Mariano: Have we learned anything from the closing of Our Lady of Mount Carmel?

“I do not know if things would have been different if the bishop were a part of the public discussion. But given the stakes involved and the fact that so many of the people he leads were heartsick over the church’s closing, he should have tried.”

Sina-cism: When it comes to education, licensure has nothing to do with it

Do you know the difference between schooling and education?

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

A recent cover story in Worcester Magazine — which touched upon the difficulties of obtaining a teaching license and concerns about teachers in the Worcester Public Schools whose licenses may be nearing expiration — reminded me of that distinction.

“Not all schooling is education nor all education, schooling,” economist Milton Friedman wrote in “Capitalism and Freedom,” his 1962 manifesto on economic and political liberty. “The proper subject of concern is education. The activities of government are mostly limited to schooling.”

When Friedman wrote those words, the federal Department of Education did not exist. It was created by President Jimmy Carter on Oct. 17, 1979. In 2016, the DoED employed 4,400 people and had a $68 billion budget — proving Americans possess a genius for creating useless bureaucracies.

Billy Breault

Mariano: The man nobody wants but every neighborhood needs

“He is loud and brash. His hair is long and unruly, and he wears a giant mustache that looks like a battering ram. … When he gets angry, and that is often, he looks like someone you want to avoid. Detractors call him a loudmouth, a bully and much worse.” In the first of a new series, Ray Mariano profiles Billy Breault, the Marshal of Main South.

Sina-cism: ‘Coming Apart,’ at Middlebury and elsewhere

How did the privileged youth of Middlebury arrive at such a state of intellectual poverty? Perhaps because they live in a social bubble, and are unable or unwilling to face the social truths Murray outlines.
Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

The recent, lamentable history of anti-intellectualism at American colleges reached a new low on March 2, when students at Vermont’s Middlebury College shouted down and derided sociologist and author Charles Murray, preventing him from delivering a talk about his book “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010.”

An explanation of what happened, including a video of the students’ behavior, is available here [or watch the video below] from Middlebury faculty member Matthew Dickinson.

After the abortive talk, Murray was taken to a private room to conduct an interview with faculty member Allison Stanger. Later, leaving the building, they were blocked by a mob, which pushed and shoved them, then rocked and pounded on their car.

Stanger sustained whiplash and a concussion. She wrote about her experience in this New York Times column.

While the behavior of students and other agitators was disturbingly violent and close-minded, Stanger writes that she was “…genuinely surprised and troubled to learn that some of my faculty colleagues had rendered judgment on Dr. Murray’s work and character without ever having read anything he has written,” and that “Intelligent members of the Middlebury community — including some of my own students and advisees — concluded that Charles Murray was an anti-gay white nationalist from what they were hearing from one another, and what they read on the Southern Poverty Law Center website.”

Related Sina-cism: On guns, college profs rarely straight shooters

Mariano: Half-truths and alternative facts about PCBs at Burncoat and Doherty

“And now that everyone knows the truth, the mayor and School Committee still refuse to admit that there is a potentially very serious health risk in these two buildings. They refuse to cooperate with their own teachers and involve the EPA in testing so that everyone knows exactly what they are facing. They hide behind language like there is ‘no conclusive proof.’ “

Sina-cism: On guns, what professors ‘know’ just ain’t so

As a rule, college professors tend not to appreciate firearms.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

But when it comes to the teaching of history and law, they need to put personal feelings aside and arm their students with the truth.

A March 16 gun-control forum at Clark University illustrates exactly how many academics engage in a selective reading of history in order to advance particular viewpoints and interpretations.

Clark Professor of Political Science Mark Miller, commenting on the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), said that decision reflected a rural/urban divide on gun ownership.

And George Washington University professor Lois Schwoerer, author of a major study on the history of firearms in early English history, asserted that when our Founding Fathers set about crafting the Bill of Rights, they didn’t place a lot of emphasis on the English notion of gun control as a way of keeping government subjects unarmed.

In Schwoerer’s view, the amendments that emerged were, as the Telegram & Gazette paraphrased her, “more a way of pleasing opposing viewpoints.”

I am sure both professors understand a lot more about the history of firearms and the Bill of Rights than could be conveyed in a short forum and a still shorter newspaper account, but their views as summarized here are wrong.

Mariano: The problem of PCBs at Burncoat and Doherty high schools could be worse than I thought

“This issue is important to me. Certainly, I feel strongly because my wife is one of the teachers who has had cancer. But Burncoat was my high school and my wife was a student at Doherty. These are our classmates, our friends and our neighbors. These are the students who fill my wife’s classroom.”

Sina-cism: Holy Cross should continue its crusade

Whatever the proximate cause for the Holy Cross community’s Crusader debate, it is possible (and to be hoped) that students and faculty will have a meaningful debate.
Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

More than half a century ago, when editors at the student newspaper at Worcester’s College of the Holy Cross decided to change the name of their publication from The Tomahawk to The Crusader, it must have seemed a safe enough move.

But college campuses back in 1955 were nothing like college campuses in 2017, where almost any word or action, no matter how innocuous, can cause an individual or group to take offense, launch a protest, or issue a cry for discussions regarding diversity and respect.

Related Sina-cism: The trouble with trigger warnings

It is hardly surprising that faculty and students at Holy Cross have decided to discuss the name of their newspaper. The crusader is, after all, an unmistakably Christian image that belongs to a particularly sanguinary period of world history, the 175 or so years from 1095 to 1272, when Christian kings and nobles in Europe organized military campaigns to wrest back control of the Holy Land from Muslim conquerors.

Perhaps only divine protection can explain how an image so historically burdened has managed to survive this long. Imagine the microaggressions Holy Cross students have suffered during these last six decades.

If only their consciousness had been raised years ago!

Mariano: Erratic Tweeter-in-Chief hurts his own agenda [Vote and tell us what you think.]

The question is, how can Trump do all of the things he promised to do when he is constantly distracted by tweeting and his senior staff is forced to spend so much of its time defending him and walking back what he really meant to say?

Sina-cism: Warren prescribes a liberal dose of ‘No’

Since January 3, 2013 — the day Elizabeth Warren put former Sen. Scott Brown in his pickup for his puzzling and peripatetic post-political pilgrimage — I have been watching the state’s allegedly senior senator for any hint of moderation.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

As compelling as Brown’s underdog story was, Massachusetts mythology includes demigod status for the Kennedy clan. The late Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat was fit only for a liberal Democrat.

But does Warren represent anyone outside Boston or the Berkshires?

Consider that in 18 nomination votes taken to date on President Trump’s Cabinet picks, Warren has voted “no” 15 times. And it’s easy to understand why Warren would oppose some of Trump’s more right-leaning choices, such as Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary or Scott Pruitt at EPA.

But Elaine Chao? She served as Peace Corps director under George H.W. Bush, Secretary of Labor under George W. Bush, and led the United Way.

Apparently, being married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is Chao’s unpardonable offense, for Warren articulated no legitimate reason to oppose Chao.

Warren was also among 11 senators to oppose John F. Kelly as Secretary of Homeland Security. Heck, even Bernie Sanders voted for Kelly.