Saturday, October 01, 2005


Like Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore, his only real function is to feed outrage among fellow Leftists -- using similar distortions

"Jonathan Kozol has a devoted following, and "The Shame of the Nation" will not disappoint his fans. It's vintage Kozol--a jeremiad. His core complaints are familiar: American public schools are segregated, and those that have few whites in them are financially starved. He adds only one new element: The standards, testing and accountability "juggernaut" has crushed the "humane and happy" education we once had.

The de jure segregation of the South in 1954, Mr. Kozol argues, was no different from the de facto separation of the races today. Urban children experience "virtual apartheid" and "the conditions of internment." Visiting schools in New York, Mr. Kozol "cannot discern the slightest hint that any vestige of the legal victory embodied in Brown v. Board of Education . . . has survived."

Principals in segregated schools "create an architecture of adaptive strategies" that include "a relentless emphasis on raising test scores," "scripted lesson plans," "heightened discipline" and other policies that emulate the military--a "command and absolute control" image that Mr. Kozol uses repeatedly. Describing a South Bronx fourth-grade classroom, he writes about the Cuban schools he once visited. In those schools, however, "the students were allowed to question me, and did so with charm and curiosity." What he saw of Cuban education "could not rival" that which he found in New York "in its totalitarian effectiveness."

"The Shame of the Nation" is basically an updated version of Mr. Kozol's 1991 book, "Savage Inequalities." That book reportedly sold 250,000 in hardcover alone, so one can understand the entrepreneurial logic of recycling its ideas. To be sure, Mr. Kozol has a seductive formula: Ignore most social scientists, listen to the children themselves and react with deep moral outrage to the tales of deprivation they tell. The most reliable evidence as to what actually goes on in schools, he writes, does not come from experts but from children, who are "pure witnesses." "You have all the things and we do not have all the things," a third-grader tells Mr. Kozol. She gets it: The principle of "simple justice" has been violated. Everyone should have the same "things."

And everyone can--at least with respect to education. "This nation can afford to give clean places and green spaces . . . to virtually every child in our public schools," Mr. Kozol claims. He proposes higher taxes, with the revenue "equitably distributed." But "equitable" actually means, by his formula, unequal funding--a great deal more money for urban youngsters than for those who are white and middle-class. (Actually, in Mr. Kozol's universe, white and middle-class are redundant adjectives. And academically successful Asians in big-city schools have been airbrushed out of the picture.)

Is he suggesting that, with more money to buy those clean places and green spaces, inner-city kids would catch up with their higher-performing peers? Mr. Kozol pays such scant attention to academic achievement that it's unclear. He is against longer school days, summer school for kids who need it, charter schools (and other forms of choice), merit pay and every promising avenue of school reform. He does, as an aside, acknowledge that kids should learn "essential skills," but his main concern is with schools that exude "warmth and playfulness and informality and cheerful camaraderie among the teachers and their children."

One hates to argue with religious conviction, but Mr. Kozol's faith-based writing has little grounding in actual evidence. The words "segregation" and "apartheid" run like a mantra through the book, as if repetition will somehow make them true. In fact, American schools are not segregated; their racial composition reflects the nation's changing demographics.

Typically about 30% of the classmates of both blacks and Hispanics are white, but in big-city school districts whites are in short supply. The Los Angeles Unified School District, for instance, is 71% Latino, while a mere 10% of its students are white. Whites constitute only 15% of students in New York City, 10% in Chicago and Houston, and so forth. Mr. Kozol may be the last moral man standing, but his nonstop sermonizing will not change the racial composition of the big-city schools that most black and Hispanic students attend.

Instead of undertaking an analysis that looks at the facts and grapples with the hard reality of dysfunctional families, disruptive kids, undereducated teachers, stifling union contracts and a host of other ills, Mr. Kozol talks dreamily of a new protest movement led by parents and teachers who have nothing to lose but their chains. As Lincoln once famously said about a book: "People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like.""



We want CONTROL, they say, in typical socialist fashion (in the Australian State of New South Wales)

NSW Premier Morris Iemma has rejected a proposal for government schools to be run by councils of parents and teachers.

Australian Barry McGaw, who heads the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's education directorate, wants government schools to be run more like private schools. He told the Herald he believed public schools should remain free but school councils should be responsible for hiring staff, developing codes of conduct and buying resources.

Mr Iemma today said the Education Department should keep responsibility for maintaining standards in government schools. Families of students were given sufficient input into the running of schools through parent associations and school councils. "I wouldn't support handing complete control to these bodies," Mr Iemma told reporters. "We have a system in which, through our department, our regional offices, we have consistent standards across our state education system."

Mr Iemma also ruled out supporting the introduction of education vouchers, which would enable parents to purchase places for their children in either public or private schools. "I just am philosophically in support of the responsibility resting with government to provide the resources and programs to lift the standards in our schools," he said.



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, September 30, 2005


(Explanatory note for the poor benighted folk who don't live in NYC: Chancellor Klein is in charge of the New York City public school system. He is the former Clinton-era Justice Department federal prosecutor in the Microsoft case. He is the first chancellor to have absolute and total control of the system through the Mayor, Bloomberg)

"When all is said and done, nothing useful has been said or done unless criticism has given way to constructive suggestion. New York City's public school system, once the jewel in America's educational crown, has in recent years been hit hard by backfiring reforms, and is very much in want of healing. If there can be no gain without pain, then agony will at least be a beginning. Here is one prescription:

Meritocracy must be restored. The title of "principal" comes from "principal teacher." Principals are now commonly appointed after having had no supervisory or teaching experience. They start at the top simply because a superintendent has ensconced them there by fiat. That superintendent often has no familiarity with the needs and character of the school, having hardly visited it, and may himself be scarcely more qualified than his prot‚g‚. Until Chancellor Klein's regime, prospective supervisors submitted resumes that were screened by parents, teachers, and practicing supervisors who then formally interviewed the candidates.

