Saturday, January 07, 2006


An affirmative action appointment shows its merit: A law professor who talks about the law while having not the faintest clue about it

Yesterday radio host Hugh Hewitt interviewed Rosa Brooks, a professor who teaches constitutional law at the University of Virginia Law School and columnist for the Los Angeles Times, who has raised the idea of impeaching President Bush for spying on al Qaeda terrorists' phone conversations with Americans. has a transcript:

Brooks: I think it seems to me that the NSA surveillance program on its face violates the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and--

Hewitt: Now, you have read United States v. United States District Court, right?

Brooks: Uh, Hugh, you're pushing me here.

Hewitt: It's--

Brooks: Refresh my memory.

Hewitt: United States v. United States District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, in which the United States Supreme Court specifically says, Justice Powell writing, we are not going to consider whether or not the president can, in fact, conduct surveillance of this sort.

Brooks: What sort?

Hewitt: Foreign agents communicating with their agents in the United States, even if those latter are citizens.

Brooks: OK.

Hewitt: So they specifically reserved the question to one side, and the foreign intelligence surveillance court appeals board, in In Re Sealed Case No. 2 [link in PDF], also said no, the president has the authority to do this. So given that the federal authority--

Brooks: Well, you know, Hugh, I mean, you've got the case law at your fingertips, and I'm not going to challenge you on it, because I don't.

Post lifted from Taranto

Students Identified as Being of 'Unknown' Race Tend to Be White, Study Finds

(From The Chronicle of Higher Education)

More students are declining to reveal their racial or ethnic identity on their college applications, but, as it turns out, many of those students are white, according to a report released on Wednesday. The number of students whose racial or ethnic classification was reported by their colleges as "unknown" nearly doubled from 1991 to 2001.

The report, "'Unknown' Students on College Campuses: An Exploratory Analysis," was issued by the James Irvine Foundation, a nonprofit group in San Francisco. The study on which the report was based is part of the organization's Campus Diversity Initiative, an effort to help California's underrepresented students succeed in college.

Comment from The Corner

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports today that a new study has concluded that many students who refuse to check a racial box on their admissions forms are (horrors!) white. Here's my favorite paragraph in the story: "The study's main conclusion is that colleges need to collect more-precise data on the racial and ethnic backgrounds of their students. Otherwise, some students stand to gain an unfair advantage by being considered minority students in the admissions process." Now, let's see. "More-precise data"-as in, perhaps, DNA tests, birth certificates, that sort of thing? Great idea! And I love that "unfair advantage"-I mean, we can't let schools get away with mistakenly awarding a racial preference to which a student isn't properly entitled, now can we?


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


Friday, January 06, 2006


Yes, various nonwhite immigrant groups continue to find a place in American society and to do well, but there remains, in more than a few instances, a wide gap--in income and cultural identity--between America's white and black citizens. Indeed, the U.S. is the only prosperous democracy to have a large, racially distinct underclass where unemployment, criminality and fatherless families are too often the norm.

Why this is so and what we are to do about it is the principal theme of John McWhorter's splendid "Winning the Race." In particular, Mr. McWhorter examines why the optimism that defined the years of the civil-rights movement has been replaced by defeatism and alienation in the black community--even as America's racial attitudes and policies have changed so dramatically for the better.

Mr. McWhorter's answers are anything but orthodox, and little wonder: He is routinely classified--and, in certain circles, dismissed--as a "black conservative." But his views are not easily labeled. He advocates some drug decriminalization, for instance, and favors affirmative action for those in economic need (but not for middle-class children or the children of immigrants). He didn't even vote for George W. Bush. Still, he argues compellingly that the widely accepted ideas that try to explain the persistence of racial inequality--leftist views, for the most part--stand in the way of black progress.

Like others, Mr. McWhorter blames open-ended welfare and the fashions of the white counterculture--especially its glorification of drug use--for damaging precisely the generation of blacks that should have reaped the benefits of civil-rights change. But he also blames an academic establishment and intellectual elite that seem unwilling to judge the dynamics of black life by the standards that it applies to other groups.

