Saturday, October 15, 2005

Fighting Against Liberalism in education

(From Stop and Think)

The Alliance Defense Fund is branching out to challenge violations of college students' First Amendment rights of religious freedom, freedom of speech and freedom of the press. The ADF has launched a new website devoted to educating people of injustices occurring on college campuses regarding the violation of First Amendment rights. The ADF is representing students forced to take oaths against their will, to undergo mandatory "diversity" training and victims of religious discrimination.

It seems if you're a liberal in this country you have "rights" whereas if you think along different lines you don't. Why? Has faith in God become anathema to the Americans? We all know that there are hypocrites in religious circles, but hypocrisy rears its ugly head in EVERY facet of life in America. Instead of banning religion why not ban hypocrisy instead? And why "diversity" training as a mandatory requirement to achieve an educational diploma so you can work for a living doing something besides digging ditches or waiting hand and foot on the elite in this country? Why are politics in the classroom in the first place? It sounds like the old Soviet Union to me. It also reeks of the fascism of Nazi Germany and the stink of Red China. Since when has choosing sides on political issues been more important than allowing American citizens the right to an education?

Breaking up the monolith

(The OECD is the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development -- an international economics body)

The OECD'S director for education, Barry McGaw, says public schools should be run more like private schools, with parents and teachers given more say and competition and diversity encouraged. Dr McGaw believes it would help convince parents that public education is worthwhile. As the drift from public to private schools continues, and the number of students of school age starts to decline, education bureaucrats must consider ways to bolster the popularity of public schools if they are to continue to offer a high-quality alternative. The [Australian] federal Education Minister, Brendan Nelson, is so keen on what Dr McGaw has suggested he has hinted he might make it a condition of federal funding for the states. The ideas certainly deserve serious consideration.

The demand for choice is a relatively new pressure for the government school system. In 1971, government schools were the overwhelming choice of parents. Seventy-eight per cent of students were educated at them. By this year that figure had fallen to 67 per cent and it is projected to fall to 64 per cent by 2010. While the advocates of government schools rightly praise the high standard of education available, the centralised uniformity which used to be the government system's great boast has come to be seen as a drawback.

Parents feel wary of the public school system in part because it is so vast, and so hard to change. Last week parents from one Sydney public school felt angry enough about a staffing decision to protest noisily in State Parliament after letters and a petition to the Education Minister, Carmel Tebbutt, proved fruitless. They got nowhere. Ms Tebbutt told them she could not intervene in a staffing matter, and their school had been treated exactly the same as any other. So it had. That is precisely the problem. The parents were perfectly justified in wanting the right to choose. They are concerned - as they have every right to be - about their school and their children, not the bureaucratic needs of an enormous statewide system. Why should it be necessary for honest citizens to invade Parliament House and risk arrest over such a simple matter?

While some state schools involve parents in decisions about staff, it is clearly not mandatory. And if anger and vehement protest cannot change even one recruitment decision, what chance do parents in general have to alter more fundamental trends? One virtue of Dr McGaw's suggestion may be that it would oblige teachers to engage more closely with the concerns of parents, without requiring them to surrender professional control. Any such change would allow individual schools to follow their own paths, and diverge from centrally dictated standards. Some schools would flourish, others might not. There would have to be safeguards to ensure individual schools did not deteriorate through neglect.

The continuing flight to private education shows that parents want choice and are willing pay for it. As things stand, only the relatively wealthy can afford to choose. Why should choice not be available, within the government school system, to all?



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, October 14, 2005


She expected civility from black kids

City education officials are investigating the claims of a pair of boys from Oklahoma who moved to Brooklyn to experience diversity, and instead say they got schooled in racism and violence. Mom Lisa Brown, 33, told the Daily News she relocated her family from their small Oklahoma town so her husband, a Brooklyn native and social worker, could more easily find work and her sons could experience different people and ways of life.

Brown enrolled her sons, Sloan, 12, and J.T., 13, at Ebbets Field Middle School in Crown Heights. But when the boys, who are white, showed up, their mom said, they got a chilling indication of what was to come. "Oh my gosh, we are going to have fun this year," a security guard muttered, according to Brown.

