“Hopefully, some day, we can track children from preschool to high school and from high school to college and college to career . . . . We want to see more states build comprehensive systems that track students from pre-K through college and then link school data to workforce data.”
– Former U. S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
The last generation of free Americans has already been born. Those belonging to this generation are not infants as you might expect, but are in their mid-twenties and in their final year of college. They are the last, the end. Allow me to explain.
As you read this article, a bipartisan, legislative grenade lays patiently awaiting detonation in the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. The bill is the just latest pineapple brought forth by Republican turncoats and data-hungry Progressives, traitors to the citizenry, launched for the explicit purpose of demolishing the last barricade securing the privacy of every American, the last blockade between liberty and tyranny. Once the pin is pulled, the Founders’ dream of a limited government will be obliterated, along with the free world. Support for the bill is growing.
Background: Bill Gates and the Pursuit of the Totalitarian “Benevolent” State
In my last article, I wrote about Bill Gates’ October 19th speech to the Council of the Greater City Schools in which he declared his dedication to ensuring that the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) remain in place. Gates then introduced several of his foundation’s new initiatives geared toward securing Nationwide CCSS uniformity and compliance. His big focus? Data. Lots and lots of data. And a shared database. And data teams. And schools and data teams all sharing the data on the database.
Behaviorists and totalitarians of all stripes have long desired to establish a national database on each citizen in order to track us, study us, and even to manipulate us from the cradle to the grave, our every move recorded and choreographed like an epic drama. Of course, we should have absolutely nothing to fear. Our own benevolent state would never bring about a 1984-esque reality. I doubt any “benevolent intentions” will lend comfort to the thousands of students spied upon in the privacy of their own home by Pennsylvania’s Lower Marion School District, where students were photographed through district-issued laptops. (Some students were even disciplined by school administrators for behavior carried out in the privacy of their own homes.)
A similar situation is occurring in Rhode Island in which breaches of privacy are so egregious that the ACLU has filed a report on the matter. In fact, the breaches of student privacy being carried out by technology companies and school districts across America are the subject of an intensive study by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. EFF released a scathing report on the state of student privacy in America in April of this year. Nevertheless, we are supposed to feel assured that none such events would ever come about, or, at the very least, would not worsen with the creation of a national database storing the secrets of our most intimate moments.
Fortunately for us, a federal ban on the creation and management of a centralized student-data system impedes Mr. Gates’ grand scheme. Ever persistent, Bill Gates, through his “philanthropy,” will create sub-national “networks of schools.” By focusing on the establishment of these “networks of schools,” the data-sharing can begin, without the involvement of the federal government, for now.
However, all of that is about to change.
College Transparency Act of 2017: euphuism* in action
Awaiting passage is the College Transparency Act of 2017, “which has bipartisan support in both chambers, would reverse a 2008 ban on creating a nationwide student data system and expand data collection while tracking a number of data points for all students” (NACUBO.org). In short, this bill authorizes the government to create a lifelong, postsecondary student data system: the government will track the careers (etc.) of all citizens for the duration of their lives. Thus, the transparency demanded in this bill is not that of dear, daddy government. The transparency is meant for you!
“Many states also gather precisely the information that the federal government is banned from seeking, some with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.”
– John Marcus, The Atlantic, October 24, 2017
Perhaps this bill wouldn’t be of such concern had the Obama administration not gutted the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), making it possible for your information to be shared with 3rd parties, such as the “data teams” which will be involved in Bill Gates created “networks of schools.”
Turncoat Republicans, past and present
The bill is being sponsored by Senators Hatch (R-UT), Warren (D-MA), Cassidy (R-LA), and Whitehouse (D-RI). Sadly, this is just the latest in a long line of legislative attempts at subverting the American public’s right to privacy, and is merely the latest example of the Republican party betraying their limited-government platform. The following list, while far from being comprehensive, offers a brief timeline of the “benevolent” governments’ encroachment into the private lives of the citizenry.
