Saturday, May 21, 2005


James Johnson isn't sure if his father ever finished high school but thinks "he probably didn't." Johnson himself dropped out of John Marshall High School (now a middle school) after ninth grade. Why? "Girls. Baby. Fast money. Hard-headed. I'm only telling the truth." As for Johnson's 18-year-old son? He just dropped out, too, after finally reaching his senior year. Johnson now is obtaining his GED at age 41. From what he can tell, when it comes to finishing high school, "All the men don't."

Yes, the men don't. More black males are dropping out than graduating from high school. Just 326, or 25 percent, of about 1,300 black males who entered IPS high schools in 1998 graduated four years later. Perhaps the 1,000 or so young black men who left moved to other school districts. More likely, they dropped out. Indianapolis Public Schools is the fifth-worst in the nation in graduating black males, trailing only Cincinnati, New York City, Cleveland and Chatham County, Ga., according to a 2004 study by the Schott Foundation for Public Education. Only 38 percent of black males graduated from Indiana's high schools in 2002. Just 42 percent of America's black males in the class of 2002 earned diplomas. Those numbers help explain why only 603,000 black males were attending college while nearly 800,000 were serving prison time in 2000. As Schott Foundation President Rosa Smith says, this is "educational genocide."

In Indiana and the rest of the nation, white males graduate at significantly higher rates than blacks. That's not true in IPS. Only 183 white males -- or 23 percent of the freshmen entering IPS high schools in 1998 -- graduated in 2002. About 600 young white men probably dropped out. They're like Manual High School freshman David Kline, who says, "None of my family has graduated." David, like his father and brother, has had a run-in with the law and landed in juvenile hall. He expects to follow their example by dropping out. His plans? "I'm in a band. I'm a lead vocalist. We've already played at (venues). I mean, our band's already getting big."

Here's the reality: White male dropouts are five times more likely to serve prison time than the national average, according to Bruce Western of Princeton University. About 37 percent of black male dropouts are likely to end up incarcerated.

The academic gap for males, both blacks and whites, appears to be widening. Men made up 43 percent of the college student population in 2000 versus 58 percent 36 years ago, according to Pell Institute senior scholar Tom Mortenson. For growing numbers of college-age women, it means more difficulties in finding equally educated -- and financially stable -- men.....

In many Indiana families, education still isn't viewed as the gateway to a better life. Which helps explain why the state ranks 46th in the nation in the educational attainment rate of its population. Schools haven't done their part in helping males adapt to the reality of a knowledge-based economy. Boys find few male role models in schools; nationally, women make up 75 percent of the teaching ranks.... Males accounted for 425, or 59 percent, of the freshmen entering Northwest High in 2001. Four years later, they made up only 48 percent of the 2005 senior class....

More here


Klocek’s suspension violated DePaul’s own policies guaranteeing academic freedom as well as its contractual promises of basic due process. Klocek was suspended without a hearing, which DePaul policies say can only be done in an “emergency.” Though DePaul now claims that the argument created the “emergency” conditions necessary for an immediate suspension, the university waited a full nine days before acting against Klocek—hardly the response of a school in the grip of an “emergency” situation.

“If DePaul professors aren’t worried about this situation, they should be,” remarked Greg Lukianoff, FIRE’s director of legal and public advocacy. “Due process is most important in cases like Klocek’s in which facts need to be sorted through and in which punishment can be severe and career-ending. By refusing Professor Klocek a hearing at such a crucial juncture, DePaul threw its stated commitments to basic procedural rights out the window and missed an opportunity to discover what actually took place.”

On March 24, 2005, FIRE wrote DePaul’s president, Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, on Professor Klocek’s behalf. FIRE asked the university to honor its own commitments and reminded DePaul that “[i]f every person had the power to punish those who expressed ideas they found offensive, we would all soon be reduced to silence.” President Holtschneider responded, saying this was not a matter of academic freedom and that “the university acted to address threatening and unprofessional behavior.” He also noted that Klocek had refused to pursue the university’s grievance process. This response contradicts Dean Dumbleton’s original justification for the school’s punishment. Furthermore, the grievance process available to Professor Klocek does not have the authority to restore his position.

FIRE’s French remarked, “While DePaul may now argue that the issue is one of professionalism, its public statements at the time of Klocek’s punishment make it clear that Klocek’s real crime was offending students during an out-of-class discussion of a controversial and emotional topic. Academic freedom cannot survive when professors who engage in debate on controversial topics are subject to administrative punishment without even the most cursory due process.”

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.

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

Comments? Email me here. For times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site (viewable even in China!) here


Friday, May 20, 2005


On June 7, the Florida Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case that could decide whether Florida continues to lead the nation in true education reform or joins the ranks of states where "reform" means business as usual. The question the justices will be asked to decide is whether the state constitution prohibits the state from giving scholarships to parents whose children are stuck in failing public schools so they can transfer those kids to private schools of their choice.

Opponents claim the program results in impermissible "aid" to religion because it allows scholarship recipients to send their children to religious as well as nonreligious private schools.

A major problem with that argument, however - and one school choice opponents have steadfastly refused to squarely address - is what implications that argument has for Florida's three dozen other social and educational aid programs that, just like Opportunity Scholarships, allow participants to freely choose among religious and nonreligious providers. On the education side alone, more than 200,000 Floridians receive publicly funded scholarships through a variety of state aid programs, all of which permit scholarship recipients to attend religious schools if they choose. This includes more than 100,000 college students using Bright Futures and other higher education scholarships, nearly 15,000 K-12 students attending private schools through the McKay Program for Students with Disabilities, and 12,000 K-12 students in the Corporate Tax Credit program.

