Wednesday, October 04, 2006

More Anti-Christian bias

Last Friday, the University of Wisconsin at Madison notified the University of Wisconsin Roman Catholic Foundation that it would be denied recognition and student fee eligibility for the current school year. The reason? The Foundation allegedly does not meet the university’s requirements for “student leadership” (even though its student programs are run by students and its student fee awards are managed by students). The Foundation now joins the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Wisconsin-Superior(derecognized because its leaders must be Christian), the Knights of Columbus at Madison (derecognized because its members must be male Catholics), the Christian Legal Society (derecognized because its voting members and leaders must be Christians), and the Calvary Chapel, a Lutheran group (derecognized because of alleged lack of “student leadership” and its exclusively Lutheran membership), in the ranks of banished student organizations. Interestingly, the student leadership issue applied to Calvary Chapel in spite of the fact that students are a majority of its governing board.

In addition, the Alliance Defense Fund is receiving word from multiple sources that the university has a “hit list” that includes several other Christian groups and that university officials are calling and asking Christian members of those groups some quite intrusive questions about their faith practices. These actions — as egregious as they are on their own merits — are made even more outrageous by the fact that they come mere weeks after the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals (which governs Wisconsin) ruled that a university cannot use its religious nondiscrimination rules to prevent Christian organizations from limiting leadership and membership to Christians. It appears that the university is choosing to intentionally defy the law.

If an entire university system was defying controlling precedent to systematically eliminate African-American or Hispanic organizations from campus, there would not only be demonstrations in the streets but also hearings in the halls of Congress. But the university world supports systematic discrimination against religiously orthodox Christians (both Protestant and Catholic), and too many political leaders simply shrug at the violations of fundamental liberty committed by institutions that they fund and (allegedly) ultimately control. Individual lawsuits can address individual injustices, but faced with systematic abuse and universities that choose to ignore governing legal decisions, there may very well need to be a comprehensive legislative response. Should federal dollars subsidize religious persecution? Should the nation’s taxpayers continue to fund discrimination and exclusion? Our nation’s public universities belong to all of us — not just the radical, secular left.


Leftist educators care about "correctness", not knowledge

Is the campaign against political correctness in education and the destructive influence of critical literacy and postmodern theory on subjects such as history, literature and science justified? In the past two years, The Australian has provided example after example of the way the cultural Left has taken the long march through the education system in its attempt to change society by overthrowing the traditional academic curriculum. As revealed early last year, Wayne Sawyer, then editor of the national English teachers journal English in Australia, argued the re-election of the Howard Government was evidence that teachers had failed to properly teach students how to think, since many young people, according to Sawyer, made the wrong decision by voting for John Howard.

The solution? Sawyer argued that English teachers must redouble their efforts to teach critical literacy, an approach to reading that analyses texts in terms of power relationships, especially through the politically correct prism of sex, ethnicity and class. As a result, instead of valuing the moral and aesthetic quality of literary greats, students are instructed, in the words of the Queensland curriculum, to deconstruct Wordsworth's poetry from an "eco-critical" perspective and Shakespeare's Macbeth in terms of "patriarchal concerns with order and gender".

With history, students are told that interpretation is subjective and relative to one's cultural and social position, and the subject is reduced to studying issues or themes. No wonder many students leave school with a fragmented and disjointed understanding, knowing more about feminism, peace studies and multi- culturalism than they do about the narrative associated with Australia's birth as a nation.

Even the hard sciences have fallen victim to postmodern claptrap. Advocates of outcomes-based education say that Western science cannot be privileged, as science - you guessed it - is a socio-cultural product, putting faith healing and astrology on the same footing as Euclidean geometry and Pythagoras's theorem.

Given the public's right to know and the billions invested in education, one may think the debate about curriculum is one we have to have. Not so, according to the cultural Left brigade controlling Australian education. Marxist-inspired Melbourne-based historian Stuart Macintyre describes The Australian's criticism of post- modernism and moral relativism as pernicious and recently attacked the newspaper for what he sees as its "denigration of teachers".

The Australian Association for the Teaching of English, in a book entitled "Only Connect. English Teaching, Schooling and Community" bemoans what is described as "one of the most motivated by a neo-conservative agenda and are interested only in creating a crisis where there is none. A recent edition of "English in Australia" contains a paper written by David Freesmith entitled The Politics of the English Curriculum: Ideology in the Campaign against Critical Literacy in The Australian. Freesmith defends Sawyer's argument that critical literacy equals a healthy democracy equals not voting for the Howard Government and condemns The Australian for promoting a cultural heritage view of literature, one that prefers Shakespeare to Australian Idol. He also condemns writers such as Luke Slattery and me and editorial comment in support of the literary canon as advancing arguments that are disguised as neutral when they are ideologically driven and based on a world view that is - the worst of sins - "conservative, Eurocentric and nationalistic".

