Saturday, February 19, 2005


Some pressures on the taxpayer-fed slackers at last

The Bush administration is pressing California to toughen its rules for identifying failing school districts — a change that could add 310 school systems to a watch list this year and eventually threaten the jobs of superintendents and school board members throughout the state. The U.S. Department of Education warned that it could cut off money to the state if California did not change the way it classified struggling districts under the No Child Left Behind Act. The federal law calls for states to place districts on a watch list if the number of students doing well on math and English standardized tests fails to increase enough two years in a row. Such districts can face sanctions if they continue to falter. California, however, lets districts avoid the list if students from low-income households reach a set score on a separate measure of achievement.

Federal education officials believe the state policy amounts to an escape valve. The policy violates No Child Left Behind by reducing the number of districts identified as needing improvement, the officials have told the state Department of Education. Only 14 of California's 1,000 school districts were placed on the state's watch list this year. But hundreds of districts could be considered failures within two years if California yielded to Washington's demands, according to state education officials.

The expanded list would feature some of California's highest-performing school districts, including Santa Monica-Malibu Unified and Cupertino Union near San Jose. Even though these districts are well regarded, they could still find themselves publicly labeled as troubled if certain groups of their students — those in special education, for example — were not making enough progress. At the extreme, these school systems and the others could be abolished or restructured, or their superintendents and school board members could be replaced by state-appointed trustees.

Leaders of several California school systems said it would be unfair to identify failing districts in the middle of the school year without any notice or time to respond. The district officials wondered where the money would come from to create new programs aimed at improving student test scores. "The entire notion of how No Child Left Behind has been enacted is very narrow, very myopic and very draconian," said Santa Monica-Malibu Unified Supt. John Deasy. "It sets up a very negative dynamic for schools that have successfully shown they can raise achievement over time."

No Child Left Behind requires schools to give standardized English and math tests annually in the third through eighth grades, and to increase the numbers of students who score high enough to be labeled proficient. The law calls for states to set annual improvement goals and to identify schools and districts as in need of improvement if they fall short......

No Child Left Behind requires districts that are not on the list, but that have low-performing schools, to provide tutoring. L.A. Unified is spending about $25 million of its federal money to offer after-school tutoring to more than 16,000 students. But if the district were put on the watch list, students would have to go elsewhere for tutoring — to private companies, for example.

Members of the Los Angeles Board of Education will hold a hearing today to discuss that issue and other challenges posed by No Child Left Behind. Board members said they were concerned that a negative rating for the district would dampen enthusiasm at schools and further erode support for public education. "It's a stigma that doesn't drive thoughtful change. It's controlling and punitive rather than encouraging," said David Tokofsky, who chairs the board committee holding today's hearing.

More here


In the most specific challenge by any state to President Bush's signature education law, the Utah House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill yesterday requiring state officials to give higher priority to local educational goals than to those of the federal law, and to spend as little state money as possible to comply with it. The bill challenging the federal law, known as No Child Left Behind, will go to the Utah Senate, where it enjoys considerable support, said its sponsor, State Representative Margaret Dayton. Federal officials had sought to prevent the bill's passage, and Utah officials said a delegation from the Department of Education was expected in Salt Lake City today.

"Our goal is to maintain state sovereignty," Ms. Dayton said, moments before the 75-member House voted 72 to 0 in favor of her bill, with three lawmakers absent. The House has 57 Republicans and 18 Democrats. Ms. Dayton is a conservative Republican and a supporter of Mr. Bush, but she said in an interview that she was passionate about states' rights to control their own schools. That view appeared widespread among her bill's supporters. "We are strong supporters of President Bush," Representative Stephen Urquhart, the majority whip, said in a statement posted on his Web site. "But that doesn't mean that No Child Left Behind isn't seriously flawed."

The federal law requires standardized testing in Grades 3 through 8 and once in high school and imposes penalties on schools in which students fail to make steady progress. Congress passed the measure with bipartisan support in 2001. Support from Democrats has since withered, but vigorous challenges have come from Republican state legislators who view the measure as an unwanted mandate from Washington in an area traditionally left to states. Utah officials have frequently complained about the law's reporting requirements. In the debate yesterday, Ms. Dayton said federal officials were demanding new reports that would cost $400,000.

Last year, the Utah House approved a measure prohibiting the spending of state money to comply with the federal law. But the Bush administration persuaded the Senate to kill the bill after threatening the state with the loss of $106 million in federal education money. The action last year by the House inspired similar actions nationwide. Legislatures in some 30 states considered challenges to the federal law. This year, the legislatures in Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Vermont and Virginia are considering challenges. "No Child Left Behind is one of the most important issues of federal intrusion in state affairs that we've faced," said State Representative Kory M. Holdaway, a Republican, speaking for Ms. Dayton's bill in yesterday's debate. "This is a message bill. We want to send a message to the federal government that Utah has a great education system and we know best how to manage it."

The bill orders officials in the Office of Education and in the state's 40 local school districts to "provide first priority to meeting state goals" when they conflict with the federal law and to "minimize additional state resources that are diverted to implement federal programs beyond the federal monies that are provided to fund the programs." Patti Harrington, the state superintendent of public instruction, had endorsed the bill, which also had support from Utah groups including the teachers' union, the Utah School Boards Association and the conservative Eagle Forum. Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr., a Republican who took office last month, criticized No Child Left Behind during last year's campaign.



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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Friday, February 18, 2005


Political deals trump both the needs and the wishes of the people

While taxpayers in Florida's Miami-Dade School District aren't getting the new schools they want and need, taxpayers in Jersey County, Illinois, are getting new schools they don't want and don't need, despite rejecting --by a 71-29 percent vote--a 1999 school district referendum to build two new schools. School enrollment in Jersey County has been falling for the past eight years.

According to information provided by the Coalition for Public Awareness of Jersey County, Illinois, the repair estimate for bringing the district's existing high school into compliance with state code was $531,000 in 2000. A year later, the district's repair estimate had jumped more than 20-fold to $13.99 million, with the cost of building a new high school pegged at $12.8 million.

The higher repair estimate permitted the district to access a grant of $20.53 million from the state's Capital Development Board to build two new schools with a local bond issue of $14.0 million, for which no referendum was required. Local taxpayers, who did not want new schools, now see new schools being built and are awaiting the increased tax bills that will be imposed on property owners to pay for them.

