Category Archives: Newspeak

How to Ensure Every Child Gets a High-Quality Education: A Comparison

The following is my rewording, summarizing, and annotating of a section of the proposed education bill S. 1094.  My version is better, but if you must see the original text, it’s here.

Strengthening America’s Schools Act

Title I:  College and Career Readiness For All Students

Sec. 1001:  The purpose of Title I.  The purpose of this new Title I is ensure every child has a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to get a high-quality education.   That was the purpose of the 1965 education law’s Title I too, but that law didn’t quite reach the goal.  So we’re just tweaking it now.  Totally gonna get it right this time.  After we pass this law, education is going to be All Fixed.  Really.

The old law listed 12 ways to accomplish our totally immeasurable and unobtainable goal.

#1 was all about making sure state standards were challenging and making sure the parents, teachers, and administrators were able to measure progress.

Our new #1 way to accomplish Title I’s purpose:

setting high expectations for children to develop deep content knowledge and the ability to use knowledge to think critically, solve problems, communicate effectively, and collaborate with others, in order to graduate, from high school, college and career ready;”

Isn’t that new language much better? Magic phrases like “deep content knowledge” will definitely help students be college and career ready.  And the best part?  Did you notice who will be setting those high expectations?  We didn’t say it outright; perhaps it’s better left unsaid.  But this is a federal law, so unless stated otherwise it will be administered at the federal level.  Those dumb states, local administrators, teachers ,and parents have had since 1965 after all, and they just aren’t accomplishing the unaccomplishable like we can.

Our new #2 way to accomplish Title I’s purpose:

supporting high-quality teaching to continuously improve instruction and encourage new models of teaching and learning;”

The old #2 was about focusing on the students who have the highest need.  We’ll cover that in #4.  The new #2 will hopefully fool you into thinking we want high-quality teachers, when all we really care about is coming up with new-fangled ways to teach.  See how we cleverly assumed that encouraging something new is de facto going to support high-quality teaching?  Because the newest way is always the best way!

We still like the old #3 way to accomplish our educational goals:  closing achievement gaps.  So we’re keeping the idea and just rewording it.

The old #4 was all about holding States, local school authorities, and schools accountable for education.  Obviously, all that nonsense had to go.  We don’t want to hold them accountable anymore, because we want to take over education at the federal level.

Our new #4 is where we provide additional support to those students who have the highest need.

The old #5 was about providing additional support to the schools and local authorities that need it most.  We don’t want to bother with those middlemen anymore.  We just want to aim our federal laser-like focus directly on the children now.

We want to direct that focus as soon as possible, so here is the New and Improved #5 way to ensure a great education for all:

“providing young children with greater access to high-quality early learning experiences to ensure they enter school ready to learn;”

High quality early learning!

The old #6 and #7 were more song and dance about making states accountable for student achievement, and even worse:  providing greater decision-making authority and flexibility to schools and teachers in exchange for greater responsibility for student performance.

How very 1965.  Deleted!

In the modern era, we are all about removing barriers.  Doesn’t that sound better than boring, old-fashioned accountability and authority?

New #6:

“removing barriers to, and encouraging state and local innovation and leadership in, education based on the evaluation of success and continuous improvement.”

New #7:

“removing barriers and promoting integration across all levels of education. . . .”

“Promoting integration” sounds much nicer than “federal takeover,” doesn’t it?

The old #8 was about enriching and increasing quality instruction time.  Whatevs, we covered all that with our magical “deep content knowledge.” 

So we had to come up with something new.  What’s better than removing barriers, we asked ourselves?  Of course!  Streamlining!

New #8:

streamlining Federal requirements to reduce burdens on States, local educational agencies, schools, and educators;”

So, we kind of let the cat out of the bag by admitting that Federal requirements tend to be a burden.  But we’re totally fixing all that No Child Left Behind bureaucratic mess with an even bigger bureaucracy of our own!

The old #9 used the phrase “scientifically based instructional strategies.”  That phrase has got to go, what with the way we’ve foisted an untested Common Core on most states.  Science, shmience.

New #9:

strengthening parental engagement and coordination of student, family, and community supports to promote student success.”

Our ninth and last way to accomplish our education goals is based on the #12 way from 1965.  Numbers 10 and 11 were just some fluff about professional development and coordinating services.  Since we’ve already explained that we want to promote integration of all levels, coordination is a moot point.  Mostly we are just hoping you don’t know that integration means combining different parts into a single (federally controlled) entity.