A former professor of linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley (he is now a fellow at the Manhattan Institute), Mr. McWhorter has a keen eye for the foibles of social scientists--that is, for the way they maneuver their methodology to find the big idea (the "golden key") that will explain black poverty. He inspects each big idea in turn--deindustrialization, housing segregation, slum clearance, drug supply, high-rise public housing--and finds it less than compelling. Indeed, he finds that such big ideas only help to induce a sense of impotence that impedes black America's rise from poverty.

Thus he counsels against "the plangent image of young black men 'spatially mismatched' from factories that move away." To accept such an image as an explanation "is to agree that the only humans in history incapable of adapting to changing employment conditions were descendants of African slaves in the United States." Of those who blame ghetto life on the flight of middle-class blacks to the suburbs, he asks: "What other group of poor people besides black Americans has been depicted as going to hell because middle-class ones were not around?" Many scholars, he notes, suggest that "there is something sinister and small about the millions of us who moved away from the ghetto." But their logic suggests, in turn, "a kind of permanent racial balkanization." He is impatient with those who contend that the crack epidemic is responsible for the black community's plight, as if "poor blacks are so vulnerable, so devoid of any human agency, that all one has to do is wave a crack pipe in front of them and about every second one of them will leap at it like a dog grabbing a pork chop."

And then there is hip-hop. Mr. McWhorter is clearly familiar with the whole hip-hop scene and even values some of its music. But he insists that, on the whole, hip-hop, or rap, neither conveys the reality of ghetto life nor points young blacks in the right direction. Meanwhile, intellectual apologists "tie themselves up in knots trying to criticize and yet excuse rap's sexism in the same sentence." The plain fact is that rap is "the most overtly and consistently misogynistic music ever produced in human history."

Clearly Mr. McWhorter is concerned less with public policy than with black America's psychological readiness to join the competitive mainstream. Like welfare, he argues, the outlook of the underclass requires reform. But such reform will not occur as long as a set of corrosive beliefs holds sway advising blacks that the system is rigged against them and encouraging in them "therapeutic alienation"--an exaggerated sense of victimhood. There is consolation in such beliefs, Mr. McWhorter concedes, but they are no way to win the race.

More here

Pre-school: The usual Leftist policy of the bludgeon

Parents should be forced to send their children to pre-school or face the loss of their family tax benefit payments, according to Labor MP Craig Emerson. Family payments were meant to compensate parents for the extra costs of raising children, the federal Labor backbencher said yesterday, but the money was being handed out to families with no obligation to spend it on the children.

"It is now generally accepted that early childhood development is crucial in determining the life chances of young people," he told The Australian. "Access to a pre-school education is vital in ensuring children are ready to learn from day one at school." It made no sense that some payments carried obligations while others did not, Dr Emerson said. The federal Government had so far tackled only reciprocal arrangements for Aborigines, parents on unemployment benefits and those getting single-parent payments. "Why should black and white families in urban areas be excused from any reciprocal obligation?" he said. "Family payments are passive welfare. If you have dependent children you receive family payments directly into your bank account, no questions asked."

The comments follow demands by Liberal backbenchers who claim some state-run pre-schools are so poor parents are opting for long daycare instead. But the backbenchers say long daycare fails to provide children with the basic literacy skills needed for primary school.

Dr Emerson's plan is controversial because politicians from both sides of politics have treated family tax benefit payments as obligation-free handouts from the federal Government. But Dr Emerson said it was odd mutual obligation did not apply to family payments. "It's a large area of payment - it's $14billion that's spent on family payments, essentially no questions asked." Under his scheme, pre-schools would be available for all children so parents could fulfil their side of the bargain. He said parents whose children were regularly absent from school should be interviewed by Centrelink and threatened with having payments withheld. Dr Emerson said his plan was different to the Government's mutual obligation schemes - which have so far targeted only Aboriginal families - because parents would be offered support, not just punishment. "Commonwealth and state support staff would be made available to assist with transport, remedial learning, positive parenting and counselling," he said. [More bureaucracy! Hooray!] "Opponents of proposals like this argue for the rights of the parents," he said. "But parents do not have the right to neglect and abuse their children. Defenceless children have rights, and we must protect them."