Moreover, starting this fall, anywhere from 90,000 to 150,000 pre-K students are expected to enroll in the new universal pre-kindergarten program, and, like Opportunity Scholarship recipients, they will enjoy a full range of religious and nonreligious options.

Besides educational aid, many state and local agencies contract with organizations such as the Salvation Army to provide a wide range of services including prison counseling services, drug rehabilitation, and aid to the homeless. Likewise, religious hospitals receive public money through the Medicaid program. Does that count as "aid" to the churches that run those hospitals? Fortunately, the answer to that question is "no."

Florida has a long history of neutrality when it comes to allowing religious organizations to participate in all manner of social and educational aid programs. Why doesn't it count as aid to religion when a Bright Futures scholarship recipient decides to attend a school like Hobe Sound Bible College or Florida Christian College? It's because the "aid" is to the student, not the particular school he or she happens to attend. Same thing with Medicaid; even though state money ends up going to a religious institution, the aid is to the patient who chooses that hospital, not the hospital itself or the church that runs the hospital.

The same is true of Opportunity Scholarships. When the state gives parents an educational lifeline - when it gives them, for the first time in their lives, a choice of where to send their children to school - that is aid to those parents and their children. It is not aid to whatever schools they happen to choose.

School choice is the civil rights issue of the 21st century. Nothing more starkly divides the haves and the have-nots in this country than the question of who has the ability to ensure educational excellence for their children by choosing where they go to school, and who must simply take whatever their local public schools have to offer, no matter how clearly inadequate. Florida is on the right side of that debate and the right side of history. While many states promise all students a high-quality public education, only Florida delivers by saying to parents, "If we can't get the job done, we'll give you a scholarship so you can find someone who will." Now that is accountability.

The Opportunity Scholarship program is a true education reform that has already enriched the lives and future prospects of hundreds of children. And, as verified by a new Harvard study, it is also a means of injecting into education a little healthy competition - something from which public schools have been all but immune until now.



Particularly in London

More parents are turning their back on the state system and choosing to educate their children privately, as record numbers of independent students go on to university. While the overall number of pupils attending independent schools has dropped for the first time in a decade, figures published yesterday show that girls now outnumber boys at independent day schools and that the number of privately educated British children is up. The implication that parents do not trust the state system coincides with several leading universities revealing that they would take more state pupils provided they could charge the highest rate of tuition fees.

Although dozens of schools charge fees of more than 20,000 pounds a year, 620,000 children - or 7 per cent of all school pupils - are now privately educated, according to the latest census by the Independent Schools Council. Although the total numbers attending ISC schools are down by 3,250 pupils from 504,830 in 2004, the combined drop in overseas pupils and the end of the assisted places scheme equates to a real rise of 1,837 more British pupils attending private school. Jonathan Shepherd, the general-secretary of the Independent Schools Council, said that more girls now attended day school than boys for the first time since 1982, and that although overall numbers have dropped 0.6 per cent, this was against a demographic dip of 1.2 per cent.

More importantly, Mr Shepherd insisted that with a record 92.2 per cent of independent school-leavers going to university, rising to 95 per cent among girls, the ISC had found no evidence of universities discriminating against them. "We continue to take a number of people in our schools from disadvantaged backgrounds, so it would be a tragic irony if by giving them help they find another hurdle at university," he said. "However there is no evidence, apart from anecdotal here and there that this is happening. The evidence is on the contrary that more of our students are going on to university than before."

In 1997 the Government abolished the assisted places scheme, which had helped to pay the private school fees of around 100,000 pupils from less well-off families. Now, just under a third receive some form of assistance with fees, usually in the form of bursaries. More worrying, Mr Shepherd said, was that 60 per cent of A grades at A level in modern languages were achieved in private schools, a trend that was "uncomfortably high" and reflected in both sciences and engineering.

But it is precisely because of this, said Priscilla Chadwick, the leader of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference, that universities cannot afford to discriminate. "A lot of students are doing a majority of subjects which universities value enormously, in sciences and languages, and these in particular contribute to the admissions to universities," the principal of Berkhamsted Collegiate School in Hertfordshire, said.

Although the 1.5 per cent drop in boarders was "disappointing", it was blamed largely on the 10 per cent drop in pupils from China, Hong Kong, Russia and the US who had been put off by the doubling of visa fees. That rise was in addition to flights home and the average annual cost of boarding fees of 19,000 pounds, which included an average fee increase of 5.8 per cent for last year alone.

In London around 20 per cent of parents send their children to private school, compared with a national average of seven per cent. At Westminster School, Tristram Jones-Parry, the head master, has said that in the past few years applications from girls has risen from 180 to 240. "They have become more aware that these days you don't just float into a decent university. You need top grades at both A level and at least five or six A* grades at GCSE, and I think girls are becoming aware of that at an earlier age," he said. Twenty-five years ago, the male-female ratio at university was 60:40, but in recent years that has changed to 56 per cent female, to 44 per cent male.



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

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

Comments? Email me here. For times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site (viewable even in China!) here


Thursday, May 19, 2005


Indianapolis Public Schools operates some of the worst dropout factories in the nation. Hundreds of students each year quit school, most landing in dead-end jobs or prisons. In some families, dropping out has become a way of life with neither parents nor children completing high school. IPS claims an official graduation rate of 90 percent. District administrators, however, admit the number is lower -- shockingly lower.

IPS Board President Kelly Bentley, in a meeting with editorial writers, pegged the district's graduation rate at 28 percent. A Star Editorial Board analysis found a 35 percent completion rate for the class of 2004. National and local researchers report IPS graduation rates ranging from 28 to 47 percent, depending on the formula used. Manual High School Principal Ken Poole admits that "what we're doing right now is not working." It's not for lack of trying.

