Saturday, July 16, 2005


Below is a suggestion that appeared on a mailing list that I am on. Following that is my own comment to the list

In all the articles I've read since the London terror attacks asking the question, "Why have Muslim youths become radicalized?", Burhan Wazir's article in today's "Times" is the first that even comes close to answering the question:

"In the 1970s, growing up in Glasgow, my generation was consumed by the most ordinary of passions: how to skip school; Star Wars; and excursions into the city centre. Middle-class in aspiration, but working-class by birth, my contemporaries slogged through school and university to emerge, blinking and eager, into the workplace at the other end.

My travels around Britain last year, however, showed a worrying cultural shift: working-class parents and their children now pour scorn on the values of a British education, the building block for getting on in life. That shift mirrors what is happening throughout British society."

Could it be that the reason British Muslims are so easily radicalized is connected to the collapse of the British educational system? The British system no longer seeks to create Britons, the way it did for over a century, but instead tries (and fails) to train people for the workforce. Absent any cultural direction in education (or from parents who had been educated under the old system), it is no wonder that young men look for a cultural identity. Britons seem to find it in a soccer team -- this in itself could be an explanation for why that sport, which had become the preserve of hooligans in the 70s and 80s, suddenly became the focus of national attention in the 90s. Young Muslims, on the other hand, have another source to draw on.

I am sure the problem is more complicated than this, but prima facie it seems the Williams-inspired destruction of British education must be examined for its role.

Black kids sadly turn to gangstaism, which may kill more of them in the long run. Hindus are an interesting question, but perhaps the British extermination of the less pleasant Hindu practices actually did have a good effect. Brits, as I suggested, turn to the banal. It is only Islam that has a ready-made violent culture to turn to.

Yet this all could have been prevented if we'd stuck to our tried-and-tested educational system. That's why British Muslims of previous generations didn't become hijackers and so on. Islamic terrorism has been around for a long time. British youth radicalization is new. Why the latter? is the question I've seen asked, but rarely answered.

My comment:

The content of British education has always been pathetic -- Latin verbs and Romantic poets etc. I don't think we can fault the move to more useful subjects. But the propaganda content has absolutely transmogrified -- instead of British boosterism there is now white guilt. It is as much the Left as the imams who have taught the jihadists. The combination is fatal. The schools reinforce what the Imams say.

Defeats, Some Victories Scored by School Choice Supporters

As many state legislative sessions drew to a close for 2005, the fate of several school choice initiatives was decided for the year. In Arizona on May 20, Gov. Janet Napolitano (D) vetoed corporate tax credit legislation school choice supporters had expected to become law as part of a budget deal made a few weeks earlier. The budget Napolitano signed included her funding priorities, such as a new medical school branch campus, expansion of all-day kindergarten, and funding for social programs--all of which she negotiated in exchange for approving the tax credit legislation. Napolitano said she vetoed the tax credit initiative because Republicans did not include a five-year sunset on the legislation. School choice advocates accused the governor of breaking her promise to Arizona children.

"The governor is a liar," Rep. Eddie Farnsworth (R-Gilbert) told the Arizona Daily Star afterward. "It's unfortunate that for the moment this bipartisan agreement has been turned on its head," Milton & Rose D. Friedman Foundation President Gordon St. Angelo said in a May 20 news release. "Children in Arizona shouldn't have to wait for greater educational freedom because of legislative wrangling." The tax credit legislation would have allowed scholarships for 1,000 economically disadvantaged children to attend private schools. At press time, Napolitano was considering calling a special session to resolve the matter, indicating she may approve the corporate tax credit legislation if it includes the five-year sunset provision.

In Florida, the 2005 session closed on May 6 with the legislature failing to agree on school choice accountability legislation. The proposed measure would have barred schools that accept vouchers from discriminating on the basis of religion, required student progress to be measured using one of four standardized tests, and subjected voucher schools to unscheduled visits by an auditor. On the last day of the session, House members opposing the bill tacked 281 pages of amendments onto it, and the Senate did not take it up again.

Gov. Jeb Bush (R) has promised to tighten up school choice accountability and monitoring through an executive order. In addition, Bush had hoped to expand the state's voucher program dramatically this year. The Reading Compact Scholarship would have given a taxpayer-funded voucher to any student scoring at the lowest level on the reading portion of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test for three consecutive years. The Senate voted to reject the program, saying it didn't want to expand vouchers before the state supreme court rules on the Opportunity Scholarship program. Oral arguments on that case were held June 7.

Florida's corporate scholarship tax credit program funding cap rose from $50 million to $88 million. A May 8 news release from the Alliance for School Choice noted the tax credit expansion--passed by the legislature as part of an omnibus budget package--nearly doubles the current expenditures and will enable up to 9,000 additional low-income students to use scholarships to attend private schools over the next 18 months. Approximately 11,500 students are currently enrolled in the state's scholarship tax credit program. That number could swell to 15,000 students this fall and to 20,000 students by the 2006-07 school year. Scholarship funding organizations may award up to $3,500 per student.

