Adorable pawns

Unmasking the failure of public education

By Steve Woodward

Parents have begun to accept that their kids can’t breathe in school. Turns out there are a lot of things they can’t do.

They can’t read. They can’t add and subtract. They can’t stop thinking about sex. They can’t reason. They can’t wait for Thanksgiving Day to be over.

In a world turned upside down, educators demand (pretend) that students will be absolutely safe but are not concerned, apparently, that they know absolutely nothing. The dirty little secret has been unmasked. School performance across Moore County for 2020-21, an academic year sacrificed at the hands of hysterical lockdowns, unreliable “virtual” learning and cancellations of everything, went from lackluster to alarming. Thank God, administrators say, consoling themselves, there were fewer runny noses and scraped knees.

The problem, laments longtime Board of Education member Ed Dennison, is that parts of Moore County are occupied by too many “disadvantaged families”. And how does the Moore County school system show it’s compassion? Let us count the ways.

It allocates tens of millions of dollars drawn from a bond referendum to build Taj Mahal schools in Aberdeen, Pinehurst and Southern Pines for the same reason dogs lick their privates — because it can.

(Case in point, courtesy of fiscally focused board member David Hensley, who reported via Facebook last September: The Moore County Board of Education spent $37,875 per student building the new Aberdeen Elementary School. Contrast that with The Academy of Moore County, a charter school and Moore County’s only “A” rated school, (which) spent only $8,333 per student to build (its) new school. Phrased another way, the Moore County Board of Education spent almost FIVE TIMES building a new school (more) than what the county’s only “A” rated school spent.)

(Another Hensley Facebook nugget from last June: At $47,500 per student seat, Pinehurst Elementary is, by far, the most expensive elementary school ever built in the state of North Carolina. Had the previous Board of Education spent the state average of $26,278.43 per student seat for new public school elementary school construction, Moore County could have FIVE new, 800-seat elementary schools, not three.)

Meanwhile, schools in “disadvantaged” north Moore County remain decrepit and in need of innumerable repairs. But even after blowing its wad on south Moore school construction, the school board’s four disciples of Superintendent Bob Grimesey had a chance to do the right thing and take a fiscally sound vote. This could have happened September 22, just last month, when the board decided the time had come, once and for all, to decide what to do with 17 acres formerly occupied by the old Southern Pines Elementary School.

The back and forth on this debate is well known to those who pay attention (never enough, by the way). The board finally voted 4-3 (chair Libby Carter and her three sock puppets) to “sell” the land to a fly-by-night Southern Pines Land Trust for an apprised value of $685,000. The other board members exercised common sense and backed selling the land to a commercial developer at a fair-market price that was projected to come in around $1.5 million .

Never mind that the Land Trust, in collaboration with the Left wing Southern Pines Town Council, stole the land to build a park that will keep west Southern Pines effectively racially segregated. The real gut punch here is the hundreds of thousands of dollars that Moore County schools left on the table to pander to a racially charged cabal without regard for how the additional funds from a private sale would have benefited students across the board. The land belonged to the school system. The board was obligated to sell it to the highest bidder. It betrayed the community.

Carter lamented that she wanted to separate the board from endless forays into the “real estate business” under the false pretense that it is laser-focused on quality education. But that does not square with:

  • A board that twice has voted 4-3 to force kids to be masked all day in classrooms despite overwhelming bodies of evidence that masks are not effective and more than likely pose a mental health threat. Elementary school children especially are distracted and despairing of their filthy masks.
  • A board that is hell bent on ramming down the throats of students so-called Social Emotional Learning and Climate surveys to learn as much as possible about their sexual proclivities, gender insecurities and emotional states. Currently, Moore County schools are surveying parents about the implementation of surveys by a third party, Panorama, a data mining operation backed by Tech tyrant Mark Zuckerberg. What could possibly go wrong?
  • A board on which three members refused to condemn the inclusion of Critical Race Theory in history and social studies curricula. CRT would, for example, condemn Thanksgiving Day as a celebration of the disenfranchisement of native Americans. In other words, “Tell granny you’re sitting out next Thanksgiving.”
  • A board that has refused in recent years to deny Superintendent Grimesey a contract extension amid a downward spiral in school wide performance numbers.

