Saturday, June 18, 2005


The superintendent of Saddleback High School has told teachers to ignore a memo from the school's principal urging them to pass failing seniors so the school could meet federal graduation requirements. "I felt this was a serious violation," Santa Ana Unified School District Superintendent Al Mijares said. "Principals and teachers are expected to hold the line with regards to grades that are necessary to the high school diploma, and under no circumstances will teachers be pressured to change a grade." On June 9, Principal Esther Jones wrote teachers a memo asking them to reconsider the grades of 98 failing seniors. The note asked teachers to "please review your records for these students and determine if they would merit a grade of 'D' instead of a failure."

Jones added in the memo that the school needed 95 percent of its seniors to graduate to meet federal requirements under the No Child Left Behind law. In fact, the school needs a graduation rate of 82.8 percent and will graduate nearly 84 percent of its 500 seniors on Wednesday, school officials said. Jones did not return calls for comment. Teachers said they were outraged by the memo. "We do everything we possibly can to pass them. To be asked to go beyond that is ridiculous," social studies teacher Larry Collier said. "I've never seen anything like that in my 44 years of teaching."

Math teacher Barbara Peimbert said Jones asked her to pass two of the 12 seniors she had failed this semester. Peimbert said one student had a 51 percent in her statistics class, which requires a 60 percent to pass. "I said, '51 is not 60,'" Peimbert said. "She said, 'OK, I respect your decision and thank you.' So I assumed that was the end of it. I found out that his name's not on the non-grad list. ... This is ridiculous. It ruins our credibility."

School board President Audrey Yamagata-Noji said she needed to find out more about Jones, the incident, and her leadership of the school before determining whether discipline was necessary.


Top U.K. Private school opens city academy [Charter school]

Marlborough College - fees 21,000 pounds a year - is giving its expertise and experience to a failing comprehensive[government school]

It is an education that normally sets parents back 21,000 pounds a year but guarantees first-class academic results and a step up the ladder of life. Now one of Britain's leading public schools is offering its ethos and expertise to one of the country's failing comprehensives. Marlborough College is to become the first major independent school to sign up to the Government's programme for replacing failing inner-city comprehensives with city academies costing an average of 25 million pounds each. The boarding school in Wiltshire, which numbers Princess Eugenie among its pupils, is in talks with the Department for Education and Skills about sponsoring an academy in the Home Counties.

Nicholas Sampson, Master of the school, told The Times: "We are involved in preliminary discussions, and very happy to be doing so, which we think could be beneficial both to Marlborough and the national education system." Marlborough would not be investing the 2 million pounds required of sponsors of academies towards the construction costs, but would bring its "educational ethos and experience" to the project. Mr Sampson said: "We have given a guarantee to our parents that we would not divert fee income to any external project. But our community includes some people who are very enthusiastic about this matter and see it as an opportunity for Marlborough to incarnate its traditional view of the importance of service and take it on to a new phase. "Our sole motivation here is that for some children something must be done. We see it as a two-way process, since we are aware of the danger of being patronising. We know we have a great deal to learn from this enterprise. We would seek to gain a great deal of experience and professional development, and a wider understanding for our pupils."

Mr Sampson declined to identify the school that Marlborough will be linked with as an academy, but it is understood to be in talks with the United Learning Trust, which is already involved with six academies and includes Marlborough's former Master, Edward Gould, on its board of directors. The trust, a subsidiary of the United Church Schools Trust, has plans to open ten academies with up to 20 million pounds in sponsorship. Mr Sampson said: "We are looking in one specific area, this is not just vague talk. We are aware of the need to go to an area that is suffering educational deprivation. "These are intricate negotiations, particularly given the understandable sensitivities, but I know people are working very hard on this and progress is being made."

Marlborough's decision to back an academy will delight Mr Blair, who invited heads of dozens of fee-paying schools to No 10 last autumn to try to persuade them to join his crusade to create 200 academies by 2010. Sir Cyril Taylor, a key adviser to the Secretary of State and chairman of the Specialist Schools Trust, has also urged private schools to back academies as a way to protect their charitable status by demonstrating that they provide a public benefit.

The partnership of Marlborough and a failing state school is likely to prove a culture shock for both parties. Marlborough, founded in 1843 by Royal Charter, has three orchestras, a wind band, a chamber orchestra, a brass band, a chapel choir and a choral society. It stages 15 drama productions a year. Sports facilities include an indoor swimming pool, two trout lakes and its own beagle pack. Expeditions are a regular feature of school life, including "challenging adventure trips to Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Vietnam, the Andes, northern Canada and the Pyrenees" in recent years.

Princess Eugenie, 15, the younger daughter of the Duke of York, has been at Marlborough for 19 months. Past pupils include the Princess Royal's former husband Captain Mark Phillips and the late novelist Sir Kingsley Amis.

The disclosure comes a day after a report by accountants PriceWaterhouseCoopers concluded that academies were beginning to achieve "a break in the past experience of underachievement and low aspirations" in inner-city areas



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 17, 2005

Semi-private "Academies" reverse years of failure in British city schools

A lot like American Charter schools but with a greater business-orientation

The controversial introduction of city academies is starting to reverse decades of educational failure, a report today indicates. Jacqui Smith, the Minister for School Standards, told The Times that the report showed the Government was right to press on with its plan to open 200 academies by 2010 at a cost of 5 billion pounds. She said that children in the most deprived urban areas could not afford to wait "whilst a high-level ideological debate" took place.

The report, by the accountants PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC), will boost Tony Blair's mission to reform the education system. He has urged ministers to go on the offensive after an analysis of the first 11 academies showed high levels of parental satisfaction with their children's education, and improvements in discipline and attendance. Most of the new schools are heavily oversubscribed.

The Times has been told that the report also highlights the impact of private sponsors in raising aspirations at academies, many of which replaced failing comprehensives with a history of poor results. Mr Blair is a passionate advocate of the academies and his former chief policy advisor Lord Adonis, now an education minister, attracted unpopularity on the Left for his advocacy of them. The report will be seen as a vindication for his stance.

The report's assessment of academic standards is more mixed, however, noting that while GCSE results since 2002 had improved in six academies, they had not in the other five. The Department for Education and Skills (DfES), which publishes the study today, is also issuing a response highlighting the academies' record in national curriculum tests of English, mathematics and science for 14-year-olds. This showed that pass rates at the 11 academies were an average nine percentage points better than those of their predecessor schools in English and maths. Nationally, there was an improvement of six percentage points in English and seven in maths over the same period.

