Can you read cursive? Do you know why democratic values are important? | An Alternative View | Diana Diamond | Palo Alto Online |

Local Blogs

An Alternative View

By Diana Diamond

E-mail Diana Diamond

About this blog: So much is right — and wrong — about what is happening in Palo Alto. In this blog I want to discuss all that with you. I know many residents care about this town, and I want to explore our collective interests to help ...  (More)

View all posts from Diana Diamond

Can you read cursive? Do you know why democratic values are important?

Uploaded: Apr 12, 2022
“I don’t read cursive,” the CVS store clerk said to me when I handed my friend’s somewhat undecipherable shopping list over, asking her what she thought the third item was. She looked at the check-out employee asking, “Sharon, do you read cursive?” “No,” was her answer. “My school didn’t teach it.”

Call me naïve as to what students learn today, but I was absolutely amazed that neither of these two young women could read handwriting – only block letters.

How could learning to read written words have disappeared in our school systems in this country?

That question drove me to the web, where I immediately realized three things: a) teaching cursive writing has been eliminated from school curricula since the early 1980s, b) a lot more of the subjects taught at that time have also gone by the wayside, to an alarming extent, and c) how radically what kids learn today has changed from the fundamentals I was taught years ago.

I saw a site where four pre-teen students were asked about the need for cursive writing. Two of them dismissed it because it was “too hard” and “complicated” to learn – all those curves – and they didn’t want to struggle through it. Two others said it would come in handy, but they still want to use block letters to write.

Alas!

In general, many classes that were taught in the 1980s no longer exist today: civics, Latin, cursive writing, home economics, shop, Roman numerals, trigonometry, sections of American history, world history, typing, library research and even drivers’ ed -- and more.

Research papers are also no longer in style, unfortunately, I think, because I remember some I did in high school, like a 20-page report on the ugly anti-black discriminatory maneuvers of the Ku Klux Kan, with actions that still are occurring, albeit under the white supremacy banner of today.

Schools still have libraries, but now they are called media centers and have a lot fewer books.

“Life skills” -- like how to write a check or secure a mortgage or how to manage money or even sew on a button – have been eliminated. But kids are now interested in any course that might help them make more money!

My very biggest concern is the disappearance of civics classes. Why? Because civics is all about our democratic form of government. That is where most of us learned about how our government works – the executive, legislative and judicial tripartite arrangement, the role of the House and Senate, elections in our country, voter rights, democratic citizenship, civic engagement, etc. Our nation is at a moment when the chances of losing our democracy is real. And yet, many younger people yawn when that it is mentioned because I don’t think they understand how important democracy is.

American history is also on its way out, as is any student knowledge about our nation’s history. A 2014 report by the National Assessment of Educational Progress showed that only an abysmal 18 percent of American high school kids were proficient in U.S. history.

Some of our politicians, don’t have the slightest idea about the ideals and principles our founding fathers used to establishing the birth of our nation and who was involved or why it matters. Not a great way to run a country. It also is very sad when students don’t know how many stars are on our national flag or why.

Teachers are not particularly interested in teaching history, one web site declared, because many of them do not know much history themselves, and also history is not one of the subjects that measures the success of a student, so why even teach it, many of them ask.

All of this, to me, is a rather abysmal portrait of what our kids are not being taught in schools today.

Many will argue students do not need to learn things like typing or Roman numerals – they use their computer or calculator keyboards at early ages and will catch on. They don’t need history because it is a constantly changing topic, with progressives leaning to civil rights issues and conservatives complaining loudly about critical race theory. Everything historical now has different interpretations so why does it matter, some teachers and parents ask.

But I also think the big switch happened in the late 1980s when STEM courses (Science, Tech, Engineering and Mathematics) became almost a mandate for the future curriculum in our schools. For a brief time, there was an effort to include arts and humanities subjects (STEAHM), but that got nowhere.

For me, although many techies and engineers in Silicon Valley will certainly disagree, a preponderance of only STEM courses is not the answer for a functioning society. We must build on our past cultures to move forward into the future.

So we are left today with a questionable and constantly changing curriculum and a somewhat scattered array of subjects our kids are learning.

We need instead to incorporate humanities, psychology, civics, philosophy into our nation as we go forward.

Our students today and what they know are the future of our country tomorrow.
Local Journalism.
What is it worth to you?

Comments

Posted by CalAveLocal, a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Apr 12, 2022 at 2:29 pm

CalAveLocal is a registered user.

Diana,
While I completely agree with you that we do need to teach civics to the children, I have one small correction to submit :)
They do continue to teach home economics; only now it is called "Family and Consumer Science". :) My middle schooler did come back with a machine sewn pillow case, basic knowledge of how to balance a check book (that one I think needs to go ;) and somewhat flawed, but acceptable (for a pre-teen) ability to make French toast. :) Oh, and basic lesson on how to properly load a dishwasher. Something I apparently never learned in middle school.


Posted by Byron Hiller, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Apr 12, 2022 at 2:41 pm

Byron Hiller is a registered user.

When I attended elementary school during the 1960s we had to learn penmanship in the third grade and some may recall those cardboard strips with all of the letters (upper and lower case) placed above the blackboard.

We were required to simulate those examples and graded accordingly.

Since everyone develops their own style of handwriting, I question the necessity of this exercise and perhaps students today should only learn how to sign their own signature in script.

My uncle is a retired pharmacist and during the course of his career, managed to decipher countless illegible and cryptic prescriptions written by physicians.

Since we no longer rely on fountain pens (or feathers) to write with, perhaps cursive writing is justifiably de-emphasized in today's elementary schools.

Typing skills are good to have but many people still 'hunt and peck' on the keyboard and manage to get by.

"We need instead to incorporate humanities, psychology, civics, philosophy into our nation as we go forward."

American History, Civics, and World Geography are important to know and should taught...Psychology is not that important as it is not a verifiable science but Philosophy can easily be incorporated in English classes during class discussions of the author's theme, symbolisms, and perspectives.


Posted by Marion Lockhardt, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Apr 12, 2022 at 2:51 pm

Marion Lockhardt is a registered user.

"American History, Civics, and World Geography are important to know and should [sic] BE taught...Psychology is not that important as it is not a verifiable science but Philosophy can easily be incorporated in English classes during class discussions of the author's theme, symbolisms, and perspectives."

In lieu of Psychology which is oftentimes little more than psycho-babble, the teaching of Sociology might be more practical as it provides a deeper understanding of society.

An Art Appreciation course would be another worthwhile addition.


Posted by Bonnie Tyler, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Apr 12, 2022 at 4:18 pm

Bonnie Tyler is a registered user.

For those so inclined, calligraphy could be offered for those who really want to script well.

Geography is becoming a weak spot for many kids nowadays and location skills should be emphasized even though modern smartphones have mapping apps.

Concurring that psychology is not that critical or important a subject. The works of Freud and Jung have never been proven and pardon the pun, nobody in their right mind takes the likes of Dr. Phil seriously.


Posted by Bystander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Apr 12, 2022 at 5:07 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

I think it is imperative that we teach our children how to cope with life. Yes, life skills are important and living skills being taught in our high schools seem to be more along the lines of drugs and sex. Not that those are not important, but life skills are neglected.

The biggest issues surround what is now called mental health which is how to deal with disappointments in life very often. We protect our kids so much that they are not prepared for the realities of life. Playgrounds and play equipment are so much safer than "when we were young" that grazed knees or a bloody nose are rare events. We have vaccinations so kids don't know what it's like to be home for a couple of weeks with Measles or Mumps and then at other times, Rubella and Chicken Pox. Not that I would want children to suffer, but it was those times that taught us how to deal with problems. I missed parties I wanted to go to through illness, but I also missed cool parties because I wasn't invited. Disappointing and a lesson learned. I was often on the losing team, or the last chosen for a team. I never won a trophy and I was never a recipient of the mpv, best in class, or class president. I tried and did have to learn that the effort I put in was my only reward when I didn't win the prize.

