Saturday, May 28, 2005


When I think back over my peaceful country schooling -- where the biggest excitement was a dragonfly at the window -- this sounds like another planet. But I guess it's just another continent that makes the difference

For the third time in six weeks, police broke up a Jefferson High School brawl Thursday that students say was fueled by racial tension. Officers from the Los Angeles School Police Department used pepper spray and batons to quell the fight, which involved about 25 students on the South Los Angeles campus. The police arrested three students and detained more than 20 others, authorities said.

The incident reportedly began when two students argued about a cellphone. Students said that altercation sparked larger fights between black and Latino students across the campus. "It started in the cafeteria, and then it spread out to the PE field, to the auditorium, to the hallways, everywhere. I saw some people run out of the classrooms just to get into the fight," said Salvador Ingles, a 17-year-old senior. "Like with the last two fights, it happened that brown people, they go to one side, then black people go to the other side, and then they both collide."

School officials also reported two separate fights at Los Angeles High School, Thursday. The brawls attracted several hundred onlookers and prompted a brief campus lockdown while two students were detained. No serious injuries were reported. "I'm told there were some racial overtones" to the violence, district spokeswoman Susan Cox told the Associated Press.

The melee at Jefferson High School began about 12:40 when two Latino students argued about the phone, officials said. Administrators ordered a lockdown of the campus, and students were released from school about 600 at a time two hours later. The school nurse treated dozens of students for minor abrasions, and two students who were not involved in the fight were treated for hyperventilation. Six officers received minor injuries.

The fight occurred on the eve of a planned Day of Dialogue that district officials scheduled after similar brawls April 14 and April 18. Although students and parents have complained that the fights have had heavy racial overtones, Jefferson Principal Norm Morrow denied those assertions Thursday. "It had nothing to do with race," he said of the brawl. "The majority of our kids are good kids. We've got to get people to understand that some kids aren't here for the right reason."

Nevertheless, Morrow said that the campus was experiencing problems and that he expected many parents would keep their children home today. "I don't blame them," he said. "You don't want kids coming to a place where there are fights every day." After making that statement, however, Morrow paused and said fights did not occur at Jefferson every day.

He said that classes would be limited to half-day today and that the Day of Dialogue would go on. The event, he said, would involve professionals from local government and federal law enforcement discussing with students the reasons for the fights.

More here


UK academics have voted to overturn a boycott of two Israeli universities accused of complying with anti-Palestinian polices. Members of the Association of University Teachers had previously decided to sever all links with Bar-Ilan and Haifa universities. The academics' body now says it is time to "build bridges" between those with opposing views and support peace moves.

The debate has caused bitter argument among academics and others worldwide. The council of the AUT was reconvened in central London after 25 members - the required number under the union's rules - complained about the original vote, held in Eastbourne last month. Opponents of the boycott had complained that the debate had been curtailed and that the accusations were unfair.

Dr David Hirsh, from Goldsmiths College in London, welcomed the latest vote, saying: "A boycott is a tokenistic gesture which does more harm than good. "The need for hard work, building links with Palestinian and Israeli academics, is less glamorous but much more important."

Pro-boycott activists accuse Haifa of mistreating politics lecturer Ilan Pappe for defending a graduate student's research into controversial areas of Israeli history. The university denied this and threatened legal action against the AUT.

More here


A Brooklyn College professor who called religious people "moral retards" was elected to head his department this month - sparking a campus uproar. E-mails expressing alarm that Timothy Shortell was now chairman of the sociology department circulated among students last week on the school's Midwood campus. Shortell has written in an online academic publication that the devout "are an ugly, violent lot. In the name of their faith, these moral retards are running around pointing fingers."

"I'm horrified by the ideology of Prof. Shortell," said Eldad Yaron, a Brooklyn College senior. This person has control right now on the content of many classes every student will take. Just imagine how fair and balanced these classes will be." Daniel Tauber, president-elect of the school's student government, said he was worried that Shortell and other faculty members would breed religious intolerance at the diverse college. "I would like to see professors in high positions who don't believe religious people are moral retards," Tauber said.

Shortell's remarks - which included lines such as "Christians claim that theirs is faith based on love, but they'll just as soon kill you" - elicited a multifaith backlash among university groups. "He's intolerant," fumed Alex Selsky of the school's Hillel chapter, a Jewish campus organization. "With this kind of unreasonable thinking, I don't know how he can be elected to head of a department." Kevin Oro-Hahn, director of the school's InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, said he hopes the university can "move beyond mere rhetoric in the pursuit of truth."

A college spokesman said there's little CUNY officials can do. "Whether one agrees with Dr. Shortell's comments, this is an election as mandated by university guidelines," he said. "His comments are public, but this is the decision of the sociology department." Shortell didn't return calls to him at his office. Brooklyn College, which has more than 15,000 students, observed its 75th anniversary this year. It was named one of the top 10 best values among undergraduate institutions in the country by the Princeton Review.



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 27, 2005


Three views below:

We hear a lot these days about the importance of diversity in ensuring that ideas are heard fairly. But the individuals who are most insistent about this are interested only in racial and sex diversity. Intellectual and ideological diversity is not what the enforcers of political correctness on campuses and other sectors have in mind.

