Saturday, September 11, 2004

US productivity soars in business, slumps in education: "Productivity in the U.S. economy soared an impressive 60 percent over the past three decades in terms of output per hour, but productivity in U.S. public schools fell by 42 percent over the same period in terms of reading achievement per dollar spent, according to Harvard University economist Caroline M. Hoxby."


"A Christian woman in Texas has launched a home schooling organization for Southern Baptist families. Elizabeth Watkins says the organization is the answer to a prayer God put in her heart almost three years ago when she first began home schooling her daughters. After realizing there was little support for home schoolers in her denomination, she formed the Southern Baptist Church and Home Education Association.

The home-schooling mom feels more Christian parents need to thoughtfully consider home education as an alternative to government schools that are so often the automatic choice. And although the Southern Baptist Convention recently turned down a resolution that urged Baptists to pull their kids out of public schools, she believes the resolution was successful in some ways.

"What it did was it brought awareness to the fact that the Southern Baptist home-schooling community does not have a voice within the convention," Watkins says, "and it brought that attention to home-schooling families. So, I believe that God can use the debate to bring something good out of it, such as our association.".....

According to the group's founder, the Southern Baptist Church and Home Education Association has some ambitious and innovative networking ideas. For instance, the group hopes to establish a network for retired Christian educators, coaches, and musicians who are interested in providing tutoring services for home-schooling families. Also, Watkins says the association intends to serve as a liaison between Southern Baptist colleges and high school-age home schoolers.

More here

Rubbery standards in Germany too: "A German teacher ended up in the dock and was ordered to give a pupil higher marks after her parents complained their daughter should have been given better grades. The 10-year-old girl missed out on a grammar school place because her grades were not high enough, but after quizzing their daughter about her poor performance, the parents decided the teacher was to blame -- and took the case to court. The couple's legal team claimed that the questions posed in assignments were unfair because they were phrased in an ambiguous way, and demanded that the child be marked up and allowed to enter grammar school."

Friday, September 10, 2004


Even an honest Leftist fell foul of academic Stalinism

"I'm a PhD looking for a full time teaching job in a very difficult market. When I could not find a full-time job for fall, I began looking for adjunct positions. I got a call from a prestigious university. I was excited. I was interviewed by Prof. X, the head of the writing program. As I said in subsequent emails to him and to his associate, I was deeply and positively impressed with Prof. X's apparent dedication to teaching, which he combined with a fine mind. I had applied at several other schools. I turned down a part-time position that would have paid much more. I did this because I wanted to work with Prof. X. In the end, I turned down several other offers.

The sample assignments we were given struck me as directive, as forcing students to accept, as fact, theories. Further, these theories, combined with the articles -- one about people celebrating all over the world after seeing film footage of planes crashing into the World Trade Center on 9-11, one about the "threat" of McDonald's restaurants opening up worldwide, and one that commented on America's efforts to combat terrorism, seen as not being good efforts -- created an anti-American slant. For example, one sample assignment asked students to compare eating at McDonald's to genocide.

There was no "out" in this sample assignment. A student who did not regard eating at McDonald's as comparable to genocide would not have been able to answer the question, and would have failed. That student's grade depended on his or her ideological agreement with the professor who had prepared the assignment. I was told that my homework assignment was to create assignments like those I had been shown in class.

I struggled with this assignment. I finally composed a note to Prof. X outlining my difficulty with the assignment.... I asked for guidance with the problems I was having in order to carry out my assigned duties, duties I was looking forward to fulfilling.

On the second day of the orientation, I arrived, early, and, again, sat up front, ready to absorb what wisdom Prof. X had to offer. Prof. X entered the room, ignored the other trainees present, approached me, and asked me to accompany him outside. Prof. X didn't just walk me into the hall, he escorted me outside the building. Once we were outside, Prof. X. said to me, immediately, "I wonder if this is going to work. This is like a marriage. You have objections to what we do. Give your social security number to our secretary, and we will pay you for coming for the orientation."

Again, I am a relatively recent PhD seeking employment in a very tight market. I have several strikes against me. I come from a working class, immigrant background, and entered grad school late. Further, I had to deal with a catastrophic illness while a grad student. I'm not a shiny, young, ethnically mainstream PhD who has all the time in the world to find the right job. This job may have been my last chance, or something close to it. If nothing else, I really needed the money. I'm living in Section 8 housing.

This all occurred the week before school was to start. I had made clear, in phone calls and emails, that I had turned down other jobs for this job. Is it consistent with leftist values to take a job away from someone who needs one so badly, at a time when that person's ability to find other work is in doubt?

The other terrific irony in all this is that I am not a right-winger. For example, I have not just marched against every military action undertaken by the US in my lifetime (except Afghanistan), I have organized and spoken at actions against every US military action in my lifetime. I'm a radical feminist, radically and actively pro-gay rights; I don't just preach environmental ideals; I live environmental ideals. I could continue listing my bona fides as a certified Pinko for several pages. I come by this point of view from my family, which includes not a few Communists. My work has been published in a national publication that was reviewed by Publishers' Weekly as "leftist." "

More here.

