Saturday, May 31, 2003

30 May, 2003

Oregon folly: "Voters clearly value education, but this new money will largely benefit the teachers' union, not the students. Rather than help the schools in a positive way, the new tax will allow the school system avoid doing two things it must eventually do: control spending and become accountable for learning outcomes."

27 May, 2003


Eleanor Spreitzer emails me that Robert Kennedy Junior was in boarding school -- a college preparatory school -- when his father was shot. She comments:

"This is a member of a family that foams at the mouth against school vouchers and school testing. School Choice? The children in their family go to boarding schools - college preparatory schools - the children of the poor and undereducated go to failing - actually dangerous (because of no disciple) - schools. These failing schools produce the foundation of poor and undereducated needed for the children of the rich and powerful to get and maintain government jobs, salaries, privileges, pensions and most importantly - POWER.

The children of the rich and powerful learn the routine quickly and easily - promise the poor and undereducated - a better life and better education - but in reality - keep them right where they are - undereducated. Undereducated people are easy to control. Tell them anything - they are too ignorant - and too browbeaten to question any one with such a grand education. This has been going on for the last 50 years. Conservatives and Republicans want to stop this cycle - and we are called the mean spirited ones!"


26 May, 2003


Whenever the Australian or British governments try to rein in higher education expenditure or shift more of it to user-pays, we get all sorts of doom and gloom about dumbing down the clever country, undermining future prosperity etc. But what is the connection between education spending and economic growth anyhow? Not what we are being told, at least according to this study of US States: "Using data from all 50 states and spanning two decades... Three distinct regressions find no consistent, statistically significant impact of higher-education appropriations on states' economic growth. Indeed, a stronger relationship is found when the models are reversed, suggesting that a better case can be made that growth drives spending, rather than spending driving growth." "Comparing states' higher-education appropriations and gross state products also yields no solid evidence that spending drives economic growth."

I found similar results some time ago in Australia. See here or here

And using even broader statistical data, Ivar Berg long ago made the related point that a higher education is of questionable economic benefit to the individual being educated too.

Berg, I. (1973) Education and jobs: The great training robbery Harmondsworth, Mddx.: Penguin.


23 May, 2003


British socialism has now got so bad that they cannot even afford to pay all their schoolteachers and are having to sack some of them. Sounds like Russia. One of their headmasters put his finger on the problem, though: "There is more money going into the system, but so much of it is taken up by bureaucracy that it is not finding its way to schools". You can bet that there will not be any bureaucrats sacked.

By lowering testing standards, some U.S. States hope to evade the penalties that a federal law imposes on schools whose students fare poorly on standardized tests. Anything rather than actually educate the kids!

Jeff Jacoby is pretty plainspoken about teachers' unions and tells us that we need to recognize that first and foremost: "Teachers unions, like all unions, want to make money and amass power. Those are the motives behind everything they say and do. They're not in business "for the children." They're in business for themselves."


22 May, 2003


News from Wesleyan University:

Transgender freshman will have the option of living in a "gender-blind" hall - one floor of a dormitory for students who don't want to be categorized as one gender or another. The new mission statement says freshmen who choose to live in the gender-blind area "will be assigned a roommate without the consideration of gender." University officials say they believe the hall is the first of its kind in the nation.

A famously liberal school, Wesleyan has garnered publicity in recent years for a course on pornography, a gay prom and rumors of a "naked dorm."

Peter LaBarbera of the Culture and Family Institute, a conservative group, called the new housing a case of "politically correct anarchy" that would draw more students into "gender confusion."


Jenny Rees writes from Wales:

Teachers are often referred to as "learning providers" while students and pupils have become "learners". In a chilling statement in one document we learn that Ms Davidson's plans for a 21st Century education will have "little resemblance to that understood as being a traditional good education".

Clearly the idea that pupils go to school to learn their alphabet and times table is out of fashion. Instead "learners" will "interface" with "learning providers". This Orwellian view of how education should be provided, (perhaps inspired by Ms Davidson's admiration for Cuba) is one that has no place in my vision.

In this the education department appears to feel that I am not alone, as they have also stated their intention to embarking on a "marketing" campaign to sell the benefits of this to parents and employers. The politically correct nonsense, which is damaging children's future prospects, must stop. My vision would be a system in which bright pupils from the most deprived areas of Wales are not held back by being in classrooms full of unruly pupils who don't want to learn, but are instead given the opportunity to shine even if that means moving schools.

18 May, 2003

Bad kids rule as teachers gagged

Political correctness has really gone mad in some Australian schools:

SCHOOL children who accuse their teacher of verbally or psychologically abusing them have been given the right to complain to child protection investigators.

Teachers are aghast at the new guidelines covering the protection of 750,000 students in schools across the State of New South Wales, which allow complaints to be made against them for non-physical "abuse". Under the controversial provisions, teachers can be investigated for "targeted and sustained criticism" of a student and for "belittling, teasing and making unreasonable demands". They also are prevented from "socially isolating" children who are disruptive or naughty in the classroom.