Things quickly got worse. Sloan was beaten mercilessly, called "cracker" and "white boy," and chased into traffic by his new classmates, his family said. The abuse got so bad that Sloan routinely bolted out of the building to find his brother and run to a nearby subway, dodging verbal and physical attacks, he said. "It almost makes me cry," Sloan said. "I'm scared to go back." The brothers skipped school all last week while their parents tried to sort out the mess. "Do I have to send the National Guard in to get my children an education?" asked the distraught mom.

When Brown tried to alert Principal Marge Baker to the abuse, "the principal refused to take the calls," she charged. Brown filed several police reports at the 71st Precinct stationhouse about the alleged abuse, but said she was ignored. Police sources said precinct cops did take the incident seriously but believe school staff are in a better position to deal with what appeared to be a series of schoolyard fights and bullying.

The boys' stepfather, Ken Brown, requested a transfer for the boys on Sept. 28, but Education Department officials noted he can't seek the change because he is not a custodial parent. Eventually, the fedup mom went to nearby Elijah Stroud Middle School to transfer her sons there, but said the principal told her: "They'll have the same problem here."

Education officials promised to help the Browns - after being contacted by The News. "The principal was not sufficiently attentive to this situation," the Education Department said in a statement. "Upon learning of the situation, the region is taking immediate action to arrange a transfer for these children. "We will fully investigate what happened, including whether racist statements, which are not tolerated, were made and take appropriate action."

Brown said the Education Department called her several times over the weekend, after The News made queries, pledging to get the kids into Elijah Stroud and chastising her for calling in the press. Despite the principal's warning, Lisa agreed to send her boys to Elijah Stroud tomorrow. "I'll make sure my kids are safe because it is the school system's job to make sure they are," she said.

For Sloan and J.T., escaping Ebbets Field Middle School will be a relief. The school opened in September as one of the city's many new small schools, with plans to "become the crown jewel" of Crown Heights, according to the Education Department Web site.

The Browns said their ethnically and racially diverse neighbors in Prospect Heights have embraced them, and they thought New York was "the greatest place on Earth" - until they started battling the school system. "I was excited to expose my children to a complete variety of people," Lisa Brown said. "I thought it would be an advantage. I always told my children that children could be cruel - but not to this extent."



Supervisors can be humps in any business. That convenient truism has entertained disgruntled workers since the Egyptian pyramids were built. Groaning and passing the buck can be a fair and amusing tactic to elude personal responsibility and there's a time and place for everything. We're only human.

But New York City's Department of Education is unique, because whether its supervisors have harsh or mild temperaments, none has been held back for failure to possess an inkling of knowledge about the specialized area of his supervision. Subordinates typically have far greater training and experience than their superiors.

Anecdotal evidence, no matter how overwhelming, can always be contradicted and credibly challenged by diligent opportunists, planted in key places, who will dig up and plug fake research or bribed testimony to abet the perception that the nearly unanimous point of view of teachers is actually isolated and idiosyncratic. Chancellor Klein has many impressive job titles available for such mercenaries whose honor is on the market for the highest bidder.

Knowledge must be power because the judgment of many supervisors is lame. Klein's new breed of assistant principal is often in charge of subject areas of which they are totally ignorant. They rate the job performance of teachers who after decades of training and experience have developed expertise in those same areas.

In one ordinary case, the assistant principal took over the music department. He unflinchingly admitted that he couldn't tell Beethoven from beets, notes from nuptials, or cellos from cellophane. The school orchestra had made brilliant progress under the leadership of their teacher. His marvelous skills as an educator complemented his resume', which included his having studied music for thirty years, been a composer contracted to a major publisher, and a regular performer at Lincoln Center. Still, the assistant principal ruled him an "unsatisfactory" teacher.

Because of this, the teacher's salary was frozen, he became ineligible to teach special after-school programs, and he was on track for eventual dismissal. Later it was alleged that there was a "hit" on him. His earlier refusal to accept a transfer was an obstacle to the placement in his position of an aspiring teacher who reportedly was close to a local educational bureaucrat. No matter. The assistant principal became a principal soon after. The teacher resigned in disgust. The children lost.

In the same school the prestigious post of science department head defaulted to a different assistant principal who didn't know biology from black magic, chemistry from clairvoyance, or geology from gee-whiz. The teacher was an idealist with an engineering degree. After having worked for twenty years for a Department of Defense contractor, he was a natural in the classroom, merging proficiency with evangelical zeal. His supervisor couldn't pass a test that his seventh grade students had aced, but he had to humor her whose observations were mere stabs in the dark.

