Saturday, November 13, 2004

FUNDING CUT OFF FOR CAMPUS LEFTISTS

Australia has for many years had compulsory membership of student unions for all university students. The unions are however often used to promote far-Left politics

Federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson has supported a new model for student unions that funds services but not political campaigns on campus. Dr Nelson indicated yesterday he was prepared to compromise on legislation to ban compulsory student unionism, but pledged to push ahead with plans to force universities to offer academics individual contracts.

The compromise plan, outlined by the Australian Vice-Chancellors Committee in documents obtained by The Australian, would allow unions to charge students a compulsory fee but prevent the money being used to fund political activities. The vice-chancellors fear making union fees voluntary would leave them responsible for providing the cafeterias, sports clubs and welfare services now operated by students.

"No student should be forced to pay a fee that supports any kind of political organisation or quasi-social organisation," Dr Nelson told ABC radio. "What I am quite interested in doing is seeing that we nonetheless have some sort of fee that supports a defined and limited list of essential student services on campus."

The National Union of Students will hold talks in Canberra later this month with peak university groups including the AVCC, the Group of Six research-intensive universities, the Australian Technology Network and the National Tertiary Education Union. In a letter to universities, NUS president Jodie Jansen said students were worried about the Howard Government's student union bill in its "current form". "The bill takes away the ability of universities to charge compulsory fees for services that are not for the provision of the course," she said. "The passing of such a bill would impact not only on student unions but also many university building funds and university sports associations that are not run by students."

More here

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Friday, November 12, 2004

AUSTRALIAN INDIGENOUS RIGHTS ACTIVIST FAVOURS BOARDING SCHOOLS

In Australia too, private schools are seen as better for minorities than government schools

"After primary school in Hope Vale, I was a boarder at St Peters College in Brisbane, to which I had been sent by decision of my parents and by opportunity provided by the Lutheran Church and the federal government. I looked forward to the school holidays. Almost all of the indigenous people from remote Australia who have succeeded in education and gone on to make leading contributions on behalf of their people were educated at boarding schools -- often a long way from their homes, most often at church schools. In Cape York Peninsula, no Aboriginal tertiary graduates have come from local public secondary schools.

Boarding schools are an old and well-established idea, going back to the 1960s for the people of our region. It is on this past practice -- its successes as well as its failures -- that we base our policy in Cape York Peninsula: scholarships to high-quality, high-expectation secondary schools down south. The allegation that indigenous children attending boarding schools represents a repetition of the stolen generations is just silly.

A more serious fallacy is that you can provide quality secondary education in remote communities. Attendance at high-expectation boarding schools has declined in the past 20 years in favour of attempts by governments to provide secondary schooling in our communities. This experiment failed profoundly and the remnant secondary facilities should be closed down. There is not sufficient scale and the teachers and specialisations required to provide a proper secondary education are impossible with small student populations.

Only in regional centres, such as Cooktown and Weipa in Cape York Peninsula, can a credible case be made for providing secondary education facilities. However, these schools in regional centres would need to be fundamentally reformed if they are to produce indigenous tertiary graduates. Thursday Island State High School is testament to the fact that this can happen.

Another fallacy -- expressed by Peter Holt from the Hollows Foundation -- is that boarding should be rejected because students risk suffering cultural loss. First, I have as good a knowledge of the history and languages of my communities as any of my peers who never left Cape York -- because of education. My advantage is that I can enjoy the best of both worlds. I can speak the Queen's English and Guugu Yimithirr.

Second, Aboriginal communities are disintegrating socially and culturally because of passive welfare and substance abuse. Unlike all other government policies that are being implemented in remote communities, high-expectation education offers opportunities. A life in which you are stuck with limited opportunities in remote communities is not conducive to cultural maintenance.

A more substantial objection to increased boarding concerns racial and class prejudice. But indigenous students will face these problems wherever they are -- whether at high school in a regional centre or at a private boarding school in a capital city. This underscores the need for schools to understand the reality of this problem and to support their indigenous students. This is what Clayfield College in Brisbane has done so well.

