Saturday, October 02, 2004


It is amazing how little Leftists have changed over the years. They were just as intolerant of conservative views and authoritarian in suppressing them 40 years ago when I was one of the few identifiably conservative students on a large Australian campus. They may advocate change but they themselves hardly change at all. Excerpts from Front Page:

"It's not easy being a member of a minority at major university. Just ask Jeston La Croix. As one of the more vocal members of the U-M College Republicans, La Croix has had his share of run-ins with liberal students, faculty, and administrators not to mention the radical group By Any Means Necessary (BAMN). La Croix says he's proud to be a member of the Republican Party. "Not that I agree with everything [the party stands for]," he says, "but certain things such as affirmative action, the way our social programs are instituted, taxes, things like that. I believe the Republican Party has, maybe not the best stance, but the lesser of the two evils."

A good-natured junior from Richmond, in Macomb County, La Croix is majoring in political science. He spent his summer managing a campaign for Dave Kredell, a GOP candidate running for state representative in Port Huron, and harbors ambitions of running for office himself one day. But he says he didn't get politically involved until he came to Ann Arbor.

"The U of M kind of pushed me towards the Republican Party, in all honesty," he says. In his advocacy of conservative causes, he's frequently clashed with left-wing campus groups. This past March, La Croix tried to collect petition signatures in front of the Michigan Union for the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, a proposal that would ban affirmative action at state universities and public institutions. He says that BAMN members - some students, some not - blocked access to the petition tables and harassed people who asked for information. La Croix say" officers from the U-M department of public safety then told the petitioners they would have to leave, because university policy forbade collecting signatures on campus. Two administrators he questioned later refused to either confirm or deny that the university had such a policy.

La Croix says a hall director at Mary Markley dormitory also forced him and several other students to take down anti-affirmative-action posters from their doors. La Croix says he contacted professor Carl Cohen, an affirmative action opponent, and that Cohen in turn contacted U-M president Mary Sue Coleman. Coleman wrote a letter to the university's housing administration affirming the student's right to free speech. La Croix then put his poster back up, but he says the other students were too frightened to do the same.

"That's the unfortunate thing with the U of M," says Ben Saukas, second vice-chair of the College Republicans. "In a school that strives so much to create diversity, it all but chooses what diversity it wants to create.. They try so hard to recruit minorities. They try so hard to create an environment with minority peer advisors so that you can help to integrate, help to move together and come together and form new ideas, bringing people together. "But politically they don't want to do that. Politically they want all these people to come together and become Democrats - which I think is kind of self defeating."

A Grand haven native, Saukas is s sophomore majoring in political science and minoring in theater. As an active member of both the College Republicans and Campus Crusade for Christ, he's often felt isolated at U-M. "Even exposing yourself as a Republican in a class is something I'm not always willing to do," Saukas says. "When I go to my theater class in the Residential College with my sixty-year-old hippie professor and I wear my College Republican shirt - I did that the other day, and I kind of thought about it. I was, like, `I'm going to do this, but it's probably not the wisest thing I've ever done in my life.'"...

Last year Saukas identified himself as a CR to a professor and asked whether he could make an announcement about the national kickoff for Students for Bush. The professor gave his okay. Saukas made his announcement - and was booed and hissed by the class.

CR's, though, say the students' attitudes are shaped by their professors.' Senior Mike Philips says the disproportion between liberal and conservative teachers is particularly glaring in the liberal arts. "There's probably some conservative professors in different fields," says the business administrator major, a senior from Marquette. "But a lot of our group are political science majors or history major or some of the real popular liberal arts majors, and so that's where they're looking for some conservative balance. If your physics professor is a Democrat or Republican or Independent it really doesn't matter--it doesn't pertain to your subject matter. But the political science department could be a starting point where there really needs to be a balance."......