The social studies supervisor, to her infinite credit, was a bit coy about flaunting her no-nothingness, although she dutifully ticked off some critical comments in the one-size-fits all checklist used for formal lesson reviews. She had been a teacher for only two years and was blind to history, geography, and economics, but she was ambitious and knew how to network. All who traced her career attributed its advancement to fixings unrelated to the kind of merit most of us used to take for granted.

One of the English teachers, author of monographs on Milton and Carlyle, was under the thumb of the principal himself, who couldn't write a coherent letter to his Parent Association without the intercession of that virtual angel called "Spell Check."

In fourteen hundred public schools in New York City, this is the norm. Flying high as a supervisor is an almost overnight affair even before one has earned one's wings in the classroom. It used to take twelve years or more; now it is commonly achieved in two. To escape the rigors of the classroom and to leap tens of thousands of dollars of salary in a single bound, new teachers jump onto the supervisory runway as soon as possible.

Competent and credible supervision is vital. Supervisors should be appointed only after they have passed muster in the classroom and are experts in the subjects of their responsibility. They should have competed successfully in an open process in which backgrounds are screened and unrigged interviews held with administrators, teachers, and parents, as was standard before Klein replaced appointments with anointments.

Teachers should do their best work under all circumstances whether under their control or prescribed for them. But in education as in the military or corporate world, there will be greater productivity and loyalty from a workforce that looks up to its leadership than one that is forcibly reminded at every turn of its inadequacies. Teachers and supervisors should belong to the same united federation of servants to children



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, October 13, 2005

Helping the Poor Earn Doctorates

LOL. With a 1.7% success-rate! Yes: 1.7%, not even 17%. Does government get any dumber than this? They could have got more like a 70% success-rate if they had required a minimum IQ of 120 in those they helped but IQ is of course anathema. All men are equal, don't you know. -- Post below lifted from Thomas Reeves

Since the 1960s, the federal government has made dramatic and costly efforts to assist the education of minorities and the poor. The list of programs includes one designed to help low income and underrepresented students reach graduate school and earn a Ph.D. The results have not been encouraging, and one wonders why.

The Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program, operated by the United States Department of Education, was first funded in 1989-90. It provides participants with research grants, academic counseling, seminars, summer internships, and assistance with admissions and financial aid. The grants are made to participating colleges and universities. Campus officials find promising undergraduates, usually in their sophomore year, and steer them toward the McNair Program. According to the enabling legislation, at least two-thirds of the participants must be low-income and first-generation students. The remaining third may consist of those who are "underrepresented in graduate education," meaning those of Hispanic, African-American, or American Indian/Alaska Native descent. Of course, one applicant may fit both categories, and in 2001-2002, 71% of the participants were Blacks and Hispanics. Whites made up 18% of the people in the Program, while fewer than 5% were of Asian, American Indian, and other origin.

In 1989-90, 14 projects were funded, serving 415 people and costing $1.5 million. In 2001-2002, the last year for which we have data (, there were 156 grantees serving 3,774 students. The cost was $35.8 million.

The bad news is that in 2000-2001, 24% of participants failed to complete their undergraduate degrees, and only 39% of those who graduated were accepted into graduate programs (up from a mere 13% in 1998-1999). Of that number, 16% earned Master's degrees and only 1.7% earned a doctoral degree. Another 2.4% received a "terminal degree." Of course, earned doctorates often take many years to complete, and it may be that in time the 1.7% figure will rise a bit. More whites and American Indian/Alaska Natives were successful than members of other ethnic groups.

McNair Program leaders claim that it has helped produce nearly 500 people with earned doctorates. Whether the results warrant the cost, however, remains debatable. This is not a major expenditure of the Department of Education, of course, but it still should be accountable to the taxpayers.

One would hope that in the future, McNair Program reports will spend less time reporting the ethnicity, color, age, and sex of Program participants and more on the specifics of how promising students were identified and the means by which they were assisted. Moreover, we do not know what fields the nearly 500 doctorates were in. Are these disciplines truly academic and scholarly? Are the graduates moving into fields in which there are serious shortages? (An American Indian student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in this program wants a Ph.D. in history in order to be the historian of his tribe. Another student, of Arabic descent, apparently thinks she needs a doctorate in order to be a translator in a hospital.) One would also like to see the financial side of the Program broken down to include its administrative costs. Whole bureaucracies on hundreds of American campuses exist to feed on state and federal programs of this sort, and they have never been known especially for their efficiency and effectiveness.