- 1974: The Student Data Handbook for Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education lists employed a three-digit-code to catalogue major categories of student information. The handbook specifically limits how the information may be used and by whom, in addition to strictly prohibiting the ability of 3rd parties to share private student information that was received. This handbook series, also known as the State Educational Records and Reports Series, was first begun in 1953. By the 2001 update, those privacy safeguards had been removed. For more information, see page 14 of the 1974 handbook (linked above).
- 1974: The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) was proposed by Senator Buckley and signed into law by President Ford. “In a speech explaining the Act to the Legislative Conference of Parents and Teachers, Senator Buckley said FERPA was adopted in response to ‘the growing evidence of the abuse of student records across the nation,’” (epic.org). FERPA granted students and parents the right to review their educational records, and limited schools’ abilities to share information, including data which could be used to personally identify a past or present student.
- 1989: The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) began construction of “an interstate student records transfer system” called ExPRESS (Exchange of Permanent Records Electronically for Students and Schools) (Blumenfeld, 2012).
- 1991: The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) awarded a three-year contract to the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), also connected to the Common Core State Standards, “to facilitate the implementation of a national education data system” in what was called the Education Data System Implementation Project(EDSIP) (Blumenfeld, 2012).
- 2001: The Student Data Handbook for Elementary, Secondary, and Early Childhood Education (2001 edition), listed some 400 data points to be collected on every student in America. The following are quotes from the “handbook”.
- -“They also provide the flexibility necessary to supply aggregate data to school boards, state and federal governments, and other interested parties…[…] for all students, in all places, and at all times.”
- -“In addition, the Handbook may be useful to elected officials and members of the public interested in student information.”
- 2002: (20 U.S.C. § 9501 et seq) The federal government began the Statewide Longitudinal Data System grant to incentivize the states to build identical databases so that the data can be easily shared.
- 2004: Representing Microsoft, Bill Gates signed a cooperation agreement with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to “help remove barriers to digital inclusion,” according to UNESCO’s website. In addition to a shared commitment to developing global teacher curriculum, this unholy alliance focused on the creation of “web-based communities of practice, which will facilitate the pooling of intellectual resources independently of geographical barriers.”
- 2005: National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) carried out a feasibility study on the possibility of a national unit record system. Student data collected would be used “to evaluate trends within particular institutions in order to compare institutions’ performance and would include demographic and identification information (such as Social Security number, ethnicity, and gender), registration and program information (credits attempted, major, dates of attendance), graduation information (status and time to completion), and financial aid (net price paid, sources of financial aid)” (emphasis mine) (newamerica.org). Later that year, the Department of Education released a plan“that would create a national database of student records — with students identified by Social Security numbers,” (Jaschik, 2005).
- 2008: “The Education Department issued regulations amending the FERPA. These amendments made several significant changes to the FERPA regulations. For example, in light of the Supreme Court decision in Owasso Independent School Dist. No. I011 v. Falvo (534 U.S. 426 (2002)), the regulations exclude ‘grades on peer-graded papers before they are collected and record by a teacher’ from the definition of ‘education records.’ The amendments also changed the definition of ‘personally identifiable information’ to include a definition for ‘biometric record.’ Under the regulations, biometric information includes ‘fingerprints; retina and iris patterns; voiceprints; DNA sequence; facial characteristics; and handwriting.’ Additionally, the 2008 regulations permit educational agencies and institutions to disclose education records without consent to ‘contractors, consultants, volunteers, and other outside parties providing institutional services and functions or otherwise acting for an agency or institution,”’ (emphasis mine) (epic.org).
- 2008: In 2008, Congress passed a Student Unit Record (SUR) ban (20 U.S.C § 7911) as part of the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. “The ban works by preventing individual-level data collected by different agencies from being connected. For example, individuals’ income history is collected by the IRS, but while the ban is in place, that information cannot be connected with that student’s level of education, college or university, major program, or use of financial aid for college in a national data system,” (newamerica.org). The ban also strictly prohibits the federal government from maintaining a centralized database.