I also reproduce below for comparison a couple of relevant paragraphs from my online autobiographical notes about my time as a student in the Vietnam era:

"When I became a full-timer I began to do a bit in student politics. It was the Vietnam era when most students were shit-scared of being conscripted. So everybody was very Leftist. When conscription stopped so did most student activism. I however could never be dishonest enough to be Leftist (Many years later Mikhail Gorbachev showed that the old Soviet system literally floated on a sea of lies) so became virtually the only student to support the conservative cause in public debates. This put a bit of a dent in my social life. I had no real friends in psychology as psychologists are pretty uniformly Leftist but I did have friends among the Engineers (students in the Faculty of Engineering -- traditionally Rightist. They deal with real things). I must have been the only psychology student who did. Surprisingly enough, even at that time there were some of the far-Right on campus. I joined with some of them to help found the Australia-Rhodesia Society. That was great fun. It really caused the Left to show themselves for what they are. Provoking pomposity from Leftists is of course the favourite game of the extreme Right. On this occasion the Left tried to stack and disrupt our inaugural meeting and also managed to get us banned from using any further university facilities (rooms etc). And they claim to believe in free speech! They don't. I know. "By their fruits shall ye know them". Anyway we had our fun with them. We knew them for what they were. Stalin's remark that there was complete freedom of speech in Russia for anyone who agreed with him just about sums up what all Leftists aspire to. The "Australia-Rhodesia Society" was of course never meant seriously. It was just a bait that the Leftists swallowed hook, line and sinker. It is rather frightening how easily Stalinism emerges. The fascism of student "anti-Fascists" has to be seen to be believed....

In the 1967 Federal election campaign (mainly fought on the issue of Australia's involvement in Vietnam) I, as a member of the Young Liberals (The Liberals are Australia's major conservative party), was invited to be in the audience for the launch of the Liberal campaign in Queensland. This was a speech by Prime Minister Harold Holt. The Leftists forged passes and infiltrated it, however. They made such a din that poor old Harold was just about inaudible. They virtually broke up the meeting. No respect for freedom of speech there! Lance W. and I saw this and organized with a few others to give the Left a bit of their own back. About a week later the Labor Party had its Queensland launch in the old Roma St Trades Hall. We attended. As soon as Labor leader Arthur Calwell had been introduced and got up to speak there was rapturous applause. Arthur let the applause die down and opened his mouth to speak. At that point I stood up and in my best soapbox voice shouted out: "All at sea with the A.L.P.!" (A slogan invented by my fellow-demonstrator Lance W. to complement "All the way with L.B.J.". Lyndon Baines Johnson was President of The United States at the time.) I also held up a poster to similar effect. You should have seen the response at this "disrespect". Half the people in the hall got up to look at who the scoundrel was. Our posters were ripped from us but the Police Special Branch had been forewarned and formed a protective circle around us. One of the police (Bob W.) said to the Leftists, quite rightly, "You did the same to Harold Holt last week". Anyway we kept up sporadic shouts. When we did, members of the audience would stand up, shake fists at us and return the abuse with a vengeance. Out of their anger and hostility they broke up their own meeting much more effectively than we could ever have done alone. The headline in The Courier Mail next day was "Calwell has noisy meeting". Brisbane was the only capital city where he got that reception. We were menaced by elements of the crowd as we were leaving the Trades Hall after the meeting and the Special Branch escorted us over the road to the old Roma St Police station. A crowd waited outside for us to come out again so they could get us. Real thugs! Anyway there was a little-known back entrance to the cop-shop through which we escaped in due course. Those were certainly interesting times for me. I felt that what I was doing was making a difference. Anyway, Harold Holt had a landslide win in that election. I think the Australian people did not much like what they saw of Leftist mobs either".


Brian Micklethwait has a rather "last ditch" defence of universities that I am pretty dubious about:

"The great thing about going to university is all the other people who go, from among whom you are almost bound to find human gold. You get to drink and **** and talk all night with them, and unless and until the world invents another way for the semi-brainy and brainy-brainy to find one another at That Age, the university idea will still have plenty of life in it. People will curse and rage against these places for being so silly, but other people will still want to go. The Internet may well replace lots of the academics, but lots of other academics, instead of being rolled over by it, will learn how to make the Internet an ally rather than an enemy".

My own experience is rather to the contrary. I went to three Australian universities in the course of my studies, one of which -- the University of Sydney -- is Australia's oldest and probably Australia's most prestigious and yet I cannot remember ever learning a thing off my fellow-students. I did however learn at least something from most of those who were paid to teach me. I doubt that there is anything I learned that has been of practical use however. If Brian is saying that university is fun, however, I would have to agree with him.


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.

Comments? Email me here. For times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site (viewable even in China!) here


Friday, October 01, 2004


"Like every other parent, Marie Sanchez wants the best for her children. What makes her unusual is being a public school teacher and an unabashed advocate of parental choice.