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


Thursday, January 05, 2006

Teachers' Pets: The NEA gave $65 million in its members' dues to left-liberal groups last year

If we told you that an organization gave away more than $65 million last year to Jesse Jackson's Rainbow PUSH Coalition, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Amnesty International, AIDS Walk Washington and dozens of other such advocacy groups, you'd probably assume we were describing a liberal philanthropy. In fact, those expenditures have all turned up on the financial disclosure report of the National Education Association, the country's largest teachers union.

Under new federal rules pushed through by Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, large unions must now disclose in much more detail how they spend members' dues money. Big Labor fought hard (if unsuccessfully) against the new accountability standards, and even a cursory glance at the NEA's recent filings--the first under the new rules--helps explain why. They expose the union as a honey pot for left-wing political causes that have nothing to do with teachers, much less students.

We already knew that the NEA's top brass lives large. Reg Weaver, the union's president, makes $439,000 a year. The NEA has a $58 million payroll for just over 600 employees, more than half of whom draw six-figure salaries. Last year the average teacher made only $48,000, so it seems you're better off working as a union rep than in the classroom.

Many of the organization's disbursements--$30,000 to the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, $122,000 to the Center for Teaching Quality--at least target groups that ostensibly have a direct educational mission. But many others are a stretch, to say the least. The NEA gave $15,000 to the Human Rights Campaign, which lobbies for "lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equal rights." The National Women's Law Center, whose Web site currently features a "pocket guide" to opposing Supreme Court nominee Sam Alito, received $5,000. And something called the Fund to Protect Social Security got $400,000, presumably to defeat personal investment accounts.

The new disclosure rules mark the first revisions since 1959 and took effect this year. "What wasn't clear before is how much of a part the teachers unions play in the wider liberal movement and the Democratic Party," says Mike Antonucci of the Education Intelligence Agency, a California-based watchdog group. "They're like some philanthropic organization that passes out grant money to interest groups."

There's been a lot in the news recently about published opinion that parallels donor politics. Well, last year the NEA gave $45,000 to the Economic Policy Institute, which regularly issues reports that claim education is underfunded and teachers are underpaid. The partisans at People for the American Way got a $51,000 NEA contribution; PFAW happens to be vehemently anti-voucher.

The extent to which the NEA sends money to states for political agitation is also revealing. For example, Protect Our Public Schools, an anti-charter-school group backed by the NEA's Washington state affiliate, received $500,000 toward its efforts to block school choice for underprivileged children. (Never mind that charter schools are public schools.) And the Floridians for All Committee, which focuses on "the construction of a permanent progressive infrastructure that will help redirect Florida politics in a more progressive, Democratic direction," received a $249,000 donation from NEA headquarters.

When George Soros does this sort of thing, at least he's spending his own money. The NEA is spending the mandatory dues paid by members who are told their money will be used to gain better wages, benefits and working conditions. According to the latest filing, member dues accounted for $295 million of the NEA's $341 million in total receipts last year. But the union spent $25 million of that on "political activities and lobbying" and another $65.5 million on "contributions, gifts and grants" that seemed designed to further those hyper-liberal political goals.

The good news is that for the first time members can find out how their union chieftains did their political thinking for them, by going to, where the Labor Department has posted the details. Union officials claim that they favored such transparency all along, but the truth is they fought the new rules hard in both Congress and the courts. Originally, the AFL-CIO said detailed disclosures were too expensive, citing compliance costs in excess of $1 billion. The final bill turned out to be $54,000, or half of what the unions spent on litigation fighting the new requirements. When Secretary Chao refused to back down, the unions took her to court, and lost.

It's well understood that the NEA is an arm of the Democratic National Committee. (Or is it the other way around?) But we wonder if the union's rank-and-file stand in unity behind this laundry list of left-to-liberal recipients of money that comes out of their pockets.