There should be rigorous exams for supervisors as there were during the glory days of the New York City school system. These tests should be written and scored, in rank order, by a Board of Examiners that is entirely independent of the Department of Education. Identification of applicants should be coded to obviate any charge or risk of cronyism, nepotism, or ruses that substitute for merit.

When the school system was at its peak, it was mandated that applicants for assistant principal positions had taught for at least five years. An additional five years were required to rise from assistant principal to principal. People were hired in order by grade on promulgated lists. It was impossible to pass any test, even as a teacher, unless your speech was up to snuff, as a member of the Bureau of Speech could fail a candidate just for possession of an accent or a lisp. Perhaps it is as well that this is no longer the case.

Principals should have doctoral degrees in legitimate academic areas beyond theoretical education. They should be published and continue to publish throughout their careers.

Eligibility for leadership positions should strictly require legal certification without loopholes to accommodate aspirants with connections. People still in the midst of their schooling are being awarded leadership posts for which they are studying. A prominent superintendent in the Bronx was in fact hired while she was "going for her certification."

If a qualification is vital to perform a job, there should be no monkey business to get around it. If it is not relevant, then it should be abandoned. Chancellor Klein himself was reportedly granted a "waiver" because he lacks both a State Certificate in Administration and Supervision and a New York City license

Quite apart from the potential impact on children of having their educational path paved by unfit authorities, consider the demoralizing effect on educators who see this abuse all around them perpetuated by the same people who rigidly demand that they meet all their expanding requisites in timely fashion.

A genuine meritocracy would make moot the debate over whether the schools should again be centralized as they were decades ago, because localized political machinations would be stanched and the duties of teaching and learning would take care of themselves.

Money is a food of meritocracy. Teachers are more likely to volunteer their time when they aren't forced to watch the clock to get to their second and third jobs on time. But while holding out for what is materially due them, they will continue to be subsidized by that miracle called the psychic wage. But it is rapidly being spent".

Post lifted from Red Hog


In the Australian State of Victoria. The VCE is the High School graduation exam

A controversial proposal requiring students to read only one book in year 12 English - labelled "English Lite" by its critics - has been abandoned by the authority responsible for the VCE. The about-face dumps a Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority proposal under which year 12 English students would have studied two texts instead of four, with one of those texts allowed to be a film. The changes, revealed by The Age, sparked heated community debate and were condemned by the State Opposition.

Last week Education Minister Lynne Kosky said she was not convinced by the authority's proposal, saying it had failed to make the case for changes to the VCE. The VCAA's acting chief executive, John Firth, said the authority had listened to the community and ensured that studying books remained central to VCE English. Mr Firth said English students would continue to study a minimum of four books or three books and a film in year 12. "Substantial consultation with teachers and the community indicates that central prescription of literary texts is valued because it ensures quality and common expectations for all students," Mr Firth said. The review of VCE English sought to improve the course, he said.

The changes, proposed in a VCAA draft discussion paper, would also have seen year 11 English students study two texts instead of three. The draft paper discusses a move away from written responses, with at least one oral assessment task. Books on the current VCE English list include Thomas Keneally's The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith and Graham Greene's The Quiet American. Films listed include Gattaca and Breaker Morant.

Opposition education spokesman Victor Perton said the backdown was a victory for the "decent teachers and parents" who thought it was obscene to have one book as part of year 12 English. "(The proposal) made Victoria a national laughing stock. There were editorials around the country," he said.

Tony Thompson, an English teacher at Princess Hill Secondary College and vocal critic of the changes, said the backdown came as a great relief because the proposal ripped the heart out of VCE English. The main problem with the changes, he said, was that literature would have become a secondary part of the English course. "An English course is as good as the books that are included on it," Mr Thompson said. "A lot of students have good memories of studying English and the part of the course that stays with people is studying and discussing a good text."

A spokesman for Ms Kosky said the minister welcomed the recognition of the importance of books in VCE English. The Victorian Association for the Teaching of English said while the number of texts had become a hot issue, it was important to question the balance and accessibility of VCE English. Association president Greg Houghton said more information was needed on the proposed new focus areas in the VCAA draft such as "sustainable futures" and "citizenship and globalisation".



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, September 29, 2005

Soak the Rich! (Colleges)

University and college faculties are overwhelmingly liberal in their politics. The faculties of Harvard and the University of California at Berkeley were large contributors to John Kerry’s Presidential campaign. The Berkeley faculty gave six times as much to Howard Dean as to George W. Bush. Campus liberalism is particularly pronounced at the most elite and wealthy institutions.

A core value of American liberals is the importance of redistributing wealth from the prosperous to others, through highly progressive taxes and transfer payments. Which leads to a question: If redistributing wealth is a good idea for workers, companies, individuals, and families, then intellectual consistency suggests it should be equally valid for institutions like colleges and universities. Right?

Why should students at Princeton, where economist Paul Krugman teaches when he is not thundering against the “well off ” on the New York Times editorial page, enjoy income from huge endowments, while students at poorer institutions have far fewer educational resources? How unfair! Worse, the extreme inequality of colleges is subsidized by the government. Gifts to rich schools are tax deductible for the donors. Universities and colleges pay no taxes on their capital gains, dividend, and interest income. This is an outrage against liberal principles! Remedial legislation is clearly needed!

