Saturday, January 08, 2005


It is obvious that AA harms the standards of black education. Lowering standards is how it works. But it now seems that it reduces the NUMBER of black graduates too

A new and provocative study on affirmative action, which will appear in the Stanford Law Review this month, is attracting such attention that there is a special click-through on the publication's website to field questions about it. The conclusions of the study, that racial preferences at law schools produce fewer rather than more black lawyers, is already generating controversy that is sure to only increase. The study, "A Systematic Analysis of Affirmative Action in American Law Schools," argues, using statistical analysis, that although total elimination of racial preferences would cause a 14 percent reduction in the number of blacks accepted to law school, there would be an 8 percent increase in the number of blacks actually becoming lawyers. The reason for this, according to the analysis in the 100-plus page study, is because of the improvement in grades, graduation rates, and rates in passing bar examinations that would result from color-blind admissions policies.

The author of the study, Richard Sander, is a law professor at UCLA who is also trained as an economist. It is interesting to also note that, according to press profiles, Sander is a long-time liberal and advocate of race-conscious public policy. His apparent motive in doing the study was to provide rigorous analysis that would examine if indeed racial preferences produce the net benefit to blacks that are the alleged justification of these policies. In a recent Los Angeles Times column, Sander makes it a point to avoid being placed in any ideological camp. His stance, inferred from the column, is that racial preferences are justifiable if they indeed lead to the goal of a color-blind society. On the question of law-school preferences, he suggests eliminating, or cutting them back, because his data indicate that they hurt blacks and not because he opposes them in principle. Nevertheless, the conclusion of Sander's study, that racial preferences in law schools result in a net reduction of new black lawyers, is an eye opener........

While academics go on about the validity of Sander's analysis, blacks should make the safest and most prudent bet and assume that it is accurate. We should focus our attention on the real problem, which is that our kids are not getting the education at the K-12 levels to prepare them for the challenges of university life. The data that demonstrates this is beyond question.

The most important opportunity we have for revitalizing K-12 education is to provide alternatives to the public school system through school choice. Polls show equal support for this reform among blacks and whites. The task now is getting tangible plans in place to provide schooling alternatives for every black (and white) child.

More here


It's not news in academia, although it may come as a surprise to the rest of us: America's 700-plus religiously affiliated colleges and universities are enjoying an unprecedented surge of growth and a revival of interest. New institutions have opened their doors in recent years, including the evangelical Patrick Henry College in Virginia; Ave Maria, a conservative Catholic law school in Michigan; and the Buddhist-run Soka University in California. Long-established schools such as the Mormon flagship, Brigham Young University, have launched satellite campuses.

And enrollments are soaring. As Naomi Schaefer Riley reports in "God on the Quad" (St. Martin's, 274 pages, $24.95), the number of students attending the 100 schools of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities--an organization of four-year liberal-arts schools dedicated to promoting the Christian faith--rose 60% between 1990 and 2002. In those same years the attendance at nonreligious public and private schools stayed essentially flat. The number of applications to the University of Notre Dame, the nation's premier Catholic college, has risen steadily over the past decade, with a 23% jump last year alone.

But numbers don't tell the whole story. Many religious schools, traditionally regarded as second-tier or worse, have improved the quality of their students and of their academic offerings, sometimes dramatically. The evangelical Wheaton College in Illinois and the Reformed-affiliated Calvin College in Michigan now rank among the nation's leading liberal-arts institutions. Baptist-affiliated Baylor University in Waco, Texas, has embarked on an ambitious program to boost itself into the nation's first rank by hiring 220 new full-time faculty members. The percentage of Ave Maria's law graduates who passed the Michigan bar examination last year was higher than that of the University of Michigan's graduates. Orthodox Jewish Yeshiva University is on U.S. News & World Report's list of the nation's top 50 research universities, while Wheaton ranks 11th in percentage of graduates who go on to receive Ph.D.s.

