Friday, September 30, 2005


(Explanatory note for the poor benighted folk who don't live in NYC: Chancellor Klein is in charge of the New York City public school system. He is the former Clinton-era Justice Department federal prosecutor in the Microsoft case. He is the first chancellor to have absolute and total control of the system through the Mayor, Bloomberg)

"When all is said and done, nothing useful has been said or done unless criticism has given way to constructive suggestion. New York City's public school system, once the jewel in America's educational crown, has in recent years been hit hard by backfiring reforms, and is very much in want of healing. If there can be no gain without pain, then agony will at least be a beginning. Here is one prescription:

Meritocracy must be restored. The title of "principal" comes from "principal teacher." Principals are now commonly appointed after having had no supervisory or teaching experience. They start at the top simply because a superintendent has ensconced them there by fiat. That superintendent often has no familiarity with the needs and character of the school, having hardly visited it, and may himself be scarcely more qualified than his prot‚g‚. Until Chancellor Klein's regime, prospective supervisors submitted resumes that were screened by parents, teachers, and practicing supervisors who then formally interviewed the candidates.

There should be rigorous exams for supervisors as there were during the glory days of the New York City school system. These tests should be written and scored, in rank order, by a Board of Examiners that is entirely independent of the Department of Education. Identification of applicants should be coded to obviate any charge or risk of cronyism, nepotism, or ruses that substitute for merit.

When the school system was at its peak, it was mandated that applicants for assistant principal positions had taught for at least five years. An additional five years were required to rise from assistant principal to principal. People were hired in order by grade on promulgated lists. It was impossible to pass any test, even as a teacher, unless your speech was up to snuff, as a member of the Bureau of Speech could fail a candidate just for possession of an accent or a lisp. Perhaps it is as well that this is no longer the case.

Principals should have doctoral degrees in legitimate academic areas beyond theoretical education. They should be published and continue to publish throughout their careers.

Eligibility for leadership positions should strictly require legal certification without loopholes to accommodate aspirants with connections. People still in the midst of their schooling are being awarded leadership posts for which they are studying. A prominent superintendent in the Bronx was in fact hired while she was "going for her certification."

If a qualification is vital to perform a job, there should be no monkey business to get around it. If it is not relevant, then it should be abandoned. Chancellor Klein himself was reportedly granted a "waiver" because he lacks both a State Certificate in Administration and Supervision and a New York City license

Quite apart from the potential impact on children of having their educational path paved by unfit authorities, consider the demoralizing effect on educators who see this abuse all around them perpetuated by the same people who rigidly demand that they meet all their expanding requisites in timely fashion.

A genuine meritocracy would make moot the debate over whether the schools should again be centralized as they were decades ago, because localized political machinations would be stanched and the duties of teaching and learning would take care of themselves.

Money is a food of meritocracy. Teachers are more likely to volunteer their time when they aren't forced to watch the clock to get to their second and third jobs on time. But while holding out for what is materially due them, they will continue to be subsidized by that miracle called the psychic wage. But it is rapidly being spent".

Post lifted from Red Hog


In the Australian State of Victoria. The VCE is the High School graduation exam

A controversial proposal requiring students to read only one book in year 12 English - labelled "English Lite" by its critics - has been abandoned by the authority responsible for the VCE. The about-face dumps a Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority proposal under which year 12 English students would have studied two texts instead of four, with one of those texts allowed to be a film. The changes, revealed by The Age, sparked heated community debate and were condemned by the State Opposition.

Last week Education Minister Lynne Kosky said she was not convinced by the authority's proposal, saying it had failed to make the case for changes to the VCE. The VCAA's acting chief executive, John Firth, said the authority had listened to the community and ensured that studying books remained central to VCE English. Mr Firth said English students would continue to study a minimum of four books or three books and a film in year 12. "Substantial consultation with teachers and the community indicates that central prescription of literary texts is valued because it ensures quality and common expectations for all students," Mr Firth said. The review of VCE English sought to improve the course, he said.

The changes, proposed in a VCAA draft discussion paper, would also have seen year 11 English students study two texts instead of three. The draft paper discusses a move away from written responses, with at least one oral assessment task. Books on the current VCE English list include Thomas Keneally's The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith and Graham Greene's The Quiet American. Films listed include Gattaca and Breaker Morant.

Opposition education spokesman Victor Perton said the backdown was a victory for the "decent teachers and parents" who thought it was obscene to have one book as part of year 12 English. "(The proposal) made Victoria a national laughing stock. There were editorials around the country," he said.

Tony Thompson, an English teacher at Princess Hill Secondary College and vocal critic of the changes, said the backdown came as a great relief because the proposal ripped the heart out of VCE English. The main problem with the changes, he said, was that literature would have become a secondary part of the English course. "An English course is as good as the books that are included on it," Mr Thompson said. "A lot of students have good memories of studying English and the part of the course that stays with people is studying and discussing a good text."

A spokesman for Ms Kosky said the minister welcomed the recognition of the importance of books in VCE English. The Victorian Association for the Teaching of English said while the number of texts had become a hot issue, it was important to question the balance and accessibility of VCE English. Association president Greg Houghton said more information was needed on the proposed new focus areas in the VCAA draft such as "sustainable futures" and "citizenship and globalisation".



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.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

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