Saturday, January 14, 2006


The man who led the police inquiry into Paul Reeve, the sex offender allowed to work as a teacher, yesterday challenged claims by Education Department officials that the PE teacher had not meant to access child pornography. Detective Inspector Paul Cunningham, of Norfolk police, told colleagues that Mr Reeve admitted in 2003 paying to access pornographic images of children and did so with his own credit card. The disclosure contradicts the main reason given by officials at the Education Department for allowing Mr Reeve to return to work.

A police source close to Mr Cunningham said: "He [Mr Reeve] was cautioned for inciting the downloading of child porn using his credit card. The fact that the Department of Education (DfES) didn't seem able to find this out or check with Norfolk police is a matter of record, and very surprising."

A letter was sent to Mr Reeve in May last year on behalf of Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary. Now known to have been signed by Kim Howells, then a Minister of State at the DfES, the letter stated that he was "not unsuitable for working with children".

The letter, which made specific reference to Mr Reeve being on the sex offenders register, gave reasons for the decision, including that Mr Reeve denied "intentionally accessing child pornography".

More here

Pope Center/FIRE report — and UNC's audacity

Posted lifted from The Locker Room

Famous WWII Gen. George S. Patton's motto, which he took from Frederick the Great, was "L'audace, l'audace, toujours l'audace" (audacity, audacity, always audacity). It served his generalship and the Allied cause well in war. I think that motto's spirit serves the Academic Left in their cultural war against American principles, including the First Amendment's protections of religion and speech. They audaciously restrict liberty on many fronts and dare the students to sue them — knowing that in most cases, the students won't, because they're either ignorant of their rights or cowed by the prospect of fighting the university and all the hateful labels that the higher minds of the university culture will rain down on them.

Consider the culture at UNC-Chapel Hill over just the past few years:

* A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against UNC-CH’s attempt to prevent a Christian outreach fraternity from choosing its members based on agreement with the group's faith

* The Office of Civil Rights ruled that a UNC-CH lecturer racially and sexually harassed a student in her class

* The Carolina Women's Center excluded a student group from participating in its "Women's Week" events on the ideological grounds that the group was pro-life.

Those we know about because the affected students were audacious enough to cry foul. What of the ones who don't? Remember, only one of the many religious student groups that UNC-CH threatened with derecognition for not allowing nonbelievers to lead the groups actually complained. The rest ceded their liberty in the face of UNC-CH's aggression.

Australian students waking up to what a poor investment many university course are

Australia's volatile higher education sector has fallen victim to the strong job market, with increased competition for students already starting to hurt smaller universities. One regional university, Central Queensland, has lost $5million in funding after being forced to return 490 student places to the federal Government for redistribution, having failed to attract enough students.

University applications continue to fall - down 3per cent, or 6607, this year, on top of a 5per cent fall last year - and the increased competition for students is driving a wedge into the higher education sector. Western Australia, with its low unemployment rate, has suffered the biggest drop in applications - down 8per cent on top of a 10per cent fall last year. According to figures compiled by the Australian Vice-Chancellors Committee, and released yesterday, Victoria is down 5per cent, Tasmania 3per cent and NSW and the ACT down 1per cent. Strong population growth has enabled Queensland to defy the trend with an increase of 3per cent, albeit after a 7per cent drop last year.

Australian National University vice-chancellor Ian Chubb yesterday warned that the dramatic student shift could have unintended political consequences for the Howard Government as it pursues major reforms in the sector. "The whole equilibrium is very fragile as we see a decrease in the number of fee-paying places, a substantial shift in student preferences, some universities handing back places and apparently other institutions offering low entry," Professor Chubb said. "So there is a whole different dynamic than there was a few years ago."