- 2009: The Stimulus Bill of 2009, required states to construct particular student and teacher data bases in order to receive money from the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund.
- 2009: Obama’s Race to the Top program financially incentivized (paid) states to adopt the Common Core State Standards, to adopt assessment aligned with the CCSS, and to expandtheir data collection program. CCSS assessment consortia PARCC and Smarter Balancedboth signed cooperation agreements with the US Department of Education, giving the DoED access to all student-level data, on an on-going basis, for research.
- 2011: The federal government issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) regarding the Family and Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). The Electronic Privacy Information Center responded to the DoEd. In an article detailing the timeline of events surrounding the federal government’s eradication of privacy protections and EPIC’s sumsequent law suit against the DoED, EPIC states, “The proposed regulations removed limitations prohibiting educational institutions and agencies from disclosing studentpersonally identifiable information, without first obtaining student or parental consent. For example, the proposed FERPA regulations reinterpreted FERPA statutory terms “authorized representative,” “education program,” and “directory information.” This reinterpretation gives non-governmental actors increased access to student personal data,” (emphasis mine). The Department of Education’s proposed changes essentially gutted FERPA, making it little more than ink on paper. EPIC’s lawsuit was dismissed by the court, claiming that neither EPIC nor its co-plaintiffs had standing to file the lawsuit. TheEducrats won.
- 2012: An Education Department report, entitled Enhancing, Teaching and Learning through Educational Data Mining and Learning Analytics states, “A student learning database (or other big data repository) stores timestamped student input and behaviors captured as students work within the system.” The report continues, “A predictive model combines demographics data from an external student information system) and learning/behavior data from the student learning database track a student’s progress and make predictions about his or her future behaviors or performance.”
- 2012: “Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the Student Right to Know Before You Go Act in February 2012. This bill did not seek to overturn the 2008 student unit record ban, but rather to tie existing state-level student unit record systems together. Institutions would report data to their state, which would then report the data to a third party. The third party would connect all data, add income information, and then report the connected data to the Department of Education. The House version of this bill was also introduced in February 2012 by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA),” (newamerica.org). The bill stalled.
- 2013: An Education Department report, entitled Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance: Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century provides a vision for the future, a future in which databases are only the beginning. Interestingly, the report provides information on technology that is already in use through government-funded tutoring programs: what is revealed sounds more like a psychological sci-fi movie than a tutoring program. “Connections to neuroscience,” the report states, are “beginning to emerge.” It is effectively candy for behaviorists. The report then describes several technological tools already used by publics school programs “to get inside students’ minds and ‘measure’ the children using ‘four parallel streams of affective sensors.’ Among the devices is a facial recognition camera used to ‘detect emotion and capture facial expressions.’ The report explains that the camera is connected to software that ‘extracts geometric properties on faces.’ There is also a ‘posture analysis seat’ and ‘pressure mouse.’ Finally, the report describes a ‘wireless skin conductance sensor’ strapped to students’ wrists. According to the report, the sensors collect ‘physiological response data from biofeedback apparatus that measures blood volume, pulse, and galvanic skin response to examine student frustration’” (Blumenfeld & Newman, p. 216, 2014). Just imagine the possibilities, had this technology been available to the Cheka!
- 2013: “Senators Wyden and Rubio introduced a different bill,” the Student Right to Know Act of 2013, “that would repeal the student unit record ban instead of connecting existing student unit record data systems as the 2012 bill sought to do. This new bill called for one, central reporting organization for all institutions receiving funding for federal financial aid. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) introduced the House version of the bill,” (newamerica.org). The bill stalled.
- 2015: “In May 2015, the latest version of the Act was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). The bill was co-sponsored by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Mark Warner (D-VA). After introduction and reading of the bill, it was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. In the same month, the House version of the bill, co-authored by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Mia Love (R-UT), was introduced. The bill was co-sponsored by Reps. John Carney (D-DE), Trey Gowdy (R-SC), Paul Ryan (R-WI), Susan Davis (D-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Doug LaMalfa (R-CA). The bill was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce,” (newamerica.org). The bills stalled.