On an almost daily basis, students and teachers in her local public schools in the Edgewood School District in San Antonio, Texas must confront the distinct possibility that they will be caught in a fight. Just trying to break up fights during her years in the district, Marie has been hit in the stomach, punched in the jaw, and kicked in the shins. For the past seven years, two armed policemen have patrolled each high school in the district. The state even funds classes where she and other teachers learn how to extricate themselves from a hair pull or a bite.

Unwilling to let her three children--Robert, Rebecca, and Stephen--grow up with those kinds of distractions and dangers, Marie sent them to private school. For years she paid tuition for her children's education as well as taxes for the public schools they did not attend. Then, in 1998, Dr. James Leininger and the Children First America Foundation created the CEO Horizon Scholarship Program. That program allowed virtually every student in the Edgewood district to receive a privately funded school voucher. Recognizing an opportunity to get an even better education for her children, Marie applied for and received vouchers for Robert and Rebecca. Stephen, by this time, was already in college.

Also recognizing the opportunity the scholarships offered to all children, Marie became a dynamo of activism for the Horizon Program, promoting it to parents, legislators, and her fellow teachers. About 10 Edgewood teachers have followed her lead and applied for a Horizon scholarship for their children.

More here


Students using vouchers to attend private schools in Milwaukee graduate at a higher rate than students enrolled in Milwaukee public schools, according to a study released yesterday by supporters of that city's voucher program.....

About 64 percent of Milwaukee students who used vouchers to enter ninth grade at 10 private schools in 1999 graduated from high school four years later, compared with 36 percent of students in public schools, the study found. The study's author, Jay P. Greene, said it adds to a growing body of research demonstrating that school vouchers have led to improved academic outcomes for students, particularly low-income and minority students in failing school systems.

"Nationwide, roughly half of students in urban high schools fail to receive a regular high school diploma," said Greene, a political scientist and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, a conservative organization based in New York. "In Milwaukee and Cleveland, it's well under half. Any program that offers a big improvement in the probability of urban students graduating is something that we should be very interested in.".......

Greene, in an interview, acknowledged that students receiving vouchers may come from more highly motivated families, which could account in part for their higher graduation rates. But he said two studies in the 1990s found that voucher recipients in Milwaukee were more likely to be poor and to come from single-parent families than their peers in the regular public schools and that they were likely to start high school with lower test scores.

Greene's study also found that the graduation rate of 64 percent for voucher recipients was higher than the graduation rate of 41 percent among students at six Milwaukee public high schools with selective admission requirements.

More here.


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.

Comments? Email me here. For times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site (viewable even in China!) here


Thursday, September 30, 2004


"The importance of education is given much attention in countries pulling out of economic, technological and cultural backwardness.

This was the case in the former socialist European countries after World War II. For a short period of time the illiterate population was transformed, schools were opened, and universities were established where the "cadres" learned the knowledge necessary to rebuild countries destroyed by the war, to apply themselves to build factories, roads, bridges, and hospitals. The educational system of the time pretended to provide all with equal possibilities for education. Official policy took measures targeted at the creation of a society in which the principle of ability at work in the education, would be highly respected, in order to develop a polyvalent socialist personality. The socialist countries had millions of graduates at high schools and universities, and the structure of the youth at the time was such that the major part consisted of recently-graduated young people, specialists who experienced social promotion through graduation.....

Two contradictory processes can be noticed in education during this period. On one side, efforts were made to democratize the studies of young people, to create the indispensable management staff. On the other side, a radical ideologization of the education system was established. Marxism and the materialistic view of the world were introduced, including glorification of the struggle between the classes. The selection and procedural criterias of the educational staff thus became political, and the schools and universities turned into arenas and battlefields of discrimination and fights.

This period saw the penetration and domination of politics in all areas of economic and social life. This policy prevailed in everything, so this socialization could not omit the field of education. In practice it was shown that the results achieved in the course of studies were more a consequence of the socio-political status of the parents, than of the personal abilities of the pupils and students. It is possible to conclude that education became the formal means for preserving social stratification and the reproduction of the social and political status quo.

This kind of education system weakened young people and national potentials and deprived the nations of former socialist countries of the most able individuals. Therefore it could not sustain the competition with capitalism, where competitive spirit and the personal abilities of individuals are placed in the first plan.....