Another real concern is the high drop-out rate of indigenous students from boarding schools. However, white and Asian youngsters suffer from homesickness as much as black children. If students do not find a place in the school community where they can gain a sense of achievement and recognition, then homesickness will be a fatal problem rather than the normal kind of feeling one has for home town and family.

The principal driver of the low retention rate in boarding schools (and secondary schools generally) is the fact that the students entering secondary school at Year8 are not up to standard. While they have nominally completed Year 7, their literacy levels are around Year 3 or Year 5 at best. If you are in a Year 8 classroom and you are really at Year 5 level, then you are going to struggle to fit in and your chances of ultimate success are poor.

There is a fundamental and widespread underachievement problem in primary school education in remote communities. That is why another of our policies in Cape York Peninsula is: closing the gap between Year 7 in Cape York and Year 8 at secondary schools down south. There is no practical alternative to primary schooling being provided in our own communities. We have to fix up primary schooling if we are to fix up the retention of indigenous students in secondary school. This is the greatest challenge we face, to which we are now turning our attention."

More here

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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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Thursday, November 11, 2004

IF IT'S OK TO TEACH LEFTISM AND HOMOSEXUALITY, IT'S OK TO TEACH CREATIONISM

Leftists are slipping down their own slippery-slide of bringing ideology into the classroom

Wisconsin: District OKs teaching of creationism: "[Grantsburg's] School Board has revised its science curriculum to allow the teaching of creationism, prompting an outcry from more than 300 educators who urged that the decision be reversed. Board members believed a state law governing the teaching of evolution was too restrictive. The science curriculum 'should not be totally inclusive of just one scientific theory,' said Joni Burgin, superintendent of the 1,000-student district."





INCULCATING HOMOSEXUALITY IN THE GUISE OF SOCIOLOGY

A letter to a student from the inimitable Prof. Mike Adams

"Thanks for your letter outlining the problems you are having with your "Sociology of Gender" professor. Your contention that the professor and course are both "stupid and should be banned from campus" seemed a little too harsh at first. But then I read the quiz given to your class, which is reproduced below:

1. What do you think caused your heterosexuality?
2. When and how did you decide that you were a heterosexual?
3. Is it possible that your heterosexuality is just a phase that you may grow out of?
4. Is it possible your heterosexuality stems from a neurotic fear of others of the same sex?
5. If you've never slept with a person of the same sex, is it possible that all you need is a good gay or lesbian lover?
6. To whom have you disclosed your heterosexual tendencies? How did they react?
7. Why do you heterosexuals feel compelled to seduce others into your lifestyle?
8. Why do you insist on flaunting your heterosexuality? Why can't you just be what you are and keep quiet about it?
9. Would you want your children to be heterosexual knowing the problems that they'd face?
10. A disproportionate majority of child molesters are heterosexual. Do you consider it safe to expose your children to heterosexual teachers?
11. With all the societal support marriage receives, the divorce rate is spiraling. Why are there so few stable relationships among heterosexuals?
12. Why do heterosexuals place so much emphasis on sex?
13. Considering the menace of overpopulation, how could the human race survive if everyone were heterosexual like you?
14. Could you trust a heterosexual therapist to be objective? Don't you fear (s)he might be inclined to influence you in the direction of her/his own leanings?
15. How can you become a whole person if you limit yourself to compulsive, exclusive heterosexuality, and fail to develop your natural, healthy homosexual potential?
16. There seem to be very few happy heterosexuals. Techniques have been developed that might enable you to change if you really want to. Have you considered trying aversion therapy?


In your letter, you asked for advice on how to answer your "lunatic" professor. It may disappoint you, but I am going to advise you to ignore this woman. There is simply no chance that you will get into an intelligent argument with this professor. Clearly, she is not committed to quality intellectual discourse. She is just another tenured professor with the emotional development of a sixth grader, hoping that she can get under your skin and cause a "homophobic" reaction. Don't fall for her childish antics.