Whew!  Well that was fun, but I’m never going to get anywhere on this bill if I keep fisking like this.  I’ll try to make more efficient progress next time.

If You Have a Problem, Consult 10th Newspeak Dictionary

Via The Corner at NRO, I’ve learned that “common core state standards in English spark a war over words.”  The Post article I’m quoting is currently a page not found, but it’s still up at The Independent:

“The Common Core State Standards in English, which have been adopted in 46 states and the District, call for public schools to ramp up nonfiction so that by 12th grade students will be reading mostly ‘informational text’ instead of fictional literature. . . .

Proponents of the new standards, including the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, say U.S. students have suffered from a diet of easy reading and lack the ability to digest complex nonfiction, including studies, reports and primary documents. That has left too many students unprepared for the rigors of college and demands of the workplace, experts say.”

A “diet of easy reading” is one of the big problems in schools these days.  Huh.  The problem’s nothing to do with the dog’s breakfast already known as public school textbooks.  Well never fear–we’ve got our Little Helpers In DC to straighten out the problem:

“The new standards, which are slowly rolling out now and will be in place by 2014, require that nonfiction texts represent 50 percent of reading assignments in elementary schools, and the requirement grows to 70 percent by grade 12.

Among the suggested nonfiction pieces for high school juniors and seniors are Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America,” “FedViews,” by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco (2009) and “Executive Order 13423: Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management,” published by the General Services Administration.”

Notice the little bit of chaff used to throw us off:  de Tocqueville.  Nothing wrong with a more vigorous curriculum that requires some classic foundations of political philosophy, is there?

Maybe I’d be sold, notwithstanding the fact that de Tocqueville belongs in history, social studies, or some kind of government or civics class, not english.  When the de Tocqueville example is immediately followed by stereo instructions from a Federal Reserve Bank, and then a bureaucratic, Dilbert-inspired double-speaking document full of fluffy non-action action plans and catch phrases (Caveat:  I haven’t read that particular executive order.  Does anybody want to check my description for accuracy?), I can’t help but wonder exactly what kind of “workplace demands” for which these educators are preparing our young people.

A particular movie scene comes to mind.  Requiring students to read excessive amounts of tedious legalese might prepare them quite nicely for that cozy little cubicle in the Records Department of the Ministry of Truth, as seen at 6:00:

crossposted at Disrupt the Narrative

Warning: This Post is Offensive

Are people really that outraged at Ann Coulter’s use of the word “retarded?”

Well that’s retarded.

Oops.

How was rude of me.

I am trying to make a point, of course, with my lack of manners.  Good manners are good, and bad manners are bad, but political correctness is worst of all:

“Political correctness . . . seeks to reduce the range of the mind by homogenizing its contents and imposing mindless conformity.  The catch is that, while imbeciles would not know the difference between plain and politically correct speech – they are not the objects of the tyranny – it works only if one is willing to submit, Muslim-style, to a higher ‘authority,’ only if one knows that it is expected of one to knuckle under and bow to the god of sensitivity.  This in turn contributes to a habitual conformity in politics, art, and in speech.  Which in turn contributes to the growth of a servile, passive, complacent citizenry.”

We all know “retarded” as a sort of medical term for various developmental delays or cognitive disabilities.  This clinical usage of “retarded” began around the turn of the 20th century, but in the last thirty-ish years it has fallen out of favor and given way to gentler terms.  The word is much older than all this, of course.  It is originally from the Latin word retardare: “delay, protract . . . to loiter, be slow, derivative of tardus slow.”

Today, the word “retarded” has a haircut (“retard”) and a new occupation:  insult.  Boy is it a naughty insult, because it demeans not just your intended target, but presumably all people who are developmentally delayed or disabled.

This just begs the question, however:  why do we presume that the word is an insult to those born with mental disabilities?

I’ll phrase the question another way:  would Coulter have been criticized for using a commonly accepted insult like “idiot,” “imbecile,” or “moron?”

Those were also once medical terms for various developmental delays or cognitive disabilities.

Their usage predates the use of “retarded,” and so we don’t automatically connect those words with Downs Syndrome or any other of the myriad mental disabilities.

So . . . why is the word “retard” is off-limits, while the words “idiot,” “imbecile,” and “moron” are not?

