Saturday, December 03, 2005


The way children are taught to read in primary schools in England needs to be changed, says a government review. It has backed the method synthetic phonics, which teaches children the sounds of letters and combination of letters before they move onto books. The review, by an ex-Ofsted director, says this should be the first strategy used by primary schools for all pupils.

Education Secretary Ruth Kelly said she accepted the findings and saw a "real opportunity" to teach the system. She would make sure the system was taught as early as possible in schools, she told BBC Breakfast. "There is a real opportunity to teach synthetic phonics systematically, but also other skills so necessary to children learning to love reading and learning to speak and communicate effectively."

Phonics is practised in most schools but in various forms. The review, the full details of which are being published later, was carried out by a former director of school inspections at Ofsted, Jim Rose. It is expected to recommend teaching of reading must go hand in hand with developing children's speaking and listening skills. The review will call for "early systematic, direct teaching of synthetic phonics" to be the first strategy taught to all children learning to read, introduced by the age of five. It will also focus on the need for some children to have intensive "catch-up support".

Mr Rose is expected to say there is general agreement phonic work is "essential though not sufficient" in learning to read, but that there is also much debate about the best way to do it. "Despite this positive consensus about the importance of phonic work, there are deeply divided professional views about how phonic work is best taught," he will say. "The review is therefore centred on judging the best way forward from the standpoint of the learners, that is to say children who are beginner readers and writers."

The final version of the Rose review, expected early next year, will inform the government's redrafting of its literacy strategy, planned for 2007. In pure synthetic phonics, children learn to read using the sounds of letters rather than the names. So a letter "D" is said "duh" not "dee". They learn to put the sounds together to make simple words such as "c-a-t". They also learn blends of certain letter sounds, such as "ch" or "bl".

Only once they have learned all the letter sounds and the blends do they progress to reading books. The system also helps children to break down unknown words, experts say.

Many schools in England already use phonics, combined with other methods to help children to read, but proponents of synthetic phonics argue it should be followed strictly and not be mixed with other approaches.

In Scotland, schools are already being encouraged to take up synthetic phonics. The success of a pilot scheme in a school in Clackmannanshire brought widespread attention to the system of teaching. Patricia Sowter, head teacher of Cuckoo Hall School in Edmonton, north London, has been using a synthetic phonics system called Read Write Inc., developed by Ruth Miskin, for two years. "It has made a huge difference to standards of reading in particular. We now have a 100% at level four in Sats tests for reading, including children with special needs," she told the BBC News website.

A total of 31% of children at the school have special educational needs, she said. "Almost half of our children have English as a second language and it helps them because it is a systematic approach to reading, writing and spelling." Newcomers to the school who do not speak much English are put into "catch-up" programmes and small group work is used to bring children on at their own pace. The head teacher believes the success of the system is also due to it being followed across the school, by teachers and learning assistants alike


A defeat for 'trendy Wendy' teachers

Comment from The Times

Arguments about the best way to teach children to read are among the most bitter and divisive in education, to the utter bewilderment of most parents. Jim Rose's report marks the longest of U-turns back to orthodoxy. Phonics was established practice 40 years ago, but was swept away by advocates of "progressive" child-centred theories in the Sixties and Seventies. Methods such as "real books" and "look and say" took hold, in which children were expected to work out the meaning of whole words from their "context" and their association with pictures. Critics dubbed it "look and guess".

The shift coincided with the demise of the 11-plus examination, which removed external pressure on primary schools to maintain high standards. A generation of parents soon learnt that their offspring were not discovering how to read very well. James Callaghan, the Labour Prime Minister, highlighted the "unease felt by parents and others about the new informal methods of teaching" in his 1976 speech calling for a "great debate" on education. Margaret Thatcher's Conservatives introduced the national curriculum and testing of pupils 12 years later. After a prolonged boycott by teaching unions, the first national tests of 11-year-olds in 1995 exposed massive levels of illiteracy, with more than half of pupils failing to reach the expected standard.

Traditionalists complained that teachers continued to emerge from training colleges steeped in failed "trendy Wendy" methods. Labour took office in 1997 promising to restore rigour through a national literacy hour in all schools, the first time any government had sought to tell teachers not only what to teach, but how to teach it.

Supporters of phonics, including Mr Rose, then director of inspection at Ofsted, pointed to a growing body of new research that confirmed its central role in helping children to make sense of the alphabet. But the Government's desire to introduce reform quickly and without opposition from schools led to compromise over the content of the literacy strategy. Instead of emphasising the importance of phonics, David Blunkett, the then Education Secretary, adopted a "searchlights" model that encouraged schools to select from different teaching methods, including "knowledge of context" and "word recognition".