Bring back the life lessons that teach kids it is OK not to be a winner and very few of us ever will be. Life is not fair and we won't all get where we want through doing our best. Our kids have to learn to fail, to be disappointment, to be sad, to deal with life when it doesn't go our way. Mental health and suicide are big problems for teens and 20s, but we are not teaching them the skills they need to deal with sadness, upsets, life not going well through things that they have no control over, and the same when they have tried their best and not attained it. Teach kids to deal with painful realities. Don't protect them in bubble wrap, but let them learn to deal with the scars and tears.


Posted by Cameron Berry, a resident of another community,
on Apr 12, 2022 at 8:36 pm

Cameron Berry is a registered user.

Bystander brought up some very valid points.

Countless kids today, especially those from affluent white middle class families lack direction because they are coddled which often leads to a false sense of entitlement and which can later lead to personally troubling disapointments in life.

A possible solution?

Mandatory military or community service where these spoiled children can learn discipline and responsibility.

I grew up outside of Modesto and dropped out of high school at 15. I then went to work at my uncle's gas station forv$1.25 an hour and during the evenings, I studied for and earned my GED. When I turned 19, I got drafted and after training to become an army medic, I got shipped off to Viet Nam where I served in an infantry unit.

After I was discharged, I enrolled at Modesto JC on the G.I. Bill and later transfered to UC Davis where I studied Human Biology.

Long story short, I became a Radiologist and retired 5 years ago.

Kids today need to grow up and realize that life owes them nothing and in many instances, the parents are to blame.

As for high school curriculum, it's up to the school district and parents to decide what to teach and this can vary depending on the locale.

In the Central Valley, most folks don't buy into wokeness, LGBT education for kindergarten kids, and Critical Race Theory while in other more liberal areas, parents might be more receptive to left-wing educational curriculums.

In any event, students should be exposed to both sides of the coin and eventually decide for themselves where they stand politically and in regards to social issues.

Getting kids to grow up and become mature adults is not rocket science.

All it requires is a firm hand and not spoiling them.




Posted by Christiane Lanier, a resident of Rengstorff Park,
on Apr 13, 2022 at 8:59 am

Christiane Lanier is a registered user.

Ensuring democracy and freedom come with certain costs and our children should be made further aware of this factor including the necessity of having to go to war at times.

Diplomatic efforts are not always the answer as we are witnessing in the Ukraine conflict and sometimes a raging fire must be contained by creating perimeter fires.

Peace is always a temporary condition and sadly, it is usually maintained by war or the potential threat of war.

I agree that that the military draft should be reinstated to teach our younger members of society that there is no free lunch and far more to life than playing video games and tracking social media gossip.

High school physical fitness programs should also be re-emphasized as per JFK's presidential mandate back in the 1960s with a four year mandatory completion of PE classes required for high school graduation.

Kids today need more discipline as many are getting too soft both mentally and physically.

They need to start toughening up and learning to survive in the real world as the whiney Millennial generation is already a lost cause.




Posted by John Donegan, a resident of another community,
on Apr 13, 2022 at 9:56 am

John Donegan is a registered user.

Perhaps the biggest failure of the educational system is not giving kids the ability to effectively express themselves in writing. If someone is incapable of coherent written communications, they will struggle regardless of their other skills.


Posted by Janine Conners, a resident of Shoreline West,
on Apr 13, 2022 at 11:48 am

Janine Conners is a registered user.

I concur with those who are stressing that our children have a better understanding of American history, civics, and world geography at the middle and high school levels.

On the other hand, I do not concur with any educator who strongly believes that LGBTQ based curriculum be taught to younger children aged 5-8 in our public schools as young children do not need to be made fully aware of any social aberrations or deviant lifestyles until a later age.

And as for mandatory military service, basic training and actual conscription into the military are two different things.

Physical Education classes could easily be utilized to teach first aid, self-defense, and firearms proficiency along with pertinent disciplinary skills required for adult life but we must never use our young people for military fodder especially if it involves global conflicts outside of defending the United States itself.

Hopefully we have learned this lesson from Viet Nam and the Iraq/Afghanistan involvements.

As for the Ukraine, the Ukrainians will simply have to repel the Russian forces on their own with weapons assistance from NATO and the United States as it is not our duty nor moral responsibility to defend other countries and governments from outside aggressions.

Democracy does come with a price but those striving for this privilege must fight for it on their own, regardless of the outcome.







Posted by Erubial Tapia, a resident of another community,
on Apr 13, 2022 at 12:03 pm

Erubial Tapia is a registered user.

Democracy can only work if the citizenry is literate and somewhat capable of thinking on its own.

In many third world countries this is not the case and dictatorships (whether for better or for worse) often provide the best alternative for countries with high illiteracy rates.

Woodrow Wilson dragged America into World War I proclaiming "to make the world safe for democracy" and things did not work out that way because many countries are totally incapable of initiating or sustaining a democracy.

That is their problem but don't make it America's as we've got enough internal problems of our own to address and resolve.




Posted by Robert Prentiss, a resident of Los Altos,
on Apr 13, 2022 at 12:39 pm

Robert Prentiss is a registered user.

In some parts of the world (e.g. the African continent) both democracy and dictatorships are dysfunctional which lends one to believe that sustained colonialization is oftentimes the best option to ensure political stability.


Posted by Leila Zhao, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Apr 13, 2022 at 2:39 pm

Leila Zhao is a registered user.

Better to offer more classes in advanced math and science because it better prepares one for admission to an elite college and a lucrative profession.

There is no such thing as a true democracy in any part of the world and indoctrinating one's mind towards such an extravagant ideal will only create further discontent.

Best to be practical.


Posted by Leslie Bain, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Apr 13, 2022 at 2:46 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Ms. Diamond, thx for another fine essay. You noted, “how radically what kids learn today has changed from the fundamentals I was taught years ago." Behind that comment lies what I think is a fascinating question: what is the purpose of school?

Why do we provide free K-12 education to all children? Why not K-6, or no school at all? Turns out we don't all agree on the answers, which makes the curriculum itself politically charged.

In the early 1800s, only kids from very wealthy families received much schooling; only they would ever be educated enough to go to a university and acquire positions of leadership. Thomas Jefferson fought for education for all, based on the belief that all citizens had a right to an education no matter their circumstance or status in life, and that democracy required informed citizens.

In 1900, only half of all kids went to school. The rest worked: farms, factories, coal mines, etc.

Today K-12 is the norm. The Common Core standards were theoretically adopted in an attempt to give students the skills they need in core subjects (STEM) to “get good jobs". The practice of outsourcing technology jobs to other countries where workers were less expensive had gained popularity. Tech companies complained that schools were doing a bad job so they had to find talent elsewhere (many laid off and unemployed engineers in America disagreed). Lo and behold, Bill Gates played a tremendous role in developing the CC standards and advocating for their adoption.

“This vast, top-to-bottom takeover of American public education was achieved by the old-fashioned tactic of throwing grants (some would say “bribes") at the politicians in charge, state by state, even as Obama lent some dignity to the shenanigans." - Web Link .

Nothing in the standards is focused on improving education re democratic values. Such knowledge won't give you good job skills, so apparently it's no longer important.


