Saturday, May 29, 2010

Schools, the Choice for Charlotte (An Open Letter to the Board of County Commissioners)

"By...[selecting] the youths of genius from among the classes of the poor, we hope to avail the State of those talents which nature has sown as liberally among the poor as the rich, but which perish without use if not sought for and cultivated."
--Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Virginia Q.XIV, 1782

To the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners:

Most of us have seen the inspiring movie Stand and Deliver, the true story of Jaime Escalante, a teacher who did the seemingly-impossible when he built one of the country’s finest calculus programs in East L.A. Who among us, if given the opportunity to go back in time and sit in one of Escalante’s classes, would say no? Few, I’d bet.

What the movie doesn’t tell you is what it couldn’t: After it was made, a significant amount of bureaucratic wrangling caused Escalante to be pushed out of his position, and the program that he built collapsed in his absence. The opportunity to see the extraordinary in his former school is now gone (So is Escalante, incidentally, who died in March of cancer, the medical bills that he could not afford paid by funds raised by his former students and Edward James Olmos, who played him in the film).

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Vaccines, autism, and your newborn

Researchers at the University of Louisiana have done a comprehensive study of the neurological effects of infant vaccination. Here's a summary of their findings, published in the journal Pediatrics.

The upside of infant vaccinations: You can help your child avoid getting diseases that can lead to extreme bodily harm, up to and including death.

The downside of infant vaccinations: THERE IS NO DOWNSIDE!

Punchline: Listen to your doctor, not Jim Carrey, Jenny McCarthy, and the guy with dreads at the organic food store who's all, like, y'know, vaccines are dangerous poison and everything that doctors push because the drug companies give them money, man.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

An open letter to the CMS school board

“It should be your care, therefore, and mine, to elevate the minds of our children and exalt their courage; to accelerate and animate their industry and activity; to excite in them an habitual contempt of meanness, abhorrence of injustice and inhumanity, and an ambition to excel in every capacity, faculty, and virtue. If we suffer their minds to grovel and creep in infancy, they will grovel all their lives.”
- John Adams

To the School Board, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools:

I am the father of three students at Smith Academy of International Languages: two in the French program, one in Chinese. Next year, my wife and I will have five students there: two in French, two in Chinese, and one in Spanish. The year after next, we’ll have six there. It is a remarkable school, and it does a remarkable job fulfilling the exhortation above, made 250 years ago by John Adams, then an unknown 21-year-old.