Thursday, October 26, 2006


The Bush administration is giving public schools wider latitude to teach boys and girls separately in what is considered the biggest change to coed classrooms in more than three decades.

After a two-year wait, the Education Department issued final rules Tuesday detailing how it will enforce the Title IX landmark anti-discrimination law: Under the change taking effect Nov. 24, local school leaders will have discretion to create same-sex classes for subjects such as math, a grade level or even an entire school.

Education officials initially proposed the rules in early 2004, pointing in part to some U.S. research suggesting better student achievement and fewer discipline problems in single-sex classes including math and foreign languages. After receiving 5,600 public comments, education officials said they were moving forward with the plan with some wording tweaks and assurances from Attorney General Alberto Gonzales that it was legally sound. Since current rules began in 1975, single-sex classes have been allowed only in limited cases, such as sex education courses or gym classes involving contact sports:

Under the new rules, schools could separate genders for a variety of subjects if they believed it offered educational benefits, such as promoting greater student comfort or higher attendance. In all cases, enrollment in a single-sex class would be voluntary.

If a school creates a single-sex class, it would not be required to offer the other gender its own similar class, but it would have to offer a coed version of it.

The rules also make it easier to create single-sex schools, as long as the district can demonstrate that it also provides coed schools with "substantially equal" benefits to the excluded sex.


British pupils 'cannot locate UK'

One in five British children cannot find the UK on a map of the world, a magazine's research suggests. National Geographic Kids said it also found fewer than two thirds of children were able to correctly locate the US. The magazine, which questioned more than 1,000 six to 14-year-olds, said it found several London children did not know they lived in England's capital.

Teachers' union the NASUWT said the findings were "nonsense" and did not reflect staff and pupils' hard work.

National Geographic Kids also discovered 86% of the children interviewed failed to identify Iraq and one in 10 could not name a single continent. Boys seemed to show a slightly better geographical knowledge than girls, with 65% able to locate a number of countries around the world compared with 63% of girls.

Scottish children appeared to be the most geographically aware with 67% able to point out the most countries, out of England, the US, France, China and Iraq, on a world map.

Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, said the findings were "rather frightening". "These results underline the need for education to concentrate on the essentials. "How are children going to be able to get as much out of their life if they fail to have an understanding of the shape of the world?"

The Department for Education and Skills said geography was a compulsory subject on the National Curriculum for five to 14-year-olds. A spokesman said all 14-year-olds should be taught to use atlases and globes, as well as learning about places and environments in the world.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: "The constant desire for groups to produce statistics to do down the English education system is quite appalling and does nothing to recognise the excellent work of children and staff."

The magazine carried out the study to mark its UK launch and highlight "gaps in children's geographical knowledge". Environmentalist David Bellamy said the world was still an undiscovered place for many children. "Making geography fun and exciting is so important because it makes children aware of the importance of caring for the environment and, by learning about the world, it helps bring other people's worlds and cultures closer to their own."


Bishop attacks British faith schools plan

Plans for new faith schools in England to admit up to 25% of pupils from other religions "must be resisted", the Archbishop of Birmingham has said. The most Rev Vincent Nichols described the plans as "insulting" and "divisive" and has urged the head teachers of Catholic schools to voice their fears.

The plans were introduced in an amendment to the Education and Inspections Bill last week. The government has said schools are in a position to prevent social division.

Education Secretary Alan Johnson met with representatives from the UK's major religious groups on Monday for a so-called "inclusion summit" to discuss the role faith schools can play in improving relations between the faiths. The Department for Education and Skills said the meeting had been productive and Mr Johnson had made it clear that the amendment would only apply to new faith schools. He also explained that where there is local opposition, a local authority will need the consent of the education secretary to approve a new faith school with fewer than 25% of non-faith admissions.

The Church of England has said its new schools will admit up to 25% of pupils from outside the faith - but said other religions should not be expected to offer the same commitment. But the amendment has met with opposition from Muslim, Jewish and Catholic groups.

Writing in the Telegraph newspaper, the archbishop said coercive measures by the government would not win co-operation and branded them "ill-thought out, unworkable and contradictory of empirical evidence". He said Catholic schools on average welcome 30% of pupils from other faiths or none, and they were likely to have better academic records and less likely to encounter bullying or racism. He added that the government appears to hold the view that, left to themselves, Catholic schools would be divisive. "Since the evidence suggests the opposite, I can only assume that this view rises from muddled thinking or prejudice," he wrote. He warned: "The introduction of 'admissions requirements' is a Trojan horse, bringing into Catholic schools those who may not only reject its central vision but soon seek to oppose it." The way forward, he said, was a "mutually respectful co-operation" between faith groups and authorities. But this amendment, he warned "seems to signal an alternative and deeply divisive step. It has to be resisted."

Last week, he wrote to the head teachers of 2,075 secondary and primary Roman Catholic schools urging them to write to their MPs to voice their concerns. He has also called for talks between the government and the Catholic church.

Rabbi James Kennard, head teacher at King Solomon High School in Ilford, Essex, shared his view, saying Jewish schools had not been able to explain their position. In an interview with the Guardian newspaper, he said: "The Jewish school is the traditional institution where a youngster's Jewish identity is shaped, through an all-embracing ethos that runs alongside, and integrates with, the educational requirements of the country where Jews are living. "The Jewish community is small, needs to maintain its distinct identity and ethos and has no interest in spreading its message to others." He added that when people have a good grounding in their religion, they tend to be able to participate in wider society.

The Department for Education said it welcomed the steps faith groups have already taken to improve community cohesion and said they were talking to them about how to build on this



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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