The solution to the crisis in education lies in the separation of the school and State; the end of all government involvement in education. The best proof of this is the socialist utopian experience. The seeds are being sown for Libertarian educational reform where Communism once reigned."

More here


Even if both Bush and Kerry think so:

"All the money the candidates are offering, of course, is meant to be a proxy for academic success. Unfortunately, that massive federal spending will produce educational excellence is about as likely as an impulsive child making good on his bribe. Let history be the guide. According to inflation-adjusted data from the National Center for Education Statistics, between 1965 and 2002, federal expenditures on education exploded from $25 billion to $108 billion, and inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending in America's public schools tripled. Nonetheless, according to the U.S. Department of Education's "No Child Left Behind: A Guide for Policymakers", since 1965 "test scores nationwide have stubbornly remained flat."

"Ah," but Bush would explain, "these results preceded the days of accountability: NCLB ensures the money will be put to good use by making states set performance standards and by demanding those standards be met." Unfortunately, reality suggests that NCLB is actually inducing states to lower their standards. Consider Michigan: It had relatively high performance standards prior to NCLB, but lowered them in 2002 when 1,500 of its schools were identified as "needing improvement" while Arkansas, whose students typically do much worse academically, had no schools on the list. And then there's Washington State, for which the "Seattle Post-Intelligencer" reports that "[t]he list of schools in the federal doghouse likely would be much longer had state officials not lowered the minimum scores students need to meet standards in math and reading...." So much for the promise of "accountability."

Sadly, Kerry presents no options that are better than NCLB. Although he has endorsed minor reforms like tying teacher pay to performance, Kerry's plan is basically the same old school yard deal: Offer billions of dollars to "fully fund" our education system--despite the fact that we already spend more per student than any other industrialized country--and hope the votes come in.

More here.


Sean Gabb has just written a big summary of the state of home-schooling in Britain. This excerpt from his summary of the legal situation may be of particular interest:

"As it currently stands - in September 2004 - the law does not require parents to register their children with any school; and, within the defined meaning of "suitable" they can provide their children with whatever education they please. Parents who wish to teach their children at home are not legally required:

*to seek permission from the Local Education Authority to educate "otherwise";
*to inform the Local Education Authority that they have children of school age;
*to have regular contact with the Local Education Authority;
*to have premises equipped to any specified standard;
*to have any teaching or other educational qualifications of their own;
*to cover any specific syllabus;
*to have any fixed timetable;
*to prepare lesson plans of any kind;
*to observe normal school hours or terms;
*to give formal lessons;
*to allow their children to mix with others.

Sections 437-443 of the Education Act 1996 oblige Local Education Authorities within England and Wales to take action if it appears that a child is not receiving a "suitable" education. If it established that a child is not receiving a "suitable" education, the Local Education Authority may serve a notice on parents requiring them to establish that such an education is being provided. However, in the case of R v Gwent County Council ex parte Perry (1985), the courts held that the Local Education Authority should give parents "a fair and reasonable opportunity to satisfy it that proper education is being provided, having first allowed a sufficient time to set in motion arrangements for home education". But failure eventually to comply with this notice may be followed by a school attendance order. This may be challenged in the courts, which will dismiss the notice if shown - on the balance of probabilities - that the child is indeed receiving an education that a reasonable person would consider to be "suitable".

This legal duty placed on Local Education Authorities applies only where children appear not to be receiving a "suitable" education. Where no evidence is available that they are not receiving such an education, they have no legal right to seek information from parents. This is not an absolute bar on making enquiries. In the case of Philips v Brown (1980), the courts held that the Local Education Authority is entitled to ask parents for information as a basis for making the decision as to whether the education they are providing is efficient. If the parent fails to provide information, it could be concluded that prima facie the parents are in breach of their duty.

But the Local Education Authority is not allowed to specify the nature and presentation of such information. Nor can they carry into their enquiry assumptions and expectations based on their experience of formal schooling".


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.

Comments? Email me here. For times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site (viewable even in China!) here


Wednesday, September 29, 2004

The Leftist attacks on choice continue: "Arizona's pioneering school choice tax credits must withstand scrutiny of their constitutionality yet again -- only this time those passing judgment will be federal, not state, jurists. A 5-4 majority of the U.S. Supreme Court injected an element of uncertainty into the tax credit plan when it decided June 14 to allow an American Civil Liberties Union-sponsored challenge to go forward in federal district court. The decision has far-reaching significance because it extends federal judicial review over state tax matters usually reserved to the states."