“Fascists have no right to speak!” yelled a left-wing protestor, stomping onto the stage at the premiere of Evan Maloney’s new film, Brainwashing 201. It was a dramatic example of what Maloney’s picture is all about—the lack of fairness on college campuses, where liberal academics turn their classrooms into pulpits for political indoctrination, while conservatives “have no right to speak.” For those who haven’t been on college campuses recently, Maloney’s documentary is eye opening. Non-left academics are harassed for their political views. Students who show a conservative bent are threatened. Military recruiters are driven off campus.

The movie builds on Maloney’s earlier work, Brainwashing 101, released in the fall of 2004. Maloney, who edits his films himself, shows a growing command of the medium, and this second effort is tighter and livelier than the first. Several times, police escort Maloney and Stuart Browning (who holds the unusual dual credits of film financier and cameraman) away from campuses. Even at Maloney’s alma mater, Bucknell, the head of campus security tries to arrest him in front of an audience. “I can understand why these guys want to shut me up. People who are abusing power usually don’t want cameras around. Fair enough. But students and professors are being punished simply because of their ideas, and somebody has to tell their story,” Maloney states in the film.

The scenes featuring Laura and Roger Freberg are a cogent demonstration of this abuse. Laura teaches psychology at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. Her husband owns a business in town and is an active Republican. During the recall election of Governor Gray Davis in 2003, people started to notice that Laura and Roger shared the same last name. “People would come into my office, close the door and say, ‘Please tell us this is a mixed marriage,’” Laura says on camera. “One colleague really lost his temper and said ‘We never would have hired you if we knew you were a Republican.’” “No one in the administration of Cal Poly is a Republican,” Roger states. “No one in Laura’s department is a Republican. I’m unaware of anyone in the school of liberal arts who is a Republican except for Laura.”

Someone attempted to break into their house, swastikas were burnt into their lawn, and their children were threatened, according to Roger. Laura suffered daily harassment at work and endured countless meetings with her dean and others to “talk about her problem.” Laura and Roger finally went to federal court and won. Afterwards, students told her they always knew she was a Republican. At first she was surprised: All she talked about were neurons. They explained: “It’s because of what you don’t say.” Accustomed to hearing liberal politics in every classroom, they knew that when a teacher didn’t discuss current events it could mean only one thing—that he or she was conservative.

Indeed, students in the film express amazement at how left-wing academics manage to wedge politics into nearly every subject. “It’s pretty inventive,” says one. “In geography class I learned that gender is socially constructed,” illustrates another. “I really don’t know why issues such as global warming, globalization, and militarism are brought up in a class in German literature,” puzzles a third student.

A university setting should be about learning, suggests Maloney. And students “are learning. They’re learning to keep their mouths shut if they don’t agree with their professors.” Professors have power over their charges, and one recent study showed that nearly a third of students fear they’ll receive a bad grade if they don’t agree with their professors’ political and social positions. Sometimes this power becomes extreme. The film interviews a Kuwaiti student who survived the August 1990 invasion by Iraq. He attended California’s Foothill College and wrote a pro-American essay praising the U.S. Constitution. A political science professor called him into his office and asked him to explain himself. He accused the student of being biased because he was Kuwaiti, threatened his visa status, and ordered him to receive regular psychological counseling.

There are also many humorous moments in the film, as when Maloney goes in search of the “Men’s Center” on various campuses. He appears at each college’s “Women’s Center” and asks for directions to their counterpart. “We figured it was like the men’s room and the women’s room. The bathrooms are right next to each other,” he states. While seemingly laughable, Maloney points out that under the federal Title IX rules that have been used to push a feminist agenda at universities, not having a “Men’s Center” might actually be illegal.

Campuses are supposed to be marketplaces of ideas where issues stand and fall on their merits. Brainwashing 201 demonstrates effectively that this is now far from the case.



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


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

How the NEA spends its money

Post lifted from The Locker Room

One of the few reforms that I can think of that actually makes things better is the recent reform of the reporting requirements for labor unions. Secretary of Labor Chao has succeeded in amending the forms on which unions have to declare how they spent their funds. Whereas union political spending used to be mostly a matter of guesswork, now there are some hard numbers.

