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THIS IS A DISGRACE: Virginia mother could face prison after trying to record bullies of 9-year-old girl.

A Virginia woman is facing felony charges after she put a digital audio recorder into her 9-year-old’s backpack in an effort to catch what she said were her daughter’s bullies.

Sarah Sims could spend up to five years in prison. She was charged this month with using an electronic device to intercept oral communication, a felony, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a misdemeanor.

Ms. Sims, whose daughter attends Ocean View Elementary School in Norfolk, told a local NBC affiliate that she placed a recording device in her fourth-grade daughter’s backpack after school officials failed to stop other students from bullying her.

School officials eventually found out about the recorder and called police, the station reported. Ms. Sims said she didn’t find out until she was charged a month later.

“I was mortified,” she said. “The next thing I know I’m a felon. Felony charges and a misdemeanor when I’m trying to look out for my kid. What do you do?”

It’s almost like sending your kid to government schools is parental malpractice.

A HEAD START ON PARENTAL MALPRACTICE:“Woke Babysitting” Service Offers Childcare for Social Justice Warriors.

RELYING ON COURTS TO PROTECT YOUR LIBERTIES IS DUBIOUS: Judge Upholds Suspension of the Pop-Tart Gun Kid. He had previously punched another kid in the nose, but that didn’t get similar treatment. “Poorly timed pastry-based playacting wasn’t his worst infraction, but in the months after Sandy Hook, teachers and administrators decided to treat it like it was. The huge overreaction to the Anne Arundel case was the result of a pattern of bad behavior, too—by school administrators who promote and enforce zero tolerance policies.”

Sending your kids to public school verges on parental malpractice, these days.

K-12 IMPLOSION UPDATE: High School Shames Student for Writing Politically Incorrect Essay It Knew Was Satire: Jonathan Swift “A Modest Proposal” assignment goes awry because everything is offensive.

Sending your kid to public school is pretty much parental malpractice these days.

K-12 IMPLOSION UPDATE: Middle school election results (temporarily) withheld because the winners aren’t “diverse” enough (principal has backed down). But though this is evidence of why sending kids to public schools is parental malpractice, it did teach a valuable lesson about how educrats feel about the voice of the people.

TEXAS 14-YEAR-OLD TAKES HOMEMADE CLOCK TO SCHOOL, gets treated as terrorist. Police, school district refuse to apologize. And note this: “When he showed it to his teacher, explaining it was a clock, she said she thought it looked like a bomb. A few hours later, Ahmed found himself being questioned in a room with four cops, and then later in handcuffs on the way to a juvenile detention center.” So you thought it was a bomb — uh huh –and then you waited “a few hours” to do anything about it, but still treated it as terrorism. If you really think something’s a bomb, you don’t wait hours. If it can wait a few hours, you don’t need to go crazy.

Ken White’s take: “American lives are controlled by the thuggishly mediocre. The best measure of their control is this: when called out on their mediocre thuggery, they can comfortably double down.” I’m coming to believe that the only hope for addressing this phenomenon involves tar, feathers, and horsewhips.

Reminds me of this story. Note that when specifically warned about real terrorists, the Tsarnaev brothers, the law enforcement community twiddled its thumbs.

Also, sending your kids, especially boys, to public school is parental malpractice. You’ve been warned.

UPDATE: People are making a big deal about the kid’s name being Ahmed, but Razib Khan points out that school-administrator thuggishness knows no racial bounds.

K-12 IMPLOSION UPDATE: Boy Got a Haircut Like His Military Step-Brother, School Suspended Him: Why is it okay for public school officials to place totally unnecessary, soul-crushing restrictions on students? Sending your kids, even boys, to public school isn’t exactly child abuse, but it’s looking more and more like parental malpractice.

K-12 IMPLOSION UPDATE: 6-year-old suspended after pointing at classmate in shape of gun.

Six-year-old Elijah goes to Stratton Meadows Elementary School. On Monday, he pointed at a classmate in the shape of a gun and said, “You’re dead.”

According to his behavior report, an administrator spoke with him about what being dead means and about not confusing “make-believe” or things in games with reality. And he received a one-day suspension for threats against peers.