Posted by Len Donaldson, a resident of Barron Park,
on Apr 13, 2022 at 3:50 pm

Len Donaldson is a registered user.

* In the early 1800s, only kids from very wealthy families received much schooling; only they would ever be educated enough to go to a university and acquire positions of leadership.

Some exceptions: Presidents Abraham Lincoln and later, Harry Truman.

On the other hand, former President Trump is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and it's Wharton School of Business, a prestigous Ivy League university.

So all things considered, it doesn't really matter one way or the other.

In America, anything is possible but it is generally easier for white people to succeed due to their connections with other key (white) people in decision-making positions.

** There is no such thing as a true democracy in any part of the world...

True democracy is more of an ideal and less of a practice.


Posted by Leslie Bain, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Apr 13, 2022 at 5:56 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

"* In the early 1800s, only kids from very wealthy families received much schooling; only they would ever be educated enough to go to a university and acquire positions of leadership.

Some exceptions: Presidents Abraham Lincoln and later, Harry Truman."

Lincoln was largely self-educated; his success is a highly unusual case. Truman was born in 1884, which is closer to 1900 than 1800.

The point of my previous comment is that in the early days of this country, free public education became available primarily because of efforts by those who felt that democracy required an educated population. The founders were exceedingly concerned about the collapse of their experiment in democracy.

"General education will enable every man to judge for himself what will secure or endanger his freedom." - Thomas Jefferson

I agree with Ms. Diamond:

"For me, although many techies and engineers in Silicon Valley will certainly disagree, a preponderance of only STEM courses is not the answer for a functioning society. We must build on our past cultures to move forward into the future.

So we are left today with a questionable and constantly changing curriculum and a somewhat scattered array of subjects our kids are learning.

We need instead to incorporate humanities, psychology, civics, philosophy into our nation as we go forward."

Failing to teach important principles of democracy to our children is a surefire recipe to end democracy. We are well on our way. A 2014 Princeton/Northwestern study showed: "US is an oligarchy, not a democracy" - Web Link

"Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organisations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America's claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened."


Posted by Ivan Petrovsky, a resident of Professorville,
on Apr 13, 2022 at 6:43 pm

Ivan Petrovsky is a registered user.

Humanities is a worthwhile course of study for individuals unconcerned with accruing personal wealth and maybe best reserved for those pursuing a career in academics.

A barrista at a coffee shop we frequent has a B.A. in Political Science and an M.A. in International Studies from Cornell.

He has been steaming coffee beans for the last 5 years.

What a waste of a college education.


Posted by Bystander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Apr 13, 2022 at 6:44 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

Teens and college students need to be taught how to think not what to think. We must stop pushing political agenda and give them the opportunity to think deeply on issues that matter. Churchill is credited with saying that democracy is the worst kind of government except for all the others we have tried, but may have been quoting someone else as he said it.

Democracy works best when debate and free thinking is flourishing. When cancel culture trumps the journey of opinion thinking and most of us think differently to what we thought 20 or 30 years ago due to experience and circumstance. For freedom of speech we have to have the freedom to disagree albeit respectfully with those who have alternative ideas and priorities. Unfortunately, looking at education in the 21st century, it appears that only one dogma is acceptable and all those who think otherwise can be deemed any ugly name in the lexicon.

Sad state of where we're at.


Posted by Peter Dierks, a resident of another community,
on Apr 14, 2022 at 7:09 am

Peter Dierks is a registered user.

I would imagine that teaching democracy in the United States is very challenging given that both Republicans and Democrats are always complaining about stolen votes, whether it is the 2020 presidential election or the recent gerrymandering of Congressional districts.

The Supreme Court is also coming under fire as a political wing of whatever party selects the justices.

There is no true democracy in America.

America is a plutocracy governed by the wealthy and powerful.

Democracy is little more than an idealistic experiment destined for failure as experienced by the early Greeks and Romans.

And teachers should educate our children of this possibility.

In a perfect world, we would be guided by a kind and benevolent king (or dictator) who leads a humble life and has only the best interests of his people in mind.

But look what happened to Jesus.


Posted by Ariana Montez, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Apr 14, 2022 at 7:36 am

Ariana Montez is a registered user.

° ...look what happened to Jesus.

Despite his best intentions, Jesus fell prey to the politics of his time and the false expectations of his followers.

The Buddha is a better example of someone who disdained the material world and went on to live a long life.

Most human beings are not as enlightened as Jesus or the Buddha which explains the sorry state of our affairs.




Posted by Carolyn Johnson, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Apr 14, 2022 at 9:59 am

Carolyn Johnson is a registered user.

Proof of U.S. citizenship, English literacy, along with a basic understanding of American history and civics should be a prerequisite prior to allowing anyone to vote in an upcoming election.

Anything less is irresponsible voting and these parameters would also curtail voting by the lunatic fringe (i.e. reactionary right-wing Republicans and overzealous progressive Democrats) many of whom have a minimal clue as to how the government actually works.

In the United States, 99% of the population is literate though the average reading level is that of a 7th-8th grade level which is probably adequate for voting.

Globally, the literacy rate is 34% with much of this figure attributable to illiterate 3rd world inhabitants who are probably better served by dictatorships anyway.

It takes a certain degree of intelligence and schooling in order to make sound decisions and those incapable of doing so are probably better off having someone else do it for them.

Democracy is not for everyone.


Posted by James Toone, a resident of Barron Park,
on Apr 14, 2022 at 10:13 am

James Toone is a registered user.

"Democracy is not for everyone."

Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party didn't simply take Germany by force. They were voted in. While it's easy to forget or misunderstand this, during the 1932 federal elections, nearly 14 million Germans voted for Hitler, the Nazis, and fascism. It's a dark, dirty secret of history that we don't like to acknowledge, but the rise of German fascism began with a democratic election.

Putin was duly elected as well.


Posted by +eenee, a resident of another community,
on Apr 14, 2022 at 11:09 am

+eenee is a registered user.

Democracy - in all its messiness - is the best option out there. Autocrats first remove the free press - think Trump and the press as “enemy of the people" And “fake news". The first thing Putin did when he was picked to succeed Yeltsin was shut down all free press in the country. Russians are still being fed nothing but lies - we need to make it part of the curriculum to appreciate and foster democracy - otherwise we , too, could look like Ukraine some day

Do we want to be looking over our shoulders and parsing every word we utter? Do we want our loved ones hauled off to prison for saying the wrong thing?
Kids need to be taught the lessons of history or we will just repeat it
The world now is in an epic struggle between freedom and repression - let's let them know there is a HUGE difference between the two.


Posted by Cecily Quinn, a resident of Los Altos,
on Apr 14, 2022 at 11:22 am

Cecily Quinn is a registered user.

'Fake news' is being generated by both the right & left wing factions of the political spectrum as witnessed by the kow-towing likes of Fox News, CNN, and MNBC.

Republicans and Democrats are equally sanctimonious in their efforts to sway the public.

To the blissfully ignorant...there are no good guys and bad guys.


Posted by jhskrh, a resident of Community Center,
on Apr 14, 2022 at 11:31 am

jhskrh is a registered user.

Typing was the most valuable course I took in High school, little did I know how useful keyboard skills would be later in life working as a computer programmer. Also grateful that I do have reasonably legible cursive handwriting,many thanks to the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and the Palmer method.

Research shows that learning to write by hand is a key to good spelling and composition skills. Plus, cursive writing could be considered an art form all on its own. It's one way for students to develop the side of their brain that isn't developed by basic reading and writing skills. Also remember that many of the written material from previous generations is in Cursive, would be a shame to think current generation will not be able to read letters written by their forbears. I have boxes of letters from the 1940s, written during @@II and during my parents courtship, something to be treasured, fortunately I can actually read them.


