- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 18, 2005

Parent trap

“What is it about parenting that allows us to indulge our inner scold? … Perhaps it’s because there is so much at stake. Another parent’s different approach raises the possibility that you’ve made a mistake with your child. We simply can’t tolerate that because we fear that any mistake, no matter how minor, could have devastating consequences. So we proclaim the superiority of our own choices. We’ve lost sight of the fact that people have preferences. …

“There is little I do as a mother that can’t be criticized, not least by myself. Parenting is incredibly hard work, even without having to look over your shoulder to make sure you’re doing it the way the neighbors … think you should. Let’s all commit ourselves to the basic civility of minding our own business. Failing that, let’s just go back to a time when we were nasty and judgmental, but only behind one another’s backs. … Enough of the scolding.”

Ayelet Waldman, writing on “Mind your own kids,” Aug. 15 in Salon at www.salon.com

‘Prima donna

“NFL fans want to know: Why is Terrell Owens such a jerk? A better question might be: Why are so many talented wide receivers such jerks? …

“Their inability to play well with others may be related to the position they occupy. Wide receivers are far removed — literally — from the rest of the team: They line up close to the sidelines.

“While the other players battle in the trenches, the wide-outs do their own thing, dashing around the field accompanied only by a defensive back or two. They aren’t part of the action unless they get thrown the ball, so many of them spend an inordinate amount of time lobbying their own coaches and quarterbacks to get the pigskin into their paws.

“In short, they have a built-in incentive to be loudmouths. And whereas other players know they’ll be ruthlessly punished by the opposing team for acting up, wide-outs can usually stay safe by running out of bounds or flopping to the turf prior to a hit.

“This set of incentives can create players who make the average Hollywood star seem humble and down-to-earth by comparison.”

Max Boot, writing on “In Bad Company,” Aug. 17 in the Wall Street Journal

‘No surprise’

“[E]ducating our children is no longer the primary purpose of the public schools. Today, their purpose is to employ 6 million people. … It has been this way for at least 20 years.

“Albert Shanker, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), had a penchant for telling it like it is. Back in 1985, he said: ‘When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of schoolchildren.’ Legislators, the media, and the public may be confused on this issue, but the teachers unions are not.—

“Since our public school system has dominated K-12 education for almost 100 years, most Americans can’t even conceive of how children could learn to read and write if it weren’t for the government-run schools. They ask, ‘Isn’t the education of our children too important to be left to the uncertainties of the free market?’

“In 1989, Albert Shanker again spelled it out clearly, ‘It’s time to admit that public education operates like a planned economy, a bureaucratic system in which everybody’s role is spelled out in advance and there are few incentives for innovation and productivity. It’s no surprise that our school system doesn’t improve; it more resembles the communist economy than our own market economy.’ ”

Mike Ford, writing on “The Public School Disaster,” Aug. 16 at www.lewrockwell.com

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