Friday, January 20, 2006


Nearly six out of ten GCSE students in state schools failed to earn good grades in English and mathematics last year despite an apparent record improvement in examination results, new figures show. Ministers claimed that the performance tables of GCSE and A-level results, published today, showed that schools had achieved the "biggest single improvement in standards for a decade". The proportion of students who passed five GCSE subjects at grade C or better, the Government's benchmark for success at 16, rose by by 2.6 percentage points to 56.3 per cent in 2005. But it fell by 12 points to 44.3 per cent when English and maths were included. It dropped to 42 per cent once results for independent schools were excluded.

The headline rate of improvement masked a deeper failure in boys. Only 37.8 per cent in state schools passed five good GCSEs, including English and maths, last summer, compared with 46.2 per cent of girls. Almost 97 per cent of pupils in grammar schools and 74 per cent in private schools reached this standard. Nearly 200,000 boys and 156,000 girls in state schools did not. Schools are ranked in league tables of results by the proportion of students passing five good GCSEs in any subject.

Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, has ordered changes to include English and maths from next year, amid suspicions that schools are entering students for softer subjects to disguise failure in the basics. The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) carried out a pilot study to show how the reform would have affected each school's results this year. But it refused to release the data before publication of the performance tables, saying the information would be released on its website today.

Jacqui Smith, the School Standards Minister, said that 52,000 more students gained five good passes in English, maths and three other subjects than in 1997. She acknowledged that schools had to "raise the bar even further on improvement". "That is why we are publishing these figures and incorporating them into the league tables from next year," she said. Figures released by the DfES show that the gap has widened since 1997 between the proportion of pupils passing five good GCSEs in any subject and that of pupils whose passes include English and maths, despite massive spending to raise standards of literacy and numeracy.

The proportion of school-leavers with five good GCSEs rose by 11.2 percentage points between 1997 and 2005, from 45.1 per cent to 56.3 per cent. But it went up by only 8.7 percentage points, from 35.6 per cent to 44.3 per cent, over the same period when English and maths were included.

Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, said that the figures showed that too many students were being "nudged" into easier subjects such as vocational GNVQs, equivalent to four GCSEs.

The tables also revealed that half of Tony Blair's flagship city academies were among the worst schools for GCSE results and truancy. Only 14 of 27 academies have been open long enough for 2005 results to be included. Three were in the bottom 50 schools and seven were in the worst 200. Three were in the bottom 50 for truancy. The DfES said that results had improved at all seven academies in the bottom 200.

Teachers' unions made their annual call for the abolition of "distorted" league tables. Mary Bousted, of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: "What parents want is a school where their child will be safe, happy and well-educated, but tables encourage them to rely on dubious statistics.


UCLA Alumni Group Is Tracking Radical Faculty

A fledgling alumni group headed by a former campus Republican leader is offering students payments of up to $100 per class to provide information on instructors who are "abusive, one-sided or off-topic" in advocating political ideologies. The year-old Bruin Alumni Assn. says its "Exposing UCLA's Radical Professors" initiative takes aim at faculty "actively proselytizing their extreme views in the classroom, whether or not the commentary is relevant to the class topic." Although the group says it is concerned about radical professors of any political stripe, it has named an initial "Dirty 30" of teachers it identifies with left-wing or liberal causes.

Some of the instructors mentioned accuse the association of conducting a witch hunt that threatens to harm the teaching atmosphere, and at least one of the group's advisory board members has resigned because he considers the bounty offers inappropriate. The university said it will warn the association that selling copies of professors' lectures would violate campus rules and raise copyright issues.

The Bruin Alumni Assn. is headed by Andrew Jones, a 24-year-old who graduated in June 2003 and was chairman of UCLA's Bruin Republicans student group. He said his organization, which is registered with the state as a nonprofit, does not charge dues and has no official members, but has raised a total of $22,000 from 100 donors. Jones said the biggest contribution to the group, $5,000, came from a foundation endowed by Arthur N. Rupe, 88, a Santa Barbara resident and former Los Angeles record producer.

