Saturday, June 04, 2005


(Review of Donald Alexander Downs: Restoring Free Speech and Liberty on Campus)

Our universities are ailing. Many, including most of our elite universities, have abandoned the notion that a liberal arts education is constituted by a solid core, that is, a basic knowledge of the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences that all educated people should possess. Furthermore, for all their earnest words about the beauty and necessity of multicultural education, university administrators and faculty preside over a curriculum that routinely permits students to graduate without acquiring reading, writing, and speaking fluency in any foreign language, let alone competence in Chinese, the language of the most populous country in the world; Hindi, the most widely spoken language in the world's largest democracy; or Arabic, the language of Islam, a religion that commands an estimated 1.4 billion adherents worldwide. And perhaps most alarmingly, those who lead our universities have done little to oppose - often they have caved in to - fellow administrators and faculty who would sacrifice free and open inquiry to tender sensibilities and partisan politics. Unfortunately, an institution that lacks an ideal of an educated person, that fails to teach its students more than platitudes about the world beyond America's shores, and that punishes those who express hypotheses disagreeable to campus majorities makes a mockery of the idea of higher education. Such an institution may confer prestige and ensure handsome incomes after graduation, it may serve as an effective credentialing mechanism for future employers, and it may provide an attractive site for the charitable giving of wealthy alums, but it is hardly worthy of the name university.

Donald Alexander Downs, professor of political science, law, and journalism at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, is particularly concerned about the damage that has been done to American universities over the past 20 years by the universities' own assault, in the name of diversity, on free speech and liberty. Grounded in case studies of Columbia, Berkeley, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Wisconsin (where he played a major role in the ultimately successful movement to abolish speech codes), Downs's book is all the more devastating for the measure and scrupulousness with which he makes his case. Proceeding from an exploration of the ideas underlying the new anti-discrimination and harassment codes, Downs exposes rampant administration self-righteousness and faculty fecklessness in the face of university disciplinary proceedings that dispense with or trample on the most basic elements of procedural fairness. But his tale is also an inspiring one, chronicling the power of a few brave faculty members and students to stand up to the censors, to mobilize support on campus and off, and to defeat the forces that threaten the university from within. Downs's case studies also show that outside our universities free speech sentiment is strong and can serve as a vital resource for those who will continue the struggle in the coming years to teach our disordered universities what our universities should be teaching students and exemplifying for the nation.

Downs is not a First Amendment absolutist or a civil liberties zealot. Nor is he a conservative crusader against the forces of political correctness. He has long studied the question of free speech and has come to his opinions the hard way, by testing them in practice and reflecting on the unexpected and unjust results. As a young scholar in the 1980s, Downs was the author of a book arguing that First Amendment protection should not have covered the right of neo-Nazis to march in Skokie, Illinois, where they were targeting Holocaust survivors and those whose families and friends had been murdered by the Nazis. And initially he was "firmly committed" to the codes governing students and faculty established in the late 1980s at the University of Wisconsin under then-Chancellor Donna Shalala to promote diversity and to combat race and sex discrimination. Although proponents insisted that these codes governed conduct and not speech, students could be punished "[f]or racist or discriminatory comments, epithets, or other expressive behavior directed at an individual or on separate occasions at different individuals" if such "expressive behavior" was intentional. The code governing faculty turned out to be even broader, not restricting its prohibition to harm intentionally inflicted. It did not take Downs long to grow alarmed by the high-handed manner in which both codes were enforced. The university proved willing to prosecute the expression of opinion, to suspend the most basic requirements of fundamental fairness, and to destroy reputations built up over decades by throwing its full weight behind the prosecution of comments that were clearly neither racist nor discriminatory. But it was not just the abuse of the codes that turned Downs against them. Concessions on free speech in situations not involving direct incitement to physical harm or violence, he concluded, were inimical to the university's central mission, the transmission of knowledge and the pursuit of truth.

What forces have driven universities to clamp down on the free play of ideas and to collaborate in the vilification of moral and political opinions that depart from campus orthodoxies? One factor involves a transformation in the idea of the university. The last 25 years have witnessed the return of what Downs calls the "proprietary university," which sees its central mission not as the transmission of knowledge and the pursuit of truth but rather as the inculcation of a specific - in this case ostensibly progressive - moral and political agenda. Another involves a transformation in the progressive sensibility itself. As late as the mid-1960s, the dominant opinion on the left was that free speech and due process were essential to the creation of a more inclusive and just society. But belief in the progressive character of liberal principles has been under intense attack by influential scholars since the glory days of Martin Luther King Jr. Radical feminists such as Catharine MacKinnon argue that the oppression of women is itself a product of liberal commitments to fair process (notwithstanding that never in history have women enjoyed the freedom and equality achieved in contemporary liberal democracies). Critical legal theorists maintain the same about the oppression of the poor, and critical race theorists press the claim concerning the oppression of minorities (notwithstanding the reduction in the number and poverty of the poor and the unprecedented inclusion of minorities in public life in liberal democracies). At the same time, many campus theorists drew inspiration from Algerian social critic Frantz Fanon, whose The Wretched of the Earth argued that sympathy with those who suffer is a higher priority than respect for individual rights (even though respect for individual rights has proven over time the most successful means for alleviating suffering). Meanwhile, postmodern critics, believing themselves to be following Nietzsche, argued that individual rights were fictions invented by the strong to control the weak (never mind that Nietzsche decried modern liberalism as an invention of the weak to tyrannize the strong). Taken together, these opinions encouraged the idea of "progressive censorship," the policing of speech to ensure that it conformed to standards deemed necessary to lift up and liberate the oppressed.....