It would also be helpful to see specific descriptions of some of the participants. Are the long-neglected poor whites in the trailer courts being courted as eagerly as urban blacks and Latinos? Why are Asians so poorly represented? And why in 2000-2001 were 69% of participants women? Perhaps federal dollars are being invested very wisely. But we will need a lot more information in order to reach that conclusion


Post lifted from the Adam Smith blog

The Department for Education and Skills is opposite to the Adam Smith Institute, in that it is on the other side of Great Smith Street and a mere stone's throw away (no we don't). It is opposite in another sense, in that it believes social engineering to be a legitimate function of education. It has been trying to pressurize universities to admit more applicants from poorer backgrounds at the expense of more qualified ones less socially deprived.

The ASI takes the view that if schools are not equipping their students well enough to get them into good universities, then they could use some improvement. The DfES takes a different tack, and tries to get admission rules changed to admit more poorer-background students despite their under-performance. To that end they have recently called for some university places to be left open until A-level exam results are known. In the UK admission is often granted provisionally on the basis of predicted results, and the DfES case was that socially deprived students tend to be under-estimated. By leaving places open, those who surpassed expectations might secure admission.

Astonishingly, it seems their research shows the opposite of what they told us. Tony Halpern in the Times tells us that:

"The DfES-commissioned study shows that poorer teenagers were the most likely to have their predicted results exaggerated by their teachers. Teachers at state schools overestimated the true performance of their students far more than those in the independent sector."

Dr Geoff Hayward, who produced the report for the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, said that he was "mystified and annoyed at the way the DfES had presented the research." He said it did not support the notion that poorer students were disadvantaged under current admission practices. His group found that 51 percent of poorer students had grades over-estimated by their teachers, versus 41 percent of the richer ones.

This looks very like breathtaking and wilful deceit by ministers mis-reporting evidence in order to justify their actions. In addition to the question of propriety, there is another question. If keeping those university places open does not help poorer students to gain admission, then why are they doing it? If poorer applicants perform proportionately worse than anticipated, surely they would be better relying on their predicted grades to secure places, rather than the poorer actual grades?

(Natalie Solent writes on the matter in more detail)


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, October 12, 2005


Almost half of children are leaving primary school without the basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic. Official unpublished figures obtained by The Times reveal that, after six years of schooling, 44 per cent of 11-year-olds have not achieved Level 4, the expected standard set by the Government, for the combined “three Rs”. Ministers repeatedly emphasise that meeting this grade is critical for pupils to cope with the secondary school curriculum; 70 per cent of pupils who achieve Level 4 get five good GCSEs at 16, compared with 12 per cent who do not.

Two months ago Jacqui Smith, the Schools Minister, boasted that “this Government’s unrelenting focus on the basics is paying off”, after new figures for Key Stage 2 test results for Level 4 showed that 79 per cent of 11-year-olds had passed English and 75 per cent had passed maths this year. However, the Government omitted one statistic, which showed in a provisional estimate that the combined percentage of all pupils who had passed Level 4 in reading, writing and maths tests was just 56 per cent.

In an e-mail shown to The Times, a member of the Department for Education and Skills, responsible for compiling the data, wrote: “We have not in the past provided an analysis of those pupils achieving Level 4 and above in the [sic] all of the above subjects, but have done so for English, mathematics and science. This figure will be released in the final 2004 KS2 publication, scheduled for June 2005.” The results published in August did not include this figure, however. Instead, they revealed that 68 per cent of pupils had achieved Level 4 in English and maths; 79 per cent passed the English test, which combines reading and writing scores. When the English scores are extrapolated into reading and writing tests, those who failed at writing may have passed Level 4 English because their reading ability had pulled up the overall scores. The Opposition is now calling on the Government to publish the final combined figure and question why it has been suppressed.

Last week Ofsted, the schools watchdog, said that thousands of children were starting secondary school unable to read and write properly because of poor teaching in one in three English lessons. In December David Bell, the chief inspector of England’s schools, said urgent Government intervention was required to rescue pupils from illiteracy. His endorsement of the traditional phonics methods of teaching English was backed by Nick Gibb, the Shadow Schools Minister.