Many Illinois school districts on the state's financial watch list have taken advantage of the same school construction grant program, according to Coalition for Public Awareness Chairman Jeff Ferguson.



After 18 years of commuting back and forth to one public school, I transferred to another public school that is closer to home. Each school has a different school climate because their respective student populations are culturally distinct. The school I left was dominated by military dependents. The school closer to home is dominated by Hawaiian and local Hawaii culture.

At the school dominated by military dependents, most students could function in a classroom environment, and a minority of students-as their behavior demonstrates -- belong in a classroom without walls. At the school closer to home, the student populations are just the reverse: there are a few students who do very well in a classroom environment, while most students --- as their behavior demonstrates -- belong in classrooms without walls. Yet teachers are managed at each school as though the student population of each school is exactly the same -- as though all students belong in a classroom environment.

Students who belong in educational environments different than existing classrooms are not being serviced by public schools. And just as bad, students who do very well in classrooms are being inefficiently serviced by teachers who are forced to deal with students who belong in classrooms without walls. So the classroom becomes an environment that inefficiently services students who do well in school; and the classroom completely fails to service students who belong in wall-less classrooms because their needs as learners are not recognized by a standardized system of accountability. And, again, just as bad, the standardized system of accountability leaves no room for teacher spontaneity and student creativity -- since what is to be taught and what is to be learned are becoming more restricted by the standards.

The pathetic situation we find ourselves in -- a reform movement whose sole criterion for success is the score of a test -- is a reflection of the 22 year national debate about reform of public education. The national debate about public education has no vision. Policy makers and legislators are blinded by economic reductionism and empirical studies. The question that needs to be answered is why public classrooms do not represent the society that surrounds them? Our schools, to quote a man who but for one vote would have been a state superintendent of schools, are a wasteland compared to the technologically enriched environment that nurtures children at home. The national crisis outlined in A Nation at Risk ("unthinking, unilateral educational disarmament," April 1983) will remain the status quo until policy makers and legislators turn to teachers and students as resources for direction in national policy......

You would think -- if indeed we even think anymore -- that the recent presidential campaign would have noticed that public education has become public daycare.

The life experiences and collective will that have created and shaped "the standards" and the tests that "measure" their attainment, belong to an elite segment of American culture. The standards of the American elite -- those who can afford eighteen thousand to forty thousand dollars per year for private school tuition, per child, from kindergarten through post-doctorate -- are not the standards of the masses.

To hide the socio-economic differences between those who deserve what they have and those who have what they deserve, public school officials adopt the descriptive language of private institutions. In their efforts to rebuild and restructure "physical plants," we hear elite descriptors: schools within schools, academies, and chief executive officer. Having restructured the physical plant and their managers with descriptors, there is no need to actually alter the walls and interiors of the actual school that remains a technological, stuffy, sweaty, gum strewn wasteland.

All of the students who fall outside the unspoken socio-economic foundation of "the standards," and their numbers belong to the largest segment of the American population, are not being served, but instead are being contained by public school policy. Their containment seems to be in the best interest of the day-to-day activities of the financial, industrial, service, labor and private institutions who do not want to be bothered by the actual conditions and attitudes that exist inside classrooms.

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


Thursday, February 17, 2005

Le Moyne College Dismisses Student for Personal Beliefs, Violates Own Policy on Free Expression

"Administrators at New York's Le Moyne College, which claims to protect academic freedom, have summarily dismissed an education student for writing a paper advocating strict discipline for students. The chair of Le Moyne's education department expelled master's student Scott McConnell because of a "mismatch" between his personal beliefs and the goals of the college's graduate education program.

"Le Moyne College says it respects academic freedom, yet it has dismissed a student purely for expressing personal beliefs that are different from those espoused by administrators," stated David French, president of FIRE. "This shows a profound lack of respect for the opinions of its students. Le Moyne must not promise freedom and then allow extensive and arbitrary censorship on an administrator's whim."

In November 2004, McConnell submitted as part of an assignment a paper expressing his personal views on classroom management, including various ideas for attaining a classroom environment that is "based upon strong discipline and hard work" and that allows "corporal punishment." The paper received an "A-," with his professor noting that his ideas were "interesting" and that she had shared the paper with the department chair, Cathy Leogrande. McConnell ultimately received an "A" as his final grade in the course.

Yet in January 2005, with no prior warning, Leogrande dismissed McConnell from Le Moyne. In the dismissal letter, Leogrande stated that she had reviewed McConnell's grades for courses he took during the summer and fall semesters and had "discussed" his work with his professors. Leogrande wrote, "I have grave concerns regarding the mismatch between your personal beliefs regarding teaching and learning and the Le Moyne College program goals. Based on this data, I do not believe that you should continue in the Le Moyne [Master of Science for Teachers] Program." At the time he was dismissed, McConnell had achieved a grade-point average of 3.78 for the fall semester and had received an "excellent" evaluation for his work in an actual classroom.

"Scott McConnell is being kicked out of school for an `A-' paper," noted FIRE's French. "It appears that at Le Moyne, ideological uniformity trumps any other ideal."

McConnell soon contacted FIRE for assistance. On February 3, FIRE wrote Le Moyne President Charles Beirne and reminded him that dismissing a student based solely on his expression would undermine the college's own standards, which state that students who interfere with others' expression are subject to "the maximum penalty of suspension or dismissal." FIRE noted that making an arbitrary administrative decision to censor expression "sends the message to the campus community that official censorship is acceptable and that those with controversial ideas should keep silent or risk being deemed a `mismatch' and summarily dismissed." Furthermore, FIRE pointed out that Le Moyne's acceptance letter to McConnell stated that his academic performance, not his personal beliefs, would be the determining factor as to whether he was allowed to continue with the master's program.

On February 8, Le Moyne responded to FIRE, stating that "the College does not believe it is appropriate to enter a public debate with your organization concerning the College's admission decision concerning any particular student."

"The fight for the academic freedom of Scott McConnell and for all Le Moyne students will not end just because administrators don't feel like addressing the issue," remarked Greg Lukianoff, FIRE's director of legal and public advocacy. "Le Moyne College administrators must learn that the freedom to dissent is everyone's business."