* Manual freshmen who didn't make it out of middle school until age 16 -- and other at-risk students -- are put under the watchful eye of Shirl Miller-Smith, who keeps tabs on their grades and attendance as the "mother hen" of the Alpha Program.
* To keep students from skipping class, they're put to work tending children in Manual's all-day kindergarten.
* Social workers scour neighborhoods to find students who haven't shown up for class. Occasionally, they pick them up and drive them to school.

Yet, on average just 125 -- 27 percent -- of the 450 freshmen who enter Manual in a typical school year progress to their senior year on time. One freshman, David Kline, who turns 16 this month, already declares, "I'll finish this year out and then that'll probably be it."

Manual's "promotion power," or ninth- to-12th grade attrition rate, is the worst in the state. In fact, all five IPS high schools promoted less than 60 percent of their freshmen to seniors on time. IPS fares worse than school systems in New York City, Detroit and Chicago. "This is the first district I have seen where all high schools are doing this poorly," said Robert Balfanz, a Johns Hopkins University researcher who analyzed the data for The Star.

More here


France's educational system appears headed towards meltdown. An article by Olivier Guitta in the May 9th Weekly Standard reports that a leaked study conducted between October 2003 and May 2004 under the auspices of France's inspector-general of education, Jean Pierre Obin, describes an educational system that is cracking under the strain of a growing, non-assimilating Muslim population.

Orbin sent ten inspectors to examine 61 schools in 24 school departments, most of which were located in ethnically segregated neighborhoods. The inspectors found two consistencies in these schools: an increase in Muslim religious expression and an across-the-board denial, from classroom to regional administration, that the incursion of Islam into the classroom is creating serious problems for students.

Orbin found that Muslim students regularly boycott classes that concern Voltaire, Rousseau and Moliere, whom the students accuse of being anti-Islamic. The students also protest the Crusades and frequently deny the Holocaust. Orbin's report cites Muslim students' refusal to use the "plus" sign in mathematics because it looks like a crucifix; Muslims boycotting class trips to churches, cathedrals and monasteries; and forcing wholesale changes in school lunch fare to accommodate their religious and cultural practices. The report mentions a teacher who keeps a copy of the Koran on her desk for reference when controversial historical issues arise. Obin's investigators also found that most Muslim students refuse to participate in sports such as swimming, "the girls out of modesty, the boys because they do not want to swim in girls' water or non-Muslim water."

Unsurprisingly, one of the problems faced by the schools cited in the Orbin report is rampant anti-Semitism. In these schools, the term "Jew" has become an insult, even among the youngest students. Orbin's investigators reported that teachers generally ignore this problem, attributing it to "the youth culture," instead of addressing it head-on. Jewish students and those students thought to be Jews are increasingly being assaulted by Muslim students. Because of this, many Jewish students are forced into switching schools or hiding their identities.

Predictably, the biggest losers in the schools where Islam has made inroads, are women. Female students are intimidated by young Muslim men assuming the role of religious police who forbid them to play sports, wear skirts or makeup and force them to wear traditional Muslim headscarves, even though official French policy forbids the wearing of headscarves in public schools. When called to the blackboard, some female Muslim students even put on long coats for fear of retribution from their male Muslim counterparts. Obin's investigative team found that most female Muslim students were too frightened to tell them what their punishments would be if they disobeyed these unwritten rules.

Interestingly enough, the investigators found that the schools most effective in dealing with the problem of Islamization were the ones that completely refused to tolerate it. Because of this finding, the Obin report recommends a policy of "no compromise with Islamist demands." The question is, will France have the stomach to implement Obin's recommendation? Its feeble reaction to the race riots that occurred on March 8, 2005 in response to proposed educational reforms provides a possible answer.


Supporting the troops? Not on campus: "It's been a tough couple years for America's antiwar movement. Unable to effect change at the ballot box and frustrated by the lack of popular support for its agenda, the antiwar crowd has turned its sights on the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and other military recruitment on college campuses across the country. It's becoming increasingly common for antiwar activists to stage protests and disruptions at college job fairs involving military recruiters. ... Of course, there's absolutely nothing wrong or illegal with exercising one's First Amendment rights and staging a peaceful protest on campus. But activists are not content to simply protest the presence of military recruiters. ... In San Francisco and Santa Cruz, mobs of protesters disrupted job fairs, forced military recruiters to leave and succeeded in either significantly delaying or shutting down the entire event."


For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

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

Comments? Email me here. For times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site (viewable even in China!) here


Wednesday, May 18, 2005


The science that all pupils study from the age of 14 is to focus more on "lifestyles", general knowledge and opinion and less on chemistry, biology and physics, says the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. It published a "revised programme of study" that will govern the content of GCSE from 2006, to "ensure increased choice and flexibility for pupils so that they can study science relevant to the 21st century".

Instead of learning science, pupils will "learn about the way science and scientists work within society". They will "develop their ability to relate their understanding of science to their own and others' decisions about lifestyles", the QCA said. They will be taught to consider how and why decisions about science and technology are made, including those that raise ethical issues, and about the "social, economic and environmental effects of such decisions". They will learn to "question scientific information or ideas" and be taught that "uncertainties in scientific knowledge and ideas change over time", and "there are some questions that science cannot answer, and some that science cannot address".

Science content of the curriculum will be kept "lite". Under "energy and electricity", pupils will be taught that "energy transfers can be measured and their efficiency calculated, which is important in considering the economic costs and environmental effects of energy use".