“I know they have zero tolerance, but more of a maybe no recess,” his dad, Austin Thurston said. “Going as far as a one-day suspension is a little extreme for a six-year-old in a first-grade class.”

A spokesperson for Harrison School District 2, which Stratton Meadows is a part of, couldn’t give specifics about the case, because it’s part of the student’s personal record. But she said school administrators feel they issued the appropriate disciplinary action.

Sending your kids to public school — especially if they’re boys — is looking more and more like parental malpractice.

WHY SENDING YOUR KIDS TO PUBLIC SCHOOL MAY BE PARENTAL MALPRACTICE: LA Schools Blame Girl for Sex With Teacher — And what’s more, the district wins its civil suit.


K-12 IMPLOSION UPDATE: In Maryland, a Soviet-Style Punishment for a Novelist.

A 23-year-old teacher at a Cambridge, Md. middle school has been placed on leave and—in the words of a local news report—”taken in for an emergency medical evaluation” for publishing, under a pseudonym, a novel about a school shooting. The novelist, Patrick McLaw, an eighth-grade language-arts teacher at the Mace’s Lane Middle School, was placed on leave by the Dorchester County Board of Education, and is being investigated by the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office, according to news reports from Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The novel, by the way, is set 900 years in the future. . . .

Imagine that—a novelist who didn’t store bombs and guns at the school at which he taught. How improbable! Especially considering that he uses an “alias,” which is apparently the law-enforcement term for “nom de plume.” (Here is the Amazon page for The Insurrectionist, by the way. Please note that the book was published in 2011, before McLaw was hired.)

According to an equally credulous and breathless report in the Star-Democrat, which is published in Easton, Md., the combined efforts of multiple law-enforcement agencies have made area children safe from fiction. Sheriff Phillips told the newspaper that, in addition to a K-9 sweep of the school (!), investigators also raided McLaw’s home. “The residence of the teacher in Wicomico County was searched by personnel,” Phillips said, with no weapons found. “A further check of Maryland State Police databases also proved to be negative as to any weapons registered to him. McLaw was suspended by the Dorchester County Board of Education pending an investigation and is no longer in the area. He is currently at a location known to law enforcement and does not currently have the ability to travel anywhere.”

These are the people you trust to educate your children, and keep your streets safe — and they’re complete, blithering idiots armed with the power of the state. Tar and feathers isn’t enough.

And, really, isn’t it parental malpractice to put your kids in the hands of people who can’t tell truth from fiction?

K-12 IMPLOSION UPDATE: A 5-year-old boy in Surprise is accused of sexual misconduct for pulling his pants down on the playground. Sending a child — especially a boy — to public school is looking more and more like parental malpractice.

K-12 IMPLOSION UPDATE: Girl, 10, not allowed to bring sunscreen on field trip due to ‘toxic’ nature.

Sunscreen is one of the best protectors from the sun, but North East Independent School District parent Christy Riggs said her child wasn’t allowed to bring sunscreen to campus and suffered the burning consequences.

Riggs said her 10-year-old daughter went on a school field trip recently and came back sun-burned. Riggs said district policy didn’t allow her daughter to bring sunscreen to reapply.

“When you have a school field trip or a field day (in) which they’re out there for an extended period of time, they should be allowed to carry sunscreen and reapply,” said Riggs.

Riggs said skin cancer runs in her family and her father recently passed away from it.

But, NEISD spokeswoman Aubrey Chancellor said sunscreen is considered a medication, something children need a doctor’s note to have at school.

“Typically, sunscreen is a toxic substance, and we can’t allow toxic things in to be in our schools,” Chancellor said.

Oh, they’re toxic already. Is it turning into parental malpractice to send your kids to public schools?

WAR ON MEN: In Schools, Redefining Boyhood As A Disease. Yet another reason to wonder if sending your kids to public school is some sort of parental malpractice.

K-12 IMPLOSION UPDATE: An inconvenient child: My six-year-old son was suspended as a danger to others. His crime? A disability you could find in any classroom.

Within two hours of the inspector informing the principal that our family was cleared, she abruptly changed tack. Instead of accusing us of abusing our son, she now accused our son of sexually assaulting other children. The principal called me at work shortly after lunch that day and told me to collect my son. . . .