The changes also have incensed parents and school principals, who believe that the new rules seriously undermine class discipline and potentially jeopardise students' safety.

More here

16 May 2003


It is appalling hat many of our college and high school campuses have become incubation centers for politically correct dogma. Consider a few recent examples.

_ Indiana University's Commission on Multicultural Understanding gave an award to graduate student B. Afena Cobham, in part for calling on a student newspaper, the Indiana Daily Student, to terminate editor John Paul Benitez for publishing an editorial cartoon critical of affirmative action. The Cobham demand letter said: "We call upon John Paul Benitez to resign from his position with the IDS immediately. If he refuses, then he should be removed. His action is not protected free speech and has no place on a college campus."

_ Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts officials refused to grant two student groups permission to have a pig roast in the college quadrangle, claiming it might offend vegetarians. Brian Harcourt, a member of both clubs, said, "The campus allows many other different types of cookouts, and they never seem to have a problem with them." One university spokeswoman claimed the issue went beyond just offending vegetarians. But she admitted, "I'm not a vegetarian, but I personally don't want to look out my window at a pig roasting on a spit. ... An ice cream social would be nice."

_ The University of Massachusetts at Amherst hired a firm for $10,000 to help design a new mascot to replace the Minuteman, which has been the UMass symbol since it replaced the previously politically incorrect "Redman" in 1972. School officials said the design firm expressed concern "with the single-gender ethnicity of the Minuteman, and the fact he's carrying a firearm [in the logo] is also a concern."

_ A decommissioned A-4 Skyhawk Marine fighter plane has been on display in front of Encinal High School in Alameda, Calif. since 1984. But when the school principal sent the plane off to be sanded and repainted a few months ago, a small group of teachers and parents vowed to block its return because it represents American militarism.

14 May, 2003

The British Tories are total lost souls. They seem to think that the way to beat Labour is to be more Leftist than Labour! Their latest caper is a promise to abolish all university tution fees -- while Labour is taking the economically responsible course of putting the fees up! Britain is a strange place these days.

Shooting the messenger: A small group of minority politicians and prominent religious leaders in Florida is threatening a boycott of some of the state's largest industries in the hope of forcing the suspension of an achievement test that thousands of high school seniors (particularly blacks and Hispanics) recently failed. Sadly, however, scrapping the test will not make them any smarter or more employable.

And in New York even a lot of the teachers cannot pass basic competency tests!

12 May, 2003


This survey finds "Politically correct" books are just boring students to tears.

One series of novels, incredibly popular with Australian teens is the John Marsden "TOMORROW WHEN WAR BEGAN" series. John Marsden is Australia's no 1 bestselling writer for teenagers. The books feature a mixed group of teens struggling to survive and grow up in a future Australia under foreign military occupation. The book features resistance drawn from "pre-war" gun owners. Considering the way 'the gun lobby' has been portrayed in Australia in recent years, this is probably a small victory against PCness.

As quoted on Dissecting Leftism

3 May, 2003

A very successful Australian -- Rupert Murdoch -- says of Australian education: ""I think the education establishment with its insistence on tenure at a tertiary level, and its power at primary and secondary level - setting bullshit syllabuses - is really doing the country an immense disservice," he says." Good to see someone with his inflence saying so.

2 May, 2003


Students are now reading history books that, to avoid the appearance of "ethnocentrism," eschew the very idea of progress. One middle school textbook "lauds every world culture as advanced, complex, and rich with artistic achievements, except for the United States." Textbooks "sugarcoat practices in non-Western cultures that they would condemn if done by Europeans or Americans.... They condemn slavery in the western world but present slavery in Africa and the Middle East as benign.... " Publishers of literature textbooks actually subscribe to the notion that "everything written before 1970 was either gender biased or racially biased.".

More here.

29 April, 2003

Of course, Leftist teachers are not to blame for this: "An 18-member panel of educators has found that writing, which their report calls one of the most important skills students can learn, is woefully neglected in most American schools". But I am sure the kids know a lot about "Greenhouse" etc.

23 April, 2003


Last spring a Brooklyn mother named Jeanne Heifetz noticed something fishy on New York state's standardized high-school English exam: an excerpt from a book she'd once read had been altered. Her curiosity piqued, she gathered 10 exams from the past three years and discovered that most of the literary passages had been expurgated. References to race, religion, sex and other hot topics had been removed or softened. A "fat" boy had become "heavy," a "gringo" was now an "American," and a childhood memoir about visiting "the Negro section of town" had been stripped of racial content. Elie Wiesel's declaration that "Man, who was created in God's image, wants to be free as God is free" had been reduced to the lifeless slogan: "Man wants to be free."

More here.

