Josie Wales, aka Bushwhacker Bill Wilson

Bushwacker Bill Wilson

The story of Bill Wilson has been told throughout the Ozark Mountains since he began his bloody career in 1861 to the present day. He is a true folk hero. The Ozarks were full of men who took to the bush and waged a single man to a small gang warfare on the union soldiers, red legs, jayhawkers and spies for the Union. Although there were a lot of these men, if someone said, “The Bushwhacker,” “The Great Bushwhacker,” or the “Famous Bushwhacker,” everyone knew that they were talking about Bill Wilson. His daring deeds are still considered miracles due to his never being wounded once. He is remembered for his superior skill with revolvers and clever tactics in surprising his enemies. The writings and movie about Josie Wales are based on the real bushwhacker, Bill Wilson.

Bill Wilson was born around 1830 in Phelps County, Missouri. His father, Sol Wilson, was a very well-to-do farmer who owned several slaves, but freed them before the Civil War. Sol remained neutral and advised his children to do the same. Continue reading

Does Education Work?

One Room Schoolhouse

Just about everyone from left to right believes in the power of more education for more Americans, that more education for all will open up opportunity, raise standards of living, and reduce economic inequality. Some scholars, however, are skeptical.

They have at least three related arguments. One is that the content of education–perhaps beyond basic literacy and skills– does not matter for individuals’ economic attainment, that what matters is the person’s relative level of education. When few people have graduated high school, doing so will make a big difference, but when most people have a high school diploma, then real success then requires going to college. Employers just up their requirements as educational attainment spreads, so what is important is being ahead of the pack. Continue reading

A. Lincoln, Socialist?

A while ago, I was dumbstruck by a comment a Republican party insurgent in Utah made about her former governor, Jon Huntsman, Jr., a Republican politician who received strong kudos from the libertarian Cato Institute. “‘On a good day, a socialist,’ said Darcy Van Orden, a co-founder of Utah Rising . . . . ‘On a bad day, he’s a communist’.” And, of course, people like Ms. Van Orden consider it obvious that Barack Obama is a socialist, if not worse. David Koch, one of the brother team of conservative financial angels, commented, for example, that Obama’s “father was a hard core economic socialist in Kenya . . . [and Obama] was apparently from what I read a great admirer of his father’s points of view.”

Abraham Lincoln It is striking how the term “socialist” has been redefined so that almost any policy and anyone can get that label. Indeed, many a past president would qualify by these standards ­ surely FDR, Truman, and Democrats through Clinton ­ but so would Republican presidents. By the standards of people such as Ms. Van Orden and David Koch, Abraham Lincoln was surely an out-and-out “socialist-communist.”

Lincoln Socialism
Let’s consider the Lincoln record. During just one term (plus 45 days), Lincoln managed to do the following “socialist-communist” acts: Continue reading

Smith: In Defense of General Lee

Let me begin on a personal note. I am a 56-year-old, third-generation, African American Washingtonian who is a graduate of the D.C. public schools and who happens also to be a great admirer of Robert E. Lee.

Today, Lee, who surrendered his troops to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House 134 years ago, is under attack by people – black and white – who have incorrectly characterized him as a traitorous, slaveholding racist. He was recently besieged in Richmond by those opposed to having his portrait displayed prominently in a new park.

My first visit to Lee’s former home, now Arlington National Cemetery, came when I was 12 years old, and it had a profound and lasting effect on me. Since then I have visited the cemetery hundreds of times searching for grave sites and conducting study tours for the Smithsonian Institution and various other groups interested in learning more about Lee and his family as well as many others buried at Arlington. Continue reading

Teddy Stoddard ~ A Touching Story

There is a story many years ago of an elementary teacher. Her name was Mrs. Thompson. And as she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children a lie. Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same. But that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard.

Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he didn’t play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath. And Teddy could be unpleasant.

It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X’s and then putting a big F at the top of his papers. Continue reading

Because you are here

The Confederate First Sergeant…

photo Courtesy of Brandon Anderson Collection

The Union cavalry surrounded a lone Confederate soldier who had no horse and whose clothes were dirty and tattered. A Union officer said to him that it was obvious that he had no wealth and not the means to own slaves. The officer asked: “Why are you fighting this war?”  Continue reading

The Classroom Flight of The Milkweed Parasols

I followed his astounded gaze back to the high window ledge. The pod had burst wide open into a cumulous, pulsating mass. The slight breeze from the other window tickled the fluff, coaxing bits of down into the air. Suddenly the room was clouded with milkweed down.

Then something happened, something that would happen again and again over my six years with my class, something of gigantic importance, yet imperceptible…. It was a simple, silent shift in the manner of the class prompted by a decision on my part to step back and allow the children to lead the way. I made no pronouncement. My turning the reins over to the class was a silent passing of leadership. Continue reading

Why Note-Taking by Hand Is Better for Your Brain

In a groundbreaking study, researchers have shown that handwriting is better than typing as a means of retaining information.

We all know Aesop’s fable about the Tortoise and the Hare but few of us really believe, in the real world, that slowcoaches like the tortoise have a cat in hell’s chance of beating those in life’s fast lane. Few really believe, with John Milton, that “they also serve who only stand and wait.” Those who stand and wait get left behind, stupid. You snooze, you lose.

Those of us who believe that time taken is time well spent are in a minority in our frantic and frenetic world. We are an endangered species. Continue reading

K-12: Your – or Is It You’re?

