Sunday, May 21, 2006


I have come across a question from next year's Standard Assessment Tests for 11-year-olds: if Miss Mopps spends eight minutes changing A's nappy and thirteen minutes cleaning out B's tracheotomy tube, how many minutes of the literacy hour does she have left to teach the rest of class how to read and write? Answer: rather less than is ideal.

I have every sympathy with the primary school teacher quoted by Cambridge educationists in a report published today that, thanks to the Government's policy of closing special schools and including special needs children in mainstream schools, her job has become "more like nursing than teaching". My nine-year-old daughter, Eliza, is mentally handicapped, and has attended both a mainstream and a special school. I have seen enough to conclude that the Government's policy of inclusion is rather stronger on ideology than it is on common sense.

I have the right to insist that Eliza is taught in a mainstream school right up until the age of 16. But to what purpose? Maybe it would add to the self-esteem of disability rights campaigners, but it wouldn't help Eliza. And it certainly wouldn't help children of normal ability who just wanted to get on with their studies as Eliza giggled in the corner. Far from benefiting from inclusion, Eliza would simply earn a reputation as "the girl who ruined my GCSEs".

There is a lot to be said for some forms of inclusion. Nobody wants to go back to the days when blind children were taught how to be piano tuners because no one imagined they could benefit from any other kind of education. Physically disabled children of normal intelligence should of course be taught in mainstream schools. It is right, too, that mentally handicapped children should be included with ordinary children in nursery and the early years of primary school. There is a big difference between the kindness that Eliza's classmates have shown towards her and the rather cruel language in which school children used to speak of the mentally handicapped.

But beyond the age of about 7, when serious academic education begins, it is nonsense to pretend that you can teach a child with an IQ of 50 alongside one with an IQ of 120. Good special schools, like good grammar schools, have been sacrificed to fulfil a misplaced egalitarian philosophy - to the detriment of all children


Public Schools Fail ACT

"Teaching to the test" is a common complaint of public school teachers whose students have an increasingly difficult time passing such examinations with the passage of every school year. "Teach to the test, please," Richard Ferguson of the ACT advises, "because the skills we are measuring are the skills that are needed." Ferguson spoke at a conference at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel here in which the ACT released its new report, which is entitled "Ready to Succeed: All Students Prepared for College and Work."

The ACT that Ferguson heads administers one of the two most widely-used college entrance exams in the United States. At least those teachers who dread exams such as the ACT might be consistent. The odds are that they didn't handle such tests very well as students either. Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, who also spoke at the conference, pointed out that the aggregate number of college graduates who take up teaching represent the bottom third of scores on the ACT and the SAT.

Ferguson has worked with the ACT for more than 30 years. "Where the United States used to be number one, we are now ninth in the world in high school rankings and 10th in college rankings," he points out. "NAM [the National Association of Manufacturers] did an important survey in which 90 percent of their members reported a shortage of skilled workers," Ferguson said. "Specifically, they lack reading, writing and communications skills."

"Toyota is building a plant in Canada because they can find a higher skill level there," Ferguson notes. Arthur Rothkopf of the United States Chamber of Commerce agrees. "Businesses spend hundreds of millions of dollars in remediation in workforce training," Rothkopf told the crowd. The USCOC represents three million businesses nationwide-small, medium and large, according to Rothkopf. "The K-12 system is not doing what it has to do," Rothkopf says. "Studies showing that most parents are satisfied with their children's schools points up part of the problem. The public is unaware of the problem."

"Out of every ten students who enter ninth grade, seven will graduate high school in four years, four will go on to post-secondary education and two will earn a Bachelor's or Associate's degree," Ferguson reports.

"Far too many students are not being educated for either college or the work force," Cynthia Schmeiser, also of the ACT, concluded. "Two-thirds of new jobs require post secondary education." "They need math and reading skills to enter the work force or to enter college without remediation." Schmeiser is the senior vice president for research and development.

"Seventy-five percent of our students require remediation in the first year of college," Keith Bird, chancellor of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, says, explaining the mushrooming of remedial courses in institutions of higher learning. Bird recommends changing pedagogy and teacher training. "The line between high school and college is becoming blurred," he observes.



Hatred for the world around them is what makes the Left tick, so this is not really surprising. A little kid does what a teacher asks and the kid is penalized for it!

Seth Hall loves going to school, playing baseball, and building things with his grandfather. He's not the kind of kid you'd expect the superintendent to kick out of school for weapons possession. "He said that I am in deep trouble!" Seth said. Seth, who attends kindergarten in the Honeoye Central School District, was slapped with a three-day suspension.

The weapons in question were two hammers. Seth brought them to class last Friday at the request of his teacher. "It's a judgment call. There's no doubt about it," said Bob Schofield, Honeoye District superintendent. Schofield said the teacher demonstrated poor judgment, and he knows Seth did not mean any harm. The teacher has been reprimanded.

After learning the boy's teacher played a role, Schofield dropped the suspension after Seth missed a day. "It wasn't like we were out to get this young man! That was the last thing we were trying to do. We were just trying to look for the safety of all of the students in implementing a policy that the Board of Education had OK'ed," Schofield said.

Seth's mother wants an apology. She also wants the superintendent to be disciplined. "But they can't take away what they did to him, the way they yelled at him and upset him," said Melissa Wetherwax. "I just feel that they handed it totally wrong. He's not an adult. He's not a 15-year-old. He's a 6-year-old. They just needed to talk to him like a 6-year-old." Seth said he would not have hit anyone with the hammers because, "I'd be going to the principal's!"



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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