These are no small matters. The disparities in college endowments are enormous. As of mid 2004, Harvard, Yale, and Princeton had average endowments of $14.9 billion, while three private institutions of similar size, George Washington University, Georgetown, and American University, averaged $543 million. That is a ratio of 27:1—about the same difference in income between a successful investment banker and a Wal-Mart clerk.

The numbers are even more striking in small liberal arts colleges. Grinnell, the richest of those that report data publicly, had an endowment of $1.2 million per student. Annual earnings of just 4 percent would produce more than $46,000 per student in yearly interest. Why does Grinnell charge tuition? Bates College had only $106,000 in endowment per student, less than one tenth of Grinnell’s. Gettysburg had $85,000 per student; Pitzer College $56,000; and Sarah Lawrence, only $38,000. That’s about 3 percent of Grinnell’s wealth.

It’s time for an egalitarian revolution. Liberal professors at Harvard, Princeton, Amherst, and Williams should follow the principles they proclaim and strongly support action to end campus disparities by redistributing educational wealth. Congress should pass, and President Bush should sign, a hefty and progressive tax on large per student endowments. The funds should be transferred to poorer schools. The same tax should apply to future gifts from alumni.

And why stop there? If redistribution is good, the same concept should apply within universities. Why should the law schools at George Washington and Georgetown live in splendor just because their alumni make more money than theology or economics or anthropology majors? The wealth of these law schools should be transferred to poorer departments. Particularly economics!

Professors at rich schools will splutter that such taxes will sharply reduce incentives for alumni to make gifts. Are we to believe that graduates of Yale are so narrow-minded and selfish that they only want to help Yalies? Surely Yale, Princeton, Williams, and Grinnell alums will give just as freely knowing that their gifts are helping students at poorer schools, particularly since they were taught primarily by liberal professors devoted to income redistribution.

Administrators at rich colleges will claim they raised their money through great effort, that it is unfair to take it away, and that this transfer would eliminate the incentive for poor schools to do a better job of fundraising. We won’t take those arguments any more seriously than liberals take the similar arguments conservatives make about income taxes and death taxes.

So when members of the classes of 1956 and 1981 gather next June at their 25th and 50th reunions in the tony precincts of New Haven, Cambridge, Princeton, and Williamstown, they should expect to see 35 to 40 percent of their gifts whisked away to poorer schools. That should improve their feelings of virtue. In fact, they should increase the size of their gifts to make up for the tax. That’s the least they owe us all.



Just some excerpts. In case "sinks the boot in" is a purely Australian idiom, it refers to a hefty kick in the nether regions of the anatomy

Over the past year, four university presidents have been in the news--from Harvard; the University of California, Santa Cruz; the University of Colorado; and the University of California, Berkeley. In each case, the curtains have briefly parted, allowing the public to glimpse the campus wizards working the levers behind the scenes, and confirming that something has gone terribly wrong at our best public and private universities.

Hypocrisy, faddishness, arrogance and intellectual cowardice are among the ailments of the American university today, and it is hard to say whether even a great president could save higher education from its now institutionalized vices. Amid the variety of scandals afflicting the campuses, the one constant is how the rhetoric of "diversity" trumps almost all other considerations--and how race and gender can be manipulated by either the college president or the faculty in ways that have nothing to do with educating America's youth, but everything to do with personal aggrandizement in an increasingly archaic and unexamined enclave.

At Harvard University, beleaguered President Lawrence Summers challenged notions of "diversity" and paid a steep price. He suggested--off the record, at a conference of the National Bureau of Economic Research--that factors other than institutional prejudice and cultural pressure might help explain the relative dearth of women faculty in the hard sciences at Harvard and other elite universities. If the intent of that mildly provocative, off-the-cuff exegesis was to jumpstart debate among serious thinkers, it proved a big mistake. Within seconds, one tough-minded feminist was reduced to bouts of nausea and swooning, and within hours many were calling for Mr. Summers to apologize, if not resign.....

One of President Summers's chief critics, Denice Denton, the newly appointed chancellor of the University of California, Santa Cruz, heralded Mr. Summers's public humiliation as a "teachable moment." As one president to another, she objected: "Here was this economist lecturing pompously [to] this room full of the country's most accomplished scholars on women's issues in science and engineering, and he kept saying things we had refuted in the first half of the day."

But Chancellor Denton has her own shortcomings. They do not revolve around mere impromptu remarks, nor have they been trailed by public apologies and task forces. Yet in its own way her controversy goes to the heart of the same contemporary race-and-gender credo that governs the university, enjoying exemption from normal scrutiny and simple logic. Before her arrival, Ms. Denton arranged the creation of a special billet--ad hoc, unannounced and closed to all applicants but one: Ms. Denton's live-in girlfriend of seven years, Gretchen Kalonji. Most recognize this as the sort of personal accommodation--old-boy networking, really--that Ms. Denton presumably wishes to replace with affirmative action, thus ending backroom deals and crass nepotism.

But if race and gender--what we now refer to as "diversity"--are to be taken seriously, one wonders whether there was not a qualified African-American or Latina woman who could at least have been interviewed for the lucrative UC position. After all, Chancellor Denton herself praised UC Santa Cruz for its "celebration of diversity." And earlier, she insisted that "it is really shocking to hear the president of Harvard make statements like that," i.e., statements that ever so gently questioned the diversity shibboleth. Consider the reaction had President Summers arrived at a public, tax-supported university and arranged for his live-in girlfriend to have lifelong employment in a specially created job, complete with a subsidized move into a rent-free home....

