Monday, September 26, 2005


As Virginia Tech takes steps to become a more diverse campus, administrators and faculty members refuse to allow political correctness stand in the way of their goals. “I think the whole discussion of political correctness is non-democratic. It carries with it so much baggage that it keeps people from saying what they think and we can’t fully explore the real issues,” said political science professor Karen Hult.

She said diversity issues are particularly important because Virginia Tech is a public land grant institute representing Virginia. As a land grant institute, Tech has always been responsible to the public of Virginia. This responsibility to the state is what now compels the administration to deal with diversity. It is a concern that the university is not characteristic of the same diverse population that lives in the state. “We need to make a public-funded university more like the state in which it is located. It’s a big concern, and a genuine concern. Being politically correct would not allow us to address it. When questions are raised in public, people tend to speak what other people want to hear instead of what they think. To be politically correct is to not talk about the problems,” said Hult.

Provost Mark McNamee sees the university’s situation as ideal for making changes. Instead of being stubborn about change or maintaining a traditional image, Tech’s loyalties lie in what it has always done, provide a service to Virginia. “It is not a limitation. It creates a community that includes all the fundamentals of a university. We have a good reputation in what we do and maintain a balance between cutting edge research and socially important issues. We currently want to make the education that Tech provides, more realistic of what people will experience in the real world,” he said.

McNamee said the administration expects faculty and students to talk about issues of controversial importance. It also puts a great deal of trust in students and professors to be professional. Creating a comfortable campus climate for all students is the goal of diversity and while political correctness should be avoided, common sense and courtesy should accompany any discussion. “I would hope that faculty members want to challenge students to think about things in a different way. A university is a great place to bring up any issue in full open discussion. We certainly don’t have any guidelines that would censor academic freedom but expect everyone on campus to uphold the principles of community,” McNamee said.

According to the online version of Virginia Tech’s diversity strategic plan, creating a diverse campus is about making fundamental changes, not using political correctness to fabricate fake diversity. Tech’s new harassment policy is a first step and shows that the goal of the university is to make the necessary changes. Focusing on political correctness instead of change would only create a public relations campaign that covers up the problems. The commitment to ignore political correctness and promote open dialogue will create a more diverse society within the university that continues to focus on quality education.

“I have never felt pressure by the administration to change what I teach. I think the quality would suffer if I simply replaced the classics with other songs just so every concert had recognizable diversity,” said Virginia Tech choral director Brian Gendron.



First it was call centres that outsourced to India. Now private tutoring for Australian students will be available over the internet, with Indian teachers answering questions about secondary science and mathematics. The online coaching college Growing Stars will launch in NSW in coming weeks. It will be the first Indian-run tutoring company to establish here, after its incursion into the US last year. Gautam Chattopadhyay, who has the Australian and New Zealand licence for Growing Stars, said tuition by qualified teachers in Cochin, southern India, would cost about $33 an hour. Face-to-face coaching by Australians costs between $20 and $70 an hour.

In the past two years, Growing Stars and other online tutoring companies employing Indian teachers have won market share in the US and Britain. Growing Stars, set up in California by an Indian-born software engineer and a venture capitalist, has 350 US students and 40 tutors in India. Dr Chattopadhyay expected a backlash to offshore tutoring in Australia, based on consumer resistance to Indian telemarketers. "My philosophy is if you come up with a product that delivers value, the backlash will eventually die," he said. "Electronic learning is going to be the next big thing."

His plan to establish Growing Stars for Australian students has alarmed the Australian Tutoring Association, which represents a quarter of the domestic businesses selling private tutoring. In NSW alone there are 500 registered businesses. Nationally, the sector has an estimated turnover of $1 billion a year. The association's public officer, Mohan Dhall, said Growing Stars and other tutoring "call centres" revealed a trend of "commercial principles subverting educational principles". "This takes the outsourcing of call centres to a new level," he said. "Education is not something that can be effectively delivered by people trained in different systems and living offshore, providing advice from remote locations."

Dr Chattopadhyay, a chemical engineer and laboratory manager at the University of NSW, said students in the "virtual classroom" would have lessons devised from the NSW syllabuses for year 7 to 10 maths and science and year 11 and 12 maths, physics and chemistry. The University of NSW has no association with Growing Stars, which Dr Chattopadhyay said he would operate through his private company. The students would log in to the Growing Stars website and be assigned lessons by Indian tutors, to whom they could talk on a voice-over internet link. Both student and tutor use a digital whiteboard to write on screen or draw lines and circles, for example.

Mr Dhall said the rate charged by Growing Stars was not a bargain. Australian online tutorial businesses charged "as little as $4.25 per hour". Dr Chattopadhyay said the university-trained Indian tutors were "much cheaper" than Australians. Growing Stars pays them $US230 a month, double the Indian rate for beginning teachers. To counter concerns about the Indian tutors' accents, they are given English language speech training before they go online with students, he said. A Growing Stars tutor, Savio D'Cruz, said the NSW secondary maths syllabus he will teach was "a little bit different" in content to US courses. "In America there is more direct application. In Australia, the topics are introduced in a much deeper way."



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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