U.K. Teachers to be protected from parental lawsuits over outings

Long overdue

"Teachers were offered an assurance yesterday that they will be protected from litigious parents if pupils are hurt on school trips. Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, promised to issue guidelines making it "absolutely clear" that teachers enjoy a presumption of innocence if accidents occur. Schools and local education authorities should indemnify staff provided they had taken reasonable care, followed employer guidelines and carried out straightforward safety checks.

The second-largest classroom union, the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), has advised its members not to go on school trips because of the risk of being sued by "increasingly litigious" parents. Ms Kelly said that the majority of schools already provided field trips and other outdoor activities for pupils. But she acknowledged that there were real concerns and said that she wanted to work with unions, parents, teachers and school-trip providers to produce a manifesto for outdoor education. This would afford all children the opportunity to go on a residential trip with their school. Research for the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) last year showed that 86 per cent of primary schools and 90 per cent of secondary schools already make this offer to pupils. Seven million pupil visits take place each year, ranging from field trips to a week at an activity centre.

A DfES spokesman said that the guidelines, which will be issued in the summer, would emphasise the need for fair treatment for staff by employers and parents. "Staff who take reasonable care and follow the guidelines will, in the event of any unfortunate accident, be protected by the law," the spokesman said. "By carrying out straightforward, compulsory safety checks, teachers can protect both pupils and staff on a school visit and minimise the risk of litigation. The guidance will also make clear that employers must treat staff fairly when a pupil gets injured and that we expect parents to respond fairly, too."

Chris Keates, the general secretary of the NASUWT, called the new guidance an "extremely helpful and welcome development". She said: "When the detailed guidance is published, I am confident that the national executive will wish to respond positively."

The Commons Education and Skills Select Committee issued a report last week that urged teachers to stop worrying about the threat of legal action and to lead more school trips. David Hart, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said that schools would welcome the Government's initiative.



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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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Conservative teens say school is biased against them

Soft-spoken and casually dressed, Chris Bowler does not look the part of a political firebrand. But his new conservative club has ignited considerable controversy at Hudson High School. To advertise the club's first meeting in December, Bowler put up a poster that included the website of a national organization for high school conservative clubs. The page includes links to videos of beheadings by Iraqi insurgents, saying the links are meant to show what terrorists can do. The posters immediately drew administrators' ire. Within a few hours, the posters were removed and access to the Web page was blocked on school computers. An attempt to display the posters last month was also squelched. "The material was way beyond what I believe the school should be advertising," said principal John Stapelfeld. "It seemed to be supporting violence more than supporting the conservative message."

Bowler and his supporters believe the response stems from a political bias in the school against conservatism. To them, it's ironic that students should be censored in a school that has won praise for innovative civics and community service programs. "They pride themselves on giving everyone a chance to say what they feel, up until this," said Bowler, a senior at the school. "We just want people to hear both sides."

Mark Goodman, executive director of the Student Press Law Center in Arlington, Va., said schools in the United States can legally curb speech only if it will create a "substantial disruption" in the school. In this case, he said, the students appear to have the law on their side. "That's not an easy standard to meet," he said. Goodman said Massachusetts law provides even greater free speech protection for public school students than does the First Amendment.

Stapelfeld said his decision to limit student access to the site had nothing to do with the club's political views. He said he was initially "thrilled" about the idea of a conservative club to spark political discussions. But Stapelfeld said the brutal images implicitly condoned violence as a way of "solving problems" and did not reflect "mainstream conservatism." "There are limits [to free speech] and there are clearly limits in the schoolhouse," he said. He added that showing terrorist murders did not address the more central problem of growing anti-Americanism abroad. "Unfortunately, we really haven't dealt with the fact that we're not well received in the world anywhere," he said. "That's the issue."

Bowler said Stapelfeld's comment typifies what he sees as the school's pervasive liberal bias. He and other club members say teachers have urged them to attend war protests, have confronted conservative students, and have inserted their liberal political views into discussions of both current and historical events. Several club members said one social studies teacher hung in her classroom a poster of George W. Bush with a foolish expression and a comment he made in jest in 2000: "If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator."

Club members said they hoped that by banding together they could feel more free to express conservative views. "I think the teachers have tried to intimidate us," said James Melillo, a senior. "But it's had the opposite effect."

Stapelfeld said he wants the faculty to discuss divisive political and social issues frankly, but he acknowledged he had spoken with some teachers about injecting their personal views.

Tim Bueler, the 17-year-old founder of the High School Conservative Clubs of America, which he said has about a dozen chapters nationwide, said he was angered but not surprised by the Hudson decision to take down the posters that gave a link to his website. "This kind of reaction is typical," he said. "Public schools play by a different set of rules when it comes to the First Amendment." Bueler generated widespread controversy when he started a similar club two years ago at his Rohnert Park, Calif., high school and posted fliers attacking "liberal traitors" and illegal immigrants.

Stapelfeld said he believes the conservative club will ultimately provide a worthwhile alternative to the majority political outlook. On that point, the conservative students agreed, saying their club is a necessary counterweight. "We already feel we are getting the liberal side in class," said junior club member Sarah Berube



"We must open the doors of college to all Americans," declared the president in his State of the Union message. "To do that, I propose . . . The largest increase in Pell grant scholarships in 20 years." Do you remember hearing George W. Bush say that last week? Actually, you don't. Those words are from President Clinton's State of the Union address in 1997. But if you tuned in to Bush's speech on Feb. 2, you heard him say something quite similar: "We will make it easier for Americans to afford a college education by increasing the size of Pell grants." The new budget he unveiled this week would gradually raise the maximum annual grant to $4,550, an increase of $500.

Presidents come and go, but laments about the high price of higher education are eternal -- and so are calls for ever more federal aid to mitigate it. For 60 years, the federal government has been shoveling money into programs meant to make college more affordable -- yet a college degree today is more unaffordable than ever. Rarely has Washington so comprehensively worsened a problem it was determined to solve.

