An article in the San Francisco Chronice headlined "All They Are Teaching Gives Peace No Chance" describes the curriculum at a Gaza City kindergarten.
Samira Ali El Hassain teaches how an egg becomes a chicken, how to draw a circle and other things.
"Who are the Jews?" she asks.
The children know the answer by heart: "The enemy!" they reply in unison.
"And what should we do to them?" Hassain asks in a voice that is as casual as when she discussed chickens and eggs.
"Kill them!" the children cry out.
The kindergarteners play the "martyr's funeral" game. One child pretends to be the martyr while the others pretend to bury him. Children are taught that martyrs — that is, people who die trying to kill Jews — are heroes, says a teacher. "We tell them that they must grow up and do the same."
A pregnant woman whose husband was killed trying to blow himself up at a Jewish settlement concludes the story. "I will teach the baby to hate Israel," she says. "If the occupation continues, I will teach my child to do what his father has done."
This is a woman saying she wants her child to grow up to be dead.
Pickin' chips in Silicon Valley
In 1999, Jesse Jackson launched a crusade to force Silicon Valley companies to diversify their boards and hire more blacks and Hispanics.
Jackson's organization, Rainbow/PUSH, bought stock in 51 high-tech companies so it could attend shareholders' meetings. Now he's back, and Sarah Lubman reports in the San Jose Mercury News on what's happened since 1999. Virtually nothing.
Rainbow/PUSH's two-staffer office hasn't even updated the web site — which is filled with phony claims — much less attended a single shareholder's meeting.
When Jackson came through in 1999, he listed a number of goals in addition to pressuring companies about their board representation. His organization would promote internships for students at local companies, post information on its Web site highlighting high-tech firms' efforts to add minorities to their staffs and boards, and work with churches in low-income communities to educate people about personal finance and investing.
Those initiatives are still in progress. "In progress" means promised for the misty future. Rainbow/PUSH also takes credit for starting "diversity" programs that existed long before Jackson made his Silicon Valley swing. In an April 15, 1999 column, I wrote:
"Good Old Boy, Jr.," runs Silicon Valley companies, the Rev. Jesse Jackson said Monday, denying heatedly that high-tech is more open to talent than other industries. "It's the same as picking cotton. Picking cotton, picking chips. It's not unique," Jackson told the Mercury News editorial board. That is: High-tech is no more a meritocracy than a cotton plantation.
The man was totally clueless about the vitality and diversity of Silicon Valley. He thought making money in high tech is like making money in municipal bonds; it's all in who you know who can slip you that contract.
And he seemed to think that high-tech companies are homogenous, instead of drawing talent from every corner of the globe. There's never been an industry less likely to equate "good" with "old," or one less likely to confuse skin color with competence.
With no effort by Rainbow/PUSH, Hector Ruiz, who grew up in a Mexican border town, was named CEO of Advanced Micro Devices this week. Ruiz made it with help from a Methodist missionary, who tutored him in English and paid his first-year tuition at the University of Texas. The rest he did on his own.
Well, Jackson's Silicon Valley blitz was just a shakedown, so why should Jackson bother to learn about how high tech industry really works?
Money, money, money
Eugene Volokh looks at education spending over the last 40 years, and discovers that we spent 3.3 times more per student, adjusted for inflation, in 1999-2000 than in 1959-60; the student-teacher ratio has declined from 25.8 to 1 to 16 to 1. The ratio of instructional expenses to total expenses is down, but not by much.
...we should take with a grain of salt the casual assumption that the problems of American education are caused by underfunding, or can be cured by funding increases.
The American Legislative Exchange Council did a study about 10 years ago (not on their web site) which concluded that little of the spending increase has helped students in mainstream classrooms. Most has gone for special education and other special programs — with no evidence that such spending improves achievement.
In recent years, a great deal has been spent to lower class sizes. In addition, teachers are better paid than they were 40 years ago, when college-educated women had limited career choices.
Joanne Jacobs used to have a paying job as a Knight-Ridder columnist and San Jose Mercury News editorial writer. Now she blogs for tips at ReadJacobs.com while writing a book, Start-Up High, about a San Jose charter school. She's never gotten a dime from Enron.