The Government's programme has come under intense scrutiny in recent months, with a critical report from the Commons Education and Skills Select Committee and threats from teaching unions to fight proposals for new academies. The Unity City Academy in Middlesbrough was failed by Ofsted inspectors last month. The Labour-dominated committee had urged the Government in March to halt the programme until it could demonstrate that academies represented the best use of public money. It said in a report: "We fail to understand why the DfES is putting such substantial resources into academies when it has not produced the evidence on which to base the expansion of this programme."

Teaching unions also oppose the involvement of private companies as sponsors of academies, which are state-funded schools. Sponsors are handed control of the governing body in return for investing up to 2 million pounds towards the building costs of academies, which cost around 25 million each.

Ms Smith said: "What this report shows is that academies are beginning to have an impact on standards and that the sort of prerequisites that are necessary for greater standards are in place. "They have parental support, high aspirations, a focus on behaviour and are orderly schools, which were problems in the predecessor schools. "Large numbers of parents, pupils and staff believe that academies have high aspirations for their children and are helping to deliver them in contrast to the schools they replaced." Ms Smith acknowledged that "more work needs to be done", adding: "I don't think it will happen overnight but there have been some pretty big transformations in these schools. This reinforces our arguments that we were right to focus on the areas of greatest disadvantage where standards were not good enough."

George Cameron, the Shadow Education Secretary, said that he welcomed the initiative. "City academies follow on from the city technology colleges that the Tories set up," he said. "What matters is not just that they receive extra resources but also that they have proper autonomy and devolution of power. They cannot be just old comprehensives with a new lick of paint."

PwC found that 87 per cent of parents were satisfied with the education their children were receiving, and 80 per cent of those with pupils about to start at an academy had made it their first choice. There was no evidence that academies were having an adverse impact on neighbouring schools by creaming off bright pupils, as some teaching unions contended. Ability levels of children at age 11 were lower in academies than in other local schools, yet they were raising standards more quickly. PwC's report is the second of five annual reports commissioned by the DfES to monitor the effectiveness of academies.



Daniel Kennedy remembers when he still thought that valedictorians were a good thing. Kennedy, a wiry fifty-nine-year-old who has a stern buzz cut, was in 1997 the principal of Sarasota High School, in Sarasota, Florida. Toward the end of the school year, it became apparent that several seniors were deadlocked in the race to become valedictorian. At first, Kennedy saw no particular reason to worry. "My innocent thought was What possible problem could those great kids cause?" he recalled last month, during a drive around Sarasota. "And I went blindly on with my day."

The school had a system in place to break ties. "If the G.P.A.s were the same, the award was supposed to go to the kid with the most credits," Kennedy explained. It turned out that one of the top students, Denny Davies, had learned of this rule, and had quietly arranged to take extra courses during his senior year, including an independent study in algebra. "The independent study was probably a breeze, and he ended up with the most credits," Kennedy said.

Davies was named valedictorian. His chief rivals for the honor were furious-in particular, a girl named Kylie Barker, who told me recently that she had wanted to be valedictorian "pretty much forever."

Kennedy recalled, "Soon, the kids were doing everything they could to battle it out." As we drove past sugary-white beaches, high-rise hotels, and prosperous strip malls, he told me that the ensuing controversy "effectively divided the school and the community." Kennedy took the position that Davies had followed the school's own policy, which he had been resourceful enough to figure out, and whether he should have been allowed to load on an easy extra class was beside the point. He'd done it, and he hadn't broken any rules. Davies's guidance counsellor, Paul Storm, agreed. In an interview with the Sarasota Herald-Tribune at the time, he said of Davies, "He's very clever. He said, `I want to be valedictorian. I've figured out I need to do this and that. Can you help me?' Denny had a good strategy, and this strategy was available to anyone who was a competitor."......

During the final weeks of the school year, Kennedy was meeting with both sets of riled parents, and students were buttonholing him in the hallway. "I'm telling you, it was hostile!" he said. Some teachers considered boycotting graduation; students talked about booing Davies when he walked out onstage. Kylie Barker's mom, Cheryl, said that she recalls getting a call in the middle of the day from Kylie's chemistry teacher, Jim Harshman, who asked her to pick up Kylie from school, saying, "She's in a pressure cooker here, and she's about to burst." .....

Kennedy remembers finally "convincing everybody to agree reluctantly-and I do mean extremely reluctantly-to have co-valedictorians." He went on, "I have been in education basically my whole life, and I've been to a lot of graduations in my time. But I dreaded this one. Sarasota High is a big school-three thousand kids-and there were probably seven thousand people in the audience. At that time, it felt like half of the students in the room hated one of those two valedictorians and half hated the other. The tension was so thick that I was sitting up there in my cap and gown sweating buckets the whole time." In the end, both students got through their speeches-Kylie's was about integrity-without incident. But Kennedy, a likable traditionalist who has been married to his childhood sweetheart for thirty-seven years, concluded that it was time to get rid of valedictorians at Sarasota High.

Kennedy convened a committee to consider various alternatives, and it was decided that from then on all students in the top ten per cent of the class-which at Sarasota means about seventy-five people-would march in first during graduation and have an asterisk printed next to their names on the program. "Students and parents got to see more kids recognized," Kennedy said. "It made everybody feel better."

Stephanie Klotz's academic ambitions made her stand out at Valley View High, in Germantown, Ohio, from which she graduated in 2001..... Several weeks before the school year ended, the principal of Valley View told Klotz that she and four other students would share the valedictorian title. Klotz thought the decision was odd-as she recalled, one of the girls had got a B-but she let it go. "Notices were sent out, relatives notified," her father, Randy Klotz, said. Three of the students had G.P.A.s above 4.0 because they'd taken at least one A.P. course, whereas Stephanie, whose G.P.A. was 4.0, had not. (Instead of taking A.P. history in her junior year, Stephanie, who hoped to become a doctor, had decided to take another chemistry course.) Three weeks before graduation, Stephanie was told that the school was reversing its decision: she and Megan Keener, another girl with a 4.0 G.P.A., wouldn't be valedictorians after all. (Keener, too, lacked A.P. credits, though she had been taking classes at local colleges.) Two students with G.P.A.s above 4.0 would be named co-valedictorians, and a third would be salutatorian. "I would be nothing," Klotz recalled.

When Klotz told her parents, they complained first to the principal, then several times to the school board. Finally, the family hired a lawyer and sued the school district, the superintendent, and the principal of Valley View. A judge in the Common Pleas Court of Montgomery County, Ohio, sided with the Klotzes, and, days before graduation, issued an order reinstating Klotz and Keener as valedictorians...