More here


Maxcine Collier had been principal of the 400-student Anderson Elementary School in Southwest Philadelphia for five years when, in 2001, she was told that a for-profit company, Edison Schools Inc., was going to take over the school's management from the Philadelphia School District. Parents and teachers were apprehensive, she said. But more than three-quarters of Anderson's students were performing below grade level, according to Pennsylvania state testing standards. The school, in a neighborhood that borders suburban Upper Darby, housed many special-education students from other parts of the city. "There was no cohesiveness. Many of the children were from elsewhere, and they didn't bond, which hurts education, especially in urban settings," Collier said. "We knew something had to be done better."

Three years later, Collier said, Edison's curriculum, particularly in math and writing, has doubled the number of children who reach state proficiency levels and has unified her teachers. "We still have a long way to go, but I can see already we are on the right track," she said.

Last month, the Philadelphia School Reform Commission, which runs the nation's fifth-largest school district, awarded contracts to Edison to operate two more public schools, in addition to the 20 it gave the company three years ago. The 20 schools were considered among the worst performing elementary and middle schools in the city -- many with less than 10 percent of students at grade level -- and the district was seeking ideas on how to improve them. Though six other organizations, including Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania, were given contracts to manage schools, it is Edison that has taken the lead and come under the most scrutiny as the third academic year of Philadelphia's school "privatization" trial ends next month. Edison, which manages five charter schools in the District of Columbia, has the largest number of Philadelphia schools under its supervision and is the only provider to be offered more by the commission this year.

It has been loudest at proclaiming its purported successes and, perhaps only because it is the largest, taken the brunt of the criticism. It almost went out of business in 2001 when Wall Street traders dropped its stock to less than $1, contending that Edison could not survive managing a mere 20 schools. Edison has since been taken private and asserts that it is solvent. "I think a lot of people in public education around the country have been watching us," said Chris Whittle, Edison's chief executive. "It is in Philadelphia where the movement of outside management of schools is most advanced, and Edison is in the lead here. It is our most high-profile commitment ever, and we accept the criticism and praise that will come."

The privatization movement in Philadelphia was an outgrowth of an agreement between then-Gov. Mark Schweiker, a Republican, and Mayor John F. Street, a Democrat, that the state would offer more funding for the city's schools if it had more control over how they were run. The state appointed the School Reform Commission, which essentially runs the district, with James Nevels, an influential attorney and head of an investment firm, as its chairman.

Critics, including the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, which represents most of the unionized employees in the district, complained that Edison would reassign teachers willy-nilly. After much wrangling, Edison did not get the exclusive contract it wanted, and the teachers union continued to represent teachers and principals. Though many experienced teachers transferred out of the Edison schools, all the schools began that first year fully staffed. "There was a concern at the time that Edison wouldn't be solvent, but I am a pension manager and did the due diligence and determined they would be viable," Nevels said. "It has turned out marvelous, too. There was a lot of outcry at the beginning, which isn't all bad. But when we awarded the two schools to Edison at the April meeting, there was nary a peep."

Nevels and Richard Barth, Edison's manager in Philadelphia, said that based on a standardized state test, grade-level proficiency in the schools Edison manages has increased from 6 percent to 21 percent of students in the first two years of the contract.

More here


From his address at the nation's governors' conference, I give you Bill Gates: "American high schools are obsolete," he said, adding, "By obsolete, I don't just mean that our high schools are broken, flawed and underfunded.... By obsolete, I mean that our high schools-even when they are working exactly as designed-cannot teach our kids what they need to know today.".....

As a matter of historical fact, our public education system was designed two centuries ago, in large part, to honor a racist public policy. This was well researched and reported in the late E. G. West's book, Education and the State (Institute for Economic Affairs, 1965). Private schools were doing just fine, providing what markets provide in exceptionally efficient and, indeed, wise ways: a highly diverse approach to teaching students, not the statist and mainly one-size-fits-all approach, but they also did something very benign and decent-in their diverse and decentralized way they extended their services to all races and religions. But the politicians at the time couldn't stomach this, so they decided to impose a public education system that would be appropriately racist and discriminatory, to fall in line with the prevailing mainstream public philosophy of racism. The result is what we see now, a defunct public education system, defunct not because of some recent mistakes, as Mr. Gates contends, but because of a fundamental flaw in it, its association with government.

Most of us who have gone through the various stages of American public education may not realize this but we have been part of a massive collectivized system, not unlike one the Soviet Union would have championed and from which, in time, it choked to death. Elsewhere public education remains partly functional only because it tends to be highly elitist and does not aim, as it does in America, to accommodate the egalitarian pedagogical philosophy of providing everyone with schooling, nearly to the level of a guaranteed college degree.

The bottom line is that education, like all other productive, creative services in society, is better off decentralized, privatized. Sure some will have to seek out special help, but so do some as they seek to satisfy their clothing, housing, or nutritional needs. Nonetheless, once we abandon the fantasy that everyone needs to be subjected to the same schooling and everyone needs to have his property taxed so as to support this contorted system, the sort of hopes Mr. Gates, and others, with different but equally legitimate agendas for young people, are voicing will no longer have to go unsatisfied. There will be plenty of schools responding to the varied needs to American students and the opportunities that face them in all the disciplines of education. There will, in short, be entrepreneurship in education, as there is in the software industry.

No doubt, this approach is going to be dismissed with total disdain by some-first, by the people who are wedded in their thinking to how government is the solution to all human problems, and, second, by those who are currently mindlessly employed by the state educational systems across the country and care not a whit for proper schooling but mostly for their continued steady employment, not unlike those who have worked for defunct and misguided-and indeed more or less unjust-institutions throughout human history. But they really aren't the best source of wisdom about what young human beings need in the way of an educational alternative to what we have now, an evidently bankrupt one

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.