This magazine has helped pioneer evidence of how politically unbalanced most college campuses have become. Most recently (see our January/February 2005 issue) we presented the findings of University of California economist Daniel Klein, who found that the ratio of Democrats to Republicans in social sciences and humanities faculty nationwide is at least 8:1. At universities like Stanford and Berkeley it is 16:1 in favor of Democrats.

Twenty-five years ago, the ratio was less skewed, at 4:1. In the future it is going to be even more skewed. Among the young junior faculty at Stanford and Berkeley, there are now 183 Democrats, and just six Republicans--a 30:1 tilt. As today's older professors retire, political lopsidedness will grow even more extreme.

After years of denying the ideological uniformity of colleges, this accumulated evidence has now caused many academics to shift to claiming that the lack of political diversity on campus doesn't matter. It doesn't affect what gets taught, they say.

But in a recent panel discussion at the American Enterprise Institute, two experts warned that academic one-sidedness matters very much indeed, and is clearly having harmful results. We present their statements below, along with an extract from one professor's recent pointed analysis of this subject.

Anne Neal
President of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni

There are now countless stories (and large volumes of hard data) about political pressure in college classrooms, and faculty hostility to non-liberal viewpoints. When confronted with this evidence, what did the higher education establishment do? Did it conduct its own surveys to see if the claims were valid? Did it try to determine whether the education of students was being impaired? Did it affirm its commitment to the robust exchange of ideas? No. It offered the classic institutional dodge: Deny the facts and attack the accuser.

Roger Bowen, president of the American Association of University Professors, stated that political affiliations are of little consequence in the classroom. Professor of political science David Kimball asserted that "any concerns about indoctrination are overblown." John Millsaps, a spokesman for the University of Georgia, insisted "we have no evidence to suggest that students are being intimidated by professors as regards students' freedom to express their opinions and beliefs."

My organization, which represents college trustees and alumni, wanted to move beyond anecdotes and test the claim that politics was not affecting the classroom. So we commissioned the Center for Survey Research and Analysis at the University of Connecticut to undertake a scientific survey of undergraduates in the top 50 colleges and universities, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report. We went right to the student population who are directly affected, who have no reason to misrepresent what is happening there, and asked them about their experiences.

What did we find? Forty-nine percent of students stated that professors frequently inject political comments into their courses even if they have nothing to do with the subject. When we asked students if they felt free to question their professors' assumptions, almost one third said they felt they had to agree with their professor's political view to get a good grade.

We also explored whether students were being exposed to competing arguments on today's issues. Forty-eight percent of all students reported that presentations on political issues seemed completely one-sided, and 46 percent said professors used the classroom to present their personal political views. Forty-two percent said reading assignments represented only one side of a controversial issue.

The students voicing concerns are not a small minority--nearly half reported abuses of one kind or another. And they are not just conservatives: a majority of the respondents consider themselves liberals or radicals. Moreover, the majority of the students we surveyed are studying subjects like biology, engineering, and psychology--where there is no reason for politics to enter the classroom in the first place. It does anyway: Fully 68 percent of all students heard their professors make negative classroom comments about George Bush, versus 17 percent who were exposed to criticisms of John Kerry.

One simply cannot deny, after these findings, that faculty are importing politics into their teaching in a way that affects a student's ability to learn. This should trouble us all. Responsible academic freedom involves not only the professors' prerogatives, but also the freedom of students to learn free of political indoctrination.

David French
President of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education

Faced with clear evidence that colleges lack ideological diversity, many campus apologists say "So what?" At FIRE, which represents students in academic freedom battles, we face the question "so what?" every day. And I can assure you the problem of ideological uniformity on campus goes far beyond the fact that many red-state suburban kids now get their views attacked in the classroom. Ideological uniformity in higher education has led to daily, systematic deprivation of the civil liberties of students and professors.

First, ideological uniformity has led to the suppression of dissenting speech. I'm not talking about extreme expressions of dissent; I'm talking about things such as an "affirmative action" bake sale sponsored by that notorious radical organization, the College Republicans. I'm talking about students who question whether an academic department should show Fahrenheit 9/11 in all classes before the election to persuade students to vote for Kerry.

These aren't isolated cases. In 2004, FIRE received more than 500 credible complaints of deprivation of civil liberties on campus. We surveyed the speech policies of the 200 leading universities and found freedom-squelching speech codes at 70 percent of those schools. In the last four years, as many as 50 universities have made attempts to eject evangelical student organizations, or to restrict them so thoroughly as to effectively rob them of their distinct religious voices. At many campuses, students are subjected from the moment they arrive to mandatory "orientations" and diversity training designed to shock many of them out of the views they bring from home.

At FIRE, we have people from across the ideological spectrum on our staff and on our board. And even the most dyed-in-the-wool liberal on our staff will acknowledge that 80-85 percent of our cases involve suppression of speech by the Left.

We're reaching a tipping point. The higher education establishment will either open itself back up to the full marketplace of ideas, or it will see its ivy-covered walls battered down by force--whether class action litigation or extreme legislation. We have reached the point where the self-regulation of higher education is no longer credible.