Looking back, the most charitable interpretation I can put on the whole experience is that maybe when large bureaucracies start moving in one direction, they reach a point when they can no longer resist their own momentum. Someone at the school made a bad judgment about our son, the system clanked into motion and from then on there was no stopping it. It certainly felt like we were caught in a machine that had no guilt about telling lies, no inhibitions about destroying children and families. And as far as we could see, there was no reason for any of it other than carelessness and arrogance and, in the end, self-protection. It served no function except, perhaps, to save the district some money on movement therapy. When the judge asked what could possibly justify the open-ended suspension of a first-grader from school, the district declared that our son presented ‘a danger to others’ – including a danger to the adults at the school. By this stage, our son was six years and eight months old.

Is sending your kids to public school parental malpractice?

K-12 IMPLOSION UPDATE: Jewish dad questions homework assignment, gets investigated for being a ‘neo-Nazi.’ I’m beginning to think that putting your kids in public schools is parental malpractice. And I think the teachers’ union president should be fired, and sued. The only way to address this kind of stuff is to make examples of people; right now there’s a culture of impunity.

K-12 IMPLOSION UPDATE: Coventry Student Suspended for Keychain. “NBC10′s Tony Gugliotta reports tonight that a seventh-grade student in Coventry public schools has been suspended for three days after his friend took a two-inch keychain shaped as gun from his backpack.” This counts as a “firearm replica?” It’s a key fob.

Meanwhile, note that while the schools are reaching new heights of absurdity, they’re not excelling at their supposed job of teaching students:

According to data provided by the state Department of Education, only 68% of students in Joseph’s class are “proficient” in math. Just 26% achieved “proficient with distinction” on the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) tests conducted last year.

Sending your kids to public school is looking more and more like parental malpractice.

K-12 IMPLOSION UPDATE: Suspended Student May Be Expelled for Rest of the Year for Playing With Toy Gun…in His Own Yard. Sending a kid — especially a boy — to public school is looking more and more like parental malpractice.

IS SENDING YOUR KIDS TO PUBLIC SCHOOLS PARENTAL MALPRACTICE? Fired for using the word “Negro” — in Spanish class. “A Bronx teacher has filed a lawsuit claiming she was fired for using the word ‘negro’ in class. ‘Negro’ is the Spanish word for the color black.”

Given how hard it is to get fired from NYC’s public schools this is particularly impressive in its idiocy.

LOWER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: 80 Percent Of Recent NYC High School Graduates Cannot Read.

Nearly 80 percent of New York City high school graduates need to relearn basic skills before they can enter the City University’s community college system. . . .

Officials told CBS 2′s Kramer that nearly 80 percent of those who graduate from city high schools arrived at City University’s community college system without having mastered the skills to do college-level work.

In sheer numbers it means that nearly 11,000 kids who got diplomas from city high schools needed remedial courses to re-learn the basics.

As I note in The K-12 Implosion, this is why so many parents are pulling their kids out of large urban school districts. Leaving your kid in schools like this is practically parental malpractice.

Meanwhile, maybe Mike Bloomberg should be addressing problems like this, instead of Big Gulps and women with too many condoms. You know?

IS SENDING YOUR KIDS TO GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS PARENTAL MALPRACTICE? Are Grading Trends Hurting Socially Awkward Kids? “A generation ago, before current trends in K-12 education took hold, many Asperger’s children would have sailed through school without being downgraded for their social deficiencies. Nowadays, even in subjects where they used to excel, their grades are declining. And so are their prospects for appropriately challenging and rewarding education — and careers — in the future.”

IS SENDING YOUR KIDS TO GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS PARENTAL MALPRACTICE? Minnesota Bill to Ban K-12 Speech That Denies Fellow Students a “Supportive Environment.”

IS SENDING YOUR KID TO GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS PARENTAL MALPRACTICE? Today’s Hysterical Gun Freakout: Teacher Invades Kid’s Privacy, Threatens Him Over Digital Photo of Airsoft Gun.