The strong job market, a push towards trades and higher university fees have meant students are responding in ways that were not predicted in the Government's education blueprint. Softer demand has brought lower entry scores and seen many students opt for the big brand institutions at the expense of smaller regional campuses. Acting vice-chancellor of the University of Queensland, Michael Keniger, said students could now get into metropolitan universities with lower scores than in the past so they were moving to the city. "We find it harder to fill places on our regional campuses," he said....

Professor Keniger said students were being more selective about what they wanted to study and where, rather than using the first-year as a bedding-down period. "I think we're certainly starting to see a separation of institutions," he said. "And that's a risk or an advantage."

Last year the Government injected an extra 10,665 new places into universities, rising to 39,000 by 2009. But with fewer students applying to university, the increased supply has driven entry scores down, prompting Education Minister Brendan Nelson to warn last month that standards were "unacceptably low".

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


Friday, January 13, 2006


AT LEAST ten convicted sex offenders have been cleared by ministers to work with children over the past three years, The Times has learnt. Officials are now trawling through another five years of records to discover how many more teachers and school staff have been allowed to work with children despite being on the sex offenders register.

Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, admitted yesterday that "a small number" on the register were not on List 99, banning them from schools. But she refused to say how many cases there were or how long the situation had being going on. An intense search was under way last night to establish exactly how many teachers had avoided List 99, the government blacklist barring them from schools, since the sex offenders register was set up in 1997. The Education Secretary said that she took "full responsibility for all the decisions taken in the department on whether individuals should be placed on List 99". But she implied that other ministers had been at fault by announcing that she had taken charge "with immediate effect" of decisions on all List 99 cases involving people on the register.

Ms Kelly will come under intense pressure to disclose more information when she faces MPs at Education Questions in the Commons today. The Conservatives demanded last night that Ms Kelly "come clean" on the scale of the problem. Tony Blair sought to shore up his embattled Education Secretary by authorising a Downing Street spokesman to break with precedent and state that Ms Kelly would not lose her job in a reshuffle expected within days. Asked whether the Prime Minister retained full confidence in her, the spokesman said: "The answer is yes."

The controversy erupted after it emerged this week that Paul Reeve began a job as a PE teacher at the Hewett School in Norwich, Norfolk, last month. Mr Reeve was on the sex offenders register after accepting a police caution for accessing paedophile websites. He had disclosed his status as a sex offender to the school and presented a letter from the Safeguarding Children Unit of Department of Education, on behalf of the Secretary of State, dated 5 May 2005. It stated that Ms Kelly had ruled he should not be placed on List 99 and "was not unsuitable for working with children". The letter made specific reference to Mr Reeve being on sex offenders register and gave reasons for the decision, including: "In particular you deny intentionally accessing child pornography". The Secretary of State gave weight to "the advice from her senior medical officer who did not believe you presented a risk to children in your care". It added: "You did not fully appreciate the vulnerable position you put yourself in".

Mr Reeve was suspended by the school and later resigned after Norfolk police raised their concerns with the head. It had not been contacted by the DfES about Mr Reeve's case.

More here

Boston advanced classes see dip in "diversity" after racial favouritism dropped

The only surprise is that people are still surprised

Advanced classes like Maureen Costa's at Hennigan Elementary School, where students learn physics as early as fourth grade, have been the best ticket into Boston Latin and the city's other elite exam schools for years. But inside the accelerated classes at the Hennigan and other public schools in the city, the pipeline to exam schools is starting to look a lot less like Boston's public schools. Black and Hispanic students fill 44 percent of the 968 seats in the accelerated classes in the school district, though they make up more than three-quarters of Boston's students overall. White and Asian students now occupy 55 percent of the seats, though they are only 23 percent of the district. In particular, the number of black students, now at 239, in the classes has dropped by half since 1999, when the city stopped using racial quotas to assign students to the classes. [Surprise!]