Universities say it's people like me, red staters who grew up in middle-class suburbs, who need their views challenged. In my experience, the exact reverse is true. I went to a Christian undergraduate school and then went to law school at Harvard, and I can tell you that the professors at my Christian college were more open to challenges to campus orthodoxy than my professors at Harvard Law School.

When I applied to teach at Cornell Law School, an interviewer noticed my evangelical background and asked, "How is it possible for you to effectively teach gay students?" If I had not given what I consider to be, in all modesty, an absolutely brilliant answer to the question, I don't think I would have gotten the job. I sat in admissions committee meetings at Cornell in which African-American students who expressed conservative points of view were disfavored because "they had not taken ownership of their racial identity." An evangelical student was almost rejected before I pointed out that the reviewer's statement that "they did not want Bible-thumping or God-squading on campus" was illegal and immoral. Academics who say "so what?" need to realize that ideological uniformity leads to restrictive speech codes and the suppression of Constitutionally protected speech on campus. It leads to the exclusion of people of faith from campuses. It twists hiring and admissions and classroom discussion.

No campus official should define what is orthodox in politics, religion, or law. Yet that happens every day to thousands of students. It is a deprivation of their civil liberties, and it will stop sooner or later, one way or another. The real question is: Will the academy wake up and begin to put its own house in order, or will it act like Dan Rather--delaying reform until an entire culture has revolted, then shuffling off into oblivion muttering about a right-wing conspiracy?

Fred Siegel
Professor of history at New York City's Cooper Union

Academia, taken as a whole, has become dominated by freeze-dried 1960s radicals and their intellectual progeny, who have turned much of the humanities and social sciences into a backwater. In 1989, when Eastern Europeans were reclaiming the ideals of human rights and political freedom, students and faculty on the Stanford campus were marching with 1988 Presidential candidate Jesse Jackson shouting "Hey hey, ho ho, Western Culture's got to go." Up the road, Berkeley--dominated by its university--announced it was adopting Jena in communist East Germany as a sister city, this just a few months before the wall fell.

Academics have been getting it wrong over and over again. Criminologists were convinced that crime couldn't be cut; sociologists were sure that welfare reform couldn't work because it didn't go to the root causes of poverty; and Sovietologists were certain that the USSR of the 1980s had matured into a successful, even pluralistic society. As for radical Islam, the consensus view of the Middle Eastern Studies Association was that the danger to America came from a "terror industry" conjuring up imagined threats in order to justify American aggression.

But even as academia's batting average has declined, its claim to superior knowledge has expanded. The old ideal of disinterested scholarship, or at least the importance of attempting to be objective, has been displaced. In 2003 the University of California's Academic Assembly did away with the distinction between "interested" and "disinterested" scholarship by a 45-3 vote. As Berkeley law professor Robert Post explained, "the old statement of principles was so outlandishly disconnected to what university teaching is now that it made no sense to think about it that way."

The reality, as Post recognized, is that many professors now literally profess. Far from teaching the mechanics of knowledge, they are in fact preachers of sorts, spreading a gospel akin to that of Howard Dean. For professors part of grievance studies departments, like "Indian" poseur Ward Churchill, there was never any expectation of objectivity. They were knowingly hired as activists and are now puzzled as to why this has become a problem for some of their students and the larger public. After all, what they preach is built into the very orientation students are given when they arrive on campus. New students at many schools are quite literally given a new faith.

In the absence of intellectual competition (other than the disputes between left and lefter), academia will continue to get it wrong. This might be of limited concern if not for the fact that the sheltered students who emerge from this one-party state are left bereft of any means of negotiating with reality once they engage in politics as adults. Instead of being given the background knowledge of American institutions they need to make judgments as citizens, they are fed attitudes. Credulous undergraduates fall prey to priestly performers who claim to be initiating them into the subterranean mysteries. Those who buy into this worldview are left both insufferably pretentious and substantively silly.



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 26, 2005

Teacher Neutrality Is Hogwash

We have all been told over the years that government school teachers are supposed to be objective, to help students search for truth, and that the school is supposed to be an extension of the family, upholding what the traditional family believes. Most of us who have learned anything about the nature of government education know that such statements are an utter farce.

Many parents, however, for one reason or another, have their children in government schools and are forced to struggle through what seem to be never-ending problems in their quest to make sure their children's faith and beliefs are not tampered with by those schools--so-called. I will cite one example.

In one northeastern state, which due to possible legal ramifications for the parents, must remain unnamed, a father is standing in opposition to what the "educational" system is trying to foist upon his youngster in the name of "education." How many places around the country this scenario is being repeated can only be guessed at.

The problem started earlier this school year, when one of the youngster's teachers sent home to parents a letter stating that she was going to be showing several R-rated movies to the class of 14-year-olds this student was in. The movies were described as "documentaries." In reality, they were nothing more than liberal propaganda films by Michael Moore. The father of the student immediately complained, stating that he would not allow his youngster to be part of a captive audience, having to watch sexually explicit scenes and other very questionable material in some of the movies on the teacher's list. The teacher responded by suggesting to the father that he should allow his youngster to learn more than what is being taught in the home. So much for the "school" being an extension of the family!

