Saturday, May 25, 2013

Schools Suspend Common Sense

Last week the Los Angeles Unified School District board voted 5-2 to halt the practice of suspending students for acts of “willful defiance.” Instead of sending kids home, alternative disciplinary methods will be employed—including placing defiant students in “intervention rooms” where tutoring and “reparative justice” conferences are supposed to occur. It’s unclear, however, where personnel for these new psycho-judicial sessions will come from.

Observers should note that “willful defiance” is a catch-all category that includes acts ranging from wearing baggy pants (a euphemism, I suspect, for the blatant display of underwear) to mouthing off in class or refusing to comply with an instructor’s directives. These generic offenses accounted for about half of the district’s 700,000 suspensions issued last year. Serious violations like theft and acts of violence can still result in suspension.

Numerous news accounts link the frequent employment of “willful defiance” suspensions to “zero tolerance” policies that were instituted after the 1999 Columbine massacre. Anyone familiar with education bureaucracies knows that “zero-tolerance” is a popular title for policies applied without recourse to common sense. Accordingly, under such rules plastic knives may be equated with stilettos and Hello Kitty bubble guns with assault weapons.

Given such circumstances, doing away with a vague category that results in automatic suspension doesn’t seem unreasonable. On the other hand, the racial profiling argument proffered by “willful-defiance” opponents is positively perverse.

According to these advocates, the fact that black students account for 26% of all suspensions while constituting only 9% of the district’s school population is prima facie evidence of disciplinary racism.

The elephant-in-the-room that this race-centered logic ignores is that nearly two-thirds of all black children in California now live in homes without a father present—a staggering statistic that politically correct educrats are loath to acknowledge.

Anyone who dismisses the well-documented correlation between father-absence and a host of social pathologies shouldn’t be allowed near children. Yet this is precisely the head-in-the-sand perspective of officials who establish policies for the nation’s largest school district.

This same race-based reasoning was used a few years back to explain why African-American kids in L.A. County wind up in foster care more frequently than other groups—a convenient explanation that’s being abandoned now that most social workers are themselves black or Hispanic.

Schools can’t themselves rectify a community-based disaster, but educators should at least acknowledge the truth and present to students stories and statistics that relate father-absence to crime, health, and educational achievement—a task they are eager to fulfill when it comes to tobacco-related damage.

Unfortunately, the thing most often suspended in today’s public school systems is common sense.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Free Condoms for 12-year-olds

Imagine a wife seeing off her husband on a business trip, giving him a hug at the door, then tucking a package of condoms in his pocket. “Honey, we both feel that being faithful is important, but we also know that spouses are having sex outside of marriage. So I want us to be protected--just in case. Have a great trip!”

That’s doubtless the kind of conversation that takes place in homes occupied by workers at the Condom Access Project—an undertaking run by the California Family Health Council. This group is currently making taxpayer-funded condoms available online for kids as young as twelve years old—no parental consent or knowledge required.

The CFHC’s website happily publishes the following headline for young browsers:

“Looking for free condoms? You have come to the right place! The Condom Access Project (CAP) is a free service that provides condoms for youth in California (12-19 years old)…. Enter your info below to find out how you can get free condoms near you.”

By utilizing this service, middle-schoolers in San Diego county can now obtain free condoms delivered in confidential packaging—just to make sure their parents don’t catch on. Kids in Riverside County can view a list of clinics where freebie prophylactics are disseminated.

The rationale for expanding this Internet perversity to San Diego is that the county currently ranks second in the state in chlamydia and sixth in gonorrhea cases. Moreover, we are informed by CFHC that California is rampant with STDs—a state of affairs supposedly facilitated by the fact that “teens continue to face many barriers to accessing condoms including embarrassment and concerns related to confidentiality, cost and accessibility.”

CFHC assures us, based on a study in New York City schools, that giving kids easy access to condoms doesn’t affect sexual activity. The agency doesn’t and can’t, however, provide evidence that a society that regularly undermines parental authority and treats twelve-year-olds as responsible adults has less promiscuity and related problems than a society that honors and supports parents as necessary guardians and educators of kids.

It’s inconceivable that the progressive undermining of parental authority and the proliferation of professional parent-excluding enablers hasn’t negatively impacted the immature psyches of youngsters who are anxious to prove their adult credentials.