Mr Rose is obliquely scathing of the progressive dogmas that have failed so many, saying: "It cannot be left to chance, or for children to ferret out, on their own, how the alphabetic code works."


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, December 02, 2005


Test scores of students enrolled at least two years in city charter schools improved at a faster rate than their peers in traditional public schools statewide, according to a report being released today. The report, which analyzed state test data and other information, shows students in city charter schools bucking a national charter school trend of mediocre achievement. At four Indianapolis charters -- 21st Century Charter School, Christel House Academy, Flanner House Elementary and Andrew J. Brown Academy -- the percentage of students in all grades tested who passed the ISTEP-Plus test increased 22 percentage points from 2002 to 2004.

In contrast, the statewide overall ISTEP-Plus passing rate improved by just 1 percentage point during the same period, according to the report. The findings are in an 88-page accountability report issued by Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson, an annual document touting the successes -- and acknowledging some shortcomings -- of these nontraditional public school alternatives. There are 13 mayor-approved charter programs in Indianapolis serving nearly 2,000 students with about 500 on waiting lists to enroll.

But charter school critics remain unconvinced the schools help children learn more. "In all of this charter school stuff, it's almost like a boutique, with one school trying this and another school trying that," said Marilyn Haring, a Purdue University education professor and former dean of the School of Education. "They're tinkering with education -- and they're not educators, they're politicians."

The mayor's system for monitoring charter schools drew attention this fall when his staff ordered Flanner House Higher Learning Center to shut down after spotting irregularities in financial oversight and attendance records. Scheduled to shutter for good on Dec. 23, the school could close sooner, said Thomas Major Jr., the trustee appointed by the city to oversee student transfers to other schools and adult education programs, and to recoup any assets. "We're knee-deep in transition and now getting more focused on the business end of things," Major said Tuesday.

The report provides other details on mayor-approved charters such as parent and staff satisfaction with the schools and expert reviews of the schools' academic programs, management and financial operations. Aside from Flanner House Higher Learning Center, the report found no serious problems. Some issues were noted, however, such as the need to involve teachers more in decisions at Southeast Neighborhood School of Excellence (SENSE). Teachers who have cell phones so students can reach them around the clock at KIPP Indianapolis College Preparatory School risk burnout, the report also cautioned.

Peterson and the city's charter schools staff admit they're not education experts, which is why they contract with those who are to assist in evaluating strengths and weaknesses of the programs. Ruth Green, with the Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning at the University of Indianapolis, has been in many of the mayor-approved charter schools to see how they're doing and says the schools for the most part are high-performing and give families a range of educational options.

For the first time, the mayor's report emphasizes Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress-Plus scores, the mandatory assessment for Grades 3-10 public school students


An Australian reformer who's in a class of his own

Four years after he took over the portfolio, Education Minister Brendan Nelson has a message for academics and teachers suffering reform fatigue: It's not over yet. The changes the Howard Government is preparing to deliver will continue to blur the traditional divide between public and private funding. This week, Nelson flagged a new push to introduce a US-style graduate school approach in the nation's universities that would encourage students to complete a generalist degree in arts or science before obtaining professional qualifications in law or medicine at sandstone graduate schools.

Nelson is also proposing to introduce significant teacher training reforms to tackle children's literacy skills and considering a new national Year 12 certificate with common curriculum in key areas including physics, maths, English and chemistry. Urging the states to put away their "understandably parochial interests", he argues the reforms are in the national interest. "You can't say to people they should learn the same thing, on the same day, on the same week of the year and have the same test," he says. "But in some areas, surely, elements of mathematics, physics and chemistry are common to everyone; [it] doesn't matter where you are."

But the great paradox of the deregulation agenda the Howard Government has pursued remains the demand to exercise even greater centralised power over curriculum, research and course content from Canberra. The system is confronting a future where the divide between the public and private system has collapsed. The old barriers are dissolving as the future of the education system emerges from the class war approach to private school funding and the death of a free university education. It's a trend that predates Nelson's appointment but has accelerated under his tenure. Last year, taxpayer funding from the commonwealth for private schools outstripped that delivered to publicly funded universities.