"What is a puzzle to me, though, is how many teachers seem to have convictions they do not voice in the public arenas yet they spread diligently throughout the academic world. One example has to do with free will, another with morality. Indeed, in these areas they are quite often out and out duplicitous.

Consider that very many social, not to mention natural, scientists, including engineers, do not believe that any free will could exist in the world. The prominent academic opinion is that we are moved by various forces to behave as we do and there is no such thing as personal responsibility at all.

This view does trickle down into the public arena by way of such practical ideas as victimization and addiction-no one is responsible, we are all victims of circumstances, and there are no drunks, only alcoholics and alcoholism is supposed to be a disease, of course; so there is no fault-nor credit-anywhere.

But this isn't confined so narrowly among most academics-they tend to hold that there is not a thing over which individuals have any control, it's all que sera, sera -what will be, will be.

Now when it comes to, for example, the conduct of Enron executives or Martha Stewart, not to mention Senator John Kerry in Vietnam or President George W. Bush in the National Guard, this determinist view basically means they had no control over their actions. It just happened-kind of the way bad things can happen among plants and animals, with no one at fault. The same thing is true about PETA folks and environmentalists, who have lots of friends in the academy: they wag their moralistic fingers at the rest of us, yet many of them are convinced that no one can help what he or she does, it's all in the genes or dictated by evolutionary forces or whatever.

Yet no one says so in public. When Enron executives got caught, no academic with strong determinist views wrote anything for The Washington Post or The New York Times Op Ed page saying, "Leave them be, or give them therapy, they aren't responsible.".....

What does this silence about worldly matters tell our students, I wonder? That what teachers believe has no relevance at all to anything outside the Ivory Tower?

More here:


Excerpts from The American Educator:

"Researchers who analyze jobs and talk to employers find that while today’s typical job requires higher skills than in the past (when many jobs required only physical strength), the skills required for these jobs are strong high school-level skills--math, reading, and writing at a ninth-grade level (Murnane and Levy, 1996), not college-level skills. Similarly, new research on the skills needed for many good jobs (meaning those that pay enough to support a family and have the potential for advancement) are also high school-level skills, such as four years of English and mathematics through Algebra II (American Diploma Project, 2004). Unfortunately, over 40 percent of high-school seniors lack ninth-grade math skills and 60 percent lack ninth-grade reading skills (Murnane and Levy, 1996). So students do not need to go to college to get a good job, but they do need to master high school-level skills. Research shows that greater mastery of these skills in high school leads to higher earnings over time: For youth who get no college degree, a rise of one letter grade in their high school grade point average (from C to B) is associated with a 13 percent earnings gain at age 28! That’s almost as much as the pay differential associated with a bachelor’s degree, which is just over 14 percent more than students without a college degree (Miller, 1998; Rosenbaum, 2001). Solid high school skills prepare students for entry-level positions and keep the door to promotions open (Rosenbaum, 2001).

Employers report that for many jobs, non-academic skills (like timeliness, diligence, and social competence) are key (Shapiro and Iannozzi, 1999). Analyses of a national survey indicate that students’ educational attainment and earnings nine years after graduating from high school are significantly related to their non-cognitive behaviors in high school--sociability, discipline, leadership, homework time, and attendance--even after controlling for background characteristics and academic achievement (Rosenbaum, 2001). High schools can provide these skills just as well as colleges can.

The true lesson of the new labor market is this: For many of the skilled jobs in the new economy, what students really need is to acquire good work habits and solid high school-level skills. But, employers argue that they cannot trust that the high school diploma certifies knowledge of these high school-level skills. As a result, employers report using college degrees to signal that applicants possess high school skills. If, instead, the high schools provided trusted signals of high school competencies, the pressure to send all students to college could diminish. And let’s not forget that high schools can do a lot to help their non-college bound youth find productive jobs and lead fulfilling lives".


Another post lifted from Bill Vallicella. A story and some reflections

"It reminded me of a graduate student I once had and with whom I became friends. He told me once that after he finished high school he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and get a job with the railroad. His mother, however, wanted something ‘better’ for her son. She wanted him to go to college, which he did, in the desultory fashion of many. He ended up declaring a major in psychology and graduating. After spending some time in a monastery, perhaps also at the instigation of his Irish mother, and still not knowing quite what to do with himself, he was accepted into an M.A. program in philosophy, which is where I met him. After goofing around for several more years, he took a job as a social worker, a job which did not suit him. Last I saw him he was in his mid-thirties and pounding nails.

