Would It Be Ethical To End Public School Education? Is It Ethical To Even Consider it?

The second question in the headline is based on an Ethics Alarms core principle: it isn’t ethical to propose policies and social changes that are impossible. Would it be possible to eliminate public school education, after it served the nation so well for so long? Still, another Ethics Alarms core principle is “Fix the problem!” Public school education is a serious problem for the nation, the culture, democracy and the future, and it is getting worse. If the problem can be fixed without eliminating public schools entirely, then it should be, though I am dubious about the practicality of that too. If the only way to fix the problem is to come up with a new model and fight for it, ethics tells us that it would be irresponsible not to make the effort.

I am thinking about this as a result of a few things. One is my own unshakeable conclusion that public education now is in a state of irreversible rot, and does more damage than good. I see evidence of this literally every day, and, as regular readers here know, we pulled my smart, curious, knowledge-hungry and authority-resisting son out of public school and eventually out of private school as well, having witnessed just how horrible the process of education was thanks to the institutions and the people who now provide it. Another thing is the now open embrace by schools, teachers and local governments of a deliberately anti-American, anti-capitalist, anti-Western culture indoctrination.

A third prompt comes from the recent writings of conservative science fiction novelist Sarah Hoyt, Glenn Reynold’s usual late night blogsitter for Instapundit. Sarah is a bit extreme for me most of the time—here’s her Ethics Alarms dossier—but I always take notice when a serious thinker starts thinking the same thoughts I’ve been thinking, or the equivalents thereof.

These are some of Hoyt’s trenchant thoughts in the post (Do read it all Sarah is always fun), “Let’s Separate State and Education”…

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Morning Ethics Tune-Up, 2/22/22: A Very Special Episode…

1.  “What’s going on here?” I have not decided what exactly the article “The New Homophobia” in Newsweek (Flagged this morning by Althouse: Pointer for Ann!) means or portends: it is, after all, just one man’s opinion. However, I sense that it is relevant to the issues underlying the Disney vs. Florida controversy.

Excerpts…

I learned about queer theory, an obscure academic discipline based largely on the writing of the late French intellectual Michel Foucault, who believed that society categorizes people—male or female, heterosexual or homosexual—in order to oppress them. The solution is to intentionally blur—or “queer”—the boundaries of these categories. Soon this “queering” became the predominant method of discussing and analyzing gender and sexuality in universities…

***

This might not be a concern if, by adopting these new identities, young people were merely playing with the boundaries of normative gender expression—something that gays, lesbians, feminists, most liberals and even many conservatives would welcome two decades into the 21st century. But many young boys do not stop at simply painting their fingernails and wearing dresses, and young girls do more than cut their hair short and play football. With increasing frequency, these children are given drugs to block their puberty, cross-sex hormones and irreversible surgeries, all the while cheered on first by online communities, then the mainstream media and now the current presidential administration…

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Tuesday Ethics Afterthoughts, 3/29/2022: A Cheat Sheet, Mask Mayhem, And More

(THERE IS NO GOOD GRAPHIC FOR “AFTERTHOUGHTS”)

The 29th is another of those ill-starred days in U.S. ethics, topped off in 1973 by the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam, the half-way war that was an ethics train wreck for decades. Two years earlier, on the same date, Lt. William L. Calley was found guilty of premeditated murder by a U.S. Army court-martial at Fort Benning, Georgia. Calley, a platoon leader, had led his men in a massacre of Vietnamese civilians including women and children on March 16, 1968. Ten years before Calley’s conviction, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were convicted of espionage for their role in passing atomic secrets to the Soviets during and after World War II. They were executed in 1953, a flashpoint in the schism between the American Left and Right that still is a sore point. (Ethel appears to have been a genuine villain.)

1. I thought this was a hoax. It’s not, unfortunately: someone got a photo of the cheat cheat for “talking points” that President Biden was holding when he massacred his explanation for his Russian regime change outburst in an exchange with Peter Doocy.

This does not fill me with confidence. You? The ethical value at issue is competence.