“To know all this, of course, we have to know pretty much everything Johnny does, throughout his lifetime.”
– Jane Robbins, Truth In American Education
Opposition to the bill
The College Transparency Act of 2017, is such an egregious violation of privacy upon the American Citizenry that a coalition “of organizations, including the ACLU, Parents Across America and the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy recently sent a letter to the federal Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking opposing any type of federal database,” (Tenth Amendment Center). The following quotes are drawn from the letter.
“We strongly oppose any proposal that would lead to the creation of a central federal clearinghouse or linked data sets containing the personally identifiable information (“PII”) of all students, commonly referred to as a federal student unit-record system or national database. We cannot overstate the threat to student privacy that would be posed by the development of such a database, including breach, malicious attack, or use of student PII for purposes not initially intended.”
“Data collected ostensibly for the sole purpose of research but without the individual’s consent or knowledge would likely be merged with other federal agency data sets, to follow students into the workplace and beyond, and could include data from their military service, tax returns, criminal and health records. If this granular level of sensitive information were available in a universal U.S. student record database, it could quickly become a go-to repository for purposes that should never be allowed.”
This bill, which includes up to 700 areas of personal data (data points) is a dream come true for every want-to-be totalitarian, from Joseph Stalin to Nicolas Maduro to Bill Gates. The Tenth Amendment Center (linked above) has listed ways in which we can organize and oppose this encroachment into our private lives. I encourage you to read those suggestions, as well as explore the various resources which I have provided in this article (links). Call and write your representatives. It would certainly appear that the members of our legislature are in need a bit of education themselves, as they’ve evidently forgotten the values and ethics of Federalism. Above all, we must stand together to ensure that the last free Americans are not those already alive today.
Next week I will examine some of the new technology being employed in classroom across the country, as well as technology seeking its way inside of our schools and inside students’ minds (literally).
*euphuism: an artificial, highly elaborate way of writing or speaking.
Feminists exploiting feminists
Are you an entrepreneur interested in “birthing a new business” and making more money?
Are you a feminist looking to “contemplate capitalism” and “write your manifesto”?
Are you in search of ways to create “body-loving business practices”?
Are you dedicated to “toppling the patriarchy”?
Do you have $1200 to throw away?
If you answered yes to all these questions, you’re in luck! The Feminist Business School welcomes you!
What is the Feminist Business School, might you ask? Is it a business school? No. Is it a school? No. Does it provide its attendees business skills, such as book-keeping? No. Rather, the Feminist Business School is the brain child of (capitalist) entrepreneur Jennifer Armbrust, an Evergreen graduate with a degree in Critical Theory: it currently offers a single, $1200 course, taught by Armbrust, entitled “Concepts and Conceptions.” During this eight-week course, students will contemplate capitalism, which Armbrust believes is masculine, and introduce students to the “feminine economy,” which Armbrust defines as “A new set of values and a redistribution of money and power, based on feminine principles.” Weekly topics include Free Yourself from the Myth of the Meritocracy (Letting It Be Easy), The Trimester Theory: Stages of Birthing a Business, and Toppling the Patriarchy.
During a 20-minute CreativeMornings speech at the Portland Art Museum in 2015, on the theme of Revolution, Jennifer Armbrust shunned capitalism for its “masculine” points of emphasis, such as “speed and efficiency.” Her audience clapped in approval. Contrary to capitalism, says Armbrust, the feminine economy focuses on “mindfulness,” “generosity,” and an “abundance consciousness.” For this reason, it is important to birth a feminist business.