This editorial in today's Wall Street Journal discusses the National Education Association's disclosure; to no one's surprise, a lot of money goes to support NEA politicking. What is somewhat surprising, however, is the fact that it also doles out money to a host of leftist policy groups whose missions have nothing to do with education.

Big Labor tried frantically to block Secretary Chao's initiative, claiming that compliance would be too costly. The real reason should be obvious: union members might not be happy about having to pay dues to help support all sorts of leftist groups. In fact, they can't legally be forced to pay for things that are not germane to collective bargaining -- that's what the Supreme Court held in the Beck case. With the truth about union spending now exposed to sunlight, I'd expect to see an increase in the number of workers who want to avail themselves of their "Beck" rights.
Inquiry backs teachers' fears about nutty new methods

Teachers critical of a radical overhaul of education in Western Australia are suffering "substantial anxiety" and their concerns are valid, a parliamentary inquiry has found. A committee examining the controversial rollout of outcomes-based education - a system in which no student can fail and all subjects are equal - in Years 11 and 12 has recommended delaying a range of courses unless the curriculum council can produce subject information by early next year. "The concerns of teachers and schools remain valid and there needs to be recognition that both the stress levels of teachers and the educational needs of students will not be served by courses of study being commenced with insufficient resources," the committee reported yesterday.

More than 100 of the 182 submissions received by the committee, chaired by Labor MP Tom Stephens, addressed the issue of readiness. "The anxiety felt by some teachers is exacerbated by a perception that the new curriculum is being developed, at least in part, on the run," the report says.

The curriculum for outcomes-based English and engineering studies has been completed and will be introduced to Year 11 next year. Curriculum council acting chief Greg Robson said the 50 outcome-based courses - which include dance, food science and technology, and philosophy and ethics - were being developed in phases, which might give the wrong impression. "It's a well-planned, well-considered process - it's just that it's phased over time," he said. "People may draw from this that courses are being developed on the run, but the reality is there's been a long and extensive development process for all the courses." Mr Robson said the curriculum council could meet the deadlines and was confident all the courses would be implemented by 2009. However, if there were any glitches in the preparation of support material for teachers, the council would recommend a delay.

People Lobbying Against Teaching Outcomes spokesman Greg Williams, a maths teacher, said there was not "a snowball's chance in hell" the council would have the material ready. Melbourne education consultant Kevin Donnelly said the report was almost an admission that teachers had been 100per cent right in their criticism. "I find it quite bizarre they concluded that, but they are not going to put it back, they are going to keep going," he said. Outcomes-based education "is fundamentally flawed and misconceived, in my opinion".



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


Tuesday, January 03, 2006


But rising demand pushes up prices too, of course. New schools are not set up overnight in today's heavily regulated circumstances

Parents at Sydney's richest schools are struggling to keep pace with the cost of a year's education, which in one case has rocketed to almost $22,000 after another fee increase of more than double the inflation rate. A Herald survey of 44 of the state's elite secondary schools has revealed fee rises as high as 15.5 per cent and an average of 6.5 per cent. The inflation rate to September was 3 per cent. It is the fifth year in a row that private schools have lifted their fees by at least twice the inflation index, a move principals say is required to account for the increase of about 5 per cent in teachers' salaries next year and the cost of complying with insurance and workplace laws. The most expensive education in NSW and possibly Australia is provided by Shore, which charges $21,804 for year 11. It was the first school to top $20,000 last year and has lifted its fees by a further 5.8 per cent....

Murray Williams, whose son is going into year 11 at SCECGS Redlands at a cost of $19,800, said parents were tired of the "same massive fee rises and bullshit excuses. "The problem for people like me is that we got the kids into schools when it was reasonably affordable, but with the compounding rises it's now very expensive - and you can't just drop your kids out a year from the HSC. "It used to be that we slaved to pay off the mortgage, but the fact is that mortgage repayments today are truly petty cash alongside this stuff. With two kids costing $20,000 each and a third at $18,000 - all after tax - plus trips, books, uniforms, sports, you have to earn $140,000 before getting out of bed."