Not since A. Bartlett Giamatti stepped down from the presidency of Yale in the mid-1980s has the leader of a major American college or university seen it as part of his or her responsibility to educate students, faculty, and the nation about the true mission of the university. As our understanding of what universities should stand for fades, our need for such leaders to make the case for the university grows more urgent. Liberal democracy depends on citizens who can respect others in their amazing diversity and in their common humanity, who can intelligently question today's conventional wisdom thanks to what they have learned from the past and been inspired to imagine for the future, and who can use their reason both to distinguish justice from injustice and to recognize the ease with which our passions and interests impel us to confuse the two.

The university contributes its part to forming such citizens by opening students' eyes to the treasures (and flaws) of Western civilization and to the treasures (and flaws) of non-Western civilizations. Not the least of the lessons of a well-formed liberal arts education is that our universities can play their crucial political role only by staunchly refusing to politicize the transmission of knowledge and the pursuit of truth.

More here

Bake sales or Bombers? Our schools need both!

Post lifted from the Locker Room

Remember the 1980's hippie slogan that read: "Wouldn't it be great if the schools had all the money they needed and the Pentagon had to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber?"

More money, buckets of it, that's what they claim will fix our public schools. The message hasn't changed and is bleated each year with more emotion. The Wake County School Board knows the routine.

Some Wake County residents claim they would pay a little more if the money went straight to the classroom, but therein lies the root of the problem. If the money is obviously not making it to the classroom, where is it going? Clearly we all know the answer, but no one wants to lasso that elephant in the room. Instead we keep throwing it more peanuts and try to give it a pedicure.

It's unfortunate that these citizens, despite their reservations, blindly support and accept a bloated system that becomes more cumbersome each year. A public school monopoly has forced them into a corner.

Given more information and choices, I have to believe that these respondents would have answered the reporter differently. If the News and Observer contacts me, I'm ready with my answer, "Let's hold a bake sale, 'cause the public schools have all the money they need and it's gonna take a bomber to clean that house."


From Mike Adams

University administrators, professors, and student newspapers are becoming so detached from reality that one can hardly write satire about university life. Nor can one muster the sarcasm necessary to give these people the ridicule they deserve. For example, I recently mocked the editors of UNC-Wilmington's student newspaper, The Seahawk, for wanting Christian organizations to sign a non-discrimination clause that would clearly trump constitutionally protected freedoms of religious expression. I jokingly suggested that the paper believes that "students who believe that rape and pedophilia are good must be allowed to join, vote, and hold office in a Christian fraternity."

Unfortunately, The Seahawk missed the sarcasm and gave this serious two-word answer: "They should." They even explained their position: "The one incontrovertible legal point at the center of the Alpha Iota Omega debate is that AIO is an official student organization, funded by student fees. And, thank God - no pun intended - it's University policy that organizations funded by student fees should be open to all students, without discrimination of any kind. End of story."

The quote you just read shows why a university without a journalism school or a law school should not publish a student newspaper offering legal opinions. In the lawsuit filed by AIO against UNC, the Christians won an injunction against the school, just weeks before the Seahawk editorial was published. So much for that "one incontrovertible legal point." The reason the lawsuit is going badly for UNC probably lies in the fact that those student fees came from the students in the first place. In this lawsuit, the federal judge clearly recognizes that the university's policy would require Christians who oppose rape and pedophilia to; first, pay mandatory student fees (another name for tax) to a government-run school, and then, second, agree to allow rapists and pedophiles (or anyone else) to join the group as a condition of getting the money back. Thankfully the federal judge, unlike the UNC administration and these top-notch Seahawk reporters, understands that such a policy is absurd, not to mention totalitarian.

In addition to being bad journalists with a bad sense of humor, the Seahawk writers don't know much about history. This is shown in the following quote: "The bigger question (is): How paranoid do you have to be to believe that a group of neo-Nazis is going to take over your Christian fraternity? Clearly, if the university allows any student to join AIO, it will soon be overrun by baby-eating street thugs who (sic) vote out the Christian leadership."

That statement is problematic for two reasons. The first problem is one of historical ignorance. In 1956, the United States Supreme Court rejected a demand by the State of Alabama that the NAACP make its membership lists public. In its first case to explicitly establish the "freedom of association," the Supreme Court declared: "It is beyond debate that freedom to engage in association for the advancement of beliefs and ideas is an inseparable aspect of the 'liberty' assured by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which embraces freedom of speech."

This case was necessitated by the efforts of white racists (with beliefs similar to neo-Nazis) to invade and control the NAACP. But now, the "liberal" student newspapers and administrators are on the side of those white racists and segregationists. They are now fighting to undo the work of the Warren Court and the NAACP. Is it possible that they have gone so far left that they are now far right?

But there is a second problem with the position of the UNC system and the Seahawk. The problem is logical, rather than historical. By saying that someone has to be paranoid to believe that anyone hostile to Christianity would ever want to join a Christian group, one is making the best possible case against the non-discrimination clause. Put simply, this is the same as saying that the policy is good because it will never actually have to be implemented. To say that the best idea is the one which has the least application to reality is to understand the source of the problem. It shows that these students are merely parroting the ideas of their professors. Professors like to keep their ideas as far removed from reality as possible.

If that statement seems far-fetched, just image the headlines these students would have to run if they actually tried to eliminate every form of discrimination, rather than merely saying that they oppose every form of discrimination:

"UNC-Wilmington Discriminates Against Whites in Student Admissions"

"UNC-Greensboro Discriminates Against Sex Offenders, Fires Convicted Pedophile"

"Study Shows Athletic Department Discriminates Against the Obese"

"Extra! Extra! Read All About it! Phi Beta Kappa May be Excluding Dummies"

"Dwarves Systematically Overlooked in Basketball Try-outs, Read Our Exclusive Story!"

