Tuesday, September 28, 2004


"In a nationwide poll released on Friday by the TNS Sofres Group, 80 percent of parents of children from 10 to 16 surveyed said they were worried about their children's academic achievement. Only half that number said they were worried about their relationship with their children. In another poll released this week, almost half of parents of school-age children surveyed said that they would like to reinstate uniforms in public schools.

"I have heard a loud outcry in favor of a return to authority," FranOois Fillon, France's conservative minister of education, said in a recent interview with the newspaper Liberation. He added: "Life is hard. The educational system must prepare youth for this challenge. Examinations, inspections, are moments of truth."....

Last month, Mr. Fillon announced that his ministry would soon issue a directive to return schools to traditional learning techniques, including a much greater emphasis on reading of required texts, memorization and recitations, taking dictation and writing structured essays....

Mr. Fillon has also praised a new book entitled "And Your Children Know How to Neither Read Nor Count," by Marc Le Bris, a veteran teacher and principal, that demands a return to older methods of teaching. "Modern education serves nothing more than to justify the abandonment of the ambitions that we have for our children," Mr. Le Bris writes. "We have in front of us a true cultural catastrophe."....

More here


"Senior Coalition MPs are pushing for radical education reforms including council control over school funding levels, the introduction of a voucher system and the return of the cane.

Just a day after National MP Kay Hull said parents who earned more than $100,000 should have to pay for their children's education in government schools, senior Coalition MPs were yesterday promoting additional policy ideas.

Parliamentary secretary to the Trade and Transport ministers, De-Anne Kelly, called for a system of school vouchers that would be valid at any public or private schools. It would represent an amount of money from the taxpayer and could be spent at the families school of choice whether it was general public, selective or private. Ms Kelly told The Weekend Australian that rather than the "class war" Mark Latham was pursuing, a voucher system would bridge the divide. "A voucher system related to your income. For instance we take more of low income families with the Family Tax Benefit A and B. They get more than somebody on a higher income, that's the same with these vouchers, that's what I would support," she said.

Western Sydney MP Jackie Kelly, who is Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, has proposed local councils decide on the level of funding government schools should receive. In her newsletter published last month, she said that in order for schools to get the direct benefit of federal government funding for government schools. "I propose that any such further increase be directed on a per capita basis to Local Government Areas. Within each Local Government Area, committees should be established comprising councillors, school principals and representatives of P&C Associations." Jackie Kelly writes that these committees would direct the new money according to the "agreed priority of needs of schools in the local areas".

Labor leader Mark Latham yesterday seized on Ms Hull's comments accusing the Government of a plan to privatise government schools and introduce a user-pays system. "You got Kay Hull, a senior government MP, she's the head of the social affairs parliamentary committee ... what she wants for our society is to have fees in government schools," he said....

National MP Ian Causley, who holds the marginal NSW seat of Page, said that rather than focusing on fees and resources, the debate should be based on classroom discipline. Mr Causley told The Australian state school teachers should be given "more weapons" to discipline students, and the cane should be considered as a "last resort". "We've overreacted to the issues like child assault and I think that's part of the problem and I think most people would like to see a bit of discipline in schools and give teachers back their powers," he said. "When I went to school I got the cane. Maybe we should bring that back."

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"Accelerating the best students: "Accelerating" helps them intellectually and socially, says "A Nation Deceived", a new report from the University of Iowa. The Des Moines Register reports:

A new University of Iowa report seeks to debunk myths that accelerated learning for gifted students is unfair, expensive for schools and causes students to be social outcasts, gifted-education experts said Monday.

"Time" recites the standard fears about children pushed too fast, but concedes there's evidence many very smart students are very bored:

For the smartest of these kids, those who quickly overpower schoolwork that flummoxes peers, skipping a grade isn't about showing off. Rather, according to a new report from the University of Iowa, it can mean the difference between staying in school and dropping out from sheer tedium. "If the work is not challenging for these high-ability kids, they will become invisible," says the lead author of the report, Iowa education professor Nicholas Colangelo. "We will lose them. We already are."

...In a 2000 study for Gifted Child Quarterly, Joseph Renzulli and Sunghee Park found that 5% of the 3,520 gifted students they followed dropped out after eighth grade. Astonishingly, that's almost as high as the 5.2% of nongifted kids who dropped out. Untold numbers of other highly intelligent kids stay in school but tune out."



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

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