It’s two lose, Lautrec! ~ (pun intended)

Your Tax Dollars at Work

Yes, of course, it’s the former. Millions of Americans can’t tell, thanks to the public schools and their waste of your money.

So here’s where we end up. Many allegedly educated Americans cannot avoid the simplest grammatical and spelling mistakes. Clearly, they have never been taught right from wrong, linguistically speaking.

Here are the most common examples now disfiguring blogs and comments by the billions: it’s or its? Who’s or whose? Know or no? Your or you’re? Too, to, or two? Their, there, or they’re? Loose or lose? Continue reading

Confederate “General” Julius Howell Recalls the 1860s

Born on January 17th, 1846 in Nansemond County, Virginia to his parents Rev. Edward Howell and his wife Americus Howell.

Julius grew up on a plantation the youngest of 16 children. He attended school at home and then later was a student at Reynoldson Institute in Gates County, North Carolina. The institute closed with the declaration of war in 1861. At the age of sixteen Howell entered Confederate service and would later become a member of the 24th Virginia Cavalry. Continue reading

Segregation Was Not Southern Racism – It Was Federal Policy

I have just received an informative little book that deals with a lot of material folks will never see in their “history” books, but need to be aware of, especially here in the South. This book was written by John Chodes of New York City and published by Shotwell Publishing in Columbia, South Carolina.

The title of the book is Segregation Federal Policy or Racism? And Mr. Chodes explains why it was federal policy instead of Southern racism. He starts out by dealing with a subject I have written about on and off for years, but which most people simply fail to grasp–that “reconstructiondid not end in the South after the Yankee/Marxist troops departed–it just continued under other names and it continues right down to our day. The current riots in Charlottesville, Virginia are a prime example of how “reconstruction” continues to work in our day. Continue reading

Williams: Historical Ignorance

Liberals, Progressives, and Socialists are leading America to re-fight the War Between the States. The blood of 600,000 Americans killed in war from 1861 to 1865 is insufficient to cleanse the sin of enslavement. And it is in that context that you should find Mr. Williams comments both highly interesting and instructive:

The victors of war write its history in order to cast themselves in the most favorable light. That explains the considerable historical ignorance about our war of 1861 and panic over the Confederate flag. To create better understanding, we have to start a bit before the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Continue reading

The End of Government Schools

When in doubt, cry racism. It’s the left’s go-to weapon when the facts are against them. School choice advocates, then, should be heartened: Progressives lately have had to stoop low, get dirty, and hurl mudballs in our direction, because that’s all they’ve got.

This month progressives let fly three separate volleys, hoping the “racist” argument would somehow find its mark. The New York Times, the Center for American Progress, and the American Federation of Teachers all argued that educational choice is “racist,” rooted in “slavery,” and a cover for “segregation.” (One commentator also blames “anti-Catholic sentiment and a particular form of Christian fundamentalism.”) Worse, they declare authoritatively, “choice” will spell the end of democracy, as we know it. Continue reading

Why U.S. Schools Don’t Produce Adults ~ and Some Solutions…

One of the hallmarks of modern America is the tendency toward prolonged childhood. While it used to be the norm to enter the adult working world by one’s mid-to-late teens, students now extend their preparation for career well into their twenties (and sometimes beyond), enabled by parents who act as their caretakers, education experts who insist that they get as much classroom education as possible, and a government that encourages them to stay on the family health plan until age 26. Continue reading

Indoctrination in American Schools: How bad is it?

We were warned over 175 years ago that education could become a tool of indoctrination. Now it is undeniably being used as such.

The above image is that of a jacket worn by a teacher in a West Virginia public school

The father of America’s public education system, Horace Mann, famously quipped: “Men are cast-iron, but children are wax.”

Mann knew that education was never a “value-neutral” proposition. It has always been and always will be a process that shapes not only a child’s abilities, but more importantly, the child’s worldview based upon the values of the educator. It was for this reason that many Americans pushed back, though unsuccessfully, against the kind of public, compulsory education Mann was championing in the early and mid-1800s. Continue reading

Where it Begins: The Art of Teaching the Youngest Students

A Denver child-care provider hopes an in-house training initiative will better prepare educators for a uniquely difficult field.

Photo: Adrees Latif – Reuters

Scattered around a meeting room in groups of three or four, 13 women bent over laptop computers and smartphones, squinting at Colorado’s hundreds of child-care regulations.

They were child-care and preschool employees from all over Denver on a scavenger hunt of sorts, searching for answers to worksheet questions such as how quickly child-care workers must be trained on child-abuse reporting and which eight kinds of toys and equipment classrooms are required to have. Continue reading

Why Americans Are Such Suckers for Propaganda

To many Americans, high school seems like a normal part of life. To not attend is unheard of; to fail to graduate is a death sentence for one’s future.

But what we often forget is that the modern high school is a relatively new concept. As Paul Beston notes in a recent article for City Journal, a hundred years ago America was in the early stages of a high school boom, with 2 million students attending classes. That number rose to 6.6 million by the start of World War II. Today, the number of public high school students measures at 15 million.

But as Beston goes on to explain, the high school as we know it now isn’t the one America knew in its earlier years. That school was far more rigorous. Today’s high schools are the result of several decades of the gradual dumbing down of curriculum.

This dumbing down began in earnest during the Depression years, but as Beston notes, had been encouraged as early as 1912: Continue reading