Thursday, October 05, 2006

Howard Zinn and Dennis Prager

Post lifted from Betsy Newmark

Dennis Prager is using his column to publish a dialogue with Howard Zinn, the socialist and activist historian. It's an illuminating discussion because it gets at the heart of Zinn's beliefs that the United States has been a force for ill throughout history. From the first part of the discussion, here is a taste,
Dennis Prager: I think a good part of your view is summarized when you say, "If people knew history, they would scoff at that, they would laugh at that" -- the idea that the United States is a force for the betterment of humanity. I believe that we are the country that has done more good for humanity than any other in history. What would you say . . . we have done more bad than good, we're in the middle, or what?

Howard Zinn: Probably more bad than good. We've done some good, of course; there's no doubt about that. But we have done too many bad things in the world. You know, if you look at the way we have used our armed forces throughout our history: first destroying the Indian communities of this continent and annihilating Indian tribes, then going into the Caribbean in the Spanish-American War, going to the Philippines, taking over other countries, not establishing democracy but in many cases establishing dictatorship, holding up dictatorships in Latin America and giving them arms, and you know, Vietnam, killing several million people for no good reason at all, certainly not for democracy or liberty, and continuing down to the present day with the war in Iraq . . . .
I know that many, many history teachers, particularly Advanced Placement U.S. history teachers use Zinn's book, A People's History of the United States, as a supplementary text for their classes. Often they assign the entire book as summer reading (My students read Founding Brothers by Joseph Ellis, a much different text). Just that paragraph gives you a sense of what so many advanced students are being given to read. I've used a paragraph or two from Zinn as part of a general historiography lesson to show them what kind of views of history there have been and how they've changed over the years. His views are very prevalent in the hate-America first crowd. Matt Damon even thought he was being erudite by throwing Zinn's name into his movie, Good Will Hunting. Colleges across the country assign his book and there's a whole series of books by other authors to look at a "A People's History of..." more specific events from American History, It's a whole industry.

If you want a more balanced view of Howard Zinn's book, try this article from Dan Flynn.
. For readers who prefer their history to be an accurate retelling of the past rather than marching orders for the present, Zinn's writings disappoint. While every historian has his biases, Zinn makes no effort to overcome his. What is considered vice by most historians-politically motivated inaccuracies, long-winded rants, convenient omissions, substituting partisanship for objectivity-is transformed into virtue by Zinn.

"Objectivity is impossible," pop historian Howard Zinn once remarked, "and it is also undesirable. That is, if it were possible it would be undesirable, because if you have any kind of a social aim, if you think history should serve society in some way; should serve the progress of the human race; should serve justice in some way, then it requires that you make your selection on the basis of what you think will advance causes of humanity."
In fact, if you see your child being assigned Zinn's book, you could print out Flynn's essay and go in and meet with the teacher. At the very least, find out if a contrasting more conservative historian is being assigned. Most times, Zinn is used as the supplement to the textbook as if his views will enrich what they're getting. I think his influence on the teaching of American history has been pernicious and I wouldn't want my own daughters or students being assigned his reading for their first in depth exposure to American history.


How much simpler, fairer and more useful it would be to rely on SAT scores alone!

When Harvard, Princeton, and the University of Virginia announced the elimination of their early decision programs last month, it marked the most recent chapter in the growing frenzy surrounding the college admissions process (see, 9/27/06, "Early Admissions: On Its Way Out?").

It's a frenzy that has been starting earlier and lasting longer as competition continues to build. Today, families are increasingly turning to admissions consultants who specialize in counseling students on all aspects of choosing and getting into colleges. "It's insane what's happening. The anxiety about college admissions is ratcheted up every single year as it gets harder to get in. Parents are getting desperate. They're seeing this need to get real information from someone who knows," says Rachel Toor, an independent admissions consultant in Spokane, Wash.

Mark Sklarow, the executive director of the Independent Educational Consultants Assn. (IECA), a nonprofit association for experienced consultants, estimates that there about 3,000 firms in the admissions consulting business nationwide.

A NEW YOU? He says a few of them continue to feed the college frenzy instead of working to cure it, often broadcasting their staff's experience working on Ivy League admissions committees. It's not uncommon for these high-profile consultants to charge more than $30,000 for help on everything from choosing a student's summer activities to how to spin those experiences in an essay to help him or her stand out (see, 6/19/06, "What Price College Admission?").

But high-priced consultants who promise to repackage a kid for the Ivies are not the norm. In fact, the majority of consultants charge relatively moderate fees and are trying to help students by finding them the right fit in a school, not changing them or rewriting their essays.