Beginning with the GI Bill in 1944, federal tuition aid has metastasized into a dizzying array of subsidies, most of which are now encompassed in the Higher Education Act. In addition to Pell grants, there are Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity grants and Federal Work-Study jobs, as well as Perkins Loans, Family Education Loans, Direct Student Loans, and Stafford (or Guaranteed) Student Loans. In 2005, these will account for more than $73 billion in overall federal financial aid to college students. Then there are the billions of dollars' worth of tuition credits and deductions written into the tax code -- the Hope Tax Credit, the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit, the higher education expense deduction, the student loan interest deduction, and the tax-exempt Qualified Tuition Plans, known as "529s."

And the result of this energetic government campaign to hold down the cost of a college education? The cost of a college education is skyrocketing -- and has been for years. Tuition and fees were up 10.5 percent at state colleges and universities last year. The year before that, they were up 14 percent. Every year for nearly a quarter-century -- since before most of today's college students were born -- higher education costs have raced ahead of inflation. And far from slowing this runaway train, government aid serves only to stoke the engine.

How could it do otherwise? Every dollar that Washington generates in student aid is another dollar that colleges and universities have an incentive to harvest, either by raising their sticker price or reducing the financial aid they offer from their own funds. Higher Education Act funds "are seen by colleges and universities as money that is there for the taking," observes Peter Wood, an anthropology professor at Boston University. "Tuition is set high enough to capture those funds and whatever else we think can be extracted from parents. Perhaps there are college administrators who don't see federal student aid in quite this way, but I haven't met them." In 10 years of attending committee meetings on the university's annual tuition adjustment, says Wood, "the only real question was, 'How much can we get away with?'"

It's an old story. City University of New York began charging admission in 1976, ending a century-old tradition of free tuition. As New York's deputy commissioner of education later explained, that decision was eased considerably by the knowledge that students would qualify for government aid. The anecdotal evidence is backed up by scholarship. In a new monograph for the Cato Institute, political scientist Gary Wolfram surveys the literature on the effect of financial aid. "The empirical evidence is consistent," he finds, in showing that "federal loans, Pell grants, and other assistance programs result in higher tuition for students at our nation's colleges and universities."

The cat has been out of the bag for a long time. In a 1987 New York Times column titled "Our greedy colleges," Ronald Reagan's education secretary, William Bennett, rebuked colleges and universities for repeatedly jacking up tuition far beyond any reasonable adjustment for inflation. "Increases in financial aid in recent years have enabled colleges and universities blithely to raise their tuitions," Bennett charged, "confident that federal loan subsidies would help cushion the increase."

Isn't it time to stop pouring fuel on this fire? Instead of renewing the Higher Education Act, Congress should phase it out, thereby forcing colleges and universities to compete on price. That would leave financial aid to the private sector, which can target it far more effectively -- and where it should have been left all along.



Under a socialist Australian State government

The 133-year-old notion of free and secular public education could be ditched in a radical plan to rewrite Victoria's education laws. Also on the table are raising the school leaving age of 15, giving parents a greater choice of public schools and tough new standards for private schools - including banning corporal punishment. A new regulatory body to govern all schools is also proposed, charged with maintaining education quality. The State Government has thrown open for public debate the guiding principles of education in Victoria as it prepares to rewrite the Education Act of 1872.

Releasing a discussion paper, Education Minister Lynne Kosky said the time had come for a "wholesale remaking of the act". "I believe we now need an Education Act that underpins our aspirations and hopes for education in 2005 and beyond," she said.

The review was welcomed by teacher, principal, parent and private school groups as an opportunity to shape and debate education in Victoria - although they differed on key issues such as school accountability, voluntary levies and punishment. The State Opposition accused the Government of being able to find money for the review while children with disabilities were unable to get help and schools were falling apart.

The 1872 legislation commits to free and secular education. The Government has suggested the principles could be modified to reflect school realities. Controversy has raged about whether state education is actually free, with schools charging parents "voluntary" levies that are often viewed as compulsory. Ms Kosky said that even the original act included charges beyond core subject areas. "I just think we need to have a proper discussion about that," she said. "Is that notion of free - when clearly there are voluntary levies provided - is that notion correct any more? Or is there better wording acknowledging that that's what does take place?" Ms Kosky said she doubted that the voluntary nature of levies would change, "but we might as well be more honest, I think, than even the original act was".

The legislative ban on religious education in government schools is also up for review. This is because schools now offer optional religious education. "If you followed the act, probably every school around the state's doing the wrong thing" she said. The state was also funding private schools that were clearly non-secular. Another key area is the minimum school leaving age, now 15. The debate will be over raising the leaving age as a way of keeping students at school longer, or what appears to be a preferred option of committing the state to proving an entitlement to 13 years of schooling.

The review is also looking at enshrining the right to choose among government schools, moving away from the idea that students automatically go to their neighbourhood school. One of the most contentious proposals is tough new standards for private schools, which receive state money. The Age reported last year Ms Kosky was planning new regulations demanding private schools meet minimum standards in literacy, numeracy and other curriculum areas. The discussion paper proposes the same minimum standards for government and private schools. It proposes an expert body to ensure quality in all schools.



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, February 15, 2005


A California school district may be taken to court after a group of high school teachers began blatantly promoting homosexuality in their classrooms. Recently a group of lesbian teachers in the Scotts Valley Unified School District (Santa Cruz County) started hanging pro-homosexual posters in their classrooms, discussing homosexuality in their classrooms, and providing referrals to homosexual and bisexual organizations to students questioning their sexuality. Numerous parents have complained to school officials, who said they would investigate matters. However, no administrative correction has been initiated in response to the complaints.

Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, says the teachers are engaged in a campaign of homosexual indoctrination, and are using anti-harassment laws as a soapbox for state-sponsored endorsement of their lifestyle. And they seem to be getting the support to do so, not only from the district, but from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and area homosexual organizations as well. "We know it's a very liberal community," Dacus notes, "a very hostile, intolerant community for the rights of parents, and intolerant towards those people of faith who do not openly accept and embrace homosexuality and other forms of deviant lifestyles." Although he says PJI is not really expecting the Santa Cruz County school officials to implement changes, he says his legal group is "hoping they'll take it under serious consideration."

The PJI attorney feels the school district is being hypocritical since, even as the teachers are engaging in their pro-homosexual conduct under the guise of tolerance, posters celebrating traditional families are not allowed. However, he points out that complaints from outraged parents have had virtually no effect on the school administrators. The officials have even ignored requests from district parents that the pro-homosexual posters be taken out of the classrooms and pinned instead on public bulletin boards where a student would have the option of reading or ignoring them, or that they be placed alongside posters showing competing viewpoints.