2. The propaganda and misinformation continues. Though some recently departed here could never grasp it, honest and trustworthy newspapers shouldn’t be publishing falsity and partisan propaganda in house opinion pieces. That’s when the opinion is offered using misleading or incomplete facts—deceit–and the New York Times does it almost every day. I can’t trust a group of editors who permit that. Examples:

It’s incredible how quickly we’ve normalized the fact that the last president tried to retain power despite losing the election and that a mob he incited stormed the Capitol. Many people took part in the effort to overturn the election — among them, we recently learned, the wife of a sitting Supreme Court justice, who hasn’t even recused himself in cases about the attempted coup.

The President in question wanted to challenge the results of an election he believed was the result of illegal manipulation, and as President, he had a duty to do that. I know Krugman isn’t a lawyer, but incitement is a term of art and a crime, and Trump did not “incite a mob” by addressing a crowd. Saying Justice Thomas “hasn’t even” recused himself because of the completely legal communications of his wife falsely implies that doing so is required or the justification for him to do so is undeniable. It isn’t. Editors should not allow such deliberately confusing and misleading opinion material Continue reading

Ethics Observations On “The After-School Satan Club”

It’s difficult to know how to begin…

Let’s start with the unfortunate fact that this is not a hoax, a joke, or a parody. The Jane Addams elementary school in the Moline-Coal Valley School District—that’s Illinois—has approved an after-school club called “The Satan Club.” Here is the flyer requesting parental permission:

Note that it is sponsored by The Satanic Temple, which released this reassuring statement:

After School Satan Club does not attempt to convert children to any religious ideology. Instead, The Satanic Temple supports children to think for themselves. All After School Satan Clubs are based upon a uniform syllabus that emphasizes a scientific, rationalist, non-superstitious worldview.

There, that should put everyone’s mind at ease!

Now here is the school district’s statement:

The Moline-Coal Valley School District understands that there is concern and confusion over an upcoming after-school club at Jane Addams elementary.

The District would like to provide information on the situation. The Moline-Coal Valley School District and Board of Education have policies and administrative procedures in place which allow for community use of its publicly funded facilities outside the school day.

The district does not discriminate against any groups who wish to rent our facilities, including religious-affiliated groups. Religiously affiliated groups are among those allowed to rent our facilities for a fee.

The district has, in the past, approved these types of groups, one example being the Good News Club, which is an after-school child evangelism fellowship group. Flyers and promotional materials for these types of groups are approved for lobby posting or display only, and not for mass distribution.

Students or parents are then able to pick up the flyer from the lobby, if they so choose, which is aligned to District policy. Please note that the district must provide equal access to all groups and that students need parental permission to attend any after-school event. Our focus remains on student safety and student achievement.

Observations: Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Today’s Dispatch From ‘The Great Stupid’: The Chivalry Assignment “

Come for the ethics, stay for the chivalry lesson!

Steve-O-From NJ ( as I strongly suspected he would) responded to the infuriating tale of the high school teacher who ordered her students to act out her infantile and politically-warped view of “chivalry” with a brief lesson on what Medieval chivalry was really about. Obviously an Ethics Alarms post can’t cover this entire, rich topic, but students reading here would come away with a lot more genuine historical perspective than the young victims of a feminist teacher’s ignorance at Texas’s Shallowater High School. This Comment of the Day is admittedly tangential to the ethics issue, which is that our public school teachers frequently don’t know what they are blathering about, and are too often more concerned with woke indoctrination than they are in education.

It also points up a dilemma. Teachers should be capable of conveying the essentials of “the three ‘Rs,'” and perhaps age-appropriate science and geography. But history? Most teachers were educated in a school system that neglected or distorted history, and their own knowledge and analytical abilities in this subject are, to be kind, inadequate. Thus they pass along their own biases, misunderstandings and flawed knowledge to the next generation. I would conclude that teachers should be required to stick to the approved history textbooks and their lesson plans, except that most of those have been polluted by ideological agendas too.