Only “progressives” are sufficiently removed from reality to argue that the primary impact of increasing teen autonomy and lessening teen “embarrassment” about securing condoms will be a decrease in STDs. The primary impact of such policies has been the very STD mess the CAP program is supposed to address-- plus kids having more casual sex and soon self-administered morning-after abortions.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Greasing a Pathway to Citizenship

What will they think of next in Sacramento? Moving on from “gender identity” legislation, unwarranted incursions into psychiatric standards, and mandates that impose San Francisco sexual mores on all non-profits wishing to retain their tax-exempt status, the absurdity du jour from the state capital is a bill that seeks to extend jury service to non-citizens.

This legislation, AB 1401, passed the Assembly (45-25) on a largely party-line vote and is now proceeding to the Senate. One of the bill’s supporters, Rep. Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont), said the law would expand the pool of prospective jurors and help integrate immigrants into the community.

However, as Assemblywoman Diane Harkey (R-Dana Point) observed, there is currently no shortage of jurors—an assertion that appears to be confirmed by statistics that show only 165,000 jurors were seated in 2010-2011 out of an available pool of 3.2 million Californians who reported for duty.

Moreover, it seems odd to pick jury duty as a way to “integrate immigrants into the community” since this obligation typically arises only once every couple of years and since fewer than half of the Californians summoned end up waiting in a courthouse or being placed on call.

I certainly didn’t find my most recent jury experience in Riverside one that bound me closer to the community—an ordeal that began with an early-morning forty-minute drive and an around-the-building queue for a time-consuming security check that was conducted by inarticulate and unfriendly personnel who expected citizens reporting for duty to magically decode mumbled directives.

Then there was the protracted solitary confinement period in a waiting room with a few hundred other county residents that I’ll never see again—a time punctuated with repetitive announcements apparently aimed at a third grade audience.

Nor can I say I bonded with anyone or found myself brimming with civic pride during the voir dire process which several years ago actually ended up placing me on a jury—even though I had taught the defendant’s daughter in school.

Given the preceding facts and experiences, any reason for extending jury service to non-citizens appears to be more politically than practically based.

I suspect the real reason for this Democrat-backed legislation is to further diminish the distinction between citizens and non-citizens—a precursor to greasing the “pathway to citizenship” for folks who in the Los Angeles Times and Associated Press will no longer be called “illegal” immigrants.

While this proposed jury law does not apply to those individuals Jay Leno labeled “undocumented Democrats,” it will, along with driver’s licenses, welfare assistance, and schooling, serve to make citizenship a critical irrelevancy in California.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Hate-center Head Dispenses Hate

You know things are bad on campus when even Bill Maher can identify the politically correct nonsense that regularly emanates from institutions of higher re-education. In this case the recipient of Maher’s well-deserved barbs was Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

Maher is able to call a spade a spade if the truth happens to coincide with his deep anti-religious prejudice—especially in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings. For Levin and many of his PC pals, however, all religions are created equal, with tons of hypocrites that make any indictment directed specifically at Islam unacceptable.

Maher’s retort to Levin’s jejune observation that “We have hypocrites across (all) faiths” was that the professor was spouting liberal BS and that there is “only one faith that kills you or wants to kill you if you renounce the faith.” Maher added, “Talk to Salman Rushdie…about Christian versus Islam.”

Instead of arguing the point, Levin, a putative intellectual, simply implied that Maher was an Islamophobe.

Maher then asked the professor if he had seen the show “The Book of Mormon.” After Levin said tickets were hard to come by, Maher sealed his argument by asking whether a show called “The Book of Islam” could be produced on Broadway.

When Levin incredibly responded, “Possibly so,” Maher asked the former Associate Director at the Southern Poverty Law Center what color the sky was in his world.

This dialogue (available online) is instructive because it illustrates how a professor can be so committed to a PC position, he’s unwilling to speak the obvious truth.

No reasonable person believes most Muslims in the United States are terrorists or support terror. But no honest individual can deny that Islamic cells pose a threat that far outstrips the danger posed by other religious groups.

Were Cal State’s prof devoted to truth, he would acknowledge not only that “The Book of Islam” could never be produced on Broadway but also that Yale University Press even declined to print the cartoon depictions of Muhammad in a scholarly book it published about the widespread violence spawned by those images.

By contrast, Levin’s former digs, the Southern Poverty Law Center, was eager to label the Christian-based Family Research Council a “hate group” based on its support for traditional marriage—a designation that inspired a violent follower of SPLC’s website to enter FRC’s headquarters “to kill as many (FRC employees) as possible.”

It’s ironic that so many academics have jettisoned discourse in favor of insults. Simply calling one’s opponent a hater ends all rational inquiry.