While the states retain responsibility for the lion's share of public school funding through GST revenues, the growth of funding to private schools has been significant. The states fund about 88 per cent of public school budgets, while the commonwealth provides about $7.6 billion to independent and Catholic schools and $4.8 billion to state schools. Commonwealth funding to independent schools has increased at twice the rate as to state schools.

After pledging to "take the heat" out of the divisive schools debate, Nelson can claim authorship of the devastating line that the ALP had a "private school hit list" in the lead-up to last year's election, an attack that successfully diverted attention away from claims he should have invested more in the nation's public schools. Racing between appointments at universities and a conference on the Year 12 certificate this week, there's more. Nelson wants five-year-olds tested for their basic reading skills when they start school and even the state-controlled early childhood education system is in his sights. "I think that early childhood education is a mess. It's a question of luck in many parts of Australia as to whether your child will get access to early childhood education and, if so, what the quality will be," he says. "I think that is one of the major frontiers for further reform that is a product of federalism at its worst. "

After a call for action from the University of Melbourne's vice-chancellor Glyn Davis, he is also prepared to debate even greater deregulation of universities' ability to generate fee income, including debate on lifting the 35 per cent cap on the proportion of full-fee degree places that can be offered to students who miss out on marks. "Volume, too often, has been at the expense of quality," Nelson says. "As far as the future is concerned, I think we need to move towards an environment where there is much less regulation that applied to our research-intensive universities. "They should have a smaller undergraduate load. They have to ask themselves whether world-class quality is compatible with very large undergraduate enrolments."

Marking his fourth anniversary in the education portfolio - he was appointed to the ministry and straight into cabinet on November 23, 2001 and was sworn in four years ago today, November 26 - Nelson doesn't seem to have run out of ideas.....

From publishing attendance records of teachers employed by the states to demanding workplace agreements are offered to TAFE teachers, commonwealth funding has come with a price. The Government has preached the choice mantra over schools but demanded the right to determine curriculum and reporting standards for parents or starve the states of funding. The failure of the Howard Government to confront this contradiction is not lost on critics of the intellectual rigour of the reform agenda. Institute of Public Affairs executive director John Roskam, one of the authors of a 2003 education paper that called for the introduction of a voucher scheme, argues the theme of greater government control over curriculum is at odds with Liberal Party tradition. "It is ironic that the Liberal Party appears to advocating a national curriculum given that it fought against the idea when Labor proposed it in the 1980s and 1990s," he says. "There is no reason school curriculum should be uniform across the country. A single nationwide curriculum would eliminate the ability of the states to compete against each other to improve standards. Whether we like or not, the best curriculum is developed through trial and error and this would be impossible under a national curriculum.

"The best argument against a national curriculum comes by looking at what Joan Kirner tried to do to school education in Victoria in the 1990s; she lowered standards, reduced course content and removed competitive assessment. If Kirner had been the federal education minister and if there had been a national curriculum, the consequences for the entire country would have been horrendous. Different curriculum systems are the only safeguard we have against this happening." Yet the concept remains a popular one among parents, particularly those who must confront the different state systems when moving interstate.

More here


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

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

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


Thursday, December 01, 2005

It will take more than a catchy slogan for the LAUSD to fight off reform

Los Angeles Unified School District officials last week unwittingly validated Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's bid to gain control of the district when they responded to his effort by starting to plan a public relations blitz against this reform effort, as they have similar efforts in the past.

Whether LAUSD officials find a way to dip into their $13 billion budget for a few million, or tap their unions and other anti-reformers, they no doubt will get expert advice in developing a slick public relations operation to blitz the media with scare tactics and a catchy marketing slogan or two.

Government at all levels has found that it can often obscure the failure to solve people's problems and deliver on promises with a smoke screen of half truths and outright lies. Clearly, public officials are exempt from truth-in-advertising laws. Los Angeles' City Hall has used such tactics extensively for years, but found such tactics can backfire. The Department of Water and Power, for instance, threw millions of dollars to a P.R. firm only to find the money was wasted when it led to federal investigations and indictments. Is that the kind of image-making LAUSD board members want?

Yes, the district has made some inroads into boosting school achievement and reducing overcrowded classrooms with a massive school construction project still under way - and its small in-house public relations staff has done a good job of communicating its achievements to the world at large. But none of that has changed the fact that many people want the district broken up into manageable pieces, want more power for parents and teachers, and want more students to graduate instead of dropping out.

It's absurd to argue that the $862,000 the LAUSD spends each year for its communication staff is inadequate. The LAUSD was created to educate children, not to mislead the public about reform efforts. Schools ought to be non-spin zones. If the district wants to get some kudos, it must earn them. Student achievement, happy parents and inspired teachers are the best P.R. that money can't buy.


