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Christian activists still forcing abstinence-only education on kids in public schools

Judgmental, Christian-y abstinence-only education is still going on in Colorado public schools.
One of the great pleasures of following the anti-choice movement in America is marveling at the widespread audacity when it comes to bald-faced lying. Their world is an inverse of mine, a world where sex is deeply shameful but lying like you're getting paid for it isn't. The realms of politicians and public relations have nothing on the anti-choice movement when it comes to telling a lie with a straight face, even in those situations where it's completely obvious that you're lying. Take, for instance, the whopper dropped by Brad Seng, anti-abortion activist with a side gig of going into Colorado schools to push a Christianist anti-contraception agenda under the guise of "abstinence-only education": "One of the first things I say is that it's not that sex is bad or is a dirty activity to be engaging in," [Seng] said. "That's not it at all. It's about encouraging young people to make healthy lifestyle decisions. Our method is grounded in truth and nonjudgmental." The totally "nonjudgmental" way he goes about teaching that sex isn't "bad" or a "dirty activity"? He gets the kids to chew some food, put it in a glass of water, and offer it to the other kids to drink. This is meant to represent having sex, which caused me to wonder if Seng learned all he knows about sex from the chewing gum incident in the most recent episode of Mad Men. Naturally, the kids are uninterested in drinking water with backwash in it, which causes Seng, no doubt, to triumphantly suggest that having sex with someone befouled by previous sexual encounters is the same thing. Perhaps Seng thinks this is a "nonjudgmental" way to avoid saying sex is dirty because he doesn't throw actual dirt into the glass. While abstinence-only educators invariably say that they're not pushing a sexist agenda alongside their anti-sex agenda, it doesn't really pass notice that the symbol of disgusting nonvirginity that Seng chose is a wet cylinder that you put things in. Not that it would have been any more pleasant to have the kids pass around a banana that's already been chewed on. The parents who are upset at the sex-is-dirty-water demonstration are also concerned that the abstinence-only courses are in violation of the separation of church and state, because Seng works out of an explicitly Christian anti-choice center in Boulder, Colo., one that claims also to be "nonjudgmental", even while making it very clear that they're focused on why women specifically shouldn't have sex. (From the website: "A review of these infections shows that women frequently have more to lose when engaging in casual sex than men do." Also, hilariously: "Though certainly not an infection, unexpected pregnancy also demands more physically from a woman than from a man." You don't say!) Seng and his defenders in the school administration claim that he's not pushing a religious agenda in his presentations, but this is coming from people who also claim that putting chewed food in a symbolic vagina to represent sex isn't judge-y or misogynist. There's just a point where you stop trusting the authority of shameless liars. . . .

April 19, 2012

Kickstart Jim Munroe's "Ghosts with Shit Jobs"!

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What's Dave-o Been Up To? Sleepy Babies, Writerly Advice, and Clockwork Sexbots!

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April 18, 2012

What if grading undergarduate papers was done for free by other undergrads?

Why, think of how many teachers could be fired! For the record: I think this is a terrible idea and that schools need to get their ballooning administrative budgets under control. The Next Step in Destroying Academic Labor - Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money
Koller, an artificial intelligence specialist who has taught computer science at Stanford since getting her Ph.D. there at age 25, said that the challenge of assessing student work in humanities-oriented MOOCs could be addressed through a system of “calibrated peer review.” Human readers, plucked from the ranks of the course registrants, could read short essays written by their peers and rate them according to a rubric developed by the professor. A critical mass of deputized students should be able to evaluate an essay “at least as [well] as a pretty good [teaching assistant],” Koller said in an interview.