Now we come to the third case: University of Colorado President Elizabeth Hoffman. She recently resigned, ostensibly following athletic scandals, but more likely as a result of the uproar over Ward Churchill. We remember him now as the strange professor who compared the 3,000 murdered in the Twin Towers and Pentagon to "Little Eichmanns," supposed cogs in the military-industrial wheel who deserved their fate. The public grudgingly accepted that Mr. Churchill's wartime praise for the 9/11 murderers ("combat teams" rightfully avenging America's murder of "500,000 Iraqi children") is protected free speech. But it could not quite fathom why Mr. Churchill was not summarily dismissed for other sins.

And they were legion. He had fabricated a Native American heritage, lying on affidavits about his ethnic identity to help make up for his lack of credentials and suspect work. Mr. Churchill had been promoted to full professor at a major research university without the requisite Ph.D. degree, enjoying apparent ethnic immunity from a series of old allegations involving theft of intellectual property, plagiarism and academic misrepresentation. Most people outside the university were amazed not so much that Mr. Churchill was not immediately terminated as that he had been hired and promoted in the first place. To them he seemed like a swerving drunk driver, who when pulled over is found to have a long rap sheet.....

So Mr. Churchill keeps on touring and speaking to audiences about American culpability for September 11, praising those who murder Americans and vowing hostility to the very idea of America. President Hoffman announced her resignation in March, and Mr. Churchill's lawyer now negotiates the promised buyout with her successor.

Finally, there is Robert J. Birgeneau, the new chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley. Upon arriving in the Bay Area, he quickly vowed to solve the problems he had found. Surprisingly, these had nothing to do with a decline in academic standards, deterioration in the quality of Berkeley's key departments, or a state funding crisis. Instead, the chancellor complained that Berkeley has fewer Native American, Hispanic, and African-American students enrolled than it should--the campus was only 3% black, 9.5% Hispanic, and 0.4% Native American, in contrast with about 45% Asian-American and about 33% white. (The California population comprises 6.5% blacks, 33% Hispanics, 0.92% Native Americans, 11% Asian-Americans, and 45% whites.) Mr. Birgeneau is obsessed with racial diversity, as determined by percentages and quotas. But as we shall see, the numbers, under closer examination, may make him regret pandering to the diversity industry.

Chancellor Birgeneau blames the apparent statistical injustices on Proposition 209, the 1996 California ballot initiative that forbids the use of racial criteria in state hiring; it passed with the support of 55% of the electorate. In his view, however, democracy ought to defer to elite opinion; thus, to this Canadian academic the state's voters were obviously misguided: "I personally don't believe that most of the people who voted for 209 intended this consequence."

One can learn a lot about the pathologies of the contemporary university from what its presidents say--and don't say. A close look at the data suggests a different picture from the one implied by Mr. Birgeneau's gratuitous lamentations about the lack of diversity. Whites, for instance, are underenrolled at Berkeley: They amount to around 35% of undergraduates versus 45% of the state's population. Given this fact, why doesn't the Chancellor complain about the shortage of whites on campus?

He is oddly quiet, too, about the more explosive issue of the Asian-American presence. This group constitutes almost half the Berkeley student population, even though Asians make up only about 11% of California residents and 4% of the general U.S. population. Why doesn't Mr. Birgeneau admit that achieving his racial utopia would require deliberately reducing the enrollment of Asian-American students--presumably by discounting meritocratic criteria and test scores and instead emphasizing "community service" or other nebulous standards designed to circumvent Proposition 209? But because the new chancellor is obviously a sensitive sort, he cannot say what he apparently means: something like, "We have too many Asians, almost five times too many, and I am here to impose a quota on them and other suspect races." Instead, he worries about "underrepresentation" of some, while denying the logical corollary of "overrepresentation" of others. The same logic applies to gender, by the way. UC campuses enroll thousands more women than men, very much out of proportion to the general population, and yet Mr. Birgeneau does not decry the "overabundance" of women.....

We are quickly reaching the stage where the chancellor's pie graphs evoke the racial categories of the Old Confederacy, as he tries to ascertain whether Jason Martinez, one-fourth Hispanic, or Na Wilson, half Cambodian, should be counted as a minority.

For some two decades, I often watched entire departments of 50-something white male philosophy and English professors, themselves often hired ABD ("all but dissertation": a graduate student who hasn't finished his thesis) in the booming job markets of the 1960s--and who subsequently became mostly unpublished and undistinguished classroom teachers--take it upon themselves to hire only minorities and women, lecturing passed-over young white males about the need for diversity. These entrenched and often mediocre senior professors did everything for the cause except take early retirement, though many advised the perennially exploited part-time instructors to "move on" or "get a life." ...

The signs of erosion on our campuses are undeniable, whether we examine declining test scores, spiraling costs, or college graduates' ignorance of basic facts and ideas. In response, our academic leadership is not talking about a more competitive curriculum, higher standards of academic accomplishment, or the critical need freely to debate important issues. Instead, it remains obsessed with a racial, ideological, and sexual spoils system called "diversity." Even as the airline industry was deregulated in the 1970s, and Wall Street now has come under long-overdue scrutiny, it is time for Americans, if we are to ensure our privileged future, to re-examine our era's politicized university

More here


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

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

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


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Kozol's crusade

Post lifted from Powerline

In tomorrow's New York Times Book Review, Nathan Glazer reviews Jonathan Kozol's latest rewrite of the one-note books he has been writing on the subject of the public education of black and minority children since 1967: "Separate and unequal." Glazer notes that in his current book Kozol widens his focus from the inadequacy of the education of minority students to include the "presumed educational effects" of increasing de facto "resegregation" of the public schools.