Thursday, September 09, 2004


A former Democrat and admirer of Zell Miller describes what she was taught as "literature" in an American university: "Senator Miller would have been outraged had he been in an English department where the very idea of "family" is questioned and attacked. He would have been shocked while listening to discussions of sadistic child pornography discussed with aplomb... He would have been shocked to see the family portrayed as an institution of evil and oppression, of patriarchy; to see motherhood presented as "territorialization" in women's studies.... He would have been shocked to read discussions by acclaimed scholars of performance studies of transgendered sex workers who assert power over men through pornographic performances.... He would have been shocked by the glib arguments of graduate students trained by the radicals who ask: why defend your particular family over the family of the enemy? Who is to say?"


A bit bureaucratic but it may be one of the few effective disciplinary measures left these days

"On the first day of school for many students, Gov. Tim Pawlenty moved to crack down on truancy Tuesday, announcing plans to require good school attendance as a condition for getting a driver's license. Pawlenty said he has told his commissioners of education and public safety, Alice Seagren and Michael Campion, to draft rules that would require students younger than 18 to submit a form certified by their schools proving they have a good attendance record when they apply for a driver's license.

The process will take some time, but the rules could take effect as soon as this spring, meaning attendance during the current school year would count, he said. "There's no question that there is a strong correlation between consistent and steady attendance in school and academic success," Pawlenty said. "Students who don't attend school regularly don't learn, and they don't ultimately succeed academically."

A similar proposal was one of Pawlenty's main education initiatives last session, but it stalled in the Legislature. He said his administration will use its rule-making authority to accomplish many of the same things. The governor and his commissioners called it a common-sense approach because there are few things as important to a teenager as driving".

More here

Wednesday, September 08, 2004


British Prof. Christie Davies thinks that creationism is a lot of nonsense but still supports the idea of schools teaching it. Excerpt:

"Why then should we permit and encourage the formation of secondary schools in which the creationist alternative is taught either in addition to Darwinism or as a substitute for it? The reason is simple. Schools in which creationism is cherished are the kinds of faith schools that succeed in instilling decent moral principles in their pupils. Creationist schools are able to generate the kind of moral authority that will combat crime, teenage pregnancy and drug addiction in amoral inner city areas and they can do this without creating political or communal animosities. Parents who want their children to be protected from the problems associated with inner city seek out schools that condemn sin. They want schools that are judgmental and moralistic. Those schools which believe in the literal truth of the Book of Genesis are likely to provide this.

Parents do not care about the waxing and waning of trilobites or moths that turn black in Lancashire or the species of bottom feeding sea-urchin that became extinct when its anus slowly migrated round its perimeter until it coincided with its mouth. Such esoteric knowledge does not appeal to the parents of Govan or Splott, Bon-y-Maen or Chapeltown. They know that the wages of Darwin is sin and they dislike sin. Democracy as well as reason demands that we go back to the seven days of creation and the quelling of confusion to create order. The story of the flood and Noah's Ark has a moral dimension that Darwinism lacks, for it links changes in the natural world to the need to restore moral order at a time of social confusion.

Should creationist schools spring up all over Britain and their academically successful pupils obtain a qualification in creationist science rather than on an evolutionary syllabus, it will have no deleterious impact whatsoever on British technology and competitiveness. Only a few specialists need to assume in their work that the theory of evolution is true let alone have a detailed knowledge of it. What does it matter if a computer scientist or a mechanical engineer or an inorganic chemist believes in creationism? The United States is full of such people and it does not seem to have inhibited scientific progress, technical innovation or economic growth in that materially successful country....

No doubt I will be accused of cynically advocating the teaching of something whose truth I doubt in order to pursue social betterment, the treason of the Jesuit and the Benthamite. The critics forget that our entire educational system is based on this principle. Even as I write colleagues in schools and universities throughout Britain are teaching on a grand scale the lie that human nature in general and sex roles in particular are infinitely malleable, a doctrine based on Margaret Mead's grossly incompetant studies of Samoa. Margaret Mead's work has long since been discredited by later researchers and the author shown up as a naïve unobservant fool when young who later became a closed minded ideologue. Yet her work is still taught as gospel and her critics either ignored or mentioned only to be shrugged off. Teachers and lecturers are willing to do this because they wish to uphold the myth of human malleability and the lie that men and women are interchangeable".

More here

Tuesday, September 07, 2004


"WASHINGTON - As the school year begins, more than 1,000 students are using a new voucher program to escape troubled public schools in the nation's capital.

