Beyond Labels

A 360° Discussion of Foreign, National and Local Policy Issues



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For Tomorrow (Dec. 12)

As Mike noted, we plan to continue our discussion about the value of art tomorrow, at least for a while, in the hope that Sarah and Marion will be able to attend.

After that, we plan to discuss two “blog” articles (and I’m adding an op-ed piece I read yesterday that reinforces one of the likely discussion tangents:

Start by reading “Why is the ‘Decimation of Public Schools’ a Bad Thing?,” which provides (at least in my reading) a pretty cogent explication of how important being specific in political discussion can be—rather than sound-bite slogans, which frequently don’t advance the dialog (or change anyone’s mind) at all. But the main subject of the article is expressing skepticism about “school choice” in the Trump-DeVos era. It’s not very long and an easy read.

Then read Mike’s friend (and I like his writing as well) Scott Alexander’s article “Contra Robinson on Schooling.” As usual, he takes a relatively deep dive I like about his written arguments because they are 1) they’re pretty cogent and 2) well “sourced” with links. So you can click through to examine the basis for many of his statements.

If you have lots of time, you might want to read the comments to his “Contra” blog article. Fair warning: there are a lot of them. If you don’t have that much time, consider his “Highlights from the Comment Thread on School Choice” article. It singles out the comments he thinks are worthy of note and, in some cases, a bit of debate.

Lastly, in the spirit of the “Decimation” description of the Liberal-Conservative language divide and our recent discussion on Identity Politics, you might be interested in Nicholas Kristof’s op-ed on “Echo Chambers on Campus.” It’s similar to the piece we discussed two weeks ago in the sense that it seems like a thoughtful self-critique of liberal behavior/platform/rhetoric/you name it. I don’t often agree with him, but I respect his views. And I do agree with many of the observations he makes in this piece. Good fodder for discussion.

See you tomorrow!

For December 5: The Value of Art

We’ve agreed to address this topic–long on the “docket”–next week. For our purposes, “Art” means the “Arts”–without limit to form.

From my perspective, I think the most interesting discussion will be around who should pay for artistic works and to whom should these works be available. The answer will obviously be a mix of several sources and venues, but I’m thinking:

  • How do we feel about private collections (i.e., privately owned and not available to the public)?
  • Under what circumstances should public funds be used to “support the arts?” Or should art intended for public display rely on private “patrons?”
  • Should public support be conditioned, in some way, on content? (I’m thinking of some of the controversial shows that have been (?) displayed in public spaces.)
  • How do we evaluate (and quantify) the benefit of art on society, etc. (the general welfare)?

Feel free to add a comment if you come across a good source for us to review before Monday’s discussion.

For Monday: What is the Purpose of High School?

We often revisit the link between education and economic prosperity in our Beyond Labels discussions. This coming week, we will be joined by Tim Seeley, the new Head of School at George Stevens Academy.

We’ll explore the competing demands on high school educators:

  • General Education (i.e., what should every student know before leaving high school, recognizing that the next step might be specialization in college or the workplace)
  • College Preparation (what do colleges expect freshmen to know before they matriculate)
  • Vocational Training (for both college-bound and non-college bound students)

All this against a backdrop of rapid social and physical development of each student.

As usual, I expect we’ll have a wide-ranging and fun conversation.

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