Ed Davey, education spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, accused the Government of taking “their eye off the ball of the basic skills in primary education”. “This is hugely embarrassing for Ministers boasting of improvements and proves there are questions regarding how they are running the education policy,” he said.

However, Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, insisted it was the tests, not the ability of children, which were at fault. “End-of-year SAT tests are treated like rocket science but they’re very rough and ready and need to be taken alongside other reports.”

Much of the poverty of ability in reading, writing and arithmetic appears to lie with boys lagging behind girls in reading and writing. Alan Smithers, director of education and employment research at the University of Buckingham, says that, to overcome this, intervention is needed at a much earlier age. He suggests that if children as young as 3 practised sitting still, talking to each other and grasping pencils in a more formal kindergarten setting, they would be more ready to learn to read and write when they reach primary school



"Less is more" and "Size doesn't matter." Whether architectural credo or as a subliminal, salacious message, people get stuck on mythical truisms. These maxims are glue traps to the New York City Department of Education, whose Chancellor Klein has embarked on a frenzy of fixing schools by dissolving them into tinier cells of infamy.

Large high schools are being split into four "personal touch" ignorance-bearing academies. This revolutionary ruse has been pulled before. The late Andrew Jackson High School, whose halls were bloodier than the alleys of Medellin, was reduced to four quaint nurturing learning hothouses. No longer a player on the police blotters, that high school has literally disappeared from the map and public consciousness. Some beat reporters, in quest of an expose', no doubt credit the Klein garrison state with cleaning up that particular academic toilet.

Fragmenting a huge failing institution into puny satellites and spinoffs will give the DOE cover to patch the recent revelation that applicants to its high schools have identified themselves as repulsed by eighty-six percent of their choices. Because of the baby boom of mini high schools, each with its own handsomely paid administration, that percentage will dramatically drop, just in time for the tabloids to pass on verbatim the Chancellor's inevitable self-congratulatory press release.

The release of the New York City High School Directory is awaited with breath more baited than that for the 9/11 Commission Report or the Academy Awards. Every school is glowingly spotlighted. Each is depicted as a fountainhead of specialized learning. There are more "unique focuses" than there are masterpieces at the Louvre.

No doubt someone was hired to thumb through an encyclopedia, identify every wide and narrow area of human endeavor, and forge a name for a new high school consecrated to its pursuit. From aviation to zoology, with perhaps some horticulture as an academic antipasto, there is a Gothic edifice to hoodwink the undiscerning, much as the slapped on paint over facades of incinerated South Bronx structures for tourists coasting from Boston to see en route here during the glory days of the Dinkins Administration.

An Oxford University professor, so worldly that from tinkering in his attic he devised a jamming device to thwart the signal of all boomboxes within a hundred yard radius of his beach cabana, was wildly impressed that these schools each sounded unique in more ways than there are fishes in the sea or lovers in Don Juan's black book. That High School Directory is such a state-of-the-art whitewash that not even he could believe that scarcely one-percent of the seniors in one of these urban temples knows how to outline an essay or diagram a sentence. I would bet my tax-deferred annuity that not one-half of them knows what alphabetical order means.

In answer to its own question, "What is special about small schools?", the Guide to NYC Small High Schools exclaims: "You will be safe. Everybody will know your name. You will learn fewer subjects well." Perhaps they should fine tune that last disclaimer.

These schools' concentrations are evident from their titles. Most are along the lines of "Expeditionary Learning," "Global Citizenship," "Urban Planning," and my odds-on-favorite, the "Peace and Diversity Academy." There are two schools for "social justice." Perhaps they will be varsity rivals. Other schools run the gamut, or the gauntlet, from "Aerospace" to "Hospitality Management" to "Ballet Tech." Selected supervisors might just as well rotate alma maters every other day for all the expertise they will possess, or know or care which is which. Instead of high-handed initiatives and grandstands, Chancellor Klein should reconcile his policies to proven traditional working models, and endear himself just a little to the real educators whom he has estranged.

(From Redhog)


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, October 11, 2005


Seems to be a small win for NCLB

The Vista Unified School District has all but given up on its dual-language strategy of educating Spanish-speaking students and has been moving to a "structured immersion" program to help them learn English more quickly, officials said last week. The change comes roughly seven years after voters approved a ballot measure that outlawed bilingual education, but that allowed districts such as Vista Unified to continue the programs if parents signed waivers requesting them.

For years, the Vista district encouraged the waivers, until consistently low scores on standardized tests ---- which state and federal laws say must be administered in English ---- convinced them that change was needed, officials said. "Evidence came to the district's and board's attention that (bilingual) programs were not providing results as quickly as possible in terms of standardized testing," said Superintendent Dave Cowles. "The scores were not reflecting the progress we wanted to see." Test results released last month showed that 18 campuses in Vista Unified were failing to meet proficiency standards under the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, largely because of the scores of non-English speaking students, officials said. Roughly 7,100 non-English speakers are enrolled in the Vista Unified district, according to data provided by the district.

In the last several years, when students first entered school, parents were given a choice: either put the child in a predominantly English-speaking classroom or in a bilingual program known as "dual immersion" that included instruction in Spanish. When Proposition 227 passed in 1998, strictly limiting bilingual education in California, Vista Unified continued to emphasize its dual-language classes, allowing students to be taught in their native language and in English. Through the 2004-05 school year, more than 50 percent of the district's Spanish speakers were enrolled in the dual immersion bilingual program, according to Monica Nava, the district's English language development coordinator.

That number dropped to 22 percent this year, after Vista Unified trustees decided in 2004 that it was time to accelerate students' transition to English. By the start of the current school year, 16 of the district's elementary schools had begun structured English immersion programs, in which all materials, assignments and testing are in English. "This is the first year we've really gone for a full court press on the immersion program," said Cowles. "Our goal is to shift English language learners into (it), so they can learn English faster." Vista's program represents a sort of middle ground between bilingual and English-only programs, officials said. The new approach begins with 70 percent of instruction in English, but increases to 80 percent in the second and third years. Students who meet academic standards would then advance to an English-only program, while those who do not would remain in the classes....

Of the 18 campuses that failed to meeting state testing standards, eight were sanctioned this year by the federal government for failing to meet testing standards at least two years in a row. To pass the English and math portions of the test, 24.4 percent and 26.5 percent of students, respectively, must score at or above their grade levels, an increase from last year, when 9 percent to 16 percent of students needed to pass. Under the federal law, all categories of students ---- including non-English speakers ---- must meet those thresholds for the school to measure up. For most of the federal standards, nearly all Vista schools missed their target on the English test because one of the school's subgroups ---- English-language learners or a combination of English learners, Latino students or socioeconomically disadvantaged students ---- failed the test.

But officials are hopeful that next year will be better. "There is no question that the only thing we can do to benefit English learners the most is to move into English instruction as quickly as possible," Trustee Steve Lilly said last week. "I'm really optimistic and truly expect that we will see an increase in state language arts scores come this spring because so many more of the kids are spending their day exposed to English."

More here

Outsourcing Education is Nothing New

A recent trend in tutoring children is outsourcing. The students work at their computers in America, and their online tutors work with them from their computers in . . . India. Shocking? No. If you believe that the prime responsibility for educating children should rest on the parents, then ALL teaching outside the home is outsourcing.

In America, of course, most people are used to outsourcing the job to the public schools. But our governments' schools haven't been doing so well. So there is growing competition...Now even from India. A September 7 C/NET article informs us that "Companies like Growing Stars and Career Launcher India in New Delhi charge American students $20 an hour for personal tutoring, compared with $50 or more charged by their American counterparts."

How good are they? The report quoted enthusiastic parents, but it probably takes actual usage to tell. Of course, American Federation of Teachers' spokespeople warn us that the industry is unregulated. But then, our public schools ARE regulated, so take that for what it's worth.

Experts that I know suggest that judging even American services can be tricky. "The bigger the ad budget," says one, "probably means poorer word-of-mouth -- and it's word-of-mouth that keeps good, independent tutors busy."

But more sources for education sounds better than fewer. Whether down the street, on the other side of town, or the other side of the globe, the more options we have, the more likely we will find better sources for teaching.



