And other weekend notes...
It is hard to call people out on excess when one is in general sympathy with the cause. Most of us do, in fact, want to see more inclusion in our universities, in our institutions, in our governmental organizations - even in the few newspapers we still read. But there has arisen a certain kind of identity ideologue who seems determined to shoot everything that moves, to find fault in even the most innocuous of expressions, to create conflict where harmony ruled. And so our leaders of these institutions and schools need to engage in the very difficult ask of saying "you have gone too far." It is, I think, an inherent consequence of diversity evolving from a principle to a profession - when your job is comprised of nothing more than identifying inequity, one is obliged to find some, whatever the circumstances.
And, sad to say, the pushback has to include the calling out of people by their specific name - a lot of the excess of recent years has come from the complainants being largely anonymous, giving them a certain kind of power over their higher profile leaders. Leaders -and editors- have indulged this intemperance for at least a decade now, with the result that a lot of people of good will have become disheartened, intimidated, indifferent. In these perilous times, this is not dynamic that can be allowed to persist. I have noted institutions from Stanford to the New York Times beginning to clear their throats and say "this is too much"; here's to more courage exhibited toward those with whom we are in broad agreement.
This was yummy. I've been excoriated for "tone policing" (after asking for civility in discussion), and "cultural appropriation" (for liking a brightly patterned Kaftan sort of dress)...wha? I have traditionally been left of center politically and socially but the kind of social-behavior excrement I have been hearing makes me want to smack someone upside the haid. Oh the butthurt by XYZ groups! "I'm sorry you feel that way," is going to be my mantra going forward.
Marvelous in so many ways. Love the term “institutionalized wimpitude.” Also loved the mention of John Ellis News Items. Ellis’ column is a gem.
On schools, the recent loss of students in big city systems has resulted in the per pupil expenditure rising to $29k in Chicago, $30k in New York and $31k in Boston. Compare this to a PPE in New Hampshire of $20k and a PPE in West Virginia of $12k - and those systems spend substantial sums on bus transportation. Those who would argue that the problem is "resources" therefore have a substantial burden of proof to provide - even if one acknowledges that urban systems face special lingual and sociological challenges, funding does not appear to be the core problem.
Nor, in general, do I think teachers' unions are the main issue, although they may well be a contributing factor - rather, I fear the schools are subjected to a barrage of contradictory and conflicting educational theories and - there is no other word for it - fads that drive out the more ambitious and disciplined families. Perhaps next week would be a good time to discuss Columbia Teacher College's recent admission that their endorsed approach to reading, championed by Lucy Calkins over the last decade is, um, wrong.
Joe, it’s great to be reading you again. We grew up in a place where being picked on, bullied or laughed at had little to do with identity but much more about size, athletic skills or looks. We survived and grew from those experiences and sheltering from perceived micro aggressions does nothing to build character. Thanks for continuing to share your perspectives. Rich
If you think that story is crazy, read this one: https://matthewlieberman.substack.com/p/a-political-dress-and-test
fear and loathing in academic hiring.
Did you see this article about nonsensical DEI policies, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/09/08/us/ucla-dei-statement.html