Unlike most of the cases that are brought to me from other universities, I actually know your professor personally. By the way, your assessment of her is fully accurate. If it makes you feel better, this is a professor who once suggested that we should initiate "all women" armies in order to put an end to war "once and for all." She also takes offense at breast implants for women while fully supporting the rights of trans-gendered persons to have sex changes. I guess that, as a "sexuality" expert, she knows what's breast for everyone.

Granted, you did not know that your professor was an idiot before you took the class, but that is what you get for taking more sociology classes than you were required to take in the university basic studies program. Before you sign up for another sociology elective, remember that sociologists have failed to solve any of the major social problems that they have studied over the last century. In fact, as a general rule, the more that they study a problem, the worse it gets."

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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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Wednesday, November 10, 2004

INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS SQUEEZED BY BUREAUCRACY

In both Australia and the USA

When Phillip O'Carroll started Fitzroy Community School in a Melbourne terrace in 1976, a number of parent groups were starting schools. O'Carroll and his wife, Faye Berryman, had been involved in several school start-ups, and being all too aware of the red tape involved they didn't bother. They just found a suitable venue and started teaching kids. The Victorian Department of Education eventually acknowledged their existence and registered them as an authorised non-government school in 1980. By that stage O'Carroll and Berryman had a functioning primary school with plenty of supporters. "You couldn't get away with that now," says O'Carroll. "There's so much more regulation."

The number of independent schools in Australia grew from 803 to 979 in the decade 1993 to 2003, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, an annual increase of 17 schools each year. It might not look many, but in comparison with the Catholic and government sectors it's an important trend. Catholic schools increased by two over the same period, while government schools dropped by 436.

Educators and community school advocates believe that the growth of non-government schools would have been much greater if it was easier to start a school. According to O'Carroll, the regulations imposed on non-government schools by state governments are so onerous they act as an impediment and a deterrent to prospective schools. "It's a roundabout way of minimising new schools," he says. "We are in a situation where our major competitor decides whether we exist. It's structurally unjust."

Although the federal government provides most of the government funding for non-government schools, to qualify schools must be registered with their state or territory government. Requirements vary, but the process usually takes between one and five years. Numerous conditions are attached, including that the school must be non-profit. New schools are required to provide evidence that they meet the government's standards on buildings and facilities, policies on discipline and child welfare (corporal punishment is usually expressly forbidden), the qualifications and character of school staff and operators, and the curriculum. While this list appears straightforward, it is far from it. In NSW just the checklist of documentation schools must provide for registration runs to 14 pages.

Vern Hughes, executive director of Social Enterprise Partnerships, an organisation that encourages and facilitates community-based provision of social services, says that the complicated process of registering turns many people off. "The hoops people have to jump through are ludicrous," Hughes says. "For many people it proves too difficult." In some states it is more difficult than in others.

When the Commonwealth Government's new schools policy was abolished by then federal education minister David Kemp in 1996, many states took the opportunity to establish new schools committees to regulate openings. In Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia, applications are assessed against the impact they are likely to have on existing schools. Some in the independent sector have likened this to giving Pizza Hut power over which restaurants can open, and where. The Grimshaw review of the registration and accreditation of non-government schools in NSW recommended this year that the same process be established in NSW, but it was not accepted into legislation. Instead, in NSW a committee has been established to exchange information about new schools and expansions between the school sectors.

Terry Chapman, executive director of the Association of Independent Schools, says this committee is "to allow sensible planning, but does not make decisions about limiting the number of schools". It's not just about competition, though, according to Hughes. Rather than drawing students from other schools, Hughes believes there is an unmet demand for certain types of schooling and that non-government schools can provide a better quality of education, as well as relieving some of the burden on the government system. "There are networks of parents of children with disabilities and learning difficulties who are interested in schools with an orientation that is specific to their needs," Hughes says. "The Victorian government ideology of inclusion (of students with disabilities in mainstream classes) places unreal expectations on teachers and kids. Much of the debate has been on high-achieving kids, but the options at the other end are terrible."

