as Algebra, Geometry, Biology and Physics which essentially set a minimum level of knowledge for each subject.

    As for the chicken nugget inspection, my first question would be why the “inspector” was looking at a bagged lunch rather than just checking the cafeteria menu.


    15 Feb 12 at 5:06 pm

  2. Ah! But jd, the cafeteria menu was a program–probably covered by some other agency and inspector–while the brown bag lunch was prepared by a parent. And parents have no standing whatever in the public education system.


    15 Feb 12 at 7:09 pm

  3. Forgive me, Jane, but this is kinda sorta on topic for discussions we’ve had recently if not exactly for this one. Just turned up this morning from City Journal:


    Looks like the system needs reaming from top to bottom.


    15 Feb 12 at 11:26 pm

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