Well, that’s a topic for another day. Right now, the topic is Chivalry.

Here is Steve-O’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Today’s Dispatch From ‘The Great Stupid’: The Chivalry Assignment“:

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Sunday Morning Ethics, 9/6/2020: Dog Food, A T-Rex, An Astronaut, The Pope…But No 2020 Campaign Items Whatsoever! Let’s Hear A Little Applause!

1 . Boy, the Pope must hate the U.S. media. ‘Did you hear that four people say the President called our soldiers “losers”? It’s true! They really say that!’

Pope Francis called gossiping a “plague worse than COVID” and risks dividing  the Catholic Church. The devil, he says, is the “biggest gossiper.” who is seeking to divide the church with his lies.

Francis was discussing a Gospel passage about the need to correct others privately when they do something wrong. The Catholic hierarchy calls this the “fraternal correction” of priests and bishops to correct them when they err without airing problems in public. You know; like when they sexually abuse children. “Gossip” apparently means “talking about things the Church is trying to cover-up.”

Got it, Your Holiness!

2. Proposition: It’s unethical to buy your dog’s food at the Dollar Store. Sunshine Mills Inc., an Alabama-based pet food company, issued a recall of its dog food this week due to the levels of Aflatoxin, a toxic mold by-product with  the potential of making dogs sick, according to a Food and Drug Administration news release. The products recalled are  FAMILY PET Meaty Cuts, Beef Chicken & Cheese Flavors;  HEARTLAND FARMS Grilled Favorites Beef Chicken & Cheese Flavor; and HAPPY LIFE Butcher’s Choice Dog Food. All are sold exclusively at Dollar General and Family Dollar stores.

I wonder if they sell baby food? Continue reading

Let’s Get The Week Off To A Positive Start With Encouraging Ethics Stories! Like…Oh. Never Mind…(Part I)

I try. I really do. In 2016, it was about this time when I started getting complaints that too many of the posts were about political topics…what I needed to do was write more about people in lobster hats.

I search the most obscure sources to try to find non-political ethics topics. I’m so sick of the politicizing of everything I could spit—in fact, I think I will. There. Just let me wipe off the screen… The final straw may have been having to look at “Black Lives Matter” in the center field bleachers in Fenway Park. I’m about to grab my machete and run amuck.

However, the attempt by the Democratic Party, “the resistance,” and the mainstream news media to try to first, rig the 2016 election, then to undo the 2016 election, then to deny the legitimacy of the President elected, then to try to engineer a soft coup, and now to use disinformation, and social unrest to corrupt the 2020 election, in total a general assault on democracy and our culture of democracy itself, is the most important ethics  story of the past half-century by far.  It is among the three most consequential ethics stories of the last hundred years, along with the civil rights movement and the Red Scare/McCarthyism.  This is an ethics blog. I have to write about it.

But I promise to keep searching for as many non-political stories as I can find. I do miss the assistance of now retired crack ethics story scout Fred, who somehow sniffed out issues and controversies from the damnedest places, but many of you are helping out. Keep looking.

1. What’s going on here? Why isn’t it obvious to everybody?  In Illinois, leaders in education, politics and other areas gathered in Evanston yesterday to demand that the Illinois State Board of Education….wait for it!… eliminate history classes in public schools statewide.  State Rep. LaShawn K. Ford held a news conferences to argue that current history books create a racist society and overlook the contributions of women and minorities, so school districts should immediately remove history books that “unfairly communicate” history. “It costs us as a society in the long run forever when we don’t understand our brothers and sisters that we live, work and play with,” Ford said, explaining that he is sponsoring a bill that would require elementary schools to prioritize teaching students about the civil rights movement.