Surely Ms. Riley, a frequent contributor to The Wall Street Journal's "Houses of Worship" column, has picked an exciting topic, and her book attempts to explore what life is like at religious colleges and why so many young people these days scramble to attend them. To this end, she visited 20 strongly confessional campuses across the country, mostly Protestant, and a group of small, relatively new conservative Catholic campuses, such as Thomas Aquinas in California and Magdalen in New Hampshire. Also on her itinerary were Notre Dame, Soka and two Jewish schools. She devoted most of her interviews to the students themselves, although she also visited classrooms, where professors, unlike most of their secular-school counterparts, actually encourage the discussion of religious matters.

Ms. Riley's aim, as she explains, was to focus primarily not on how the schools maintain their religious identity, if they do, but on how they foster a student culture that rejects the intellectual and moral relativism of most college campuses. The students at these schools, instead of experimenting with sex and drugs, generally oppose sex outside marriage and choose to marry early and start a family.

"Most dress modestly and don't drink, use drugs, or smoke," writes Ms. Riley. "They study hard, leaving little time for sitting in or walking out. Most vote, and a good number join the army. They are also becoming lawyers, doctors, politicians, college professors, businessmen, psychologists, accountants, and philanthropists in the cultural and political centers of the country." Ms. Riley calls the 1.3 million graduates of such schools a "missionary generation" that aims to change today's spiritually empty culture....

More here


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


Friday, January 07, 2005


This guy seems to think so and he may have a point but he is putting the cart before the horse. Who but a desperate would want to stand up in front of an undisciplined and undisciplinable rabble every day? So where are all the able teachers going to come from? Teaching can't improve until schools improve -- and in many cases tough discipline would be needed to achieve that. Is it going to happen? Not likely.

In 1983 the report "A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform" declared that an undemanding school system was dumbing down our workforce and thus impeding our ability to compete in an information age and global economy. The report accused the nation not only of slighting standards but also of reneging on our commitment to equality. Among its recommendations for educational reform was to "make teaching a more rewarding and respected profession." With memorable phrases and hyperbolic language, "A Nation at Risk" shook up the educational establishment, describing "a rising tide of mediocrity" that threatened our future and reminding us that "history is not kind to idlers." ....

Despite the call to action of "A Nation at Risk" and the ensuing reform and additional funding, student achievement in grades K-12, at least as measured by standardized tests, languished. Of course there were students who excelled, and the Department of Education found the usual suspects: educated parents, demanding courses, homework, minimal television, and private schools.

Inexplicably, the nation flourished - even as our schools languished - entering a long period of economic growth and high individual productivity. Perhaps the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests do not correlate with economic achievement. Perhaps a cadre of advanced students propelled the nation forward and those without basic skills staffed low-wage jobs. And of course failure and conflict produce documents that attract attention, particularly the kind of attention the media give schools.

Nonetheless, we want to do better, especially for the poorest students. We also have legitimate concerns about a generation of young people educated by video games and reality television who read reluctantly and write laboriously. In a nation threatened by terrorists, we cannot afford young people ignorant of history and government, refusing to vote. In a world shaped by science and technology, Algebra I is vital and America could easily lose its competitive edge. An idealistic nation, we want and expect a high level of opportunity and achievement for all Americans - and thus No Child Left Behind.....

The Teaching Commission, headed by former IBM President Louis Gerstner, asked what could be done to fix persistent problems in American education and concluded: "an intense, sustained and effective campaign to revamp our country's teaching force." In its just-released report, "Teaching at Risk: A Call to Action," the commission goes so far as to say, "The proven value of excellent teaching...all but demolishes the notion that socioeconomic status is the most important determinant of what kids can learn." At Harvard, economist Ronald Ferguson correlated teachers' test scores with the test scores of their students, and found that teacher expertise accounts for more difference in student performance than any other factor.

Yet of all the recommendations in "A Nation at Risk" the ones least acted upon have been those relating to the teacher. The 1983 report called for rigorous educational standards in teacher-preparation programs, higher salaries, eleven-month contracts, career ladders, peer review, and master teachers. Just over 20 years later the pool of talented prospective teachers is drying up because of higher salaries and increased opportunities for women and minorities in other professions.