Posted by Leslie Bain, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Apr 14, 2022 at 1:59 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

"My very biggest concern is the disappearance of civics classes. Why? Because civics is all about our democratic form of government. That is where most of us learned about how our government works " the executive, legislative and judicial tripartite arrangement, the role of the House and Senate, elections in our country, voter rights, democratic citizenship, civic engagement, etc. Our nation is at a moment when the chances of losing our democracy is real. And yet, many younger people yawn when that it is mentioned because I don't think they understand how important democracy is."

snip

"Some of our politicians, don't have the slightest idea about the ideals and principles our founding fathers used to establishing the birth of our nation and who was involved or why it matters. Not a great way to run a country."

Students who aren't taught the principles of democracy eventually become voters that don't understand that America was not founded in order to be ruled over by a small set of wealthy elites.

And that is exactly what the wealthy elites want.

The founders would call it tyranny. They had a saying, "United we stand, divided we fall", and found the courage to risk their lives to fight the injustice of monarchy.

The injustice of oligarchy is the threat we face today, but so many seem blind to it. We need more people running through the streets, yelling the modern equivalent of "The British are coming! The British are coming!"

oligarchy - noun
-Government by a few, especially by a small faction of persons or families.

Sad that this topic is so boring to young people, many of whom literally don't understand what they don't understand, and what they are in the process of losing. It's not their fault, though. Allowing a tech billionaire to meddle in the curriculum of public education turned out to be a really lousy idea. Who knew?


Posted by Eric Whitmyre, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Apr 14, 2022 at 3:37 pm

Eric Whitmyre is a registered user.

Isn't this vital civics curriculum the responsibility of the school districts to encourage and fully implement?

Perhaps there is too much attention being focused on progressive 'woke' topics like Critical Race Theory and LGBTQ enlightenments.

Students and young adults cannot be blamed for their ignorance if they are not exposed to key subject matter like U.S. History and Civics.

As a parent, I prefer that my children be proficient in the '3 Rs', basic math, basic science, and American History and Civics. This will better prepare them for adulthood.

They do not need to be overexposed to topics like the transgender movement and non-binary identifications or African Americans blaming the white population for all of their current problems.





Posted by Annette, a resident of College Terrace,
on Apr 14, 2022 at 4:11 pm

Annette is a registered user.

This essay made me laugh out loud. When someone I work with has nicely formed, legible cursive, I quickly imagine that they sat in a grammar school room decorated with the Palmer Method alphabet hanging above the blackboard, often winding its way around all four corners of the classroom. Nuns, lined paper, rulers, practice. Talk about a lost art!


Posted by Brent Waters, a resident of Castro City,
on Apr 15, 2022 at 6:41 am

Brent Waters is a registered user.

The problem with cursive writing is that it often becomes illegible scribbling when rushed or hurried.

A sound understanding of American history and government is critical if one wants to be a responsible American citizen.

As some others have mentioned, focusing on LGBTQ and Critical Race Theory topics are a distraction that detracts from more pertinent subject matter, especially among the K-3 age groups.






Posted by Percy Quinn, a resident of another community,
on Apr 15, 2022 at 8:03 am

Percy Quinn is a registered user.

Integrating some LGBTQIA-related tidbits in regards to U.S. history might be enlightening as there were at least five U.S. presidents who adhered to the "Don't say, don't tell" protocols of the day.


Posted by Brenda Carlise, a resident of Castro City,
on Apr 15, 2022 at 8:17 am

Brenda Carlise is a registered user.

Why would a U.S. president conceal his sexual identity or preferences?

The current Secretary of Transportation is openly gay and has expressed an interest in running for president in 2024.


Posted by Leslie Bain, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Apr 15, 2022 at 11:21 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

"Isn't this vital civics curriculum the responsibility of the school districts to encourage and fully implement?"

No. Schools obtain funding based on targets that are set for them. Excellence in civics education is not rewarded, because it is not valued by those who are setting the targets.

"Students and young adults cannot be blamed for their ignorance if they are not exposed to key subject matter like U.S. History and Civics."

Agreed. And more than that, they become vulnerable to politicians who act in un-democratic ways, such as forcing unpopular mandates onto citizens "for our own good".

"As a parent, I prefer that my children be proficient in the '3 Rs', basic math, basic science, and American History and Civics. This will better prepare them for adulthood."

As a parent, you should be concerned. The point of Diamond's essay is that today's students are not being taught much about American History and Civics anymore.

Somewhere along the line the purpose of schools seems to have morphed into "provide job skills", and the emphasis on educating the masses to help them better protect their own freedoms has been tossed aside.

But who cares, because Netflix has a lot of cool stuff to binge watch!


Posted by Robin Halliday, a resident of Portola Valley,
on Apr 15, 2022 at 11:39 am

Robin Halliday is a registered user.

"...the purpose of schools seems to have morphed into "provide job skills", and the emphasis on educating the masses to help them better protect their own freedoms has been tossed aside."

@Leslie Bain

Providing viable job-related skills is also critically important when many of our jobs are being outsourced or manipulated via HB-1 visas to foreigners from abroad.

As a previous poster noted, what is the point of being highly educated and politically enlightened if all it leads to is a job pouring coffee for the masses?

The key is to be educated in the humanities as a minor and to pursue lucrative vocational skills while in college or in high school.

There is no point in being illuminated in the humanities while holding a flunkee job that leads to nowhere.


Posted by Lawrence Gerrity, a resident of Barron Park,
on Apr 15, 2022 at 11:57 am

Lawrence Gerrity is a registered user.

In some ways, only tax-paying American citizens should be allowed to vote providing they are literate and have a basic understanding of civics.

There is no place for overeducated deadbeats like Meathead in All In the Family to be telling us how to improve this country or the world at large.

And as far as a viable LGBTG presidential candidate is concerned, America is not quite ready to either elect or accept a transgender, gay, or bisexual president.


Posted by Leslie Bain, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Apr 15, 2022 at 12:05 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

@RobinHalliday

"Providing viable job-related skills is also critically important when many of our jobs are being outsourced or manipulated via HB-1 visas to foreigners from abroad."

Agreed. It does not have to be an either/or situation!

I think the point of Diamond's essay is that we should be outraged that classes that emphasize democratic values and principals, such American History and Civics, are disappearing from the curriculum.

"My very biggest concern is the disappearance of civics classes. Why? Because civics is all about our democratic form of government. That is where most of us learned about how our government works " the executive, legislative and judicial tripartite arrangement, the role of the House and Senate, elections in our country, voter rights, democratic citizenship, civic engagement, etc. Our nation is at a moment when the chances of losing our democracy is real. And yet, many younger people yawn when that it is mentioned because I don't think they understand how important democracy is."


Posted by Randall Thompson, a resident of Blossom Valley,
on Apr 15, 2022 at 2:06 pm

Randall Thompson is a registered user.

A working and practical knowledge of democracy, and the American governmental system is imperative if one aspires to be an informed and responsible American citizen.

That said, it is not the responsibility of the American government or its people to defend democracy in other parts of the world whether it be Viet Nam, Taiwan, or the Ukraine.

Nor is it a moral obligation for conservative Christian Americans to support LGBTQ agendas other than to ensure that these individuals are assured of their basic civil rights as per The Bill of Rights and nothing more.


Posted by Matt Donaldson, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Apr 15, 2022 at 3:52 pm

Matt Donaldson is a registered user.

One key element of American democracy is the separation of church and state and countless LGBT individuals should be grateful that our nation is not a theocracy.