Jones' group is following in the footsteps of various conservative groups that have taken steps, including monitoring professors, to counter what they regard as an overwhelming leftist tilt at elite colleges and universities around the country. He said many of these efforts, however, have done a poor job of documenting their claims. As a result, Jones said, the Bruin Alumni Assn. is offering to pay students for tapes and notes from classes. "We're just trying to get people back on a professional level of things. Having been a student myself up until 2003, and then watching what other students like myself have gone through, I'm very concerned about the level of professional teaching at UCLA," said Jones, who said he is supporting himself with a modest salary from the organization and is its only full-time employee. He said he plans to show what he considers biased material to professors and administrators and seek to have teachers present more balanced lectures or possibly face reprimand.

UCLA administrators say they are planning no immediate legal action, other than to notify Jones and to alert students that selling course materials without the consent of the instructor and Chancellor Albert Carnesale violates university policy. Patricia Jasper, a university lawyer, said UCLA would reserve the right to take legal action if any students engaged in unauthorized selling of materials.

Adrienne Lavine, chairwoman of UCLA's academic senate, agreed that the university could do little more at this point. She said she found the profiles on the alumni group's website "inflammatory" and "not a positive way to address the concerns that Mr. Jones has expressed." Still, she said, "I certainly support freedom of speech and that extends to Andrew Jones as much as it does to every faculty member on campus."

The group's recent campaign has upset a number of targeted professors and triggered the resignation last weekend of Harvard historian Stephan Thernstrom, a prominent affirmative action opponent and former UCLA professor, from the advisory board for Jones' organization. Thernstrom said he joined the alumni group's more than 20-member advisory board last year because he believed it "had a legitimate objective of combating the extraordinary politicization of the faculty on elite campuses today." Still, Thernstrom said, "I felt it was extremely unwise, one, to put out a list of targets of investigation and to agree to pay students to provide information about what was going on in the classroom of those students. That just seems to me way too intrusive. It seems to me a kind of vigilantism that I very much object to." Thernstrom said a fellow advisory board member, Jascha Kessler, an emeritus UCLA English professor, also resigned for the same reason. Kessler could not be reached for comment, but Jones confirmed that Kessler had resigned.

Jones said other members of the advisory board include Linda Chavez, former federal civil rights commissioner in the Reagan administration and head of a Virginia-based anti-affirmative action group; former Republican Rep. Jim Rogan; and current UCLA professors Matt Malkan and Thomas Schwartz.

Jones said he has lined up one student who, for $100 a class session, has agreed to provide tapes, detailed lecture notes and materials with what the group considers inappropriate opinion. He would not name the student or the professor whose class will be monitored. Jones characterized the work as non-commercial news gathering and advocacy that does not violate university policy.

On one of its websites, the Bruin Alumni Group names education professor Peter McLaren as No. 1 on its "The Dirty Thirty: Ranking the Worst of the Worst." It says "this Canadian native teaches the next generation of teachers and professors how to properly indoctrinate students." McLaren, in a telephone interview, called the alumni group's tactics "beneath contempt." "Any sober, concerned citizen would look at this and see right through it as a reactionary form of McCarthyism. Any decent American is going to see through this kind of right-wing propaganda. I just find it has no credibility," he said.

The website also lists history professor Ellen DuBois, saying she "is in every way the modern female academic: militant, impatient, accusatory, and radical - very radical." In response, DuBois said: "This is a totally abhorrent invitation to students to participate in a witch hunt . against their professors." But DuBois minimized the effect on campus, saying "it's not even clear this is much other than the ill-considered action of a handful, if that, of individuals."

The group's leading financial backer, Rupe, is a UCLA alumnus. He said his foundation donated $5,000 because "I think there's not enough balance on the campus. Some families are going into hock to send their kids there, and are not getting their money's worth." Rupe said the group's plan to pay students to record alleged bias "would be ideal if it could be done legally." Rupe's philanthropy is not centered on conservative causes. His foundation donated $500,000 to UC Santa Barbara in 1998 to endow a professorship studying the effects of the media on social behavior. Ronald E. Rice, who holds the professorship, said Rupe told him he was "really interested in the truth. He wants to bring people with different perspectives together to really argue."