A number of the dissenting parents have argued that the students are a captive audience being forced to confront high-pressure influence from militantly pro-homosexual teachers who stand in a position of authority over them, as well as from aggressive homosexual students. According to PJI's sources, a student who is not interested in joining a "diversity club" at school is sometimes subjected to obscene gestures and other forms of harassment from homosexual peers.....

PJI sent an attorney to address the trustees of the Scotts Valley School Board at a meeting held last Monday, which focused exclusively on the poster controversy. At the heart of the discussion was a complaint filed more than two years ago by a district parent regarding the display of the pro-homosexual posters in district classrooms. The Santa Cruz Sentinel reports that more than 400 people attended the February 7 school board meeting, which went on until almost 11 p.m.

The Scotts Valley School Board took no action, but board president Sue Roth and Superintendent Stephen Fiss planned to meet again to discuss the issue further. Roth was quoted in the Sentinel as saying she is not sure anything needs to be done, but she would hope the parent who filed the initial complaint will not pursue a lawsuit.

More here


In many areas of the country, schools are funded by property taxes that often are as much each year as the sale price of the house 25 or 30 years ago. Have the schools improved over that time? No, they have not. More children are enrolled and "completing" their public school years, but to what end?

Colleges used to be affordable, for just about anyone. Now, tuition costs are exorbitant and many local community colleges will take anyone who walks in the front door. Instead of taking the courses taught as basics years ago, many of these students are taking in their first year of college what I took in 9th grade 50 years ago! This isn't progress. This is criminal abuse of children!

As the internet becomes more and more advanced, with more and more information available online, schools are turning to the computer and the internet - but forgetting that just because you can turn on the machine does not mean you can use it to its best advantage! Without a basic background in English grammar, the ability to spell correctly, and the knowledge of how to use the English language, hours using a computer are not going to be very educational!

Regardless of what a lot of politicians would like you to think, the Constitution does not specify any "right to education." It wasn't mentioned in the Bill of Rights, because education was part of bringing up a child, not a function of government! Children were either taught at home, by parents or tutors, or sent to small private schools paid for by the parents.

We can probably thank Karl Marx for our public school system - which was historically established to train workers for the Industrial Revolution, not to educate inventors, scientists or great thinkers! The airplane was not invented by an aeronautical engineer; it was invented by 2 bicycle mechanics. The telephone came out of an experiment to make a hearing aid. It took hundreds of failed attempts for a 3rd grade drop out to invent the light bulb, among hundreds of other useful things that he invented and perfected. Did taxes pay for the education of these and others like them? No! .....

Children in schools who ask questions and question authority are considered trouble makers. Often, they are the brilliant ones who, given the opportunity, will someday invent, create, or improve something important. Children who ask "why" need to learn how to find the answers, not be told "because I said so" or "it's what the books says." They do not need to be punished for being able to think!

And so we come to the future! More and more parents are pulling their children out of public schools to teach them at home. This trend is most likely going to accelerate, as the cost of transportation and personnel in school districts continues to rise. Communities are soon going to find that education, done the "conventional way," is no longer worth the cost involved.....

Computers used to be expensive. Now, one can buy a good used computer system, internet ready and able to do anything a student would need, for under $300. Children need very little instruction on using computers if they can read, spell and type! Typing programs are usually games and are fun for them to use. With Google planning to scan in searchable books by the thousands, anyone with a computer would have access to an awesome library system. As it is now, many libraries have information online.

In the next few decades, if we wish to continue to prosper in this nation, we need to allow our children to learn and not try to "educate" them! This is the 21st century. Classical education is much more valuable now than is vocational education, for things change so rapidly that one needs to be educated in order to survive, not merely "trained"! Lifetime learning is vitally important to progress and to maintaining a viable civilization.

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Some observations from Australia of 30 years ago that still seem relevant. Excerpt:

Of course, the rich brats flirt with Marx (as they have since the 'twenties). Especially his early work ["Grundrisse"], which Marx himself rejected, because it doesn't involve nasty difficult things like economics. They talk a lot about 'The Workers' and 'The People' and 'The Masses'. Mostly they've never worked in their lives, except for a summer vacation job at DJ's [Department Store], and they despise any beer-swilling, football-following unintellectual Alfs they actually meet. ('Alf is their word, popularised by those naughty but oh so witty boys from Oz). You can see their total inability to communicate with ordinary Australians when they try to talk with ordinary Australians who happen to be black at Abschol demonstrations. They despise the worker's ambition for a better home for his family from its sand-blasted glass front door to its wall-to-wall carpets, his pride and joy in his car, his harmless entertainment watching teev or sport. They have no conception of his heroism in the drudgery of his daily life, his courage in the face of difficulties they never face, his devotion to his family, his ill-expressed but often profound wisdom about men and affairs, his quick nose for the slightest hint of a phoney (their blindness to this last hardly surprises). They sneer at his son battling his way through engineering and playing Rugby [football] on Saturdays. Perhaps the workers are not very admirable in many ways, but it is odd that those who profess to champion them should emphasise their deficiencies so much. (This characteristic of student radicals to rubbish the working classes refutes the otherwise plausible explanation of a University as an institution to care for those unable to reconcile conflicting beliefs -'cognitive dissonance' as it is called. Students are as good at it as anyone.)

The nearest we've seen to the Student-Worker Alliance was a lady graduate student who shacked up with a wharfie [longshoreman]. Naturally, for it wouldn't do to flout the really fundamental social norms, he was an exceptional wharfie, with an honours degree in Arts. (The reaction of students to the relationship, before they found out that last significant fact, was very revealing.) Naturally too, he was not a success in his unusual vocation, and was chucked off the wharves.

Lots of the rich kiddies play prols, of course, and move out to the slums in a brave gesture of independence. They disturb the sleeping locals with expensive stereograms and send their washing home to Mummy. But when the shit hits the fan it's marriage and a steady job and a home in a good suburb. The number of self-styled radicals, student editors and so on who have already started buying a Nice Home is extraordinary; although some are sufficiently snobbish (or awake to a good investment) to put their money down in some newly-fashionable area like Balmain. Of course it's rude to point out such inconsistencies, or compare their sound investment with the bourgeois life-style they reject or the proletarian aspirations they despise. But it helps to clear up their views on private property; where your treasure is, there shall your heart be also.

