to “study” one of his plays; it is almost alwaysrnRomeo and ]uliet or A MidsummerrnNight’s Dream, chosen for their relaticrnaccessibility. But such study is hardly rigorous.rnThe giveaway is in the examrnscripts: Candidates write not of the eventsrnof the play, but of scenes from the film,rnhi the case of Romeo and Juliet, answersrnfrcc[uently refer to such anachronisms asrnTybalt drawing his gun, or of petrol stationsrncatching fire. To these children,rnRomeo and Juliet is a cinematic —not arnliterary or theatrical — experience. Thernsame is true of most 16-year-olds whornstudy Macbeth. If Roman Polanskirnearned a penu}- for eyer’ time an educationallyrnresistant teenager asked hisrnteacher to rewind the video to the “bitrnwhere the man gets an arrow in hisrnhead,” he would be a very rich man indeed,rnbut our 16-year-olds are not muchrnculturally richer: There is no such eventrnin Shakespeare’s play.rnContemporary Faiglish schoolchildrenrnare ec[ually untainted by knowledgernof their historical inheritance. Histor inrnprimary and in the lower levels of secondaiyrnschools is largely taught b themernand does not put the present in the contextrnof the past. Ask one of the diminishingrnnumber of 16-year-olds that have optedrnto study history for the date of thernBattle of Trafalgar, the names of the StuartrnKings, or the wives of Henry VIII, andrnyou’ll get a blank look. Show them therngloriously garbled comic classic J 066rnand All That, and they just won’t get thernjokes. They are not in touch with thernpast, except insofar as it justifies the politicalrnpresent and future. The Empire isrnmentioned only to be mocked; the historicrnheroes of the nation are unsung.rnIn fact, there is hardly any singing at all.rnMusic has been squeezed to the verv’ marginrnof the curriculum. If there is anyrnsinging in schools, it is multicidtural.rnWhen I was a child, I sang as a child:rn”Hearts of Oak,” “The British Grenadiers,”rn”Farewell and Adieu,” “Eariy One Morning”rn—folk songs handed on from one generationrnto the next. Now, if children arerntaught to sing, it is in a class, darkly: The}rnare taught contemporarv subcultural trash.rnMore likely, though, is that, like Belloc’srncultural invaders, they know no songs atrnall—which is pcdiaps appropriate. P’or, inrncontemporarv’ English education, there isrnprecious little to sing about.rnMichael McMahon taught in privaternand public schools in England untilrnJ 999.rnLetter From Virginiarnby Wayne AllensworthrnWhat’s Wrong Withrn”Compassionate Conservatism”?rnWlicn my family and I moved to Purcellvillernnearly ten years ago, I was surprisedrnby how much traffic came through ourrnlittle town. Purcellville had a populationrnof less than 2,000 then, and the OldrnColonial Highvvav’, which doubles as therntown’s Main Street, began piling up wellrnbefore 6:00 A.M. on the weekdays, arnsteady stream of trucks and cars crowdingrnthe hvo-lane road on their way to the newrnhighway. Route 7, which leads to Washington,rnD.C., and its environs. By thernhundreds and thousands, the economicrnnomads from the rural Blue Ridge arearnand their poorer relations from West Virginiarnpoured through town, stopping offrnfor gas and coffee at the 7-Eleen and itsrnrival, the Amoco .station, both sihiated atrnthe crossroads between Purcellville andrnLincoln. Man’ of these folks’ ancestorsrnmade a living as farmers (and, later, asrncoal miners) in an era that now seems asrnremote as the Middle Ages, but the descendantsrnof die mountain people havernsurvived by working on constructionrnsites, driving trucks, and performing otherrnassorted blue-collar jobs. They arcrnmostly employees now, not the yeomanr)’rnJefferson correctK’ saw as the only realrnbulwark of a republic. Still, it’s a fixing.rnMany West Virginia counties, in particular,rndepend on the influx of dollars fromrnthose jobs to sunie, if not to prosper.rnIn my memor-, the fate of the Americanrnworking class is now connected withrnthose lines of predawn headlights and thernsights and sounds of die gradual displacementrnof the mountain people by littlernbrown men (and women) from Mexico,rnEl Salvador, and ofiier points south of thernRio Grande. T en years ago, the “Hispanic”rnpopulation of PnrcelKillc was irtual-rn1 nil. Not anmorc. I can see the comingrndefeat of the mountain people everyrnday at the coneniencc stores (all ofrnw.hich now offer cut rates for long-distancerncalls to Mexico and El Salvador), atrna school construction site in neighboringrnHamilton (tiiere arc few white or blackrnmen working there), and in a house,rnpacked with Spanish-speaking immigrants,rnin my own ncighbodiood.rnIn my mind’s ee, I saw the headlightsrnand the faces of die mountain people as Irnscanned the front page of the WashhigtonrnTimes on March 3 and felt an anger Irncould barely contain. The headline readrn”Salvador Illegals Get Bush Reprieve.”rnPresident George W. Bush, the “compassionaternconservative” (as if other traditionalistsrnaren’t), pledged to halt deportationsrnof illegal immigrants from ElrnSalvador for the next 18 months in viewrnof the recent earthquake in that unfortunaterneonntn. Salvadoran PresidentrnFrancisco Flores hailed the decision asrnmore important than direct U.S. aid.rn(Congress has appropriated $110 millionrnfor earthquake relief, while PresidentrnBush has promised more to come; thernUnited States also responded by sendingrnrescue workers to the stricken country.)rnIt seems that the hundreds of thousandsrnof Salvadoran illegals living in the UnitedrnStates arc responsible for a large part ofrnthe estimated Si.7 billion that makes itsrnway to their countr’ each year, about 14rnpercent of the countr’s GDP. PresidentrnBush’s action, in his words, allows Salvadoransrnto “continue to work here” andrnto “remit some of their wages backrnhome” to “sup[)ort” the comitr)”s “recover}’rneffort.” He failed to mention that it allowsrnthem to violate U.S. law.rnSo what’s vrong with such “compassion?”rnNo decent person can help but feelrnpit}’ for those who have suffered in El Salvador,rnand the Lfiiited States appears tornhave been more than generous in responsernto the traged. (Especially noteworthyrnare rescue workers who volunteeredrnto help and the humanitarian aidrngathered b}- church groups, which apparentl}’rndid not need Washington’s moralrnguidance.) Nevertheless, President Bush’srn”reprieve” is wrongheaded, even wronghearted,rnas is his pledge to pour more U.S.rnfunds into that sad country. PresidentrnBush’s misconception of “compassion” isrnthe same as diat of most others living in anrnatomized urban socich’ where bonds ofrneommunit}’, kinship, and patriotism havernbeen serioush diluted, where CNN’srncameras divert our attention from thernplight of our neighbors b} exploiting thernsuffering of distant strangers, and wherernthe notion of personal responsibility,rnwhich “compassionate conser’atism” reportedlyrnseeks to boost, has practically disappeared.rnPresident Busli is soothing his ownrnconscience by freely dispensing otherrnpeople’s mone-. Undoubtedly, he “feelsrnthe pain” of Salvadorans (after all, he canrn_i4/CHRONICLESrnrnrn