In Ohio, the Senate version of the state budget, released May 24, maintained the statewide voucher program passed by the House on April 12. The House created the program with 18,000 vouchers for children in low-performing districts. The Senate kept the concept, but scaled it back to 10,000 students in low-performing schools.



Despite decades of reforms, middle- and high-school performance continues to falter, suggesting that the fundamental structure may be to blame. While about 5 percent of Georgia's elementary schools failed to demonstrate the adequate yearly progress, or AYP, required under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, 44 percent of the state's middle schools and 41 percent of its high schools missed the mark.

After releasing the AYP lists last week, the state Department of Education called the high school results especially troubling, noting that only one Georgia high school fought its way off the "needs improvement" list from last year, while others landed on the list for the first time.

Older grades are a weak link nationally. On Thursday, the federal government released the results of the 2004 National Assessment of Educational Progress and the same trend can be seen — promising performance in the early grades that begins to fade in the upper grades.

Nine-year-olds earned their highest scores ever in math and reading on NAEP, a benchmark test given periodically since 1971 to students aged 9, 13 and 17. Although 13-year-olds fared better in math on last year's test, their reading attainment remained flat. The most discouraging scores were among 17-year-olds, where math and reading achievement haven't risen in 30 years in spite of a concerted campaign to increase math rigor in high school.

Most reform efforts in Georgia have focused on the early grades, but the successes there will be squandered if students fall behind in middle and high schools. "In math and science, our fourth-graders are among the top students in the world," Bill Gates pointed out at the National Education Summit on High Schools in February. "By eighth grade, they're in the middle of the pack. By 12th grade, U.S. students are scoring near the bottom of all industrialized nations."

Former University Chancellor Stephen Portch used to urge the state Legislature to create an education system that assumes every Georgia child will go to college. That's a far cry from today's system, in which schools sort the winners from the losers as early as middle school by tracking students and directing some children to less-rigorous courses. The leaks and the holes in Georgia middle and high schools cannot be patched together with grout and duct tape. It's time for the wrecking ball and a new model.

More here


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

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

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


Friday, July 15, 2005


Australian parents are going private early

Few will be surprised at news that demand for private preschools is growing as parents seek to guarantee their children a place at private primary and high schools. A child is no sooner born than the question of schooling arises in parents' minds. Many have already made the choice to send their children to private schools, and a private preschool is virtually another way to book a place.

However, another more powerful force is also at work. Governments have been reluctant to provide enough places at public preschools. Waiting lists there are long, and there is no sign of them dwindling. As with hospitals, this shortage provides an opportunity for entrepreneurs to supply the market. And why should they not? Someone has to. Advocates of state schools view the trend with unease, reasoning that once out of the state school sector, a child tends not to return. Private educators, they say, having got their foot in the door first, thus have a decisive advantage. That is true of preschools closely connected to existing private schools, but it will be less true of others.

Preschooling is a necessity in an age when both a child's parents usually work. It has obvious benefits for most children: they have opportunities to socialise earlier than those kept at home; in general they cope better when they do eventually start big school because they know roughly what to expect; they quickly acquire resistance to illness. There may be educational advantages also - some can read before they get to school - but too much emphasis on passing such milestones at this age rapidly degenerates into oppressive hothousing.

Whether society as a whole benefits from the early regimentation of a child's life at a stage when personality and imagination are still forming is a philosophical question which parents, hard-pressed in today's economy, do not have the leisure to answer.

Yet the growth of private preschools, and the drift away from state schools which it presages, should worry us. Education is being privatised - that we know. Where it results in greater choice, it is welcome. The doubt is whether present trends will continue to produce that result. Forty per cent of children in NSW now attend private schools, and the trend is gaining momentum, particularly in Sydney. In not a few suburbs, state school classrooms lie empty while parents - often simply anxious that their children not be left behind rather than wholly committed to private education - scour the neighbourhood for private places.

The State Government has tried to attract parents back with more selective schools and opportunity classes for the ambitious. But the result in secondary education is an ungainly three-tier system: selective schools for the brightest or most driven, private schools for those who can afford them, and comprehensive schools for the rest. It is inherently unstable, as the flight to private education shows.



The public school system was created for the state by the state. Whether or not one chooses to homeschool, one still must pay taxes to put others in a Godless, broken, education system. We might as well call it what it is however, and a public school tyranny funded by your family's taxes. But ask yourself what those taxes fund. Do they fund your child's education if you make the grave mistake (and sin) of sending your little ones into Satan's Synagogues known also as the public schools? No, your child does not get an education. An indoctrination is not an education. Your child gets indoctrinated by your tax dollars and the tax dollars of your neighbors who also have to pay for your child's indoctrination. But your child does not get an education.

People often blame the Government (and they should) and the school administration (and they should) for the bad education in this country. But those same people will defend teachers saying, "There are some good teachers." I suggest that the ONLY good teachers are those teachers who warn parents every day to pull their children from the public schools. All the rest care more for their paycheck than they care about warning the parents to rescue the children. It's that simple. Those same people would never defend evil prison camps by saying, "Well, there are some good prison guards." (Not that I'm comparing the public schools with prison camps because I wouldn't want to disparage prison camps...)