MORE AND MORE, SENDING YOUR KID TO GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS LOOKS LIKE PARENTAL MALPRACTICE: High School Student Disarms Gunman…Gets Suspended? “The school’s referral slip said he was given an ’emergency suspension’ for being involved in an ‘incident’ with a weapon.”

Tar. Feathers.

THOUGHTCRIME: Pop-Tart Pistol?: 7-Year-Old Gets Suspended for Gun-Shaped Pastry. Putting your kid — especially if he’s a boy — in public school is looking more and more like parental malpractice.

LOWER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Alexandria cops bust 10-year-old for bringing toy gun to school.

The boy, a fifth-grader at Douglas MacArthur Elementary School whose name is not being released, was charged as a juvenile with brandishing a weapon, police said. . . .

When the boy arrived, authorities found the toy in his backpack. He was taken into custody, transported to a juvenile detention center for booking and then released to his parents, Hildebrandt said.

“The safety of our students is always our first concern,” Sherman said. “We appreciate the quick response and action by our police.”

Your students were always safe, because it was a toy gun. Except they’re not safe from overweening officialdom, who can’t tell the difference between a dangerous weapon and a toy gun. Or, more accurately, who choose to ignore the difference.

Sending your kids to public school is looking more and more like parental malpractice.

I’M BEGINNING TO THINK THAT PUTTING YOUR KIDS IN PUBLIC SCHOOL IS PARENTAL MALPRACTICE: High-school freshman suspended for having a picture of a gun. Thoughtcrime! But wait, there’s more:

This incident is the latest in a growing line of extraordinarily strong reactions by school officials to things students have brought to school — or talked about bringing to school — that are not anything like real guns.

At D. Newlin Fell School in Philadelphia, school officials reportedly yelled at a student and then searched her in front of her class after she was found with a paper gun her grandfather had made for her. (RELATED: Paper gun causes panic)

In rural Pennsylvania, a kindergarten girl was suspended for making a “terroristic threat” after she told another girl that she planned to shoot her with a pink Hello Kitty toy gun that bombards targets with soapy bubbles.

At Roscoe R. Nix Elementary School in Maryland, a six-year-old boy was suspended for making the universal kid sign for a gun, pointing at another student and saying “pow.” That boy’s suspension was later lifted and his name cleared. (RELATED: Pow! You’re suspended, kid)

In Sumter, South Carolina, a six-year-old girl was expelled for bringing a clear plastic Airsoft gun that shoots plastic pellet to class for show-and-tell. The expulsion was later revoked.

Remember, these are the people who claim that they teach critical thinking.

TAR. FEATHERS. Courageous Pennsylvania School Officials Nab 5-Year Old Terrorist.

Just yesterday, I mocked Maryland officials for suspending two little boys for the horrific crime of playing cops and robbers (and noted that this is not the first time such stupidity has been displayed by Maryland school officials).

Preferred Weapon of al Qaeda

Apparently, the pencil-neck bureaucrats in Pennsylvania are jealous that their neighbors are getting a lot of attention, so they’ve branded a five-year old girl as a terrorist threat for talking about her pink toy gun that shoots bubbles.

Yes, bubbles.

As I keep saying, it’s looking more and more like it’s parental malpractice to put your kids in the hands of public schools. Which will just bring on the K-12 Implosion.

IS PUTTING YOUR KID IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS PARENTAL MALPRACTICE? (CONT’D): Boy, Not Making Bombs, Arrested for Having Things Cops Think Could Blow Up (And For Drawings That Spooked a Teacher). Nothing actually dangerous was found.

Lest you think it is inherently suspicious a young man would have chemicals or electronic parts, note that his school is, according to a Press of Atlantic City account, “a magnet school with programs focusing on engineering and environmental sciences and specializing in hands-on learning.”

The system and police should apologize, and there should be consequences and reparations all around. But there won’t be, because accountability is for the little people. Which is why I’m beginning to think that putting your kids in public schools might just be parental malpractice.

NICK GILLESPIE EMAILS: “Unbelievable! Even for those of us who hate Michigan.” Kindergartener Banned from Wearing U of Michigan T-Shirt in OK City. “An Oklahoma City kindergartner was forced to turn his University of Michigan shirt inside out last week because it violated a city ban on any apparel not supportive of the state’s college teams.” Really, have we reached the point where it’s parental malpractice to entrust your kids to public schools?