A local sage wisely observed that the Moore County school performance stats are so categorically disappointing that it is impossible to cherry pick them. But three categories shine light on the big picture staring county educators in the face.

  • 55% of third graders are not reading at grade level across Moore County public schools.
  • 49% of all eighth graders are not proficient in reading. (In other words, they probably can not pronounce “proficient” or tell you what it means).
  • In grades three through eight, only 46% of students are performing at grade level in math.

The third rail of public education is the teachers themselves. In Moore County, the time seems ripe to re-evaluate both who is teaching our students and why they’re forsaking them. Let’s not repeat the mistake made in allocating new school funding. Let’s spread the blame around.

Dangerous nationalism

By Steve Woodward


The history of disingenuous editorials published by The Pilot‘s editorial board (which can fit in a golf cart) is a long and checkered one. Note we did not elude to a SmartCar.


A recent July 24 screed dismissing the war on hijacking public education — particularly in the realm of American history — seems to have sunk the paper’s editorial standards to new depths. The intensity of wrist-ringing must have a necessitated calling on a team of physical therapists.

“If you’ve fallen behind the ‘radical leftists’ or the ‘racist right wing nuts,’ you’ve left no room for a rational and critically important discussion about race, American history and how it should be taught to our children,” scolds the author.

The editorial addresses a recent 6-1 Moore County school board vote to reject race-based curricula. The Pilot says it’s fine with this outcome because it never quite understood what all the fuss was about. You know, because … racism! It’s systemic. Who doesn’t know that?


In fact, this probably explains why the editorial crescendos with a cautionary note suggesting too much objectivity in the classroom might send this debate back to square one someday. There is, after all, “danger” if the citizenry holds (or, clings to, to quote the unifier Barack Obama) a presumption of American exceptionalism. Can’t be teaching that to kids.

If, however, the board’s policy is “used to sanitize, gag or in any other way hinder teachers from presenting a fair, honest and sober assessment of this nation’s history with race, then we will be one step closer to a dangerous nationalism (emphasis added) and an agenda that cultivates an unnatural exceptionalism (emphasis added).”

In other words, you racist right wing nuts have been given fair warning by the radical leftists, who reside down the middle in the Pilot’s newsroom.

Liberty first

By Steve Woodward
As we say so long to 2019, just off the top of my head …

  • Wage increases within the workforce rising at their fastest rate in more than a decade, faster than for supervisors (bosses).
  • Record or near-record setting gains for the Nasdaq (35%) and S&P 500 (28%).
  • Dramatic declines in illegal US-Mexico border crossings. The mayor of Yuma, Ariz., recently lifted a state of emergency declared last April because “the release of migrant families into the Yuma area has ceased.”

    Labor surge
    Wages rose 4.5% year-over-year in November among bottom 25% of earners.
  • Record low unemployment among black and Hispanic populations.
  • Lowest unemployment overall since 1969.
  • Energy independence from foreign sources.
  • Trade deal set with Canada and Mexico.
  • Pending trade deal with China that will end decades of trade abuse by the Chinese.
  • Record federal judicial confirmations of Trump nominees (48 in three years).
I’m beginning to think it might be safe, finally, to retrieve the gold, cash and firearms I buried in anticipation of Y2K!
Conservative bulldog Sean Hannity repeatedly urges, “Let not your hearts be troubled.” Many of us are not there yet. Democrats present much about which to be perpetually troubled. (The drums of impeachment will awaken us from our New Year’s hangovers soon enough). But, consider more positive awakenings such as two I discovered with pleasant shock in The Wall Street Journal‘s December 28 letters to the editor.
They are letters written by residents of California and Illinois, no less, where the radical lefts reigns. They are direct smackdowns of columnist Peggy Noonan, a Never Trumper and out-of-touch Upper East Side New Yorker. Noonan is all for impeaching President Donald Trump if for no other reason than he is an objectionable character.
From Evanston, Ill.: “Ms. Noonan writes that many ‘serious’ witnesses of ‘obvious stature’ in the House impeachment hearings said the president abused his power. I don’t see it that way. Those bureaucrats said they disagreed with Mr. Trump’s foreign policy, which they think they (emphasis added), rather than the president, get to determine. Ms. Noonan should not mistake their arrogance for seriousness.”
From Mill Valley, Calif.: “We want the craziness of the left highlighted plainly. We want the corruption of elected politicians, permanent bureaucracy, intelligence services, judiciary and media exposed and cornered. We are tired of the politically correct speech codes and the protected classes for whom there can be no consequences. We prefer liberty.”
That is as powerful a mantra as I can think of to sustain us in the battles ahead in 2020. Republicans prefer liberty.