The low enrollment of the school system's largest racial and ethnic groups in the classes renews debate about whether all children, particularly black students, are getting equal opportunities in the city's schools, an issue that has long rocked Boston. ''It's not a true picture of what the city is," said Costa, who presides over a majority white and Asian fourth-grade accelerated class in a school that is 85 percent black and Hispanic. ''You can't tell me that all black children aren't capable of achieving like white children. I wouldn't buy that."

Prior to 1999, black students filled about half of the seats in the advanced classes. Now, all students are admitted to the classes based only on their score on a national standardized test. School district leaders feared lawsuits if they kept racial quotas for the program; a 1998 federal court ruling banned racial quotas in exam school admissions. Since then, black and Hispanic enrollment at Boston Latin, the most competitive exam school, has declined. In an interview last week, Boston School Committee chairwoman Elizabeth Reilinger said she was unaware that the proportion of black students had dropped so dramatically in the advanced classes. She said she wants the school system to scrutinize the advanced-work program as a whole. ''The fact is, it merits review," she said. ''I certainly plan on asking for us to take a hard look at it in the spring."

The accelerated classes for students in grades 4 to 6, known as advanced work, began decades ago to prepare public school students to compete for spots at the exam schools with Boston residents who had gone to private schools. The city's public schools are now responsible for slightly more than half of the students entering Boston Latin, while the rest come from private or charter schools.

More here

Family Structure and Children's Educational Outcomes: "A comprehensive review of recent academic research shows that family structure - whether a child's parents are married, divorced, single, remarried, or cohabiting - is a significant influence on children's educational performance. Family structure affects preschool readiness. It affects educational achievement at the elementary, secondary, and college levels. Family structure influences these outcomes in part because family structure affects a range of child behaviors that can bear directly on educational success, such as school misbehavior, drug and alcohol consumption, sexual activity and teen pregnancy, and psychological distress. There is a solid research basis for the proposition that strengthening U.S. family structure - increasing the proportion of children growing up with their own, two married parents - would significantly improve the educational achievements of U.S. children".


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 12, 2006


A million children are being failed by schools eight years after Tony Blair pledged that education was the Government's priority, a National Audit Office study indicates today. The education of almost one in four children at secondary school is at risk of being substandard, the NAO cautions. Some poor schools are taking four years to improve, blighting pupils' entire secondary education. Other schools are being closed because they are failing to improve despite total investment of more than 1 billion pounds last year, the independent body says.

In another blow to Mr Blair, the Government's flagship health policy is described today as "ill-judged and confused" by a cross-party Commons committee. The Health Select Committee says that the NHS has been exposed to a "cycle of perpetual change" that does not help the delivery of healthcare. The damning report on schools comes as Mr Blair and Ruth Kelly, his embattled Education Secretary, try to face down a big Labour revolt over their plans for self-governing trust schools. The Prime Minister is being warned that his plans could not be pushed through the House of Commons without Conservative support.

The National Audit Office reveals that 23 per cent of secondary schools and at least 4 per cent of primaries are "poorly performing". Although just 577 schools are judged to be failing or have "serious weak- nesses" by Ofsted, the report highlights that the number of schools failing to provide a decent education are far higher. "We estimate that these 1,557 schools educate around 980,000 pupils, or 13 per cent of the school population," it says. Although most schools provided high standards of education, "a sizeable number of schools encounter problems that put children's education at risk, and some do not provide good value," it adds.

Ministers [taxpayers] spent 840 million pounds on improving struggling schools last year and 160 million pounds on replacing failing comprehensives with city academies. The NAO acknowledges that the number of failing schools halved between 1998 and 2005 and the number of low-achieving secondaries had fallen by 75 per cent.



Poor teaching, weak governance and a lack of outside support are highlighted today by the National Audit Office as key reasons for failure in more than 1,500 of England's schools. With more than a quarter of primary schools and a fifth of secondary schools lacking a permanent head, teachers' unions say that the entire education system is at risk unless the Government helps to raise their numbers and gives them greater backing. Head teachers are blaming a daunting workload and long hours for problems with recruitment and say that, with a quarter of all teachers retiring in the next decade, the system is at breaking point.