When Sabrina Grant read the email from a teacher’s aide at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School in Framingham, Massachusetts, she was furious. The aide said Grant’s 10-year-old autistic son kept playing with one of his loose baby teeth. The aide added it was very distracting, so they yanked the tooth out. Grant got even even angrier when her son got home. She found the loose tooth was still in his mouth, but a molar next to it was missing.

So, is it parental malpractice to send your kid to public school?

PUBLIC EDUCATION: Nurse refuses student inhaler during asthma attack: School says medical release form lacked parent’s signature.

School leaders called Sue Rudi when her son started having trouble breathing. She rushed to the office and was taken back to the nurse’s office by school administrators and they discovered the teen on the floor.

“As soon as we opened up the door, we saw my son collapsing against the wall on the floor of the nurse’s office while she was standing in the window of the locked door looking down at my son, who was in full-blown asthma attack,” Rudi said.

Michael Rudi said when he started to pass out from his attack, the nurse locked the door.

You know, I’m beginning to think that sending your kids to public schools is starting to look like parental malpractice.

IS IT PARENTAL MALPRACTICE TO PUT YOUR KID IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS? Sex Criminal At Age 6. “I typically blog several of these cases a month these days — sexual assault charges or ‘weapons’ charges for some kid whose granny put a paring knife in her lunch bag to cut her apple.”

And nobody ever seems to get fired over them, though this Principal should be unemployed, and unemployable, after this incident.

RADLEY BALKO ON the “school-to-prison pipeline.” Have we reached the point where it’s parental malpractice to enroll your kids in public school?

CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOL bans homemade lunches. “Principal Elsa Carmona said her intention is to protect students from their own unhealthful food choices.” More and more, it seems like parental malpractice to let your kids go to public schools, where they seem to be viewed as state property, and guinea pigs for social experimentation.

A MILLENNIAL CRI DE COEUR: InstaPundit reader McKean Evans emails in response to this Michael Barone post:

I’ve read your blog nearly every day since I was in high school (class of ’04), when the 2000 election disputes and 9/11 really woke me up to the world of politics, and while I haven’t always agreed with you about everything, this is the first time I’ve felt compelled to write to you. So let me say in advance that for about ten years now I’ve been an avid reader and for the most part, very much appreciated what you’ve had to say. I’ve done my very best to avoid ranting and to produce a courteous and reasonably concise statement of why, longtime reader that I am, I’m frankly quite angry with some of your recent postings. Of course, you’re the one with the blog, you’ve got the right to your opinion, and it’s an opinion that I’ve had a great deal of respect for for a long time, so all I ask is that you think about what I have to say in the future.

There’s been a real trend in the blogosphere lately, among people with a variety of different views, to make arguments which run something along the lines of: “the Millennials are lazy, they had everything handed to them on a silver platter, they’re the byproducts of the cult of self-esteem and they’ve never had to work for anything before now, so why should we care if they have trouble finding work right out of school?” Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve always found a lot of what seems to characterize my generation as fairly repellent (Exhibit 1: /Jersey Shore/), and I think that there are a lot of very valid, very important criticisms to level at the the way in which our society has extended adolescence into (apparently) perpetuity, not to mention the wisdom of borrowing yourself into six figures of college debt. However, this new trend of shamelessly and self-righteously laying into 20-30 year olds who, for example, are forced to move back home after graduation because they can’t get a job, or who are forced to remain on their parents’ health insurance, is just counterproductive. Moreover, it’s incredibly insulting. New college graduates are among those most impacted by the recession, and they’re in the worst position to handle unemployment. We don’t have savings, or CD’s, or a 401(k), or home equity to fall back on. What we have is our parents. And make no mistake, nobody, but nobody, is excited to move back home with the folks.