More here

A summary of an academic liar: Ward Churchill: "This newspaper devoted a great deal of space this past week probing charges of academic misconduct against Ward Churchill, and...we bet you reached the same conclusion we have: There is no way the University of Colorado can permit Churchill to remain on its staff without indicting the scholarship of every other professor. ... His invention of facts surrounding the smallpox epidemic among the Mandan Indians in 1837 is more reprehensible than his misrepresentation of the Dawes Act. His appropriation of Professor Fay Cohen's work for a 1992 essay is more inexcusable than his almost word-for-word use of a paragraph by Professor Rebecca Robbins. His claims of Indian ancestry, although almost certainly bogus, at least may have stemmed from family lore. Churchill should have acknowledged the truth many years ago instead of slyly trying to throw critics off his track."


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 16, 2005


Most Americans embrace the separation of church and state on the grounds that something as important and personal as religion ought to be left to private decision-making. The inviolability of the individual conscience is a cherished American principle. Yet decisions about one's children's education are equally matters of conscience. Nevertheless, government routinely makes all the big decisions about education without regard to the preferences and convictions of parents. Such decisions cannot help but impinge on freedom of conscience. From the beginning, the movement to establish tax-financed government school systems created conflicts among people with different worldviews, starting with Protestants and Catholics.

The debates that have taken place over school curriculums-multiculturalism versus Western orientation, evolution versus creationism, phonics versus whole language, traditional math versus new math-have been grounded in diverging views of how children should learn and think. Government-generated standards and curriculums cannot avoid controversy. A noncontroversial curriculum is as chimerical as a value-free education. Thus the claims that a government-adopted curriculum would create solidarity by inculcating children with a common educational experience are highly suspect. What has caused more social division than "public" education?

Governments operate virtual school monopolies outside the competitive marketplace. That may be taken to mean only that business people do not run the schools for profit. But the competitive marketplace is more than a way to organize production of known products and services according to known methods. In F. A. Hayek's words, it's a "discovery procedure." Competition enables us to learn things we would not learn otherwise from people we might never suspect of being capable of teaching us anything. This is as true for education as for anything else.

The vogue word in education is "accountability." But this is precisely where government solutions fall down. Accountability to whom? The current administration says the states should be accountable to the federal government. But that is just the sort of artificial accountability that has brought education to its present unsatisfactory condition. We are in roughly the 150th year of an experiment in which governments, not parents, are responsible for education. Teachers and administrators are theoretically accountable to school boards, which are theoretically accountable to state governments. Giving a larger role to yet a higher, more distant level of government hardly sounds promising. Real accountability means accountability to parents. But that requires separation of school and state, and parents' control of their own money; in a phrase, Parent Power.

Are there to be no standards for education? It is an unfortunate emblem of our world that alternatives to government services are difficult to imagine-even when there are historical examples to draw on. We do not face a choice between government standards and no standards at all, any more than we face a choice between government standards for computers and no standards at all. The spontaneous, self-adjusting market process is well qualified to generate standards. And it does so in a way that avoids the pitfalls of the political process.

To the extent that parents want similar things with respect to their children's education-a broadening of horizons and preparation for college and for economic self-sufficiency-the market will furnish them because doing so will produce profits for entrepreneurs. Out of that process will emerge standards. We should expect not one set of standards but competing sets with varying degrees of differences.

Different approaches to education in a competitive market will lead to competition. It is precisely the competition among standards-real-world rivalrous activity, not ivory-tower debates-that will teach us things we would not learn otherwise. The market, moreover, will do what governments cannot do: it will avoid the extremes of dogmatism (one imposed standard) and chaos (no stable standards). At any given time, a manageable number of standards will coexist, giving people stability and predictability, yet no standard will be locked in by legislation, which would threaten stagnation....

The entrepreneurial system gives us the greatest hope of having the best educational institutions possible. We can expect it to offer a wide variety of schools, from traditional to innovative, for-profit and nonprofit, secular and sectarian. Homeschooling would thrive also. But entrepreneurship has prerequisites: freedom and private property for both entrepreneurs and parents. The way out of the education morass is Parent Power

More here


Dumbing down tests in search of politically correct results only hurts those the schools are trying to help

Gifted individuals, those with an IQ of 125 or higher, appear in only about five percent of the population, according to the Davidson Institute for Talent Development. In nearby Davis, school officials are attempting to boost that percentage by dubious means. Two years ago, the Davis school board, concerned that not enough black and Hispanic children were testing into the Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program, lowered the score for GATE identification. That led to 35 percent of third graders in Davis being identified as gifted. Trying to correct the absurd result, the board again tinkered with the identification procedures. This still yielded 26 percent of its students as gifted this year.

The board is due to take up the issue of identifying gifted students again this week. They do so not because 26 percent is still more than three times the state average, but because three of the five board members are concerned that those identified as gifted are predominantly white and Asian. This is an example of a misguided and feel-good insistence that all children are gifted somehow, in their own way. It fails the needs of those brightest young minds that the GATE program is designed to foster.

Laura Vanderkam, co-author of Genius Denied: How to Stop Wasting Our Brightest Young Minds, says, "If only the top one percent of students are in the `gifted' group, then it actually means something. If the top 25 percent are in it, then you've made it so broad as to be meaningless, and not helpful to the highly gifted in the group." That seems to be exactly what several of the Davis trustees have in mind. Trustee Jim Provenza wants classes offered to GATE-identified students also made available to any student whose parents request them. His colleague, Martha West, would prefer to see the GATE program dismantled altogether and the money spent elsewhere.

The brightest minds could go eat cake or, as James Delisle, a Kent State University professor of education and part-time teacher of gifted children in Ohio public schools, more delicately states the obvious: a "schoolwide enrichment plan generally fails to provide the sustenance necessary to fulfill the complex lives of gifted children."

Equally misguided is the attempt to engineer racial parity in the GATE program. The Davis board may succeed in manipulating the racial breakdowns to look more politically correct, but no amount of engineering or quotas will lead to real gains for students. Real gains come only with true education reform. Where that exists, minorities succeed, often in high numbers. From the rough inner city of Oakland, each year students from the American Indian Charter School qualify for the nationally noted talent search program conducted by Johns Hopkins University. This is because principal Ben Chavis maintains a tough curriculum with high expectations for his all-minority student body.

Lowered standards and racial quotas cannot create gifted children. In fact, these policies are a recipe for mediocrity. To boost minority achievement and meet the needs of gifted children, school boards statewide would do better to follow the example of Mr. Chavis.