The good news is that there are some signs of change. No Child Left Behind requires more highly qualified teachers. Educators and a host of writers and scholars are calling for a transformed teaching profession: one with demanding entrance requirements and rigorous graduate degrees, in which knowledge of subject becomes the highest priority, and which offers a staged career, performance pay, autonomy, and accountability.

More here


A comment from one of my readers:

"My sister is dating a high school principal, here in Kansas, though he was raised in NYC. This fellow has a PhD in Education. When discussing multiculturalism during our Christmas dinner he said the United States' Constitution was modeled from a confederation of Red Indian tribes that lived along the shores of the Great Lakes. This is laughable hoax that so many have fallen for. Yet, this man is a principal for a high school. I mentioned Locke, Montesquieu, Grotius, and Hobbes, but he was unsure who they were".


Another revelation of the total hypocrisy of the Left

San Francisco State University has been in the spotlight lately, and the picture that has emerged is not a flattering one. Following last month's nationwide elections, members of the SFSU chapter of the College Republicans were confronted by an angry mob simply for setting up a table and handing out political literature. Members of the International Socialist Organization, the General Union of Palestinian Students and others surrounded the Republican students, shouting at them to "get out" of SFSU. Although the exact details are still being disputed by the various parties, police reports and eyewitness accounts appear to back up the College Republicans. It seems that free political expression is no longer welcome at SFSU, at least not if one is espousing unpopular views.

A question arises: How did such a threatening environment become associated with a campus located in one of the most liberal and tolerant cities in the nation? The truth is that SFSU has a reputation for intolerance that goes back at least 10 years. In this case, Republican students, clearly a minority at SFSU, were the targets. But in the past, such animosity was directed mostly at Jewish students or those seen as supporting Israel. Jews at SFSU have been spat on, called names and physically attacked, as well as censured by the administration for defending themselves, even as their attackers went unpunished.

The case of Tatiana Menaker, a Russian Jewish emigr, and former SFSU student, is an example of the latter indignity. After committing the "crime" of responding verbally to another student's anti-Semitic epithets during a 2002 rally, she found herself persecuted by the administration. Pulled into a kangaroo court, threatened with expulsion and ordered by the university to perform 40 hours of community service (but specifically not for a Jewish organization), Menaker was later exonerated after seeking legal assistance from the Students for Academic Freedom and the local Jewish Community Relations Council. But the damage was done.

During my time as a student at SFSU (Class of 1996), I was given a preview of things to come. In 1994, the Student Union Governing Board commissioned a mural to honor the late Black Muslim revolutionary Malcolm X. Designed by members of the Pan Afrikan Student Union and painted by artist Senay Dennis (known also as Refa-1), the finished product was problematic, to say the least. Along with an image of Malcolm X, the not-so-subtle symbols of Stars of David juxtaposed with dollar signs, skulls and crossbones, and the words "African blood," had been painted. Despite the obvious allusion to anti-Semitic blood libels of old, Pan Afrikan Student Union members claimed the symbols represented Malcolm X's alleged opposition to Israel, not to Jews, as if that was some comfort.

Predictably, Jewish students were outraged, as were others truly interested in promoting tolerance on campus. African-American English Professor Lois Lyles made her opposition known by trying to paint "Stop Fascism" on the wall next to the mural. After attempting to paint over the mural on several occasions, only to find the cover-up paint removed by protesters, the administration was forced to take more permanent action. And, on May 26, 1994, under the guard of police in riot gear, the mural was sandblasted, only to be replaced with the kinder, gentler version seen on campus today. .....

The flyers hung all over campus in April 2002 displaying a Palestinian baby on a soup-can label and the words "Palestinian Children Meat, slaughtered according to Jewish rites under American license" hardly constitute legitimate criticism. Then there was a "Peace in the Middle East" rally, organized by the SFSU Hillel chapter on May 7, 2002. This seemingly innocuous event was beset by pro-Palestinian protesters bellowing such enlightened statements as "Zionists off the campus now," "Go back to Germany, where they knew how to deal with you" and "Hitler should have finished the job." In fact, the counterprotesters became so frenzied that Jewish students had to be escorted off campus under guard by San Francisco Police Department personnel. Is such blatant bigotry considered acceptable behavior when its targets are the "dreaded" Zionists? .....