Democratic senators have repeatedly questioned whether Samuel Alito is in the legal "mainstream" during the opening days of his Supreme Court confirmation hearings. To see what the "mainstream" means for the legal elites in the Democratic party, look no further than the law school "clinic." These campus law firms, faculty-supervised and student-staffed, have been engaging in left-wing litigation and advocacy for 30 years. Though law schools claim that the clinics teach students the basics of law practice while providing crucial representation to poor people, in fact they routinely neither inculcate lawyering skills nor serve the poor. They do, however, offer the legal professoriate a way to engage in political activism--almost never of a conservative cast. A survey of the clinical universe makes clear how politically one-sided law schools--and the legal ideology they inculcate--are.

In the last few years, law school clinics have put the Berkeley, Calif., school system under judicial supervision for disciplining black and Hispanic students disproportionately to their population (yes, that's Berkeley, the most racially sensitive spot on earth); sued the New York City Police Department for its conduct during the 2004 Republican National Convention; fought "gentrification" (read: economic revitalization) in urban "neighborhoods of color"; sued the Bush administration for virtually every aspect of its conduct of the war on terror; and lobbied for more restrictive "tobacco control" laws. Over their history, clinics can claim credit for making New Jersey pay for abortions for the poor; blocking job-providing industrial facilities; setting up needle exchanges for drug addicts in residential neighborhoods; and preventing New Jersey libraries from ejecting foul-smelling vagrants who are disturbing library users.

Law school clinics weren't always incubators of left-wing advocacy. But once the Ford Foundation started disbursing $12 million in 1968 to persuade law schools to make clinics part of their curriculum, the enterprise turned into a political battering ram. Clinics came to embody a radical new conception that emerged in the 1960s--the lawyer as social-change agent. Ford Foundation head McGeorge Bundy declared in 1966 that law "should be affirmatively and imaginatively used against all forms of injustice." No one can object to fighting discrimination and poverty. But no one elected a Ford-funded "poverty lawyer" to create a new entitlement scheme. If that lawyer can find a judge who shares his passion for welfare, however, the two of them will put into law a significant new distribution of rights and resources that no voter ever approved.

Today's clinical landscape is a perfect place to evaluate what happens when lawyers decide that they are chosen to save society. The law school clinics don't just take clients with obvious legal issues, such as criminal defendants or tenants facing eviction. They take social problems--unruly students in school, for example--and turn them into legal ones. Florence Roisman, a housing rights activist at the Indiana University School of Law, has inspired clinicians nationwide with her supremely self-confident call to arms: "If it offends your sense of justice, there's a cause of action."

The original rationale for many clinics disappears under their political agenda, even though schools still invoke it. Harvard, for instance, explains why law students should enroll in a clinic by emphasizing craft training: "Practical learning . . . should not be deferred until after law school graduation," the faculty declare. But what "skills of legal representation," in the faculty's words, will students in the Gender Violence, Law and Social Justice clinic pick up in researching "gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered awareness" for the Massachusetts trial courts, or in helping with the "development of a new self-defense program" to prevent acquaintance rape?

New York University's Brennan Center Public Advocacy Clinic explicitly disavows advancing a student's lawyering knowledge: It is simply a vehicle for every type of left-wing political advocacy. The center spearheaded one of New York's most powerful welfare-rights groups, and, to make sure that the supply of left-wing agitators remains high, it also developed a "community advocacy" curriculum for high schools. Nor does another NYU clinic, this one on immigrant rights, limit itself to law matters. Students help lead protests and then rustle up media coverage for those protests--part of what the clinic calls "explor[ing] . . . ways of being a social justice lawyer." Students in Georgetown's State Policy Clinic work on "building a new economy that is inclusive, participatory and environmentally sustainable." Yale's Legislative Advocacy Clinic aims to move Connecticut toward "a more progressive agenda in taxing and spending revenue."