"Discrimination Against the Handicapped Persists: Blind Bus Driver Fired for Failing Physical"

"Time to Protest University Use of SAT and GPA to Exclude College Applicants!"

"How Grades Discriminate Against the Drunk and Lazy"

Will university liberals ever seek a "solution" to any of these "problems"? Of course not. Today's university liberal is as apathetic about the consequences of his ideas as he is ignorant of their historical origins. But none of that matters to him. In his heart, he knows he's still right.


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, June 03, 2005


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Secretary to the Publishers
Customer Service Resolution Center Supervisor
The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC


A group of professors interested in preserving academic freedom wants the Cal State San Bernardino administration to consider if the College Republicans are abusing their right to protest. Campus President Albert Karnig held a forum for students and faculty Tuesday night to discuss which First Amendment rights students are allowed to exercise. He said the university would be wrong to censor fliers distributed by the group but said professors might want to consider legal action if they think the College Republicans have slandered or libeled them. The College Republicans are calling for students to boycott the Perspectives on Gender course offered by the university because they say professors promote a liberal, feminist and pro-homosexual agenda and academically punish students with different beliefs.

Ryan Sorba, president of the College Republicans, handed out fliers in the winter quarter asking students to skip the class. Now he is distributing fliers with a "Professor Watch List' of professors that students should boycott. The list has three names the co-instructors for the Perspectives on Gender class. "Basically they give bad grades to students if they don't agree with their opinions,' Sorba said.

"It's been an attack on my integrity,' said associate professor Marcia Marx, one of the named instructors. "I also feel personally threatened. If you talk about someone with respect to ideology, that's one thing. But to discuss grading practices and about unfair distribution of grades based on agreeing or not agreeing with a point of view is another thing entirely.'

Sorba said he gets nearly a dozen e-mails every quarter from students in the class saying the instructors deduct grades from papers if an argument is presented that does not support pro-homosexual views.

Karnig said he took seriously assertions that someone's expressed beliefs would hurt their grades but suggested the students file grievances.

Aurora Wolfgang, Women's Studies coordinator, said only two or three grievances pertaining to the Perspectives in Gender class have been filed in five years. Of those complaints, she said, none has suggested that a difference in ideology contributed to a lower-than-deserved grade, though in one complaint a professor had disregarded some sources in a paper as not credible. The class has a regular enrollment of about 240 students per quarter, she said. "It's a class where we have to turn people away in droves,' Wolfgang said. "If this effort has been affecting us at all, there are people right behind the people dropping out who want to take that spot in the class.'

But professors are not concerned about the enrollment figures. By singling out whichever three instructors teach this course each quarter, the reputation of the individuals and institution suffers, said Nancy Rose, an instructor named in the flier. "Most of this is being perpetuated by someone who hasn't taken the class,' Rose said. "(Sorba) is saying things that are not true. It's much easier to make things up.'

Many students at the forum defended the professors and said the university should stop the attacks. Others said the group's complaints were not being taken seriously enough by the administration. Several asked Sorba about joining the organization.

Psychology professor Gloria Cowan said at the forum Sorba has no right to publicly humiliate instructors.

Sorba said he attended a class last summer to observe the teaching, though instructors said he did more to disrupt lessons. At the class, Sorba said he heard instructor Cindy Paxton say there is no evidence transvestites suffer from a mental disorder, though a Gender Identity Disorder is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Paxton is also named on the flier. Paxton said he had no right to be in the class at all and that his description of the events was not accurate. The named professors say they can handle criticism of their teaching methods, but they said Sorba's attacks reach into slanderous territory. "I don't think libel is free speech,' Marx said.



Brooklyn College's School of Education has begun to base evaluations of aspiring teachers in part on their commitment to social justice, raising fears that the college is screening students for their political views. The School of Education at the CUNY campus initiated last fall a new method of judging teacher candidates based on their "dispositions," a vogue in teacher training across the country that focuses on evaluating teachers' values, apart from their classroom performance.

Critics of the assessment policy warned that aspiring teachers are being judged on how closely their political views are aligned with their instructor's. Ultimately, they said, teacher candidates could be ousted from the School of Education if they are found to have the wrong dispositions. "All of these buzz words don't seem to mean anything until you look and see how they're being implemented," a prominent history professor at Brooklyn College, Robert David Johnson, said. "Dispositions is an empty vessel that could be filled with any agenda you want," he said. Critics such as Mr. Johnson say the dangers of the assessment policy became immediately apparent in the fall semester when several students filed complaints against an instructor who they said discriminated against them because of their political beliefs and "denounced white people as the oppressors."

Classroom clashes between the assistant professor, Priya Parmar, and one outspoken student led a sympathetic colleague of the instructor to conduct an informal investigation of the dispositions of the student, who the colleague said exhibited "aggressive and bullying behavior toward his professor." That student and another one were subsequently accused by the dean of the education school of plagiarism and were given lower grades as a result.

Brooklyn College, established in 1930, is a four-year school within the City University of New York. The college enrolls more than 15,000 students, and the School of Education has about 3,200, including 1,000 undergraduates. Driving the new policies at the college and similar ones at other education schools is a mandate set forth by the largest accrediting agency of teacher education programs in America, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. That 51-year-old agency, composed of 33 professional associations, says it accredits 600 colleges of education - about half the country's total. Thirty-nine states have adopted or adapted the council's standards as their own, according to the agency.

