Thursday, February 12, 2015

Diversity is in the Eye of the Beholder

Bill Gates, a founder of Microsoft and Craig McCaw, essentially the creator of AT&T Wireless both graduated from The Lakeside School, Seattle, the preeminent private school in the Pacific Northwest, from where I graduated in 1960.  I just received the Fall/Winter 2014 Lakeside Magazine entitled “The art of politics.”  Page 5 presents the letter from the school Head, Bernie Noe.  He wrote …”[D]iscussions about politics…[by] students at Lakeside offer viewpoints across the political…spectrum.”  That would mean diversity of political thought. In the section “Political Thinking” in a Q & A Carl Engelhardt, Middle School history department head, said “I wouldn’t say [Lakeside has] a liberal bias, I would say that Republicans and conservatives are underrepresented in education.” Underrepresented! Then he continues, “If by liberal you mean most of our faculty vote Democratic, that’s decidedly true.”  Well then. 

In the magazine a number of political operatives are featured.  One section, “What working in the Political Field is really like,” featured Lakeside graduates, four Democrats all winners in local elections; and two Republicans, one who was asked about his guilty plea for Driving Under the Influence and a second who had run and lost in three campaigns and won none. Is that a fair presentation?

In “The View From D. C.” the stories of seven Lakeside alumni working for politicians or political parties all were Democrats. Republicans zero. “The Lobbying Life” article headlined three political lobbyists who are liberals and one, reaching way back to the class of 1965, was once assistant to a Republican governor of Washington

The “Inside Lakeside” section presented the “Global Community Theme 2014” – “Hot to Learn About Climate Change.” One would think that an educational institution would present both sides, for and against. No! It was taken for granted in the full page describing the theme that climate change is a scientific truth.  There was nowhere any possibility of discussing whether in fact climate change is happening. Clearly, “climate change” has a connotation of catastrophe, naturally caused by human activity and greed. Interesting, a “Lakeside parent,” a lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report in 2013, will be a guest speaker. Recommended books include “The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change” by former Lakeside teacher, Yoram Bauman, about which its review from Kirkus states: “Having established a tone of moderation, invoking scientific method rather than ideology, Bauman and Klein nonetheless reinforce the realities of global warming, fossil fuels and greenhouse gases as potentially catastrophic.” On the book’s back cover, John Michael Wallace, Professor Emeritus, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, and co-author of Atmospheric Science: An Introductory Survey, writes the book is “Gently persuasive.”  Is there any argument that climate change is not caused by humans?  Not at Lakeside.

Yet Lakeside celebrates its diversity.  Forty-five percent of its admitted students are “students of color.” But is the color of one’s body truly define diversity? To Lakeside School and by far the preponderance of educators and educational facilities it is.  As Carl Engelhardt went on, “In the public-school world, the teachers unions are probably the second largest donors to the Democratic Party.” But what is the private-school world’s excuse?

One political viewpoint does not diversity deliver.

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