Under a traditional theocracy (i.e. a fundamentalist Islamic society), members of the LGBT community would not have the same latitudes as they do in America.


Posted by Efren Morales, a resident of East Palo Alto,
on Apr 15, 2022 at 5:51 pm

Efren Morales is a registered user.

"..grateful that our nation is not a theocracy."

When I was taking my citizenship classes, the instructor lectured that America was actually a 'monacracy' but with a firm belief in a Christian God and eternal gratitude for his bounty.

According to him, that is why American money says "In God We Trust."


Posted by Brett Lawson, a resident of Los Altos,
on Apr 15, 2022 at 6:25 pm

Brett Lawson is a registered user.

Another way to convey the concept of democracy is to practice it at home.

On decisions such as where to go on vacation, what to have for dinner, increases in allowances etc., everyone has a vote including my wife, myself, and our three kids aged 8 to 13.

Like in any democracy, discontent sometimes follows the voting decision but such is life.

And there will be times when the concept of a family democracy is challenged, most notably when my 13 year-old daughter accuses me of being a dictator for reasons of her own.

Democracy is not perfect.




Posted by Joanie Spangler, a resident of Los Altos,
on Apr 16, 2022 at 7:46 am

Joanie Spangler is a registered user.

"America was not founded in order to be ruled over by a small set of wealthy elites."

"And that is exactly what the wealthy elites want."

@Leslie Bain

Think again.

America was founded by wealthy white elites, many of whom were slaveowners.

And a majority middle class was promoted to pay the majority of the taxes while serving as a buffer between the extremely wealthy and the impoverished thus preventing a potential social revolution between the rich and the poor.

Nothing has changed in over 250 years.

The separation of church and state doctrine was initiated to prevent Catholics from meddling in politics as previously experienced during the Inquisition.

At the time of its founding, the United States was a predominantly Protestant country but much has changed since then as the founding fathers did not foresee the immigration of Jewish and Muslim immigrants who brought their own respective religions.

In addition, the founders did not foresee the technological emergence of automatic weapons, the internet, and modern birth control techniques, all of which have become controversial topics today.

State rights to enforce laws not covered in the Constitution is now the hot issue of the day and judicial (as well as private) opinions are pretty much predicated on whether one perceives the Constitution from an originalist perspective or as a living, breathing document.

Both perspectives have their inherent flaws as the liberal SCOTUS decisions of the 1960s are now being challenged and will be re-evaluated by a conservative SCOTUS bench.

America is still owned and operated by the wealthy elite who call most of the shots for the common man.



Posted by Kamika Jordan, a resident of East Palo Alto,
on Apr 16, 2022 at 8:25 am

Kamika Jordan is a registered user.

Knowledge of democracy is all fine and dandy as is cursive writing but in terms of reality, most African Americans and other minorities of lesser means will always be exploited and subjugated by wealthy white people who control and manipulate our nation's economy and workforce.

Fortunately there are some excape routes available but only for those who are gifted athletically or skilled in the performing arts.

Only then can they stick it to the man as pre-eminent roles in medicine, law, and politics remain limited.


Posted by Bystander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Apr 16, 2022 at 8:54 am

Bystander is a registered user.

On one hand we have the wealthy elites (or so it seems from what people are commenting) and on the other hand we have crime.

We have some pathetic criminally minded people causing havoc in our society and those in power have decided that they are the victims and we should feel sorry for those who brandish weapons, take stuff that doesn't belong to them, and if they do get caught are back out in society again ready to do it again. Every day this week, or so it seems, we are reading police reports of crime against ordinary people in their driveways or homes, against the stores we like to visit, and nothing is being done to stop this crime wave.

Democracy is one thing, but getting our elected leaders to act in our defence is an expectation that is not happening.


Posted by Kurt Hoskins, a resident of Barron Park,
on Apr 16, 2022 at 9:22 am

Kurt Hoskins is a registered user.

"We have some pathetic criminally minded people causing havoc in our society....Every day this week, or so it seems, we are reading police reports of crime against ordinary people...nothing is being done to stop this crime wave...Democracy is one thing, but getting our elected leaders to act in our defence is an expectation that is not happening."

The police are essentially first responders to a crime and their first duty is to complete a report. They cannot be expected to prevent criminal activities in progress unless they are notified in advance.

Crime prevention is the responsibility of the citizenry by implementing neighborhood security patrols and for legislators to enact harsher mandatory sentencing guidelines.

The only other alternative is to be adequately trained and carry a legal firearm as they allow in 47 other states.

Only California, New York, Illinois, and Washington DC prohibit open carry and not surprisingly, these sectors have the highest crime rates in America.


Posted by Bob Bollinger, a resident of Bailey Park,
on Apr 16, 2022 at 9:49 am

Bob Bollinger is a registered user.

@Bystander

Yes. Local crime especially in the more affluent cities and neighborhoods is on the rise but what does this tell us?

That there is still a huge disparity in economic wealth that needs to be further addressed by our elected leaders.

When an ongoing sense of hopelessness and dispair dominates a social landscape, crime will naturally increase unless one prefers to put their faith in the afterlife.

Taxing wealthy American billionaires to ensure a minimal living wage of $75K per annum/per adult would go a long ways towards reducing petty crimes and misdemeanors by the underclasses regardless of their ethnicity.

So would taxing all former southern Confederate states for slavery reparations as per General Sherman's post Civil War promise of 40 acres and a mule to every freed African slave.

Critical Race Theory aside, this is U.S. History.


Posted by Cecilia Vegas, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Apr 16, 2022 at 10:00 am

Cecilia Vegas is a registered user.

The south still needs to be punished for its ongoing bigotry and racism towards African Americans and various regions of America should be returned in full to Native Americans and Hispanics.

If these measures cannot be reasonably initiated, then democracy remains strictly for the white ruling class of Americans.


Posted by Julia Stein, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Apr 16, 2022 at 10:37 am

Julia Stein is a registered user.

If countless parvenus stopped flaunting their newly aquired wealth and possessions, perhaps some of these reported crimes would subside.

The poor generally steal from wealthier individuals because duh...poorer people are not tooling around in BMWs or sporting ostentatious fashion accessories like Rolexes and Hermes handbags.

When we resided in Palo Alto, our home was burglarized once and our older SUV stolen on another occasion.

Following each incident, we concluded that the parties involved in these thefts probably needed the items more than we did and besides, our insurance covered the losses.

The key is not to become a slave to the material world.


Posted by Jerry Glassman, a resident of University South,
on Apr 16, 2022 at 11:35 am

Jerry Glassman is a registered user.

In terms of democracy, many white conservative Americans fear that they are losing their grip on the udder of political control and domination.

Recent immigration and naturalization statuses has reduced their power to control the political decision-making process and many are deeply concerned or fear that the America they once embraced is slipping away from their grasps.

That is their problem as contemporary LGBT acceptance and minority votes now outnumber them.

Every dog has its day and delusional white power is now an anachronism.


Posted by Leslie Bain, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Apr 16, 2022 at 12:49 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

@Joanie Spangler " The rich and powerful have historically always had advantages over the poor. Agreed. I think that stinks. How about you? Do you think that removing American history and civics from the K-12 curriculum will improve that situation?

I recently had the chance to visit Kauai. It's a beautiful place. The locals told me there are laws that private ownership of beach-front property is allowed, but owners are required to provide public access paths to the beaches (all of which are publicly owned). Locals say a certain billionaire, Mark Zuckerberg, is not only NOT providing public access to his large holdings, he has built a wall that prevents those driving on public roads to see the view of water anymore. Zuck is breaking the law, and getting away with it. Is that is right? Do you have any idea why the authorities don't enforce the laws equally for all citizens, rich or poor?

