Sunday, April 27, 2008

Race and Ethnicity

I hadn't heard about the "You must tell us your race and ethnicity" scam by the Anne Arundel County Public Schools until reading the letter in Sunday's Kapital. I asked my wife who confirmed that she sent in one of these forms with each of our kids. "It's required," she said and produced the letter from the schools chief: " In order to comply with...state and federal regulations for recording student race and ethnicity...."

Well it all sounds very official. What state and federal regulations? There are none. The County itself acknowledges this on its web site by providing an excerpt from the Federal Register where "proposed rulemaking" is normally published. Actual changes to the regulations are published in the Code of Federal Regulations.

My wife was right, as she usually is. The divide-us-by-race rule making offers guidance to schools systems on how to make yourself look more eligible for federal money in the form of "grants and contracts" with the federal Department of Education. This is geared more for contracts because federal procurement regulations make contracting with companies owned by certain ethnic groups faster and easier for an agency. I very much doubt that, as the letter writer states, there is any connection between this race data and the education of our children.

The writer, though, dwells on what the County school apparatus says our options are for complying. All you need to know is that we cannot be forced to disclose our race because the Civil Rights Act and other state and federal law since then make it a federal crime for any public agency to base any service on your race. Period. So if sending in a form that reduces you to a racial statistic so that the County can get more federal money rubs you the wrong way, and it should, then shred the form. If the County wants the money, they'll have to do this work themselves by observing the students. Tell your kids to refuse, politely, to complete the form themselves. The law is on your side.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

More Peeves...

I do have fun observing people even though they really get on my nerves. So many of the items in the Peeves series will be about people. I'll try to break it up with non-people peeves.

1. People who don't know how to use a cell phone. You've seen them. They have to reposition the device away from their ear so they can, you know, speak directly into the microphone. Why? I don't know, yet. Most of the time they do this as though it is the normal way of talking. So they have to keep putting the earpiece back up their ears after speaking into the mic. I want to to tap them on the shoulder and show them how to use a telephone. By the time they switch back to listening mode, they have missed the first few words of the response, so they are constantly moving back into talk mode only to say "What? Can you repeat that? Wait a few seconds until I get the phone all the way back to my ear so I don't miss anything."

2. The cellphone commuter train talk. It wouldn't be so annoying if it weren't so predictable. It's like living on the set of Ground Hog Day. "Hello, It's me. I'm on the train. The train. I should be home in about 20 minutes." I find myself mouthing the words. I think I'll dedicate a whole Peeve to commuting on the MARC train.

3. People who can't seem to converse without the phrases "like" and "you know." I had hoped that this problem was confined to adolescents whose vocabulary is limited by their age and experience . However, again trapped and forced to listen to this dribble on the daily commute, I was struck by the conversation of two fathers, each raising at least one future conversationalist and the other with one more one the way. I don't know these men from Adam. They seem oblivious to the fact that they advertise this information while carry on their "conversation" such as "like, like, like, it's like, I was like, he was like." Not only are the parents, they are blithering idiots. I fear for their young.

Another set was a trio of women, one of whom was pregnant with her third or fourth child and made sure everyone knew she had a doctorate in epidemiology specializing in tropical diseases and was a professor at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. She reminded her girlfriends of this fact every two minutes, filling the rest of her conversation with "like and you know." I laughed out loud when she derided one of her colleagues as being, you know, like, unqualified. Her not-so-accomplished yak-mates were not as conversationally crippled.

But Mike, what do you expect? A MARC train-load of William F. Buckleys?

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

To My Obscene Commenters

It seems I have attracted a few refugees from the legions of braindead HuffPo and MO-DORG blog commenters. You know the type: the anonymous readers whose lack of intelligence, they believe, is compensated for or masked by the use of certain words and phrases that allow thinking people to profile them. So if you resemble one or more of the characteristics below, you may want to reconsider spending the time trying to comment on my blog:

  1. Young (18 to 25) liberal with barely a high school education still living with his parents
  2. Mature liberal (26 to 35) with barely a high school education still living with his parents, who are liberals
  3. Women of any age who bore the children of one of the above (and will soon come to resemble the "parents" part of "living with his parents.")
  4. I don't believe anyone over the age of 40, regardless of education, considers obscene language appropriate outside of a bowling alley
I'm sure that another Bud Lite and a few more games of KENO will be a better way to spend your time.