The system is corrupt and cannot be fixed. The system cannot be reformed. Institutions do not repent. The schools must go. "BUT WAIT," you say, "What are you saying," you ask. I realize that if we closed the government school system tonight, the following would take place:

* Children would be far less likely to learn how many earrings fit in their left nostrils.
* Children would be unable to experience the joy of being inspected by school teachers, administrators, and nurses who are latent pedophiles (you read in the news almost EVERY day of a public school teacher or administrator who molests a child, but it's such common news that it's often buried on page 13-C).
* If we closed the government school system then children could not learn the importance of an open mind towards homosexual experimentation.
* If we closed the government school system tonight then kids would not learn that truth is only relative, that whatever is good for you is right as long as you have self-esteem (the two Columbine murderers had LOTS of self-esteem... the school system really taught them well).
* If we closed the government schools tonight, I realize that teachers could no longer blame parents for bad children - The late 60s and 70s began the modern liberal thought in America's government schools and teachers who blame the parents (teachers always blame the parents) are speechless when you then ask, "Well, who taught the parents?" (Ask them, you'll see, teachers really HATE that question after they've blamed the parents for all their ills).
* Children would no longer believe the lie that they evolved from slime if we closed the public schools tonight, and without that important public school education they'll begin to see that life has more meaning than their teachers used to make them believe.
* If we closed the schools tonight, how in the world would the children learn that you can have sex with anything you want as long as a condom's involved somewhere along the way?????

How much of your income goes to your local school district? We paid almost $5,000 in property taxes, per year to one school district, before we moved to acreage to get away from as much municipal tyranny as possible. On top of that, how much of your other taxes go to schools, directly or indirectly? How much towards the Department of Education's programs, failed programs such as D.A.R.E. that have been proved to cause more drug use among school children? How much of your time is spent wasted - waiting in traffic behind stopped school buses (I mean, children jails) each day?....

The Columbine teachers taught a program called "death education" three years before the Columbine murders. They taught kids that suicide was an option and that death was not something to be avoided at all costs both for you or for others. Well, why not? We all evolved from slime, we're no better than animals, animals kill other animals. A reporter was commenting on one of the murderer's T-shirt that had this phrase on it: Survival of the Fittest. The reporter actually looked straight at the camera and said, "It's not really clear what was meant by that shirt." The only time the national media won't passionately defend evolution is when it would expose the foolishness behind it.

I suppose I must admit once again, those Columbine teachers really did their intended jobs. But the Liberal's nightmare always kicks in eventually: The Law of Unintended Consequences. "What? NOBODY blames the teachers for Columbine!!!!" (I hear you saying that.) I do. It's simple. It takes effort to become as dumb as a public school administrator. In fact, what does it take? It takes a degree in education to get that foolish. You're not born that stupid, you have to REALLY work at it. Who become the administrators? Only the "best teachers" get promoted to the administration positions.

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, July 14, 2005


High schools that begin classes as early as 7:30 a.m. deprive teenagers of sleep, and attempts to reset an adolescent's biological clock fail to solve the problem, a study in the June Pediatrics finds.

Sixty high school students in Evanston, Ill., recorded their sleep times in diaries in August, September, and November of 1997 and in February 1998. The diaries showed that students stayed up late in August but still managed to sleep 8 to 9 hours. When school started, they continued staying up late but had to awaken early for school, says Margarita L. Dubocovich, a neuropharmacologist at Northwestern University in Evanston. The teens' average sleep fell to 6 to 7 hours on weekdays.

In an attempt to reset the students' daily biological clocks, or circadian rhythms, so that they would be more alert in daytime and go to bed earlier, the researchers exposed some students in their classrooms to especially bright light between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Other students were exposed to muted red lighting. But the bright light neither changed students' sleep patterns nor improved their scores on tests of mood, vigor, and cognitive function.

Hormones, television watching, Web surfing, and other factors might explain why adolescents delay sleep in the evening, Dubocovich says, adding that "it's not well understood." Dubocovich advocates napping in the afternoons and says high school officials should consider starting classes later and scheduling important tests only for afternoons. Only 16 percent of high schools in the United States start later than 8:15 a.m., says Richard P. Millman of Brown University in Providence, R.I.



The meddlers want to "regulate" them, of course but maybe that would be a good idea if the same standards were applied to public schools and the regulations were impartially enforced. I think more public schools would be found to be failing than private ones if the review of them were independent

The fastest-growing segment of higher education in New York State is not the immense public universities, the State University of New York and the City University of New York, nor the well-known private campuses like Columbia and New York University, but a raft of lesser-known commercial institutions often advertised on city subways.

From 1999 to 2004, a period when colleges and universities in New York grew by less than 15 percent, enrollment at degree-granting profit-making schools jumped 46 percent, to more than 44,000. And some enrollments soared. They jumped 265 percent at the Interboro Institute and 180 percent at the Rochester Business Institute.

In fact, commercial schools have been booming nationwide, driven by the rise of education conglomerates, the growth in education via the Internet and a ready market of struggling students who had not been sought out by traditional institutions. Nationally, enrollment at commercial degree-granting schools grew 147 percent between 1995 and 2002, the most recent numbers available, to nearly 600,000 students.