The ALESCO Learning Centre in Newcastle, NSW, is a prime example of a non-government school succeeding where others have failed. Opened in 2002, ALESCO is located within the WEA community education centre and housed in a largely unrenovated 100-year-old building in the inner city suburb of Cooks Hill. It provides a secondary school curriculum to students who have high levels of educational and social need, using only its government funding - which is substantially less than what government schools receive. "If we did not exist, these kids could not attend a government high school or TAFE," says Rowan Cox, the school's administrator. "Non-government schools fill a gap, whether at the bottom or at the top. The beauty of a non-government school is that we can be more flexible. We are based in an adult learning environment as part of a registered training organisation (RTO), but have adapted to account for the fact that our students are adolescents and need more support." Cox says she has never before been involved in so much paperwork as with ALESCO, but sees the need for schools to be accountable for their expenditure of public funding and for the responsibility of caring for young people.

While Cox does not resent the "phenomenal" amount of documentation and evidence the school is expected to produce at any time, she thinks it unfair that government schools are not always held to the same standards. "There is an inequity there. It seems that since they are government schools, if there is not enough time or resources to monitor them, then that's okay," Cox says. "We have an important social capital role. Since we opened, crime has gone down and youth unemployment has gone down. That is often not recognised, especially with regard to funding."

Back at Fitzroy, O'Carroll is less complacent about the level of accountability to government. He has seen the paperwork grow each time the school has to re-register, every six years, to the point where he is sending off a wad of paper "centimetres deep". "The process has become quite ridiculous. Many of the aspects monitored have nothing to do with education, things like town planning and building minutiae. "You have to write separate 'vision' and 'mission' statements for the school.... "Schools without much money have to divert energy from their real work to engage in a tedious bunfight, wading through mountains of clumsy regulations," O'Carroll says.

In the US, the burgeoning charter school movement has created a niche for organisations that help new non-government schools establish themselves. Charter schools are independently operated schools receiving public funding on the condition that they meet the educational and operational expectations set by the local school district - the "charter" or contract. In the US, as in Australia, the approval process and securing funding are highly complicated, and there are no government offices set up to help.

This is where the "school incubators" come in. The Apple Tree Institute in Boston and Washington DC, and the Innovative Schools Development Corporation in Delaware, offer their services to people who want to start a school but need help getting through the legal quagmire. Their services range from seed-funding, like an education-version of venture capital, to full management of the school under the direction of the charter holders.

Vern Hughes sees a need for such an organisation in Australia. Although independent school numbers are steadily growing, Hughes says that those that succeed in opening their doors "represent but a tiny proportion of those that could be established if more support were available". Hughes would like to see a "community school incubator" established in Australia to help people who have an educational imperative but lack financial, technical and legal expertise to start a new school. "We need to simplify, demystify and provide connections," Hughes says.

For many community school advocates, including O'Carroll and Hughes, the arguments for community schools are based on performance and principle. According to O'Carroll, it comes down to whether you believe parents have the right and responsibility to be the primary educators of their child, and to pursue their best interests. "Regulations should cover teacher suitability and the core curriculum, but beyond that if fee-paying parents are satisfied that the school is satisfactory it is unnecessary for bureaucrats to step in. "In a democracy we are supposed to have freedom of association, free trade and respect the prior rights and authority of families. The strong interference by central authorities is a barrier against the spirit of democracy."

Source


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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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site (viewable even in China!) here

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Tuesday, November 09, 2004

LITERACY: SANITY BREAKING OUT IN AUSTRALIA?

A national inquiry into the teaching of reading in primary schools may be launched amid growing concerns that too many students are barely literate. The federal Education Minister, Brendan Nelson, says he is considering the review after 26 of Australia's leading literacy researchers wrote to him warning that children were failing to learn to read. They said the main teaching method in schools - "the whole language approach" - was ineffective for many children and had no scientific credibility.

And it appears many primary school teachers struggle with literacy themselves. More than half of 370 teachers and final-year trainees in a Queensland University of Technology study did not know what a syllable was. Three-quarters could not correctly count the sounds in words.

