George Sarant

A raw feed of material that may be updated or appear elsewhere.

Archive for the ‘education’ Category

THE DEATH OF HOLLYWOOD

leave a comment »

Once there was a time when Hollywood provided millions of people with an escape from the travails of daily life in America and around the world. The objective was nothing more than to provide mass entertainment to a wide audience without any further pretense. In the days of the great studios patriots like Louis B. Mayer ran a tight ship. But eventually due to ill-advised government anti-trust proceedings and the rise of television the studio system broke down, and in that vacuum power was grabbed by sleazy agents. The glamour days persisted through the 1950s, but eventually the great stars passed on and were never really replaced.

Hollywood stood for entertainment, and as long as that was the case it was appreciated by everyone. it was something we had in common. No matter what political divisions there might have been in the outside world they seldom were manifest in entertainment, which was there for everyone, despite their differences. In the 60s things started to change due to sharp political divisions, and stars, untethered by studio common sense, became overtly more political. But then there was still some balance, and for every Jane Fonda there was a John  Wayne, but all still behaved professionally. Jane Fonda won her Oscar at the pinnacle of her political radicalism, but even she, when accepting her award, did not go off on a political speech, but instead, to her credit, said that there is a lot the say but this isn’t the time or place to say it.

How things have changed. Now too many feel the self-indulgent necessity to make political statements, taking advantage of a public moment in the spotlight they were provided only because of their entertainment work, not for their political insight.  It isn’t just the “talent” that feels compelled to behave like this; it permeates the whole industry from the very top, as the industry leadership is of one mind politically. Anyone taking not just an opposing viewpoint, but simply wanting to remain apolitical is subject to pressure and hostility.

But the end result is that they have killed the Hollywood that once pleased everyone. They have alienated half the audience and have gone a long way towards turning “Hollywood” into something of an epithet by abusing a platform that exists only because of the achievements of old Hollywood, not this pale echo, this decrepit residue, of what once was. The more this goes on the less audience there will be for various award shows, and this will likely be the case with this year’s Oscar ceremony. The decline will continue thanks to these unbridled egos. The Grammy’s at least provide a great deal of straight entertainment. The Oscars are worse than a bore, they are an irritant and I, and millions of others wont’ be watching.

Written by georgesarant

February 26, 2017 at 1:22 AM

LET THE TEACHERS TEACH

leave a comment »

I  rarely agree with the teachers’ unions, given how they expend funds on politicians, and sometimes get in the way of reforms, but I think they are solid ground in a resolution recently passed by the AFT concerning mandatory national standardized testing. One of the dumbest programs of the Bush administration and Teddy Kennedy has turned out to be “No Child Left Behind.” It seems like every recent President wants to leave his mark on education, with one scheme for improvement or another, none of which seem to do much besides inflating bureaucracy.  That is not to say that schools don’t need improvement; clearly they do. But most are financed by state and local government and embedded in communities, and sweeping federal mandates do not work, and in fact may be counterproductive.

 We’ve more than doubled spending on education over the past thirty years with little significant improvement because not that much has gone into hiring or justly compensating the people who actually teach. What we have instead is an ever growing bureaucracy with more layers of administration, specialists, and support staff that never see a classroom. This has occurred because of ever more stupid mandates about what ought to be done. Every time legislation creates a program meant to solve something, it is inevitably accompanied by a bureaucracy to manage it- a principle that applies across the board, not just to education. Too often that’s how your tax dollars are spent.

 In addition, broad standardized testing is too simplistic. What of Special Education? It is preposterous to apply the same standards to these children that are used for the general population. That makes no sense. Special Education teachers have to cope with children with learning disabilities, along with a surprising number of obnoxious parents who insist on trying to enroll their children in it, even though there is nothing wrong with them. It makes no sense not to differentiate, and it is unfair to teachers who constantly make their best efforts.

 At the opposite end of the spectrum we are also shortchanging the brightest students, who have different needs. After all these are the pupils that will likely grow up to be the innovators, entrepreneurs, scientists, artists, intellectuals, etc. that our society as a whole needs to remain competitive in the world. One size fits all simply does not work and is detrimental to overall education.

 The job of teachers is to teach and they should not be encumbered with ill-conceived requirements, stupid mandates, various useless specialists, and administrative fiat. If the federal government is to be involved in education at all, which is debatable, it should be through block grants with no strings attached. Again, this applies across the board to all government programs, for it is only through particular local initiatives that creative solutions can be found, and the more “laboratories” we have trying different approaches, the better. That is the only way we can really determine what works and what doesn’t work.

Written by georgesarant

August 7, 2012 at 4:32 PM

Posted in education, government