Students at these schools study to prepare for careers in business, culinary arts and design, and to become medical technicians or paralegals. But questions exist about the quality of education at some of these institutions. Federal and state investigators have found that some used inappropriate enrollment practices, like registering students incapable of doing the work. Some critics also charge that the schools make rosy promises about jobs for their graduates that do not materialize.

In recent audits, the New York State comptroller's office found more problems with commercial schools than at other schools. In audits of four degree-granting schools in the past year, the comptroller found that irregularities in financial aid grants were more than eight times higher at the two commercial schools studied than at the public college and the private nonprofit college that it also reviewed.

Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California, said in written testimony to a Congressional hearing in March that at one point she had accumulated a two-foot stack of complaints about the schools. She said that while not all schools were bad, enough were to warrant "even more protection from the false sales pitches of many of these for-profit trade schools."

Nonetheless, more and more college students are attracted by the career-oriented education these schools typically offer, as well as by their often relaxed admissions policies and their consumer-oriented focus. Students are also drawn by the aggressive advertising that many employ. In New York City, for example, it is hard to miss their splashy campaigns in newspapers and on buses and subway cars offering quick degrees, generous financial aid and job placement. Cecil Wright, a 31-year-old student at Monroe College in the Bronx, said he was working at Kentucky Fried Chicken when he saw a sign on a bus that said, "Call 1-888-Go-Monroe." He did. "What grabbed me most of all was the whole atmosphere," he said. "I was working, and they had a flexible program that let me attend classes at night. I was also able to get financial aid; their financial aid counselors held my hand through the whole process. And not just then. They held my hand in a way that helped me to succeed."

Commercial school executives like Stephen J. Jerome, president of Monroe College and chairman of the New York State Association of Proprietary Colleges, say the industry is basically sound. "Every sector has horror stories," he said. "Every time a proprietary does something bad, it really comes out, and that drives the rest of us crazy." He said that one indicator of student satisfaction with his school, which has about 5,400 students on campuses in the Bronx and New Rochelle - up from about 3,500 in 1999 - is the growing number of second- and third-generation students.

Much of the growth at such schools is dependent on attracting students eligible for financial aid. Among schools granting degrees, the commercial institutions received 17 percent of what New York State spent on tuition assistance grants in 2002, even though they educated just 6 percent of the undergraduates. Of 441 commercial schools in the state, 41 grant degrees, up from 27 a decade ago.



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, July 13, 2005

Literacy Programs Aren't Helping the Poor

A comment from India pointing out that literacy alone is of little benefit there

Policy makers around the world have decided that literacy is what the poor need. That's simply doing a disservice to them. Literacy hasn't brought any real benefit or change in the lives of the social underclass.

There is no doubt about a close linkage between illiteracy and poverty. Illiterate people find it difficult to get out of poverty. Without being sufficiently literate, one can't fully enjoy social or cultural life. As Amartya Sen, the Nobel laureate in economics, points out, the capacity to read and write deeply influences one's quality of life. The trouble is that while societies increasingly emphasize information, knowledge and communication as essential ingredients of education, poor people are offered a much lower standard to achieve. A person is considered literate if he can read, write and understand a simple sentence relating to his everyday life. Using this definition, there are still nearly 1 billion adults who are illiterate, according to the United Nations. In addition, more than 100 million children don't attend primary schools today. Even among the so-called literate, especially the poor, there are those who have attended only a few primary grades in rural schools that offer little by way of education.

To validate published official records, The George Foundation (a nongovernmental organization carrying out poverty eradication programs in the rural areas of Tamil Nadu state in India) recently completed a house-to-house survey of several thousand people in 17 villages. Those surveyed were asked to read and respond to a simple question written in their local language: How old are you? Less than 15 percent of the people among the ``lower'' social class or ``dalits'' were able to read the question, while barely 40 percent of the ``upper'' classes responded correctly. If this survey is any indication of actual rural literacy, it is hard to believe the government's claim of 65 percent adult literacy in all of India, when 700 million people live in the rural sector.

A UN General Assembly resolution adopted in 2003 on the ``International Plan of Action for the Decade'' called for policy changes at national levels to link literacy promotion with strategies for poverty reduction, health care and other important social goals. It also emphasized the need for flexible programs, capacity building, research, community participation and monitoring. While all these are essential ingredients for success in the fight against illiteracy, it isn't clear how the new policy will be implemented. The starting point for any realistic program is a clear understanding of the present state of affairs. With nearly two- thirds of the people in the world living in rural areas, it is rural schools that are most important in the literacy effort. Unfortunately, most rural schools in practically every developing country are of substandard quality.

In a country like India, most rural schools are government- run, and only a few offer anything resembling quality education. On any given day, many primary schools are short teachers, and students from a couple of grades are combined into a single room for classes. Most teachers aren't properly trained and have very little motivation or commitment to the profession. Illiterate families in rural communities aren't involved in the education of their children, and only a minority of parents send their children to middle school. The education children receive in rural primary schools hardly prepares them for further study, employment, or effective community participation. Yet, they are classified as literate.