Several parents said they were concerned about meeting the cost of spiralling fees in coming years. The director of the Association of Independent Schools of NSW, Geoff Newcombe, defended the 6.5 per cent increase, saying "the cost of education, like health, is always much higher than inflation - to make a comparison between them is meaningless". Schools were spending 70 per cent of their budgets on teachers' salaries, "which keep going up and up", Dr Newcombe said. "[Schools are] so conscious of complying with occupational health and safety legislation, [NSW] Board of Studies requirements - they're actually employing people to monitor compliance."

But a teacher at one of the most expensive schools confided: "Principals say they have to lift fees to pay us, but the money mostly goes into their $300,000-plus pay packets, not to mention the corporate jobs they keep creating: business managers, marketing directors - all six-figure salaries."....

In Britain, where independent school fees have risen by more than three times the rate of inflation over the past 20 years, the top 50 schools have recently been found guilty of price-fixing. The chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Graeme Samuel, said although he had received no allegations of impropriety, "if there was a perception that prices were rising at a regular rate across the board every year, we'd certainly be interested to know why".

More here

High-school Lesson one: Finish Year 12 to get work

Young people who leave school without finishing Year 12 are twice as likely to be unemployed after a year as those who complete secondary school. And the trend gets worse a year further on, a study of a group of 3500 young Victorians in post-school years has found. The University of Melbourne survey was released yesterday by Victorian Education Minister Lynne Kosky, who urged students to stay at school. "Students who have completed 13 years of school are more likely to have work, spent less time looking for work and work more hours," she said. "Students thinking of leaving school without any education or training options should think again, go back to school next year or start a TAFE course."

While 10 per cent of students who completed Year 12 were unable to find work or study a year out from school, the figure was double for those who left after Years 10 or 11. Of those still trying to find work or education a year later, 85per cent of the group who finished Year 12 entered the workforce or full-time study, but just 59 per cent of the early leavers had the same success.

The survey found schools in poorer regions had far higher proportions of students leaving without finishing Year 12. More than 30 per cent of students in the poorest regions quit school early, while just 15per cent did so in the wealthiest regions. About two-thirds of all students who left school early were male.

Friends Sam Kerbage, Liam Oliphant and Luke Stanza have finished Year 12 and believe it is the best option for the long term, but say they have friends who quit school early and found solid work that pays well. Sam, 19, left school in 2003 and started a computer science course, but deferred it to make some money before embarking on a career in hospitality. "People who drop out of school early, sometimes they achieve even more than other people do," he said.



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


Monday, January 02, 2006

War on Charters

Post lifted from Eric Kendall

The war on charter schools continues apace, prosecuted by a coalition of teachers unions and other special interests tied to the public education establishment. The latest battle in this protracted struggle is taking place right now in front of the Ohio Supreme Court in Columbus, which is currently hearing arguments in a lawsuit filed in 2001challenging the constitutionality of charter schools as presently organized and funded here. A central issue, according to an account in today's Cleveland Plain Dealer:

The coalition contends the alternate system of publicly funded charter schools violates the constitutional requirement of a common system of schools because they are privately run - often by for-profit firms - and lack the oversight of an elected school board.

For your edification, here is what I take to be the relevant passage of the Constitution of the State of Ohio (Article 6, Section 2):

Paragraph 2: Schools funds

The General Assembly shall make such provisions, by taxation, or otherwise, as, with the income arising from the school trust fund, will secure a thorough and efficient system of common schools throughout the state; but no religious or other sect, or sects, shall ever have any exclusive right to, or control of, any part of the school funds of this state

How should one define "a thorough and efficient system of common schools throughout the state" exactly? I can only presume that the current system of government-run primary and secondary schools, administered by local school districts and funded, at least in part, by the state, is deemed to fulfill this constitutional requirement. Indeed, the anti-charter crowd seems to want the constitutional definition of "common schools" strictly limited to institutions of that particular mold. But why? From the Plain Dealer:

Carney and Chad Readler, a lawyer representing several charter schools, countered that charter schools are public schools in every sense of the word:

They are publicly funded and nonsectarian, they don't charge tuition, they don't discriminate, their teachers are state-certified and they administer state-required tests.

