Thursday, November 16, 2006

Public Schools are NOT Broken

During this election season I have saw numerous articles, news videos, and blog entries about "the need to improve our public schools". The problems are seemingly endless, as are the proposed solutions:
more standardized testing, elimination of standardized testing, smaller classrooms, longer school days, longer school years, more computers, PDAs, a laptop for each student, new books, no books, self-esteem assessments, vocational training, multi-cultural awareness training, cultural appreciation, grades-based graduation, exit examinations, outcome based education, open classrooms, school uniforms, armed guards, metal detectors, arts-based curriculums, mental health screenings, physical health screenings, school based "health clinics", routine social service counseling,
and on and on in dizzying array.

Some of these proposals have things in common, while others are complete opposites. Some address the appalling lack of academic prowess in American public schools; others take aim at various societal woes. In reality, however, all of these programs are the same.

The base philosophy of all "fix the schools" programs is that if you just give the schools enough money, they will fix themselves. No matter what it aims to cure or how it aims to cure it, every program promises that the schools are just a few dollars away from turning everything around. They all proclaim that THE BIG FIX is finally here - if only you will fund it.

Most people know this isn't true. They know it, but they don't say anything. Instead, heads are blithely nodded at school board meetings, and names signed on to participant lists. They are discouraged by past failures, but harbor secret hopes that perhaps this program will be different. Conversely, handfuls of the eternally optimistic will enthusiastically jump in, head first, excited that everything they have been hoping for is finally going to come to pass. Smaller numbers of the realistic, some would say cynical, just shake their heads and go home. They know it will fail, but feel powerless to do anything to stop the failure, or offer up a better solution.

All of these are good people, but they are deluded. They are deluded into thinking that the public schools are failing, that they are somehow broken, that they need to be fixed. But they are wrong.

The public schools are not failing. They are not broken. They do not need to be fixed.

In forthcoming posts, I will show not only that public schools are not broken, but that attempts to fix/improve them will always be fruitless and wasteful.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Ten Year Olds Need Abortions, Too

I know she stands for some terrifying stuff, like killing a baby moments before it's birth because his/her mother is depressed. And having 10 year olds get abortions, without parental consent or notification, but not requiring the abortion clinic to turn over the names of those who raped the 10 year old. Not to mention those 30 year olds in "lucrative financial circumstances", who "just don't feel they can be a parent right now". Score so far: babies are down three, rapists up one.

But then, you have to consider the source. Look at what she said about her own experience, choosing to kill two of her children:

When we saw the specialist, we found out that I was carrying identical twins and a stand alone. My doctors thought the stand alone was three days older. There was something psychologically comforting about that, since I wanted to have just one. Before the procedure, I was focused on relaxing. But Peter was staring at the sonogram screen thinking: Oh, my gosh, there are three heartbeats. I can't believe we're about to make two disappear. The doctor came in, and then Peter was asked to leave. I said, ''Can Peter stay?'' The doctor said no. I know Peter was offended by that. -Amy Richards

She is frightening. She is also the face of the modern democratic party.

Vote like your life depends on it - because it does.

Friday, November 03, 2006

An Inside Look at the "Religion of Peace"

Just in case you may have forgotten what is at stake in the upcoming election, here is a 12 minute video trailer of a film called Obsession. It's a good reminder about just what we are up against.

As Bernard Lewis says, either we bring them freedom, or they're going to destroy us.

You Wouldn't Even Ask

If a candidate who supported terrorism asked for your vote, would you say, "I disagree with you on terrorism, but where do you stand on other issues?"

I doubt it.

In fact, if a terrorism sympathizer presented him/herself for your vote, you would immediately know that such a position disqualifies the candidate for public office -- no matter how good he or she may be on other issues. The horror of terrorism dwarfs whatever good might be found in the candidate's plan for housing, education, or health care. Regarding those plans, you wouldn't even ask.

So why do so many people say, "This candidate favors legal abortion. I disagree. But I'm voting for this person because she has good ideas about health care (or some other issue)."

Such a position makes no sense whatsoever, unless one is completely blind to the violence of abortion. That, of course, is the problem. But we need only see what abortion looks like, or read descriptions from the abortionists themselves, and the evidence is clear. (USA Today refused to sell me space for an ad that quoted abortionists describing their work because the readers would be traumatized just by the words!)

Abortion is no less violent than terrorism. Any candidate who says abortion should be kept legal disqualifies him/herself from public service. We need look no further, we need pay no attention to what that candidate says on other issues. Support for abortion is enough for us to decide not to vote for such a person.

Pope John Paul II put it this way: "Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights -- for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture -- is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination" (Christifideles Laici, 1988).

False and illusory. Those are strong and clear words that call for our further reflection.

"I stand for adequate and comprehensive health care." So far, so good. But as soon as you say that a procedure that tears the arms off of little babies is part of "health care," then your understanding of the term "health care" is obviously quite different from the actual meaning of the words. In short, you lose credibility. Your claim to health care is "illusory." It sounds good, but is in fact destructive, because it masks an act of violence.

"My plan for adequate housing will succeed." Fine. But what are houses for, if not for people to live in them? If you allow the killing of the children who would otherwise live in those houses, how am I supposed to get excited by your housing project?

It's easy to get confused by all the arguments in an election year. But if you start by asking where candidates stand on abortion, you can eliminate a lot of other questions you needn't even ask.

By: Fr. Frank Pavone
Director, Priests for Life International
Priests for Life

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

All Saints Day

With the ever-growing commercial aspects of nearly every part of our lives as Americans, we very often forget the true meaning of holidays. Perhaps this is most true in the case of Halloween (the eve of All Saints Day). Emphasis is placed on candy, trick-or-treating, costumes, and other such stuff. But that is not what All Saints Day is about.

You can find a short explanation of the evolution of All Saints Day at New Advent. You can also find information about the Church's teaching on the intercession of the saints, from the great folks at Catholic Answers.

All Saints Day is the day when we can honor those who have, as St. Paul said "run the race". They are an example to follow. They are real people, who had real temptations and vices. They had to struggle daily with temptation and sin. They were not born as holy people, but relied upon the grace of God to overcome their wickedness - as we all must.

In speaking of the saints we hear of the virtues and the great works that many performed. Blessed Mother Teresa is a well-known example from our own time. Maximillian Kolbe is another modern saint. The "little way" of St. Theresa the Little Flower has inspired millions to rely on Christ for all things great and small. And St. Rita of Cascia has served as an example of faith, hope, love, and perserverance through the toughest of situations.

These saints, and countless others, give us an example. More importantly, they give us hope. For they, too, were but humans, who relied on the grace of God, and were transformed into saints. They poured themselves out and ran the race. They have arrived at the destination. With God's grace, and perhaps some of their intercessory prayers, may we all arrive there safely, in the fullness of time. In the meantime, let us allow the example of the saints lives to inspire our hope for the coming of our saviour, Jesus Christ.