As for SFSU, it remains to be seen whether the administration will exorcise the cancer of extremism on campus or allow it to fester. While pontificating about "free speech," Corrigan and the SFSU administration continue to underestimate the growing radicalism in their own backyard. As a result, what began with attacks on Jewish students has now spread outward to any students who don't share the liberal politics of the majority.



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


Thursday, January 06, 2005


And you can't give dyslectic kids special help. Why? Because it is wrong to "categorize" people. So therefore dyslexia does not exist! One wonders whether some of these educrats are really human beings. They certainly don't act it. Politically correct ideologues, Yes. Complete human beings, No.

Primary school children who can barely read are passing the Federal Government's national literacy benchmarks. The NSW Department of Education and Training says 92 per cent of the state's year 3, 5 and 7 students have passed the benchmarks. But this figure includes children who have been diagnosed with severe learning difficulties such as dyslexia.

For the first time NSW parents were told last year how their child performed in relation to the state average and the national benchmark. This was determined through the state-run Basic Skills Tests for year 3 and year 5 and the English Language and Literacy Assessment for year 7. One mother of a dyslexic boy was surprised to find he had met the national literacy benchmark for year 3 despite independent experts telling her he was 24 months behind his classmates in reading. The boy's Basic Skills Test report also showed he was in the bottom 17 per cent of the state and in need of "considerable assistance in literacy". The mother, who did not wish to be named, said her son had previously been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and language disability.

Sharryn Brownlee, the president of the Federation of Parents and Citizens' Associations of NSW, said the national benchmark was simply too low when compared with the NSW one. "We have these broad general benchmarks in some aspects of numeracy and literacy, and in fact some of the children meeting these benchmarks are barely literate. "We need to make sure they really can survive and have skills in the current workforce."

The national benchmarks are being investigated as part of an inquiry ordered by the Federal Government into the teaching of reading. The Education Minister, Brendan Nelson, said they represented "the minimum acceptable standard without which a student will have difficulty making sufficient progress at school". Moreover, the benchmarks had been developed with reference to current levels of achievement in national surveys and state assessment programs, he said, and had been tested in classrooms in all states and territories.

The NSW Education Department said it recognised that any student who recorded marks in the bottom of band 2 "clearly needs considerable help". But the mother of the dyslexic boy said her son was a victim of buckpassing. Her son is not be entitled to one of the 24,000 tutorial vouchers, worth $700 each, the Federal Government has promised to combat illiteracy. He also misses out on state-administered federal funding for disabled students because the NSW Education Department does not categorise dyslexic students as disabled. "I'm not allowed to use the word within the Education Department because they don't allow it," the mother said. "No one puts dyslexia down on these reports because they say there's no such thing." The department's director of disabilities programs, Brian Smyth-King, said dyslexia was not recognised as a diagnosed disability because the department preferred to take a "non-categorical approach"... "It is the issue about labelling that people get distressed about," he said. "For every one family that does want a label there is a whole pile of families that does not. Labelling can get fixed to that child's name ... for the rest of their school lives and they see that as detrimental." He said children with reading and language difficulties were absorbed into the department's learning assistance program, which cost $105 million a year and provided 1300 specialist teachers in schools across NSW.

The mother mentioned does not seem to think her child is being helped by the self-satisfied Mr Smyth-King's "learning assistance program"



A good comment from one of my readers in response to my post of 4th. about inflated educational achievement:

Is not the new SAT format also simply a politically correct attempt to "dumb-down" the exam so as to narrow the range of outcomes and reduce its ability to "discriminate" (in the good sense) among students of differing abilities? The new SAT exam eliminates "analogies" in the Critical Reading section and "quantitative comparisons" in the Math section and adds "short reading passages" to the existing longer reading passages in the Critical Reading section. It seems that the only purpose in eliminating the more difficult "analogies" and "quantitative comparisons" while adding the easier "short reading passages" is to assure that those students with lesser ability get scores closer to those with greater abilities. Is this not just a "backdoor" way of instituting "reverse discrimination" now that racial preferences and affirmative action in college admissions are coming under greater scrutiny and criticism?