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 15, 2005


Most of what this article has to say could be boiled down to two words. I have highlighted them. You need to be able to read before you can do anything else.

In September, Guy Tantillo stood before his fifth-grade class at Public School 45 in South Ozone Park, Queens, and warned his students that they were about to begin a school year like no other. "Fourth grade was very difficult, but fifth grade is going to be the biggest challenge in your lives," he told Class 5-212. "What got you through fourth grade is not going to get you through fifth grade." As he recalled that ominous pep talk last week, Mr. Tantillo and the giddy students swirling around him in the schoolyard had every reason to bask in the spring sunshine. At P.S. 45, the number of fifth graders at or above grade level in reading nearly doubled from last year, and it more than doubled in math.

Citywide, the gains on this year's standardized reading and math tests were so outsized - particularly among fifth graders, who improved 19.5 percentage points in reading and 15.2 percentage points in math - that they left some education experts, not to mention Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's political opponents, skeptical. That skepticism was only reinforced by opinion polls and teacher surveys in recent months that found relatively little optimism among parents and educators for Mr. Bloomberg's effort to fix the schools, which they said had mostly caused upheaval. But in interviews at P.S. 45 and other schools across the city with large increases in test scores, principals, parents, superintendents, teachers and students offered this most basic explanation: They worked hard.

Even at these schools, educators and parents said the changes of the past three years had been tumultuous. But they also said the efforts had begun to pay off. Principals and teachers described a relentless focus on literacy and math and a ceaseless scrutinizing of tests, quizzes and writing samples to understand which skills the students had mastered and which lessons had somehow fallen short. Educators also said that the intense pressure, which began just before the start of school with Mayor Bloomberg's announcement that his get-tough promotion rules would be extended to fifth graders, had been felt not just by the students, but throughout the school system and by parents.

At P.S. 45, fifth graders were offered an after-school program, classes on Saturdays and classes during vacations. Teachers sent home monthly progress reports listing test results and detailed assessments of class work and homework, including book reports and other writing assignments. To push every class to keep pace with the citywide reading curriculum, the regional superintendent's office sent P.S. 45 and other schools a detailed calendar, specifying a literary genre to focus on each month, like autobiography or mystery, and weekly skills like making inferences.

The principal and assistant principals met at least weekly with teachers to go over student work and trial tests, and to select specialized programs for them, like intensive phonics. A detailed portfolio was kept on each child and two veteran teachers were designated as intervention specialists who moved from class to class to work one on one with struggling students. A school official telephoned parents regularly to keep attendance high, and the school ran workshops to train parents on how to help their children.

Most important, said the principal, Evelyn Terrell, smaller classes, of 18 to 22 children, allowed for more personal instruction. In previous years, fifth-grade classes had had 30 or more students. From school to school, principals and other officials did not agree on any one primary reason for the gains. In part, the sharp increases reflect the way the tests are presented. The results focus on whether students are above or below grade level rather than on their underlying scores. In recent years, thousands of students had scored just below grade level, and this year many of them finally cleared the line.

But even with this year's unprecedented increases, only half the city's students were proficient in reading and math. In Grades 3 to 8, 51.8 percent performed at or above grade level in reading this year - demonstrating how far Mr. Bloomberg still has to go in his effort to fix the schools.


Lessons from the voucher schools

How is Milwaukee's experiment to expand school choice for low-income students faring 15 years later?

Now 15 years old, Milwaukee's school choice program is very much like a teenager - heartwarmingly good at times, disturbingly bad at others, and the subject of myths, misunderstandings and ignorance, even by the adults entrusted with its welfare. And like a teenager, it remains - for all its familiarity - a bit of a mystery. Few people, even state officials, know what is going on inside all 115 schools in the program. Over the last five months, the Journal Sentinel attempted to visit each school and find out. In visits to 106 schools, the newspaper focused not on politics and court battles, but on the classrooms themselves - the experiences of the nearly 14,000 students now served by choice schools at a cost this year to taxpayers of $83 million.

Fifteen years ago, state government created in Milwaukee the biggest lab in the United States for one of the nation's most provocative education ideas: giving low-income parents the chance to send their children to private schools using "vouchers" to pay school costs. Eight years later, the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program expanded dramatically, and religious schools of every kind were made available to those parents. Those visits, along with dozens of interviews with parents, students, teachers, principals, administrators and academics, revealed that many of the popular conceptions and politically motivated depictions of the program are incomplete and, in some cases, flat-out wrong. The Journal Sentinel found that:

* The voucher schools feel, and look, surprisingly like schools in the Milwaukee Public Schools district. Both MPS and the voucher schools are struggling in the same battle to educate low-income, minority students. [i.e. you can't make Asians out of blacks]

* About 10% of the choice schools demonstrate alarming deficiencies. The collapse of four schools and the state's limited ability to take action against others have led to some agreement on the need for increased oversight to help shut down bad schools. [Are we going to shut down bad public schools too?]

* The voucher program has brought some fresh energy to the mission of educating low-income youth in the city by fostering and financially supporting several very strong schools that might not exist otherwise. There are at least as many excellent schools as alarming ones.

* The amount of taxpayer money going to pay for religious education in Milwaukee has no parallel in the last century of American life. About 70% of the students in the program attend religious schools. Religion guides the choices that parents make, and the curriculum that a majority of schools choose, and has led to a network of dozens of independent church schools led by African-American ministers throughout the city. [But I guess Christianity is OK if it is African]

* The choice program regenerated parochial schools in the city, including dozens of Catholic and Lutheran schools, which were experiencing declining enrollment. Overall, it has preserved the status quo in terms of schooling options in the city more than it has offered a range of new, innovative or distinctive schools. [Given the constant attacks on Christianity, it is good that there has been some countervailing influence]

* Parental choice by itself does not assure quality. Some parents pick bad schools - and keep their children in them long after it is clear the schools are failing. This has allowed some of the weakest schools in the program to remain in business. [Ditto for government schools?]

* There is no evidence that voucher schools have "creamed" the best students from Milwaukee Public Schools, an early concern expressed by some critics. Except for the fact that the public schools are obligated to serve all special education students, the kids in the voucher program appear have the same backgrounds - and bring the same problems - as those in the public schools.

* Creating a new school through the choice program is easier than most people expected. Creating a good new school is harder than most thought it would be......

Even major advocates for the program say they did not realize 15 years ago how hard it was to start good schools from scratch. Consider CEO Leadership Academy, a high school finishing its first year. It has strong support from an influential group of ministers. The school has been given expert advice on how to create both educational and business operations; it benefited from financial boosts to get started; and it is housed in a beautiful new wing of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, 2433 W. Roosevelt Drive.