There is certainly nothing in the text of the Constitution of the State of Ohio itself that necessitates such a narrow definition of "common schools" as that which the anti-charter forces prefer. The fact of the matter is that the coalition of interests who brought this suit simply do not want their de facto monopoly over primary and secondary education challenged or curtailed in any way. This suit isn't about education; it's about power and privilege.


Bourgeois values produce a good environment for bourgeois kids?

San Francisco Unified is governed by an elected Board of Education and, like all other public school districts in California, reports to the state Department of Education and receives the bulk of its funding from the state. The mayor has no official role in the public schools, with the exception of the ability to appoint replacements for school board members who leave office before their terms end. That said, mayors depend on the reputation of public schools to lure families and businesses to the city.

One thing that's crystal clear: San Francisco's scores on the state's Academic Performance Index have steadily improved. This year, the district posted a 745 on a scale of 200 to 1,000 with 800 considered excellent. Other scores include 643 in Fresno, 649 in Los Angeles, 688 in Sacramento, 713 in Long Beach and 726 in San Diego.

All ethnic groups in San Francisco are improving, though African American students in particular continue to struggle greatly, posting the worst scores of any African Americans in the state. Their most recent scores in San Francisco are 576, compared to 636 for Latinos, 832 for Asians and 833 for whites.

For that reason, school board President Eric Mar, who has clashed with Ackerman and by extension Newsom, said the city's test scores aren't necessarily worth bragging about for Newsom or anybody else. "It strikes me that he's listened to the public relations department of the school district," Mar said. "If he looked a lot more closely, he would see that there are many challenges, especially for low-income and African American students in the district that we have to address."

More here


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


Sunday, January 01, 2006


One of the nation's largest health care universities, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, agreed on Thursday to give a federal monitor sweeping oversight of its finances and management to avoid criminal prosecution for fraud. The United States attorney for New Jersey, Christopher J. Christie, said his investigation found that the university had defrauded the federal and state governments of at least $4.9 million in a scheme that involved the "purposeful overbilling of Medicaid." Senior administrators at the university were aware of the fraudulent billing for years, he said, yet allowed it to continue until November 2004.

The university's trustees voted to accept the federal monitor on Thursday after Mr. Christie warned them last week that he had enough evidence to prosecute the university. Such a move would have made it ineligible to receive federal money and would have effectively shut it down.

Patients made more than two million visits to the New Jersey university's health care facilities and faculty members' practices around the state last year, according to the university.

The agreement, which Justice Department officials say is the first instance of a federal monitor's being installed to oversee a public university, does not prevent Mr. Christie from prosecuting university officials responsible for the double-billing or other misdeeds, and he warned the trustees last week that indictments were expected, people who were in the meeting said. The university's action comes as Mr. Christie continues to investigate allegations of widespread cronyism and insider deals that have exposed the institution's political underside.

Federal prosecutors are investigating allegations that university officials padded the payroll with patronage employees, curried favor by making contributions to elected officials and politically connected charities, doled out hundreds of millions of dollars in no-bid contracts, some for which no work appears to have been done, and awarded huge salaries and bonuses to top officials.

Mr. Christie said that he hoped the agreement would help President John J. Petillo overhaul the university's management and fiscal practices, and restore the image of an institution that is now widely viewed as a monument to New Jersey's nefarious political culture. But he acknowledged that the scope and severity of the university's questionable practices meant that the investigation was likely to intensify in the coming months. Dr. Petillo has said he welcomes the monitor so the institution can move forward. And Mr. Christie said he intended to help the university turn the page on its scandal. "But it's a big page, so it's going to take a while," he said.

The agreement, which went into effect immediately on Thursday, is likely to cause little disruption to the patients treated at the university's hospitals, or to its 4,500 students or 11,000 full-time faculty and staff members. In a meeting with more than 100 faculty members and managers on Wednesday, Mr. Christie assured them that the monitor would oversee only the institution's finances and leave the academic and medical decisions in the hands of educators and doctors.