Dr Nelson said: "There are a lot of parents - it gives me great distress - who are finding out that their children at the age of eight and nine are barely literate. I am concerned that there are far too many children who are leaving primary school and secondary school who are barely literate for a variety of reasons." Almost a third of year 9 students lack basic literacy skills, the Australian Council for Educational Research says.

The signatories to the Nelson letter said the whole language approach immersed students in a rich variety of texts without specific teaching of letter-sound relationships, known as phonics. One signatory, Professor Kevin Wheldall, director of Macquarie University's Special Education Centre, said most schools, education departments and teacher training bodies failed to accept the scientific evidence that phonics was crucial for teaching a child to read well.


More here.





HORRORS! EMPLOYMENT FLEXIBILITY COMING TO AUSTRALIAN UNIVERSITIES

A push from Brendan Nelson, the responsible Federal government minister. HECS are the fees that students pay to enroll at Australian universities

Universities, says Nelson, need greater freedom to match changes in student demand with shifts in staff. This can be done with a broader mix of full-time, part-time and casual workers. And Australian workplace agreements. "I've discovered one of the reasons why the kids are jammed in like sardines in some lecture theatres when there's one nearly empty next door is that the current industrial relations climate in the sector makes it very difficult to shift [staff in response to demand]," he says.

But it is not easy to turn an astrophysicist into a Spanish historian in institutions built on highly specialised staff, although there are ways to get around the problem. Just ask Ian Argall. He's the executive director of the vice-chancellors' national industrial association, which has had its share of clashes with the academic union. Argall says universities are not like other industries where you can transfer employees as demand fluctuates. So another way to have staff respond to student demand is to shed them and hire new ones -- a process that is difficult with the current high level of industrial protection. "The flexibility to move staff in and out of areas of need either has to be done by making people redundant, sacking them for under-performance -- all of which are hard -- or hiring them on fixed-term contracts or casual employment so they're not locked in permanently," says Argall....

Chief executive of the Australian Industry Group Heather Ridout says the universities, like the manufacturing sector, are dominated by powerful unions. But they have gone a long way to find measures that reward talent. "And I think with the strictures of budgeting over the years they've had to look to more flexible modes of employment," she says. "They've felt the financial pressure on them. And the need to attract talent and retain talented people has forced them into a lot of arrangements which might look a bit messy."

Money is the big issue. Nelson has earmarked extra public money for universities through various schemes that kick in next year -- at least another $2.6 billion over the next five years -- though much of that is contingent on them meeting certain criteria.

Universities will have more opportunity to seek out private revenue. They are able to set their own HECS fees at 25 per cent of current levels and enrol up to 35 per cent of Australian undergraduates on a full-fee basis. For the first time, full-fee students will have access to deferred loans similar to HECS, a move that has already boosted dramatically enrolments in one private university, Notre Dame.

While the funding injection will lift the bottom line, it will still not stem the gradual slide in the proportion of funds that universities get from the public purse -- an amount that now hovers at about 40 per cent of their sector-wide total income -- placing greater pressure on them to find other sources of revenue. By far the biggest single source of private income is from international students, who bring $1.5 billion a year in fees to the sector. ...

For now the business of getting the systems in place to launch the Nelson agenda next year has university administrations working overtime. A number of senior administrators told Inquirer that although there was still much work to get the schemes up and running, the Government's intentions were sound. The head of the University of Melbourne's administration Ian Marshman says that in the end there will be more consistent information for students and greater transparency. "It clearly gives an opportunity for a greater level of co-ordination and planning of the higher education output," he says.

More here

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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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Monday, November 08, 2004

CORRUPT HISTORY TEACHING

The flap over the U.S. Department of Education consigning 300,000 copies of "Helping Your Child to Learn History" to the trash bin is evidence anew that the federal government should have no role in education. Illiteracy and low scores in public schools are a national scandal, but it's hard to see how federal spending improves anything.....