To compound the problems caused by a scarcity of good teachers, there are many other difficulties to overcome. Children from poor families go to school hungry; a majority of them suffer from malnutrition. A significant number are regularly sick. They don't receive periodic vision or hearing checkups. Many schools don't have toilets that offer sufficient privacy, discouraging girls from attending classes for the entire day. Most classrooms are unventilated and overcrowded, roofs leak on rainy days, books and paper are in short supply, and blackboards are nonexistent or worn out. ...

All the gadgetry in the world can't equal the impact that a skilled and dedicated teacher has on a child, even in the most rural setting. Until the policy focus turns to attracting college graduates to the teaching and to rural government schools, we can't expect a real improvement in children's education.

Significant reduction in illiteracy, as currently defined, may be possible within the next decade or two. But the real question to be answered is this: Is literacy an adequate goal for the poor?

The goal should be to ensure that all children receive a good education -- from grade school until high school -- in a motivating environment. Without proper education, as opposed to literacy, today's children may not have a future in an increasingly competitive global market

More here

Shamed Germans turn to private sector

Private education is booming in Germany as parents turn away from a one-size-fits-all education system they claim has failed their children. Germany was once famed as a centre of learning excellence - but no longer. The PISA study, which graded the education of all EU children, showed Germany close to the bottom of the class. Since the first disastrous PISA results in 2000, an estimated 130,000 extra children have been enrolled in German private schools. There are now some 600,000 children being educated privately, at considerable cost. Peter Susat, president of the Federation of German Private Schools, says that from 1992 to 2003, a further 600 private schools have opened, bringing the total to more than 2500. "The boom can be laid in part to a negative image of the public school system, which was strengthened by the PISA study results," he says.

The publication of the PISA 2000 study caused a public outcry. On average, German students participating in this standardised test performed considerably below the OECD average and substantially worse than students from other European countries such as Finland and Ireland. New polls show that 20 per cent of German parents would prefer to send their children to a private school if they could afford it. Demand is particularly strong in east Germany, where parents feel the west did not adequately fill the educational vacuum after the collapse of communism.

Another reason for the turn to private education is the fear of drugs and violence in schools, especially following the massacre of 14 teachers, two students and a police officer by a pupil in Erfurt in 2002.

Immigration is also a factor: there are schools in Germany with such a high ratio of foreign pupils that German is a second language behind Turkish in many classrooms.

Manfred Weiss, a Frankfurt educationalist, says he is sceptical about whether private schools produced better results but he understands parents' motives. "The school climate is better, the contact of parents to the school usually closer. There is a trend towards more conservative education that these schools fulfil," he says. Most private schools in Germany are faith-based.

Private schools have always been a dilemma for postwar German governments. For many, they smack too much of the elite education that Hitler tried to create at the NAPOLAs - political schools designed to create a Nazi ruling class.



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, July 12, 2005

School not always best says new study

Staying on at school does not increase work prospects and may even be detrimental for students who aren't aca-demically inclined. That's the finding of a new study which also says there is little or no gain in earnings or job opportunities for poorly performing students who stay until year 12. Its author, Michael Dockery of Curtin University of Technology, said policies to lift retention rates and to raise the mandatory time at school ignored the fact that school wasn't suited to all. He said the implicit assumption, that those who left school early would have achieved better outcomes had they stayed on at school, was a fallacy. He said that years 11 and 12 mostly benefited the more academically able.

In March, Prime Minister John Howard suggested that more young people should leave school after year 10 to pursue trades. "High year 12 retention rates became the goal, instead of us as a nation recognising there are some people who should not go to university," he said.

But a study by Dusseldorp Skills Forum (DSF) last month found that a higher school retention rate would raise workforce numbers by 65,000 and add $10 billion to the economy by 2040. DSF research strategist John Spierings said figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, to be released this month, show 40 per cent of students who left after year 10 were not fully engaged in the labour market - they were unemployed or working part-time, but not studying. [Dear me! Hasn't anybody told these galoots not to confuse cause and effect? That kids who drop out might be dumber and hence less employable anyway does not appear to have occurred to these "experts"] The figures worsen the earlier a child leaves school. Dr Dockery said he was not advocating that young people who were unhappy or performing badly at school simply drop out. "However, in such situations, other alternatives such as reasonable job openings [and] traineeships should not be ignored just for the sake of accumulating years of schooling," he said.

Business Council of Australia education policy director Maria Tarrant said that all children needed 12 years of education, but school was not appropriate for everyone.



Pushing to improve instruction of its youngest students, California is considering setting learning standards and curriculum guidelines for children as young as 3. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell is leading the drive, hoping to narrow the state's achievement gap by reaching students at a younger age. The goal is to ensure consistency and better prepare youngsters for kindergarten, but opponents fear that too much academic pressure would be placed on 3-, 4-and 5-year-olds. "I think we need to step back and look deeply at what children really need - and that's more time with their parents," said Catherine Myers, executive director of the Family and Home Network, an advocacy group for child nurturing.

