Monthly Archive: April 2017

18

First Things: Anti-Christianity in France

The French Revolution does not make sense without the preexisting weight of the new rich in society and their hatred of both the régime and the Church that supported it. Because they were not...

2

French Hovels, Slave Cabins, and the limits of Thomas Jefferson’s Eyes

Jefferson’s powerful eyes constantly dissected and analyzed: especially for scientific reasons, Jefferson spied on people’s lives. He always wanted to see, and to see firsthand. During his famous tour of southern France and northern Italy in the spring of 1787, he saw examples of misery and wretchedness—especially where lower classes were concerned. He had entered the shacks of French peasants incognito. To peep into people’s dwellings was for Jefferson the best method to assess their identity and evaluate their circumstances. “You must ferret the people out of their hovels as I have done,” Jefferson wrote to his friend Lafayette, “look into their kettles, eat their bread, loll on their beds under pretence of resting yourself, but in fact to find if they are soft.”

Most likely, this Jeffersonian method of spying did more than just provide reliable sociological data: it enhanced his empathy. Reading this letter to Lafayette, the reader gets the impression that Jefferson drew himself closer to these hapless human beings, pitying them and caring for their conditions, seeing them for who they actually were. But in other ways, Jefferson’s eyes were blind: did he ever actually see his slaves’ cabins? Did he ever ferret slaves out of their shackles to observe and meditate about their condition?

135

Le Président de la France

I’m not saying Le Pen is going to win. I am just saying that everything that needed to happen for her to win has been happening. (That said, I don’t think she’s going to win.)

8

A Guide to Properly Hating Old Movies

There are films you read about your entire life, and then there are films like [CLASSIC MOVIE TITLE]. I’m not quite sure how I avoided seeing [CLASSIC MOVIE TITLE] for so long. Maybe I had always been subconsciously turned off by the film’s negative approach to [SOCIAL ISSUE]; why waste your time on a half-baked attempt at representation when modern movies like [MODERN MOVIE] are better worth our consideration? What I do know, though, is that by the time I finally sat down to watch [CLASSIC MOVIE TITLE], I was looking forward to seeing the masterpiece that everyone else described.

Yeah, no. Look, I know that it’s not fair to approach a movie released in [YEAR OF RELEASE] the same as a film released today, but I’ve spent years hearing about how [CLASSIC MOVIE TITLE] was responsible for bringing [SOCIAL ISSUE] into the twenty-first century. Is it wrong to expect [CLASSIC MOVIE TITLE] to tackle [SOCIAL ISSUE] with a little bit more [CONTEXTLESS READING OF SOCIAL ISSUE]? I’m not saying that [DIRECTOR] had to completely reinvent the wheel, but at the very least, he could have [IMPOSSIBLE FILMMAKING CONCEIT GIVEN HISTORICAL CONTEXT]. Maybe things would have turned around a lot sooner if they’d thought for ten minutes about how they were telling the story.

[NEVER ADD HISTORICAL CONTEXT HERE]

From: A Guide to Properly Hating Old Movies

4

Does money affect children’s outcomes?

The studies indicated clearly that money makes a difference to children’s outcomes. Less well-off children have worse cognitive, social-behavioural and health outcomes in part because they are poorer, not just because low income is correlated with other household and parental characteristics. Low income affects direct measures of children’s well-being and development, including their cognitive ability, achievement and engagement in school, anxiety levels and behaviour. The evidence on cognitive development and school achievement was the clearest and most common, followed by that on social and behavioural development. Of the 34 studies, only five found no evidence of a money effect on any of the outcomes examined, with methodological reasons for this in at least four cases.

The studies also found effects of low income on outcomes that indirectly affect children, including parenting, the home environment, maternal depression, and smoking during pregnancy. The effect of low income on cognitive and schooling outcomes appears to correlate broadly with the effects of spending corresponding amounts on school or early education programmes. Rough calculations suggest that increases in household income would not eliminate differences in schooling outcomes between low-income children and others, but could contribute to substantially reducing these differences. For example, increasing household income for children in receipt of free school meals (FSM) by £7,000, which would raise them to the average income for the rest of the population, might be expected to eradicate around half the gap in Key Stage 2 outcomes between FSM and non- FSM children.

From: Does money affect children’s outcomes? | JRF

39

Corrupted College

Check out this Edsource story on the California State University system’s announcement of its intent to abandon the “strategy” of remedial courses.

At last! I thought. CSU was finally telling low-skilled applicants to attend adult education or community college. Hahahaha. Five years of education policy writing just isn’t enough time to become properly cynical.

CSU is not ending its practice of accepting students who aren’t capable of college work. CSU has ended its practice of remediating students who aren’t capable of college work. It makes such students feel “unwelcome.” Students who aren’t capable of doing college work are getting the impression that they don’t really belong at college.

And so, CSU is going to give students who can’t do college work college credit for the classes they take trying to become ready for college.

Understand that the CSU system has been accepting these students for over 30 years. CSU used to offer unlimited remediation until 1996. After taxpayers protested, CSU passed regulations reducing remediation efforts to one year and vowed to ultimately eliminate all remediation by 2001. But alas, when 2001 came along, ending remediation would dramatically reduce black and Hispanic enrollment, so the deadline was extended to 2007. (Cite ) But 2007 came along and things were even worse. After that, well, California ended its high school exit examination and retroactively awarded diplomas to all the students who hadn’t been able to pass it. Why bother? CSU was accepting students who didn’t have the diploma anyway.

So, CSU decided on a new “strategy”, defining “college readiness” as “student is earning us tuition dollars”. They’re even looking at ending any sort of reliance on California’s version of the Smarter Balanced test, the Early Assessment rating that California has used for years to guide high schools towards getting their students ready for college.

From: Corrupted College | educationrealist

457

The Tomiknockers

The real argument against making abortion illegal is the conservative one.

0

The Desperate Journey of a Trafficked Girl

It was close to midnight on the coast of Libya, a few miles west of Tripoli. At the water’s edge, armed Libyan smugglers pumped air into thirty-foot rubber dinghies. Some three thousand refugees and migrants, mostly sub-Saharan Africans, silent and barefoot, stood nearby in rows of ten. Oil platforms glowed in the Mediterranean.

The Libyans ordered male migrants to carry the inflated boats into the water, thirty on each side. They waded in and held the boats steady as a smuggler directed other migrants to board, packing them as tightly as possible. People in the center would suffer chemical burns if the fuel leaked and mixed with water. Those straddling the sides could easily fall into the sea. Officially, at least five thousand and ninety-eight migrants died in the Mediterranean last year, but Libya’s coastline is more than a thousand miles long, and nobody knows how many boats sink without ever being seen. Several of the migrants had written phone numbers on their clothes, so that someone could call their families if their bodies washed ashore.

The smugglers knelt in the sand and prayed, then stood up and ordered the migrants to push off. One pointed to the sky. “Look at this star!” he said. “Follow it.” Each boat left with only enough fuel to reach international waters.

In one dinghy, carrying a hundred and fifty people, a Nigerian teen-ager named Blessing started to cry. She had travelled six months to get to this point, and her face was gaunt and her ribs were showing. She wondered if God had visited her mother in dreams and shown her that she was alive. The boat hit swells and people started vomiting. By dawn, Blessing had fainted. The boat was taking on water.

From: The Desperate Journey of a Trafficked Girl – The New Yorker