In 2000 the council introduced new standards for accrediting education schools. Those standards incorporated the concept of dispositions, which the agency maintains ought to be measured, to sort out teachers who are likeliest to be successful. In a glossary, the council says dispositions "are guided by beliefs and attitudes related to values such as caring, fairness, honesty, responsibility, and social justice."

To drive home the notion that education schools ought to evaluate teacher candidates on such parameters as attitude toward social justice, the council issued a revision of its accrediting policies in 2002 in a Board of Examiners Update. It encouraged schools to tailor their assessments of dispositions to the schools' guiding principles, which are known in the field as "conceptual frameworks." The council's policies say that if an education school "has described its vision for teacher preparation as 'Teachers as agents of change' and has indicated that a commitment to social justice is one disposition it expects of teachers who can become agents of change, then it is expected that unit assessments include some measure of a candidate's commitment to social justice."

Brooklyn College's School of Education, which is the only academic unit at the college with the status of school, is among dozens of education schools across the country that incorporate the notion of "social justice" in their guiding principles. At Brooklyn, "social justice" is one of the four main principles in its conceptual framework. The school's conceptual framework states that it develops in its students "a deeper understanding of the quest for social justice." In its explanation of that mission, the school states: "We educate teacher candidates and other school personnel about issues of social injustice such as institutionalized racism, sexism, classism, and heterosexism."

Critics of the dispositions standard contend that the idea of "social justice," a term frequently employed in left-wing circles, is open to politicization. "It's political correctness that has insinuated into the criteria for accreditation of teacher education institutions," a noted education theorist in New York, Diane Ravitch, said. "Once that becomes the criteria for institutions as a whole, it gives free rein to those who want to impose it in their classrooms," she said. Ms. Ravitch is the author of "The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn."

A case in point, as Mr. Johnson of Brooklyn College has pointed out, is the way in which the term was incorporated into Ms. Parmar's course, called Language Literacy in Secondary Education, which students said is required of all Brooklyn College education candidates who aspire to become secondary-school teachers. In the fall semester, Ms. Parmar was the only instructor who taught the course, according to students. The course, which instructs students on how to develop lesson plans that teach literacy, is built around themes of "social justice," according to the syllabus, which was obtained by The New York Sun. One such theme is the idea that standard English is the language of oppressors while Ebonics, a term educators use to denote a dialect used by African-Americans, is the language of the oppressed.

A preface to the listed course requirements includes a quotation from a South African scholar, Njabulo Ndebele: "The need to maintain control over English by its native speakers has given birth to a policy of manipulative open-mindedness in which it is held that English belongs to all who use it provided that it is used correctly. This is the art of giving away the bride while insisting that she still belongs to you."

Among the complaints cited by students in letters they delivered in December to the dean of the School of Education, Deborah Shanley, is Ms. Parmar's alleged disapporval of students who defended the ability to speak grammatically correct English.

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


Thursday, June 02, 2005

Let's not forget real-world implications

"Are schools preparing students to meet employers' needs?" Only 20% of 450 business and political leaders answered "yes" to the question, according to a survey cited last year in this newspaper.

Unless Education Secretary Margaret Spellings and the Bush administration free the curriculum from the control of academics and the majority of professional educators, changes in the No Child Left Behind high school initiatives are not likely to counter the woeful preparation of our high school students for living in the 21st century. Focusing solely on higher academic standards fails to deal with the reality that most of what is taught, and the way it is taught and tested, does not help students develop the skills they need to pursue successful careers and become responsible citizens.

High schools students spend the bulk of their academic time mastering algebra rather than statistics, interpreting English literature rather than improving written communication, memorizing historical facts rather than developing a civic character, and studying scientific theory and definitions rather than applying scientific thinking and findings to health and environmental problems. Our high school curriculum suffers for political reasons. Not political as in Democrat, Republican or independent. Curricula are produced by a liberal arts elite acting as academic interest groups. These groups, such as the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics or the Modern Language Association, seek to get their subject in the curricula as aggressively as Pepsi and Coca-Cola seek to get their products into school vending machines. Unfortunately, the political inertia is rooted in longevity. For decades, college professors and their disciples who have taken up teaching have dictated curriculum. These individuals occupy positions of power on state government-sponsored curriculum committees that determine what is taught.

The idea of putting workplace and citizenship skills above specific content goals is not new to American education. Ben Franklin saw a similar educational problem more than 250 years ago — students being taught subjects that were in Franklin's word "ornamental" rather than useful to them as workers and citizens. He was particularly agitated by the practice of teaching Latin when it was no longer necessary, since most of the great works were translated into English. Franklin called for a reformed, practical curriculum of arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, rhetoric, grammar, literature, history, drawing, handwriting, accounting, geography, morality, logic, natural history, mechanics and gardening.

He started a school in the 1750s for this educational purpose, which eventually became the University of Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, Franklin was forced by the professional educators at the time to allow half of the curriculum to be in Latin. The Latinists took the school over, and Franklin withdrew his support after decades of frustration.

Educators still haven't learned their lessons. Can policies be developed to break the stranglehold that the liberal arts political machine has on our high school curriculum? The question has more urgency today in such a competitive job environment and a time when there are so many challenges to our way of life.



An honors program beset by ethnic tensions and strained relations between parents and administrators at Lincoln Middle School is being eliminated. After three months of public debate, trustees for Vista Unified voted 4-1 late Monday to eliminate the Gifted and Talented Education program, which supporters said promoted Lincoln's brightest students. School administrators, however, said the GATE program was closed to most students. The board's decision will open honors classes that have GATE students to everyone.