Hurricane Deception

By Steve Woodward

The tweet was snarky, as is to be expected. It speculated that President Donald Trump cancelled a scheduled trip to Poland, not because of the looming threat of Hurricane Dorian, but because he is lazy and needed an excuse to spend the holiday weekend playing golf, as usual.

Imagine the false outrage had Trump made the trip to Poland? The twitter-sphere would have condemned him for abandoning the homeland amid yet another climate change-generated natural disaster. Dorian is Trump’s Katrina!

Over on Facebook, we’ve encountered a chorus of whiners reacting to Trump’s forthcoming appearance in Fayetteville, NC (Sept. 9), on the eve of a special election for a U.S. congressional seat in NC-9. The outrage centers on a narrative that Trump’s 2020 campaign is saddling municipalities with unprecedented costs, closing in on $1 million, for additional security and other logistical needs when he rolls into to town for his signature rallies.

Naturally, no one mentions how the campaigns of sitting presidents seeking re-election handled these costs in the past. George W. Bush and Barack Obama were called out for similar fiscal “abuses”. Obama used Air Force One to travel with then Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for a 2016 joint campaign appearance, but a Bush era ethics lawyer had no issues with the arrangement.

It’s an unavoidable problem, Richard Painter said in an interview with ABC News, for presidents who are simultaneously commanders-in-chiefs and the leaders of their respective political parties.

“I don’t think this is controversial,” Painter said. “A president that won’t campaign for his own party isn’t the leader of his own party. If someone claimed that President Bush was abusing taxpayer money to campaign, we would have laughed at that.”

But in the era of Trump this type of reasoned analysis is no longer possible. The narratives build one upon the other in the media’s endless quest to diminish him and marginalize his administration and supporters. His campaign doesn’t reimburse? Of course not, as a businessman he was famous, or so it goes, for refusing to pay contractors what they were owed.  Everybody knows that (because it has been repeated for three years running). He’s lazy because he plays rounds of golf despite working more hours than any president since perhaps Abe Lincoln (never mentioned), and granting more media access than any president ever (not even close).

Authors Gary Marcus and Annie Duke explain how unrelenting fake news perpetuates Trump delusion syndrome in a piece they co-authored for The Wall Street Journal, which lays out how the Left and its compliant media hold the truth hostage so effectively. It is a simple matter of exploiting behavior.

In a world of information overload and distraction wrought by technology and daily life as we know it “we tend to assume that whatever we hear is true.” Admittedly, this is an objectionable generalization but it is not aimed at readers of this blog. It is aimed at the growing sector of society identified by Rush Limbaugh as the “low information voter.”

The authors site numerous studies that have demonstrated how vulnerable human beings are to being snookered. A 2017 study by faculty at New York University examined around 500,000 social media messages. Subtle words such as “hate”, “destroy” or “blame” accelerate the spread of these messages by 20% per emotional word.

“Fake news tends to avoid nuance or neutral language and frequently adds layers of emotion and moralizing — all of which makes false items spread much faster than the real thing,” Marcus and Duke wrote. They conclude a war can be waged on fake news by teaching “information literacy” across all age groups.

In WSJ August 31 – September 1 editions, the newspaper profiles prolific novelist Salmon Rushdie. His 14th just-published novel is a contemporary version of a 17th-century classic, “Don Quixote”. His motivation for writing it partially draws on the fake news and reality TV phenomena from which almost no one readily escapes.

“We live in a moment in which truth is stranger than fiction,” Rushdie says, “and so the fiction has to decide how strange it needs to be in order to get close to the truth.”

This week’s fictional thread, which inevitably will work its way back to the Trump White House, is that Hurricane Dorian is another in a series of monster storms delivering “unprecedented” fury.