At one point, the teacher decided she was going to show her class the movie "Bowling for Columbine" which was to be presented to the class as an anti-gun "documentary" and not the liberal propaganda that it really is. The father petitioned the teacher to have his youngster not have to watch this film, and, initially, the teacher flat-out refused his request. Having gotten nowhere with the teacher, the father took his complaint not only to the school's principal, but to the town's mayor as well. The movie was not shown.

After all this, the father thought and hoped the furor might die down and that the teacher would go back to her supposed job of teaching. Suffice it to say, he was in for a rude awakening, as are many parents that try to deal with a government education system that is long on propaganda and short on education.

It seemed, however, that this teacher's penchant for showing R-rated films to minors had not abated. The father ended up having his youngster removed from this teacher's class on two occasions because she was showing the kids films with full frontal nudity. As a Christian parent, the father found this disgusting, but, apparently, the vast majority of parents in that government school system had no problem with what went on--showing that, in many instances, the government "education" system has done an excellent job in desensitizing several generations as to what is proper and right and what is not.

Then, as her crowing achievement for the year, this teacher decided she would make her class learn about Islam and Buddhism, and others of what she labeled as "alternative faiths." The father wondered, and naturally so, since it was against the school's rules for his youngster to profess or display, in any way, personal Christian faith in school, why there should be such a tolorance for "alternative faiths" when there was none for the Christian faith. Good question. It was never answered.

The father, with the help and guidence of his pastor, wrote a letter requesting that his youngster be excused from this class and he had hoped the teacher might provide an alternative assignment. She did not. What she did instead was to tell the student that, even though the class went against the family's Christian beliefs, she intended to hold the student responsible for the father's refusal to allow participation in the class. So this student, who has been on the honor roll in all classes, may well end up with a tarnished academic record because of this one liberal teacher. Simply heartwarming isn't it? Makes you want to go out and shout the glories of the government school system from the rooftops doesn't it?

At that point, the father sought some legal information. He contacted a group that informed him that the government school does, indeed, have the right to teach this kind of stuff which he has objected to, but that he, as a Christian parent, also has the right to opt out if he wishes, in instances where he feels his youngster's spiritual welfare is at stake. However, because the father has opted to have his student removed from this particular assignment the teacher is going to make darn sure the student suffers academically for the father's decision. Such situations, when they come to light, should really make people question the agenda of the government school system (and, folks, it ain't education). Then, when "those people" come back to us, telling us they want to raise our property taxes yet again so they can provide more "quality education" for our children, we should have a ready response for them--and that response should be "Hogwash!"



A lecturer's allegations of plagiarism at the University of Western Sydney have left her in an invidious position - approve the results or don't get paid. The lecturer, who teaches at the university's College of Law and Business, said she could not approve student results for the university's commerce course in Hong Kong until the university dealt with plagiarism claims. But contracts issued to staff working on the college's offshore programs give management the right to withhold payment until staff approve marks and complete all the paperwork. "No one [at management level] seems to think this is a clear case of improper pressure on the unit co-ordinator to submit 'acceptable' results," said the lecturer, who declined to be named for fear of losing her job. "Otherwise, like me, you will not be paid."

She told the college's senior management she thought three of the eight students taking her subject had cheated. She received the students' work on April 29, two months after the course had finished, and only after she had made repeated requests to see the results. On May 6, the college's head of international programs emailed her: "Enough is enough. I am not going to engage in an endless exchange of emails. Can you please advise whether or not you will be in a position to present marks for these eight students at the next marks meeting." The lecturer replied that she could not "unless the conduct of the course has been investigated".

A spokesman for the university, Mikhael Kjaerbye, told the Herald the university had agreed at a marks meeting on Friday to investigate the plagiarism allegations. "There will be a full investigation," he said. "We take this seriously . the student academics misconduct policy will kick in." The students involved had in the meantime been given a pending grade. Mr Kjaerbye dismissed claims that teachers had been pressured into approving adverse results to get their pay. "They get paid when they present their report," he said. "It doesn't matter what the results are. This does not affect the payment." He said the lecturer concerned was aware of her contract's stipulations. "She's a lawyer, she signed the contract and the contract's very clear," he said.

The lecturer has also officially complained that the course was taught incorrectly by the Hong Kong-based tutors. She said the tutors ignored her feedback material and instead let students know how they were doing in their assignments by ticking appropriate boxes on printed assessment sheets. She said this was inappropriate for law units. Moreover, the university had breached its own assessment policy, she said, by failing to give students feedback during the course and allowing them to submit assignments almost two weeks after sitting the final exam.

An investigation by the Herald has revealed serious flaws in the management of many university offshore programs. The investigation also found many students had cheated in the English proficiency exams which universities require many foreigners to sit before they can enrol. Peter Armstrong, an Australian lecturer based in China, told the Herald last week his contract with the provider of a respected Australian university's intensive English course was suddenly cancelled last year, after he tried to clamp down on cheating, plagiarism, unexplained absences and poor work. "The Chinese side took the view that the students had paid a lot by local standards and should be allowed to remain in the program no matter what," Mr Armstrong said. "When I raised my concerns to the Australian side, they didn't want to hear about it. It seemed they were quite happy to retain any poor students for the sake of profit."



