David French of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America react to the horrific news that the armed sheriff’s deputy assigned to Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School was aware of the shooter and never went in to confront him. They also recoil at reports the sheriff’s office was specifically warned in November that the shooter would do this and that his own family asked the sheriff’s office to take his guns away. David details his latest column, explaining how law-abiding Americans should have access to so-called “assault weapons” in order to match the firepower of criminals and because our founders actually did intend it to be this way. And they discuss the political freefall of now-indicted Republican Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, who is facing charges of invasion of privacy in connection with an extramarital affair with his hairdresser before running for governor.

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University and Free Speech – Hope for the Future?

 

Lately, I’ve seen a few encouraging stories about a shifting perspective about free speech on university campuses. Some of the shifts are unhelpful, but others suggest that the leadership of universities is finally recognizing the significant role their institutions can play in supporting and perpetuating free speech.

At first glance, some stories are not positive. A few universities are trying to charge a “security fee” to groups who are inviting what the university defines as “controversial speakers.” Needless to say, the administrators are the very ones who decide that a given speaker is controversial, immediately suggesting that trouble will be brewing before and during a presentation. The University of Alabama imposed a fee of $7,000 on the College Republicans chapter that was hosting Milo Yiannopoulos in 2016. Just before the event, the university revoked the fee with the statement, “the University of Alabama supports free speech and welcomes diverse speakers to our campus. As with all speakers, the views of Mr. Yiannopoulos do not necessarily reflect the views of the University.” It was a wise choice since the chapter could not afford the fee and would have had to cancel the event.

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David French of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America wade through the details of another horrific school shooting. This time 17 people are dead at a high school in Florida. They honor the heroes who saved students’ lives, including a football coach who died shielding kids from the gunfire. They’re also frustrated that warning signs about this shooter were abundant, including expulsion and a ban from campus, yet little was done by law enforcement to address the problem. And they discuss the tiresome Twitter rage in the wake of tragedies like this, with David pointing out that Twitter often proves that the supposed experts on an issue are actually quite clueless in their supposed area of expertise.

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On this episode of ‘Viewpoint,’ AEI’s Andy Smarick sits down with Juliet Squire from Bellweather Education Partners for a wide-ranging conversation on the needs of rural America and when chartering might be a good fit. Proponents of school choice generally champion charter schools as a way to expand the education options available to families. But, for a host of policy and practical reasons, charters may not always be the right reform for a rural community.

This interview originally aired on AEI’s YouTube channel on December 15, 2017.

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On this episode of Viewpoint, AEI’s Katharine Stevens sits down with photographer Chris Arnade. Arnade has a PhD in physics and was a Wall Street trader. After a crisis of conscience following the 2008 financial crash [3:02], Chris abandoned his banking job to travel the country and chronicle the lives of America’s forgotten masses. But more compelling than the photos were the real conversations that Chris had with real people across the United States [5:23]. He discusses analyzing the “front row and back row” of educational classes [13:56].

This interview originally was published on AEI’s YouTube channel.

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Quote of the Day: Education and Barbarism

 

“Each new generation born is in effect an invasion of civilization by little barbarians, who must be civilized before it is too late.” – Thomas Sowell

I have to admit, there are times I wonder if it is now too late. The Weather Underground tried to break the United States through violent means in the 1960s and 1970s. They failed miserably. But they chose to infiltrate the education system and seem to have raised a bumper crop of little barbarians. We are going through our own Cultural Revolution led by spoiled children in adult bodies.

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Beauty, Power, Babbling, and Tocquevillian Sex Ed

 

“He drinks because of you.” Even knowing now what I didn’t know then, the claim stinks of false blame, though youth and beauty are said to have great power over those who admire them. Young I was. But beautiful? Not really, I thought. A great many budding young women are kept far too busy frantically scrambling to keep the less-beautiful parts of puberty from turning their bodies into an embarrassment to take the extra step of deliberately using their bodies to gain power over others. Some girls absolutely are Machiavellian little minxes equipped to use “sexiness” to manipulate others before they’re even old enough to drive. Other girls are as absolutely not: these latter are innocents in a society that still claims (however implausibly) to value innocence. And of course, gals come in all stages in between.

