Archive for March 20th, 2010

Susan Jacoby, writing in The New York Times, brings to mind Dave Sanchez, a retired teacher and administrator I have written about in the past in my Albuquerque Journal column.

Jacoby and Sanchez agree that on many occasions the single biggest obstacle to success in the classroom is the local school board. (Let us now pause a moment to reflect on the Texas Board of Education, who just a few days ago eliminated Thomas Jefferson because of those awful things he wrote about the separation of church and state.)

Jacoby writes: “Our lack of a national curriculum, national teacher training standards and federal financial support to attract smart young people to the teaching profession all contribute mightily to the mediocre-to-poor performance of American students, year in and year out, on international education assessments. So does a financing system that relies heavily on local property taxes and fails to guarantee students in, say, Kansas City the same level of schooling as students in more affluent communities.”

This caused me to dig up an old column I did with Dave Sanchez. He is retired now. He majored in math and philosophy at UNM, got his master’s at Michigan, served in the Marine Corps, returned to Michigan and then on to postdoctoral work and teaching at the University of Chicago, spent a year in England, 11 years at UCLA, then served as vice chancellor and provost at the National Science Foundation and finally returned to teaching at Texas A&M.

Here’s what he had to say about a national curriculum: “I really do believe that a mandated national curriculum is needed. I tutored a boy once who was flunking math terribly and one day I discovered he didn’t know his multiplication tables. You can’t solve problems until you have the tools. We’re still fighting those battles.”

I have long maintained that the last publicly acceptable form of bigotry is gay bashing. It is often quite ugly. But it takes a Marine Corps general to make it flat out weird.

A retired Marine general, living somewhere in an alternate universe, testifies before Congress. He tells senators that the Dutch Army failed to protect the city of Srebrenica during the Bosnian war partly because of the presence of gay soldiers in its armed forces.

No, I’m not making it up. If only I were.

Here’s the Dutch defense ministry, operating in the real world, not the general’s alternative universe:

“It is astonishing that a man of his stature can utter such complete nonsense,” said Roger van de Wetering, the Dutch defense ministry spokesman. “I have never heard of a single statement by a Dutch political or military leader that drew a link between the fall of the enclave and the fact that there were Dutch homosexual soldiers.”

Tom Cole lights a fire under a politician’s toes in today’s Journal ($sub. req.).

Bernalillo County Commissioner Michael Wiener e-mailed a joke to friends.

Here’s the joke: “In a recent survey requested by President Obama, African-Americans have proved to be the most likely to have sex in the shower!
“In the survey, carried out for him by a leading toiletries firm, a huge majority, 86 percent, of African-Americans said that they have enjoyed sex in the shower.
“The other 14 percent said they hadn’t been to prison yet.”

Then comes Wiener, plodding along the same predictable path we see over and over and over when these kinds of things go public.

“If someone is offended, then I am very apologetic,” he says.


Why do they always say that?