In today's report, the National Audit Office (NAO) authors say that heads are the "key to sustaining performance and improvement in any school", but they also acknowledge that the numbers of "appropriately experienced people" applying for the posts are falling.

Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, told The Times last week that plans in the education White Paper for schools to collaborate would ease the shortage. But according to the NAO the problem is more complex. "In some places, head teachers have been asked to act as `executive head teachers' and lead more than one school. This approach works in some cases and can help poorer schools by linking them with good schools, but it can also be risky given the challenges of school leadership and the importance of the personal presence of the leader."

Mick Brookes, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said that the lack of heads was one of the most important issues facing the Government, and that unless it was solved all other reforms would be virtually impossible. He said that teachers were put off by becoming heads for several reasons: the high risk of taking the blame for a failing school; the extra workload to allow colleagues time for planning, preparation and assessment; and the minimal differential paid to heads as opposed to senior teachers. "For another o12.50 a week, who wants to take up that extra stress and responsiblity?" he said.

More here

Teaching by the book: All texts are not equal; some are much better than others

Below is an editorial from Australia's national daily, "The Australian"

It's back to the books for Victorian students - literally - with the state's Curriculum and Assessment Authority acknowledging literature is central to the study of English. Anyone out of touch with fashions in education theory might be surprised that anyone actually has to say this. But for years the idea that great books are anything special in studying literature has been dismissed by education ideologues who have encouraged the study of all sorts of "texts" - including websites and movies - at the expense of classic novels, poetry and plays of the English-language canon. As a VCAA discussion paper suggested in 2004, all sorts of print and electronic texts were suited for study, "rather than privileging traditional notions of literature". The idiotic idea that literary works that have entertained and instructed readers for centuries should compete for curriculum space with Salam Pax, a pseudonymous Baghdad blogger, reached its nadir late last year when the VCAA decided to reduce Year 12 English to just one book, plus a movie. And to ensure students were not overworked, they defined "book" to include film scripts.

While this was a first-class reform for education theorists who dislike any suggestion Shakespeare is superior to The Sopranos, it failed politics 101. Teachers rebelled and, before parents had a chance to join them, Education Minister Lynne Kosky said there would be no dumbing-down of Year 12 on her watch. The VCAA duly interpreted Ms Kosky's text and backed down. And now it has stated the centrality of literary texts for all English study in a revised statement of doctrine for all teachers issued last month. There is still a great deal of guff about the role of texts, including posters and advertisements. But at least the document asserts that literature "is fundamental to the English curriculum" and "that literary texts are identified as a primary focus for the study of English". As a statement of the bleeding obvious, this is hard to beat. And it is hardly a ringing endorsement of the universal values that great works of literature can teach us about other ages, and our own. But at least it acknowledges the primacy of literature in the teaching of English in Victorian schools.

This is good news. The Australian has always condemned the lazy, cynical sophistry that says one text is as good as any other in setting subjects for school study. By reducing the numbers of novels, plays and poems that high school students have to study, the curriculum commissars in state education departments around the country do their charges a disservice. They deny them the chance to engage with complex, creative work. And by prescribing digital detritus from our own era, instead of ageless literature, they have only confirmed for students what the young always know - that nothing interesting happened before they arrived in the world. The VCAA statement is one short step on the long road back to an emphasis on the academic excellence that comes from studying demanding texts. But it is a start.



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 11, 2006

Supreme Court OKs funds in schools case

Lawyers for the American Jewish Congress had alleged that the federal AmeriCorps grant program crossed the line between church and state by paying $4,725 in financial aid to teachers in some of the nation's neediest secular and religious schools. They had urged the justices to use the case to reinforce "crucially important constitutional limits of government sponsorship and funding of religious indoctrination." The court declined, without comment.