Tokyo teacher embattled over war history: "Miyako Masuda is a 23-year veteran of public schools here. Like many Japanese history teachers of her generation, she dislikes new textbooks that frame Japan as the victim in World War II. It bothers her that books claiming America caused the war are now adopted by an entire city ward. In fact, Masuda disapproves of the whole nationalist direction of Tokyo public schools. Yet until last year, Masuda, who calls herself 'pretty ordinary,' rarely went out of her way to disagree. Few teachers do. But when a Tokyo city councilman in an official meeting said 'Japan never invaded Korea,' her history class sent an apology to Korean President Roh Moo-hyan -- an action that sparked her removal from her classroom."


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, November 30, 2005

Government education: Road to hell?

Good intentions will surely be the downfall of individual liberty and personal freedom. The greatest motivation that mankind has to abandon the principles of freedom is simply being afraid. And, fear plays right into the hands of legislators that use good intentions, whether quite sincere or merely conjured, to usurp individual freedoms and parley them into collective power. The consequences of this exchange is a bloated beast called Bureaucracy controlled by a tyrant, or group of tyrants, that seek to enslave the masses for their own good. In other words, Freedom dies. Remember my personal credo, “More government ALWAYS translates into Less freedom.” In no area is this more evident than the realm of government education.

Education is only one of the areas where good intentions have proven less than sufficient to cure the ills of society. It was with the very best of intentions that legislators decided to take upon themselves the responsibility of providing a free education to every child in America. Has a nobler thought ever been conceived in human mind than the desire to see America’s offspring properly prepared to face an ever-changing world? However, the consequence of such feel-good philosophy is a false sense of security, born in the supposition that the State can do something, anything, better than the individual. Freedom is relinquished willingly for nothing more than a promise that government can provide something to individuals that the individuals themselves cannot procure on their own. And the children suffer the most.

The worst consequence of passing responsibility of educating young minds from personal to collective is the task is botched so horribly. Some children are educated quite well in a state-supported system but most barely receive an average level of education. And, far too many fall through the expansive cracks of society that are the floorboards of a bloated bureaucracy grown so large it has become impossible to keep track of everyone. The result of all the good intentions of providing adequate education to children is a twelve-year factory system that produces more than its fair share of functional illiterates. Why do you think the majority of congressmen/women have their children in private institutions? These children are not trained to take charge of governing themselves; but rather, they are almost programmed to be willing taxpayers that obey a ruling elite. Seems we have been there before and it required armed revolution to free an oppressed people. Sound familiar?

So, which is better? Giving your precious children to the State and expecting something you are not likely to receive; or, taking back the responsibility of educating your own young, making sure YOU are satisfied that your loved ones are properly equipped to face the cold, cruel world? Nothing as important as educating a child should be left to government agencies that only have a mandate to provide minimal education to the children whose minds they are charged with filling. The State has no incentive to educate children other than to ensure the perpetuation of governmental power. Willing subjects are much easier to rule, after all. By giving into the good intentions of supposedly well-meaning elected representatives we allow the State to churn out generation after generation of willing slaves that will worship at the altar of the false-deity Security, and believe the lie that the State can provide them their necessities. The consequences again are just too great to ignore. Slavery is unacceptable even if it is of the subtle sort!

When we allow the responsibility of educating our beautiful children to be assumed by the State, we contribute to the agonizingly slow death of Freedom by allowing the government to control the path of each new generation. Good intentions have created a system that takes in free individuals and renders dependent servants of them. Good intentions that have allowed our children to be poorly educated.

There are no easy answers to all of life’s problems, but we should not allow that to become sufficient reason for believing the lie that the State can handle any problem better than individuals. There is simply no evidence to support the claim. We must stop allowing good intentions to be used to justify every great debacle while ignoring the cost in taxpayer’s dollars and human lives. We must learn from our mistakes and start thinking more about the consequences before we allow ourselves to be swept away by the tsunami caused by the sudden social shifts born in good intentions. Perhaps there is no truer adage than the one that cautions: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”


Chicago Mayor Loves Socialist Education

For years now Richard Daley, Mayor of Chicago has enjoyed a growing reputation among the political Leftists in this country. He has been one of the leading local and national proponents of "victim disarmament" (he calls it gun control). Daley's rationale seems to be that if only the honest people would all just turn in their firearms then the gangbangers would not have to worry about shooting them when they committed robbery or mayhem because they would all know that none of the honest people had anything left to defened themselves with. Cuts down on the murder rate, you know.