Now of course it’s tempting to make the point that most of us wouldn’t be in this position if we hadn’t borrowed so heavily for school, and that’s absolutely a valid point. That’s a discussion that absolutely has to happen in our society. But it’s completely unjust and inappropriate to simply tell everybody who graduated in the past two years, who still can’t find steady work, that it’s their own damn fault. We weren’t of voting age when Congress decided it was a great idea to undermine the housing and financial sectors, by giving huge home equity loans to persons with no capacity to ever repay them. You wouldn’t have found us among those who blindly followed the financial gurus of the late 90’s and early aughts, who just /knew/ that you could buy a house and that its value would increase forever. You definitely wouldn’t have found us working for the UAW, while the unions bled the heart of the manufacturing sector dry over the past thirty years.

But I’ll tell you where you would have found us over the past ten years, while the stage was being set for everything to go to hell. We were at school, in the library, doing exactly what we were supposed to be doing. And if there’s one great sin of my generation, it’s that we blindly listened to everything that our parents and teachers told us about the value of a college education, of a “liberal arts” degree, and the risks of heavy student loan debt. To grow up in the late 1990’s and in the aughts was to be constantly inundated with the importance, the absolute necessity of Almighty Higher Education. I started hearing about planning for college when I was around 13, and my parents were comparatively very laid back. For the vast majority of people who are now in their 20’s, adolescence wasn’t about anything at all but getting in to college. Our teachers talked about College the way that Churchill talked about Victory. I’ve long argued that the reason why popular culture among young adults today is so obnoxiously, insufferably adolescent is at least partly due to the fact that we were never /allowed/ to be adolescents. You didn’t play sports or write for the school newspaper or volunteer at the soup kitchen because you wanted to, you did it to pad that college application. I can’t tell you how many times I was told, point blank, that the way to success was to get into the best college you could, and borrow as much money as you could to pay for it. Of /course/ college was worth six figures in debt. To even ask the question was unthinkable for most of us, because we had never been allowed to consider the possibility that it might be otherwise.

So now we’ve just graduated, and the fact is that there are simply no jobs. I myself graduated in May from a very competent, middle-of-the-road law school, and probably around 75% of my class is unemployed. And I can tell you first hand that none of them are happy about moving back in with the folks. They’re not doing it because they’re too lazy to support themselves, they’re doing it because they’re looking at 150-200k in student loans and no employment. When I say “no employment” I don’t mean a lack of big-law, 100k associate employment. I don’t even mean that we’re having trouble getting the clerkships and government jobs that the ivy league law schools so despise. I mean nothing–there are simply no jobs.

Did my generation grow up with unreasonable expectations about life, employment, and the value of a degree? Absolutely. But before you’re so quick to judge us, please remember that for the vast, vast majority of our admittedly short lives, we worked intensely hard to do what we were told was the right thing to do, the only thing to do, by absolutely everybody in authority. The worst you can really say about us is that we did what we were told when we were children.

Yeah, it’s a really tough jobs environment out there right now. And Barone’s comments, while correctly observing a trend, are somewhat at odds with his book Hard America, Soft America, which says that America has the worst 18-year-olds and the best 30-year-olds in the industrialized world.

UPDATE: Reader James Ruhland emails: “The best reply a Boomer can give to McKean Evans comes from Animal House: ‘You f’d up. You trusted us.'”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Douglas Landrum writes:

My heart goes out to McKean Evans. My son just graduated from college – a very tony private school and his Mom and I footed the bill. Our son is still on the payroll – to our chagrin. The rap that Millennials are lazy or had everything handed to them just isn’t so. I think they will be the next greatest generation. They see the ultimate greed of the Boomers (of which I am ashamed to be one). We are the greediest generation. We expect to have our Social Security and Medicare too. We expect to benefit from Obamacare – or so the predominant liberal core of the Boomers do – all at the expense of younger generations. My son has degrees – business marketing major and studio arts minor. He has no job in his field. My son is an ocean lifeguard and delivers pizzas. I am sure he would work as third job if he could find it. These kids will mature up tough and savvy. They will also allow us to be death paneled out of their lives. Don’t under estimate their grit.

Well, the death-paneled-out thing doesn’t sound so great. Meanwhile, Charles Austin writes:

He has it down pat, the whole it’s somebody else’s fault but mine. But as their expectations of the high paying career they are entitled to are smashed between the Scylla of debt as far as the eye can see and the Charybdis of progressive nanny-statism and they are forced to move back home to stretch their adolescence out just a little farther, is it fair to say the chicks are coming home to roost?

