Tag: education

Betsy DeVos and the Legacy of Separate but Equal

This congressional hearing [link is to C-Span video] happened yesterday (May 24). I want you to watch Betsy DeVos saying that in no case—none at all—would she deny a school federal funds for discriminating against black students, gay students, special needs students. Not even in the case of a specific (real) private school which expels students for the crime of having a queer or gender noncomforming relative. (Contamination!) Betsy DeVos still wants to give that school taxpayer money via vouchers.

DeVos’s slogan that we need to ditch a “one-size-fits-all” education is just a gloss on “separate but equal.” Which was itself code for “get your gross kids away from mine.” And it is hugely, hugely disrespectful to the millions (millions) of teachers and administrators who spend every day forging personal, individual connections with their students—listening to their fears, cheering on their accomplishments, and tailoring every lesson to their individual needs.

I want you to also watch Katherine Clark, the blue-suited woman asking the questions, who is one of my favorite people in the House of Representatives. (She happens to be my Rep. She’s the stuff.) You can tell she’s an attorney. Specifically, she used to be Massachusetts’ general counsel for the state Office of Child Care Services. She also chaired a local school board. She is not somebody who smiles at vague, time-wasting evasions about whether kids are being protected. She came loaded for bear. (No, I have not forgotten Wapiti.)

Nic says: Things like this are why I really hate the “politicians are all the same, liars, cheats blah blah” narrative. I am mostly in awe of people like this who are well informed, spectacularly clever and using their intelligence and strength to fight for the people they are there to represent. And I don’t think they are a minority. Just like I think most backbench MPs in Westminster are there solidly working for their constituents.

I think there’s some kind of success bias where a proportion of the bad ‘uns rise to the top maybe because they’re not so concerned with their actual responsibilities. But then again maybe not and it’s rising to the top that warps your moral compass, just as coming into huge wealth can completely change how you see people who are struggling. In any case thanks for so often sharing these great examples. And honestly if I was a hard working MP or Representative and constantly having to listen to people say what scum politicians were, I might think “well fuck em” and start doing what I could for myself. The fact that I might act that way is why I’m not a selfless enough person to become one in the first place though.


Lectures are Best

The type of labor demanded in the lecture hall — and the type of community it builds — still matters. Under an economic system that works to accelerate and divide us, institutions that carve out time and space to facilitate collectivity and reflection are needed more than ever.

– “In Defense of the Lecture” by Miya Tokumitsu in Jacobin

I love lectures. I have always loved lectures.

With the exception of labs and rehearsals, I can’t think of anything terribly useful I’ve ever learned in a non-lecture class. (Yeah, I’ve learned stuff reading books or doing projects, but that’s essentially independent study with occasional consultations and evaluations – not a class, per se.) Even with the labs, I’m stretching it, because I really just confirmed what I already knew from lectures. They were more like quizzes than classes.

Critically, I would always prefer a lecture by an expert to a small-group discussion with my peers. I mean good lord I can do that on my own time with the peers whose opinions I actually care about. And I really, really don’t want to co-homework. Really don’t.

If there isn’t somebody more knowledgeable than me telling me smart stuff, what am I doing there? What am I paying for?

There is a lot I don’t understand about current university trends. Possibly I am a stick in the mud. Hopefully somewhere nearby in the mud is a lecturer.