In fact, of course, they are bourgeois to the core. Their drug market works on straight free enterprise principles, and they're all in it for the money. They outdo each other with clothes, records, the whole, fashionable status symbol scene in a way embarrassing to a pleb who merely likes his new car. Beads do not a rebel make, nor tie-dyed clothes a rad. Look at the litter they leave and see what they think of pollution. Watch how they treat their birds and see what they think of Women's Lib. Watch how they treat each other and see what sort of society they believe in.

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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, February 14, 2005


Tens of thousands of lycee pupils joined demonstrations across France yesterday to demand the right to sit end-of-school examinations. The lyceens were protesting against a French government plan to modernise the two- century-old Baccalauriat by scrapping about half the written papers and replacing them with continuous assessment. They say that the reform, introduced by Francois Fillon, the Education Minister, would undermine the egalitarian nature of the national certificate that determines access to universities in France.

In the biggest in a series of simultaneous protests in the main cities, thousands of demonstrators blocked the centre of Paris. One group marched past the Palais de Justice in the French capital calling for M Fillon's resignation and holding up a banner which said Sauvons Notre Education (Save Our Education). Middle-aged passers-by, many of whom took part in the May 1968 student riots, clapped their hands in encouragement, although some pointed to the irony of the situation. Here were teenagers defending tradition against a centre-right Government that they accuse of ill-prepared innovation.

Ministers are concerned. The row has become the focal point for widespread discontent over education policy, prompting fears that it could "pollute" the referendum on the European Union constitution this year. With teachers already grumbling over what they say are cuts in secondary schools, supporters of President Chirac are concerned that the movement could spiral out of control and lead to a bout of social unrest. Luc Ferry, a former Education Minister, said: "Lyc,ens are like toothpaste. Once they are out of the tube, you can't put them back in." Last night, the Minister said that he would delay implementation of the reform for two months while he consulted education specialists and teachers' unions.

Many MPs on the government benches are angry with M Fillon for igniting demonstrations over what they say is a minor, technical reform. However, the Minister says reform is necessary to save the examination from bureaucratic collapse. Originally intended for the elite, it is now taken by 63 per cent of school leavers. Several measures in the Education Bill that he will present next week have been criticised, notably a change to the national curriculum that detractors say will squeeze economics and social sciences out of lyc,es.



"If the paranoid left of British letters are to be believed, schools in Britain could soon become very frightful places indeed. The new education secretary, Ruth Kelly, you see, has promised to bring more discipline to the classroom, and she is a member of a mysterious religious cult that requires no small measure of it. She is said to regularly attend rituals involving candles, funny clothes and archaic languages. She willingly hands over part of her hard-earned salary to a central authority and presumably has agreed to abide by ancient edicts handed down by a high power. She may even, like some members of the cult, forgo fun things or endure minor discomfort to help herself empathize with her redeemer.

The cult is called Roman Catholicism. Ms. Kelly, a 36-year-old mother of four named to Tony Blair's cabinet in December, has committed the unpardonable sin of admitting that she has a belief system to which she prefers to adhere. After weeks of scary headlines about this belief system, Ms. Kelly admitted in an interview with the BBC's David Frost earlier this month that she receives "spiritual guidance" from a Catholic lay organization known as Opus Dei.

Everyone, of course, knows all about Opus Dei from "The DaVinci Code." They know that its adherents, backed by legions of albino monks wearing spiky garters, fiendishly keep Christianity's deepest secrets, murdering nuns and anyone else who threatens to expose them.

The hysteria in the British commentariat about Ms. Kelly's ascendance into the Blair cabinet was about as restrained as Dan Brown's bestseller was accurate about Opus Dei, an organization of conservative Catholics whose 85,000 members take their faith more seriously than the average once-a-weeker. The Scotsman newspaper found someone from a support group for cult victims to wonder aloud whether Opus Dei adherents would soon be recruiting in Britain's schools. The Times tracked down scientists who professed to be horrified by the prospect of Ms. Kelly's religious beliefs interfering with stem-cell and other "vital" research. The Independent even created a new word for the movement: Catholofascists....

Anyone with firm convictions scares the relativists who dominate public discussion in Britain these days. Anyone who professes to know the difference between right and wrong, between good and evil, seems to scare them. Unless, that is, those firm convictions are founded in a faith other than Christianity. If Ms. Kelly were a Sufi Muslim, say, her belief system would surely be of little concern to the commentariat. Or, more accurately, it would be a cause for celebration. There surely would be no snide asides about buttock-thwacking pilgrims en route to Mecca or dervishes whirling down the halls of 10 Downing St...."

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Across America, more and more colleges are forcing Christian student groups to admit non-Christians or face being dissolved or punished. It is part of a wave of political correctness that accuses believers of discrimination if they want to limit their fellowship to like-minded believers. But some students are fighting back now. CBN News visited one such group at Arizona State University. There is really one main reason why Christian law students like Francisco Sirvent and Bethany Lewis want their own organization: Lewis said, "If you have a skiing club, the purpose there is to bring together people who love skiing and are devoted to skiing. Our organization -- the purpose there is to bring together Christians to walk out our Christianity together at the law school."

But Arizona State University has a problem with that, because the Christian Legal Society chapter demands two things of its members. Sirvent said, "We would just like to ask that our members and our leaders have Christian beliefs and believe in what the Bible says." Lewis remarked, "You have to be a Christian to be a part of our student organization. And then the other part is, implicit in our statement of faith is the idea that sex is only to be practiced within the bounds of marriage, so that would exclude homosexual conduct."

But ASU's Student Code of Conduct prohibits "engaging in discriminatory activities ... on the basis of (among other things) ... religion, (or) sexual orientation."

The Christian Legal Society at the school is represented by lawyers like Greg Baylor at Christian Legal Society's northern Virginia headquarters. The ASU Christian law students and the lawyers tried to get an exemption from ASU, but they were unsuccessful. Baylor said, "They said flat-out 'No, we're not going to respect your religious liberty.'" So the students have sued ASU and the Arizona Board of Regents, known as ABOR.