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 25, 2005


Thousands of comprehensive schools are still failing Britain’s most able children, Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, has been told. Research, commissioned by a key government adviser, shows that pupils rated among the brightest prospects at primary school go on to under-achieve at GCSE, The Times has learnt. Some do only nearly half as well as their peers in good schools. The most politically explosive finding was of a direct relationship between the number of bright children in a school and individual achievements.

The study highlights the scale of the challenge facing Ms Kelly in tackling poor secondary schooling, particularly in deprived urban areas. It emerged as the latest edition of The Times Good University Guide shows that universities plan to devote huge sums of money trying to satisfy government demands that they widen access to students from poor backgrounds.

The research, by David Jesson, of York University, used government data to track the progress of 28,000 children who scored the highest marks in national curriculum tests of English and mathematics at the age of 11. They represented the top 5 per cent from more than half a million pupils in England who take Key Stage 2 tests in primary schools each year. Professor Jesson found that nearly 6,000 pupils who took the tests in 1999 were admitted to 167 selective grammar schools and 5,800 went on to 223 high-achieving comprehensives. The remaining 16,500 went into 2,407 comprehensives, many in urban areas, with lower achievement. When the same students took their GCSEs last summer, many had effectively been lost because schools failed to push them to reach their potential.

Professor Jesson found that success rates declined in line with the numbers of bright children in a school, and dipped sharply when there were fewer than five. Where 20 pupils from the most able 5 per cent were clustered together in a year group, each achieved an average of nearly seven GCSE passes at A* and A grade last year. But where there was just one child from this group in a school, he or she passed fewer than four GCSEs at these grades. This is likely to have a severe impact on prospects for university admission. The children’s performance at A level will be followed to establish how many of those who could be expected at 11 to be candidates for Oxford, Cambridge and other top universities actually achieve the necessary grades.

An analysis of results in 2002 showed that comprehensive students had only a 5 per cent chance of getting three A grades, the standard expected at Oxbridge and many other elite universities. Nearly 20,500 18-year-olds achieved three A grades. But of the 110,000 who took A levels in comprehensives, only 5,821 reached this standard. This compared with 3,394 out of 18,265 (19 per cent) among sixth-formers who took A levels in grammar schools. At independent schools, 7,565 gained three A grades out of 32,873 candidates (23 per cent).

Professor Jesson found that individual pupils in high-achieving comprehensives scored slightly better at GCSE than those in grammar schools. This suggests that provision for the most able children within schools, rather than selection, at 11, is the critical issue.

More here


Particularly if they are black

Requiring students to pass California's high school graduation exam could be postponed further at the state's lowest-performing schools under legislation by the Senate's majority leader. The measure by Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, is among dozens of bills facing tests this week in the Assembly and Senate appropriations committees. The graduation exam was part of former Gov. Gray Davis' efforts to ensure that high school graduates master math and language requirements. Originally, students were supposed to have passed the test to graduate in 2004, but the state Board of Education pushed the requirement back two years, making the class of 2006 the first one forced to pass the test to get a diploma.

Many students already have taken the exam in anticipation of the requirement kicking in. They can start taking it as sophomores. Romero's bill would suspend the test requirement for about 375 of the state's lowest-performing high schools until the state superintendent of public instruction certified that students at those schools had adequate teachers, instructional material, counseling and tutoring. The schools would have to file an annual report spelling out how they were attempting to gain certification. "I'm not proud to be carrying this bill," Romero said. "It's not a bill I would wish on anybody, but I feel compelled to carry it because I see what's happening in my own district. The exam has an extraordinarily high failure rate among low-income school districts."

Richard Riordan, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's outgoing education secretary, said he also opposes the bill and predicts the Republican governor will veto it if it reaches his desk. "Unless you start holding people accountable, starting with children and adults who teach children, you never get anywhere," said Riordan, who is resigning and will be replaced next month by San Diego schools superintendent Alan Bersin.

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 24, 2005


And I thought minority cultures were supposed to be sacrosanct!

Early last school year, an African American high school student entered a first-grade classroom where she was volunteering as a teaching assistant. The first-graders, children of the Russian and Ukranian immigrant community around North Highlands, had had little contact with people of color. Their first response, say two administrators who supervise the schools, was fear. They screamed and cowered in a corner of the classroom. This wasn't supposed to happen. When Grant Community Charters, which runs the elementary school, began two years ago, it was envisioned as a charter school program that would provide work force training to the multiethnic youth of Del Paso Heights.

It became something quite different: A system of five public schools, from kindergarten to high school, where nearly all the students are white in a school district that is 37 percent white. Of the charter schools' 1,380 students, so far only 28 are in a vocational program. Those are also the only children not from Slavic immigrant families. The students are mostly evangelical Christians, and three of the schools are housed in churches. For many students, the school day begins with voluntary prayer.