I doubt if Mr. Daley really expects the gang members to dutifully fork over their illegal firearms, but then, again, he seeems more interested in keeping honest folks disarmed than he is in taking illegal weapons away from gang members. But, then, this is a mindset quite in keeping with the socialist worldview.

And Mr. Daley continues to demonstrate his socialist proclivities in other areas. A while back, he vacationed in Red China, and while there he took a look at the Red Chinese educational system--which, by the way, he was really impressed with. It seems the Reds keep their children in government schools for 250 days a year--mostly all year, and that really appealed to Daley. Mayor Daley would like to do the same thing in Chicago--make the kids go for 250 days a year, all year. Writer Jack Duggan, commenting about this on has noted: "Daley somehow thinks that six days of mediocrity would be much better than five days of mediocrity. And he wants to extend from 180 days per year to the Communists' 250. It seems the plan is to force kids to become good and obedient little robot socialists. Just imagine, publik skool not only for 6 days a week, but for longer hours each day, and then for 12 months a year. Sobering, isn't it?" Frightening would be a more apt description!

Of course the Chicago Teachers Union would be in support of such a program. And the teachers would have to get a hefty pay raise because of all those extra hours, but, then, most of them also suffer from a socialist world view as does Daley and so they are more than happy to go along. Anything to increase the amount of propaganda they can force down the kids' throats under the guise of "quality education." Duggan has it right--the aim is to create obedient little socialist robots.

And for the teachers to get more money, why, naturally the property taxes would have to be raised, but, hey, isn't that a small price to pay for getting your kid thoroughly brainwashed, er, I mean "educated"?

We should ask these folks if they know anything or are willing to discuss the real foundations of the government school system in this country. If we do they will probably speak in glowing terms about Horace Mann, the "father of the common schools." What they won't tell you is that Horace Mann was a Unitarian (one who did not accept the Deity of Jesus Christ) and that part of the reason Mann was so hot to establish statist education in New England, where he lived, was that he saw it as something to oppose the Christian schools in his area. In other words, public, or government education was a reaction against Christian education.

Another strong proponent of government schooling was Karl Marx, who advocated, in his "Communist Manifesto" that "Free education for all children in public schools" should be the order of the day. So, with the endorsement of Unitarians and Communists, our government school system has become the order of the day, and our kids have suffered under this monstrosity since the 1830s.

Mr. Duggan has stated that: "The irony of this situation is that most publik skool teachers are themselves graduates of the same system. They can't spell much better than their students. so the students will grow up dumb and dumber and not able to get a decent-paying job..." And, no doubt, those graduating from the teacher's colleges will get a diploma that reads: "Last weak I culdnt even spell teecher--now I are one."

Let us hope that someone in Chicago can find some way to get Mr. Daley's educational desires deep-sixed. If not, I can see this becoming a pilot program for government schools all across the country. Government education already has too many hours per day to brainwash children. They don't need more. Actually what we really need is for a growing number of parents to remove their children from the government schools and to begin to teach them at home, where they can get some real education rather than the cunningly devised socialist fables they are fed in government indoctrination centers we call public schools.



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, November 29, 2005


I go into hospital for a rather large surgical procedure today. It is however day surgery so I hope to be back home by the evening and blogging away as usual. If that proves too optimistic, however, this blog may not be updated for a day or so.


Enrollment drops, teachers leave, but administrators stay. That's the story at most of the 25 school districts with declining enrollment in the Sacramento region, according to a Bee analysis of state education data. Just eight of those districts reported to the state that they had cut administrators between the school years 1999-2000 and 2004-2005, even though the districts lost about 5,000 students during that period. Five of the 25 districts added administrators. And although most of those districts aren't cutting administrator positions, they are employing fewer teachers. Twenty-two of the 25 districts have fewer teachers today than they did five years ago, state data show.

Some districts can justify those numbers because their enrollment dropped incrementally, said James W. Guthrie, a professor of public policy and education at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., who taught at the University of California, Berkeley, for almost three decades. But the five districts that added administrators and another five in which administration ranks remained the same while enrollment dropped by more than 10 percent have some explaining to do, he said. "If you didn't cut, why? If you added, why?" Guthrie asked. "The burden of proof ought to be on why they haven't reduced their administrative staff."

Administrators defend the numbers by pointing to new federal and state initiatives that they say create more work. They also cite the difficulty of cutting supervisory staff in small districts. "You happen to be looking at the period of time when the state is rolling out high-stakes accountability," said Bob Wells, executive director of the Association of California School Administrators. "There are in fact more things to do that are administrative in nature."

Even though California continues to grow each year, about 40 percent of the school districts in the state are losing students. The reasons vary. In some places, high urban home prices cause young families to head for the suburbs. Rural districts often shrink as residents move to places with more jobs. And some areas have static, older populations without many kids.

The amount of funding a district gets is closely tied to the number of students it teaches. So schools with fewer students usually find themselves slicing up a smaller pie. And if the number of administrators in a shrinking district grows or stays the same, a bigger piece of that pie goes toward paying supervisors. That's exactly what has happened at most of the districts that are losing enrollment, but not losing administrators, in the Sacramento region, state data show.

More here


Multiculturalism, for so long the mantra of the left and the government when dealing with the issue of race, seems to have run out of steam. Margaret Hodge, minister for employment and welfare reform and MP for Barking in East London, seemed to echo the sentiment of many when she said that faith schools should promote integration, not segregation.

But this comes at the moment the government seems determined to fund more and more faith schools. David Bell, the chief inspector for the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted), has called for the government to fund more of the 120 independent Muslim schools in Britain, to ensure that they can be regulated. There is a growing fear that faith schools will become detached from British society and could become hotbeds of anti-Western dissent.

Of course there are those who just dismiss faith schools altogether. The British Humanist Association has welcomed Hodge's statement, which it says acknowledges what it has been saying for many years: 'faith schools are a key cause of segregation.' However, it complains that Hodge did not include atheists in her catalogue of those kept out of faith schools: 'We are, however, disappointed that Ms Hodge mentions only that children of "other faiths" should not be excluded. Sixty-five per cent of 12- to 19-year-olds describe themselves as having no religion - are they to continue to be excluded from learning with their peers?'

This spat over faith schools reveals the rotten core at the heart of British education. Despite the rhetoric, there is no vision for schools in this country. When the government sees it as necessary to fund more faith schools, it does so because at least such schools can unashamedly promote some values. They have an ethos and a credo that they can promote. The 'multicultural comprehensive', by contrast, is a confused place, not knowing whether Christmas is offensive or Muslims should be allowed to wear religious garments as part of their uniform. The only value it aspires to is to have no values - which it refers to as 'tolerance'. Hodge attacked religious schools for being intolerant, saying: 'We need Ofsted to ensure the curriculum and values of faith schools are consistent with the national curriculum and with promoting tolerance.'

How a set of absolute moral and religious beliefs fits in with any notion of tolerance is beyond me. Unless, of course, you adopt the multiculturalist perspective - according to which tolerance means an appreciation of 'other values', without accepting them yourself. It means denying the right to criticise believers for their values, but denouncing anyone who evangelises belief to us. It is both a separation from other cultures and a failure to define our own culture. If we were to define our culture as apart from other religious cultures we would no doubt be subject to the government's new religious hatred legislation.

As far as faith schools go, I find the arguments put forward by the secularists particularly unconvincing. By taking the stance that all faith schools should be abolished, the British Humanist Association ends up suggesting that multicultural comprehensives are better than faith schools. But a system that denies the possibility of belief to its pupils, and offers nothing but cynicism and intellectual paralysis, can hardly be said to be good. At least a child brought up in a Catholic or Jewish school has a God to rail against. All state schools offer is the certainty that there is no truth other than the impossibility of knowing - a kind of postmodern purgatory.

But for Muslims, the promise of religious schools is a trap they could well do without. The ghettoisation of Muslims into faith-based communities can only reinforce the estrangement that young British Asians already feel. Some of them turn to religion and the symbols of religion as the easy route to rebellion. But this is a script largely written for them by an establishment that avoids engagement with young Asians.

Instead of promoting values around which we can fight to build a future for all, we have collapsed into looking for enemies in every community. Some young Asians appear ready to act out the worst fantasies of Hodge and co - but the political elite must bear the bulk of the responsibility for the Islamicisation of Britain's Asian youth.



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, November 28, 2005


Don't expect it to extend to the Ivy League any time soon, however

Warren County Community College adjunct English professor, John Daly resigned last night before the school's board of trustees began an emergency meeting to discuss the professor's fate. On November 13, Daly sent an email to student Rebecca Beach vowing "to expose [her] right-wing, anti-people politics until groups like [Rebecca's] won't dare show their face on a college campus." In addition, Daly said that "Real freedom will come when soldiers in Iraq turn their guns on their superiors."

