Comments Policy

UnknownComments policyMy policy is to post  everything, with two exceptions: I sometimes limit comments that are very threatening or use misogynist, racist etc. language. (I’m okay with swearing.) And rarely, I’ll cut off a commenter who has commented repeatedly on the same post and is not saying anything new. I like to listen and I appreciate feedback. But my blog is primarily a site for my writing, not a forum for open-ended online dialogue


10 Responses to Comments Policy

  1. Trevor Phinney says:

    I saw your article in Time ‘The Catch 22 of Obama’s Preschool Plan’ and found it interesting. Growing up I have lived in 5 different states and 3 countries. Consequently, I have seen many different styles of education including the testing based system that you mentioned and systems that are designed to focus on critical thinking and real world application. As a college student I experience first hand the benefits of the latter of the two systems when compared to many of my peers. Many of my fellow students can barely write papers, speak in public, and struggle with applying critical thinking to real world issues. Based on my experiences I firmly believe that we need to move away from the testing based system but how could our country do this? How do you effectively regulate such a system?

    • Many thanks for your comment. You raise a good question, but there are all kinds of “authentic assessment” systems that really work. They depend on capable teachers who really know their students and have the time to work with them on real, as opposed to ersatz, test-oriented, curriculum. The key is to commit, as a nation, to raising the quality and practice of teaching. Teachers who are better paid turn out to be smarter, more capable, and more passionate teachers. (This has been tested empirically.) And it’s those kind of people who are more likely to be effective teachers who can assess and guide learning optimally. The countries that have raised teachers’ starting salaries have seen big improvements in outcomes. I know there are many other factors – including, obviously, families – but we could go a long way toward getting out of this vortex of testing craziness if we took teaching more seriously. Everyone wants a quick fix, unfortunately, and for a while it looked like throwing lots of tests at people would do the trick.

  2. Edward Sammons says:

    I just read your piece on the site and I must say you are wise beyond your years. I have taken the liberty of copying your article and plan to send it to educators here in Raleigh NC. You make the best sense I have read in a long time with respect to current school testing. A good friend of mine left teaching because he stated he would not be a part of “teaching to the test”.

    Great work. Please keep it up. You need to be on as many TV programs as you can get on. The time has come for common sense and truth about wht our schools have morphed into.

    • Thank you for your words of encouragement! We need more voices speaking the truth about what’s happened to our education system. I’ll be starting work at the Yale Child Study Center this summer and hope I’ll have more opportunities to try (slowly, in baby steps, unfortunately) to move the compass needle a little bit. But the only way things will really change is if parents and teachers get much more assertive about protecting their children’s development. Thanks again!

  3. Mark Crino says:

    Saw your comment on Boy Scouts. As a grandstading idealist that you seem to be it was well written. I don’t really care if you think you are right since nothing I say will change your liberal point of view. The real issue is that no private institution should have to knuckle under to societal pressure. There is and always has been full transparencey in the BSA. Up front, what you see is what you get. Why is it that this institution has to have homosexuality crammed down it’s throat like the rest of society. Are churches next? Why is the definition of morality by the BSA not good enough? What makes it that the definition of moralty can only come from journalists and liberal minded people and be deemed acceptable? If homosexuals want to choose that life, why can’t this private orgniation choose differently. Our freedoms under the constitution make this choice possible. Private institutions should have the right to have standards and uphold them.

    • Dear Sir,
      Thank you for not calling me hateful names. That is refreshing today, though it is always puzzling the way so many folks who disagree with me start their comments with all kinds of disclaimers about what kind of person I am and how little I am capable of listening/changing. It often feels like a projection of the commenter’s reality, not mine. But in any case, you are correct that I am about 75 percent liberal, though relatively conservative on certain issues that would surprise you, personal responsibility, among them.

