Blue Serials (2/1/20)
It’s been a weird 2020 so far in education news. As I’m sure you’ve already heard, President Trump announced that starting now, he’s going to allow students to pray in public schools if they so choose. He’s also going to institute a system whereby religious student organizations can meet on school grounds, as long as schools grant that access equitably to all Christian denominations. He’s calling this policy, “The First Amendment.”
This announcement was met with some bewilderment by the segment of the U.S. population with a basic understanding of government and history, since the President is proudly taking credit for constitutional guidelines which have been more-or-less set in stone since the early 1960s. A few Supreme Court cases have tweaked the details along the way, but at no point in U.S. history have students been forbidden from praying at school.
Nevertheless, students partaking in this year’s “See You At the Pole,” a religious gathering on school grounds which has been occurring annually since the 1990s, will no doubt take a moment to be thankful that they're now REALLY allowed to pray at the flagpole, as they’ve been doing since the 1990s without interference by local or state authorities. There are also rumors of other organizations sprouting up, perhaps involving students who are already natural leaders in their high schools – maybe some sort of “fellowship” of Christian athletes or whatever. It’s even possible some young people may speak openly of holidays like Christmas or Easter without floggings from their socialist, government-sponsored atheistic teachers who until now have lived only to oppress them for loving Jesus.
Although not addressed specifically in the announcement, students of other faiths will presumably still be expected to quietly take their excused absences on religious holidays and not speak openly of such things. They should stand respectfully and pretend to pray along during student-led school invocations over the intercom at football games, because that’s true religious freedom. Let’s face it – if they didn’t want to pretend to be Christians, they shouldn’t have joined the band or bought a ticket to the game. Don’t come to church if you ain’t gonna pray! (And by “church” we of course mean “public school events.”)
Red Letter Days
All snark aside, those mocking or criticizing the President for once again taking credit for something he had nothing to do with are missing the larger point. Yes, he’s playing on the perpetual fear and insecurity of opulent white evangelicals who essentially run the country socially, politically, and economically, but are nevertheless somehow convinced they are its most persecuted demographic. Yes, he’s taking credit for jurisprudence which has guided church-state policies since before he was faking injuries to avoid military service or founding a political career on his insistence that no black guy could REALLY be American enough to become the President. None of that is new, and thus none of it is news.
What IS news is that THIS President just announced that his administration will be FOLLOWING ESTABLISHED CONSTITUTIONAL LAW in something! Soak in that for a moment. He’s agreeing to follow existing statutes enshrined through longstanding practice.
It’s damn near revolutionary.
Sure, he’s taking credit for them being there in the first place, but who wouldn’t take that trade? Imagine if he were willing to issue similar guidelines regarding, say... the Emoluments Clause? Or the 14th Amendment? I’d gladly line up to snag one of the 43 souvenir pens used to sign an Executive Order decreeing that all men are henceforth created EQUAL and shall be endowed by their President with certain UNALIENABLE RIGHTS, if that’s what it takes.
And none of it would have been possible if Donald Trump hadn’t single-handedly defeated the British at Yorktown (WITHOUT the help of those stinky French). It’s why he wrote and starred in the original, superior version of Hamilton – the one with an all-white cast and all the best songs. (Who can forget Burr celebrating his murder of Hamilton with the showstopping “Good People on Both Sides”? Doubt me if you wish, but DT has the original Broadway programs with his face on the cover hanging all over his golf course clubhouses to prove it. #fakenews #snowflake #althistory)
More Flies With Honey
The President isn’t the only one breaking old ground recently. A report in the Journal of Educational Psychology offers a stunning revelation:
Students have better focus in class if teachers praise them for being good rather than scolding them for being bad, according to a new study.
Apparently researchers spent three years monitoring over 2,500 little people in 20 different schools in order to arrive at this breakthrough. One can only hope that in another decade or two they'll discover that students focus better if they’ve had breakfast and that teachers are more effective if they know stuff about their content area and have taken a methods class or two.
Then again, perhaps instead of criticizing these researchers, I should find something about their work to praise and hope it improves their performance...
Always In Motion Is The Future
Someone receiving lots of positive reinforcement recently is Wolf Cukier (a name I couldn’t make up if I tried), a 17-year old high school student who recently did some interning with NASA. Also, he discovered a new planet on his third day there.
“I was looking through the data for everything the volunteers had flagged as an eclipsing binary, a system where two stars circle around each other and from our view eclipse each other every orbit,” Cukier said... “I saw a signal from a system called TOI 1338. At first I thought it was a stellar eclipse, but the timing was wrong.”
Well, yeah – any fool could see that. The only logical explanation for the, um... TIMING issue, was that a planet was causing, you know... the STUFF they were seeing on their THINGS.
And it wasn’t just ANY planet...
NASA's planet hunter satellite TESS had discovered an exoplanet orbiting two stars instead of one... The announcement of the circumbinary planet prompted comparisons with Luke Skywalker's home world of Tatooine in the “Star Wars” movie series, with its bewitching double sunsets.
The problem here is obvious. If we’re finding Star Wars planets but setting up a Star Trek-themed “Space Force,” how will the two ever interact? You can’t send Captain Picard to destroy the Death Star – it would violate the Prime Directive. If we insist on maintaining this paradox, we should at least strive for internal extra-terrestrial consistency. Instead of modeling the new Space Force logo after the Federation of Planets, whose entire belief system is antithetical to the deepest convictions of our current ruling class (meaning they’d explode if they came in contact), it should echo something more faithful to actual 21st century American values:
(If this means nothing to you, ask a friendly nerd.)
In any case, there’s no word yet on whether or not Wolf Cukier will be leaving his studies to pursue his dreams of becoming a Jedi.
The Icing on the Cake
Wolf and any other students receiving enough positive reinforcement to see them through to graduation should be careful about how they celebrate. Cakes using Latin apparently don’t have the same executive protection as students carrying Bibles.
A grocery store in South Carolina censored a graduation cake which was supposed to say, “Congrats Jacob! Summa Cum Laude Class of 2018.” The mother tried to explain that in Latin, the phrase means “with highest distinction,” but the good folks at the grocery store bakery were having none of it. They may have overlooked “cum”-related shenanigans by Quiet Riot and the Cars in the 80s, but fool me THRICE? Shame on you!
Clearly there are still battles to be fought in the ongoing War on Etymology.
A Reason For Setting My Sites...
That’s it for this week. "Share the Love!" Month has officially begun! Let me know what news, blog posts, or other edu-information you think should be shared with the rest of the Eleven Faithful Followers next week. Email your links or posts to BCE@BlueCerealEducation and win an #11FF Lunch Box!