"Helping Your Child Learn History" was a 73-page booklet published by the Department of Education to give advice to parents of preschool through fifth-grade children. The booklet gratuitously included several favorable references to the infamous "National Standards for United States History," even obliquely suggesting that President Bush supports those standards. When Lynne Cheney, the wife of the Vice President Dick Cheney, spotted those references, her staff communicated displeasure to the Education Department, which then destroyed its inventory of 300,000 copies, or in bureaucratese, "recycled" them.

The University of California Los Angeles professor who had been in charge of the National Standards project found this decision "extremely troubling." He called it "a pretty god-awful example of interference - intellectual interference. If that's not Big Brother or Big Sister, I don't know what is."

Note the inverted mindset of the typical academic. He thinks it is OK for Big Brother federal government to order students to study a revisionist, distorted, and inaccurate version of U.S. history, but it is offensive for parents and citizens to demand that inaccuracies be omitted.

I suppose liberals will soon be whining about "book burning," but as the media say, let's have a reality check. "The National Standards for History" was financed 10 years ago by a $2 million grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to UCLA to write standards for how U.S. history should be taught in grades 5 through 12. The 271-page result, called "National Standards for United States History," turned out to be so faulty as well as so anti-American that the U.S. Senate denounced it by a vote of 99-to-1. Lynne Cheney, who was National Endowment for the Humanities chairwoman when the grant was given, turned into a vigorous opponent, denouncing the volume as "politicized history," which it surely was.

"National Standards" was not a narrative of past events, but was left-wing revisionism and political correctness. Almost every event in U.S. history was described as though it had race or gender motives and effects, and all ethnic groups except white males were portrayed as oppressed and mistreated.....

Left-wing bias showed itself in the skewed selection of historical figures. Dozens of obscure people were singled out for study, while Paul Revere, Thomas Edison, Orville and Wilbur Wright, Gen. Robert E. Lee, Albert Einstein, Jonas Salk and Gen. Douglas MacArthur were omitted....

Despite the discrediting of the taxpayer-financed "History Standards" project, it is obvious the current crop of academic professionals is determined to drop the DWEMs, Dead White European Males, down an Orwellian memory hole and to replace history with Multiculturalism and Oppression Studies, featuring third-rate writers who attack Western Civilization as sexist, racist and oppressive. Parents should check out the history books used in their local schools.

More here






IS THE PENDULUM SWINGING BACK IN AUSTRALIA?

We may be living now in that moment when the pendulum of human history is balanced between the ideological extremes it regularly traverses. The extreme pendulum swing provoked by the cultural revolution of the 1960s, and its era of amorality and permissiveness, has finally petered out. Increasing numbers of people are emboldened to question the value of this "progress" and the price it exacted on human dignity and happiness. Just the fact the long-taboo issue of abortion is being discussed in Australia publicly and rationally is a sign the pendulum has moved back towards the centre. The wreckers and deconstructionists of old have had the pendulum yanked away from them.

One of the best jobs of yanking comes from the 12 authors of a brilliant new book of essays, Education and the Ideal. Conceived and edited by Sydney teacher Naomi Smith, it charts the poisonous impact on young minds of modish educational ideologies of the past 30 or 40 years. Christopher Koch writes in the foreword: "If the barbaric tide identified here is not held back, much more will be lost than the ability to understand what human genius is about. What will be lost will be true civilisation and the understanding of beauty." Complaints about "dumbing down" and political correctness are familiar but never before assembled with such authority and in such a contemporary Australian context.

Alan Barcan, honorary associate in Education at the University of Newcastle, says that until the late 1960s the school curriculum was "imbued with a confident, optimistic sense of purpose", concerned with "the building of character and ideas and with the acquisition of knowledge about things". But then a wave of "innovations" swept through. Today, four competing ideologies hold sway: "Critical theory [and post-modernism], a degenerated form of Marxism, [emphasising] the social context of knowledge"; a social justice approach dwelling on "disadvantaged" groups, such as women, minority ethnic groups, homosexuals and Aborigines; a vocational approach; and the "relics of traditional liberal-humanist values".