School and district officials said putting GATE students in classes with those of mixed abilities would help improve test scores.

Many parents of Latino students and English-learners said they supported the change because their children would be forced to excel. However, some parents said the academic mix would diminish a gifted child's education by watering down class content and pace. "My daughter's worth it," Robb Scheele, who led the pro-GATE side, said before Monday's meeting. "It's what I need to do to make sure she has the best education she can have."

Trustee Jim Gibson said he cast the lone dissenting vote because he wanted to leave the honors program as it is. About 275 people crowded into Lincoln's gymnasium for the three-hour meeting. Those who opposed the change sat on one side of the half-court line; Latino families who wanted GATE opened to all students sat on the other. Children of pro-GATE parents stood toward the front, waving signs that read, "Save honors." Their Latino counterparts, from the back of the room, displayed signs that read, "We want our voices to be heard now!" There was a break in the meeting when someone pulled a fire alarm at 9:15 p.m. The debate resumed 10 minutes later.

"All of the students should have the (honors-class) opportunity," Juan Rojas told the board in Spanish. His son attends Lincoln but is not a GATE student. By the time trustees voted, the crowd had dwindled to about 50. All students will have a chance now to attend classes with groupings of eight to 10 GATE students. They will not have to fill out an application, write an essay and be recommended by a teacher for the honors classes. Meanwhile, the district will study a proposal from Gibson to offer honors classes to all students at all four of Vista Unified's middle schools in two years. "We don't want to have a territory of the elite," said Peter Kuchinsky, a GATE parent who supported the proposal. "It's open access."

Gibson's compromise would require students who want to be in honors classes to have a high grade-point average or parental and teacher support. Lincoln Principal Larrie Hall's plan gives everyone a chance. "The issue for me is, do you provide honors-type classes for all kids or just some kids?" he asked rhetorically. The three other middle schools in Vista Unified previously eliminated their GATE programs, making Lincoln's unique.

Scheele visited state and federal offices last week in search of support. "I support the GATE program," wrote Assemblyman Mark Wyland, R-Vista, in a letter sent Monday to Vista Unified. It "allows individual students to accelerate academically beyond the boundaries of the classroom and reach their fullest academic potential."

Parents of GATE students in February learned from a teacher that Hall intended to break up the GATE classes in an attempt to improve test scores. English-learners and students of poorer households had weighed down Lincoln's academic performance it was said. Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act the school was put on "program improvement" status.

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


Wednesday, June 01, 2005


Post lifted from Betsy Newmark

The New York Times has a story about the efforts that schools across the nation have been making to reduce the gap between white and minority students since the passage of No Child Left Behind.

"People all over the country are suddenly scrambling around trying to find ways to close this gap," said Ronald Ferguson, a Harvard professor who for more than a decade has been researching school practices that could help improve minority achievement. He said he recently has received many requests for advice. "Superintendents are calling and saying, 'Can you help us?' "

No Child Left Behind requires schools to bring all students to grade level over the next decade. The law has aroused a backlash from teachers' unions and state lawmakers, who call some of its provisions unreasonable, like one that punishes schools where test scores of disabled students remain lower than other students'. But even critics acknowledge that the requirement that schools release scores categorized by students' race and ethnic group has obliged educators to work harder to narrow the achievement gap.

"I've been very critical of N.C.L.B. on other grounds," said Robert L. Linn, a co-director of the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing. But he called the law's insistence that test scores be made public by race and ethnic group "one of the things that's been good."

The new stress on raising minority achievement is a direct result on the NCLB requirments on accountability for raising all student groups' performance. Just as advertised.

This has been my own experience. North Carolina was ahead of the nation on accountability requirements. In the 90s NC passed requirements that tied teacher bonuses to student achievement on End of Grade tests in reading and math. There is a complicated formula that measures how students did in a previous year and then measures their improvement. Schools can achieve the bonuses for all their teachers if the students improve by a certain amount. Before these requirements were put in, we'd have faculty meetings that I distinctly remember where we would sit around and brainstorm all sorts of ideas for improving test scores and helping kids with their basic skills. We'd produce a long list, but, as far as I could tell, little of that was ever implemented. We'd talk about all teachers including reading and writing in their curriculum but it was left up to us to carry this out. So, teachers would come up with something that they were already doing and then claim that that was related to reading and writing skills. So, basically, we didn't change anything we actually did. We just changed how we labeled it. Well, if you don't change anything, you're not going to see much improvement.

But after the new law was passed tying bonuses to improvement, things really changed. Suddenly, we implemented some real changes. I was teaching in a magnet school where middle school students could take three electives a quarter. We had talked for years about requiring kids with low reading and writing skills to take targeted electives. Now, finally, this was put into place. The principal moved some money around to hire a couple of teachers whose sole job was to work with those students. We tried new computer-teaching programs that targeted specific weaknesses in reading. We began new math electives to reteach basic skills. An afterschool tutoring program and even some Saturday classes began. And, guess what, our school, which had a mix of academically gifted students and neighborhood kids who had low skills, started to see some nice improvement in the basic reading and math skills of those lower-achieving students. What was so noticeable to me was the difference in the administration's actions from the period of time when the state was just setting goals for improvement with no teeth behind those requirements, and afterwards when a carrot-and-stick approach was implemented. We wanted those bonuses for showing substantial improvement. And the stick was the threat that schools that didn't show improvement would have to have state officials come in and oversee every aspect of our school if we didn't improve.