Setting standards, though not formally tied to universal preschool, would complement a proposed ballot initiative by film director Rob Reiner to offer free instruction to every young child. O'Connell said he is convinced that California needs to "provide high-quality preschool opportunities to all children." "I'm convinced that if you wait until high school to address the achievement gap, it's too late," he said. O'Connell is sponsoring Assembly Bill 1246, which would require the state to determine by January 2007 precisely what preschoolers should learn and how it should be taught.

Assemblywoman Lois Wolk, a Davis Democrat who proposed AB 1246 at O'Connell's behest, said she wants to ensure that youngsters receive a basic knowledge of things like numbers and letters - not push preschoolers to cram for exams. "It's not going to be a one-size-fits-all. It can't be," she said. "Education isn't that way. What you want is for children to be able to follow directions, work with other kids, recognize colors and numbers, and to feel good about working in groups, so by the time they get to kindergarten, they're ready for the kinds of learning they need to achieve."

AB 1246 awaits action in the Senate after passing the Assembly on a 47-32 party-line vote, with Republicans opposed. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has taken no position. The measure would require the state Department of Education to set learning standards in four areas: mathematics, science, reading-language arts, and history-social science. The bill identifies several specific topics to be covered. For example, it says the history-social science standard should address citizenship and national symbols. Mathematics would touch upon the classification and measurement of numbers; science would include earth, physical and life sciences; and reading-language arts would spotlight vocabulary development and recognition of the alphabet....

AB 1246 does not call for formal testing of preschoolers and does not address teacher training to meet the new standards.

If signed into law, AB 1246 would not depend on voter approval of Reiner's ballot initiative, "Preschool for All." But O'Connell said "we're getting ready" and "ramping up" for a universal system. Reiner's measure would tax California's wealthiest families to offer every 4-year-old a year of free instruction in preschools that meet certain standards, including having curriculum based on statewide learning standards.....

"I believe a lot of people don't realize how much quality learning is taking place at preschools," said Lorraine Weatherspoon, coordinator of Sacramento City Unified School District's school readiness programs. O'Connell said existing programs do, indeed, have performance goals. But AB 1246 is meant to expand and improve upon them. "We're trying to more professionalize (preschool programs)," he said. [Oh dear!] ....

Assemblyman Keith Richman, R-Northridge, said the state's track record is dismal. "I think these curriculum standards are simply a step in making preschool an extension of K-12 education, which to a large degree has been failing students," he said.....

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, July 11, 2005


The banner headline of the City Section of the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sunday edition read: “School Mishandled School Violence. When I read it I thought the Inquirer was talking about the racial harassment of two white students who attended the 99% black Samuel B. Huey Public School in West Philadelphia. The harassment was so terrible that the mother of the students, 33 year-old Shannon Berthiaume, became so distraught she rammed her minivan into the school’s front doors May 25th. She did this rather desperate act after hearing students calling her kids racial slurs as she dropped them off at school that morning.

'I'm sick of them calling them names. I'm sick of the spitting and the fighting. These people won't listen to me, " she was quoted as saying. Berthiaume has one son Justin, 12, and one daughter Destiny, 9, who are white. Her youngest, Pedro, 7, is half Puerto Rican. The children began attending Huey School in January after moving from the Kensington section of Philadelphia. Shortly after, the racial harassment began.

Berthiaume complained several times to the school administration. Yet nothing was done. Despite the fact that her kids were terrified and depressed to go to school because of the racially motivated, anti-white, harassment they were experiencing, the school only offered to transfer them. This is tantamount to racial segregation from a school district that claims to be concerned about diversity....

This is the same school district that several years ago considered teaching about racism by using a curriculum that claimed that white people who are victims of racially motivated crimes do not suffer as much as black people do. White kids being victimized by black kids is not considered a racial hate crime by the news media, the school district, or the police in Philadelphia.

Instead of writing an in-depth article about the racially motivated harassment of white students by black students in a Philadelphia school, the Philadelphia Inquirer chose to do an article about harassment by cadets at a military school. One has to wonder: would the Inquirer have done a feature article about an incident at a military school instead of one concerning white student racism if the incident at the public school concerned black students being harassed by white students.

Of course, most people already know the answer to this. The Inquirer and other mainstream media would make an incident where black students were terrorized by whites a feature piece for weeks... There would be editorials and special articles, as well as broadcasts about the incident. Not only would the media be outraged, the school district would dispatch counselors and dispute resolution experts and conduct a series of meetings with parents and students about racism. Police would be called to arrest individuals. None of which occurred here. Because when it concerns white students being terrorized by black students, the media largely ignores it, police do not involve themselves, and the school district does not consider it a worthy problem.

It seems that Philadelphia’s political, academic, and media elite are acolytes of the teachings of Herbert Marcuse. They, like Spike Lee and Jesse Jackson, spout the Marcusian fallacy that blacks cannot be racist because blacks do not control institutions. They feel whites do not suffer from racism because they are white – only blacks can suffer from racism. Maybe they could ask Ms. Berthiaume and her kids.