Interestingly the '70s were a golden age for teachers - numbers doubled, salaries jumped, government invested, and yet, by the end of the decade, children were worse off. By 1990 the green movement had infiltrated classrooms, and after "the collapse of the New Left, some radicals embraced social justice". By 2000, thanks to multimedia and a wider variety of texts, English looked a lot like cultural studies. "Relativism and sociological interpretations had become ingrained in the curriculum." Even physics was not immune, writes Neville Fletcher, former University of New England physics professor. The HSC syllabus, for instance, asks students how our understanding of energy and matter are "influenced by society".

Postmodern relativism so influences the curriculum we cannot rank a work of art based on artistic value because that would be "elitist", writes Dr Barry Spurr, senior lecturer in English literature at Sydney University. Thus King Lear is no better than Ginger Meggs, and Bush Tucker Man videos are as much a syllabus "text" as The Grapes of Wrath. But in the Standard HSC English course, "not one poet from the entire 16th, 17th and 18th centuries is to be found".

Spurr bemoans the "disastrous abandonment" of the teaching of formal grammar in the '60s and says the subsequent degradation of the language was "validated by the Australian anti-intellectual cultural prejudice against the lucid expression of informed and sustained ideas". The result is that Sydney University has had to introduce a remedial subject to deal with students' "grammatical incompetence"......

The book is not all doom and gloom. There is praise for the return in NSW to teaching basic grammar, phonics, writing and times tables. In fact Education and the Ideal is as much homage to good teachers as it is a critique of educational fads. Naomi Smith writes a chapter acknowledging teachers who "hold the education system together whose judgement [students] accept and whose example they are inspired to emulate".

But under the onslaught of all the overlapping -isms of the past 30 years, only mathematics survives with its integrity unchallenged, writes Sydney Grammar's Dr Bill Pender. "Mathematics collapses completely whenever language is misused or logic is ignored." If only that were the case for all disciplines. Imagine how much clearer life would be and how little need for pendulum extremes.

More here.


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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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site (viewable even in China!) here

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Sunday, November 07, 2004

Mounting discontent with public education in the US?


"A National Guard F-16 fighter plane mistakenly fired off 25 rounds of ammunition at the Little Egg Harbor Intermediate School in South New Jersey on Wednesday night.

The pilot was meant to fire the rounds some 3 1/2 miles away at a military target range, Lt. Col. Roberta Niedt of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs told reporters in the Jersey shore township's police headquarters.

No one was injured as school was out and a lone custodian was inside the building when the bullets hit. Damage was minimal as the non-exploding, 20 millimeter bullets left only puncture marks in the school's roof and the asphalt outside the building.

The fighter jet was part of the 113th Wing, District of Columbia Air National Guard assigned to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. An investigation is being conducted into how the pilot mistook the school, located on Frog Pond Road, for a target range".


OK. Joke, joke! -- In case anybody does not get British-style humour

But it did happen




Kicked upstairs

Letter of Nov. 1 in The Pasadena Star News

My experience regarding employment throughout the years is that people are hired to perform a certain function. When a person is hired to do a job and they don't work out, or they are not fit for the job, or they simply don't do the job, that person is let go.

Not so if you're hired by the Pasadena Unified School District. If you fail as a teacher or principal, no worries, you get kicked upstairs. You get a job in the administration office at your same salary, or in some cases an even higher salary. That means the district is paying two salaries for the same job, the one downtown and the one for the replacement.

Why not put these people back in the classroom or get rid of them? They were hired as teachers and should be qualified to teach; otherwise, why were they hired in the first place?

I'd like to see a list of all the positions in the administration office, complete with job descriptions and salaries. I'd also like to know how many of those positions are filled by teachers and principals who failed in the job they were hired to perform. Soon there may be a new position downtown... Assistant to an assistant director in charge of finding positions downtown for failed employees. Enrollment is down and the administration keeps growing. Wake up Pasadena, these jobs are paid for with taxpayer money.

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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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site (viewable even in China!) here

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