“The truth is that the storms that are hitting the Caribbean with this intense magnitude are historic, unprecedented, and these storms are manmade storms,” contends Emory University Prof. Tiphanie Yanique in a televised interview with the independent news hour Democracy Now.

The guest and her interviewer, both clearly in lockstep with the climate change narrative, failed to address a well documented chronology of Category 5 hurricanes. The first Cat 5 hurricane in the Atlantic Basin was recorded in 1924, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), followed by 34 more through this year. Only four have hit the United States as a Cat 5 across 95 years.

Now, test your information literacy as you read this concluding sentence: The most intense Cat 5 hurricane to make U.S. landfall hit the Florida Keys on Labor Day 1935. President Roosevelt was blamed, along with climate change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’re a racist. Probably.

By Steve Woodward

Not long ago, two people in complete disagreement might have exchanged accusations of one being misinformed or closed-minded, or one simply would dismiss the other as a “jerk”. Then, on to the next tee. But when this author’s reputation was compromised recently by The Pilot newspaper, which published a private e-mail communication from me as a “letter-to-the-editor”, I experienced for myself the new age of 24/7 identity politics.

In subsequent published letters by readers, and elsewhere, I was labeled “racist, bigoted, angry, intolerant, ignorant, vile, hateful, and ugly” and my email content was called out as “discriminatory” and “inflammatory”.

And, because people are increasingly paralyzed by a fear of being associated with such labels, fellow members of a community service organization urged that I apologize or be reprimanded so they would not be seen as “complicit” with my viewpoints.

Although nothing in my exposed private commentary so much as bordered on racially charged rhetoric, and certainly did not include ethnic slurs of any kind — it was merely pointed, verifiable criticism — we are learning that this demonstrates the new normal of how the left and its socialist fringe members move to swiftly punish ideological opponents. Destroy, don’t denounce. Assassinate character, ask questions later. The late Saul Alinsky, author of “Rules for Radicals”, urged unrelenting ridicule of Americans and their values.

Frequent readers of The Pilot know that I am an avowed defender of American values, the Constitution, Conservatism, the Republican Party and President Trump. So it is logical that a recent flurry of criticism by these same readers would contain all of the left’s favorite buzzwords intended to silence people with whom they disagree.

Writing for The Wall Street Journal, Heather Mac Donald observes that Trump, his supporters and the so-called white privileged in general, are persistently accused of racially charged divisiveness. Yet, “it is the media and Democrat leaders who routinely characterize individuals and groups by race and issue race-based denunciations of large parts of the American polity.”

As baseless accusations escalate the sad truth is that most Americans, even the most proud and loyal, will shrink into silence, afraid of earning a label, albeit unwarranted. Where does it end? Someone posts a scathing critique of a restaurant after a terrible dining experience. It’s an Asian sushi house or a black-owned BBQ joint. Racist! An employer asks an employee to cover garish tattoos on his arms and wash his hair. Bigot! Get out and vote for a pro-Christian, pro-traditional marriage, anti-abortion Republican. Inflammatory! Hate speech! Co-exist!

You are not even safe at church. This week, a 49-person delegation comprised of Brownson Presbyterian Church members, along with local black faith leaders, is traveling by bus to Washington, DC. Brownson is a predominantly white church, but to my knowledge has no history of prohibiting black or Hispanic congregants. Nonetheless, the stated itinerary of the trip focuses on visits to “civil rights monuments and museums … and a daily Bible study … to improve lines of communications within our community.” No time for the Lincoln or Jefferson memorials, or The Smithsonian. Nothing to see there.

The promotion of the bus trip was kicked off over a period of several weeks from the pulpit, and included a guest sermon by the author of  a book entitled, “Waking Up White”. It is an apologetic tome in which she regrets her upbringing amidst “white privilege.” Left unsaid by religious leaders, black and white, is the obvious reality that God determines the race of everyone of us. Furthermore, American society has long accepted the existence of the “black church” absent a hint of malice. But God help anyone who identifies as a member of a “white church”.

A former newspaper known as The New York Times recently announced it is launching The 1619 Project. It is not actually a project, it is a take down, the ultimate denunciation of the legitimacy of the United States of America, and the expansion of a narrative that Trump and his past and future supporters are virulent racists. Here’s the premise:

“The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.”

What, you do not subscribe to The New York Times? Racist.