Polarization and Politics

A friend recently resigned from her teaching position at a public high school.  The students were having intercourse in the classroom while she was teaching.  I assume this is a rare and extreme case; at the local blue-ribbon, top-rated public high school, the students show restraint, saving sex until they can get to the restroom.

I live in a cave, but I am not naive.  People of reproductive age will in fact reproduce.  What alarms is that the public school administrators are both persuaded they are unable to enforce a no-copulation zone, and also that they do not feel any obligation to attempt it.

These are public schools, so there are facts that don’t apply to, say, your local bar or brothel:

  • We taxpayers are required by law to send our money to these schools, under pain of fines, imprisonment, and forfeiture of assets.
  • Parents are required by law to send their children to these schools.  If they do not do so, their children can be taken from them.

Most parents do not have an alternative public school available.  Most parents cannot afford private school tuition.  Homeschooling is daunting for most and impossible for many; appeasing the authorities is an on-going problem.

But what stands out most about this problem: No one really seems to care.

Why isn’t this in the news?  Why isn’t this a hot topic at school board and superintendent elections?  How can a school be top-ranked, or a county promote itself as “A Great Place For Families”, when this is the atmosphere in which students are expected to learn?

Apparently there is a vast gulf between those who feel these sorts of things are a serious problem, and those who feel they are no big deal*.

I keeping hearing all these complaints that American politics is so “polarized”.  This is why.


*I don’t think this is a left-right divide.  Not at all.

7 Quick Takes: Reading List

Sign of the Apocalypse: I’m organized enough to come up with 7 things to say on a Friday.


A reader sends in a link to Diary of a Gold-Digger.  I liked the Morocco stories especially.  Look forward to reading more.


I keep forgetting to pass on that Dan Castell’s second installment in the Marx Brothers series is out.  Excerpted from The Marx Brothers Meet the Doctors of Death:

“I do have this.” Groucho pulls up his shirt and exposes a fine swath of swarthy tummy.
“Und what is that supposed to be?”
“It’s a rub that itches when I scratches.”
“Ach,” says Dr. Mangler, “a rub that itches when you scratches is simple schtuff. You haff the acute dermatitis.”
“Acute dermatitis!” Groucho cries. “And me…so young…so much undone…so many dames still to fun. Acute dermatitis—and I thought it was just an itch.”
“Ja,” says Dr. Mangler, “that is what I haff said. Acute dermatitis—you haff an itch.” He pulls out a prescription pad, scribbles a scrawl, and hands it to Groucho. “Here, that should help.”
“My prescription!?”
“Nein, mein bill. Fifty dollars, please.”
“I thought you said this would help.”
“Of course fifty dollars helps. You don’t think scalpels grow on trees, do you?”

My boy loves this guy.  Also available at Barnes & Noble.


Speaking of the boy, do you know why I have an inordinate fondness for the Young Chesterton series?  Because the other night I go check on the progress of homework.  Recall the child is supposed to be writing a review of Emperor of North America for his composition assignment, so he isn’t being a total slacker when I catch him with both novels open.

“What are you doing?” I ask.

“I’m looking something up.  I thought the ‘Oliver’ character might be the Oliver from Oliver Twist.  I had to check and see.”

That’s why.  Basically if it makes you think about Dickens, in a good way, I’m okay with that.


Grammar Girl is my new favorite grammar book.


I put new blogs into my feed reader all the time, and sometimes I forget where they came from.  I clicked on Servant of Truth, which had something or another about a history curriculum the author was putting together, or, oh, gosh, where did I hear about this blog from?  Who is this person?  I click through for a clue.

Oh yeah.  Kolbe.  Idiot.

Have I mentioned I would have been sunk this fall without their ready-made course plans?  You begin to see why.


Okay I am not that organized.  No apocalypse.


And anyway, my five counts as seven if you give Castell and McNichol each credit for two.

Bleg – Which Collegiate Dictionary?

Anybody have a collegiate dictionary you particularly like?  I’m thinking of getting the boy his own for Christmas.  I cringe every time he gets near mine.  (Though the packing-tape reinforced spine should hold up, I keep telling myself.)  Also he keeps complaining he wants to know the meaning of words less than 50 years old.

What use a Classics Degree?

Darwin answers the question:

This isn’t because a degree in the humanities is “useless”. I believe that learning Greek, Latin, history and philosophy was very useful to me. But it was useful to me in the sense that a liberal art is meant to be useful — in allowing one to think like a “free man”. It is not useful in the sense of providing instant and easy employment. I think that it would be helpful if colleges and departments were a little more honest about this. It would also be very, very helpful if people took it into account before blithely borrowing large amounts of money. (And if people were less blithe about borrowing so much money in order to fund college degrees, perhaps the absurd rate of tuition increase would slow down. You may be assured that one of the things allowing universities to make off like bandits is that people have the illusion that having a degree, any degree, is an automatic ticket to a “good job”.)

