Wednesday, June 07, 2006


The threat you face derives not from any external factors that may affect your company. Instead, it comes from your own employees. The deadliest business hazard of our time is the result of a sea change in the American approach to education that occurred early in the 1970s. Across the United States, conventional educational standards were tossed out the window, replaced with feel-good theories like "whole-language learning" that emphasized personal fulfillment over the accumulation of hard knowledge. As a result, we now have two generations of men and women who expect gold stars not for succeeding, but simply for trying. And, sometimes, merely for showing up.

In Great Britain, even primary school students can name all the monarchs of England. How many American children can name the capital of their own state? In India, the study of mathematics is practically a religion. In the United States, how many retail clerks can make change without relying on a calculator? In Germany, vocational education is a rigorous and honorable pursuit, producing highly qualified workers and tradesmen. In the U.S.A., people actually boast about their inability to deal with anything mechanical.

But sheer stupidity is not the greatest danger presented by the current crop of blank slates. It is the arrogance bred of ignorance that constitutes an unparalleled descent into goofiness. In the long-dead past, incompetents generally recognized their own incapacity and behaved accordingly. Today, every jackass sees himself as a genius, and every fool fancies herself a philosopher.

Once, a young colleague at a major firm accosted me in tones of confusion and desperation. "Mark! Mark!" she called as I walked past her office door. "When was World War II?" I thought at first that she was joking, but, alas, she was not. The deadliest global conflict in human history had somehow escaped her notice. Yet if I had asked if she honestly believed she deserved her B.A. and felt qualified to perform her job, she would have been gravely insulted and likely kicked me until I was dead.

Like the pod people of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the arrogantly ignorant appear at first glance as normal as you or me. But beware. The most profound risk they represent springs not from their cluelessness, but from their inability to recognize their own limitations. Such blind hubris can lead to monumental errors of judgment, grotesque mistakes, and the refusal to accept -- despite a mountain of evidence -- that the strategy they are pursuing may be leading your organization off a cliff. When people like that are in your employ, it is you, not they, who suffer the consequences.

These days, the arrogance of ignorance is so pervasive that I feel confident in making a small wager: Ten bucks says that the worst offenders will read these words and wonder, "Who is this joker talking about?" If characters like that work for your company -- brother, you're in for a world of hurt.



In what is an elite tweak on home schooling - and a throwback to the gilded days of education by governess or tutor - growing numbers of families are choosing the ultimate in private school: hiring teachers to educate their children in their own homes.

Unlike the more familiar home-schoolers of recent years, these families are not trying to get more religion into their children's lives, or escape what some consider the tyranny of the government's hand in schools. In fact, many say they have no argument with ordinary education - it just does not fit their lifestyles. Lisa Mazzoni's family splits its time between Marina del Rey, Calif., and Delray Beach, Fla. Lisa has her algebra and history lessons delivered poolside sometimes or on her condominium's rooftop, where she and her teacher enjoy the sun and have a view of the Pacific Ocean south of Santa Monica. "For someone who travels a lot or has a parent who travels and wants to keep the family together, it's an excellent choice," said Lisa's mother, Trish Mazzoni, who with her husband owns a speedboat company.

The cost for such teachers generally runs $70 to $110 an hour. And depending on how many hours a teacher works, and how many teachers are involved, the price can equal or surpass tuition in the upper echelon of private schools in New York City or Los Angeles, where $30,000 a year is not unheard of.

Other parents say the model works for children who are sick, for children who are in show business or for those with learning disabilities. "It's a hidden group of folks, but it's growing enormously," said Luis Huerta, a professor of public policy and education at Teachers College of Columbia University, whose national research includes a focus on home schooling.

The United States Department of Education last did a survey on home schooling in 2003. That survey did not ask about full-time in-home teachers. But it found that from 1999 to 2003, the number of children who were educated at home had soared, increasing by 29 percent, to 1.1 million students nationwide. It also found that, of those, 21 percent used a tutor.

Home schooling is legal in every state, though some regulate it more than others. Home-school teachers do not require certification, and the only common requirement from state to state is that students meet compulsory-attendance rules. Scholars who study home-schooling trends, business owners who serve home-schooling families and abundant anecdotal evidence also suggest that private teaching arrangements are on the rise. Some families do it for short stints, others for years at a time.

Bob Harraka, president of Professional Tutors of America, has about 6,000 teachers from 14 states on his payroll in Orange County, Calif., but cannot meet a third of the requests for in-home education that come in, he said, because they are so specialized or extravagant: a family wants a teacher to instruct in the art of Frisbee throwing, button sewing or Latin grammar. A family wants a teacher to accompany them for a yearlong voyage at sea. "Sailing comes up at least once or twice a year," Mr. Harraka said.

Parents say in-home teaching arrangements offer unparalleled levels of academic attention and flexibility in scheduling, in addition to a sense of family cohesion and autonomy over what children learn. To them, these advantages make up for the lack of a school social life, which they say can be replicated through group lessons in, say, ballet or sculpture.

Jon D. Snyder, dean of the Bank Street College of Education in New York, said his main concerns about this form of education were whether tutors and students were a good fit, and whether students got enough social interaction. "From a purely academic standpoint, it goes back to a much earlier era," Dr. Snyder said. "The notion of individual tutorials is a time-honored tradition, particularly among the elite." Think Plato, John Stuart Mill and George Washington. Philosopher kings and gentleman farmers. Because of the cost of in-home tutoring, the idea will probably not spread like wildfire, and just as well, Dr. Snyder said. "Public education has social goals; that's why we pay tax dollars for it," he said. "When Socrates was tutoring Plato, he wasn't concerned about educating the other people in Greece. They were just concerned about educating Plato."

On the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Krystal and Tiffany Wheeler earn high school credits in adjacent pastel bedrooms after breakfast. The teachers come to them. Their mother, Charlene Royce, said she wanted her girls to experience the benefits of a personalized education but did not feel comfortable teaching herself.

More here

Texas: Student suspended for folding a piece of paper

Post lifted from Zero Intelligence

Destiny Thomas, an 11 year-old student at Amber Terrace Intermediate School in the Desoto Independent School District, folded a piece of paper into the shape of a gun. She and two classmates were suspended and sentenced to 30 days of alternative school for their flagrant violation of district anti-gun policies.

Destiny said she made the paper gun after a fellow classmate at Amber Terrace Intermediate School in Desoto showed her how to fold a computer paper. She said she had no intention of doing anything that would get her kicked out of school. "I know not to bring a real gun, but I didn't think a paper gun would get you in trouble," Thomas said.

Desoto school officials said the student code of conduct clearly states no weapons or replica of weapons are allowed on campus.

District officials reviewed the case the next day and revoked the punishment. All three students will be allowed to return to class. While I am glad that this was caught at the district level I am appalled that it ever got there.

A replica is defined as an exact reproduction, a copy exact in all details. A folded piece of paper is not a replica weapon in any sense of the word. The administers at Amber Terrace weren't trying to make their school a safer place. They were engaged in thought control - punishing pre-teens for engaging a concept that the officials disapprove.


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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