Post Bali bombings and 9/11, one may be forgiven for thinking that being conservative, valuing continuity as well as change, being Eurocentric, valuing the Western tradition with its commitment to a free and open society, and being nationalistic would be seen as good things. Not so, according to the cultural Left.

The AATE and Macintyre are not alone in their attacks on conservative education warriors. Alan Reid, co-author of the proposed outcomes-based South Australian senior school certificate, argues that Brendan Nelson, when education minister, was guilty of creating a manufactured crisis. Geoff Masters. head of the Australian Council for Educational Research and given the job to carry out the Howard Government's review of Year 12 subjects across Australia, also says Australia's education system is at world's best standard. Not only is Masters an advocate of outcomes-based education, he also argues the crisis is manufactured.

So concerned are the educrats about the bad press education is getting that the Australian Curriculum Studies Association convened a conference earlier this year to address what was termed the "black media debate". Given those attending, bureaucrats from various boards of studies responsible for Australia's outcomes-based education and like-minded teacher academics and union officials, it should be no surprise that the consensus was that standards are high and all is well. At the conference, Masters' contribution was summarised as: "The simple point for Geoff Masters, in his response, was the need as a profession to ensure our voice is being heard in relation to curriculum issues; because at the moment it is not. Our voice is not heard above those who seek to manufacture a feeling of crisis in education."

The first stage in remedying a problem is to admit there is something wrong. Not only are the so-called experts in control of Australia's education system in denial but - given many are responsible for the mess - without further public scrutiny and action there appears little likelihood that anything will change.

The above article by Kevin Donnelly appeared in "The Australian" on 23 September, 2006

Top Australian research students can't write

Elite students at one of Australia's best science research institutes have rushed to sign up for remedial English classes. It follows concerns by world-leading researchers at the poor English contained in some Australian-born and educated students' PhD theses and articles for scientific journals. The problem is so bad that the Queensland Institute of Medical Research has hired a lecturer to teach remedial English to its PhD students. One QIMR professor has even declared that he had "students from countries like Portugal and Holland whose written English is better than that of our own students".

So popular is the course to be run next week by University of Queensland English lecturer Dr Joan Leach that it has had to be moved to a larger venue. The program includes two 90 minute lectures and individual clinic-style workshops will cover basic issues including grammar, clear expression and sentence construction. QIMR Director Professor Michael Good, who is one of the world's leading immunologists and malaria researchers, initiated the move after senior staff became concerned at the level of English expression students were displaying in their written work. The QIMR has 700 scientists and support staff and about 120 PhD candidates researching in fields including cancer, malaria, genetic influences on illness, asthma and epidemiology. As one of Australia's leading research institutes it selects only the best first-class honours science students. Only about one in 10 of those who approach QIMR are taken on.

Acting director Professor Adele Green said excellence in English was paramount for scientists, who published their findings in prestigious international journals and had to write long, detailed scientific papers which could run to tens of thousands of words. Professor Nicholas Martin, head of QIMR's Genetic Epidemiology Group has strongly supported Professor Good in establishing the program. He said PhD students who came to the institute from all over Australia after at least 16 years of formal education recognised the deficiencies in the way they had been taught English at school and were keen to improve their writing. "I regularly recruit European PhD students from countries like Portugal and Holland whose written English is better than that of our own students," Professor Martin said.

He said the aim of the course was not to cover the finer points of English but the basics, such as correct punctuation, including a verb in every sentence, varying sentence length and construction and clear expression. "At the clinics the researchers will be able to bring along their written work and discuss it with Dr Leach," he said.

Leading Queensland educationalist Professor Kenneth Wiltshire said remedial English for Australian-born and educated students was common at universities all over Australia and was one sign that school English programs were not catering for the top third of students. "There are not enough challenges and not enough literature and not enough emphasis on good writing," Professor Wiltshire said.

Education Minister Rod Welford said teachers should not neglect the importance of well-structured written communication, while at the same time striving to ensure students were competent with newer means of communication such as digital media and video



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"

Comments? Email me here. For times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site (viewable even in China!) here. My home page is here


No comments: