The cartoon that goes with this story is pretty apt. Excerpts from "The Times" below:
A-Level pass rates will record their lowest rise for more than two decades when the results are released this morning, The Times has learnt. The pass rate in the examinations, taken by more than 265,000 students, will reach 96.2 per cent, up just 0.2 of a percentage point from 2004. Sources close to the Joint Council for Qualifications, the umbrella group representing exam boards, told The Times that the proportion of A grades had risen more sharply, by 0.4 of a percentage point to just under 22.8 per cent of entries - the lowest since 2000.
But ministers and exam boards will maintain that the academic "gold standard" is being maintained in the face of allegations of "dumbing down".... Lord Adonis of Camden Town, the Schools Minister, made a strong defence of A levels yesterday, insisting that better results were the product of improved teaching and increased government investment in education. He dismissed the "bogus argument" that exams were getting easier and said that students could have full confidence that standards were being maintained. "Continued progress in exam performance is real - it is not the result of dumbing down of standards - and the roots of this success lie in a fundamental shift in the quality of teaching in our schools," he said in a speech at a summer school for gifted children in Canterbury...
David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "I am absolutely certain that an increase in A grades and in the overall pass rate is a tremendous tribute to the work of students and their teachers. But at some stage - sooner rather than later - the Government has got to face the fact that the current system is creaking. "Universities and employers are finding it more and more difficult to make sense of the grades for university entrance and employment purposes."
Independent schools said that the A level was in "terminal decline" and hinted at establishing their own alternative qualification. Geoff Lucas, general secretary of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference of 314 leading schools, said: "It is not just that A level no longer discriminates between candidates. It no longer prepares them properly in key subjects because it has become such a mechanical exam."
The Institute of Directors said that there was little evidence that A-level standards had fallen. Miles Templeman, its Director-General, said that employers were more worried about low levels of literacy and numeracy among school-leavers. "There is no case for replacing GCSEs and A levels with a diploma. A revolution in the examination system would not in itself deliver the improvements that are so desperately needed," he said.
NO TENURE UNLESS YOU ARE A LOCKSTEP LEFTIST
This spring Professor William Bradford received a poor vote from the law faculty at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis both on a straw vote for his eventual tenure, and even on a vote simply to retain him as an untenured associate professor for the next three years. This occurred despite the fact that he has an outstanding teaching record (including a teaching award from the law students), an excellent record of service, and a stunning record of publication, including a book, a forthcoming book, and 21 articles in law reviews or in books-enough ordinarily to assure someone at Indy-Law not merely of tenure but of a full professorship. Indeed, one of his colleagues with a similar record of publication, a person who came to IU-Indy School of Law in the same semester as Bradford, has just received promotion not merely to tenure but to full professor. Bradford believes that he was denied tenure because he refused to sign a petition circulated in the law school this spring which supported Ward Churchill, the Professor of Ethnic Studies at Colorado who described the victims of 9/11 as "little Eichmanns" deserving what they got. The petition was circulated by Florence Roisman, who is a full professor holding a prestigious Chair in Law at the school. Bradford's position was that as far as he was concerned, someone who couldn't distinguish between commercial office workers and Nazis who engineered the Holocaust did not deserve to teach.
What makes the story even more interesting is that while Ward Churchill falsely claims to be an Indian, William Bradford really IS an Indian. He is a Chiricahua Apache. He is also a veteran, who served for 10 years in the armed forces, including at the Pentagon. He says Roisman's response to his refusal to sign the Ward Churchill petition was to say to him: "What kind of Native American ARE you?" Bradford sees this as an expectation that as an Indian, he is expected by leftist colleagues such as Florence Roisman to support any other Indian or even someone who just CLAIMS to be an Indian. Bradford calls such expectations racist.
When he refused to conform to Roisman's view of what an Indian's opinions should be, she engineered a vote in the law school in which one-third of the faculty voted against retaining Bradford for future tenure, and one-third voted against retaining him for three more years untenured. This is a bad sign concerning his eventual tenure; university administrations only rarely grant tenure to someone against whom one-third of the department has voted. The vote on Bradford HAD to be political in origin, because on the merits (teaching, service, publication) Bradford should obviously already be tenured. Indeed, he should probably be a full professor.
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"
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