So, that is why I supported No Child Left Behind. I abhor the idea of the national government getting involved in local issues like education. However, now that NCLB has been implemented, schools across the nation are discovering the inspiration that the carrot-and-stick approach to accountability can have to force administrators to focus on raising the achievement levels of those students who previously were getting left behind.


As it should be

As many as one in four teenagers from single-parent families are deterred from thoughts of university by the prospect of getting into debt, a study has found. White working-class boys are worst affected. More than 2,700 schoolchildren aged 11 to 16 from London to Wales and the West Midlands were questioned over two days by Mori pollsters about their desire to go to university. The findings, which come ahead of the introduction of university top-up fees next year, highlight the challenge to the Government and universities in seeking to widen participation in higher education among the worst-off.

Tessa Stone, the director of the education charity the Sutton Trust, said that the findings were significant because while youngsters often aspired to getting a job they were not often aware of the concept of getting into debt. She said that she expected the figure of those not applying to university because of debt to be even higher for 18 year olds, “because for younger children debt is not that meaningful, so the fact that they are worried about it is significant”. She added: “But of course, this is the group (children of single-parent families) for whom debt and financial insecurity will be most real and who will see daily the impact of a constricted budget and lifestyle.”

Seven in ten pupils said that they were likely to go into higher education and, as in previous years, more girls than boys saw themselves studying for a degree. Young people living in cities were more likely to try for university than those in rural areas. Between the ages of 11 and 16, the percentage that said they were unlikely to go to university grew from 9 to 19 per cent. Of those, 48 per cent said that they wanted “to start earning money as soon as possible” and 35 per cent felt that they could get a well-paid job without a degree. For children from single-parent families, earning a crust was key to turning their backs on higher education.

The overall proportion of young people who said that they were unlikely to go into higher education because they were worried about getting into debt remained relatively low at 17 per cent. That figure dropped to 15 per cent in a two-parent household but rose to 25 per cent for those in a single-parent household. At the same time, while 48 per cent of young people declared that they wanted to “start earning money as soon as possible”, that figure climbed to 59 per cent among children from one-parent families.

The figures showed that although degrees were likely to earn a graduate more money in the longer term, that message had failed to get across to the less well-off, Dr Stone said. “This is the group of students that are making important choices at 16 that will affect their futures and have a catastrophically high dropout rate at that age,” she said.

The Sutton Trust survey also disclosed that 79 per cent of ethnic minorities compared with 69 per cent of white teenagers thought it “likely” that they would get a degree. One in four thought it “very likely”. Dr Stone said: “This is partly because they have a much more traditional culture that expects hard work, discipline and respect of teachers, and partly because they have a need to get on. They are still very aspiring in a way that white people in deprived areas are not.” ...

In January the Higher Education Funding Council for England disclosed that despite a rapid expansion of university places the class divide remained “deep and persistent”. Youngsters from the wealthiest 20 per cent of homes were six times more likely to go to university than those from the poorest 20 per cent.

Top-up fees, which are being brought in to help to fund universities, will increase the cost of study from about £3,000 to a maximum of £9,000 for a three-year course. Once a graduate’s salary rises above £15,000, repayments will be 9 per cent of the excess. A student on a three-year course starting next year, who takes out maximum student loans and owes fees of £9,000, will be £20,745 in debt at the end of the degree. However, any debt remaining after 25 years will be written off.

From The Times


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 31, 2005


A Catholic college in Vermont is getting an openly-homosexual dean, according to a story in 'Out in the Mountains,' Vermont’s “voice for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, [and] transgender people.” The story, written by Stacey Horn, says that “Professor Jeffrey Trumbower, a gay man and a Unitarian, has been appointed dean of St. Michael’s College, a Catholic school established in 1904 by the Society of Saint Edmund, a French order of Catholic priests. “Trumbower, who holds a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago Divinity School, currently chairs the Religious Studies Department at St. Mike's, where he has been on the faculty for 16 years. Though he is not the first non-Catholic to be dean of the college, he is the first openly gay man in the position….

“According to search committee chair and political science professor Bill Grover, ‘We were very fortunate to have two terrific people [apply] and Jeff rose to the top.’ Grover said that religion was not a factor in choosing the dean and that the committee wanted a candidate who would ‘fit with the overall mission of the college.’ Of Trumbower, Grover said, ‘He's going to be a terrific dean….’ “Trumbower came to St. Mike's in 1989, after completing his dissertation. He was not familiar with the area before he came, and when he arrived, he ‘started going to the church at the head of church street. I resonated with that community and realized that I was home spiritually.’ Trumbower met his partner here in Vermont. They have been together for ten years. “Jeff Trumbower… will assume his new position as dean of the Catholic college of St. Michael's on July 1.”

The teaching of the Catholic Church on homosexuality is as follows:

"Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.’ They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved" (Catechism, no. 2357).



In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the legality of affirmative action in college admissions. But the political controversy surrounding affirmative action, and the limits placed on its use by the Supreme Court as well as by various state entities, has had a major impact on graduate education, according to a report released Wednesday. According to the report, from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, many of the groups that support minority Ph.D. students have broadened their programs to include other students as well. As a result, the report warns that the cohort of new Ph.D.'s - and in turn the cohort of new professors in the years to come - may lack the racial and ethnic diversity many colleges want for their faculties.

The foundation's report has two main parts. One part summarizes data showing how few Ph.D.'s are awarded to black and Hispanic students. In 2003, the report notes, one in three Americans was black or Hispanic, but only one in nine American citizens who received Ph.D.'s that year were black or Hispanic. The data in the report largely come from the studies conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago and released in December. While the data are not new, the foundation also conducted interviews and research on programs to diversify the graduate student population. The foundation studied efforts by the government, foundations and individual universities, and found retrenchment and shifts just about everywhere - money for minority Ph.D. students getting cut. Programs intended to improve diversity in doctoral education have shifted decisively away from financial support, focusing more on efforts to recruit and prepare students for graduate study," the report said.