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

Comments? Email me here. For times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site (viewable even in China!) here


Tuesday, May 17, 2005


This week a new empirical study claiming to show that public schools do a better job than private schools has made a big media splash. But the study is deeply misleading. The authors make claims their statistical method can't possibly justify. And if you guessed that the study got off the ground with help from the educational status quo, you'd be right. If there's one thing education research has shown, it's that private schools do a better job than public schools. The consensus in favor of this among empirical studies is as strong as on anything in education-policy research. Indeed, this is just the sort of thing that makes people wonder why we social scientists spend so much time doing empirical studies to prove things that everybody already knows.

Well, one reason we do it is to counteract the effects of propaganda and bad research. This new study, conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois, was first published by an openly anti-voucher think tank located at Columbia University's Teachers College. It's getting media play now because it was picked up by the journal of Phi Delta Kappa, a professional organization for teachers. The authors themselves make no bones about what their real target is. One author told the Christian Science Monitor that their study "really undercuts a lot of those choice-based reforms." Translation: People only support vouchers because they don't realize that private schools are actually worse than public schools.

Another reason why the study is getting attention is owing to its size: The data set includes 23,000 students. People tend to assume that a big study is automatically good. But the same rule applies in research as in so many other things: size does matter, but technique matters a lot more. The researchers take raw test scores from isolated years and apply statistical controls for race, socioeconomic status, and disabilities. While the raw scores are higher in private schools, they find that once you apply the statistical controls public-school students actually have higher test scores. They characterize this as evidence that public schools do a better job than private schools. In fact, it shows nothing of the kind.

The main problem is that they use scores from isolated years. That is, they take a snapshot of student achievement rather than tracking achievement over time. While they do take snapshots from different years, they have no way to track students from one snapshot to the next, which is no better in practice than taking just one snapshot. This is important because if you don't track students over time, you can't establish a causal connection between the type of school a student attends (public or private) and test scores. In other words, their data have nothing to say about the relative quality of public and private schools.

A much more likely explanation for the latest study's results is that when students enter private schools, they tend to have test scores a little lower than other students of their race and socioeconomic status. That seems counterintuitive, because people are used to thinking of private-school students as privileged. And so they are - because of their race and socioeconomic status. But that's precisely what this study controls for. In fact, it makes perfect sense that within each racial and socioeconomic group it's the low performers whose parents will be motivated to make the sacrifices necessary to put them in private schools. What counts is whether those students make better or worse gains over time after they enter private school - and that's just what this study can't tell us. I could go on, but instead I'll let the authors explain it for themselves. Buried in the back of the study, they write:

NAEP data [the test score set they use] do not allow for examinations of growth in achievement over time, nor do they include information about student movement between school sectors. Therefore, correlations between school sector and achievement are not demonstrably causal. In other words, one cannot conclude from this analysis that public schools are more effective at promoting student growth than private schools.

Read that last sentence again: One cannot conclude from this analysis that public schools are more effective at promoting student growth than private schools. So what about all the huffing and puffing in the front of the study - "At this time when market-style reforms are changing the public school landscape, this study offers fresh evidence that challenges common assumptions about the general superiority of private schools," etc.? It's just smoke and mirrors.

As it happens, there's a large body of very high-quality research that does allow us to evaluate the causal connection between school type and student achievement, and it overwhelmingly finds that private schools do better. The most convincing evidence comes from seven studies using "random assignment," the same method used in medical trials. In all seven studies, students who won a random lottery to use a school voucher at a private school had significantly greater test-score gains than similar students who lost the lottery and stayed in public schools. Numerous studies using other methods have also produced a very strong consensus in favor of this finding.

As a general rule, whenever a researcher announces that his study finds something that contradicts all the other empirical evidence, and the finding just happens to coincide with the self-interest of powerful political groups, it's a good idea to do a reality check. One can only hope this study doesn't damage the chances that more students will be empowered to attend superior private schools through voucher programs.


OVERPAID AND UNDERWORKED TEACHERS ON LONG ISLAND: "Moderate" $100,000 salaries for the lucky ones

What you expect from a powerful union

East Islip isn't the only community where teacher pay is under scrutiny. Across the Island, school costs, including salaries, are projected to rise an average of 7.2 percent next year -- the eighth year in a row that spending has outpaced both inflation and enrollment growth. With budget votes coming up on May 17, the spotlight has focused on teacher salaries and benefits, which account for more than 50 percent of most districts' budgets.

Long Beach's school board, for example, is weighing a recommendation for a two-year freeze on teacher's pay. The recommendation comes from a board-appointed committee representing civic associations, business groups and others, and is widely viewed as a bargaining chip in ongoing contract negotiations. For next year, Long Beach proposes a $97.6-million budget that would raise spending 6.2 percent and taxes 9.9 percent.

Proponents of a freeze note that teachers have done better financially than many private-sector workers in recent years. A freeze, these supporters say, would provide homeowners with tax relief. "My husband's working two years without a salary increase," said a member of the advisory group, Mindy Warshaw, whose spouse is an electrician. "And with the rising costs of health care, something's got to give."