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Teenagers are so out of touch with modern science that they cannot name a single living scientist, a survey reveals today. Environmentalist and broadcaster David Bellamy was the closest that two out of almost 1,000 respondents got. Others cited Madonna, Chemical Ali, Leonardo da Vinci and Christopher Columbus. Some students even plumped for their science teachers.

Students, aged 13-16, were asked to name a famous scientist in an online survey carried out by exam board OCR. Isaac Newton (39%) and Albert Einstein (29%) topped the list, which included Marie Curie, Charles Darwin and Alexander Fleming; but the students were stumped when it came to naming living scientists.

The findings also reveal that although eight out of 10 students (79%) said scientists were clever, just 7% said they were "cool or fun". Over half (51%) said they thought science lessons were boring, confusing or difficult - feelings that intensified as students progressed through secondary school in years 9, 10 and 11.

Students also resented the fact that science is compulsory, with many wishing to drop it at GCSE. If given the choice, 45% of students would take biology GCSE, 32% chemistry, 29% physics, 19% combined science and 16% would opt out altogether. Clara Kenyon, OCR's director of general assessment, said: "The results go to show the growing apathy in today's students about science ... It is startling that no students named those responsible for recent scientific advances, for example, Ian Wilmut, who cloned Dolly the sheep, or Professor Colin Pillinger, who headed the Beagle 2 space probe to Mars project. "If we can't enthuse and inspire young people about the subject while they are at school, then who will carry on [Britain's] great tradition of scientific discovery? "Universities are reporting falling numbers of science students and there is a widely reported shortage of science teachers and lab technicians."

OCR is offering GCSEs from September designed to help students understand science by touching on everyday subjects such as mobile phone technology and cloning. Ms Kenyon said she was encouraged "that unprompted, over one-third (39%) of students stated the best thing about studying science was taking part in practical experiments, with 24% telling us the best aspect of science for them was gaining knowledge. "Students may not see science as interesting, but they appreciate that it will be relevant to their future."



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, July 10, 2005


As bureaucratic compromises always will be

Schools are preparing for their fourth year under the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) this fall even as a state-led grassroots rebellion rages against the education law. The revolt is expected to intensify in the 2005-2006 school year as stricter testing requirements and penalties take effect. Several states have launched legislative and legal attacks against NCLB, or are openly defying provisions of the law, which calls for annual student testing in grades 3 to 8 and penalizes schools that fail to improve test scores in all racial and demographic groups.

Congress passed NCLB, President Bush’s signature education reform law, with strong bipartisan support in 2001 with the intent to raise academic achievement for all students and close the gaps in achievement that separate students of color and low-income students from their peers. However, states have complained since the law went into effect in 2002 that it is too costly and that federal standards usurp state and local control of schools.

Leading the revolt has been the solidly Republican state of Utah, which handed Bush his largest margin of victory in the nation in the 2004 presidential election. After more than a year of debate, the GOP-dominated Legislature on April 19 authorized schools to ignore NCLB mandates that conflict with the state's own testing regimen or that require state dollars to meet them. In Bush’s own home state, also a Republican stronghold, the Texas commissioner of education has unilaterally decided to disregard NCLB requirements for testing students with learning disabilities. The Lone Star state – also home to U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings -- already has been fined $444,282 of its $1.1 billion federal education allocation for missing a data-reporting deadline, and stands to face more costly sanctions if it continues to flout NCLB. Georgia and Minnesota also have been fined for failing to meet requirements of the act.

According to Communities for Quality Education, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group tracking state actions on NCLB, 15 states (Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Texas, Vermont and Wyoming) have considered legislation to "opt-out" of NCLB and forgo federal education funds, and four states (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Wisconsin) considered bills that would prohibit the use of state money to comply with NCLB.

Long-threatened legal challenges to NCLB are materializing in at least five states. The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest teacher union, and school districts in Michigan, Texas and Vermont sued the U.S. Department of Education April 20, alleging it has failed to fund NCLB adequately. Connecticut's attorney general said he will soon file a similar lawsuit on behalf of the state Legislature, and Maine lawmakers in May passed a bill ordering their state attorney general to sue the federal government if the state determines NCLB is not fully funded.

In an effort to pacify the states, the Bush administration in April 2005 offered greater flexibility on testing requirements for students with severe learning disabilities. But resistance to the overall law is expected to increase nonetheless as its requirements become harder to meet.

NCLB requires annual increases in the number of students who pass standardized tests in reading and math until all students are passing by 2014. Many states soon will face even higher benchmarks for how many students must pass. Most states opted to meet their goals in three-year increments, with the first jump in 2005. At least two states, Florida and Missouri, recently asked permission to scrap their three-year "stair-step" plan to avoid the higher standards and instead will join at least five other states (Arkansas, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland and North Dakota) that raise testing targets in smaller, annual increments.

In addition, 2005-2006 is the first school year that all states must have in place NCLB's central requirement that students be tested in reading and math annually in grades 3 through 8 and once in grades 10 through 12. This year, more than 6,000 schools -- about 13 percent of the number receiving federal funding – were rated "in need of improvement" because too many students failed the tests. The number of failing schools is down slightly from the previous year, but is expected to rise under stricter testing requirements.