“And a majority middle class was promoted to pay the majority of the taxes while serving as a buffer between the extremely wealthy and the impoverished thus preventing a potential social revolution between the rich and the poor."

Are you talking about FDR and the New Deal? You make it sound like FDR's actions were not established to keep the wealthy from preying upon the poor, but as some kind of plot to prevent a social revolution. FDR dramatically increased the taxes paid by the wealthy, not the other way around. That is one of the reasons why the middle class grew and began to flourish. Today the middle class is disappearing as wealth inequality grows. I think that's awful, how about you?

The founders never envisioned the existance of large multinational corporations. The Constiution protects us from unreasonable search and seizure by the government, but it does not protect us from unreasonable search and seizure of our private data to be sold for gain by the likes of Google and Facebook. We are moving closer to an Orwellian society, and our young people have no idea.


Posted by Ruth Parker, a resident of Community Center,
on Apr 16, 2022 at 3:08 pm

Ruth Parker is a registered user.

"We are moving closer to an Orwellian society, and our young people have no idea."

The younger population does not seem to care because most of them have grown accustomed to and comfortable with surveillances. A social problem does not exist unless or until there is broad societal concern about it. Until then, any situation is just a condition.


"Do you have any idea why the authorities don't enforce the laws equally for all citizens, rich or poor?"

Money talks. Kauai is no different than the mainland when it comes to real property and the privileges of wealth. Next time maybe consider a secluded beach in southeast Asia. They have many.


"Do you think that removing American history and civics from the K-12 curriculum will improve that situation?"

These subjects should be taught from 5th grade and upwards. Little kids cannot process and discuss complex subject matter until they are a bit older and their thought processes have developed further. And the same applies to the progressive and radical teaching of CRT and LGBTQIA topics.

As for the 4th Amendment, try telling that to a police officer the next time he or she pulls you over and proceeds to search your car for imaginary contraband. To the police, every situation reflects a probable cause to intimidate and bully the populace.

In retrospect, just be grateful that you had an opportunity to learn and see the world from a clearer perspective.

Future generations will have to pay the price for various educational oversights but we won't because we will not be around to witness or experience it and that's OK unless you wish to pontificate from the grave.


Posted by George Withers, a resident of Barron Park,
on Apr 16, 2022 at 7:48 pm

George Withers is a registered user.

One topic that has been overlooked in this discussion...an understanding of democracy on the community-local government level.

Why do Palo Alto residents continue to elect ineffectual PACC members who always acquiesce to the whims of the city manager and upper tier city administrators?

Where are the cajones?





Posted by Eeyore (formerly StarSpring), a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Apr 16, 2022 at 8:58 pm

Eeyore (formerly StarSpring) is a registered user.

Well written blog, Diana! You have struck a nerve. I found it quite illuminating

I recommend a meta analysis of all the comments with an impartial eye. I found them quite educational and that is what makes a great blog.


Posted by Ossie Roberts, a resident of North Bayshore,
on Apr 17, 2022 at 10:20 am

Ossie Roberts is a registered user.

Democracy in America has become a dysfunctional exercise in futility with a self-serving, racist, homophobic, and predominantly white Republican Party MINORITY bloc creating mindless and endless havoc.

I have discussed this topic with countless colleagues and have concurred that any person of color or member of the LGBTQ
community who endorses the Republican Party platform is in hopeless denial of (1) who they are and (2) how they are being perceived by a political party comprised of bigots and myopic reactionaries.

Times have changed. My African American ancestors always voted Republican based on the Reconstruction
but ensuing generations switched to the Democratic Party after southern racist Dixiecrats turned Republican following the passage of the Civil Rights Act.

At one time in our nation's history, the Democrats and Whigs were the racists.

We have come full circle and now the Republicans are the repressive party.

History has taught us that politicians are merely period-specific opportunists and not to be trusted.


Posted by Ruben Vasquez, a resident of Ventura,
on Apr 17, 2022 at 10:47 am

Ruben Vasquez is a registered user.

"...any person of color or member of the LGBTQ community who endorses the Republican Party platform is in hopeless denial of (1) who they are and (2) how they are being perceived by a political party comprised of bigots and myopic reactionaries."

Republican Senator Tim Scott (SC), SCOTUS Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Republican Senate hopeful Herschel Walker (GA), and Log Cabin Republicans immediately come to mind.

The white Hispanic leaders of the white supremacy groups that participated in the January 6th insurrection are also cause for concern.

Talk about denial and 'whitewashing' their true ethnic identities.


Posted by Judy Whitman, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Apr 17, 2022 at 11:54 am

Judy Whitman is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by Fred Montoya, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Apr 17, 2022 at 12:17 pm

Fred Montoya is a registered user.

"...any person of color or member of the LGBTQ community who endorses the Republican Party platform is in hopeless denial of (1) who they are..."

LGBT people aside, there are many people of color who have pulled themselves up from the bootstraps despite restrictive racist obstacles.

These are the conservative Republican people of color and they disavow themselves from others playing the tiresome liberal blame game.

The predominantly Republican Cubans residing in the Miami area and successful Hispanic farmers in the Central Valley adhere to the time-honored Republican principles of hard work and fiscal responsibility.

In regards to the progressive LGBTQ movement, sexual identity is binary and not a whimsical state of mind.


Posted by Leslie Bain, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Apr 17, 2022 at 12:26 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

“The younger population does not seem to care [that we are moving closer to an Orwellian society] because most of them have grown accustomed to and comfortable with surveillances. A social problem does not exist unless or until there is broad societal concern about it. Until then, any situation is just a condition."

Apparently kids are not reading 1984 in schools anymore either. The problems with living in a surveillance state will become very clear when those in power choose to abuse the powers available to them. It's only a matter of time.

“Money talks. Kauai is no different than the mainland when it comes to real property and the privileges of wealth."

Wow. Those who are comfortable with only applying the laws of the land to the poor and powerless clearly don't understand what it means to be a “nation of laws".

“This idea was paramount in the complex process of establishing the United States of America, a young nation whose brave leaders had put everything on the line to escape the tyranny and oppression of the British Crown, which at the time was a nation ruled by people, in the person of King George III." - Web Link

“Future generations will have to pay the price for various educational oversights but we won't because we will not be around to witness or experience it and that's OK unless you wish to pontificate from the grave."

I care about what happens to our children and grandchildren. I am terrified, in greater part now because of the apparent ho-hum attitude of so many of my neighbors.

“Times have changed. My African American ancestors always voted Republican based on the Reconstruction but ensuing generations switched to the Democratic Party after southern racist Dixiecrats turned Republican following the passage of the Civil Rights Act."

An EXCELLENT bit of history worth remembering.


Posted by Leigh Ann Taylor, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Apr 17, 2022 at 5:50 pm

Leigh Ann Taylor is a registered user.

@Leslie Bain of Cuesta Park...

When George Washington told his father "I cannot tell a lie and cut down the cherry tree" it was a very commendable gesture on his part but our first grade teacher never explained to us why he cut down the cherry tree in the first place and if there were any underlying reasons for this destructive act (e.g. for firewood, to make furniture, the tree was a visual eyesore etc.).

Teachers of American history should ideally cover all of the bases as incomplete historical accounts without further explanations often leave something to be desired and the lesson essentially becomes meaningless.

Lastly while history informs us of past incidents, knowledge of these incidents are not necessarily helpful in terms of effectively resolving present conflicts (i.e. Ukraine).

