Thursday, November 03, 2005


Mayor Sam's got it right - the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has been sucking taxpayers dry for decades and now wants another $4 billion to crank out more illiterate dropouts. I have two short stories about what many Angelenos now call LA's mummified school system:

Jan (not her real name) was a flower child of the 60s: a daisy-waving-psychedelic-peacenik-free-love-liberal-Democrat-bimbo who bore a love child after high school. Jan spoiled her baby with no discipline or boundaries. One day when her toddler misbehaved and I offered a suggestion, Jan told me to mind my own business. Unfortunately for her child, I did.

About ten years later when the girl turned 13, Jan called and sounded hysterical: "Clark, I don't know what to do. I have to go to work. She took my keys, my car and my wallet and left with her boyfriend. I think she's on drugs or something. What should I do?"

It was too late. A few years later when her child returned to prison, Jan got custody of all five of her daughter's children. That lasted a few months - until DPSS finally declared Jan an unfit mother and took them away.

Why is this relevant? Jan is not only my cousin (yup, a blood relative), but has taught LAUSD elementary school children for about twenty years. Although she is unfit to raise her own children and grandchildren, the United Teachers of Los Angeles protects her job at the expense of her classroom children. Jan doesn't want you to vote for Propositions 73 through 78.

My second story is shorter: I used to jog to-and-from work at LAPD's West Valley Station. One day as I jogged past Mulholland Junior High School, I noticed a male student leave the school grounds as classes began. I watched the 9th grader run across the field and hop the 12-foot fence. He landed near me. When I told him to get back in school - he told me to "F- myself." I grabbed his wrist and walked him to the school office.

When I delivered the boy to the Principal, she demanded to know what right I had to kidnap the child from the street. When I identified myself as an LAPD officer and explained the relationship between school truancy and daytime residential burglaries, she made a complaint against me with the LAPD! Based upon these and many other on-duty experiences with the LAUSD, I moved to Ventura County where my children would be far from LAUSD and their dysfunctional teachers and administrators.

That school principal doesn't want you to vote for Propositions 73 through 78 or school vouchers for inner city families, however she does want more of your money. The LAUSD is as competent as an unfit mother who spoils her children without teaching discipline. The only LAUSD program I would endorse is disbandment. The unions are too strong and too dangerous for our children. If LAUSD was dissolved tomorrow, competent educators would find better jobs at better schools, leaving dangerous and incompetent teachers to find careers far from where they can influence our children.

More here

Britain: Lessons on a DVD put Latin back into state classrooms

Harrumph! As a very amateur Latinist myself, I cannot see anybody learning much Latin this way

Latin will be taught in hundreds of state schools for the first time using a new programme designed to reinvigorate the subject. Hi-tech lessons, created by Cambridge University at a cost of o5 million, will give step-by-step tuition in the language, history and culture of the Romans. Launched earlier this month, the initial run of 300 interactive DVDs were snapped up by schools in just one week.

Will Griffiths, the director of Cambridge Schools Classics Project (CSCP), said the enthusiasm could signal a revival in the number of state schools offering the subject, currently just 100. "Latin has been under threat but this programme can secure its long-term future," he said. "It can refresh lessons in schools that already teach it and give schools who have never taught it the practical means to do so." Aimed at secondary school pupils, the on-line course, which has 1,000 activities, including video clips, audio sequences and grammar exercises and tests, takes children up to GCSE level.

Crucially, the programme can be taught by non-specialist teachers, with students communicating via e-mail with classicists at Cambridge, making it ideal for state schools where there is a shortage of classics teachers. Only 35 are trained each year and most go into the private sector. With the number of pupils taking Latin GCSE in the state sector plummeting from 8,493 in 1988 to just 3,468 in 2004, the project has a lot of ground to make up.

Schools involved in the pilot said pupils were keen on the work, while parents regarded its provision "as a privilege". At Saffron Walden county school, in Essex, Latin lessons have boosted modern foreign language learning. A teacher Rebecca Anderson said: "It has been a great success. A lot of the children have really taken to it. You can see they have a greater understanding of other languages."


Australia: Students compare Keats to SMS text

In their final English exam yesterday Year 12 students were asked to compare an SMS message, "how r u pls 4giv me I luv u xoxoxo O:-)", with a famous Keats love letter, "You fear, sometimes, I do not love you so much as you wish". And the 46,000 Victorian students who sat the three-hour VCE exam were also asked to analyse a Dilbert cartoon on the modern dilemma of email and write a letter to the editor of Woolworths magazine Australian Good Taste.

The test of English skills also included analysing more traditional texts from Shakespeare and Henry Lawson to Graham Greene. But it also quizzed students on popular films such as sci-fi flick Gattaca, Australian drama Lantana and classic Breaker Morant. Students sat the paper, set by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority, six weeks after the same body was accused of trying to "dumb down" Year 12 English. It also came a week after NSW students were asked to analyse the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission website as part of their Higher School Certificate.

A chief critic of the Victorian curriculum, Kevin Donnelly, who recently prepared a Federal Government-commissioned report on primary curriculum benchmarking, described the paper as "unchallenging". "It's dumbing it down and the real concern there is that in trying to be accessible to such a wide variety of students, and in trying to not disadvantage those weaker students, I'd argue they're not really challenging the better-abled students," Dr Donnelly said, referring to the magazine article.

A spokesman for the VCAA said the organisation did not want to make a comment about the material. Monash English lecturer Baden Eunson described the paper as part of the "multi-literacy" approach. "These are actually very interesting issues about communication and technology but the reality is that the students don't have the ability to express themselves with maximum fluency." [I wonder why?]



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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