School president William Austin said that he will incorporate tolerance seminars for professors during the next faculty in-service day to shield students from this type of harassment, as requested by Young America's Foundation. Rebecca Beach has called for Austin to select Young America's Foundation President Ron Robinson as the one to teach leftists how to be tolerant toward conservatives. Robinson has dedicated his career to defending free speech on college campuses. "More colleges and universities need to follow the lead of WCCC and integrate tolerance training for insensitive leftists," says Young America's Foundation Spokesman Jason Mattera. "John Daly is yet another Ward Churchill. Academia is filled with intolerant leftists who openly show hostility toward conservatism."

Daly's email to Rebecca came after she sent a note to faculty announcing the appearance of decorated war hero Lt. Col. Scott Rutter to discuss America's accomplishments in Iraq.

Young America's Foundation will continue to monitor and expose similar instances of leftist intolerance through our online service, "Activist 411 - Activism Made Easy." This resource helps students, like Rebecca Beach, by providing them with advice on how to advance conservative ideas effectively and reveal intolerant professors, administrators, and other left-wing elements who attempt to intimidate and silence young conservative activists.

As the principal outreach organization of the Conservative Movement for 35 years, Young America's Foundation introduces thousands of young people to conservative ideas through national conferences, campus lectures and activism programs, internships, and seminars at the Reagan Ranch. Young America's Foundation preserves the Reagan Ranch as a premier presidential property and living tribute to Ronald Reagan's life and ideas.



The immigration success story continues apace, with students of Chinese background securing one third of the places in Sydney's selective academic schools. Nine out of 10 students at James Ruse Agricultural High School - NSW's top-performing school - have a non-English-speaking background, predominantly Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean language groups. And after decades of mass migration, thousands of students in government selective schools speak more than 30 different languages at home, from Arabic to Vietnamese. Across the city, students from a migrant background - mainly from Asia - account for two-thirds of enrolments in selective schools, or 9451 out of 14,300 students.

However, the nationally agreed definition of "non-English-speaking background" is broad and includes many students whose parents were born in Australia. Students are classified as NESB if they or their parents speak a language other than English at home.

The Herald has analysed the cultural mix of students in the 19 fully selective state schools using NSW Education Department data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. More than 5000 of the 16,000 selective school students say they have a Chinese-speaking heritage and all but 100 of those students live in Sydney, where 4.9 per cent of the population speaks a Chinese language. The next largest language groups are Korean (601 students), Vietnamese (528), Tamil (436), Tagalog (284), Hindi (284), Singhalese (225), Greek (151), Russian (146) and Arabic (137). The dominance of students from non-English-speaking backgrounds ranges from 92.3 per cent of enrolments at James Ruse and 83.6 per cent at Sydney Boys High to 12.7 per cent at Gosford High.

Lynne Irving, the principal of Sydney Technical High at Bexley, said her school represented the changing demographic. "We reflect what the community looks like," she said. "Irrespective of the national background, the students all have a very high work ethic and they're very well supported by their parents."

Author Don Aitkin said the performance of many students from Asian backgrounds followed the success enjoyed by previous waves of migrant children. "It's in effect a parental sacrifice in the interests of the child," he said. The migrant parents would typically "work their butts off" so their children could get a good education. The children were aware of this and would often forgo "present gratification" like going to the beach to study hard. "And nothing has changed … What you are seeing is only the newest phase of it," he said.

More than 13,000 students this year competed in an entry test for 3308 selective school places in year 7 in 2006. As well as the 19 fully selective schools, there are another dozen schools that teach high achievers in some classes. Students must be Australian citizens or permanent residents. Newly arrived migrants often excel in the difficult test. This year 83 students who could not speak English when they came to Australia less than four years ago won a place for next term



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, November 27, 2005


Still, it must be hard to get anyone decent to teach in their shitty public schools so perhaps the principals are doing what they have to do until school discipline is reformed

"Nearly 40 percent of all public school principals in the city acknowledged "passing the lemon" - urging incompetent, tenured teachers to relocate to another school instead of trying to have them fired, according to a new study released yesterday. The practice has been a convenient way for principals to bypass the lengthy firing process for teachers outlined in state law and teachers' contracts.