Offhand, I can't remember ever reading a more devastating review of a serious book by a respectable leftist in the New York Times. On the basic question of how "desegregation" would improve the academic achievement of minority students, Glazer observes that there isn't much analysis of the questioin whether greater "integration" would make any difference:
Quoting The New York Times, Kozol notes that parent groups are asking school officials in New York City to exclude from their local schools "thousands of poor black and Hispanic students who travel long distances." The parents want more room for their own children so that they can attend schools in their own neighborhoods. Desegregation efforts, The Times notes, "produced lackluster academic results," and the schools "lost their distinct neighborhood character." One would think it would be important to consider whether the results were indeed lackluster, and whether retaining the neighborhood character of schools is a value. But for Kozol the overriding issue is integration. It is, after all, the promise of the 1954 Brown decision, and the difficulties - one might say the impossibility, in many large cities - of implementing desegregation do not moderate his insistence that we must place black children in schools with more whites. He does not go into great detail as to how this might now be done. Orfield and Kozol do point out that more is possible in small cities.

Neither does Kozol spend much time on the question of whether desegregation would have the positive educational effects he hopes for. In fact, it would be difficult for him to do so because he is skeptical about the tests we depend on to determine just what the educational effects of various interventions are.
What about the alleged effects of the financial disparity between urban and suburban per pupil expenditures? Glazer writes:
There has been research using the standard tests that questions whether greater expenditures on schools and students produce better educational results, but that research does not discourage Kozol. He expresses outrage at inequities in expenditure, pointing out that New York City in 2002-3 spent $11,627 on the education of each child, while Manhasset spent $22,311, Great Neck $19,705 and so on. There are comparable disparities in other metropolitan areas.
Hasn't government spending on public education in city schools increased? Doesn't it have some bearing on Kozol's argument? Glazer writes:
Expenditure per student in New York City has risen by two-thirds since 1991, when Kozol dealt with this issue in his book "Savage Inequalities," an increase considerably more than inflation, with no obvious educational effects. One can argue that regardless of specific measurable educational effects, the poor deserve whatever benefits - in class size, better-paid teachers, more supplies, larger playgrounds, cleaner restrooms - that an increase to the Manhasset level would make possible. But the litigation in many states now attacking these disparities, litigation reviewed by Kozol, is based not on the argument that the children in the big cities deserve to have as much spent on them as is spent in well-to-do suburbs, but on a different proposition - namely, that the expenditures of the big cities do not provide an "adequate" education, as prescribed in the state constitutions. "Adequacy," one assumes, will in time be judged by the same kind of tests we are using today.

In New York State the litigation has now resulted in a judicial requirement that school expenditure in New York City be increased by something like 40 percent. Clearly such an increase would make life pleasanter for teachers and students. There is no strong evidence it would do much for the test results. One suspects the "adequacy" argument will eventually wind up in the same black hole that now accommodates arguments for desegregation.
Glazer concludes with a reflection on considerations near the heart of Kozol's ideological enterprise:
TO be sure, the case for both integration and equality of expenditure is powerful. But the chief obstacle to achieving these goals does not seem to be the indifference of whites and the nonpoor to the education of nonwhites and the poor, although this is what one would conclude from Kozol's account. Rather, other values, which are not simply shields for racism, stand in the way: the value of the neighborhood school; the value of local control of education and, above all, the value of freedom from state imposition when it affects matters so personal as the future of one's children.

States could probably see to it that local school districts received uniform sums for the education of each child (with perhaps a supplement for those from difficult circumstances), but how could politicians prevent well-to-do or knowledgeable parents from adding more on their own, or from leaving the state system entirely? It is factors like these - which add up to nothing less than a commitment to individual freedom - that make it so difficult to achieve the obviously desirable goals of integration and equalization.
It is at least worth noting that Kozol opposes the liberation of minority children from the public schools via vouchers for the standard leftist reasons:
I am opposed to the use of public funds for private education. If we allow public funds to be used to support our relatively benign, morally grounded schools, we will have to allow those public funds to be used for any type of private school. Vouchers can also be used for a David Duke school or a right-wing militia school or a Louis Farrakhan school -- any type of ethnically or ideologically extremist school with a hateful and divisive agenda. This would rip apart the social fabric of already fragile cities like Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, with their multiplicity ofethnic, political and ideological groups. It would be the last nail in the coffin of public education.

Many of those who argue for vouchers say that they simply want to use competition to improve public education. I don’t think it works that way, and I’ve been watching this for a long time. What tends to happen is that the families that are drawn off into private schools tend to be the more sophisticated, even among the poor. Or the more aggressive among the poor. Even when these schools are not consciously selective, they tend to be self-selective and drain off not only money from the public schools, but also strong parental activism. The private schools take away the very parents we need most as passionate PTA leaders. What happens to the children who are left behind?
For a bracing corrective to Kozol's "weepy Marxist" crusade, see Peter Wood's FrontPage review of Sol Stern's book on the imperative of school choice: "Exit ahead."


The dumbing down of Britain continues apace

Pupils at GCSE are to be allowed to abandon learning traditional “hard” science, including the meaning of the periodic table, in favour of “soft” science such as the benefits of genetic engineering and healthy eating. The statutory requirement for pupils to learn a science subject will be watered down under a new curriculum introduced next year. There will be no compulsion to master the periodic table — the basis of chemistry — nor basic scientific laws that have informed the work of all the great scientists such as Newton and Einstein.