At the federal level, the report noted that the Education Department and the National Science Foundation have both abandoned fellowship programs for minority doctoral students, the NSF doing so under the threat of a lawsuit. At the university level, the report said, "almost every program surveyed has modified its structure, its eligibility requirements, or even its name following recent legal challenges to university minority support programs."

While the interviews with program managers found that most of them continued to have strong commitments to diversifying graduate student populations, it found that even where policies hadn't been overhauled, people are reluctant to draw attention to their efforts. Program managers said that they had been urged "to maintain low public profiles," the report said. The foundation acknowledged that in many cases, fellowships that were once for minority students still exist, but are now open to low-income students from all racial and ethnic groups.

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


Monday, May 30, 2005


Note from a Pasadena resident: The City of Pasadena reportedly has the highest rate of private school attendance of any city in the U.S. Note the stats below which indicate that only as few as 20 and 22 students in two schools pending closure come from the surrounding neighborhoods; the rest are bussed in from minority neighborhoods. The entire public school system has been effectively abandoned by the middle class as ineffectual. So all the 1960's reforms have created nothing but a two-tiered system -- which is what was supposed to be avoided. In the 1970's Pasadena's school system was slapped with a bussing order which resulted in "white flight" and "public school flight." Pasadena's public schools continued to reflect some of the lowest test scores in California as noted at end of the article below. More funding won't change any of that

To cut costs, the Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education has zeroed in on Linda Vista and San Rafael elementary schools in Pasadena and Altadena's Loma Alta Elementary School as the top candidates for closure. Officials want to close at least three schools over the summer, at least temporarily, to help bridge a $9.2 million budget deficit, and board members narrowed the list to six schools late Thursday. The board named three other elementary schools, Field in Pasadena and Burbank and Noyes in Altadena, as less likely candidates. Officials said they will consider closing more than three schools if the district's budget crunch worsens. "It's not a school closure issue, it is what is the future of this district,' board member Bill Bibbiani said Friday. "We need to see this change as an opportunity to look at our staffing patterns, our busing patterns and truly rightsize this district.'

The board hasn't yet considered several key factors, including the actual savings generated by each closure or how transportation costs would be affected, but the majority of the seven-member board is leaning toward closing Linda Vista, San Rafael and Loma Alta. Trustees have backed away from earlier discussions about closing Washington Middle School. Parents, students and teachers have held rallies and packed meetings over the past few weeks since Washington was mentioned as a possible candidate. Instead, board members now say they would like to find ways to increase the number of students at Washington rather than shutting it down, so more electives could be offered.

The PUSD needs to cut $9.2 million from its nearly $200 million spending plan by June 30. Closing three elementary schools would save an estimated $1 million, but about $2.7 million in cuts still must be identified. Closing a middle school the size of Washington would save an estimated $1 million to $1.4 million, officials said. District officials have repeatedly stressed that the closures would be temporary, but that they expect to close another one or two campuses next year. In addition to state budget cuts, the district has been steadily losing students. State funding is based on average daily attendance.

Parents said they need more advance notice than they are being given to plan for their children's education. Others criticized what they see as too many cuts that affect the classroom and not enough at district headquarters. For most of the board members, the density of students in a school's immediate neighborhood is one of the most important factors in selecting schools for closure. San Rafael and Linda Vista, both in affluent west Pasadena, have few students from the surrounding area because most of the children there attend private schools. "I will not vote to close a neighborhood school,' Bibbiani said. He said he wants to look at staffing and busing patterns, including a switch from west-to- east busing to north-to-south routes to reduce the length of bus trips. Most of the students at the three campuses are bused from other areas. Only 22 San Rafael students live in the adjacent neighborhood, and 200 are bused from Northwest Pasadena. At Loma Alta, all but 91 of the 376 students are bused from the Northwest. At Linda Vista, 20 of the 417 students are from the neighborhood....

Board members said standardized test scores are also a consideration, but one that's further down the list. Of the six campuses being considered for closure, Burbank, Loma Alta and San Rafael rank in the bottom 30 percent of elementary schools in the state on standardized tests. Field and Linda Vista performed better than half the elementary schools in the state, and Noyes outperformed 60 percent. Three PUSD schools not on the list for potential closure rank in the bottom 10 percent in the state, and three others rank in the bottom 20 percent.

Forcing NC families to pay for higher education for illegal immigrants' kids - dead for now

Post lifted from The Locker Room

Per The Charlotte Observer:

A bill to give undocumented immigrants in-state college tuition appears dead after being blasted by talk radio and emerging as the focus of North Carolina's growing debate over illegal immigration. ...

An 18-year-old girl in Eastern North Carolina just graduated as valedictorian of her high school class. Her grade-point average was 4.53. She was president of the Science Club, active in school activities and won academic honors while working part time.But when she came to this country from Mexico in the fourth grade, she and her family entered illegally. So despite her achievements, she's not eligible for lower tuition. ...

"Does it make sense to have the smartest kid at a high school putting ketchup and onion on a hamburger somewhere at a job?" said Chris Fitzsimon, director of N.C. Policy Watch, a progressive Raleigh think tank.