NOT JUST ANYONE. Most IECA members charge closer to $3,000 than $30,000 and their businesses are booming. The number of consultants registered with the IECA, established in 1976, has doubled in the past two years, from 300 to 600, and the requests keep pouring in. "We now get 100 inquiries per month, but we accept a very small percentage," says Sklarow.

IECA accepts such a small percentage in order to encourage best practices in an industry that has the potential for abuse. To earn the nonprofit's seal of approval requires three years of experience, 100 campus visits, a master's degree in a related field, reference checks with three admissions directors, and a review of the Web site and marketing materials.

The association estimates 22% of the freshmen at private, four-year colleges this year-or between 95,000 and 100,000 students-have used some kind of consulting services. "Two years ago, it would have been less than half that," says Sklarow. "There's been incredible growth in our field," he says.

PLENTY OF DEMAND. Adding to the growth is the epidemic of overworked guidance counselors. According to research from the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC), an advocacy group for counselors, admissions officers, and private consultants, the average student-to-counselor ratio at U.S. high schools is 315:1. At public schools, counselors only spend an average of 28% of their time on college searches, applications, and paperwork, compared with 60% at private schools.

Despite the increased number of consultants vying for students, demand continues to more than keep pace. Independents often compete with large companies such as Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions, and they've been holding their own. "They're certainly not taking business from us, but there is enough demand out there in the market that we certainly welcome competition," says Brandon Jones, the director of college-prep programs for Kaplan.

Some of the demand comes from parents who are starting the admissions process earlier. "When I started doing this 11 years ago, it was most usual for parents to think about it in the spring of junior year; now I'm finding increasing numbers of sophomore parents and even occasionally freshman parents, who want guidance through the whole process," says Robin Abedon, a counselor in Wellington, Fla.

SLIDING SCALES. Many independent consultants are also dedicated to spreading their services to clients of all socioeconomic backgrounds. "Most of us are looking to assist families that wouldn't otherwise be able to afford it," says Virginia Vogel, a counselor in Washington, D.C. who works with several clients for free per year. Others will work out alternative pay strategies for families in need.

"Most small, independent consultants have a strong commitment to serving students, and that often includes sliding scales, occasional pro bono work, and a general acknowledgement that they'll help in any way they can," says David Hawkins, director of public policy at NACAC. Responses to last year's survey of IECA members showed that 92% had performed pro bono work.

Though they perform much the same role as a high school guidance counselor, independent consultants bill themselves as a more specialized expert who can simplify the process, decrease stress, and introduce students to schools they never even knew existed.

NO SLACKING OFF. "The guidance counselor is a student of students; they're someone who really knows kids well. My focus, as a student of colleges, is on learning about colleges. So, when you get to the front of the line, you have to ask if the person has the expertise that you need and want," says Steven Antonoff, an independent consultant based in Denver.

Antonoff says growth has been steady for the past 21 years his firm has been in business but recently he has been unable to meet all the demand. Tim Lee, a consultant with 24 years experience based in Sudbury, Mass., says his small firm has experienced the most growth in the past three to five years. They both expect more substantial growth as long as the admissions process keeps getting tougher.


Backdown: Australian university to put qualifications before Leftist bigotry

Adelaide University has been embarrassed into changing how it selects medical students and will focus more on brains rather than its institutional dislike of private education

The university will try to enrol more locals and reduce the emphasis on interviews, after being stung by the disclosure that interviewers had blackballed students from private schools and the children of doctors. Executive dean of health sciences Justin Beilby told The Australian the university would equally balance the Tertiary Entrance Ranking with interview results, placing a lesser importance on the university's medical admissions test results. "Previously the key determinant of getting into medicine was the interview and what we've done now is balance the Tertiary Entrance Ranking with the interview," Professor Beilby said. "The principal changes are not because of political pressure but on the review of the analysis. But you can't ignore the criticism."

Highly regarded Adelaide obstetrician Christopher Verco - whose daughter Lucy scored a TER of 99.3, but was rejected after her interview - said it was "gratifying" the university had listened to repeated concerns. "They have taken note of the concerns expressed by a large number of the public and the profession and one hopes that there will be processes in place toassess the equity and the utility of theassessment process," Dr Verco said.

The school will also reintroduce biology in the first year and add extra science subjects in the second and third years from 2008 as a result of the review. The university has received an extra 40 federally-funded places for the 2007 intake and the Rann Government last week announced it would fund five annual scholarships for local students. Country students will also be awarded bonus entry points.

Professor Beilby said the university would financially support the department to decrease its international student intake and enrol more local students. Australian Medical Association state president Christopher Cain supported extra weighting being placed on tertiary scores. "We still have some concerns on the UMAT as being a determinant in whether you get an interview," Dr Cain said. "If you don't perform well you don't get an interview."



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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