Armbrust provided her audience with a brief sampling of her own manifesto, entitled “100 Ways to Make More Money: Proposals for the Feminine Economy.” Armbrust assured the room, “And I absolutely believe the things on this list will make you richer, and in some ways, I think that’s the same as having more money.” Oh, and Mr. Armbrust made sure to state that her manifesto is available for purchase on her website. Included on her list are:
#3. Create more opportunities for people to give you money;
#16. Have no expectations;
#24. Read Karl Marx;
#52. Visualize money as water;
#68. Practice radical receptivity;
#77. Say no to work you don’t believe in; and
#79. See fiscal empowerment as a revolutionary act.
Perhaps sensing that the crowd had noticed the obvious – that she is a capitalist entrepreneur and that her feminine economy is very much a free market economy – Ms. Armbrust insisted otherwise. Not only is the feminine economy not a capitalist economy, it should not be considered a type of conscious capitalism either. No, insisted Armbrust, the feminine economy is completely different. And so, all of you future enrollees, you can rest assured that the Feminist Business School will provide you with the moral justification (for your own capitalist entrepreneurship), as well as the virtue-signaling credentials for which you long. Best of luck!
Setting the stage for 2018: Figuring out our allies and opponents
Before we started deciding on the rules of the game, figuring out how to define the terms of the battle, we should first identify what freedom actually means to us and who or what stands in the way. That may sound rather like an obvious point, but at least in part, who or what we view as an obstacle is a good reflection of what it is we think we are protecting. If we are familiar with the basics of the Constitution, this should be relatively simple. Freedom is the freedom from government interference, and in generally, the ability to live, prosper, and pursue happiness so long as our actions do not infringe on the rights of others. By that token the obstacles to freedom are:
- Government interference
- Anything that stands in the way of life, liberty, prosperity, and pursuit of happiness – such as security threats, economic problems, crime, or natural disasters.
- People who are willfully promoting government interference with our lives or facilitate the security threats or other obstacles.
Most people would likely not have an issue with any of the above, not even the “villains” as we may perceive. The differences will usually either vary as to the degree to which others oppose those 3 items, or the interpretations. Then there is a group of people who is simply not familiar with the Constitution or the history of the United States, and may claim that the they think the First Amendment should have limitations, etc. In sum and substance, however, they are no different from people who are more familiar with the issues and formulate their interpretations in a more informed and deliberate way.
Now, there are many reasons why people may choose to adopt a different level of what they find personally acceptable under either of those three categories. We can spend hours going through them, but the worst case scenario is that we are facing an ideological adversary, who is pining for a society with very little freedom and is determined to destroy society as we know it. The other two categories of people to worry about: benevolent but deluded “fellow travelers” who firmly wish for everyone to live well, but essentially at some point check common sense at the door, and people who are so zealous about being perceived as freedom lovers than in pursuit of freedom and in opposition to the adversarial elements and “useful idiots”, become very much like them.
Besides those three groups, there exists a great number of people with highly complex and individualized views on various issues, who either don’t fit neatly into any boxes, or fall somewhere in between, or vacillate among different groups. This is why the fight for freedom is more complicated than we would like to admit. There often are no clear answers on who is an ally or an absolute adversary, because most people do not think in absolutes, contrary to the polarized views we are presented with in social media. So how do we deal with the ambiguity? How do we winnow out the absolute “enemies”, diffuse the fellow travelers, and win over everyone else?
The hardcore ideologues are usually firm in their convictions, aggressive, and politically astute. They do not care about the sacrifices they have to make in order to reach their goal. They may be revolutionary, but more often than not, they are revolutionary, understanding that it takes time to win over supporters without the use of political violence. They may implicitly or explicitly support or instigate violence, which we have seen some evidence of on campuses, but that tactic is a culmination of decades of relatively peaceful activism and brainwashing. The ideologues are usually the professors, not the students. Some of them are older and old-school, and have been “assets” of the Communist party, anarchists, and other movements. They make common cause with other radical movements, but they are patient, venomous, vengeful, and they understand how to use power. They are the true “haters”, who may be quite familiar with the history of the revolutions, and yet fully embrace the mentality and goals anyway. On the other end of this spectrum are the cynical manipulators who may not much believe in hard leftist or socialist ideologies, but who understand that these ideologies are a perfect vehicle to power, and it is ultimately the power and the control that they crave.