Baylor says ASU tells student organizations that 'you have to promise not to take religion or sexual conduct into account when you're choosing your voting members and your leaders'. And Baylor adds, "Our leader looked at that and said, 'Well, we can't do that. We're the Christian Legal Society. We're about allegiance to Jesus Christ, and therefore we want our voting members and our leaders to sign a statement of faith demonstrating their commitment to Christ and to live a life that's consistent with God's moral laws.'"

But there are real consequences if the law students refuse to comply. Sirvent said, "The first step is, ASU de-recognizes us as a student organization, and that takes away a lot of the benefits and privileges that student organizations have on-campus, which is meeting on-campus -- receiving some funding." And if the university wanted to get really personal, it could impose on the Christian students "...suspension, expulsion...which probably never would get to that level...but those are options for them," said Sirvent.

ASU would not give CBN News an interview, but did send us a news release accusing the Christian Legal Society of asking ASU "to permit the student chapter of the Christian Legal Society to discriminate against non-Christians and homosexuals." The release suggests that it is not going to happen because 'ASU is committed to diversity and respect for all of its students.' And it goes on to say that 'student organizations on ASU campuses are required to comply with applicable law and with the ABOR Student Code of Conduct.'

But Lewis insists, "In good conscience, we can't sign that non-discrimination policy." She added, "We've had problems in the past with members of different religions wanting to become members of our organization and lead Bible studies, when they don't agree with the essentials of Christianity." And both the students and Baylor say they are fighting because this is about far more than one club. He said, "The application of religion and sexual orientation non-discrimination rules is the most significant threat to religious freedom in America right now."

Baylor says it is almost like a fad spreading nationwide: universities ignoring federal law and cracking down on religious student groups. That is why the Christian Legal Society finds itself fighting cases like the one with ASU on at least four other campuses. Baylor said, "All of the laws that ban religious discrimination in employment have an exception for religious organizations. Because the law recognizes that it's simply not wrong for religious organizations to take religion and sexual conduct into account when choosing their people. I don't know why universities and other folks can't understand that. But the law in other contexts recognizes and respects religious freedom." So while the university feels it is fighting discrimination, the Christian Legal Society chapter wonders, 'Isn't it just a matter of common sense that Christians are the only people allowed in the Christian Legal Society?'



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, February 13, 2005


I am on a discussion list that has been comparing public schooling and home schooling. Below are a few posts from it:

From America (1):

You are quite correct to point out that some parents do a poor job of home schooling. However, all the recent research indicates that on the whole the students best prepared for college are first the home-schoolers, next the parochial school students, and last (and least!) public school students.

Also, our friends in the United Kingdom should realize that very often in our public schools very young children are iintroduced to age inappropriate materials designed to sensitize students to the problems of gays and lesbians. Heather Has Two Mommies and Daddie's Roommate are designed to indoctrinate children between the ages of six and nine with the progrmmatic demands of gay activists. Please understand that I believe it is essential to treat all people with dignity and respect and this includes those who have same sex attractions. However, I believe that parents have the right to teach their children that it is morally wrong to act on these inclinations if that is what their religious beliefs are. Those I know who teach their children at home do not introduce issues concerned with homosexuality until the early adolescent years and then they balance instruction on the need for respect for all with their own traditional attitudes about sexual morality. Children in the public schools are often led to believe that their own parents are behind the times because they oppose same sex marriage on moral grounds. Yes, we do have in this country hate mongers who exploit people's fears and ignorance. But there is a serious threat coming from the ultra-liberal crowed who would like to classify even the most civil language used to teach traditional sexual morality as "hate speech". I believe that this will in the near future pose a very serious free speech problem as it already has in certainly European countries (the Lutheran minister in Sweden jailed for reading biblical passages on homosexuality).

Home-schooling in America was started by evangelicals (many in the South) who objected to the secularist agenda of the public schools. Not all of these were opposed to teaching evolution, but they wanted a faith perspective integrated into their children's education and this was not possible in the public schools. The next wave of home schoolers (and these were found in almost all fifty states) were Catholics who objected to the hostility toward the teaching of John Paul II and the authentic interpretation of Vatican II that had become very common in the parochial schools. After the nuns abandoned the educational forms of service to become advocates for the poor in the inner-cities, the religious education establishment went with watered-down touchy-feely catechesis. Lots of radical feminism (God as mother, agitation for ordination of women, married priests, gay friendly sex education, etc., etc.) and an odd spin of the conservative social doctrine of the Church in the direction of liberation theology (a sort of baptizing of Marxian socialism!). Catholics who were sympathetic to the reforms of Vatican II and who oppossed the radical feminist spin to every area of doctrine started educating their children at home.

Finally, the third wave of home-schoolers were parents who had no particular ideological objections to the secularist framework for public schools. However, they strongly objected to the "dumbing down" feature of so much of recent public school instruction. When I graduated from grade school, I had already studied (in a parochial school) world and American history and geography, mathematics through pre-algebra, fundamentals of English grammer including the art of diagramming sentences, an expose to famous American writers like Nathaniel Hawthorne, the Baltimore Catechism, health and basic science, spelling all eight grades, and civics (study of the U.S. Constitution and the structure of our states government and the various types of local government. When I taught in a high school shortly before retirement, there were very few students who had graduated from public schools who had basic reading skills, most were clueless about what adjectives, adverbs, etc. were, and none knew what a continent was or how many there were! I used to ask them what century the first world war was fought in and they often replied the thirteenth! Many did not know that the Crusades happened after the birth of Christ! They were unable to name a single figure from the Protestant reformation. Now you see why some parents threw up their hands in desparation and said to themselves "We can do better than this!"

Finally a true story on the state of Education at any rate in parts of California. I knew a young girl from California. Not a stupid girl, and as it happens a re-enactor (her period was Renaissance). At one time I showed her a map of America and she asked:

"What's all that stuff at the top?"

I said "That is Canada."

"Oh," she cried. "I thought Canada was a little place."

I promise I am not joking - and neither was she.