But Denise Pitchford, a former assistant principal in Milwaukee Public Schools who heads the school, says the first year has been a struggle. Many of the school's 60-plus students came to the school years behind in their basic abilities. Catching up became the top priority.

Instead of diving into project-based learning as they had hoped, teachers had to return to the basics. In one English class this last winter, 15 students tried to label different types of sentences as declarative, interrogative, or exclamatory. In a religion class, the teacher reviewed the story of Adam and Eve. Although the academics started slowly, attendance has been strong, at about 96%. "We see sparks," Pitchford sad. "We see kids actually want to be here.".....

Interviews with dozens of parents made it apparent that families pick schools in idiosyncratic, unexpected and misunderstood ways. Above all else, parents appear to be looking for a feeling of community and safety. They might trade off trained teachers for small class sizes. Or geographic proximity for a feeling of intimacy. Or overall academic success for a school their child likes. Some seek a smaller school after struggling against what they perceive as an impersonal bureaucracy at Milwaukee Public Schools. They might desire education in a particular religious community, or simply among people they feel comfortable around.

Nicole Franklin, a parent and teacher at Blyden Delany Academy, an Afrocentric school, said, "When there's a 'situation' it's like a big family here. It really feels good working with people who feel comfortable with you, who are coming from your world."

Often, the families - and some of the school founders themselves - appeared to be motivated more by a dissatisfaction and personal frustration with MPS than anything else. Indeed, the students at the vast majority of these schools are not high achievers from the public schools. Early critics of the program charged that the schools would "cream" the best and brightest from MPS. While a very small number of schools in the choice program draw more motivated students, and choice schools are not obligated to serve special-education students, many of the schools serve large numbers of at-risk students or even specialize in students who have struggled in MPS.....

If any single factor distinguishes the families and parents at the choice schools from those in MPS, it is religion. Students in the choice program pray together in class. They read the Bible, the Qur'an or the Torah. They attend Mass. Most schools report that even students from families outside of their faith accept - and seek out - religion as part of education. "I wanted (my granddaughter) to get a Catholic education," said Dolores Cooper, a Baptist whose granddaughter, also named Dolores, attends Messmer High School. "It teaches values."

At Dr. Brenda Noach Choice School, middle school students recently were watching Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ." Pastor Charles Ewing, who runs the school's daily operations, explained afterward that the school, and its curriculum, are centered on God.

On one recent Friday afternoon at Salam School, a Muslim school on the city's south side, the students gathered for a schoolwide prayer service. The girls all wore light-blue scarves covering their heads; rows of sneakers lined the walls of the room. Kneeling on carpets spread across the gym floor, the children listened as an imam prayed: "Allah make us better Muslims; Allah make us proud Muslims."

Not only has choice fostered religious start-ups like Ewing's school, it has preserved many of the existing religious schools in the city. Some, such as Messmer High School, where Dolores Cooper's granddaughter attends, have embraced a new mission, educating a largely non-Catholic student body in a Catholic tradition. Others are uncertain whether they will try to retain their identity as parish schools, serving predominantly Catholic pupils, or stake out a new role.

To Kenneth Marton, the principal of Christ Memorial Lutheran school, choice means one thing above all else: "We can continue our mission to bring Jesus Christ, evangelize, work with the students.".....

The biggest impact of choice may be intangible. It opened the door for the spread of other forms of school choice, including charter schools, which have taken innovative paths and have been growing rapidly in enrollment. The voucher movement elicited soul-searching among educators as to the definition, and nature, of a public school.....

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, June 14, 2005


Jeff Jacoby says:

Three recent dispatches from the education battlefront:

* Kansans have been debating how the development of life on earth should be taught in public schools -- as the unintended result of random evolution or as the complex product of an evolution shaped by intelligent design. The board of education held hearings in May, and is to decide this summer whether the current science standards should be changed. Kansas is just one of 19 states in which the Darwinism vs. Intelligent Design contest is being fought. Emotions have been running high, as they often do when the state takes sides in a clash of fundamental values and beliefs.

* In Massachusetts, the Boston Globe recently reported, a father named David Parker found himself in a war with his local school board when he objected to a kindergarten "diversity" curriculum that depicted gay and lesbian couples raising children. Parker, a Christian opposed to same-sex marriage, showed up at Estabrook elementary school in Lexington to request that he or his wife be notified -- in keeping with state law -- when homosexual themes were going to be brought up in their 6-year-old's class. School officials wouldn't agree to do so and "urged" Parker to leave. When he didn't, they had him arrested.

* Luke Whitson, a 10-year-old at the Karns Elementary School in Knoxville, Tenn., liked reading the Bible with his friends during recess. But when a parent complained, the public school's principal "demanded that they stop their activity at once, put their Bibles away, and . . . cease bringing their Bibles to school." That language is from a lawsuit Luke's parents have filed in federal court, where they are asking a judge to rule that school officials cannot prohibit religious expression during a student's free time.

Once there was a solid consensus about how the nation's public schools should be run. In 1911, the Encyclopedia Britannica could assert with confidence that "the great mass of the American people are in entire agreement as to the principles which should control public education." But as the battles in Kansas, Massachusetts, and Tennessee -- and countless others like them -- make clear, that day is past.

From issues of sexuality and religion to the broad themes of US history and politics, public opinion is fractured. Secular parents square off against believers, supporters of homosexual marriage against traditionalists, those stressing "safe sex" against those who emphasize abstinence. Each wants its views reflected in the classroom. No longer is there a common understanding of the mission of public education. To the extent that one camp's vision prevails, parents in the opposing camp are embittered. And there is no prospect that this will change -- not as long as the government remains in charge of educating American children.

Which is why it's time to put an end to government control of the schools.

There is nothing indispensable about a state role in education. Parents don't expect the government to provide their children's food or clothing or medical care; there is no reason why it must provide their schooling. An educated citizenry is a vital public good, of course. But like most such goods, a competitive and responsive private sector could do a much better job of supplying it than the public sector can.

Imagine how diverse and vital American education could be if it were liberated from government control. There would be schools of every description -- just as there are restaurants, websites, and clothing styles of every description. Parents who wanted their children to be taught Darwinian evolution unsullied by leaps of faith in an Intelligent Designer would be able to choose schools in which religious notions played no role. Those who wanted their children to see God's hand in the miraculous tapestry of life all around them would send them to schools in which faith played a prominent role.