Officials running the nation's first federally funded voucher program said Wednesday the response was overwhelming. Seventy-four percent of students who applied for vouchers and were determined to be eligible are enrolled in participating private and parochial schools, and more applications are under review. "We have 1,011 students that have been placed in 53 schools," said Sally Sachar, president of the Washington Scholarship Fund, the nonprofit group administering the program for the District of Columbia and the U.S. Department of Education.

In 17 days last spring, the scholarship fund received inquiries from the families of about 8,500 students. More than 1,800 children met program income requirements, under which a family of four could not earn more than $34,400 per year. "The fact that so many families applied for and accepted these scholarships shows the demand for quality educational options," said Mayor Anthony A. Williams, who spent much of last fall building bipartisan support for the $12.1 million program.

Voucher advocates hope the experiment in the capital city, an idea debated in Congress for years before its passage in 2004, will energize the school-choice movement nationwide...."

More here


The major party of the Left in Australia -- the Labor Party -- has had enough political savvy to disown this action after the event but you can be sure that nothing would have been said or done without a big protest from parents. I gather that the play celebrates transvestism and transsexuality

"The Liberal Party has seized on the screenplay to the hit Australian movie The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert as evidence that Labor governments would not protect school values. The controversial play was withdrawn from Morayfield High School in Caboolture Shire on Friday after parents' complaints. Federal Member for Longman, Mal Brough, said that foul language, an incest scene and other "disgusting" behaviour in the play had no place in schools. "The Labor Party talks about schools maintaining values ... but the reality is they are doing altogether another thing when they are in charge of the system here in Queensland,' Mr Brough said.

State Education Minister Anna Bligh said the play had not been reviewed or approved by Education Queensland, and was not part of any syllabus. "It is not suitable for students and should not have been used as a study tool," she said. Federal Opposition education spokeswoman Jenny Macklin also said that if was not in the syllabus, it should not have been studied."

The above article appeared in the Brisbane "Courier Mail" on Sept., 7th., 2004

Monday, September 06, 2004

LOL. Stupid Leftist "educators": Prof. Richard Lynn had the following mocking letter (not online) in the "Times Higher Educational Supplement", 27 viii 2004: "So Cambridge University has developed a "thinking skills test" for students and found that it predicts performance in first year examinations (Public Agenda, 17 August). The university has apparently rediscovered the intelligence test, first constructed ninety-nine years ago, since when dozens if not hundreds of studies have found what Cambridge has now discovered. Brilliant".

More people should

"Parents have thrown their weight behind teachers in the battle between the State Government and Victoria Point State High School over penalties for drug use. The school's Parents and Citizens Association has written to the local Labor MP John English, expressing its disappointment with the Government's refusal to expel two students caught with marijuana on the school oval.

Victoria Point principal John Corbett had recommended the Year 10 boys be expelled - a recommendation rejected by Education Queensland district director, Jan D'Arcy. Victoria Point teachers will stop work at 1.45pm today to protest at Education Queensland's "soft stance on illegal drugs in schools".....

Queensland Teachers' Union president Julie-Ann McCullough said yesterday teachers had been let down by the department. "Education Minister Anna Bligh must immediately intervene in this case and instruct her department to back the school's decision to exclude the students," Ms McCullough said.

Education Department director-general Ken Smith said the boys had already been punished with one getting a 16-day suspension and the other 20 days and directed to undertake drug counselling. "The students do not have a history of misbehaviour, so it is absolutely unwarranted for the QTU to continue with this action," Mr Smith said.

Victoria Point teachers have demanded the school's behaviour-management plan, previously endorsed by Education Queensland, be implemented.

More here

Sunday, September 05, 2004


Parents, coaches rail against "pay to play" fees: "There are new clothes and supplies to buy and piano lessons to schedule. And for many parents across the country, the first day of school also entails some 'hidden' costs. Faced with shrinking budgets, schools are charging for things parents once took for granted: playing football or field hockey, singing in the glee club, or, in at least one case, accepting membership in the National Honor Society. Charges for extracurricular activities, commonly called 'pay to play' fees, are not new, but as more and more schools rely on them, parents and other critics are railing against a system they say denies access to a free public education. Last month, Massachusetts Speaker of the House Thomas Finneran vowed to explore ways to put an end to fees collected in his state. According to a recent survey by the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, some three-quarters of districts here charge extracurricular fees."


Great stuff: "Babette Hankin of Croyden, PA, likes to show off her home-schooling program. Not only do her seven children stay occupied all day, but the five of school age seem to thrive in her regimented rotation covering earth science, reading, math, and even piano practice. Yet despite pride in the program, Mrs. Hankin is suing the Bristol Township School District for requiring a yearly review. At dispute is the age-old but not yet settled question of who owns the children, and who therefore should oversee their education -- the parents, the state, or God? ... Hankin's is one of two landmark cases pending in Pennsylvania courts. In each, home-schooling families are using a new religious freedom law to fight what they see as state interference. Twelve states have recently passed similar laws, putting a potentially powerful tool in the hands of those who educate the nation's 1.1 million home-schooled children."