Worried About Risky Teenage Behavior? Make School Tougher

Research shows a correlation between greater academic demands and a reduction in drinking, smoking and drug use.

A math camp at Murry Bergtraum High School in New York. Studies have shown that increased high school math graduation requirements have been linked to higher future earnings.CreditAlex Wroblewski/The New York Times

Like all parents of teenagers, I worry that my children will engage in risky behavior, including drinking, smoking and drug use. The more time they spend doing healthier extracurricular activities — soccer, piano, cleaning their rooms (ha!) — the better.

But it turns out that what they do in school can also affect their choices outside the classroom. Continue reading

K-12: History of the Conspiracy against Reading

In his 1984 book about American education, Samuel Blumenfeld pointed out that “[n]othing has mystified Americans more than the massive decline of literacy in the United States. Children spend more time at school and the government spends more money on education than ever before. Yet, reading ability keeps declining. What has gone wrong?”

You have probably heard this lament. But here’s where it becomes really alarming. Blumenfeld looked back seven decades to the year 1915. That’s when the literacy figures for 1910 were published by the U.S. Bureau of Education and quoted in a weekly publication, School and Society, edited by James McCain Cattelll, one of the luminaries in the Progressive education movement. School and Society stated that: Continue reading

Why the Very First Treaty Between the United States and a Native People Still Resonates Today

The Treaty With the Delawares, signed in 1778, has arrived at the National Museum of the American Indian

Treaty With the Delawares, 1778: Agreements like the Treaty With the Delawares (1778) are powerful reminders of American Indian nations’ legal right to territorial sovereignty. (Paul Morigi)

The narrative of the American Revolutionary War is often presented as a story of tidy alliances: Britons and Germans on one side, Americans and French on the other. But what of those over whose ancestral lands the conflict was waged—Native Americans? Continue reading

When Congress Officially Declared that the Civil War was Not About Slavery

It was July of 1861, and things were looking bad for the United States. The December before, South Carolina had seceded, and the gulf states followed in quick succession throughout January, with Texas joining on February 1. Then, as it became unmistakable that the United States intended to invade the seceded states, and force all other states to take up arms against them, the mid-Southern states had no choice but to secede as well, starting with Virginia’s departure from the Union in April, and concluding with Tennessee’s secession on June 8. Continue reading

Benson: Texas

When I was a kid I was fascinated by the map of the United States (and Confederate States). Having grown up in the East, the idea of Texas, way out west, fascinated me and I wanted to see it, to go there, to experience it myself. Looking at photos is one thing. Seeing something in real life, being there and experiencing it is something else.

You can look at a million pictures of the Grand Canyon and that’s great—but being there, even if only once, and standing there yourself on the South Rim and looking at it beats all the photos in the world.

It’s the same thing with Texas. The photos are great, but the personal experience is infinitely better. Continue reading

Counterpoint: No, Public School Teachers Are Not Underpaid

During recent teacher walkouts in Oklahoma that captured national attention, many major media outlets reported misleadingly small figures for teacher pay. By failing to reveal all aspects of teacher compensation, these outlets hid the true costs to taxpayers—which now amount to an annualized average of about $120,000 for every public school teacher in the United States.

CNN, for example, published an article by Bill Weir claiming that in “most districts” of Oklahoma, “a teacher with a doctorate degree and 30 years’ experience will never make more than $50,000 a year.” That claim, which CNN neglected to document, is at odds with comprehensive data from the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Labor. This information for Oklahoma and the entire nation follows.

For the 2016–17 school year, the Department of Education reports that the average salary of full-time public school teachers was $58,950 in the U.S. and $45,245 in Oklahoma. Those figures generally exclude benefits, such as health insurance, paid leave, and pensions. These are typically much higher for government employees than private sector workers. Continue reading

Study Suggests Lack of Reading Driving Contentious Society

Image Credit: Leigh A. Murrell (cropped)

It’s a commonly accepted fact that reading offers far more cognitive benefits than watching television. This is largely because television is a more “passive” activity, while reading goes deeper, encouraging greater thought and fostering verbal communication.

But a recent study out of Kensington University in London suggests that the advantage of choosing reading over television can have more than cognitive benefits; it can have behavioral benefits as well. Continue reading

California’s Common Core Mistake


The Common Core curriculum-content standards are a national listing of topics that students are expected to learn in the subjects of English and mathematics. An independent initiative of three Washington, D.C.-based organizations created the national standards, but they were endorsed and promoted by the Obama-era U.S. Department of Education. The standards were released in June 2010. Their summer launch meant that teachers and parents did not have much of an opportunity to discuss their merits and drawbacks. Abiding by the standards was necessary for states to be eligible for massive federal grants. California adopted the national standards and fully implemented them in 2014-2015. Continue reading

Ross: The Genius of Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson

… I am quickly approaching sixty years of age; June 28th to be exact. As someone who is soon to become an official senior citizen, I have seen 11 Presidents come and go. I don’t remember Eisenhower; I was too young at the time, I do remember Kennedy, or at least the Cuban Missile Crisis and his assassination and how the nation mourned his passing.

One thing about him I did not know, until later that is, is that in 1962 he hosted a dinner at the White House for 49 winners of the Nobel Prize. Nobel Prize winners are supposed to be leaders in their respective fields who have made great breakthroughs in areas such as world peace, science, or literature. So I can imagine that having 49 Nobel Prize winners in your presence at one time would be pretty awe inspiring; even for a President of the United States.