Rather than fight over whether reading should be taught with Phonics or Whole Language, parents who felt strongly either way could choose a school that shared their outlook. Those who wanted their kids to learn in single-sex classes would send them to schools organized on that model; other parents would be free to pick schools in which boys and girls learned together. Some schools might reflect a Christian or Jewish or Muslim philosophy; others would be quite secular. In some, athletics would have a high priority; in others, there might be an emphasis on music, language, technology, or art. And no doubt many parents would stick with schools that resembled the ones their children attend now.

With separation of school and state, the roiling education battles would come to a peaceful end. Robust competition and innovation would dramatically lower costs. Teachers, released from their one-size-fits-all straitjacket, would be happier in their chosen profession. Children would be happier, too -- and, perhaps best of all, better-educated to boot.


Beginning in September next year, English grammar school children will again learn to read using "synthetic phonics." They will be taught the sounds and letters of the alphabet within the first 16 weeks of school. In recent years, teachers were told to encourage children to memorize words by their shape and guess at them by their context. The results were disastrous.

As in America, phonics in England was abandoned in the 1960s in favor of "look and say." That this approach produced kids who couldn't read, or read up to their grade levels, seemed not to bother education "experts" and bureaucrats who refused all appeals for returning to the old, successful method.

A recent Scottish study found students taught to read with phonics three years ahead of their peers. Politicians are now mustering the political will to roll back the failed "progressive education" approach to reading. It helps that a prominent figure in the pro-phonics movement, Andrew (now Lord) Adonis, is Prime Minister Tony Blair's junior education minister.

Prince Charles has announced plans to set up his own teacher training institute to "fill the gap many in education believe has existed for too long." School vouchers are now debated here, as in the U.S., because of dysfunctional public schools.

It has always been a peculiarity that human beings seem discontent with what works and feel compelled to change, or "improve," what for centuries produced desired results. The English, as well as Americans, managed to successfully instruct generations of children using proven principles. They also believed it was not enough to feed knowledge into someone's head, unless his or her heart and soul were also nourished.

Were parents surveyed and did those surveys reveal they did not want their children educated the way they and previous generations were taught? Who decided that the basic and classic knowledge taught to William Wordsworth and his classmates was not as good as that acquired in our modern age? Who concluded the wisdom of the ages had expired like a "don't sell" label on perishable food? No one did. It was forced on English and American societies by tiny elites who thought they knew better than everyone else.

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, June 13, 2005


Her Majesty will be agog. Banished for decades from student premises where her portrait, often defaced, doubled as a dart board, the Queen is about to be hung by a mob of conservative heretics. A coterie of pro-Liberal student leaders at the University of New England is bent on ransacking politically correct queer rooms and women's departments with the abandon that brought down communism's Berlin Wall. Earlier this year the student council voted to install an Australian flag and a picture of the Queen. Two weeks ago students at this rural NSW campus voted narrowly in favour of seceding from the National Union of Students, saving themselves $40,000 a year in affiliation fees.

Though not as sexy as another decision - to hold a UNE beauty pageant, with categories for swimwear and evening gowns - it was an inevitable inflammatory step for an executive keen to represent heterosexuals and men in a mischievous dig at the gay and lesbian officers who are part of campus furniture across the country. "They want to go back to the 1950s," fumed UNE education student Tony Maslen, who takes earnest umbrage at this flip, hip parodying of the causes dear to his parents' baby-boomer generation. The spate of sacrilege sits comfortably with a demographic among which moleskins outnumber pierced tongues.

One outbreak does not make a revolution but UNE's charge would be useful proof for US commentator Brian C. Anderson who, after interviewing 50 students in a population of millions, hailed a right-wing insurgency sweeping American colleges in his book South Park Conservatives. Anderson argues that the Left's stranglehold on universities is weakening, even at Berkeley, that Californian crucible of '60s ferment. "Never has the Right flourished among college kids as it does today," he writes.

Young Republican chapters, gun clubs, student newspapers ripe with anti-liberal satire and conservative speakers are in renaissance, Anderson says, while support for abortion, taxing the rich and environmental programs is on the wane. His thesis is that Comedy Central's irreverent television cartoon South Park, which butchers sacred cows, has emboldened a generation of kids sick of moral relativism and family breakdown.

Australia is not America. Our gun lobby is weak, affirmative action for blacks is not mainstream, evangelical religion, while enjoying a growth spurt, is not entrenched. That said, there is change afoot. John Howard's children ate their educational "greens" with a TV diet of Widget the World Watcher, Captain Planet and school projects on recycling, yet last month the Australia Institute reported that 14 to 25-year-olds are least concerned of all age groups about the earth's welfare.

Today's students were born as communism crumbled and seem to lack ideological connections. They took their first steps as the Hawke government reintroduced university fees and they have grown up with the Coalition in power.

Leah Sanderson, student president at the University of Queensland, was dining on fish fingers and Milo at a friend's sleepover the night Howard won office. Ten years on she is struggling to whip up protests over commonwealth legislation for voluntary student unionism, which the Left predicts will be the final nail in activism's coffin. Yet Sanderson does not belong to any party. "I couldn't put words to my political persuasion," she says, echoing her contemporaries' disdain for ideological labels, in contrast to the slavish devotion many show to brand names worn on T-shirts, jeans, shoes and mobile phones.

Paul Donegan, her counterpart at Melbourne University, also shirks alignment with any party. "I can't even articulate why," he says, conceding that one-size-fits-all allegiance is "frowned upon. People see it as uncool." Donegan disagrees that South Park conservatives are taking over Australian universities. This "soft Left" Melbourne undergraduate prefers the term passive conservatives to describe a hyper-individualism forged in the competitive pitch for tertiary places, fee-paying jobs, real estate and a family down the track if you can squeeze children into an increasingly crowded life.

Historian Francis Fukuyama predicted in 1999 that this century would see the return of conservative norms as society corrects for the political extremes of the '60s and '70s, which he labelled "the Great Disruption". Some commentators also theorise that human beings are wired genetically for a preference for stable ways, and even religion. Australian twentysomethings are evidence that the pendulum is swinging. Femininity is back, with girls paying big bucks for pretty dresses and accessories. Boys too spend on cosmetics and hair gel. Fashion is hot. Ditto consumption, a pastime scorned by the free-love values of the communes and caftan crowd.

Students these days are likely to be living at home with parents whom they regard as close friends. According to new data from the Australian Institute of Family Studies' Australian Temperament Project, which has followed 2500 children since 1983, the great majority are working or studying; they rarely argue with parents; most act responsibly, and intend overwhelmingly to marry or settle down with long-term partners. "My impression is one of quite strong traditionalism," says project researcher Diana Smart. They might wear tie-dye T-shirts and decorate rooms with retro lava lamps, but this is not a generation given to rowdy, overt protest. They fill their iPods with Van Morrison and Eminem. They plug in to personalised networks, not social movements. Phones are the most common addiction. They have embraced Gallipoli and Anzac Day, perhaps marching in support of Australian war veterans while also opposing our involvement in Iraq.