They are blaming lack of funding of course -- despite evidence from elsewhere that shows no effect from more funding. How odd that bloated bureaucracy and the destruction of standards by political correctness do not get a mention!

California's public schools perform worse than most of their peers nationally on almost every standard, including academic achievement, class sizes and teacher pay, according to a study released Monday. The Santa Monica-based Rand Corp. said the 18-month, $300,000 study, funded by the Hewlett Foundation, is the first comprehensive look at California's public schools, showing how far they've fallen from the national prestige they enjoyed three decades ago. "The surprising thing was how bleak the situation was across the board,' said Stephen Carroll, the think tank's senior economist and lead author of the report, "California's K-12 Public Schools: How Are They Doing?' The study examined California's results on national standardized tests, facility construction, teacher preparedness and education funding. It showed, for example, that only students in Louisiana and Mississippi perform worse than those in the Golden State on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Rand researchers also found that the state's average ratio of nearly 21 students per teacher remains higher than the nationwide average of 16-to-1.

The decline of the state's education system was fueled, in part, by Proposition 13, which voters approved in 1978 with significantly reduced property-tax revenue for local schools. The study also said that Proposition 98, which sets a minimum level of state funding for public schools and community colleges, has stymied the system by becoming the maximum amount expended. In 1970, the study said, California spent about $400 above the national average of $3,500 per pupil. By 2000, it was allocating $600 below the national average of $6,500. In the mid-1970s, Californians spent about 4.5 percent of their income on public education, the study said. That dropped by 1.2 percentage points in the 1980s and still remains far below the national average.

Jack O'Connell, state superintendent of public instruction, issued a statement saying the study highlights the state's continued struggle to properly fund education. "It is time to thoroughly and thoughtfully evaluate our system of school financing to determine what constitutes adequate funding for an education system that prepares all students from all backgrounds to fulfill their academic potential,' he said. O'Connell added he expects the recently formed Quality Education Commission to help foster that discussion once the governor appoints its members.

Kris Vosburgh, executive director of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, which sponsored Proposition 13, said blaming the voter-approved measure for the decline of California's public schools is ridiculous. Rather, districts have been plagued by waste, mismanagement and a lack of competition, he said. "It sounds like the usual nonsense,' he said. "Proposition 13 is really a red herring that somebody needs to flog to get attention to their issue.'



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


Wednesday, January 05, 2005


Instead of the usual condemnation of everything American that passes for history

The past is there for our learning, could it be possible that many of societies problems that have seeped into our educational system over the last twenty or more years be due in large part to the lack of understanding and knowing where we come from?

We have a generation of parents who did not receive the best educational opportunities becoming parents of the next generation who attend public schools with barbed wire fences, metal detectors, and security guards. If we are not giving our children anything, substantial to identify with of who they are where they come from, and what we stand for could we be creating our own chaos? Without lessons from our ancestors and the generations of history that make us who we are have we robbed ourselves of grounding? What do we have to compare what we are living now with if we do not take the opportunity to learn from our past? Our history may not have all the answers, but our past is there for our learning. It helps us develop our dreams, desires, needs, and wants. When we cannot state with confidence the year of the war of 1812, what took place, and the outcome of the battle then we end up with idiot comments that all the United States was doing was trying to do was overtake Canada during that two-year war. When in fact it was Great Britain, the United States on June 12, 1812- declared war on. The United States declared the war because of long disputes with Great Britain and the impressments of American soldiers. In addition, disputes continued with Great Britain over the Northwest Territories and the border with Canada. Finally, the attempts of Great Britain to impose a blockade on France during the Napoleonic Wars were a constant source of conflict with the United States. How many of us know the difference between the American Revolution and the Civil War? What was the Battle of the Bulge? Why did the decision to enter into war against Japan bring us into WW II? How did certain political environments bring about Vietnam? Desert Storm? Our current war against terrorism? Who was it that Hitler wanted annihilated from the face of the earth and why? If we don’t study and learn why certain events took place in our history we will continue to repeat the rising powers that take advantage of strained economics and promote hatred, murder and obliteration of any tolerance for all humankind various views, cultural and religious beliefs.