His complaint to me was that, had he followed his natural bent, he would have had fifteen or so years of job seniority with the railroad, a good paycheck, and a house half paid for. Instead, he wasted years on studies for which he had no real inclination, and no real talent. He had no discernible interest in the life of the mind, and like most working class types could not take it seriously. If you are from the working class, you will know what I mean: ‘real’ work must involve grunting and sweating and schlepping heavy loads.

'Overeducation’ is perhaps not the right word for cases like this. Strictly speaking, one cannot be overeducated since there is and can be no end to true education. The word is from the Latin e-ducere, to draw out, and there can be no end to the process of actualizing the potential of a mind with an aptitude for learning. Perhaps the right word is ‘over-credentialed.’ It is clear that what most people want is not an education, but a credential that will gain them admittance to a certain social and/or economic status. 'Education’ and cognates are euphemisms."


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.

Comments? Email me here. For times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site (viewable even in China!) here


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."

More here


"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.

Comments? Email me here. For times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site (viewable even in China!) here


Monday, September 27, 2004

The long death of busing "Boston schools should adopt a plan that sends more children to elementary schools in their neighborhoods, the most drastic change proposed for the city's school assignment system in 30 years, the majority of a task force recommended yesterday. As several hundred parents and others packed the auditorium of English High School in Jamaica Plain last night, the 14-member panel of educators and parents delivered its long-awaited report to the Boston School Committee. The School Committee set up the task force in January to devise a new policy that would reflect Boston residents' views and also reduce busing costs. The panel members, whose report was greeted with a mix of boos and cheers at times, said they did not reach a consensus, but that two thirds supported doubling the number of elementary attendance zones to six to allow more neighborhood schools."


"The educrats have ample reason to be upset. Before NCLB, the public schools' failure to educate poor minority kids resulted in ever-increasing streams of federal money to local districts-more than $200 billion over the last four decades, disbursed with no questions asked. Now along comes Bush, requiring state and local districts to prove that the programs that federal dollars pay for have a solid scientific basis and actually work. Once public educators started trashing NCLB, Democrats suddenly decided that they hated it, too. Senator Kennedy now claims that the president "duped" him and that the act's funding amounted to a "tin cup budget," despite a big hike in federal education spending under Bush.

In announcing his candidacy, Bush promised that education reform would be his Number One domestic policy priority. His plan, soon named No Child Left Behind, rested on three basic reforms, which states wanting federal education money would have to accept. First came a Lyon-influenced reading initiative. "The findings of years of scientific research on reading are now available, and application of this research to the classroom is now possible for all schools in America," Bush noted.

Second would be annual testing in basic reading and math skills for all kids in grades three through eight, with the results-broken down by race, sex, English-language proficiency, and socioeconomic status-made public. States would devise their own tests, subject to federal oversight. Mandatory testing had been key to Bush's education reform success in Texas, where it worked to hold schools accountable......

From his gubernatorial days, Bush already had a good idea that the evidence was leading straight to phonics. Following Lyon's advice, he had pushed local districts in Texas to adopt phonics-based curricula and saw reading scores in the state shoot up, particularly for minority kids. The number of third-graders- 52,000- who failed the reading test at the start of the Bush governorship declined to 36,000 when he left for the White House and has since dropped to 28,000, now that all his reforms are up and running. Since then, the evidence has become irrefutable. After reviewing dozens of studies-some using magnetic resonance imaging to measure differences in brain function between strong and weak readers and among children taught to read by various methods- the National Reading Panel, commissioned by Congress, concluded in 2000 that effective reading programs, especially for kids living in poverty, required phonics-based instruction.

Within a week of taking office, the Bush administration devised a strategy for getting a $6 billion "Reading First" phonics initiative past the relevant House and Senate education committees. The administration was offering school systems a deal that went like this: "The federal government will give you lots more money than ever before for early reading programs. Nothing obligates you to take the money. But if you do take it, the programs you choose must teach children using phonics." Hardly a single legislator raised doubts about tying federal reading dollars to instructional approaches backed by a consensus of the nation's scientific experts....