I graduated in 1981. That too was a tough job market. If anything really does annoy me about this kind of commentary it is that they think it has never happened before and that they are a special case worthy of special treatment.

The Carter generation vs. the Obama generation. I think the latter has it worse, personally. At this point, a Carter rerun would be an improvement.

MORE: Reader Steve Poling writes:

Your post http://pjmedia.com/instapundit/101267/ is one of those rare, long ones that always pique my interest. I don’t think the millenials are lazy, but they may have been misled, victims of educational malpractice. If you have an entire country in which nobody learns how to create value, you should not be surprised if nobody has a job. There will be work for lawyers as long as human nature is as it is. Plumbers, electricians, mechanics, cooks and barbers will also be needed as long as people use such things, get hungry or have hair that grows.

However, a sizable portion of the academy has been diverted into useless endeavors. How many religion and gender studies majors does this nation need to keep America strong and prosperous? How many fill-in-the-blank studies departments exist to provide sinecures to politically connected fellows whose core competency is railing at cops and drinking beer with the President? If your college major teaches you how to create trouble for others, I’m happy when you can’t find work. Conversely, if you can make something besides trouble, then I hope you’ll create value for yourself and for society.

My daughter graduated from Michigan’s Engineering school last year and turned down a job offer in lieu of graduate study. When she finishes her Masters next month, she’ll be able to find work at several places worldwide because she picked a useful major.

Well, creating value is less rewarded than it used to be. And people tend to flock to things that are rewarded. And reader Robin Tillings writes:

I think the themes of your posts yesterday are at a confluence. McKean Evans’s email was a convincing argument for teaching critical thinking skills, which might seem to be in the realm of school curriculum, but really falls into parental responsibility.

Evans is correct that our society emphasizes the roll of higher education as a gateway to a better living. But, as you pointed out in that link to the WP article about college grads going into the trades for a more secure future and readily available jobs, reality intrudes when parents offer their kids the sink or swim choice. Somehow, I don’t think young Mr. Evans is envisioning a future of plumbing despite his dismay at living at home post-college, but that might change if Mom and Dad were asking for rent and utilities money.

My husband and I both hold degrees in liberal arts from good schools and graduated into the 1990 recession. My parents wisely counseled graduating without debt ( Dad a conservative after all), which was the best advice they ever gave me as we had to work a lot of unpleasant jobs to pay the rent post-graduation, a turnip farm one summer being the most memorable and unpleasant. My husband learned the trade of fine cabinetry and construction, which has been extremely lucrative and allowed me to be a stay at home mom and homeschool our eldest. Every valuable skill my husband has in his proverbial toolbox, he learned himself or on the job, and even in this deplorable job market, he landed a wonderful job when his own business went sour with the housing market.

While it’s nice to tell acquaintances in our Ivy League town that we have college degrees (fits the snob appeal), the truth is I’m not sure I’ll counsel my children that college is the single path to success, despite cultural pressure. Self education is a wonderful journey and what we’ve learned on our own stumbling path is that demonstrable skill sets and a strong work ethic trump degrees for most careers. These days it seems that college degrees are paying for a title and a Rolodex of contacts, which can’t be dismissed as unimportant, but should be placed in context of the big picture. Would you pay $100K for a list of names?

Well, I suppose it depends on the names. But point taken. Another reader emails:

I’m a member of Gen-X and have found that the baby boomers seem to claim that any subsequent generation to theirs is lazy and shiftless. I’m firmly of the belief that the boomers project their own vices upon subsequent generations without any true understanding of the wreckage that they’ve left in their wake. Our generations have been starting the career ladder facing higher college debt, higher rent/housing prices, and older employees who have benefited from improvements in health care and don’t intend upon retiring from their well paid perches. From a Gen-X perspective, we have been judged by how much less our generation has produced despite the fact that *per*capita* we’ve outperformed the baby boomers, there are just fewer of us. I’ll bet that the millenials will be at least as productive as we, and there are more of them. The baby boomers should be singing our praises in the streets, for without our industry *and*tax*dollars* that is where they’ll be in their twilight years.

Stay tuned.