Pundit Wire
Where Political Speechwriters Comment on the News

Unclear Private Role in Public Education

donorsComplaints about the quality of American public education are seldom absent from our political and historical debates. At issue are two related questions — whether the population is adequately educated to keep America great (defined in various ways) and whether the public schools are providing the ladder for upward social and economic mobility we believe in.

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Doubting Data and the Debate on Education

Heiwa_elementary_school_18America’s war between the progressives and populists is well into its second century with no resolution in sight.  Despite changes in rhetoric and technology, the basic tension about who can be most trusted to decide what’s best for us — the experts or we voters — shows no sign of abating.

Public education has always been central to the American vision and an important part of this debate.  That’s what inspired the Scopes Monkey Trial and more recent controversies about creationism. And there’s been a endless debate about whether American education is good enough and, if not, what need be done to make it better.

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Not Taking Sides Yet

IMG_20150623_093431-2I’m just back from a week South of the Border with 12,000 of my closest friends.  Information and Computer Technology (ICT) was the subject of discussion, and may yet democratize the world if anything can. I’m not a real teacher, but gave it a shot some decades ago in high school, and again in recent times at the university level.  I use the Internet all the time, consider it a blessing. I receive many messages each day showing methodologies and techniques which can meet the challenges and impositions of the digital age.

Latin America is full of brilliant and dedicated people, and as a continent it benefits from having a lingua franca (well, two or three) and no state-to-state conflicts. We should take closer note of how they carry on, the complete ease in conversing across borders, the many friendly rivalries which seem to benefit all.

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Prejudice is a powerful force

obamacharlestonIn the aftermath of the Charleston church shooting and the recent police incidents leading to the death and harassment of black men and women, many are calling for a national conversation on race.

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“A Dealer In Hope”

speakerNapoleon once said that a leader is “a dealer in hope.” If putting heart into people is the touchstone of leadership, then General Colin Powell is one of the outstanding leaders of our time.

I had the chance to observe the General at close range during the three years that I worked for him as his speechwriter. (See the picture of me with the General on the home page of my web side, www.ringingwords.com. I no longer have the beard but I’m still recognizable.)

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Hard to Split Cloud, Silver Lining

Signing healthcare reformTeasing out the link between moderation in health spending and subpar economic growth is a daunting but important task that could have a big and unpredictable impact on the American economy in the years and decades ahead.

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Thought’s Colors

college hill There we go, forty years almost to the day, when I registered in a seminar with John Hawkes in Providence.  The New York Times of August 24 cites these seminars somewhat playfully in its book review section.

Then as now, “creative writing” seemed an indulgence when it tried to be an academic discipline, something for the leisured classes.  The difference in 1974 was that, with a bit of academic aid, it came for free if you were willing to drive a taxi to make ends meet.  I did.  Financial persecution of students today makes this unimaginable.

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How to Stop Students Peeping at Their Mobile Phones?

cell phone in class One of the worst things about being a teacher or trainer these days is the fact that the joys of the classroom have to compete with Rival Attractions.

Back in the 1960s when I was at school in St Albans in England, our Maths teacher kept steely control. When (as he invariably did) he spotted you fiddling with something beneath the level of your desk instead of paying attention, he would stroll across the classroom to where you were sitting. He would then daintily pick up the offending object between thumb and forefinger, give you a nod of thanks, walk across to the window, drop the article out of the window.

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