As for a true democracy, why don't the majority of our elected officials reflect the wishes of those they are supposed to represent rather than kow-towing to special interest groups?

Does it have anything to do with money?

This symptom tends to run rampant on all levels of government whether it be on local, state, or federal levels.

We are perpetually locked in a circle game of political narcissism and avarice and nothing has changed.


Posted by Mandy Pickett, a resident of Blossom Valley,
on Apr 17, 2022 at 7:53 pm

Mandy Pickett is a registered user.

Folklore and history are two different entities though they sometimes intersect during the course of mankind's history.

The Bible immediately comes to mind along with various tribal parables and tales shared around an open campfire.

Except for exact dates and locations, history is a very subjective matter and various interpretive insights should be taken with a grain of salt because each day is a brand new day and the past is the past.


Posted by Tina Long, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Apr 17, 2022 at 8:18 pm

Tina Long is a registered user.

Herschel Walker, a Trump endorsed candidate for the U.S. Senate raised an interesting pre-historical and anthropological query...if humans evolved from apes, then why are there still apes on the planet?

For devout creationists, this is a legitimate question that scientists cannot answer.


Posted by Samantha Smith, a resident of Mountain View,
on Apr 18, 2022 at 7:30 am

Samantha Smith is a registered user.

It is common knowledge that apes and monkeys arrived after the dinosaurs inhabited the Earth so there is no way that humans could have evolved from them.


Posted by Harvey Dickerson, a resident of Portola Valley,
on Apr 18, 2022 at 8:19 am

Harvey Dickerson is a registered user.

Creationist-inspired Flintstone theories aside...most voters vote along party lines, or from a personal sense of outrage over further taxation, inflation, and the state of the economy.

Critical Race Theory and LGBTQ positionings are trivial when compared to more pressing voter issues and concerns.

Illegal Immigration is another hot topic and most Americans regardless of their party affiliations appear to be united in their opposition to random border crossings.

Law enforcement and criminal justice issues are best handled on the local and state levels providing the practices do not conflict with the U.S. Constitution.

America is both diverse and devisive as it is now comprised of many different cultures and ideals.

How we handle this challenge will spell the long-term outcome of democracy.


Posted by Richard Lange, a resident of Gemello,
on Apr 18, 2022 at 8:44 am

Richard Lange is a registered user.

In lieu of focusing purely on democracy, comparative political systems should also be be taught and discussed in schools to provide a broader perspective.

And in terms of perspectives, both creationism and the theory of evolution should receive equal billing as our electorate is steadfastly comprised of both views.

If humans truly evolved from apes, then why are tissue and organ transplants sourced from pigs rather than gorillas?

On the other hand, stem cell research should be further encouraged in order to finally put an end to this creationism-evolution debate.








Posted by Lars Frolich, a resident of Stanford,
on Apr 18, 2022 at 9:10 am

Lars Frolich is a registered user.

There is also the distinct possibility that both creationism and evolution do not exist and that earthly humans are merely part of a vast computer program from another dimension.

If so, even the concept of democracy and life itself is an illusion predicated on a complex algorithm designed to explore what ifs?


Posted by Scott Hendricks, a resident of Barron Park,
on Apr 18, 2022 at 11:07 am

Scott Hendricks is a registered user.

• In regards to the progressive LGBTQ movement, sexual identity is binary and not a whimsical state of mind.

Decades ago, my 6 year-old daughter used to prance around the house and pretend she was a pony.

When she got older, we bought her a horse and that was the end of that.

Democracy represents the will of the people but when it comes to make-believe personas, the government should not get overly involved with the politics of gender or animal identities as we have far more pressing issues to contend with.


Posted by Barbara Holt, a resident of Sylvan Park,
on Apr 18, 2022 at 11:31 am

Barbara Holt is a registered user.

"Nor is it a moral obligation for conservative Christian Americans to support LGBTQ agendas other than to ensure that these individuals are assured of their basic civil rights as per The Bill of Rights and nothing more."

In a recent survey conducted among Americans, 6.4 percent of females and 4.9 percent of males identified themselves as part of the LGBT community.

This is a relatively small percentage of individuals out of an estimated U.S. population of roughly 365 million people.

A true democracy reflects the wishes of the majority and various subgroups should not be receiving or expecting any special privileges or recognition outside of their basic Constitutional rights.


Posted by Maurice Fetters, a resident of Rengstorff Park,
on Apr 18, 2022 at 11:58 am

Maurice Fetters is a registered user.

@ Ms. Holt:

10% of 365 million inhabitants equates to approximately 36.5 million LGBTQIA adult individuals currently residing in the United States.

This represents a very large voting bloc and if democracy has its way, people of color and the LGBTQIA community will bond together politically and dynamically impact the outcome of all future elections. Imagine that!

When Conservative Christians actually begin embracing the true teachings of Christ rather than adhering to God's wrath as described in the Old Testament, we will have a much better world.


Posted by Leslie Bain, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Apr 18, 2022 at 1:55 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

@Leigh Ann Taylor, you wrote: "Teachers of American history should ideally cover all of the bases as incomplete historical accounts without further explanations often leave something to be desired and the lesson essentially becomes meaningless."

Agreed! In fact, I am a big fan of Howard Zinn, who wrote "A People's History of the United States", which

"presented what he considered to be a different side of history from the more traditional "fundamental nationalist glorification of country". Zinn portrays a side of American history that can largely be seen as the exploitation and manipulation of the majority by rigged systems that hugely favor a small aggregate of elite rulers from across the orthodox political parties.

"A People's History ... has also resulted in a change in the focus of historical work, which now includes stories that previously were ignored." - Web Link

"Knowledge of these incidents are not necessarily helpful in terms of effectively resolving present conflicts (i.e. Ukraine)."

Understanding the history of Ukraine and the history of American Russian conflicts is crucial to understanding the present conflict. History also includes events related to how the media has covered war, and how propaganda is used to advance the interests of the military industrial complex. News outlets like the Washington Post have a history of manufacturing consent for war.

"As for a true democracy, why don't the majority of our elected officials reflect the wishes of those they are supposed to represent rather than kow-towing to special interest groups? - Does it have anything to do with money?"

Agreed! We have corruption on both sides of the aisle. Many politicians fight for their wealthy donors, not "we the people".

Is this democracy? NO! But it will continue if the public says ho hum and accepts it, and especially if young people don't even understand that it is wrong.


Posted by Bob McKinley, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Apr 18, 2022 at 2:16 pm

Bob McKinley is a registered user.

"It is common knowledge that apes and monkeys arrived after the dinosaurs inhabited the Earth so there is no way that humans could have evolved from them."

"Creationist-inspired Flintstone theories aside..."

Wow. Do creationists actually believe that dinosaurs roamed the earth alongside early man?

Yabba dabba doo.


Posted by LeAnne Cameron, a resident of Jackson Park,
on Apr 18, 2022 at 2:35 pm

LeAnne Cameron is a registered user.

@ Bob McKinley

There is absolutely no scientific proof that man descended from apes. It is just a theory propagated by atheists.

Even Jane Goodall who studied countless gorillas did not draw these conclusions and she is an esteemed scientist whose observations were published in National Geographic.

There is a distinct possibility that early man and dinosaurs shared the same habitat because there have been several catastrophic periods or 'ages' where living organisms perished together and carbon dating is oftentimes inconclusive.

Democracy is very important to maintain and preserve because without it, we would have to live under less than ideal conditions as witnessed in countless third world countries.


Posted by Sharon Lewis Ph.D., a resident of Stanford,
on Apr 18, 2022 at 2:45 pm

Sharon Lewis Ph.D. is a registered user.