      But to your point: You seem to misunderstand the purpose of my post at I agree 100 percent with you that the BSA should not have to “knuckle under” to societal pressure. They should act with their conscience, as we all should. BSA has constitutionally protected rights and I have no wish to infringe on them. Needless to say — I hope it’s “needless to say” — there are some limits to constitutional protection. I doubt very much either of us would defend the BSA’s right to promote murder, for example, nor would we easily imagine a robust defense for excluding short people or albino children. However, I agree with you that, “private institutions should have the right to have standards and uphold them.” I said that in writing and believe it. But I hope you are not suggesting that I do not have the “right” to exert any pressure I want on any institution of my choosing – again, “within reason.” This is the point of opinion pieces, commercial boycotts, protest marches, online petitions, and other forms of civil discourse. A healthy society thrives and indeed depends on the transparent airing of ideas. This can sometimes take the form of pressure. It’s how markets work, as well. Ideas need to be vetted in the marketplace, just like any other public good. There’s nothing wrong with this reality! In fact, your and my right to exercise our religious and moral beliefs depends heavily not only on our legally-protected rights but on a culture that VALUES such a democratic and open enterprise and doesn’t cry “foul” the minute people speak out about things they don’t like. So, if you think I’m crazy, fine. Say so. (As you seem to be doing!) In what way is my opinion shoving anything down the boy scouts’ throats? They are voting for this policy on homosexuality today, not me. And by the way, I’m not advocating the breaking of laws, though there is a strong and noble history of civil disobedience; I’m just defending my right to voice my moral code where I choose. No one is “cramming” anything down the BSA’s throat, and if the BSA, and other similarly-minded organizations, can’t tolerate even a mild challenge to their views, then they must not have much of a defense for them. Our astonishingly vibrant society works because we have a set of constitutionally protected rights, within a sometimes messy framework of church/state separation, that are bestowed on us all. My most cherished right is the ability to engage in dialogue and vociferous debate without fear that I will be locked up, beaten, or killed for my views. We should embrace this right and not try to mock or dilute it with silly fears of coercion. The BSA has the same backbone the rest of us do; it can — and will and SHOULD — do what it feels is best. And I will continue to do what I feel is best: to exert pressure, with civility and sometimes with my wallet, on places where I see injustice or irrationality. This is how women and children and people of color came to be treated as more than chattle in our country. It’s how disabled people and the mentally ill came to be seen as worthy of compassion and respect. Let’s not forget that our society moves forward, and not only backward, from the views and, yes, PRESSURES of people with conflicting viewpoints. I would hate to live in a world where we couldn’t champion the right to speak our minds. Please don’t mistake this for not allowing an organization to “choose differently” Choose away! And defend your choice, as I’m defending mine. I believe the traditional view of masculinity espoused (and enforced) within the BSA forces men (and women) into a mold that doesn’t fit everyone. This rigidity – which I believe reflects a lot of biblical cherry-picking and unkindness – is harmful to society. I hope one day the BSA and other private institutions will agree with me. In the meantime, I’ll keep speaking and pressuring and I hope you’ll do the same for what you believe. Thank you.

      • Jonny Randall says:

        Wrong again. The gay society IS shoving their beliefs down the throat of the the B.S.A.. The B.S.A. does not openly discriminate against gays. It only states that it does not agree with the lifestyle and that it does not fit the beliefs, standards and policies of the B.S.A.. It allows all men to go on living the lifestyle one chooses and invites those who have the same beliefs to join them. The gays whole-heartedly sought out an organization that could influence the B.S.A. through corporate America and has, unfortunately done so successfully. Congratulations on hurting us. We did not step on your toes, we simply have avoided you stepping on ours. If the gays aren’t “shoving” themselves down our throats, then why didn’t they stop when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the B.S.A. does not have to allow them into the organization? Why didn’t they begin their own organization? Why did they have to enlist those who influence corporate America? Why couldn’t they leave it alone? Because they are BULLIES. They think they have “rights” because they are gay. Do I have “rights” because I am not? NO. I appreciate your willingness to fight for what you believe in as long as it does force me to change. I will change if I want to. It is my “right”.

  4. Jonny Randall says:

    Refering to your “What the B.S. Could Learn from the G.S.”, I guess beauty and brains really don’t mix. You are a beautiful woman. However, you are wrong. The basis in the Girl Scouts beliefs is money. They have given up their standards on several occasions in return for continued monetary support. The Boy Scouts on the other hand, has always, until May 23rd, stood for it’s principles; Duty to God, Morally Straight and Clean and not the monetary aspect. I am an Eagle Scout and I am very disheartened that this has happened. How am I, a father of 5 and Scoutmaster of 25, supposed to help these young men understand that there are more important things in life than money. That princples, morals and character are more valuable is contrary to what the Boy Scouts of America said on May 23rd. I have had several employees that have worked for me that I have mentored into management positions with large companies, as many women as men. My wife and I share friends of both sexes. I do not call on a man when a woman is what is needed and vice-versa. I am sorry that you do not have your facts straight and that this article may have misled several uninformed persons. Don’t tell me that I am misogynistic. I did not bully my way into any gay organization, but they did just that to the B.S.A..