Such people are completely amoral, at least somewhat sociopathic, and view the means as justifying the ends just as much as the ideologues – but the ends for them are purely personal gain. I bet there may be an aggregation of data on professors, think tank members, public intellectuals, journalists, and others who belong to either of these categories, but if not, such individuals are easily discernible and those who are around them should be encouraged to be aware of them, their tactics, and their goals. Situational awareness is key part to preparation. These guys need to be rooted out, and their ideology debunked and delegitimized. In 99% of the cases, they are not going to come to a sudden miraculous revelation or realization of all the wrong that they did. The best outcome is that one day such mentality is marginalized, and anyone who follows it becomes socially unacceptable, and part of the fringe with no influence, no different from the Nazis. How is that achieved?
First, by raising awareness among target groups.
Second, by immunizing them against the worst tactics.
Third, by arming them with tools to combat the influence of such people – including development of critical thinking skills, a buddy system, where you have witnesses at every confrontation to prevent he said-she said situations and smear campaigns, record keeping, understanding the systems and the vulnerabilities within these systems that strengthen or are exploited by such individuals, developing the flexibility and the resilience to develop appropriate responses, and to recover from losses.
Workshops and training are excellent ways to develop and practice such skills. Remember, however, most of such battles are going to be in uncontrolled environments where many of these individuals will have an upper hand, control of the turf, and frequently, the element of surprise. That is why data about the presence of such people and their record is essential for advance preparation, and the more confident people can later choose these confrontations at their leisure. But the first stage will be much more like responding to asymmetrical warfare than a controlled strategy. The only unifying factor here is that most of such people will be in some position of power in areas where they are best position to promote ideologies or narratives adversarial to the US Constitution, culture, the idea of freedom, or Western society..
The ultimate goal should be to develop a system of first identifying and tracking such people, and second to exposing and eliminating them. These two could also be done simultaneously, but in the initial stages, information gathering should be separated from the action plan for reasons of developing a working strategy and expertise.
The Fellow Travelers
The fellow travels MAY be in a position of power, but more often than not, they are not “professional” ideologues, just people of all backgrounds with strongly held worldviews who act like political hacks or rebels, but firmly believe they are doing it for the good of the society they live in. They may not necessarily want a “fundamental” transformation, but their general arguments are a slippery slope, poorly thought out, and will eventually bring about a fundamental transformation, eating them along the way, much to their surprise.
The younger, revolutionary students and cultural warriors are likely manipulated by more experienced figures, and usually are predisposed to that either through family background, and early education, or various psychological vulnerabilities. More often than not such people are looking for something meaningful to do, but may not put the hard work of researching and understanding their options. They may latch on to whatever “feels” good, even if it completely contradicts their values system or lifestyle (i.e. the largely meaningless Occupy Wall Street movement). Keep in mind that much more cynical forces can co-opt and infiltrate grassroots movements. But those forces belong to the above-described category and should be considered separately.
The activists more likely than not find facts, reason, and logic unconvincing, but emotionally appealing narratives that visually and experientially combat their preconceptions can work. Many of these kids mean well, even if they are confused and unaffected, so getting into big fights with them in public may be successful in mocking them and shutting down an annoying discussion, but will not break through their individual perspectives. However, people who are taught to hate a particular group or groups for the sake of helping some other perceived victim could be responsive to an invitation to dinner by a seemingly neutral person and exposure to kind individuals on a gradual basis. An alternative way to the same effect is organized, highly structured outreach effort that gives them reasons to join some worthwhile cause or movement before they are co-opted by stronger forces, maybe in high school rather than college, and simply channel their energy into something productive.