He also confirms that Rush Limbaugh is not a classicist.  Apparently people were confused on that point.


Meanwhile, Archbishop Chaput demonstrates how to use such an education.  From his “On Being Human in an Age of Unbelief”:

That leads to my fourth and final point. The pro-life movement needs to be understood and respected for what it is: part of a much larger, consistent, and morally worthy vision of the dignity of the human person. You don’t need to be Christian or even religious to be “pro-life.” Common sense alone is enough to make a reasonable person uneasy about what actually happens in an abortion. The natural reaction, the sane and healthy response, is repugnance.

The whole thing is excellent, and eminently readable.  Print it out and read it on paper, because it merits sitting down and giving it your full attention.  Great essay to discuss with your high school or college student.


Mater et Magistra – Renewal Time

Mater et Magistra magazine reminds you to renew (if now is your time to do so).  Click here, it’s easy.  And though the print edition is lovely, it will still be a great little publication even if it goes all-digital.  Support your small catholic homeschooling press today.

Other People’s School Photos.

Catching up on my goofing off this morning.  Thought these photos of an MK mini-school in Haiti were pretty interesting.  For people who like to look at pictures of school stuff, anyway.   Sort of in between homeschooling and regular school — I guess maybe falls closest to the more formal homeschool co-ops and homeschool academies here in the US?  Or a very small charter school or private school?

Anyway, I like it.

the child who is determined to hate Kolbe

Yesterday after I dropped the kids off for Grandma time, a little voice told me to visit the other crack dealer Educational Wonderland.  Sure enough, they had cool little wipe-off books of math facts games and drills for the little guys (yes, I gave my daughter math books for her birthday — she was thrilled), and these:

So today I was thumbing through the new history books, and a certain rising 4th grader comes along and picks one up. “Oh.  Those are the terrible KOLBE books.”  Disgust.  Horror.  How could your mother do this to you?!

“No, darling.  Those are the books I got for you to do instead of the Kolbe book.”

“Oooh!”  Picks up book again.  Actually looks at it.  “Hey, this looks fun!”

Yes dear.  After enough years of living with you, I begin to have a clue, thank you.

–>  I found this year that I really like having all four kids on the same subject.  Not necessarily the same books, just the same general topic.  So for the coming year, I signed up both big kids for Kolbe’s Ancient Rome study, which the boy has already started reading for fun, and the girl is determined to hate, on account of it being called Famous Men of Rome.

Emphasis on Men.  She is not interested in Men.  Plus it is Kolbe, and we all know that Kolbe is Evil.  Even though we have never ever tried it, and plus it looks eerily like what we already study.  But it is to be hated.

Anyhow the plan is for the boy to whiz through the set plan, which he will complain is too easy and plus he already read the book this summer and why does he have to do the dumb workbook, blah blah blah, and look, here’s an Osprey book, let’s read that instead, yes dear on your free time you may.  (And he will.)

The craft-loving 4th grader I’m going to let do the Pockets books first.  Q1 she gets to be the teacher and take the littles through Ancient Civilizations.  That’s only 7 pockets, so 7 weeks, and the last two weeks of the quarter she’ll do some timeline work and then write me a report, which will bring up the grade-level to more her age.  Q2, littles will work through some other ancient Rome / Greece items with me, and my Kolbe-hating darling will do the Ancient Rome Pockets book, which will fill the quarter.

Q3 & Q4 she will finally have to buckle down and be serious, and do Q1 &2 of Famous Men per the Kolbe course plans.  Which should be easier having had the intro in the fall.  If she wants she can read the rest of the book in her free time.  Yes, I will totally let a 4th grader master only half of the history of the Roman Empire.  She’ll see it again one day.  Plus she’ll have the motivation of trying to get a higher score on the test than her brother did.  Which will definitely motivate her.

Went ahead and wrote up next year’s plans for the littles, who are still on the library-book method (not Kolbe — I do too much subbing out at that age, we’d only go crazy).  For science, sticking to my ‘everyone studies the same thing’ approach, I went through the 4th grade science course plans from Kolbe, and assigned the littles to study each week whatever topic the 4th grader will be covering.  So that will be a double bonus, in that they can sit in on her science experiments, and she’ll have a bunch of easy library books sitting around that cover the same thing she is learning in her horrible no-good very bad science book.  (That I think she will like.)

–> If I weren’t worried about the good of various eternal souls, and plus having told the whole internet that lying is wrong, I’d just tell her it wasn’t the Kolbe book, and then she’d love it for sure.