Teacher representatives insist that pay raises aren't as high as they appear, because they are offset by retirements of those highest on the pay scale who are replaced by lower-paid teachers. Those representatives add that higher school spending is largely in response to employers' demands for better-trained graduates with advanced degrees. "I hear very few of those business people saying teachers don't deserve what they're getting," said Dick Iannuzzi, a former Central Islip teacher who recently was elected president of New York State United Teachers, the state's largest faculty union. Rather, Iannuzzi added, the usual complaint is that higher spending is simply unaffordable. Teacher unions contend the state should deal with that problem by increasing aid payments to schools, thus curbing local property taxes. Islandwide, raises for teachers generally run 3 percent to 4 percent annually -- a figure that union leaders say reflects the cost-of-living.

Frank Volpe, a Long Beach math teacher who heads the union there, cites this regional pattern in arguing against a local freeze. "Long Beach is no different than any other community, and their teachers shouldn't be treated any differently," he said.

But taxpayer groups and school business managers note these raises are boosted by other provisions buried within contracts - everything from "longevity" raises to additional compensation for college credits - that drive up total compensation 5 percent or 6 percent. All this adds up to a median teacher's salary on the Island of about $67,800 and top pay of about $102,200 for those in the upper 5 percent. Figures are for 2003-04, the latest available, and are the highest for any region in the state


For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

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

Comments? Email me here. For times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site (viewable even in China!) here


Monday, May 16, 2005


Unbelievable! Just the pathetic bit they learn in grade school will be accepted as enough for a High school diploma -- Another meaningless diploma that just passes the buck for testing onto somebody else. Pity the kids are going to be deceived about what is adequate, though

Houston ISD students could earn high school diplomas without taking a single math or science class after their sophomore year under a proposal that is drawing criticism from some national education experts. Critics say the change will leave students unprepared for college and the workplace. "I'm surprised they would be considering this move," said Anne Tweed, president of the 55,000-member National Science Teachers Association. "That's a step backward."

Superintendent Abe Saavedra wants to do away with a policy that mandates three years of math and science courses for all high school students. Instead, students who pass high school-level courses in the eighth grade would get credit toward a diploma. State law requires three math and science credits to graduate. Saavedra's proposal, which is expected to win school board approval today, runs counter to a national trend of school systems requiring students to spend more time in math and science classes before they graduate. The decision is even more curious, some education experts said, given the fact that more than two-thirds of HISD's 2004 graduates who enrolled in local community colleges last fall were required to take remedial courses. "That policy will result in more youngsters having to take remedial math when they go on for further study," said Gene Bottoms, senior vice president of the Southern Regional Education Board and director of the High Schools that Work program. "It will also mean more students will not be able to pass employer exams that have a math component."

Saavedra told school board trustees earlier this week that the three-year requirement is unnecessary. It was adopted in 2001, he said, because trustees wanted high school juniors taking math and science classes at the same time they take the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills exam, which students must pass to graduate. The current policy is based more on improving test performance than on academic quality, Saavedra said. What matters, he said, is that students take the necessary courses. "We absolutely are not lowering the standard," Saavedra said. Still, Saavedra acknowledged that having high school students take more math and science classes would better prepare them for college. "If we required four years of math, it would work toward reducing the remedial requirement," he said. "I'm not telling you I won't come back with that kind of recommendation (in the future)."

More here


PC types unhappy with Harvard President Larry Summers' candor about women in science may not like any better his thoughtful analysis of a swept-under-the-rug problem with the nation's public schools. That is unfortunate, because Summers is on to something in his concern that public educators, in rightly focusing on helping lower-achieving kids, are dumbing down the curriculum for top courses. In the process, they may be pushing many of the best and the brightest into private schools. Summers did not suggest that such was happening on a widespread scale. Yet the exodus from public schools by many high-achievers whose parents can manage the financial burden makes that point. And the long-term implications of such policies are troubling in their effect on top students.

Summers got into hot water by suggesting discrimination might not be the reason women are underrepresented in science and math fields. As a result, he seems wary of making his point about schools too strongly. Summers spoke about schools at a reunion of Neiman Fellows, alumni of a Harvard program that selects 12 American and 12 non-American midcareer journalists for a paid year of study. In his remarks, Summers explained why the national interest requires that more attention and resources be poured into public schools to improve learning, especially among historically lower-achieving groups.

Hooding Carter III, State Department spokesman during the Iranian hostage crisis, asked Summers to square that notion with the reality that most of those in the room, and a majority of Harvard faculty, send their kids to private schools. Summers paused, then talked about how parents must do what is best for their children, which is both obvious and beside the point. In fact, increasing numbers of parents are sending their children to private schools, according to a U.S. Department of Education study. A number choose home-schooling for reasons of finances or faith.

However, many top students attend academically rigorous private schools out of parental concerns that the public schools do not sufficiently challenge them, because of the attention rightly focused on poor learners. Summers, a public-school product, is one of those parents. While Treasury secretary under Bill Clinton, he sent his three children, two of whom are now in high school and the third in middle school, to a public school in D.C.'s suburbs. After he became president of Harvard in Cambridge, Mass., in 2001, however, he put them in a private school. Summers said that when he used to attend meetings of senior Clinton aides, he was one of only two sending their kids to public schools. Clinton, you may remember, disappointed many supporters, who see private education as somehow un-American, when he chose to send his daughter, Chelsea, to a private school.

Summers said he recently talked to the other official, whom he did not identify, who had been sending his kids to public school. Summers said that man was reconsidering his decision, because the reading requirement in his son's honors English course had been cut in half to make it possible to triple the number of students able to take the course.

Some may wonder why the country should care if those with the financial means to afford private education do so. Obviously, any child attending private school is one fewer to be educated on the taxpayer's dime. Yet it is not just the wealthy who are sending their children to such private schools. I am among the many middle/upper-middle-class parents, some receiving financial aid, who are investing in their children, even though they would rather spend the money on a new car or nice vacation. At Harvard, private-school graduates make up a third of the student body -- not unusual for a prestigious college -- but roughly three times their share of high-school students. If the public-school exodus of top young minds continues, it will undermine future support for public education among those better able to pay the necessary taxes.