Toddlers are innocent. Toddlers are hilarious – and destructive – because they haven’t yet figured out their own agency. Our own toddler likes nothing better than to make something “happen” – but he has little idea what, or why. He’s more powerful than he knows, which adds to the havoc. Much innocence comes from simply not knowing yet what the hell you’re doing. While babies’ innocence of basic motor coordination, language, literacy, and social skills is cute, it’s not inherently valuable. Indeed, the quicker children outgrow that kind of innocence, the better. But we do value youngsters’ sexual innocence. We also value young adults’ sexual agency. Puberty is sexual toddlerhood, only we’d really rather not have our teens exploring the world with their genitals the way toddlers do with their mouths. Fortunately, children are, at least in theory, quite grown up in other ways by the time puberty hits; in theory, able to apply lessons they’ve learned about their agency in other spheres to sexual agency; in theory, able to use reason to assert their sexual agency while maintaining their sexual innocence. In practice, though, developing sexual agency while maintaining innocence is tricky, especially absent wise counsel.

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The Ricochet Digest

 

We are starting a new tradition: Sharing great essays. This is done in the belief that someone somewhere in America knows more about what’s going on than most of us, at least in some important aspect. Everything neglected that has about it a sense of insight is welcome, and indeed, needful. This thread should be followed only by members who have a love of good writing and thoughtful observation. Everyone can come and share the best they find online and look for what others share in turn. This will become our way of learning what we can admire together.

The rules are simple:

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On this AEI Events Podcast, Katharine Stevens hosts photojournalist Chris Arnade, who has spent the past six years documenting the stories of those living in the “forgotten” towns across America. From Portsmouth, Ohio, to Ohatchee, Alabama, he captured the stories of “forgotten America.” These are the areas hit hardest by job loss, income stagnation, and drug addiction, yet they are often overlooked by policymakers and the press. Arnade’s reporting illuminates gaps between the reality experienced by millions of struggling Americans and the frequently abstract policy discussions in Washington, DC.

Arnade argued that the greatest divide in the country is education. His photo presentation revealed how kids who grew up in the “front row” — those who are mobile, are well-educated, and have large social networks via colleges and careers — have experienced a vastly different America than kids from the “back row” — those who stay in the town where they are born, usually lack any education beyond high school, and generally view their lives as worse off than their parents’.

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In Banter’s fourth installment of the “Bridging the Dignity Divide” series, John Bailey and Andy Smarick joined the show to share insights from their podcast, the New Skills Marketplace. In addition to discussing the skills gap, CTE programming, and charter schools, they discussed Smarick’s latest report, The Evolving High School CTE: New Jersey’s Distinctive Approach to Career Education. In addition to his role as AEI Visiting Fellow, Bailey is also a fellow at the Walton Family Foundation. His work focuses on finding new ways to reskill individuals. Smarick, the AEI Morgridge Fellow in Education Studies, also serves as president of the Maryland State Board of Education. His work centers on education and related domestic and social policy issues.

About the “Bridging the Dignity Divide” Series

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On this episode of the AEI Events Podcast, AEI’s Katharine B. Stevens hosts a discussion with retired military leaders from Mission: Readiness about how high-quality early childhood programs can help prepare more children for success in school and in life, including in the military for those who choose to serve.

Current and retired military leaders are sounding an alarm: Too many of America’s young men and women are not ready for the demands of military service. In fact, 71 percent of Americans of prime recruitment age do not qualify to serve, primarily due to poor education, obesity, drug abuse, or a criminal record.

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In this episode of the “New Skills Marketplace” podcast, Andy Smarick (AEI) and John Bailey (AEI) sit down with Tamar Jacoby from Opportunity America to talk about workforce development.

Tamar begins by raising a number of questions about proposed solutions to the skills gap [3:57]. She then focuses specifically on apprenticeships [6:11]. Next, Tamar responds to concerns about job reductions due to automation and drops in economic mobility [10:26]. Finally, she identifies the main questions that policymakers, employers, and educational institutions need to answer to in order make meaningful changes to workforce training [19:20] and offers advice to policymakers looking to spur innovation [24:51]. Andy and John conclude with a reflection on their discussion with Tamar.

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