Last year, the federal appeals court based in Washington ruled that the government was not using the grants to promote religion or as incentives for participants to teach religion. In doing so, the appeals court reversed a trial judge's finding that the program lacked clear criteria for selecting the groups to train the teachers and had failed to monitor properly whether the organizations used government money for religion-related expenses.

AmeriCorps grants are administered by 28 secular and six "faith-based" programs that train teachers, who are placed in public and private schools. All of the religious groups identified themselves with Christian faiths, and most were Roman Catholic. The groups receive $400 for each participant they train -- a small amount of money that the appellate court said fell far short of the actual training costs.

The numbers of teachers involved is also small, according to a government filing in the case. Of the 19,000 people who sought the grants in 2001 -- the latest data available -- 2,000 chose religious groups as their sponsors and only 565 worked in private schools. Teachers must fulfill a service requirement of 1,700 hours of secular instruction to receive federal money. They are allowed to teach religious subjects and participate in religious activities, such as leading students in prayer, while working at a religious school. But they cannot count the time spent in such religious activities toward the 1,700-hour requirement.

Chief Justice John Roberts did not participate in the case.


The 'Hitlerisation' of history teaching

The UK Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) has criticised the way history is taught to post-14 year olds. Secondary school teachers are urged to concentrate less on Nazi Germany. One suggested remedy to this 'Hitlerisation' of the subject is the study of 'many histories' into the syllabus. According to the QCA report, the education system 'undervalues the overall contribution of black and other minority ethnic peoples to Britain's past, and ignore their cultural, scientific and many other achievements'. For commentators concerned with fragmentation in Britain, though, such a move will weaken rather than strengthen social cohesion. Surely the solution is to develop 'a sense of British cultural identity' instead?

Meanwhile, the conservative think-tank Civitas has announced that historian David Starkey is set to 'do a Jamie Oliver' on history teaching. Where Oliver got schools to change what they dish up for lunch, Starkey is looking to 'reconnect children with the blood and battles of history that have, for a generation, been put aside in favour of social history and learning skills'.

As is so often the case with history, debates surrounding the discipline say more about the political and social climate than they do about the subject itself. Take, for instance, the focus on the Third Reich. From the 1970s to the early 1990s, the teaching of the Nazi period and its defeat by the Allies flattered the old British elites' sense of moral superiority. It became the last major event to make Britain appear, well, Great. In recent years, though, the 'Hitlerisation' of history has been motivated by a broader, and in many ways more worrying, angst about the human condition; today it's often about highlighting how innately barbaric human beings are. The QCA is right to criticise the preoccupation with the Nazi regime, but it's only the most obvious example of dwelling on the historical dark side.

For instance at GCSE and AS level, studying American modern history concentrates exclusively on racial oppression, gender inequality and political persecution. Any historical signposts of America's progressive qualities - its advanced productive capabilities, its liberal constitution, its superior culture - are either footnotes or ignored. The conservative historian and journalist Max Hastings doesn't question why there is a preoccupation with death and destruction in history. Instead he believes the discipline should 'broaden the agenda', that 'comparative studies of Hitler' be slotted alongside Pol Pot or Joseph Stalin. Leaving aside that postwar historical inquiry has often twinned Stalin alongside Hitler, school history books do put Stalin in the dock too, albeit for very contemporary reasons.

At GCSE level, history school students can study The Rise and Fall of Communism 1928-1991. While clumsy and ahistorical comparisons between 'totalitarian' Nazi Germany and 'totalitarian' Soviet society are still made, the Bolsheviks' great error was apparently their 'dogged belief' in modernisation. Up until recently, the 20 million people who died under Stalin served to discredit communism; now Stalin's industrialisation policies are recast as the dangers of trying to emulate Western modernisation - while the Industrial Revolution itself is presented in schools as catastrophic for 'local communities' and the environment. Far from exclusively singling out the Nazi regime, the modern age is presented as singularly tyrannical and repressive.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the one event of modern European history that is not covered is the Age of Enlightenment, the period that believed reason, rationality and science could assist human advancement. For as much as it would be beneficial for students to study the Enlightenment, to counterpose this as an alternative would be as misguided as Hastings' 'Britain first!' proposals. The problem isn't just the units on offer, but the lack of universal historical thinking that now dominates the discipline.