Independent schools should get off their knees, speak with one voice and set their own exams, a conference of private sector headmasters and governors was told yesterday. "Why have independent schools underplayed their hand for so long?" demanded Anthony Seldon, the headmaster of Brighton College, who organised the conference. "We have let ourselves be sidelined by governments of the Left and Right. They have sneered at us when they should have feared us."

Independent schools were major players in the economic, social and cultural life of the nation, he said. They saved Whitehall £2 billion a year because parents paid fees. Their academic results dominated the league tables. They were judged to be among the most successful schools in the world. "Yet independent schools still do not fully realise their importance in national life or make the contribution they could be making," Dr Seldon said. Because of their timidity, they were seen as schools for "toffs", yet the parents of their pupils were often not affluent. They were made out to be self-serving and self-seeking, yet the schools engaged in considerable, and under-recognised, charitable activities. They had allowed themselves to be accused of price-fixing, yet there were no cartels pushing up fees. Independent schools offered better value for money than state schools.

Independent schools should be setting their own agenda, not merely reacting to the Government, said Dr Seldon, who has written biographies of John Major and Tony Blair..... They should set up their own college for training the heads and teachers of the future. And they should devise their own exams to replace A-levels. The urgency of that was underlined by Geoff Parks, the director of admissions at Cambridge, who told the conference that A-levels no longer differentiated between good candidates and exceptional ones. "They don't test the ability to think, analyse or reason - they don't tell us what we want to know," he said. "The introduction of bite-size modules has led to predictable questions, prescribed answers and a mentality of 'learn, examine and forget'. "Able candidates have lost the opportunity to demonstrate their originality and creativity. The failure of A-levels is a tragedy."

More here

World-class standards: Rhetoric and reality: "For several years, education policy analysts in the United States have been aware of the fact that students in the Four Tigers (South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore) regularly outperform U.S. students, especially in mathematics and science. This fact underlies the U.S. concern about raising achievement to 'world-class' levels, which are generally interpreted to mean the levels attained by students in the Four Tigers and the higher-achieving countries in Western Europe. Now South Korea is raising the bar again, even before U.S. students reach the levels already attained by South Korean students. In 2007, all Korean students will be eligible for a voucher to cover the cost of one year of pre-primary education at any educational facility the parents choose."


For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

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

Comments? Email me here. For times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site (viewable even in China!) here


Sunday, May 15, 2005


A majority of high school students in the USA spend three hours or less a week preparing for classes yet still manage to get good grades, according to a study being released today by researchers who surveyed more than 90,000 high school students in 26 states. The team at Indiana University in Bloomington calls the findings "troubling." The first large study to explore how engaged high school students are in their work, it adds to a growing body of evidence that many students are not challenged in the classroom.

Just 56% of students surveyed said they put a great deal of effort into schoolwork; only 43% said they work harder than they expected to. The study says 55% of students devote no more than three hours a week to class preparation, but 65% of these report getting A's or B's. Students on the college track devoted the most time to preparation, but only 37% spent seven or more hours a week on schoolwork, compared with 22% of all high school students. Among seniors, just 11% of those on the college track said they spent seven or more hours a week on assigned reading, compared with 7% of all seniors. Surprisingly, 18% of college-track seniors did not take a math course during their last year in high school. That could help explain why studies show that 22% of college students require remediation in math. The Indiana study also found that 82% of students said they planned to enroll in some form of post-secondary education, and most said they expected to earn at least a bachelor's degree. But the study says "a substantial gap exists" between what students do in high school and what they will be expected to do in college.

Martha McCarthy, a senior professor at Indiana University who directs the research project, says the results should serve as "a wake-up call. There is a need for students to work harder and do more rigorous coursework" if they are going to be ready for college. Research has found that one-quarter of students in four-year colleges require substantial remedial work. The new study is part of a long-term project called the High School Survey of Student Engagement, a companion project since 2004 to the National Survey of Student Engagement, which has been administered to 900,000 students at four-year colleges since 2000. Both projects are supported primarily by schools interested in learning about the attitudes and experiences of their students. McCarthy says many high schools have been surprised to find how little time students spend on homework and have instituted changes, such as brief quizzes based on homework assignments.

The study found that as students advance through high school, they are less likely to feel challenged to do their best work. Researchers also found that a higher proportion of students are likely to spend four or more hours a week doing personal reading online than doing assigned reading for their classes. McCarthy says students' positive attitudes toward school were highly correlated with coming to class prepared, participating in discussions and getting prompt feedback from teachers. But 56% of students said they never or only sometimes get prompt feedback.

The results probably will provide momentum to a growing effort to reform high schools. In February, a survey of recent graduates found that whether they went on to college or entered the workforce, about 40% said they were not adequately prepared in school. That study was done in conjunction with the first National Education Summit, an event aimed at rallying governors around high school reform. A number of governors have pledged to make high school reform a priority.


Let's Get Rid of Public Schools


Discussions of school choice and vouchers nearly always assume that public schools are permanent parts of the American educational scene. Increasingly I wonder why. Why should there be any public schools? I don't ask merely because the public schools are performing badly, although (as usual) they are. Pamela R. Winnick discusses science teaching in a recent issue of Weekly Standard. One survey found that a whopping 12% of graduating U.S. seniors were "proficient" in science. Global rankings place our seniors 19th among 21 surveyed countries.