The changes, which the government believes will make science more “relevant” to the 21st century, have been attacked by scientists as a “dumbing down” of the subject. In June the government had to announce financial incentives to tackle a shortage of science teachers. Academics have estimated that a fifth of science lessons are taught by teachers who are not adequately qualified.

Most children now study for the double-award science GCSE, which embraces elements of biology, chemistry and physics. This GCSE will be scrapped and ministers have agreed that from next year all 14-year-olds will be required to learn about the general benefits and risks of contemporary scientific developments, in a new science GCSE. A harder science GCSE will also be introduced as an optional course.

One expert involved in devising the new system believes it will halve the number of state school pupils studying “hard” science. Independent schools and more talented pupils in the state sector are likely to shun the new papers in favour of the GCSEs in the individual science disciplines of physics, chemistry and biology. These will continue to require pupils to achieve an understanding of scientific principles. The new exams were devised after proposals by academics at King’s College London, who told ministers that science lessons were often “dull and boring” and required pupils to recall too many facts. Their report said: “Contemporary analyses of the labour market suggest that our future society will need a larger number of individuals with a broader understanding of science both for their work and to enable them to participate as citizens in a democratic society.”

However, Professor Colin Blakemore, chief executive of the Medical Research Council, warned that reducing the “hard” science taught in schools would create problems. “I can understand the government’s mot- ives,” he said. “There is a crisis of public confidence in science which is reducing the progress of policy on such issues as nuclear energy and stem cell research. But sixth-formers are already arriving at university without the depth of knowledge required.”

Others endorse the new approach. Results at North Chadderton upper school in Oldham — one of 80 schools piloting the new “softer” GCSE, named Twentyfirst Century Science — have improved. Martyn Overy, the head of science, said: “The proportion getting higher grades in science went up from 60% to 75%. The course kept their interest, had more project work and was more relevant.” As part of their course, the pupils studied what kind of food they needed to keep fit and healthy. Critics say it is only marginally more demanding than following the advice of Nigella Lawson, the television chef, who promotes the benefits of eating proper meals instead of snacking from the fridge.

Some science teachers are sceptical. Mo Afzal, head of science at the independent Warwick school, said: “These changes will widen the gap between independent and state schools. Even the GCSE that is designed for those going on to A-level science is not as comprehensive as the test it replaces.”

John Holman, director of the National Science Learning Centre at York University, who advised the government on the content of the new system, said: “The new exam is not dumbing down. The study of how science works is more of a challenge than rote learning



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, September 27, 2005


I put up a post recently about how useless teachers' colleges tend to be. One reader (a California teacher) responded by saying that not all of them are hopeless. What she says may be a useful guide to other Califonians who are brave enough to be thinking about taking up teaching there. And it sounds like Chapman University might be a good choice for any Southern Californian wishing to minimize the politically correct drivel that infests most university education today

"I feel I had to respond to this, because I am currently going through an education school in So. Cal. (US) to get my credential to teach mathematics. I'm currently in my first semester of a 4-semester program (with student teaching as the last semester) at Chapman University, in Orange County. I am also teaching world history and BASIC mathematics as a long term substitute at a continuation high school in L.A. county until the end of the school year.

As a bit of background: Chapman is a private university, with all the credential programs being held at night. A continuation H.S. is a school where all the students are placed when they don't work out in the regular high schools. (There are a number of behavioral problems, drug/alcohol abusers, and students who flunked out of the 'normal' high schools. I have several who are also under house arrest - wearing the anklets - and who are on 'independent study', because of pregnancies.)

Regarding the uselessness of teacher training... I feel that by and large there are a NUMBER of 'fluff' courses we are required to take, either by the school or by the state. I used to think all teacher courses fell into this category, but my mind was quickly changed when I found out I had gotten the substitute position 4 days before school started! My methods classes have been VERY helpful so far, and my teachers have been very good about working with me in regards to my homework, and in supporting me as a teacher. I now just as firmly believe there are some courses which really are necessary for a beginning teacher to have already taken. (Especially those covering classroom management, and plotting out lesson plans. Telling the kids to stop talking may work well for the younger students, but my kids'll just laugh at you.. or worse if they're having a bad day! As for trying to keep their attention long enough to get the basic information across... that's also a challenge! Especially on Fridays.)

I believe that my university would qualify as exemplary. It's one of the reasons I chose to attend it, even though it is quite a bit more expensive than several other local universities. It has a minimal number of 'fluff' courses, and the teachers are extremely supportive and knowledgeable. In addition, the whole staff has the children's best interest at heart - and they apply rational & critical thought to what is best, instead of just jumping on the 'for the children' bandwagon.

Amazingly enough, it's a school that I, as a conservative libertarian can feel comfortable in, and can express my beliefs in without worrying about getting stomped on for it. That in itself is unusual in my experience! I had a teacher ENCOURAGING us to have different views, instead of toeing the PC line, as it causes debate and understanding of all sides of the issues!"


Are American private schools this bad?

Students are being clad in expensive school uniforms created by top Australian fashion designers that can lead to a bill of more than $1500 for parents. Even kindergarten pupils are being decked out in the fashionable outfits, designed by the likes of Jodie Boffa, Robert Burton and Jonathan Ward. Some parents say the prices are too high and dry clean-only instructions lead to a yearly cleaning bill of $700 for a school jacket alone.

One mother whose children needed the designer uniforms said she paid more than $1500 for one full winter and summer uniform set. She said one of the worst features of the uniform was the stipulation that it was dry clean-only. "Children are naturally grubby and to have dry clean-only fabrics is crazy," said the mother, who did not want to be named for fear of offending her child's North Shore school uniform committee. "It's not only the cost, but what dry cleaners will do the job on a Saturday ready for school again on Monday? "The number of elements that make up a full school uniform now is unbelievable and the cost phenomenal."