From America (2):

A relative of mine put his 7 year-old daughter in the Cleveland public schools temporarily until he could find a Catholic or private school. Everybody knows the schools in most every urban area are rotten in every way. I guess he figured how bad can it be for only a few weeks. Well, within a couple weeks his daughter was nearly gang-raped by some of her fellow "students." Three or four of the little monsters had her pinned to the floor with her dress up over her head with one or two others standing-by ready to do the deed. Luckily, someone intervened in the nick of time. Keep in mind, we're talking about the second grade. Anyway, when he took the matter to the school officials it was a farce. He said the first person he was directed to was some hippy-type white women whom he suspected was under the influence of some kind of narcotic. Not getting any satisfaction from her, he took the matter to the principal, whom was a black women. Immediately, she tried to dismiss the whole thing as just kids playing and when he insisted that it was a sexual assault, she called him a racist at which point he realized the situation was hopeless.

To make a long story short, he ended up putting the kids in a Catholic school for a couple years and eventually had to leave the area when bullets started whizzing through his yard. Now he lives 80 miles away in a rural area and commutes two hours each way to his job.

Maybe some people unfamilar with the situation will assume I'm exaggerating, but the truth is there are many details I left out.

From America (3):

I attended public schools in the southern USA in the years just after forced racial integration. EEK, talk about scary and violent! I was so terrified at times that I would come home practically begging to be schooled elsewhere. My liberal parents who were either ignorant as to how bad things had gotten or just didn't care told me that this experience was good for me and I had to learn to get along with all classes of people because that's what the real world was like. What a bunch of garbage.. in the real world you can call the police if someone hurts or threatens you, when you're a young child in public school you are absolutely helpless.

From America (4):

The area in which I live has one of the highest concentrations of homeschooling families in the country. In the county which I reside, and the county next to it, there is a group called LEAH (Loving Education At Home), which shares books, knowledge, and the parents help each other out, especially when getting to the high school levels of curriculum, since some parents are especially good at teaching chemistry, they might teach a class of high schoolers on that, or math, etc...

The largest complaint in the area about homeschooling is the public school teachers who whine about lack of socilization among home school pupils....That is not always the case. In the LEAH groups, they have sports teams, field trips, and plays they perform. I think all in all, it's pretty well rounded. I know a young lady who was homeschooled throughout K-12, and she is one of the most mature teenagers I could ever meet. She is academically brilliant as well. Her lessons didn't take her 8 hours a day to do...Often, by the senior year (she graduated at 17), she needed to only spend about 1.5 hours a day on her studies to get them done. Tells us something about the time and effort wasted on public schools, doesn't it? If I am especially gifted at history, and I do the reading on my own, and the study, and do well on the tests, I still need to sit through 45 minutes of history class a day. If I am poor at math, I only get 45 minutes, which I have to share with an entire class room of kids, a day, then, after my 8 hours in a class room, seek out extra help elsewhere. If I'm poor at math in homeschool, there is the chance to spend more time on that subject, which I think can inspire more confidence in the student when they do well.

From America (5):

My niece had home-schooled her four children from pre-school to 7th grade. They are currently in a private, Christian high school whose emphasis is on a classical education (as well as theology, the Bible, etc.). Her kids are so far advanced compared with the mainstreamed kids of the same grade/age. They also perform full-length Shakespearean plays and their knowledge--no, mastery-- of math, history, science, literature, languages, and all the classics is exemplary.

I don't denounce mainstream education; most of it is very good. But having seen my niece's kids, their home-schooled friends, and so many more, I'm convinced it goes beyond the "very good" into the realm of "excellence."

These young people are no shrinking violets who have been sheltered from "real life" at mainstream schools. Quite the contrary; they are debaters, athletes, and budding politicians, actors, artists and educators-in-the-making. Needless to say, I'm rather proud of my niece and her children for the level and quality of education they have absorbed. And they are not "geeks!" These young people shine. They are happy, grounded, humorous, kind, sensible, and feel a real duty to serve mankind.

I only wish more kids could be home-schooled, even during just the early years, to get a foundation and firmer foothold on what it's like to be successful in other diverse arenas besides the traditional academic or athletic fields of endeavor in our schools.

From America (6):

There is a teacher in Santa Barbara, California, that I am seeking to have dismissed. She is currently on "administrative leave" due to the complaints of the parents of nineteen children she abused to tears to "teach them a lesson about discrimination." The way she treated these children would be prosecuted as a "hate crime" if her victims had been black. She marked them with tags that designated them as "inferior," which got these children signaled out for tormenting.

The children in Santa Barbara at Monroe Elementary are only in the third grade, but this sort of nonsense goes on at the university level as well, starting with "freshmen orientations" that are basically just indoctrination with "guilty White" speeches and "exercises" that actually constitutes hate speech and violates federal anti-hazing laws.

If young people manage to survive all this while in school, they can still be subjected to it at the corporate level in mandatory "sensitivity training" or "diversity training" seminars employees must attend to keep their jobs. I am a woman who would be terrified of men taught gender sensitivity with the tactics used to guilt-trip Caucasians. A perfect gentleman before the seminar could actually be a danger to women after he left, which is precisely why I think these "anti-racist" propogandist are nothing but skinhead factories.

Nothing that demeans another human being is acceptable to me. I am just sick of these double standards that require us to believe that whether or not an act is even considered racist depends on the race of the racist.

From England:

In Britain most children who have the basic State "education" - including those who go to what are laughingly termed "Universities" - cannot spell or write a sentence of gramatical English. They are, however subjected to hours of propaganda of a nature that any one before the 1960s would have termed extremist and also to a "socialisation" process which consists essentially of de-civilising them and encouraging them (often on pain of physical intimidation) to adopt the language and manners of the lowest classes.

If home schooling taught them nothing at all it would at least keep them out of these State hell-holes.

A friend of mine who was a teacher sent her chilren (at the cost of re-mortgaging her house) to a private school which she knew to be very bad (that was all she could afford) just t keep them out of the sort of hell-hole schools she herself taught in. She was frequently insulted, assaulted and robbed by pupils. This was an ordinary South-London black-majority comprehensive. There are hundreds of them. If your school is not like that, lucky you! And luckier your pupils who have no choice about being there!

My dearest friend taught English for years at a University and attests to the abysmal standards of pupils direct from the State school system. Many Universities now spend part of the first year doing remedial English of the sort that would have been done in primary schools in the 1950s.

Some of the books that chldren are made to study at A-level contain language, incidents and attitudes that no decent parent would permit in the house.


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