Is the lack of knowledge by our students over slavery, hatred of the Jews and the abhorrence of radical Islamic followers to behead anyone they deem unfit to live why we had incidents such as- Oklahoma City Bombing?, Columbine?, The Menendez Brothers? We must ask ourselves these tough questions, our children are depending upon us. The future generations to come who will run our nations are teetering dangerously close to the edge of oblivion. Is it the lack of knowledge that leads our educators stress levels of playing teacher, social worker, parent, doctor, coach, mom, dad, provider, etc… to leaving their positions after only 3-5 years? We must address the indifferences we have displayed for far too long. If we desire teachers to teach then we as parents and society must take our responsibilities seriously and let our teachers get on with teaching.

With the importance of history in place, our children can form a sense of strong identity. Identity brings about a strong sense of community and caring for others. Children need to understand when things happened and why they matter to the lives they lead today and the events that our shaping our world today. Basic knowledge and learning timeline dates helps us to understand the impact on our world today. The value of integrating history into many facets of our education presentation would be priceless to the betterment of all humankind. History does not have to be just a part of social studies it needs intertwining with math, writing, reading, art, and music. History gives a sense of belonging to the bigger picture. It helps direct our footsteps around incidents that were catastrophic. It is the nurturing tool that feeds humankind to care, grow, and learn.....

Lastly, if we fail to learn from our past prior to our push to move forward it will not work. People will just continue to become more selfish, lack ambition and motivation to better themselves, their homes, their schools, their communities, their cities, their nation, and their world. Should we dwell on our past? No- but we need to study it, appreciate it, and learn from it. Moving forward to a better and brighter tomorrow is within our abilities to fulfill. Will we do it?

More here


"But math is not just about computing quadratic equations, knowing geometric proofs or balancing a checkbook. And it's not just about training Americans to become scientists. It has implicit value. It is about discipline, precision, thoroughness and meticulous analysis. It helps you see patterns, develops your logic skills, teaches you to concentrate and to separate truth from falsehood. These are abilities and qualities that distinguish successful people. Math helps you make wise financial decisions, but also informs you so you can avoid false claims from advertisers, politicians and others. It helps you determine risk. Some examples:

* If a fair coin is tossed and eight heads come up in a row, most adults would gamble that the next toss would come up tails. But a coin has no memory. There is always a 50-50 chance. See you at the casino?

* If you have no sense of big numbers, you can't evaluate the consequences of how government spends your money. Why should we worry? Let our kids deal with it….

* Enormous amounts of money are spent on quack medicine. Many people will reject sound scientific studies on drugs or nutrition if the results don't fit their preconceived notions, yet they might leap to action after reading news stories on the results of small, inconclusive or poorly run studies.

* After an airplane crash, studies show that people are more likely to drive than take a plane despite the fact that they are much more likely to be killed or injured while driving. Planes are not like copycat criminals. A plane is not more likely to crash just because another recently did. In fact, the most dangerous time to drive is probably right after a plane crash because so many more people are on the road.

The precision of math, like poetry, gets to the heart of things. It can increase our awareness. Consider the Fibonacci series, in which each number is the sum of the preceding two, (0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 … ). Comparing each successive pair yields a relationship known as the Golden Ratio, which often shows up in nature and art. It's the mathematical underpinning of what we consider beautiful. You'll find it in the design of the Parthenon and the Mona Lisa, as well as in human proportion; for instance, in the size of the hand compared to the forearm and the forearm to the entire arm. Stephen Hawking's editor warned him that for every mathematical formula he wrote in a book, he would lose a big part of his audience. Yet more than a little is lost by dumbing things down.

It is not possible to really understand science and the scientific method without understanding math. A rainbow is even more beautiful and amazing when we understand it. So is a lightning bolt, an ant or ourselves.

Math gives us a powerful tool to understand our universe. I don't wish to overstate: Poetry, music, literature and the fine and performing arts are also gateways to beauty. Nothing we study is a waste. But the precision of math helps refine how we think in a very special way.