Of course, this is an open demand for propaganda rather than education,  advancing the core belief of Black Lives Matter that Fac’s Don’t Matter. What is significant is that Ford and others are so transparent about it. Those who have actually read about history—it’s not as if schools competently teach it now—know that fanatic movements keep pushing for increasingly extreme demands as long as as those in power and the public hesitate to say “No. That’s irresponsible and ridiculous.” Continue reading

SCOTUS Approves State Tuition Aid For Students To Attend Religious Schools

People gather outside the Supreme Court building as the court hears oral arguments in the Espinoza v. Montana Dept. of Revenue case in Washington, U.S., January 22, 2020. REUTERS/Sarah Silbiger.

This opinion just came down, and I haven’t had an opportunity to read it, and probably won’t until tomorrow.  In Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, the justices held that the application of the Montana Constitution’s “no-aid” provision to a state program providing tuition assistance to parents who send their children to private schools discriminated against religious schools and the families whose children attend or hope to attend them, in violation of the free exercise clause.  This was a straight conservatives vs. liberals majority, and Chief Justice Roberts, much maligned of late, wrote the majority opinion. The Washington Post  reports,

Chief Justice John G. Roberts …said the Montana Supreme Court was wrong to strike down the program because of a provision in the state constitution that forbids public funds from going to religious institutions. The U.S. Constitution’s protection of religious freedom prevails, he said.

“A state need not subsidize private education,” Roberts wrote. “But once a state decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious.

Again, I haven’t read the legal arguments, but the ethical justification for the opinion is clear. If public schools could be trusted not to indoctrinate students with political view and social positions that their parents might oppose, the urgency of the state providing affordable alternatives would be far less. However, alert and involved parents realize, or should, that by sending students to public schools, they are too often subjecting them to partisan and ideological brain-washing, and we are seeing the results in the streets as I write this. There need to be alternatives other than home-schooling. The ethics principles here are fairness, respect, and autonomy. Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 4/4/2020: Letting The Perfect Be The Enemy Of The Good, And Other Blunders

Why is today unlike any other day?

1. What’s wrong with this picture? This, courtesy of ABC News, was the scene on a New York City subway yesterday:

My question is this: how can everyone be cheering Governor Cuomo’s leadership during the pandemic crisis when this is still going on? I heard Cuomo say, in one of his briefings, “You can’t stop public transportation. You just can’t.” Yet if you are going to allow the above scene all day, every day in your state’s largest city, why bother with the rest of the measures? Just wall off the Big Apple and let everyone get sick.

2. And speaking of New York…and while we’re justly bashing China for all the lies and disinformation,  this blogger finds the charts , models and projections showing how the health care system will be overwhelmed by April 15 puzzling, and asks, Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: The North West Hendricks School Corporation

How can organizations, especially schools,  think this kind of thing is acceptable, much less ethical? Who are the lawyers advising these people? Where do they think they’re living?

In Indiana, the North West Hendricks School Corporation’s “ Parent Code of Conduct ” says that parents should not use social media to make “rude or offensive comments” regarding school staff members or the school itself. Parents also cannot use social media to “campaign against or fuel outrage against individual staff members, the school or policies implemented by the school or district.” Violating the policy means that a parent can be removed from the school premises and banned from entering school grounds forevermore.

This is one of those unenforceable provisions that exist to intimidate and deceive those ignorant parents who were so badly educated (perhaps in the North West Hendricks School Corporation ) that they can’t spot an unconstitutional rule when they see one. No public school can tell parents what they can or can’t say on social media. This is a pure First Amendment violation, so blatant that it even roused the local ACLU from its accustomed slumber.

The ACLU of Indiana was asked about its assessment of the restriction on parents’ speech, and  legal director Ken Falk replied,

“I think this is flagrantly unconstitutional. The overarching problem is you have the government saying if we don’t like what you’re saying, we can punish you — but the government is not allowed to do that. That’s why we have the First Amendment.”

The rule has been in the Parent Code since 2016, but nobody reads these things. It is coming to the fore now because the district is currently keeping a teacher on its payroll despite allegations of sexual misconduct toward a student. Some parents have been discussing the situation on Facebook, and wonder about the school’s response. The district made a point of  handing out copies of the Parent Code of Conduct at a December school board meeting, and it was taken by many as a warning. Continue reading