On the subject of democracy and apes,
chimpanzees and bonobos are humans' closest biological relatives, sharing roughly 98 percent of our genome, so it makes sense that we'd share a few behavioral traits. With so much shared DNA, it makes sense that humans and chimps share a propensity for power struggles.

And while there aren't formal elections in chimp society, no alpha male can rule for long without support from a key voting bloc: females. Only after gaining acceptance from the females do the males gain status. Even the alpha male could find himself without a mate if he doesn't give this all-important female approval. If he doesn't, he may soon be overthrown by a rival male.


Posted by Mary Higgins, a resident of Barron Park,
on Apr 18, 2022 at 3:07 pm

Mary Higgins is a registered user.

>>there have been several catastrophic periods or 'ages' where living organisms perished together and carbon dating is oftentimes inconclusive.

Yes. That is why Noah was ordered by God to build a great Ark, to save all (or as many of) the animal species that he could in order to restock a new world.

It was a commendable undertaking and to disregard biblical history limits our perspectives.


Posted by Lucy Peterson, a resident of Stanford,
on Apr 18, 2022 at 3:19 pm

Lucy Peterson is a registered user.

Cursive writing can be a challenge and not only for humans. When it comes to apes, sign language is based on symbols that represent whole words (or concepts) not an alphabet of letters. That's the level at which great apes have been taught to communicate with humans.

My understanding is that they DO acquire fairly simple grammar. They can assemble verbs and nouns into simple sentences. ("give apple", "like dolly" etc.) but obviously nothing as sophisticated as human grammatical use.

Obviously they can't vocalize and holding pens is diffcult. But we can construct keyboards large enough for ape hands.

I'm pretty sure a great ape could be taught to use Facebook (ie. look at pictures and press "like" or "share"). I wonder if there are any great apes online?


Posted by Harrison Gonzales, a resident of Mountain View,
on Apr 18, 2022 at 4:34 pm

Harrison Gonzales is a registered user.

I suspect that many human beings are gradually de-evolving towards full-scale apehood.

If we can regress far enough, perhaps the creationist-evolutionist debate can finally be settled.


Posted by Melinda Dillon, a resident of Professorville,
on Apr 19, 2022 at 7:17 am

Melinda Dillon is a registered user.

Certain high school subjects no longer need to be offered because they are not relevant in today's world.

Languages from ancient societies (e.g Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit) are pointless to learn as are Roman numerals. Nowadays Roman numerals are only used for the Super Bowl and on vintage-style wristwatches.

Auto shop, metal shop, and wood shop should remain as vocational subjects and perhaps home economics could be parlayed into an advanced cooking school.

Trigonometry is good to know if one is planning to enter the military and become a forward observer in an artillery battalion as extreme accuracy is required when a 'fire for effect' order is given.

Proficiency in cursive writing is debatable but good printing and typing skills are necessary in order to communicate clearly.

Modern computer technology has replaced many older practices and tools.

Like who uses a slide rule anymore or even needs to?

And CAD (computer assisted design) has eliminated traditional drafting tables and all of the associated French Curves and pencil compasses.

Times change.


Posted by Robbie Jensen, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Apr 19, 2022 at 9:46 am

Robbie Jensen is a registered user.

A question for the adults as I am too young to vote...

If American democracy is the ideal form of government and a true reflection of the majority voters, why is the minority Republican Party calling most of the shots and creating so much havoc?

And why are so many underdeveloped countries that have democracies politically unstable and constantly wrought with juntas?

Teachers don't explain this kind of stuff in grammar school.

They just idealize various democratic principles which is not indicative of the real world.

My father says talk is cheap and people not willing or intelligent enough to fight for their freedom deserve to be held captive by dictators.


Posted by Leslie Bain, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Apr 19, 2022 at 12:32 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

@Robbie, have you heard the expression “the elephant in the room"? It refers to a situation of which most people are aware but choose not to discuss. There are even etiquette rules that say it is not polite to discuss religion or politics in public.

We have an elephant in the room called wealth inequality. Persons who have a lot of $$$ and power tend to have different opinions than persons who don't. We used to have two political parties, where people who had a lot of $$$ voted for Republicans, and people who did not voted for Democrats. But something funny happened along the way (and many people still don't realize it): the Democratic Party became a party that fights for wealthy people too!

“The Democratic Party was once the party of the New Deal and the ally of organized labor. But by the time of Bill Clinton's presidency, it had become the enemy of New Deal programs like welfare and Social Security and the champion of free trade deals. What explains this apparent reversal? Thomas Frank"best known for his analysis of the Republican Party base in What's the Matter with Kansas?"attempts to answer this question in his latest book, Listen Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People? " - Web Link

What does this mean?

We actually have 2 parties that are fighting to help persons who have a lot of $$$ and power, and 0 parties that care about what the majority of voters want anymore. We only have a “fake" democracy today, our true rulers are the billionaires. Bernie Sanders calls it an "oligarchy".

Democratic principles are not given, they must be fought for. History shows people with wealth and power don't sincerely care about the underclass, just like kings used serfs as pawns in olden days.

“My father says talk is cheap and people not willing or intelligent enough to fight for their freedom deserve to be held captive by dictators."

He makes a good point.


Posted by Bystander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Apr 19, 2022 at 1:09 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

To Robbie.

Good questions.

Look at other democracies and then form your own opinion.

American elections are all about money. Other countries limit the amount of money raised or spent on elections.

Other countries call elections at almost any time and have them in a period of 3 - 6 weeks total.

Ross Perot was the one time that a presidential election had a serious third party candidate in recent times. It would be good for you to look into the reasons for that.

Local elections are not done with party affiliation. That may or may not be a good thing. Many other countries will have local election candidates representing political parties. Many voters therefore vote according to party preferences as opposed to the candidate themselves.

Don't take it as given that American democracy is the best in the world. Look around and make your own mind up on that.

Before you are old enough to vote it is worth finding out how to think rather than what to think. Ask lots of questions but do research too. Look at more than one side of an issue. Above all, beware of the media who have their own agendas they are trying to promote and will hide what they don't want you to know and go overboard on what they do want you to know. Learn to be wary and be careful who you trust when you are getting your information.

Good luck.


Posted by Ashley Judson, a resident of Los Altos,
on Apr 19, 2022 at 2:58 pm

Ashley Judson is a registered user.

Since there are so many mean-spirited politicians in Congress these days, why can't they settle their differences like Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton?

Alexander Hamilton is on the $10.00 bill even though he lost the duel.

My fifth grade teacher did not have an answer except to say that things aren't handled that way in modern times.

This sounds like a cop-out explanation on her part.

Lastly, why are so many old people still involved in running the government?

Shouldn't there be age-specific term limits for older U.S. senators, Congress members, U.S. presidents, and Supreme Court justices who are on the verge of losing their marbles if they haven't already?

President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, CA Senator Dianne Feinstein, and Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa immediately come to mind. They are way older than my grandparents.

If it is all about power, big money and ego then they should be removed from office by responsible voters.


Follow this blogger.
Sign up to be notified of new posts by this blogger.

Email:

SUBMIT

Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Palo Alto Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

Arya Steakhouse, a standby for steaks and Persian cuisine, moves to downtown Palo Alto
By The Peninsula Foodist | 0 comments | 2,573 views

“To get the full value of joy . . .
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 797 views

 

Register today to support local nonprofits

The 38th annual Moonlight Run and Walk is Friday evening, September 9. Proceeds go to the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund, benefiting local nonprofits that serve families and children in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. Join us under the light of the full Harvest Moon on a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon. Complete your race in person or virtually to support local nonprofits.

Register Now!