Plenty of litigation still does emanate from law schools, mostly aimed at substituting an unelected lawyer's judgment about the allocation of taxpayer resources for the legislature's. Yale just created an education clinic as a vehicle for suing Connecticut over its school-funding formulas. Stanford's Youth and Education Law Clinic put the East Palo Alto school district under judicial oversight for its special-education policies. Georgetown's Institute for Public Representation has been suing United Airlines for years for its decision to subject a passenger to a heightened security check after 9/11.

Ask why more clinics don't represent small-business men and you'll hear: We are "people's lawyers," representing clients who cannot afford attorneys. Oh, really? Georgetown University's Institute for Public Representation represents the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association in tobacco litigation. The idea that these charitable behemoths could not pay for lawyers is silly.

Environmentalism is hardly a grass-roots poor-people's movement, yet environmental clinics have been a law school staple since the 1970s. One famous environmental fight demonstrated just how specious is the environmental clinics' claim to be defending the poor. In 1997, Tulane's environmental law clinic got a planned plastics plant barred from a predominantly black township between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The clinic claimed that it was fighting "environmental racism," but many town residents, backed by the NAACP, had worked for years to win the Shintech company's new PVC plant for their parish. After Shintech withdrew, Louisiana's governor, furious at the loss of jobs, persuaded the state supreme court to require that Louisiana law clinics actually represent poor people: Under the new rules, students could represent community groups only if 51% of the group's members had incomes below 200% of federal poverty guidelines.

The legal elite rose up in outrage. NYU Law School's Brennan Center, the New York firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, the Association of American Law Schools, the American Association of University Professors, UC Berkeley's Center for Clinical Education and the ACLU sued the Louisiana Supreme Court for violating professors' and students' First Amendment rights. Happily, federal courts threw out their case.

That leaves one final rationale for clinics: consciousness-raising. Yale's legal-services clinic provided an especially up-close opportunity for such experiential learning. In the mid-1990s, the clinic wanted to stop a police plan to evict vagrants from the New Haven train station. Director Stephen Wizner encouraged his students to spend the night with them to experience their plight and to dissuade the police from taking action. The students did camp out in the station, and the police left the "homeless" in place.

Mr. Wizner calls such interventions "human learning." But did the students learn about the addictions, mental illness and social disaffiliation that keep these people on the street? Did they bond with the maintenance men who must clean up the feces, urine, and discarded paraphernalia left by the "homeless"? And are they confident that they know how keeping the "homeless" in public spaces affects their "clients'" motivation to seek help?

In light of the pedagogical claims made on clinical education's behalf, you would think that employers would demand to see such courses on an applicant's resume. In fact, the marketplace shrugs. Former Cornell Law School dean Roger Cranton observes: "A lot of hiring partners disparage clinical education. They think of it as a policy mishmash, not as an opportunity to learn skills." If law schools were really serious about preparing students for their legal careers, every one would have a transactional clinic for small businesses. The vast majority of lawyers advise clients on business deals--negotiating contracts, setting up corporations and partnerships, trying to avoid legal and tax liabilities, and arranging securities offerings and registrations. Struggling businesses, including those run by minority entrepreneurs, are hurting for lack of such counsel.

For schools interested in giving students hands-on training, representing the unrepresented, and providing "human learning," there is a world of clients and causes (however politically incorrect) that meet every justification offered for the current one-sided array of clinics: small landowners barred from developing their property because of zoning regulations or government eminent-domain actions, victims of crime, cops wrongly sued for false arrest, and many more. If the schools think they must provide political advocacy experience, clinics could organize inner-city residents to demand crime-free neighborhoods through, say, tougher sentencing laws. Students could help entrepreneurs lobby for less confiscatory tax policies.

The Samuel Alito hearings will demonstrate the end result of law schools' political myopia. The proponents of social justice lawyering are unlikely to acknowledge any time soon that their revolution has been a failure. At the very least, however, law schools should offer students the chance to question for themselves whether such lawyering is the best way to help society. Opening up clinics to radical perspectives on the benefits of limited government and personal responsibility would be a good place to start.



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

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

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