The uniform cost for a student at Loreto Kirribilli is $1275, not including sports uniform, and more than $830 is typically spent at St Andrew's Cathedral School in the city. NSW Parents and Citizens Association president Sharryn Brownlee said uniforms were big business for the designers and the schools. "Some schools make tens of thousands of dollars from school uniform contracts," Ms Brownlee said. "For the designers it is lucrative and is about stamping their brand name on a younger generation. Young people are very tuned in to fashion design. But the designers have to remember to be practical and sensible and remember the role of the uniform."

Mr Ward, a leading Sydney fashion designer who has dressed the likes of Elle Macpherson and Kylie Minogue, has just put the finishing touches to a new summer uniform for Meriden School at Strathfield. He said it was a refreshing and smart update. "Girls are a lot more developed at the age of 12 and 13 years now and need more room," Mr Ward said. "They are also more conscious about their figure types. They should like their uniform and not feel it is something their mother wore.

"Boys are a lot leaner and taller. The climate has also changed in the last 20 years." He said modern fabrics were being used that had plenty of stretch in them, allowing students to move freely.

Designer touches may be as simple as adding a coloured button to a white shirt or lining a blazer with striped material. Mr Ward said: "There is a sensitivity of detail. It is a mix of the classic with a slight edge." Meriden School principal Carolyn Blanden said: "It has taken us 12 months just to design the new dress, blazer and hat. "We went to great lengths to design something students would feel good wearing. The girls should go out into the world feeling they look nice."

More here

Local school, with the backing of parents and teachers alike, tries to keep its doors open, in the face of educrats trying to slam them shut: "The state education commissioner, faced with a defiant charter school that has refused an order to close, yesterday asked the attorney general what action the state can take to force the closing of the small Roxbury school. The Roxbury Charter High Public School was supposed to close last Friday, but opened its doors yesterday, ignoring state education officials who said the tiny, financially troubled high school could not stay open. Officially, a state education spokeswoman said, the students are truant because they are not in an approved school."


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, September 26, 2005


As Virginia Tech takes steps to become a more diverse campus, administrators and faculty members refuse to allow political correctness stand in the way of their goals. “I think the whole discussion of political correctness is non-democratic. It carries with it so much baggage that it keeps people from saying what they think and we can’t fully explore the real issues,” said political science professor Karen Hult.

She said diversity issues are particularly important because Virginia Tech is a public land grant institute representing Virginia. As a land grant institute, Tech has always been responsible to the public of Virginia. This responsibility to the state is what now compels the administration to deal with diversity. It is a concern that the university is not characteristic of the same diverse population that lives in the state. “We need to make a public-funded university more like the state in which it is located. It’s a big concern, and a genuine concern. Being politically correct would not allow us to address it. When questions are raised in public, people tend to speak what other people want to hear instead of what they think. To be politically correct is to not talk about the problems,” said Hult.

Provost Mark McNamee sees the university’s situation as ideal for making changes. Instead of being stubborn about change or maintaining a traditional image, Tech’s loyalties lie in what it has always done, provide a service to Virginia. “It is not a limitation. It creates a community that includes all the fundamentals of a university. We have a good reputation in what we do and maintain a balance between cutting edge research and socially important issues. We currently want to make the education that Tech provides, more realistic of what people will experience in the real world,” he said.

McNamee said the administration expects faculty and students to talk about issues of controversial importance. It also puts a great deal of trust in students and professors to be professional. Creating a comfortable campus climate for all students is the goal of diversity and while political correctness should be avoided, common sense and courtesy should accompany any discussion. “I would hope that faculty members want to challenge students to think about things in a different way. A university is a great place to bring up any issue in full open discussion. We certainly don’t have any guidelines that would censor academic freedom but expect everyone on campus to uphold the principles of community,” McNamee said.

According to the online version of Virginia Tech’s diversity strategic plan, creating a diverse campus is about making fundamental changes, not using political correctness to fabricate fake diversity. Tech’s new harassment policy is a first step and shows that the goal of the university is to make the necessary changes. Focusing on political correctness instead of change would only create a public relations campaign that covers up the problems. The commitment to ignore political correctness and promote open dialogue will create a more diverse society within the university that continues to focus on quality education.

“I have never felt pressure by the administration to change what I teach. I think the quality would suffer if I simply replaced the classics with other songs just so every concert had recognizable diversity,” said Virginia Tech choral director Brian Gendron.



First it was call centres that outsourced to India. Now private tutoring for Australian students will be available over the internet, with Indian teachers answering questions about secondary science and mathematics. The online coaching college Growing Stars will launch in NSW in coming weeks. It will be the first Indian-run tutoring company to establish here, after its incursion into the US last year. Gautam Chattopadhyay, who has the Australian and New Zealand licence for Growing Stars, said tuition by qualified teachers in Cochin, southern India, would cost about $33 an hour. Face-to-face coaching by Australians costs between $20 and $70 an hour.

In the past two years, Growing Stars and other online tutoring companies employing Indian teachers have won market share in the US and Britain. Growing Stars, set up in California by an Indian-born software engineer and a venture capitalist, has 350 US students and 40 tutors in India. Dr Chattopadhyay expected a backlash to offshore tutoring in Australia, based on consumer resistance to Indian telemarketers. "My philosophy is if you come up with a product that delivers value, the backlash will eventually die," he said. "Electronic learning is going to be the next big thing."