Excerpt from a review of "America’s Glorious Cause" by David McCullough, Simon & Schuster, 386 pages

David McCullough has written another book that will be bought and read by hundreds of thousands of Americans, perhaps millions. Professional historians, their degrees framed on the walls of their offices and their salaries funded by hard-working taxpayers, will eat their hearts out once again. Their books will not sell or be read except as a requirement for their own graduate seminars. The reason is obvious. Professors in academe today generally discount good, old-fashioned narrative history for Marxist theory, psychoanalytical biography, social history, quantifying studies, or postmodern deconstructionism. They write only for themselves, and their prose is politically correct, agenda-driven, dull, vapid, or impenetrable. Once upon a time college professors commanded a wide audience and helped make the American people historically literate. Now that job is left to David McCullough and others like him who have not forgotten that a historian’s principal job is to tell a good story and to tell it with passion, insight, suspense, poignancy, and power. McCullough does so brilliantly.

History is about people—living, breathing, flesh-and-bone people—and McCullough never forgets this. His latest effort, 1776, is all about the people who fought for the Glorious Cause in the year of the Declaration of Independence. He clearly loves the cause and those who followed General Washington in a year that was full of victories and defeats, drama and boredom, courage and cowardice, sacrifice and selfishness, and optimism and despair for the American rebels. McCullough takes the reader into the ranks of the American troops, into their disease-plagued camps, their battlefronts, their homes, their love lives, their thoughts and beliefs. His extensive use of primary documents, including letters, diaries, and memoirs, generates an intimacy and an immediacy that makes for a page-by-page adventure. The reader can’t help but become a participant in the Glorious Cause

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, October 10, 2005

Scientists oppose "outcomes" education

How the Left shudder at the prospect of kids gaining real knowledge! Knowledge is the best antidote to Leftism

A delegation of scientists is making a last-ditch attempt to stop West Australian schools adopting an "airy fairy" education system they claim protects students' self esteem at the expense of competition and the pursuit of excellence. The Australian Institute of Physics yesterday voiced its opposition to a planned radical overhaul of the curriculum in the state's upper-school classrooms. The AIP has backed the recently formed education lobby group PLATO - People Lobbying Against Teaching Outcomes - in its claims that the new system will stifle students' competitive urges by rewarding them for achieving at any level. Institute state chairman Igor Bray will be among a three-person delegation of physicists from Curtin, Murdoch and the University of Western Australia to meet state Curriculum Council representatives on Thursday. Professor Bray said they would discuss teachers' concerns that "outcomes-based education" would let down poor students by giving them a false sense of their own competence.

Under OBE, no student can fail and every student achieves at one of eight "levels". Only students who achieve at levels six to eight are considered to be in the running for university. "The Curriculum Council does not see competition among students as an important factor but we do - we see it as vital," Professor Bray said.

Outcomes-based education will strip the hard sciences of their exclusivity from next year, placing teenagers destined for work as laboratory assistants and tradesmen in physics classrooms alongside future doctors and scientists. Theoretically, a student could pass Year 12 physics after achieving simple "outcomes", such as demonstrating the knowledge that energy can be transferred, that it appears in different forms and that it interacts with matter to produce different effects. A student who did not understand physics formula could also pass or "achieve".


Having destroyed the rest of the educational system .... "The Institute for America's Future and the Center for American Progress, co-chaired by Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano (D), on August 23 called for $325 billion in additional federal education spending over the next decade, including more than $9 billion a year to create a nationwide, universal preschool program. Although the coalition has not released a specific plan, typical universal preschool proposals call for replacing the current largely private, parent-driven preschool system with a taxpayer-funded system that would likely add one or two years of 'voluntary' preschool for all children onto the current K-12 public education system."


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, October 09, 2005


They are almost unsackable at the moment and they badly want to keep it that way

Opponents of Proposition 74, the teacher tenure initiative, have begun airing two ads against it. Below is the text of one of the spots and an analysis by Peter Hecht of The Bee Capitol Bureau:

STEPHANIE FLOYD-SMITH, seventh-grade teacher: Governor, you've already broken your promises on education. Now you're sponsoring Proposition 74, a ballot measure that allows one principal to fire a teacher without giving a reason - or even a hearing. While doing nothing to improve teacher training.

RENEE STEWART, elementary school parent: Parents like me are voting no on Prop. 74 to send the governor a message: Stop playing politics with our schools. And get to work on smaller class sizes, up-to-date textbooks, and restoring music and art classes - the things our kids really need.