Though the starkness of their situation may be unique, the Grant schools face a dilemma common to many charter schools. Because charters are public schools developed with a specific community's interests in mind, the students they attract tend to be less diverse than their neighborhoods as a whole, a uniformity that could conflict with the intent of state and federal anti-discrimination policies.

Grant Community Charters began as a collaboration between the Grant Joint Union High School District and the community, the sort of effort charter schools are designed to allow. Grant created a single school two years ago, which from the beginning served an overwhelmingly Slavic population. Then in August 2004, Grant created a charter high school and took over three other schools that had been run by another charter operator that collapsed and also principally enrolled Slavs. The schools are scattered. Futures High and two elementary schools are in North Highlands. One elementary school is in Rio Linda and another is on Jackson Road, west of Bradshaw Road in the Elk Grove Unified School District. The elementary schools are collectively known as the Grant Community Outreach Academy and do not have individual names.

Grant district officials acknowledge they sometimes have struggled between the Slavic immigrants' expectations for the schools and what U.S. law permits. The schools' short history has been turbulent:

* Although state law and Grant Community Charters' founding documents require the schools to attempt to reflect the racial makeup of the districts they serve, the schools do not - nor has much attention been given to this concern.

* The African American real estate developer who started the schools left the schools' board of directors this year after it was clear their focus had shifted.

* The schools' academic performance ranks in the bottom 10 percent statewide, lower than any other schools in the neighborhoods they serve. If their scores don't improve dramatically when the charter expires in 2008, state law could require them to close.

* An outside study faulted the schools last year, when they were under different management, for their religious content. Some parents still view the schools as religious, although Grant officials say they are not.

More than 100,000 Slavic immigrants have moved to the Sacramento region over the past decade. The 2000 census identifies more than 7,200 people of Russian or Ukrainian ancestry living in the Grant district.

Eileen Rishard teaches at the Jackson Road site. She said she tries to keep her students' culture intact. "I play Tchaikovsky in the morning," she said, standing in her classroom. "This is my newest addition." She opened a cabinet to reveal a ceramic tea set. "This tea set is from Armenia."

But Lynn Massetti, a second-grade teacher at one of the North Highlands schools, said she thinks the immigrant parents could be erring in shielding their children from the mainstream public schools. "You can't be scared and hide," she said.

Teachers and parents said the families wanted to get out of district public schools, which they perceive as dangerous. "We know big high schools are very bad," said Mikhail Novikov, who immigrated in 1990. Novikov is an administrative assistant at the charter high school. His seven children went to Rio Linda High, before the charters existed. "Many parents were very afraid," he said. From the street, the charter schools don't much resemble typical schools, but they do provide comfort for many parents. Three of the schools are on church campuses, which is common and legal for charters. One is at the former McClellan Air Force Base. Inside, though, classrooms look similar to those throughout the state.

Most of the Slavic families enrolled are religious refugees, according to school staff. "I genuinely believe they feel this is a safer campus for their children," said Valerie Buehl, a fourth-grade teacher at one of the sites. "They're very devout, and all the other children here are the same."

Florin Ciuriuc, executive director of the Slavic Community Center of Sacramento, which was involved in the creation of the charter schools, describes some of the schools as "sort of private." One of his children attends the charter elementary at McClellan Park. Though he said he respects the separation of church and state, Ciuriuc said he thinks discipline is maintained at the schools because the day can start with prayer. "A lot of what has to do with schools is prayer," Ciuriuc said.

Randy Orzalli, the Grant administrator who supervises the schools, says no prayer occurs at the schools, but parents are able to take students to daily prayers nearby. Orzalli said one of the challenges of running the schools has been trying to impress on Ciuriuc and others the importance of separation of church and state. "A lot of parents wanted a private religious school," Orzalli said. "Not only are we not interested in that, it's not legal." The law also requires charter schools to attempt to be racially representative of the communities they serve. The Grant charter high school is 94.8 percent white, and the elementary schools are 99.1 percent white. The Grant district is 37 percent white. Elk Grove Unified, where one of the charter schools is located, is 32 percent white.

Orzalli said the schools' homogeneity is a direct consequence of the reason children enroll: to learn English in a welcoming environment. But he said the ultimate goal is to integrate the children into the mainstream. Parents picking up their children at the Jackson Road school said their main concern is what they see as the moral depravity in mainstream public schools. They feel the charter schools allow them to preserve their values. "The cultural and moral counts more than the educational," said Miroslav Vysotsky, the father of two children at the school.....

More here


Australian universities were seriously jeopardising their international reputations by placing profits before academic quality, the architect of one the world's leading English language testing systems has warned. David Ingram, a Melbourne academic who co-developed the International English Language Testing System almost 20 years ago in England, yesterday attacked universities for misusing his system. He said this had ultimately led to a serious drop in academic standards. Professor Ingram said the problem was caused in part by "irresponsible action on the part of some universities which were willing to sacrifice quality for money".

"Too often, teaching staff, either out of sympathy for the students or from pressure from marketers or administrators … push students through, whatever the students' levels of performance," he said. "In doing so, they show little regard for the welfare of the international students entering their programs, and for the long-term negative impact such scant regard for quality will have on their ability to attract students and, consequently, on their revenue."

