Friday, February 17, 2006


Bright children are being denied a chance to win the support of a centre for the gifted because their head teachers think that it is too elitist. The Government wants to register the top 5 per cent with the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth (Nagty), but some heads believe that it fails to meet pupils' needs. While more than half of schools have registered with Nagty, parents and politicians now fear that children at 40 per cent of schools are missing out.

At Christopher Whitehead Language College, a comprehensive school in Worcester, ten pupils achieved ten A* GCSEs each last summer. But no pupil has signed up for the academy, and Neil Morris, the head teacher, is not encouraging them to do so. "We don't feel that it is suitable for our children and we don't feel it is hitting their needs," he said. "More importantly, the parents don't want to subscribe to it. We've got 210 on our own gifted and talented register that we stretch in the best way we can."

Carol Muston, a town planner and single mother, feels that the academy does have something to offer and is asking a school near by to put forward her 12-year-old. "Clearly with Nagty, there are specialist tutors with specialist skills to get the best out of children. That's perhaps not available at normal schools," she said. Since the academy opened three years ago, 83,000 children have been put forward by 60 per cent of schools in England. But in November Nick Gibb, the Shadow Schools Minister, revealed huge regional variations. Ninety per cent of schools in Swindon had Nagty members but only a quarter in northeast Lincolnshire.

The Government decided to track the most gifted children after a study by David Jesson of York University found that state secondary pupils who had been identified as being, at age 11, in the top 5 per cent were only half as likely as those at fee-paying schools to achieve three A grades at A level. Academics have criticised Nagty, however, for offering just 1,000 places at the summer schools and for excluding students from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Some worry, too, that universities will use Nagty membership as a short cut for selection.

Deborah Eyre, the director, said that 87 per cent of students found Nagty membership valuable and it was hard to understand why schools would deter them. "It is not intended to be an either/or for schools. We would expect them to make provision for their brightest students, but this is at a national level," she said. "It's like saying, we offer very good football lessons and out-of-hours coaching with the local club, so we don't need to work with Manchester United." She added that a minority of schools had an "ideology problem", which was based on a misunderstanding.


Affirmative Blackmail: The ABA orders law schools to practice racial preference--even if they have to break the law

According to its mission statement, a primary goal of the American Bar Association is to "promote respect for the law." In the interest of mandating racial preferences in admissions, however, the ABA has just ordered law schools to do the opposite--in fact, to violate the law--and is resorting to blackmail to achieve its end.

Meeting in Chicago this past weekend, the ABA's Council of the Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar voted in favor of "equal opportunity and diversity" standards. Under these standards, any law school that seeks to maintain or acquire ABA accreditation will be required to engage in racial preferences in hiring and admissions, regardless of any federal, state or local laws that prohibit of such policies. Since only graduates of ABA-accredited schools may take the bar exam in the vast majority of states, the association has, in effect, a legal monopoly on accreditation standards.

The new Standard 211, styled "Equal Opportunity and Diversity," will govern admissions and faculty hiring policies. It says nothing about treating people from different groups equally, and lots about "diversity"--a code word for affirmative action preferences. "Consistent with sound legal education policy and the Standards," part (a) says that a law school must provide "full opportunities for the study of law and entry into the profession by members of underrepresented groups, particularly racial and ethnic minorities," and it must also commit "to having a student body that is diverse with respect to gender, race and ethnicity."

Part (b) says, "Consistent with sound educational policy and the Standards, a law school shall demonstrate by concrete action a commitment to having a faculty and staff that are diverse with respect to gender, race and ethnicity." This sounds innocuous, since law schools can reasonably differ on what constitutes "sound legal education policy." Some might think that the educational benefits of a racially heterogeneous student body justify significant racial preferences; others might give more weight to data showing significant educational costs resulting from preferences.

An empirical study by Richard Sander of UCLA, for example, confirms anecdotal evidence that student beneficiaries of such preferences tend to struggle in law school and end up at the bottom of their classes. Statistics published in the year 2000 also reveal that under current affirmative action policies, 42% of all African-American matriculants to law school either never graduate or never pass the bar (compared with 14% of whites). Some schools might conclude dooming a huge percentage of African-American students to failure is contrary to sound educational policy, and limit their "diversity" efforts to recruitment and retention.

That will not be possible, according to the "interpretations" of Standard 211, which have "equal weight" to the rules themselves. Interpretation 211-1 states that "the requirements of a constitutional provision or statute that purports to prohibit consideration of gender, race, ethnicity or national origin in admissions or employment decisions is not a justification for a school's non-compliance with Standard 211." Racial preferences will thus generally be necessary to comply with Standard 211--despite the fact that several states, including California and Florida, ban race as a factor in law school admissions or hiring or both. Equally outrageous is Interpretation 211-2, which states that, "consistent with the Supreme Court's decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, a law school may use race and ethnicity in its admissions process to promote equal opportunity and diversity." This is a complete misstatement of the law, and the attorneys who wrote this are either incompetent or, more likely, intentionally dissembling.

First, Grutter held only that racial preferences in higher education are legal when used to promote diversity, not when used to promote equal opportunity. The Supreme Court has consistently disapproved of the use of racial preferences other than for either educational diversity, or to remedy past discrimination, and nothing in Grutter is to the contrary.

Second, Grutter did not hold that any law school may use race in its admissions process to promote racial diversity. Rather, the court stated that it was deferring to the Michigan Law School's "educational judgment that such diversity is essential to its educational mission." Other law schools may not share that educational judgment, particularly if the only way to achieve such diversity is by admitting underqualified minority students. Nothing in Grutter would permit such a law school to engage in racial preferences.

Ironically, left-wing lawyers and law professors used to scream that the Grutter litigation posed a threat to academic freedom by trying to prohibit law schools from tailoring the racial balance of their student bodies to enhance the students' educational experience. Now they want to use the heavy hand of ABA accreditation to deny academic freedom to law schools that would not choose racial preferences.

It's worth remembering that the fifth vote in Grutter was provided by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who apparently thought that her opinion would permit, but not require, law schools to use racial preferences for diversity purposes. Now that the ABA is trying to turn "may" into "must," one wonders whether Justice Samuel Alito will be similarly sympathetic to the assertion that allowing racial preferences in admissions enhances academic freedom.

An even greater irony, however, is the ABA's role in all of this. One can be quite certain that despite the plain language of the "interpretations" quoted above, the ABA will claim that it is not really trying to force law school faculties and administrations to violate both the law and their consciences in pursuit of racial "diversity." But in the past, ABA accreditation officials have bullied law schools into precisely that position, even in the absence of written authority backing their demands. The new written standards will only embolden the accreditation bureaucracy, composed mainly of far-left law professors, to demand explicit racial preferences and implicit racial quotas--all in brazen defiance of the law.



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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