Monday, March 28, 2005


News reports point to CSU forum this week with African-American leaders, in which they try to figure out why a disproportionately small percentage of African-Americans attend the university system. This comes against the backdrop of a Harvard report showing that only 57 percent of African-American students graduate with their class. I wasn't at the conference, and am relying on news reports. But the quotations from some leaders suggesting that the problem is, in essence, a marketing one is delusionary. It's not a matter of insufficient scholarships, as one CSU official told the Times. The problem is a massive failure of the public education system, a system that is more committed to the interests of union members than to providing quality education.

When I debated the OC school superintendent at a Center Club luncheon, I made an admittedly radical and ideological argument: Why not shut down the public schools and let the marketplace provide education? We don't let the government build our cars (i.e., Yugo), but rely on the private sector (i.e., Toyota). Why should we be surprised that government creates mediocrity at best, and horrors at worst? The usual retort is that this would be unfair to poor kids. Yet it's the inner city and poor kids who suffer the most under our one-size fits-all, government monopoly. Most of us in the middle class can afford to move to neighborhoods with decent schools, so most of us are oblivious to how bad the education system is at many levels. But even the schools we think are good would no doubt be shamed if a true competitive marketplace was developed. The big policy question is whether school vouchers offer real hope for moving in that direction.



The Australian State of New South Wales is as bad as California these days

Children as young as six are being taught about same-sex parents in books about "Jed and his Dads" distributed in state primary schools. The books -- now the subject of an investigation ordered by Premier Bob Carr yesterday - are being used as a "learning aid" for kindergarten and early primary school students. The taxpayer funded books -- written by Brenna Harding, 8, and her lesbian mother Vicki -- who featured in the My Two Mums segment on Playschool -- are aimed at students in kindergarten, Year 1 and Year 2.

Nationals leader Andrew Stoner yesterday said the books are another example of "political correctness gone mad". Earlier this month it was revealed the term "Before Christ" (BC) was removed from literacy test history books and replaced with "Before Common Era" (BCE). Mr Stoner said the two books robbed parents of their right to choose when they wanted their children to be "exposed to this sort of material".

The books were produced by Learn to Include -- a non-profit program run by the Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service of NSW -- and funded by the NSW Attorney-Generals Department, which provided $33,000 over two years. They are also accompanied by a teacher's manual, developed with the assistance of the NSW Department of Education. The books were launched last month at a party hosted by the Teachers' Federation and the NSW Anti-Homophobia Interagency, with entertainment provided by Sydney's Gay and Lesbian Big Band.

Mr Stoner yesterday called on Premier Bob Carr to immediately ban the books being used in primary schools. "The books are clearly inappropriate for young children and are an outrageous attempt to brainwash our kids," Mr Stoner said yesterday. [Parents] want their children to be allowed to grow up at their own pace and find out about same sex relationships at a more appropriate time. This is not the sort of stuff that young five and six-year-old children ought to be exposed to."

According to latest census figures, fewer than 40,000 Australian gay and lesbian couples have children.

Christian Democrats MP Reverend Fred Nile said yesterday the books are nothing more than "homosexual propaganda aimed at brainwashing children at such a sensitive age". "It's a disgrace," Mr Nile said. "Kids at that age are innocent until you start putting these ideas into their heads."

Education Minister Carmel Tebbutt said yesterday the books are not part of the official school syllabus and it was up to the school and parents whether they wanted them used in the classrooms. The Parents and Citizens Association said any parent offended by the books' content should speak to their school's principal.



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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