According to the New Teacher Project, a nonprofit consulting firm that helps school districts recruit and train teachers, 37 percent of the 434 principals surveyed last year admitted trying to push off poor teachers to other schools. Michelle Rhee, CEO of the organization, said the practice "may be a rational response to the inability to remove tenured teachers for poor performance."

Schools Chancellor Joel Klein said the findings helped shape the new teachers' contract, which was ratified this month. It eliminated the right of senior teachers to transfer to other schools - often pushing out well-regarded novice teachers in the process. The senior teachers would often exercise their right to leave - after getting a pointed suggestion from their principal. The city Department of Education estimated that about 500 tenured teachers used their seniority to transfer to another school without the approval of the new school's principal.

About 2,300 more tenured teachers last year went to new schools under different plans in which seniority was also a factor. Nearly a quarter of principals surveyed reported losing at least one handpicked beginning teacher to a senior teacher because of the transfer rules.

Teachers union president Randi Weingarten called the report "anti-teacher" and accused the organization of bias because it did not seek input from the union. "Taken out of its protective clothing, this is simply a report that shills for management's demands, not for a new teacher's needs," she said.

Principals union president Jill Levy, who's in contract talks with the city, acknowledged that principals have tried to pass off inept teachers to other schools. But she said they only did so because the system did not support efforts to fire them".

Source (Newmark compares this policy with the Catholic Church's policy of just shifting pedophile priests from place to place)


Five-year-old children will be tested for basic reading skills twice a year under a national plan to help struggling students. Describing the current state of early childhood and kindergarten education as "a mess", Education Minister Brendan Nelson said the literacy tests would provide parents with results while their children were still identifying words and developing reading skills. Pre-empting a national literacy report to be released soon, Dr Nelson backed the investigation's recommendation of a national testing regime for under-8s. "When a child comes into the system, you have got to have some idea of what their reading skills may be," he told The Weekend Australian. "How is a teacher to know who to concentrate on? "You worry about them all but you've surely got to identify the ones you have got to start from scratch on."

The long-awaited report, Teaching Reading, was commissioned by Dr Nelson amid fears that current teaching methods were failing Australia's children. The minister is expected to announce a shake-up of teacher training in universities when the report is released on December 8.

The report's author, Ken Rowe, said yesterday there was no national regime to test children when they first attended school. "South Australia and Victoria have been doing this for quite a few years," he said. "Some children are even tested when they are 4 1/2. "The idea is they get some sort of indication of their cognitive development - whether they can identify letters, whether they can recognise their own name. "There's currently no national consistency on this. This would give teachers the basics of what they need to know about a child's skills."

His report is expected to include an explicit warning that Australia's schools should embrace "systematic, direct phonics instruction so that children master the essential alphabetic code-breaking skill required for foundational reading proficiency". There has been a controversial debate over which of two approaches is better - the phonics instruction method or the "whole language" method, a "holistic" approach in which children are immersed in language and words, instead of learning first to break down words.

Opposition education spokeswoman Jenny Macklin said: "If Brendan Nelson is going to impose a new test on five-year-olds, he must accompany it with additional resources for teachers so that the students requiring extra help actually get it."

Dr Nelson also signalled debate over a shake-up of early childhood education. "Personally, I think that early childhood education is a mess," he said. "It's a question of luck, in many cases, as to where you live in Australia and whether your child will get access to early childhood education and, if so, what the quality will be. "Some of the parents have said to me: 'What are you going to do about children who don't know what a book is?' "I've often said to the university people, who have a voracious appetite for money: 'If you had serious new money to invest in education in Australia, would you get a better human and economic return for it if you invested it in universities or early childhood?' That's a good question."

Dr Nelson also revealed that preliminary results from a controversial tutorial voucher scheme for children have shown a rapid improvement in their reading age of between 12 and 18 months after one-on-one help. Outlining a timetable to work towards a national Year 12 system, known as an Australian Certificate of Education, by 2007, Dr Nelson also indicated that his reform agenda was beginning to secure the support of previously hostile states. The proposal would build on the existing state-based exams, rather than force students to sit more tests. But it would deliver a national approach on key subject areas such as maths, chemistry, physics and English.

Parents forced to move interstate for work could be confident under the new system that their child would have a better chance of settling in, without the stress and upheaval of a different curriculum, Dr Nelson said. "Why can't we have common language, common units of assessment, common standards in core areas?" Dr Nelson maintains that the changes, which would require the agreement of the states, would not require a rigid, inflexible national curriculum across all subjects. "But in some areas, surely, elements of mathematics, physics and chemistry are common to everyone," 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