But the move to install a federal monitor has already bought changes: Last week, two days after Mr. Christie confronted the board of trustees, the university's chief counsel and two compliance officers were pressured to resign. When he begins his duties as monitor next week, Herbert J. Stern, a former United States attorney, will have far-reaching influence to shape the way the university conducts business. He will have access to financial documents, background information about vendors and companies that bid for university contracts, and the power to make recommendations to the board regarding the hiring or firing of senior management.

But his most powerful tool will be the shadow of the United States attorney, who could move forward with the criminal complaint he filed in federal district court on Thursday if the university balks at overhauling its operations. Mr. Stern will send a written assessment of the institution's progress to Mr. Christie every three months. One crucial appointment will be to fill a new position of chief compliance officer, which the university agreed to create as part of its agreement with prosecutors.

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No one has to define bullying forAndy Giron. The Metro fifth-grader said he and nearly everyone he knows at Bailey Middle School have seen bullying, endured it or done it themselves. "It's when somebody with more power hurts somebody with less power over and over again, purposefully," said Andy, 11, who can read about Metro's policy against intimidation and bullying in the system's 2005-06 student handbook. "They enjoy it."

Andy, his parents and teachers and those in many area school districts have a guide if they need it, but school districts in Sumner and Maury counties are tinkering with language in their anti-bullying policies this week. They are scrambling to meet a state-imposed deadline of Jan. 1. A state law introduced by state Sen. Diane Black, R-Hendersonville, passed earlier this year and pushes systems to improve school safety by defining "bullying" and stepping up efforts to combat it and give students, staff and parents clear information about how to report it.

A spot check of Metro and 12 surrounding districts shows that nearly all have already revised their existing policies or adopted new ones in order to comply with the rule. "It's always been intimidation to us. It's something that we've always been sensitive to, whether it's called by that name, bullying, or not," said Steve Doremus, spokesman for Sumner County schools, which weaved anti-bullying language into an existing policy. "The language of the new legislation means that we'll have a specific label. It will definitely increase awareness because some of the things that were bullying in the past will definitely be called that in the future."

Some systems provide specific examples of bullying in the revised policies, defining it narrowly or linking it broadly with activities ranging from sexual harassment to hazing and intimidation. Metro, for example, defines bullying as "conduct such as drawing inappropriate, unwelcome or cruel cartoons or caricatures, making cruel or inappropriate jokes, or any conduct that could be considered verbal or physical abuse."

"It's horrible. They push you, push you around," said Jakkia Buchanan, 11, a sixth-grader at Bailey Middle, who added that schools need to punish bullies. "They make other people cry, fall down." Hani Mohamed, 14, an eighth-grader at Bailey, stays clear of bullies. "Some kids bully other kids to look good," she said. "I just don't really say anything. I just get out of their way."

As part of the new policies, each school is supposed to do a better job of letting students know whom to talk to — and what they can expect in terms of a response — if they report bullying. "Sometimes you're scared, like you can't really go tell a teacher," said Sarah Vaughn, a fifth-grader at Bailey, who has known people who were bullied. "You have to speak up to help others. If you were in that position, you'd want somebody to help you."

Students, too, recognize that words on paper won't stop bullies unless schools back them up with tougher action against students who intimidate others. "Most students, when they're in trouble — like they get suspended — they don't care because they don't care about their life. They're happy they're not in school," said Umeka Thomas, a seventh-grader at Bailey Middle. "You got to talk to them because they have low self-esteem."

Carol Snow, who recently started the peer mediation program at Bailey Middle School, talks to students about controlling their anger and trusting adults, but the students play a critical role in doing away with bullying in schools, she said. "A lot of it happens because they don't talk about it and it builds up. It's a serious issue," said Snow, a specialist with the Students Taking A Right Stand, or STARS, program. "I'm trying to teach the kids the difference between snitching and reporting. I tell them school is a safe place, adults are there to supervise you, and you need to report it until something is done."

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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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