Keep in mind, most of such activists have no solid comprehensive history of the underpinnings of all these movements. They may be highly uneducated and ignorant of the source texts and earlier battles. Or they will have read the pop culture version of whatever it is they are proclaiming. Their worldviews may be fluid and easily confused. Interesectionality and increasingly more radical and bizarre views on transgenderism, various social norms, identity politics, and cultural relativism has to do with a lack of formal structure, expectation of discipline or boundaries, and basically a strong yearning to explore a sense of identity, but without any firm anchors or legitimate contexts for doing so. Whether this becomes a passing phase of belated teenage rebellion or something much more serious depends on how the people around them help them deal with it. Neither mockery, nor aggressive response, nor unchallenged facilitation of what, in many cases appears to be little more than a desperate cry for attention coupled with confused paradigms, and poor manners will resolve the problem.
The adult/mature “fellow travelers” are a slightly different breed. They are likely to be more socially established, pursue more reasonable life paths and goals, and act “traditional” in many ways, yet have been reacting with excessive anger to recent political developments, and otherwise act like political hacks a lot of the time, refusing to admit even obvious facts that run counter to their worldview, arguing about increasingly absurd wedge issues, and hairsplittng when it is obvious that they are wrong, or using mountains of one-sided studies in lieu of well-thought out arguments. Despite a general sense of exasperation, it is not hopeless to move them in a more reasonable direction. The very fact that they are willing to engage in discourse and risk being exposed for being wrong is a positive sign, and excessive defensiveness and movement away from such discussions into more comfortable echo chambers will do more harm than good.
Engaging in discussions, finding points of commonalities, identifying common humanity, and continuing to provoke thought with exposure to additional information is the best way to address this problem. Some minds may change on some issues some of the time. There is certainly no guarantee of anything, but so long as people can find in themselves to like and respect at least something about each other, and at least enough to stay in the discussion, all hope is not lost.
Some of the best political advice I have ever gotten (and it was from Arnold Steinberg) was to maintain a broad tent, and to form alliances based on specific issues, despite all differences on other fronts. You don’t need to have a base of ideological purists, and most people will have some reasonable differences among themselves, evolve in their views, vacillate, and so forth. It is ok to work with them or to discuss with them the one or two things you may have in common, rather than to frustrate oneself over the inability to find “enough” allies, who are close to you on most issues. Flexibility is key to winning ideological battles, and not all battles will be won with the same people.
But before categorizing everyone you know under particular labels, start with yourself. The central part of winning any war is knowing yourself and where you stand on specific issues, and why. Remember, just as much as you are struggling to identify your future teammates, as well as the forces that may try to stop you, others will be doing the same to you. How open are you to having your mind changed and on what issues? What is a matter of principle for you, and what does not get you excited, no matter how important you think it should be? Only you know the answers to these questions, and only you ultimately define the kind of personal battle you are going to be fighting, though each battle, will, of course, be a part of a much bigger war.
Finny Kuruvilla on modern educational goals
The people most likely to believe the higher education system in the United States is good are either liberals or educators. They see the liberal indoctrination and the focus away from preparing students for the world and have no problem with it. As long as they get people thinking the same way, their well-being and preparedness are secondary.
Finny Kuruvilla thinks differently and he’s doing something about it. He will be opening Sattler College next year with $30 million of his own money to fund it. The school will be geared towards conservative Christian students and is opening in, of all places, Boston. Kuruvilla graduated from Harvard.
One of his quips in a recent interview is quite profound:
“The whole notion of education has become generally confined to academic thought, not so much to developing of the whole person, character, and integrity.”
We’ll be watching this school closely once it opens.
Source: Boston Globe
In a city full of colleges and in an economy increasingly perilous for small schools, one wealthy businessman is making an unlikely investment. Next fall he will open a college in Boston geared toward conservative Christian students, using an innovative model that incorporates online learning.
Sattler College, named after a 16th century martyr, will be entirely funded by Finny Kuruvilla, an investment fund manager with a medical degree and a PhD from Harvard. He has guaranteed $30 million of his money to fund the school.
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