[Mr. Boy will be happy to do science all on his own.  I didn’t try to rope him into the coordinating thing for that.]

So we’ll see how that goes.  I’m hopeful.


I’m off tomorrow for ten days of Momcation, visiting the nieces who have the good sense to go to school.  Assuming my abandoned children don’t hack into the blog to show the world their atrocious grade-level spelling, expect blog silence here.  If you are desperate for goofing off in my absence, you can check my side bar links and tell me which ones have gone bad — I found one already, and no I haven’t fixed it yet.

Otherwise, enjoy the quiet.  That’s what I’ll be doing.  And have a blessed Memorial Day.

Higher Ed

Darwin writes here about how everyone’s getting a college degree these days, and the economic consequences.  I was going to leave a comment, but I finally just decided to hit the ‘like’ button and be done with it.

Mr. Magundi laments the consequences of collegization for communities, but offers a hopeful solution:

We have raised the price of higher education to the point where it may simply be ruinous even for comfortably well-off families. And so we may end up abandoning the university system as we’ve built it up, in favor of a system where we stay home for most of our higher education, perhaps in community colleges, or in some similar institution we haven’t thought of yet. Educated people might get in the habit of thinking of the place where they grew up as home. And in spite of the disadvantages to Harvard and Cornell, I think that might be a very good thing.”

Am I the only one horrified that you can’t get a decent catholic college education without taking out a mortgage on your life?  Though I think charities such as Mater Ecclesiae Fund have their hearts (and wallets) in the right place, I find it frankly predatory that catholic colleges will load students up with such levels of debt to begin with.

Yes, I meant that.


Meanwhile, Public Discourse is running this essay.  The gist: the political science education offered in the Ivy League in the 1990’s let ideology get in the way of reliable scholarship — to the detriment of the State Department today.  Well, funny about that.  Because those of us getting our int’l poly-sci degrees from Backwater State U, we were studying under some of these guys.  Taking courses like “Islam, Politics and Revolution”.

–> And happily for the State Department, some our grads found their way to Washington.  So not all is lost.  Most of us local-U grads grow up to be, well, locals.  But we let loose a tithe of our debt-free adventurers, to go assist our better-indoctrinated educated brethren up north.

So if our government should get something right, you know who to thank.

Just kidding.  Sort of.

my life.

Prelude: How to get the people to eat lunch.

It’s one o’clock.  The little people have lost momentum and scattered to various activities that are neither school nor chores.  They seem unaware of the checklist.

“Okay, everyone, it’s one o’clock.  Let’s do a clean up.”

“But I haven’t had lunch yet!”

Three more people surface, suddenly starving.

“Okay.  Eat lunch and then we’re cleaning.”


Part 2: Purgatory.

I’m making my own lunch. (Well, I had breakfast at 11.  Did I say I was organized?  No I did not.)  Female child squeals “Ow!” in the eating area.  I look over to see what Mr. Usually Guilty is doing this time.

He’s just standing there.  And there is no female child in sight.

I look under the table.  Sure enough, eldest daughter is hidden among the chairs.  Other two girls are down the hall.  “What are you doing under there?” I ask.  Still trying to find out what her brother has done this time.

“We’re hiding from the bomb!”

Ah.  The bomb.  That would be the microwave.  Every time it beeps, it’s a bomb going off.  You have to run down the hall to be safe.  Don’t ask me how this one started.  I have no idea.

Microwave beeps.

“Ahh!  The bomb!  You’re dead mom!  You and Mr. Boy are dead!”

Death looks eerily like my kitchen.  Well, the boy is right here with me. “I’m afraid we’ve died and gone to Purgatory.”


Things homeschoolers do. So the Kolbe lady calls me today, because she’s packing up the books I ordered, and everything is single copies except for two copies of the student workbook for Famous Men of Rome.

“Well, both kids are going to do Roman history next year, so I got them both a workbook.”

“Okay.  Well I saw you also got the Greek history . . .”

“Umm.  That was just because my history-nut child wanted to look at it for fun.”

A little more back-and-forth, confirming order is correct.  Friendly lady tells me books will be shipping out this afternoon, should arrive late next week.

I have to tell you: It felt very weird yesterday, buying textbooks.  For one, they’re expensive!  I’m not used to having to by that exact book.  I usually just get the one that someone’s selling real cheap and it looks pretty good.  And then: A whole year (or more) of school in just one book? You mean I won’t have to go to the library? That’s the point, of course.

New experience for me.  I guess it’s the way people feel about sending their child to kindergarten.You know it’s the right thing for right now, and you hope it will work out, and it’s exciting, but it’s . . .  so much.


Children are dispersing again.  They seem to have forgotten that whole “clean-up” thing we talked about forty-five minutes ago.  Better strap on my dictator powers and see what we can do.