Yet did you know that President Kennedy, in an address to these Nobel Prize winners, stated the following, “I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.” I don’t know about you, but as it pertains to intellect and accomplishments I think that is probably the highest praise a person could ever get. Continue reading

Benson: Oklahoma Reminiscences

Recently, I picked up a book at one of the local libraries called Killers of the Flower Moon—The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, written by a David Grann. Mr. Grann is a staff writer at the New Yorker so there would probably be some things he and I would not agree on politically, but he did write an interesting book about how a group of people in Osage County, Oklahoma killed off several Osage Indians in order to get the headrights to their oil leases and make lots and lots of money from that.

It interested me because, back in the late 1960s I had briefly lived in Osage County, Oklahoma, which had been the old Osage Indian reservation. It is still listed that way on some maps.

My Dad had sold his home in the East and bought a trailer and we went West, so wherever we set the trailer up at night, that was home, at least for that night. We got as far as central New Mexico, looking for work, of which there was very little. At the same time I was trying to make a little selling my paintings. The art market in New Mexico was pretty competitive and I wasn’t nearly as good as most of those artists around Taos and Santa Fe, so we headed back east from there. Continue reading

Graduates: Here’s an Honor Code for Life

Amid a national epidemic of dishonesty, acting with integrity is more important than ever.

The following is an adaptation of an address to Rice University’s class of 2018.

George Washington

When I was deciding what I wanted to say today, I kept thinking about a Rice tradition that’s an incredibly important part of student life here: I’m talking about the honor code.

When you first arrived on campus, you attended a presentation on the honor code. And your very first quiz tested your knowledge of the code. And so today, I thought it would be fitting for you as graduates to end your time here the same way you began it: by hearing a few words about the meaning of honor.

Don’t worry: There won’t be a quiz. But there will be a test when you leave this campus — one that will last for the rest of your life. And that’s what I want to explain today — and it actually starts with the opposite of honor.

As a New Yorker, I was surprised to learn that an act of dishonor in my hometown almost blocked Rice from coming into existence. William Marsh Rice was murdered at his home in Manhattan by two schemers who tried to re-write his will… Continue reading

Bitcoins, Beer and the Student Loan Disaster

How much of this should the American taxpayer subsidize?

A large percentage of the $1.48 trillion student loan debt accumulated by Americans was never spent on tuition at all. Instead, much of that money went towards everything from beer, Bitcoin, spring break shenanigans and exotic reptiles.

More than one in five; or 21.2% of college students, surveyed by The Student Loan Report admitted to spending student loan money on cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC). That speculation is risky because Bitcoins lost almost 65% of their value between December 2017 and April 2018. A Bitcoin was trading at $19,205.11 on December 17, 2017, and $6,701.40 on April 5, 2018, data from Coinbase indicates. (Read complete column)

It’s Really Not Fair!

Rutgers Student Calls Out School for Aiding Illegal Immigrants

Look closely at the name at the bottom of the image. – Ed.

A Rutgers University student is calling out his school for “privileging” illegal immigrants over American citizens and legal immigrants.

In February, Rutgers students started a petition opposing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) appearing at a career fair, arguing it would alienate undocumented students. The agency voluntarily withdrew from the career fair after talks with administrators.
Continue reading

Why are Teachers ‘Raising the Children’?

The average American is inundated with hundreds of voices every day. Politicians. Talking heads. Entertainment stars. Teachers. Students. The list could go on.

But while there are multiple voices, many of the big ones seem to give a similar message concerning politics, culture, and education. Especially education.

Just what is this education message? It often includes suggestions of more money, more hours in a school day, and the incorporation of children into the school system at ever earlier ages, largely through Pre-K education. Continue reading

Well Johnny What Did You Learn At School Today?

“By educating the young generation along the right lines, the People’s State will have to see to it that a generation of mankind is formed which will be adequate to this supreme combat that will decide the destinies of the world.” ~ Adolf Hitler

It’s 3 O’clock in the afternoon when little Johnny comes barging through the front door after school, throws his back pack into a corner and heads for the refrigerator. He yanks open the refrigerator door and pulls out a carton of milk. He gets a glass from the cupboard and fills the glass full from the milk carton. He gulps down the milk and heads for his bedroom where his play station awaits his anxious fingers. But before he can leave the kitchen, his mom says, “Wait a minute Johnny, I want to hear how your day at school went.” Johnny says, “Oh mom!” and returns to the kitchen. Continue reading

Another Take: The Teacher Strikes Aren’t About Pay…

They’re About Mobilizing Democrats

Democrats and their allies among the teacher activists are following the playbook outlined by Saul Alinsky in ‘Rules for Radicals.’

Teachers all over the country are going on strike. They say they want higher salaries and education funding and the tax increases necessary to pay for them. But there’s a bigger motivation underlying the strikes — mobilizing Democrats.

The strikes began in West Virginia on Feb. 22 when teachers walked off the job. They demanded higher salaries and relief from increasing health insurance costs. The teachers stayed off the job until March 7. The legislature approved a 5 percent pay increase for all state employees. West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice appointed a task force to lower healthcare costs… Continue reading