You'd think that educators would welcome the scientific turn in federal reading policy. After all, the racial gap in school performance that liberals as well as conservatives decry as the greatest obstacle to equal opportunity in America first shows up as a wide gap in reading. While 40 percent of all American kids don't attain the "basic" reading level by fourth grade, the rate of reading failure for inner-city black and Hispanic children is a catastrophic 70 percent. If we now have hard evidence on what methods will best bring these struggling kids up to speed, why wouldn't educators support the government's efforts to promote those methods?

The short answer is ideology and money. The nation's leading teachers' colleges and professional teachers' organizations, such as the National Council of Teachers of English, hate phonics. Columbia University's Teachers College, to take one prominent example, doesn't have a single class in phonics instruction. In these precincts, "whole language" reading instruction, in which children ostensibly learn to read "naturally" by absorbing word clues from whole texts, is the politically correct pedagogy, even though its claims to success have no scientific backing. The educational establishment views President Bush, Reid Lyon, and all their works as part of a vast right-wing conspiracy to regiment America's children.

There's also tons of money at stake. If the idea of science-backed reading instruction takes hold in the nation's school districts, millions of dollars in fees currently paid to the ed schools for whole-language teacher training and curriculum development will vanish. Small wonder that Teachers College president Arthur Levine recently penned a furious op-ed denouncing NCLB's Reading First provision, after the Bush administration showed that it meant business and refused $39 million in funding for New York City's "balanced literacy" reading program (a euphemism for whole language) earlier this year".

More here


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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Sunday, September 26, 2004

The retardation of America: "The imposition of compulsory schooling was a serious turning point in our nation's development. The idea that we should all surrender our children to government schools for training was pushed for reasons that should make today's liberals as angry as it does those of the religious right, who object because those schools are secular. The primary movers behind public education were the industrialists liberals so love to hate. Those industrialists wanted to create a manageable, docile, trained workforce, so they pushed the Prussian model ... efficient, lockstep, and controlled."

Testing the wrong policy on students: "Why are Washington bureaucrats so enamored with random student drug testing? The evidence thus far is clear: drug testing has a poor track record in reducing student drug use, particularly in comparison to other drug prevention and education programs. Its fiscal toll on local school budgets saps money that would be better spent on basic educational needs."

Leftists NEED to dominate education: "Why are so many 'pro-choicers' antichoice on schools? One good reason is that only by taking the education of their children out of the hands of conservative parents and delivering it to liberal, unionized teachers can liberals hope to maintain parity. It is the conversion of these right-leaning children that the nulliparous liberals require for any continuation in power". ["Nulliparous" refers to the fact that a lot of Leftists abort their babies and so have fewer children.]


"Overcrowding at some of the city's largest public high schools has gotten worse this year, according to parents, principals and education labor leaders. City education officials had tried to get ahead of the problem by opening 18 regional enrollment centers in mid-August but were quickly overwhelmed by parents dissatisfied with the schools their children were assigned to attend, even after the Bloomberg administration opened up 53 new small schools.

Some of the worst crowding is at large, high-performing schools. At Benjamin N. Cardozo High School in Queens, there are 4,424 students, up from 3,920 last year; at James Madison High School in Brooklyn, there are 4,616 students, up from about 4,100. Cardozo's capacity is about 3,050 and Madison's is about 2,380. But some struggling schools are also suffering. At Sheepshead Bay High School in Brooklyn, designated one of the city's most dangerous schools last year, there are about 3,800 students, up from 3,600. "We're drowning," said Michael Herman, a social studies teacher who is the school union leader. Some classes for non-English-speaking students have up to 65 children, he said. "The problem is this: the Department of Ed. keeps sending kids to the school," he said. "It's creating chaos."

City education officials said they expected enrollment figures to decline by the time registers were audited at the end of next month. In many cases, students who have moved away or dropped out may still be counted on the rolls. But the officials conceded that some schools would have more students than last year. "In most cases, we will have final registers that are lower than today's," said Stephen Morello, a spokesman for the Education Department. "In some of these cases, we expect that they will have more students than they had last year."....

But parents continued to fret. Cindy Adams, whose son, Rob, is a junior at the Academy for American Studies in Queens, said officials had promised an enrollment of no more than 500. But the school now has 593. She said there were 44 children in her son's math class and 37 in his law and government class. "The first day of school my son said at lunch he could not even sit down," she said.

More here.


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.

Comments? Email me here. For times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site (viewable even in China!) here