Wednesday, December 8, 2010

New Haven Schools (again), The Death Penalty, and Gratuitous Promotion of Family Members

Two quick notes:

Nathaniel has another piece criticizing the New Haven Promise program. This piece says much of what he has already said but includes a few more direct proposals about what else should be done. Unfortunately, this piece is on National Review Online. While that's an impressive accomplishment, that does make me feel conflicted about linking to it. In general, while NRO does have some worthwhile material, a disturbingly large fraction of it has over the last few years come to resemble a nutshell of what is wrong with the modern conservative movement in the US. For example, considering that NRO is the same place where writer Mike Potemra complained that Star Trek promoted "peace, tolerance, due process, progress" which are much too liberal values. Aside from this issue, as I've discussed before, I think that the problems in the public schools, including New Haven, are more complicated than Nathaniel portrays them.

There is a piece by another member of my family that I can link to with fewer reservations. My father has a deeply personal piece up at the Oxford University Press blog discussing why he has grown to oppose the death penalty. I suspect that his changing views are similar to the general decline in support for the death penalty over the last 20 years. The general support for the death penalty has dropped over time although about two thirds of the US still supports the death penalty (I've seen claims that the US did not have strong support for the death penalty in the 1960s and that the level of support grew for some time before beginning its current downwards trend, but I've never seen data backing this claim up.) There's also evidence that more religious people tend to be more likely to support the death penalty. If that is a causal rather than correlative link, the current drop in support for the death penalty may be due to the general drop in popularity of organized religion over the last few years.

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