Ridiculous. Don't tell anyone, but a degree from a UNC institution is not the deciding factor in someone's life - and a degree from one of the state's (or the nation's) private institutions of higher education is nothing to sneer at. If the girl shows that much academic promise, she is already equipped to succeed - and if she chooses the college route, private colleges would love to have her, and no doubt she could find many scholarships and loans to help out. I bet My Rich Uncle could be particularly helpful.


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 29, 2005


An early draft of a five-year "diversity plan" for the University of Oregon has drawn a firestorm of criticism from faculty, prompting administrators to distance themselves from the proposal. The draft plan, billed as a "long-term vision for diversity," called for the university to hire up to 40 faculty members by 2012 to teach courses in a "cluster" of diversity-related topics, including race, gender, gay and disability studies. Under the plan, academic departments that hew closely to the university's diversity goals when hiring would be given "priority in the funding of new positions."

The plan also would mandate that faculty up for promotions or tenure be evaluated on their "cultural competency" - the ability to successfully work with people from all cultural backgrounds. Traditionally, research, publications and teaching have been the key elements of a tenure review. The draft plan suggests that the university set aside more funding for hundreds of new "diversity-building scholarships" for minority undergraduates over the next five years, as well as new fellowships for graduate students aimed at those from "under-represented" backgrounds. A key goal, the draft plan continues, is to double the number of black, Hispanic, Asian and Native American students attending the university in the next five years.

Under the plan, student curriculum requirements could also change, possibly with the inclusion of a "gender and sexuality requirement." "Many people were upset with the content in different ways; the plan was sort of an Orwellian, totalitarian plan," said Michael Kellman, a chemistry professor at the university.

Sources at the university said the draft plan drew immediate condemnation from department heads across the campus, some of whom had little or no knowledge of the proposal before it was posted on the university's Web site. University officials declined to comment directly on the plan, which was overseen by Dr. Gregory Vincent, the university's vice provost for institutional equity and diversity, who last week announced his departure for a similar post at the University of Texas, Austin. But in a letter to members of the faculty senate's diversity committee, University President Dave Frohnmayer acknowledged public concerns with the plan. "We need to step back from specific details, to be mindful of alternative viewpoints, and to develop a sense of urgency in recognizing the problems we face," Frohnmayer wrote. "I also emphasized the need ... to engage faculty, staff and students who believe they have not properly been involved in this dialogue."

For years, Oregon's flagship public campus has struggled to attract diverse faculty members and students. The dust-up over the plan is the latest in a series of race-related incidents to roil the campus. Earlier this month, 150 people rallied to protest alleged racial discrimination and harassment at the school's highly ranked College of Education. Last week, a senior at the university filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education over the school's policy of reserving 10 slots of selected math and English courses for minority students, in an attempt to increased individual attention from faculty.

Chicora Martin, the university's director of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender education and support services, was part of the work group that put the plan together. She said the controversy provoked by the plan's first draft has created a welcome chance to talk about the current state of diversity on campus. "We want to make a welcoming campus around issues of diversity," she said. "I think you need to have a plan for that."

More here

And a comment on the Oregon imposition adapted from The Locker Room

Attn. AAUP: This is how a real threat to academic freedom sounds

The American Association of University Professors continues to operate with ideological blinders on with respect to academic freedom... As the group's homepage shows, the group sees two sources of threats to academic freedom here: those posed by "national security" and those presented by what the AAUP calls "the so-called 'Academic Bill of Rights'" (a note for the scholars: when you introduce something as "so-called," placing whatever it is so called within quotation marks is redundant). The first concern is understandable; the second, purely political - the Academic Bill of Rights, after all, is based on definitions that originated within the AAUP to define academic freedom. It's just that the AAUP has since abandoned its all-encompassing definition of academic freedom as its leadership in pursuit of SOME IDEOLOGIES ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS.

That prologue is necessary for this: As best I can tell, the AAUP had nothing to say about a plan recently attempted by the University of Oregon that would have been a radical restructuring of the university's tenure and hiring policies - issues a naif would assume would have the AAUP's full attention. Here's what the subcriber site The Chronicle of Higher Education had to say about the plan:

...The draft plan, which was released this month, called for changing tenure and post-tenure reviews to include assessments of professors' "cultural competency." It also called for hiring 30 to 40 professors in the next seven years in several diversity-related areas, including race, gender, disability, and gay-and-lesbian studies. ...

"I was hired to teach chemistry and do research," said Michael Kellman, a chemistry professor. "I wasn't hired to be evaluated and even interrogated about cultural competency, whatever that is." In a letter to the president, David B. Frohnmayer, 24 professors called the draft plan "frightening and offensive." They complained that it would spend too much money on "diversity-related bureaucracy."

Mr. Frohnmayer said in an interview on Thursday that administrators had "taken a step back from the draft plan, given the extent of the response." "We're wedded to the objectives of the plan, but not to particular steps in any lockstep way," he said. "We're a community that lives to move with a greater sense of consensus."

The plan foresees increasing diversity by changing "the ethnic makeup of the freshman class, the racial and gender balance of tenured faculty, accessibility for the disabled, and the range of perspectives shared in campus classrooms around issues of sexual orientation, gender identity, religious differences, and other characteristics that make up the campus community."...

Not that this requires any particular insight to say, but I think this will not be the last we hear about such a move. I think Oregon has just shown us the next tyrannical step of the diversity movement. I think Oregon has just shown us the next tyrannical step of the diversity movement. I wouldn't be surprised if Texas is next; after all, the Oregon plan's "chief architect ... Gregory J. Vincent, vice provost for institutional equity and diversity at Oregon, is moving to the University of Texas at Austin to become vice provost for inclusion and cross-cultural effectiveness."


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