And are the phrases “mentally disabled,” “developmentally delayed,” and “intellectually disabled” the verboten insults of tomorrow?

The Last Four Years

Skimming the political spam in my email this morning, I prepared to delete the latest from Stephanie Cutter (subject line “The last four years”), but part of it caught my eye:

“When he accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination for president four years ago, then-Senator Obama promised change — on issues ranging from health care, to strengthening the middle class, to fighting for greater equality for all Americans — and he has delivered on that promise.”

You may be saying to yourself, that there is a sentence chock-full of newspeaky goodness, but what exactly is so eye-catching about it?

Greater equality.  Now, clearly this phrase refers to those Democrat dog and pony shows which pander to women, minorities, homosexuals, and any other various and sundry groups and classes I’m missing.

Nevermind what was meant by that phrase, though, and think about what those words actually mean.  “Greater” is more, bigger, or better, right?  “Equality” is the state of being the same in quantity or value.

It’s a great oxymoron.  As I chewed on the mathematical impossibility of this phrase, my thoughts went something like this:

If demonstrably large swathes of Americans were treated unequally today, then she would just say “Obama is fighting for equality.”  But she put the “greater” in there.  Now how does that work?  If something is already equal in status, then one can’t possibly make it even more equal, or an even better equal because there’s no such thing as more or better equal, lady!

And then I realized why the phrase caught my eye.  It’s from Animal Farm.  You probably noticed quicker than me.  Anyway, I had great laugh when I thought about Stephanie Cutter managing to quote the pig in Animal Farm whilst trying to sell us on four more years of Obama.

Ha!

On second thought, maybe it’s not so funny.  Suddenly, I’m remembering all the people who won’t get the joke.

Some Sloppy Housekeeping

I am grateful to have some out-of-town company this weekend.  They are here to help me celebrate a milestone.  Yep, the big-four-oh.

Yay me! 

Never bemoan a birthday, folks, because you probably wouldn’t fancy the alternative.

On to the housekeeping.  I’d rather give these links a more proper treatment, but if I don’t spit ‘em out right now, they’ll only get lost in the shuffle.

First, P.J. O’Rourke has the last word on the Amy Chua Tiger Mother thing, and dang it’s funny.  I cannot match his talent, but I can parrot his words:

Amy Chua, I’ve got bad news. “A” students work for “B” students. Or not even. A businessman friend of mine corrected me. “No, P. J.,” he said, “ ‘B’ students work for ‘C’ students. ‘A’ students teach.” Teaching in the Ivy League gives you a lot of time off, Amy​—​enough to write a crap book, worse than Yale prof Erich Segal’s Love Story. Maybe when you get some time off again you should come to rural New Hampshire and meet the Irish Setter Dad children.

Buster, age 7, is a master of passive resistance who can turn staying up past his bedtime into Tahrir Square. He could hire himself out as a civil disobedience coach to Mahatma -Gandhi and Martin Luther King, if they weren’t dead. Poppet, 10, is a persuasive saleswoman, not to say charming con artist, who can hand you a sheet of black construction paper with a hole in it and convince you it’s a science project on collapsed super-novas. And Muffin, 13, has her own .410 shotgun and knows how to use it.

Try your Chinese Tiger Mom stuff on my kids.

Ha!  The whole article is worth it if you have time.

Second, via Disrupt the Narrative comes yet another awesome Bill Whittle video, Eat The Rich!  This video has that extra little something which no leftist can ever refute:  math.

Third, via Mayrant & Rave and Mr. Macky comes a nifty little resource: LiberalSpeak.com.  The list isn’t long, but here are a couple of my favorites:

Health Care = Abortion rights

Unconstitutional = We don’t like it

Open-Minded = Subscribes to liberal dogma

Fourth, someone named Duane Lester rather ingeniously asks the obvious:  Isn’t Fear of a Government Shutdown Proof That Government is Too Big?  His answer contains lotsa good info.

Next up is the lovely fact that unions aren’t as powerful as they think they are.  Wisconsin Supreme Court:  A Referendum That Wasn’t:

“Union have already spent millions fighting battles across the country, depleting their war chests for the 2012 election cycle.  Many states are following Wisconsin’s lead and taking away the ability of government unions to force their members to pay dues.”

Warms the cockles of my heart, enough even to withstand the gutless maneuverings of the House GOP.

Happy Weekend, ya’ll.

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