22 April, 2003


I posted a comment here on 20th from a reader who believes that the pervasive Leftist influence in colleges and universities has degraded them to the point where their degrees are often useless. Another reader adds:

If any young people ever ask, you don't need college. I'm the network administrator (for the northwest U.S.) for a major corporation and I have no college degree. I am entirely self taught. Most U.S. job descriptions list requiring a college degree or equivalent experience (usually 4 years). So, if you can get into the field, and get 'real' experience, you can still be considered. Of course, this is not an excuse to fail to round out your education but there are libraries and we can read on our own. The beauty of self education is that you are paid to learn (at entry level jobs) rather than paying exorbitant sums to a university....

I also referred recently to a piece of research I did some time ago that showed that higher levels of education can actually reduce economic prosperity. And way back in the 70s Ivar Berg brought together a lot of evidence to show that college education does not benefit you economically. So most people would be better off to save their money and leave the Leftist college teachers to stew in their own juice.

Berg, I. (1973) Education and jobs: The great training robbery Harmondsworth, Mddx.: Penguin.


California Teacher Training Prefers Politically Correct Methods Over
Proven Methodology

California's K-12 teachers are trained in student-centered teaching methods that lack support in research and undermine learning, according to Facing the Classroom Challenge: Teacher Quality and Teacher Training in California's Schools of Education, a study released today by the California-based Pacific Research Institute. The study found the California State University (CSU) system biased in favor of student-centered teaching methods, despite overwhelming evidence that teacher-centered teaching methods are more effective in improving student achievement.

"The hard evidence clearly shows that traditional teacher-centered, knowledge-based instructional methods improve student achievement more than the progressive child-centered methods favored by California's schools of education," said author Lance Izumi, director of the Pacific Research Institute's Center for School Reform. "This is especially true for children of low socioeconomic status."


According to The Times, Britain's aptly-named NUT (National Union of Teachers) is trying to outlaw testing. They do not want people to realize how little the kids learn at some schools these days. The government responded:

The Department for Education and Skills condemned the decision. A spokesman said: "We are not going back to the days when we had no regular information about how pupils were doing in school. Testing at seven and 11 has meant that the literacy and numeracy strategies have produced improvements in pupils' learning that would never have been dreamt of five years ago."

In her post of 11th, Kimberly Swygert reported similar moves by Californian teachers. Teachers do tend to be Leftist worldwide. There are a lot of mini-Stalins there. They like being dictators.


20 April, 2003


An Australian reader writes:

I do think left domination undermines the quality of education kids are getting. The world doesn't work the way they teach it and if students are to really learn (assuming that is what they want to do) they have to ditch their academic education. Most people who actually run anything or do real work tell you they didn't start learning until after university. This is probably a major cause of the "anti-intellectualism" of Australian society that leftist intellectuals are always whinging about. They don't see the irony in this. Thank God Australians are so deeply anti-intellectual, we would be a third world country if we actually listened to these guys.


16 April, 2004

The UCLA Faculty Senate has voted 180-7 to condemn the war, making it the first university to do so since Iraq's liberation. The value of a university education is becoming increasingly doubtful. I think all the people with real brains must have gone into business by now.

24 February, 2003

There is a BIG post at Critical Mass about the utter destruction that has been wreaked on black education at high school level by affirmative action. Leftist tolerance and lack of any standards has meant a total betrayal of black students -- giving them virtually no education at all. Leftist dishonesty really is immensely destructive wherever it is allowed to prevail.

16 February, 2003


Teachers do make a difference. "The vocabulary of the average American 14-year-old has dropped from 25,000 words to 10,000"

World history textbooks in U.S. classrooms sanitize the problems of Islam when compared to how they often treat Western civilization More here.

Jeff Jacoby has some horror stories of how Leftists destroy high-school education in Massachusetts -- all in the name of "equality" of course. Like the Soviets, they achieve equality not by lifting everyone up but by keeping everyone down.


12 February, 2003

Jimspot is irate at education authorities in hanging-chad country who will not allow students to fail exams.

24 February, 2004

Cronaca notes more strangeness emanating from Britain: Charles Clarke, the British government's education honcho, said education for its own sake was "a bit dodgy"

27 January, 2003


I have just had this quote passed on to me -- from a time when Latin was part of every university liberal arts curriculum:

Dean Briggs of Harvard College circa 1900: "The new degree of Bachelor of Science does not guarantee that the holder knows any science. It does guarantee that he does not know any Latin."

From an interesting article on Jacques Barzun in The New Criterion


Why Read This summarizes a lot of evidence showing that smaller class sizes in schools have no educational benefit.

That is of course an old story now but every teacher wants to reduce his/her workload so will never accept it. And then the parents and everybody else end up believing the teachers and then the good old taxpayer forks out yet again for more wasted expenditure.

24 January, 2003

Joanne Jacobs reports: Congressional investigators created a fake school -- Y'Hica Institute for the Visual Arts -- in London, and applied for federal loans for three non-existent students to study abroad. All were approved by the Department of Education.