"They are so savvy," says Neer Korn, analyst with the Sydney-based social research firm Heartbeat. "There is much more distrust of institutions. You say the word corporation, they think bastard. You say priest, they think pedophile. They are post-sexist, post-racist, post-multiculturalist, truly postmodern." Consider the thorny ethical dilemmas debated by 16-year-olds at a Melbourne school: genetically modified crops, euthanasia, in-vitro fertilisation, cloning, pornography, sterilisation of sex offenders, ordination of women as priests.

Policy prescriptions dictated from a head office have been rendered obsolete by the breadth of contemporary debate and the rapid pace of technological change. "Students may be conservative on one issue and Marxist on another," says Natalie Hepburn, student president at the University of Western Australia. "I would never join a party."

Many of the present crop of student leaders had environmentalism drilled into them at school but arrived on campus not knowing the difference between Liberals and the ALP. Institutional attachment to trade unions and political groups has been in decline since their mothers began feeding them organic baby food. The introduction of voluntary student unionism later this year - if no Coalition senator crosses the floor - and new industrial laws promoting individual contracts will surely accelerate discomfort with collective action.

Rose Jackson, daughter of ABC journalist Liz Jackson and student president at the University of Sydney, believes activism on her campus has shown extraordinary resilience, given these trends. "Young people are not [uncaring] but we're constantly given the impression we can't change anything," she says. "I'm cynical myself about how much impact I can have and disillusioned at times about what I can achieve."

Electronic petitions and email are the invisible modus operandi that suits students these days. Elizabeth Shaw, who edits Pelican, the student paper of the University of Western Australia, says the demonstration against voluntary unionism attracted hundreds while thousands more signed protests against the Government's proposed reform. Schapelle Corby's trial in Bali provoked a flurry of email petitions, according to Shaw, because "we're young, we travel, we think that perhaps this could be me". She says: "Things are quite fluid. There is a reluctance to join parties but people remain active on issues that affect them."

The Australian Temperament Project confirms high personal interest but low collective participation. Eighty-four per cent of the 19 to 20-year-old group made a personal effort to recycle or care for the environment and 81 per cent voted in an election. But numbers dwindled dramatically when it came to attending a meeting (16 per cent), demonstrating in a march (6 per cent), lobbying government (6 per cent) or joining with others to resolve a neighbourhood or local problem (7 per cent). Self-interest and the safer territory of improving facilities increasingly absorbs a leadership that 30 years ago waded boldly into Middle East conflicts, nuclear weapons, apartheid and the Springbok tours. At Melbourne's RMIT University, the politicians who contested last year's student election on opposition to the Iraq war were skewered by those advocating better computers and library resources. RMIT's student president Dinesh Rajalingam says "people are interested in their own life". He predicts a rise in Christianity not yet apparent in the churches' head count.

At Adelaide University, the pro-life Democratic Club is more vocal than ever, with a protest against pro-euthanasia philosopher Peter Singer that matched the Left's disruption of Alexander Downer's visit. The university's student president David Pearson is apologetic for abuse of the Foreign Minister because this fed allegations of feral lefties in a climate of creeping intolerance for extracurricular campaigns. "We get told that student unions should just focus on delivering better computer resources," Pearson says.

Two months ago vandals trashed the George Duncan Room, named after a gay lecturer who died in Adelaide parkland allegedly as a result of police violence. They scrawled homophobic vitriol over the walls. The attack is more likely an aberration than part of a South Park-style campaign to offend minorities, but student orthodoxy is being recast.

Patrick Gorman, president at Perth's Curtin University, typifies the new order. He is a member of the ALP but opposes abortion. While he wants campus office-bearers to represent women, gays, and indigenous students, he bridles at the idea of an environment department. "I can see the need to help students who are oppressed, but a tree does not have difficulty studying," Gorman says.

Conservatism, pragmatism, even derogatory references to individualism, are baby-boomer pigeonholes. Today's rebels might be tamer and more like their grandparents in holding family dearer, but the passionate-hearted among them will reinvent the world. Just wait.


Endangered species -- male teachers

A task force in Maine looking into why boys are falling behind in school - a nationwide phenomenon - recently released this data: Since 1980, the number of male teachers in the state's elementary schools dropped from 30% to 17%. The trends of boys struggling as male teachers disappear may be just a coincidence. But many educators suspect a link.

So far, debate on teacher gender has focused on secondary schools, where men make up a third of teachers, down from half 20 years ago. The National Education Association, which tracks this trend, offers these explanations: dated notions that teaching is women's work; modest salaries that lower the profession's prestige; and the belief that men enter the field to "teach the subject" while women enter as nurturers.

To achieve better balance, some school districts are trying to lure more male mathematicians and scientists into high school teaching careers. On the other hand, there's no parallel effort at the elementary school level, where all-female staffs are becoming the norm. That might not worry most parents, who assume women are a natural fit at that level.

It should, however, worry the parents of the many boys who leave the elementary grades with marginal reading skills. The reading gap between boys and girls widens considerably in middle schools. That's a major problem because nearly every student now encounters a verbally demanding college-prep curriculum in ninth grade.

Boys aren't doing well in this new environment, in part because in elementary school they're not getting the message that reading is a guy thing. And with fewer male role models in the classroom, the likelihood of receiving that message only diminishes.


School choice legislation is all the rage in 2005: "To date, 2005 has been a banner year for school choice legislation, with at least 17 states considering choice proposals. In addition, President George W. Bush's 2005-06 budget calls for expanding the federal school choice plan: The $50 million 'Choice Incentive Fund' would allow cities to receive federal funds to pay for tuition vouchers at private and religious schools. According to the Alliance for School Choice, governors are leading the charge on the state level."


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, June 12, 2005


The writer of the article below is frantically anti-military but cannot evade the simple fact that kids like a military environment in many ways

Tarsha Moore stands as tall as her 4-foot 8-inch frame will allow. Staring straight ahead, she yells out an order to a squad of peers lined up in three perfect columns next to her. Having been in the military program for six years, Tarsha has earned the rank of captain and is in charge of the 28 boys and girls in her squad. This is Lavizzo Elementary School. Tarsha is 14.