  5. Mark Crino says:

    I too am a scout leader of about 20 boys and four are my sons. Two have achieved eagle and two on their way. One thing they have ;learned from me as a father and leader is to keep a civil tongue. If either side can have any validity or character they can’t resort to comments such as the ones that separate brains and beauty. We need to be able to argue without becoming personal, even though the issue IS personal at many levels. There are two sides here a liberal vs conservative thought. Those with a more liberal mind have fewer boundaries of which hold them back from freer living and thinking. Those with more conservative thought are bound by the parameters set forth by upbringing, religion and our conservative associations. I understand as do they, that there are different opinions that can be respected but to hold the moral ground in these situations. Without debating the bible (because there is a liberal and conservative translation in the 21st century) I will say that what this debate comes down to is freedom and the lack thereof. The gay rights movement seems to have more freedoms than that of the Boy Scouts of America. Sure, the scouts could have and should have said no. Why, because they have standards and should not alter them because of political pressure. However, in exercising their right to not have gay scouts and leaders, they probably would have created political turmoil, bad PR and a loss of millions in funding. They caved. National is a disappointment. Now, churches like mine ARE forced to accept gay members into a troop. The term gay has several levels. In my church, it is not wrong to be gay. It is however wrong to practice and be openly gay. Now, my church who is our sponsor, really has to accept a gay member? Why should they have to? Where does it stop? A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. However, can my church who is our sponsoring organization be totally reverent and support the scouts now? Aren’t they now put into a moral controversy the minute an openly practicing gay young man asks for membership? If I were them, I would cut the troop loose as so many across the country have done. All because those who have different sexual orientation need to tout it in scouts. We’re queer!!! We’re here!!!! Now were in a troop near you. I’m sad that this happened. God has been taken out of schools, government and now the scouts. Would God approve? My opinion is no. I don’t pretend to know what is on God’s mind, or that of Allah, or any other likeness. What would Jesus approve of? I know what I’ve been taught, studied and prayed about. This is my answer…..I will have to answer for my actions and how they have affected others. I hope on the day of judgement I do pass the test, I do measure up, I do fit the requirements. I hope I pleased God. I know in my heart what has happened over the past week is just wrong. I know it is bad because it spreads the ideas of a group who could have chosen a different path. They had to force their way into an organization that is still based on traditional beliefs. Those beliefs were dragged around the media as archaic, old fashioned and rigid. People who believe in these traditional beliefs of one man one woman and God have been made out to be a joke by a minority trying to change this great organization. You are now seeing the beginning of the end of Boy Scouts. I’m sure the name will change soon.

    • Jonny Randall says:

      Mark, I appologize for offending you and hope that you weigh heavier on the brains than the beauty such as I do. I must clarify my thoughts. I am not a liberal by any means but I am a frre thinker in that I think for myself. Others love to share their opinion(s) with me about any given subject, but, until I research it for myself I don’t form an opinion. I fully believe that liberals use their “free thinking” and lack of “boundaries” to justify their lives. Ms. Erika, I truly believe is a beautiful woman. I highly doubt that she has reared five sons and not through the Boy Scouts of America at that. I am sure she is a wonderful mother, but, how will she feel when her firstborn decides that drugs are an acceptable way of life? Will it be her fault? Will it be her child’s friends that helped him decide that? What if he/she turns out to be gay and is violently tormented and commits suicide because of it? What does it say to our youth when we teach them one thing and then act the opposite? 103 years of standards that have now been wasted. One of my biggest concerns for our youth is that sexuality is no longer a value to be taught by parents but by the “world’s” terms now. The gays now have a stronger influence over these young men and will make it known, no doubt.To live without boundaries is a dangerous life. Why doyou think zoos have fences?

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