How do we revitalize the learning of math? I don't have the big answer. I teach middle school and try to find an answer one child at a time. When I can get one to say, "Wow, that's tight," I feel the joy of a small victory".

More here.


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


Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Math/Science Deficit

From a Prof. of Mathematics. I like his sarcastic final comment

1. We have a big math/science deficit in this country. This is to say that we need more mathematically and scientifically trained people than we produce.

2. So we have to scare up a good many appropriately skilled people to make up the difference.

3. Since American students' average scores on international achievement tests in math and science are middling at best, we can't find enough such people among ourselves. There isn't a large pool of American students from which to draw new mathematicians and scientists.

4. As a result we turn to other countries that have produced relatively more such people than we have.

5. The bottom line is that our business and scientific competitiveness is being underwritten, at least to an extent, by foreigners who come here to work and study.

6. There are signs, however, that other nations are getting tired of this and we may need to induce them to continue doing so by making it easier and more attractive for their students and professionals to come here. But we're doing just the opposite. We're making it increasingly difficult for foreign nationals to obtain visas while foreign universities and corporations are becoming increasingly attractive to them. This past year, for example, foreign applications to American graduate schools were down almost 30 percent. The global education market is not working smoothly because we're making it harder for human capital to enter the country. If we don't produce more scientists and engineers or get them from other countries, we'll soon be in trouble.

But there is some good international news too. Our students and our treasury officials score among the highest in the world in self-esteem and self-regard.

More here


Statistics whizz La Griffe du Lion notes this problem:

North Carolina and Texas have decade-long records of successful education reform. As a result, student performance in both states has improved dramatically. To everyone's delight, all racial and ethnic groups have improved. But has the racial gap narrowed? Yes, say state-administered tests. No say the national NAEP tests. Which assessment is correct, and why do they differ?

Am I the only cynic who could see immediately what was going on -- that the easier you make the test, the less meaningful it will become? In the limiting case, if it so easy that EVERYBODY passes, there will be NO racial gap. And I guess we have all heard about the tremendous tendency to grade inflation in recent years. Anyway, La Griffe goes into the most painstaking detail to prove just that. As he initially points out:

In Texas and North Carolina pass rates have been improving. Both states are in the high pass-rate region. There, gains in pass rates by whites will be accompanied by even greater gains by blacks. When pass rates are high, incremental student gains guarantee a gap decrease. Whether this be the reason for the gap reductions in North Carolina and Texas remains to be seen. My main point is that gap reductions, rather than reflecting a return on educational investment, can be a formal consequence of mean-score difference invariance.

And as he finally concludes after the most rigorous examination of the statistics:

Correctly interpreted, the tests tell the same story: In the past decade no meaningful gap reduction occurred in either North Carolina or Texas.


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


Monday, January 03, 2005


From Eduwonk:

"When I saw this story on the local evening news, I couldn't believe what I was watching. A fifteen-year-old tenth-grade bully had an accomplice videotape his brutal assault upon a 14-year-old ninth-grade student at Midview High School, which is located in Eaton Township, (Lorain County) Ohio. Amazingly, this crime occurred while class was in session, just before winter vacation. The Morning Journal newspaper gives additional details of the incident.....

There is an unwritten "code of silence" that every student knows, as does almost every public school teacher, as do most public school administrators. The code simply states, "If you go to the authorities, sooner or later we are gonna make you pay." In other words, the bullies do not fear (nor respect) school authorities. And the victims know that the school will not protect them.

As an actively serving classroom teacher, I can affirm that this is the type of criminal behavior that is occurring everyday in classrooms around the country. There have been numerous classroom fights in my own mid-sized California school district. The difference, of course, is that this particular malefactor (obviously lacking any brains whatsoever) had an (equally idiotic) accomplice videotape the crime.