Fifteen states are conducting or have finished studies on the cost of complying with NCLB, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Studies by Ohio and Texas estimated that the price to state taxpayers of complying with NCLB could run as high as $1.5 billion and $1.2 billion, respectively, each year. NEA, the teacher's union, contends that since the law's enactment in 2002, there has been a $27 billion shortfall in what Congress should have provided to meet the law's regulations. NCSL estimated a shortfall of $9.6 billion as of 2004. Twenty-five states are considering or have passed resolutions asking Congress to fully fund NCLB.

The conflict over NCLB is about federalism as well as funding. States have long considered education policy to be their exclusive province, especially because the federal government pays less than 8 percent of the states’ education costs. Their challenges against NCLB increasingly are focused on one paragraph in the 1,100-page act -- Section 9572A -- which prohibits the federal government from requiring states to pay any costs incurred by complying with the law.

Bush administration officials contend that NCLB is not an unfunded mandate and that states have received record increases in federal dollars for education in the past three years. Since 2001, Congress has increased education spending about $10 billion, or 2 percent of states' overall education costs. Whether the states' or the federal government's competing cost claims about NCLB are correct is an ongoing dispute. Two commentaries published in Education Week examine different sides in the debate: "Two Very Different Questions," by William J. Mathis, a superintendent of schools in Rutland, Vt., looks at the unfunded mandate arguments; "Money Has Not Been Left Behind," by Paul E. Peterson and Martin R. West, both of Harvard University and the journal Education Next, argue the law is fully funded.



How well has the school choice message been promoted to the public since we started in 1996? What have we done well since then? And what do we need to do In 1996, when the Milton & Rose D. Friedman Foundation was founded, the school choice movement had a very fractured message. There was a lot of conservative rhetoric, a focus on how markets work, and a lot of groups speaking with a lot of different voices--nothing really cohesive. On the other hand, school choice opponents have and will always continue to speak with one voice against the movement. It's a simple but dramatic difference.

Whether it's the school boards, the National Education Association, or their various allied advocacy groups, opponents of school choice speak with one voice, using similar phrasing, labels, and stories to make a persuasive case against allowing parents to choose their children's schools. The school choice side was handicapped because there were too few programs in place in the country to draw stories from, so we didn't have enough real-life examples. We also really didn't have many good messengers at that stage. Who could deliver this message of school choice and freedom in a credible way to members of the public? It was right-wing white folks who were delivering the message, and that doesn't sell in many ways. That's where we were in '96, and when the Friedman Foundation started, we said, "We need to change the message on school choice. We need to get groups speaking with one voice."....

The "ladder" of values that people climb goes like this: I want a better school with good performance, and I want it because my children are going to learn better and learn faster, and that means they're going to get a better job. And if they get a better job, that means they're going to have a chance to succeed in the future. They're going to have a better life, and I'm going to be less worried as a parent. I will have done the right thing by my child. The most effective messages are oriented toward child advancement or parental pride in doing the right thing for their children. Those were the two messages we wanted to get out, and we did. Many groups started to use those. Other messages come out of this new focus, messages that are very simple: School choice is widespread unless you're poor. School choice works. Opponents of school choice lie when confronted by the facts. Those were our messages. And we hammered those in many different ways.

Since 1996, the school choice movement has adopted a more unified message. The Friedman Foundation, Alliance for School Choice, Cato Institute, and many others are working to advance school choice, using different methods and aiming at different audiences, but working together so that we speak with one voice. We did a great job getting the moral high ground. For example, opponents of choice often claim we are taking away a fundamental right to public education, a right we've had since the beginning of our country. We've countered that with, "You know what? If you're poor, the current system does not deliver on its promise. You're totally being abused by this system." Parents themselves got out front with this message, through groups such as the Black Alliance for Educational Options. We've also linked school choice with performance. All the studies say school choice works not just for parents, who are more satisfied, but for students, who are better educated. Even public schools do better when they have to compete with other schools. This message works. And we helped destroy several reigning myths about school choice, such as that it helps only those who are rich. Or that it's illegal. The Supreme Court proved that wrong in 2002 ... but we were making that case three years before the Supreme Court ruled.

We need to avoid defining school choice by specific terms such as "vouchers" or "tax credits" or "charter schools," and instead position the concept as an objective that can be achieved in a wide variety of ways. Otherwise we get caught up in debates about means instead of benefits. We need to have a better response to questions about holding choice schools accountable to taxpayers and elected officials. The debate right now often consists of school choice opponents saying choice schools should be subjected to the same kinds of rules as public schools, and we're saying, "No, no, no," and that's the end of it. We should be saying, "We think accountability for schooling should look like this, and this is what we're going to promote," instead of being reactive.

Finally, we need to shift away from the message that school choice is primarily or only for the benefit of the poor, and move instead to a message about the importance of freedom in education. Freedom has no boundaries. According to one of the polls we've done, 41 percent want all parents to be able to exercise choice in education, and only 10 percent believe choice ought to be limited to people with low incomes.

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