Professor Ingram, who served as the testing system's chief examiner in Australia for 10 years and is now the executive dean of Melbourne University's Private School of Applied Language Studies, said he did not dispute the findings of a Herald investigation, which pointed to widespread problems associated with the influx of non-English speaking full-fee-paying students over the past decade. One in five students now enrolled at Australian universities is from overseas, most having gained access after sitting the English proficiency test. Professor Ingram defended the integrity of the test, saying it was the universities' inappropriate use, interpretation and application of the test's results that had led to many non-English speaking students being accepted into courses beyond their capabilities. This, in turn, had led to an overall drop in academic standards. He said his criticism applied to most Australian universities because they accepted students with a proficiency level below his recommendation of 7.0 on the test. Most universities accept overseas students if they achieve an overall score of 6.0 for undergraduate programs and 6.5 for postgraduate programs.

Professor Ingram acknowledged that a fall in Federal Government funding had forced universities to accept overseas students with inadequate language skills. However, he said the universities themselves needed to compensate for this by providing more support and language-skill programs to ensure academic standards were maintained. A study on entry procedures conducted by Professor Ingram at Griffith University in 2001-02 found widespread unease among academics who said they felt obliged to push international students through "and would pass them if they could make any sense at all out of what they wrote". Professor Ingram said the findings were "quite depressing". He said he had come across two PhD candidates from overseas who were "barely coherent" in English, yet had completed postgraduate degrees at two of Australia's most respected universities. They had been exempted from sitting the language test to gain entry. "All I was able to assume was that, undoubtedly in the false belief that they were being supportive, their supervisors had helped the students write their theses or had turned a blind eye to the fact that someone else was helping them."



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 23, 2005


A series of fights broke out today at Taft High School ahead of a scheduled visit by Mayor-elect Antonio Villaraigosa, and school officials disputing claims by parents and students who said the brawls appeared racially motivated.

As many as 17 patrol cars and an LAPD helicopter were dispatched to the Ventura Boulevard campus about 10 a.m., a Los Angeles Police Department spokeswoman said. Taft Principal Sharon Thomas said there were three separate fights among ninth-graders lining up to take standardized tests in a multi-purpose room. Six students were detained for questioning and the others were sent to their home rooms, she said.

Sandra Torres, 18, a senior, said she saw a number of students hop a fence onto campus and run toward a group of students. "They started beating up on anybody they came across. There must have been 50 people involved. Ten people were hurt with bloody noses (and) lying on the ground. "It was a lot of violence," she said. "I was scared."

Thomas and Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Roy Romer said the fights were not between Latino and African-American students, despite what many students reported. "It was a limited thing," Romer said. "It was not racial." Villaraigosa, appearing with Romer during a news conference, reiterated district officials' comments that the violence was not racially motivated.

But Erika Robles, 17, a junior, said the fighting occurred between African-American and Latino students. About 40 parents rushed to the campus, many of them called by students using cell phones. Carletha Lee, whose nieces and nephews attend the campus, said the district and the mayor-elect were not being candid with parents. "You can only stomach so much, the fact that (Villaraigosa) is downplaying a serious situation.... He wants to discount this as a simple fight between students. We clearly know this is not the case," she said.



It all started last year, when the now 56-year-old teacher allowed a student to take an exam a day earlier than his other students. The student then sent an e-mail message to about 50 students, with the answers to the exam, Dorson said. No explanation or apology was ever received, he said. This year, when the student, whose name the district has withheld, was in the running for a prestigious scholarship awarded by the Flinn Foundation, Dorson said he could not support that. The Flinn is a well-respected scholarship awarded to Arizona students for use at the state's public universities. Students are judged strongly on moral character, in addition to scholastic achievements.

Dorson's road to resignation began when he went to the school's administration and said someone should speak up about last year's cheating incident, Dorson said. It was then, Dorson said, that he was told by the administration to be quiet, that if he spoke out about it he would be fired. Contrary to rumors about the controversy, Dorson said it never crossed his mind to contact the Flinn representatives directly; he just wanted someone to deal with the situation. He was only trying to protect the district, not cause trouble, he said.

In the weeks that followed, no one from the administration responded to Dorson's request, he said, which finally prompted him to say, "enough." He wrote a letter of resignation in February and the board immediately approved it. "I think there are people that wanted me gone," Dorson said.

Foothills High School Principal Wagner Van Vlack said he could not comment on the situation. "I'm reluctant on a moral ground to comment in a story that doesn't get to the moral truth," he said, adding that he could not comment because it is impossible to get to the whole story because of privacy laws and certain information that could not be disclosed.

In the months following Dorson's resignation, students, parents and teachers have supported their favorite teacher and have called upon the board to look into the matter. More than 60 people attended a May 10 board meeting, many of whom spoke in support of Dorson. "People throughout all of metropolitan Tucson know and love this individual, the man whom you do not value," said Ann Moynihan, as she spoke to the board. Moynihan, whose son is a student of Dorson, said that soon after her son joined his classroom she began to notice a difference in him, something she credits to the tremendous teaching skill of Dorson. "He puts the fire to the tinder," Moynihan said......