Expulsion for these two offenders will not even be automatic. There is a good chance that the school will find an "alternative placement" for these vicious predators. In other words, the school system will probably "pass the buck" and enroll these disgusting little creatures on another campus. This will happen because there will be many in the educational bureaucracy that will be sympathetic to the assailants. Without a doubt, some will soon be uttering psycho-babble such as: "these kids have issues, they need help, we can put them on a behavior contract, let's give them another chance. Etc."

And when they get to their new campus, they will be free to terrorize other victims. And this is the sort of thing that happens all the time in our public school systems. And nobody does a thing to change it".

More here


Is this a new low in diploma mills?

"The Pennsylvania attorney general's office Monday sued an online university for allegedly selling bogus academic degrees - including an MBA awarded to a cat. Trinity Southern University in Texas, a cellular company and the two brothers who ran them are accused of misappropriating Internet addresses of the state Senate and more than 60 Pennsylvania businesses to sell fake degrees and prescription drugs by spam e-mail, according to the lawsuit.

Investigators paid $299 for a bachelor's degree for Colby Nolan - a deputy attorney general's 6-year-old black cat - claiming he had experience including baby-sitting and retail management. The school, which offers no classes, allegedly determined Colby Nolan's resume entitled him to a master of business administration degree; a transcript listed the cat's course work and 3.5 grade-point average.

The state is seeking a permanent injunction, civil penalties, costs and restitution for violating consumer law and restrictions on unsolicited e-mail ads".


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


Sunday, January 02, 2005


"School districts have discovered that the judiciary leans sympathetic toward their cries of unfunded mandates. Many have sought court rulings to require acting legislative bodies to dispense with what has been determined by “educrats” as a sufficient dispensation of money to produce a quality education, with varying degrees of success or failure. That the judiciary branch of government has found a means to disregard their clearly defined role is something that should be addressed by those in power. One only needs to contemplate the damage that can be done by egotistic judges who purport to know the best use of taxpayer dollars to understand the urgency; case in point, Kentucky.

A massive infusion of funds does not necessarily solve underlying causes of a poor education. The Kentucky Education Reform Act, in response to the Supreme Court's mandate in the (1989) Rose v. Council of Better Education decision, increased per pupil revenue from $3,360 to $7,533 per student over a ten year period. However, ACT scores remain flat and student enrollment decreased. Ironically, enrollment in independent schools has increased faster there, than anywhere else in the country.

Because the glass ceiling has been broken, more and more judges act in what they feel are in the best interests of their constituents and aren’t bound by their office –with very few exceptions; State District Judge Duke Welch of Baton Rouge, La., for example, ruled on the basis of precedents that judges don’t have a right to decide how the legislature allots funds.

Earlier this year (2004), in Massachusetts, the court decided in Hancock v. Driscoll, what must be included in an adequate education. Those familiar with educational theories and practices, who actually research solutions to public education, would find plenty to disagree with its finding.

Even though in Kentucky, increased funding didn’t correct poor performance, the New York school system, looks to that state as its model.

In Texas, it’s been decided by the courts that the Texas school system isn’t provided with adequate funding to meet the educational requirements of that system. Astoundingly, four court cases there resulted in Robin Hood financing of the poorer school districts by redistributing the property tax revenue of wealthier districts. Not only that, the judiciary gave itself the power to review whether the legislature has made proper policy choices as denoted in the Texas Constitution.

I advocate that parents be put in charge of where and how their children are educated and that they be given financial incentives to pursue the most appropriate education for their child. The cost of choosing alternative education should be refunded through tuition tax credits. Under no circumstances should judicial activists funnel more tax dollars into the current monopoly of public education, especially money that has to be embezzled by strip mining the Constitution of it’s mandate to protect life, liberty, and property; and leaving it open for a socialist interpretation.

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Down with education, sort of

"I think that we ought to abandon utterly any requirement that vocational students waste time on the liberal arts. Schools of engineering, criminology and business management are just that, vocational schools, nothing more. They may be of a high order. Graduating in electrical engineering from a school of the first rank is not easy. Yet the document awarded is not a diploma but a trade-school certificate. So is a degree [in] chemistry or ophthalmology. All are evidence of training, not education. If a student of chemistry wants to study history, and many might, he should certainly be enabled to do so. But it should not be required."

More here


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