Agreed: The national interest requires that all children be educated and that all taxpayers contribute. But it doesn't follow that we need public schools. We need military aircraft; all taxpayers help pay for them. Which doesn't mean that we need public aircraft companies. (Although if American airplanes ranked 19th best out of 21 contenders, the public might be moved to do something about it.) Schools aren't the same as airplane factories, but the analogy is illuminating.

What gives public schools the right to exist? After all, they are no part of the nation's constitutional framework. Neither the Constitution nor Bill of Rights requires public schools. And in one sense they are foreign to American tradition. Europeans are inspired by state institutions. Americans are apt to be inspired by private enterprise, entrepreneurship, choice.

I believe that public schools have a right to exist insofar as they express a shared public view of education. A consensus on education, at least at the level of each state and arguably of the nation, gives schools the right to call themselves public and be supported by the public. Once public schools stop speaking for the whole community, they are no different from private schools. It's not public schools' incompetence that have wrecked them. It's their non-inclusiveness. American public schools used to speak for the broad middle ground of American life. No longer. The fault is partly but not only theirs. A hundred years ago, a national consensus existed and public schools did their best to express it. Today that consensus has fractured, and public schools have made no effort to rebuild it.

To find out where things stood 100 years ago, check the celebrated 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica (1910). "The great mass of the American people are in entire agreement as to the principles which should control public education." No one would dare say that today. "Formal instruction in manners and morals is not often found" in American public schools, the Britannica explained, "but the discipline of the school offers the best possible training in the habits of truthfulness, honesty, obedience, regularity, punctuality and conformity to order."

The broad national agreement that made such statements possible no longer exists. Americans today disagree on fundamentals - on the ethics of sexuality and the family, for example. Recently the Boston Globe described an argument at a Massachusetts kindergarten over a book for young children about "multicultural contemporary family units," including gay and lesbian ones. One 6-year-old's father arrived at school to insist on his right to withdraw his child from class on days when this book was on the program. School administrators "urged" him to leave and, when he didn't, had him arrested. (Michelle Malkin's blog pointed me to the story.) Lately there have been other similar incidents in the news.

Then there are parents like my wife and me. We sent our children to public and not private secondary school exactly so they'd become part of a broad American community. Instead, our boys have been made painfully aware nearly every day of their school lives that they are conservative and their teachers are liberal. Making parents feel like saps is one of the few activities at which today's public schools excel.

Public schools used to invite students to take their places in a shared American culture. They didn't allow a left- or right-wing slant, only a pro-American slant: Their mission, after all, was to produce students who were sufficiently proud of this country to take care of it. Today's public schools have forfeited their right to exist. Let's get rid of them. Let's do it carefully and humanely, but let's do it. Let's offer every child a choice of private schools instead. And if this kind of talk makes public schools snap to and get serious, that's OK also. But don't hold your breath.


Post lifted from Wizbang

The battle cry of the education industry is "we need more money!" I've noted before that there seems to be an inverse relationship between the amount of money spent on education and actual results, and this morning I see a rather graphic example of just what sorts of things one can expect when you throw more and money at school systems.

The state of Massachusetts has just completed an audit of just how the city of Everett spends its money, and it's appalling. They uncovered over half a million dollars that was spent in -- to put it kindly -- "questionable" means and causes. They found bids submitted -- and won -- by companies long out of business. And rampant cronyism of the likes that would make even a Chicago politician blush.

A couple examples:

* $59,000 budgeted to help students prepare for state assessment tests went to lettering football helmets, a homecoming parade, and a slew of other pet causes.
* $180,000 in legal fees to a lawyer who can't seem to explain just what work he did for that money.
* $64,000 for two homecoming parades.
* $830,000 in grants to hire new teachers instead went into raises for existing staff.

But I'm sure it'll all be OK. After all, it was all done for the children.

Corruption in the Public Schools: The Market Is the Answer

One of the most frequently voiced objections to school choice is that the free market lacks the"accountability" that governs public education. Public schools are constantly monitored by district administrators, state officials, federal officials, school board members, and throngs of other people tasked with making sure that the schools follow all the rules and regulations governing them. That level of bureaucratic oversight does not exist in the free market, and critics fear choice-based education will be plagued by corruption, poor-quality schools, and failure.

Recently, news surfaced that appeared to justify critics' fears. Between the beginning of 2003and the middle of 2004, Florida's Palm Beach Post broke a slew of stories identifying corruption in the state's three school choice programs. The number of stories alone seemed to confirm that a choice-based system of education is hopelessly prone to corruption. But when Florida's choice problems are compared with cases of fraud, waste, and abuse in public schools-schools supposedly inoculated against corruption by "public accountability"-choice problems suddenly don't seem too bad.

So which system is more likely to produce schools that are scandal free, efficient, and effective at educating American children? The answer is school choice, precisely because it lacks the bureaucratic mechanisms of public accountability omnipresent in public schools.

In many districts bureaucracy is now so thick that the purveyors of corruption use it to hide the fraud they've perpetrated and to deflect blame if their misdeeds are discovered. However, for the principals, superintendents, and others purportedly in charge of schools, bureaucracy has made it nearly impossible to make failed systems work. Public accountability has not only failed to defend against corruption, it has also rendered many districts, especially those most in need of reform, impervious to change.

In contrast to our moribund public system, school choice isn't encumbered by compliance-driven rules and regulations, which allows institutions to tailor their products to the needs of the children they teach and lets parents select the schools best suited to their child's needs. And accountability is built right in: schools that offer parents what they want at a price they are willing to pay will attract students and thrive, while those that don't will cease to exist.

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.

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

Comments? Email me here. For times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site (viewable even in China!) here