ANALYSIS: The initiative, which would extend teachers' probationary periods from two to five years, does make changes in the dismissal process for teachers. But the changes aren't as severe as the ad makes them sound. School boards could dismiss teachers who receive two consecutive unsatisfactory performance evaluations. That's less documentation than required under current law, but the evaluations presumably would cite reasons for a district's unhappiness with their efforts. Teachers who were dismissed could get a hearing - but only after they were fired. Current law provides for a hearing before a teacher is let go.

Finally, principals can't fire teachers single-handedly. While they can make a recommendation, school boards have the final say on whether a teacher is dismissed.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's aides have acknowledged that he didn't keep a promise he made to education officials last year, when he persuaded them to accept suspension of school funding guarantees required under Proposition 98, which was approved by voters in 1988. The Governor's Office said the funding would be restored in future years when the state's fiscal position brightened. But the Republican governor announced in January that his second budget wouldn't repay the money, despite growing revenues, because the state needed to fund other priorities such as transportation.



Government school students in Victoria are falling behind in the competition for university places. A study has found that as independent school students continue to achieve higher marks, those from state schools are being "squeezed out" of the university market. While fewer than 20 per cent of year 12 students went to independent schools in 2003, they received about a third of all university offers - up more than 4 percentage points from 2000, the study showed. And while government schools held 58.8 per cent of all year 12 enrolments, their students received just 43.9 per cent of university offers, down 3.1 percentage points from 2000. In the same period, the proportion of tertiary applicants from government schools who received university offers fell from 57 per cent to 46 per cent.

"In terms of access to university, the government school sector is slipping behind its vigorous independent school competitors," said the report, Unequal Access to University Places. The report was prepared by Daniel Edwards, Bob Birrell and T. Fred Smith at the Centre for Population and Urban Research at Monash University, and based on statewide figures on year 12 students applying for universities, TAFEs and private colleges. These results coincide with a big shift in school enrolments in the decade to 2003, with a 20 per cent rise in the number of year 12 students at independent schools, and a 9.5 per cent drop in the number at government schools. [I wonder why?]

But the numerical drift to private schools alone does not explain the dramatic decline in government schools' share of university offers, according to the researchers. In another alarming development, the researchers found a widening gap between different government schools, with those in inner city, eastern and southern areas of Melbourne [more affluent areas] increasing their academic advantage over those in other areas. Between 2000 and 2003, the proportion of government school tertiary applicants to gain a university offer dropped by 20 percentage points or more in western Melbourne, Melton-Wyndham and Hume City. [poor areas]

In the same period, the Catholic school sector recorded a slight decline in university offers. "The government school sector is no longer serving as a ladder of educational opportunity for aspiring students from low-socioeconomic areas," it said. The Federal Government's reduction in subsidised places at universities was partly blamed for the trend, combined with a growing number of students wanting to continue education after secondary school.

The authors called on the Victorian Government to fund "a significant number" of new equity-based university places. The report also recommended an increase in specialist academic school programs.

State Education Minister Lynne Kosky said some of the study's analysis was flawed because it used data that included students who had not specifically applied for university. Ms Kosky also criticised the report for focusing on university entrance as the key measure of success. "(The report) just belittles any other educational experience other than higher education and university," Ms Kosky said. "Secondary schools are there not only as a pathway to university but also a pathway to other educational experiences and employment . I can't remember the last time a doctor fixed the plumbing in my house." Ms Kosky also said that the percentage of government school students who applied specifically for university and received a university offer was similar to the figure for the independent sector.

Dr Birrell responded that the "great majority" of students who received a TAFE offer did not apply for university because they did not have the required score.

Opposition education spokesman Victor Perton said the report's findings were devastating, and called for Ms Kosky's resignation. "Under this Government, state schools are actually going backwards," he said.

The Australian Education Union said that for many students it was the cost of university education - not their marks - that discouraged them from applying for university places. The union's Victorian president, Mary Bluett, said that with the high level of HECS payments [tuition fees] , many young people were asking whether it was worth going to university at all. Victorian Association of State Secondary Principals president Andrew Blair said university was "not the holy grail" for all students. "The bottom line is the public sector schools need to be all things to all people," he said. "This is an attack on public education for the wrong reasons."



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