The Middle School Cadet Corps (MSCC) program at the K-8 school is part of a growing trend to militarize middle schools. Students at Lavizzo are among the more than 850 Chicago students who have enlisted in one of the city's 26 MSCC programs. At Madero Middle School, the MSCC has evolved into a full-time military academy for kids 11 to 14 years old.

Chicago public schools are home to the largest Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) program, which oversees the MSCC, in the country. When moving up to high school, Chicago's graduating eighth-graders can choose from 45 JROTC programs, including three full-time Army military academies, five "school-within-a-school" Army JROTC academies and one JROTC Naval academy.

Proponents of the programs tout leadership training and character development. But critics quote former Defense Secretary Gen. William Cohen, who described JROTC as "one of the best recruiting services that we could have." Rick Mills, the director of Military Schools and JROTC for the Chicago Public School system, dismisses these concerns. "These kinds of programs would not be in schools if there weren't kids who wanted it, parents who supported it and administrators who facilitated it," he says.

The elementary school cadet corps is a voluntary after-school program that meets two or three times a week. Programs differ from school to school, but MSCC students generally learn first-aid, civics, "citizenship" and character development. They also learn military history and take field trips to local military bases. Once a week, students wear their uniforms to school for inspections. Tarsha describes buffing her uniform shoes in preparation for inspection days. "Everything has to be perfect," she says. During drill practices they learn how to stand, turn and salute in synchronization. When they disobey an order, they do pushups. "Only 10," says one administrator.

Joanne Young, a sixth-grade teacher at Goethe School in Chicago, recently wrote a letter to the local school council protesting the implementation of the cadet corps in her school. "I was told that it is not a military program, yet every aspect of it is military," she wrote. "This program is training our students, as young as 11-years old, to march in formation and carry guns. ... Students could be suspended for bringing something that appears to be a weapon to our school, yet we are handing them fake guns for this program." Young, like many other teachers, feels that leadership and discipline could easily be taught in other types of after-school programs.

Herman Barnett, director of Lavizzo's award-winning MSCC program, asks the public to give the students the benefit of the doubt. "They don't look at it as getting ready for the army," he says. "They're just doing it for entertainment and fun."

In 2002 the Bush administration passed the No Child Left Behind Act with a small, unpublicized provision: Section 9528, "Armed Forces Recruiter Access to Students and Student Recruiting Information," requires high schools to give all student contact information to the military. Most students aren't aware they can opt out by filling out a form......

Opponents of the JROTC program also cite ethnic profiling, arguing that the military targets students from minority and low-income areas. The Chicago Public School system is 49.8 percent African American and 38 percent Latino. Students coming from low-income families make up 85.2 percent of Chicago's student population. JROTC director Mills is correct when he says the racial and socioeconomic status of those in Chicago's JROTC program reflects the school system as a whole, but only five schools in all of the more affluent Chicago suburbs have JROTC programs.

Military recruiters are known for their flashy tactics: television ads, omnipresent brochures, recruiting ships, trucks and vans, and even a free Army video game kids can download off the Internet. Yet, the Army hasn't met its recruitment goals in three months. The Marines haven't met their quotas since January. Suspicious recruitment tactics are in the headlines and Army recruiters took off May 20 to retrain in the ethics and laws of recruitment.

Meanwhile, Mills insists the military does not look to JROTC groups for students to boost its numbers. "I get absolutely no pressure from any of the services," he says. "None." Only 18 percent of graduating JROTC seniors are considering joining the service, says Mills. He does not have statistics on how many of the 71 percent that go on to post-secondary school stay with the ROTC program. Lavizzo's Barnett also says that not all of his middle school students move on to JROTC programs in high school. Tarsha, however, has already signed up. While she wants to be a lawyer and is not planning on joining the armed forces when she graduates, the 14-year-old says, "If I were to join the military, I would be ready for it."

More here


Conservative students have to put up with the most awful and offensive B.S. from Leftist speakers but even a balanced and scholarly presentation from a conservative must be censored

Writer Richard Rodriguez, invited to speak at the California State University East Bay commencement in Hayward on Saturday, has decided to withdraw from the program after some graduating students threatened to boycott the event. Rodriguez, author of the acclaimed memoir "Hunger of Memory," drew criticism from some students for his views against bilingual education and affirmative action. "I'm a bilingual educator," said student Leah Perez, 32, who is graduating with a master's degree in urban teacher leadership and protested Rodriguez's presence at the graduation. "He believes in assimilation and rejection of one's cultural identity, and we don't feel that is what we stand for in our program, and we don't want him representing us."

Views such as Rodriguez's go against the mission of the university, she said, noting that CSU East Bay has an education curriculum that produces bilingual teachers and emphasizes social justice.

Campus spokesman Kim Huggett said Rodriguez was slated to receive an honorary doctorate degree and then speak briefly. But those plans were scuttled by Rodriguez after campus President Norma Rees received several e- mails in the past week threatening a protest boycott. It was unclear Wednesday how many students had threatened to boycott the ceremony. Rees spoke with Rodriguez about the situation, and on Tuesday evening he decided it would be in the best interest of the university if he bowed out of the ceremony entirely, Huggett said. Rees will give the keynote address at the ceremony. "It is a sad situation. You hear about this at other universities," Huggett said. "We are a university that has always prided itself on the expression of free ideas. The sad part is people doing this based on a book they haven't read."

The book was chosen last year as summer reading for freshmen, who then discussed it online. Rodriguez was also the speaker during a campus orientation for new freshmen and their parents last fall. In an e-mail sent Tuesday to a student who was critical about Rodriguez's appearance at the graduation, Rees wrote that she had heard no complaints or concerns about that earlier event. "On the contrary, it was an enormous success. I had not heard that there were differences among the faculty and students regarding Mr. Rodriguez's writings and statements until a few days ago," Rees wrote. Rees said she hoped to hold a forum in the fall to "share opinions and offer suggestions about this and related matters." "It will be a learning experience for all of us, including me," she wrote.

Huggett invited anyone who wanted a free copy of Rodriguez's book to pick one up at the General Education Program Office in Room LM55 in Warren Hall on the Hayward campus. Even though Rodriguez will no longer appear at the main commencement, the protesting students are going ahead with an alternative graduation ceremony on Saturday with a different speaker. The main commencement for the university's 5,000 graduates will be at 9 a. m. in Pioneer Stadium. The alternative ceremony, expected to be attended by at least the 28 graduates of the urban teacher leadership master's program, will be held at 8:30 a.m. on the lawn of Meiklejohn Hall. The speaker will be Edmundo Norte, a lecturer in the program and a supporter of bilingual education.

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