Zamkinos said she fully understands the reasons Dorson is leaving, and admits there is a cheating problem that is not being addressed within the district. School officials have said they take cheating very seriously and deals with each situation accordingly. One way students are cheating is by text-messaging exam answers to each other's cell phones, Zamkinos said. According to the district's student discipline policy, forgery and cheating are "prohibited student conduct."

Kareem Hassan, another student of Dorson, said that "the main issue is not whether or not Dorson is the best teacher in the world, but that the school can't even follow its own policy regarding cheating." Cheating should be taken seriously, something Hassan said is not happening within the district. Hassan said the administrators are not promoting integrity when they can't stand behind one of their own when a teacher is trying to make sure a student is punished for not having integrity. "He was essentially forced to resign," Hassan said.....

Dorson could, however, face an investigation and possible teaching certification removal by the Arizona Board of Education. On May 6, a Catalina Foothills administrator reported an alleged violation of the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act, said Lisette Flores, chief investigator for the board. Flores would not say who reported Dorson. She said, only, that it was regarding the matter of Dorson sharing the discipline of the student who cheated. Dorson said he was shocked when he received a phone call from a newspaper reporter telling him about the report. He was stunned that no one from the district told him first, he said. "They have confused dissent with loyalty," he said. "The emphasis has been on keeping things quiet."

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


Sunday, May 22, 2005


(At the college level, I think it mainly means that fewer men than women are willing to waste their time and money on a crap education. At lower levels I think it means that black males are much more likely to drop out than black females -- mainly for "attitudinal" reasons)

Harvard President Lawrence Summers, still doing damage control over some ill-chosen comments about women in the sciences, dug into his university's deep pockets this week and found $50 million to spend on improving the lives of women on his campus. Those 10-year investments in mentoring and child care are to be applauded. But don't come away from Summers' gifting with the wrong idea: On most campuses, the problem is with men, not women.

More than 57% of the freshly robed graduates parading across podiums this graduation season will be female, up from 43% in 1970. In Minnesota this year, women outperformed men in every degree category, earning more than two-thirds of the master's degrees and more than half the doctorates. That's good for the girls, but what about the boys?

The trends are almost universally grim. A Yale University report released this week shows that boys are getting expelled from preschools at more than four times the rate girls are. Given the impressive benefits that high quality preschools bestow on students, that's a problem. Nothing seems to improve much in elementary school, where boys quickly fall behind girls, especially in verbal skills. Not all boys, to be sure, but a disproportionate ratio. When boys are slow to pick up reading skills,educators are quick to conclude they suffer from some medical deficiency. Boys are twice as likely to be diagnosed with learning disabilities and four times as likely to be put on attention-deficit medication.

In middle school, that modest verbal gap from elementary school doubles in size. By ninth grade, the problem can't be hidden. That's when students begin a college-preparation sequence of courses that demand high verbal skills. No surprise that boys are a third more likely to drop out of high school. Many boys rally by the junior and senior years of high school. But by then girls have won most of the academic awards and school leadership roles. All that makes the girls attractive recruits for colleges.

Fixing the missing-male problem will take effort - something akin to the effort undertaken by parents and educators to make girls more successful in the classroom. Until that happens, audiences can only look up at the graduates promenading across the platform to receive their diplomas and wonder: Where are the men?



Ontario has unveiled a kinder, gentler math curriculum it hopes will stem the rising tide of high school dropouts. The government has made sweeping changes to Grade 9 math, in the more hands-on applied stream where staggering failure rates have been linked to a growing number of dropouts since the tough new four-year high school program began in 1999. Starting this fall, Grade 9 students in applied math will be expected to master nearly one-third less material while getting more practical lessons. As well, teachers will get more tips on how to make math relevant to teens.

Gone are subjects teachers deemed too abstract for many Grade 9 applied students, such as analytical geometry, the study of the steepness of "slopes" and lessons on the algebra needed to plot a parabolic curve. When marking, teachers will be encouraged to give more weight to a student's overall comprehension of math concepts, rather than simply follow a lengthy checklist of individual skills. As well, the new course will dovetail more smoothly with Grade 12 math studies for pupils interested incommunity college and the skilled trades.

And appearing in Grade 9 is the occasional reference to feet and yards instead of metres, for students who may be headed for a job in construction, where many measurements are still done in imperial units. "It's a phenomenal improvement. The big, big deal was to get less content crammed into the curriculum, and they've done that. It's huge," said Stewart Craven, math co-ordinator for the Toronto District School Board.

Rather than "dumb down" the curriculum, Craven predicts the changes actually enrich students' learning by removing a clutter of abstract concepts he said had no business in Grade 9 applied math in the first place. Many have called Grade 9 applied math the biggest roadblock to graduation for Ontario teens, because it was too similar to the more abstract academic course for those headed to university.

Fully 90 per cent of the material was the same in both courses, and teachers complained many applied students found the material too difficult. An alarming three-quarters of applied students failed to meet provincial standards on the latest Ontario-wide Grade 9 math test, compared to just one-third of academic students.

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