His plan to establish Growing Stars for Australian students has alarmed the Australian Tutoring Association, which represents a quarter of the domestic businesses selling private tutoring. In NSW alone there are 500 registered businesses. Nationally, the sector has an estimated turnover of $1 billion a year. The association's public officer, Mohan Dhall, said Growing Stars and other tutoring "call centres" revealed a trend of "commercial principles subverting educational principles". "This takes the outsourcing of call centres to a new level," he said. "Education is not something that can be effectively delivered by people trained in different systems and living offshore, providing advice from remote locations."

Dr Chattopadhyay, a chemical engineer and laboratory manager at the University of NSW, said students in the "virtual classroom" would have lessons devised from the NSW syllabuses for year 7 to 10 maths and science and year 11 and 12 maths, physics and chemistry. The University of NSW has no association with Growing Stars, which Dr Chattopadhyay said he would operate through his private company. The students would log in to the Growing Stars website and be assigned lessons by Indian tutors, to whom they could talk on a voice-over internet link. Both student and tutor use a digital whiteboard to write on screen or draw lines and circles, for example.

Mr Dhall said the rate charged by Growing Stars was not a bargain. Australian online tutorial businesses charged "as little as $4.25 per hour". Dr Chattopadhyay said the university-trained Indian tutors were "much cheaper" than Australians. Growing Stars pays them $US230 a month, double the Indian rate for beginning teachers. To counter concerns about the Indian tutors' accents, they are given English language speech training before they go online with students, he said. A Growing Stars tutor, Savio D'Cruz, said the NSW secondary maths syllabus he will teach was "a little bit different" in content to US courses. "In America there is more direct application. In Australia, the topics are introduced in a much deeper way."



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, September 25, 2005


They just MIGHT get around to sacking all the propagandists and hiring some real teachers

UC administrators gave the long-term financial rundown to the system's governing Board of Regents at their meeting Wednesday, saying the need and demand for a UC education is going up at a time when state funding continues to decline. Since 1984, California has increased spending for prisons by 126 percent and boosted spending on K-12 education by 26 percent. But spending on higher education dropped 12 percent, said Bruce Darling, UC senior vice president for university affairs.

Early signs of trouble include a student-faculty ratio that has risen above the goal of 17.6:1 to roughly 19:1 and staff and faculty salaries that have fallen behind comparable institutions, said Larry Hershman, UC's budget director.

Meanwhile, student fees have increased sharply in recent years, now approaching $7,000 a year including various campus fees. However, UC is still cheaper than other major public institutions and increases in financial aid have kept percentages of low-income students high, Hershman said.

Some regents were frustrated by the presentation, saying they're familiar with UC's state funding slide and want to see more solutions. "Our plan, it appears, is that we whine a lot about the inability of the Legislature to fully fund," said Regent John Moores, who questioned whether UC's long-term strategy is "hoping that something magic is going to happen."

"We cannot rely on the state as we have in the past," said Darling. "We're going to face some very stark policy choices."

More here


Post lifted from the Barone blog. See the original for links

American society has many islands of excellence—and many islands of mediocrity. Some of them can be found on the same turf, the campuses of our hundreds of colleges and universities. Among the islands of excellence are the mathematics and physical and biological science departments—the best in the world. Among the islands of mediocrity, or worse, are the schools of education, the institutions through which most of our public school teachers go.

Don't just take my word for it. Take the word of Arthur Levine, dean of Columbia University's Teachers College since 1994 (he's retiring next July), and of Al Sanoff, a former colleague at U.S. News & World Report, who is now the project manager of Teachers College's Study of Schools of Education Project [PDF]. Here's an article that describes the gist of Levine's first report, on the preparation of principals and administrators, issued last March. Money quotes:

"Arthur Levine is president of Teachers College at Columbia University and author of the report. He says graduate education programs suffer from irrelevant and incoherent curriculum, low admissions requirements and academic standards, weak faculty, and little clinical instruction. In fact, Levine adds, many programs are doing little more than dishing out higher degrees to teachers who are trying to qualify for salary increases.

"According to Al Sanoff, the study's project manager, even at elite universities across the U.S., colleges of education need to improve significantly. While he and the other researchers were able to identify some strong graduate education programs around the country, he notes, none that they found in America could be described as exemplary."

"None that they found in America could be described as exemplary." That's dynamite. I haven't gone through the full report yet, but I plan to do so. I have long suspected that education schools do more harm than good, and I have been fortified in my suspicions by reading Rita Kramer's Ed School Follies: The Miseducation of America's Teachers, E. D. Hirsch Jr.'s The Schools We Need: And Why We Don't Have Them, and Diane Ravitch's Left Back: A Century of Battles over School Reform. When I have asked teachers of my acquaintance what they gained from education school courses, the most positive response I've gotten was, "It wasn't a total waste of time." But all this came from people outside the education school establishment. Arthur Levine is at the center of this establishment. Teachers College is ranked number four on U.S. News's survey of graduate schools of education, behind only Harvard, UCLA, and Stanford.

Do we need education schools at all? That is a question I've been asking for some years, and I'm going to look at the Teachers College reports with that in mind. The 1910 Flexner Commission, sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, called for closing most American medical schools and for organizing the rest along the lines of rigorous scientific principles. Over the following decade or so, its writer Abraham Flexner, financed generously by John D. Rockefeller, put its recommendations into practice, and American medical schools are clearly the best in the world. (See pages 491-93 of Ron Chernow's splendid Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. for a brief account.) Are Arthur Levine and Al Sanoff laying the groundwork for a similar restructuring of our schools of education?


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