Until recently, the subject was studied as historical periods rather than particular units. When I studied European Social History at A level 20 years ago, the line of inquiry webbed together every major development between 1760 and 1945. No doubt certain interpretations were open to historical revision, but at least students could grasp the movement of history, how one event (for example, the signing of the Versailles Treaty at the end of the First World War) could shape and influence other events (the outbreak of the Second World War). Thus, the study of the Nazi regime wasn't presented as a grim morality tale, but as an outcome of wider social forces at play in Europe. Studying specific historical events in a broader international context was not an ideological imposition, but a concrete reflection of how modern societies are interconnected.

Today, of course, approaching history as a linear, universal narrative would fall foul of contemporary sensibilities. In place of an overarching framework - the web that connects humanity together - historians are encouraged to focus their inquiry on the local and particular. The QCA's proposals for the inclusion of 'many histories' will only accentuate this fragmentary and non-historical approach further. Likewise, Max Hastings' call for a list of British greats - of 'Waterloo, Pepys and Newton' - isn't much of an alternative. It simply counterposes one particular story for another.

It seems Hastings is as keen to use history as a form of social engineering - to recreate a lost 'sense of Britishness' - as is the QCA. This is perhaps why it's also keen to stop the subject being marginalised from the school's syllabus. For all its encouraging criticisms of history being assessed on its work-based 'relevance', it's arguable that the QCA has an instrumentalist agenda too. It tends to see the teaching of history as only 'relevant' to the institutionalisation of multicultural thinking.

The QCA is right to question the narrow focus on Nazi Germany in school history teaching. But this is only symptomatic of a syllabus that puts all modern societies in the dock. While it is tempting to call for a pro-modernity balance, this would only be falling into the one-sided, particularistic trap. Instead, the process of man making history, as opposed to being chained by history, is best served through studying historical periods in a linear and universal fashion. By doing so we can accurately account for the two-fold character of modern society, its achievements and atrocities, its advancements and backwardness.

This might deny both spokespeople for the privileged and oppressed their rightful claim to 'History', but it can provide us with guidelines to humanity's future. Somehow the QCA's proposals won't be addressing that



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 10, 2006

Does the First Amendment Ban Public Schools?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

In the two centuries since it was written, the original language of the First Amendment has been expanded in two directions. The Doctrine of Incorporation holds that the XVth amendment imposes the restrictions of the Bill of Rights on the states. And modern courts expand "establishment" to cover not only established churches-which existed in England and some of the states when the Constitution was drafted--but any violation of religious neutrality, giving us the doctrine of separation of church and state.

The judge who recently held it unconstitutional for public schools to be required to teach the theory of intelligent design correctly argued that doing so would be to support a particular set of religious beliefs-those that reject evolution as an explanation for the apparent design of living creatures. His mistake was not carrying the argument far enough. A school that teaches that evolution is false is taking sides in a religious dispute-but so does a school that teaches that evolution is true.

The problem is broader than evolution. In the process of educating children, one must take positions on what is true or false. Over a wide range of issues, such a claim is either the affirmation of a religious position or the denial of a religious position. Any decent scientific account of geology, paleontology, what we know about the distant past, is also a denial of the beliefs of (among others) fundamentalist Christians. To compel children to go to schools, paid for by taxes, in which they are taught that their religious beliefs are false, is not neutrality.

Or consider history. The spread of Islam in its first few decades is one of the most extraordinary historical events known to us. When Mohammed left Mecca for Medina, the Arabs were bit players in local politics, allies of one or the other of the two great powers of that part of the world. Within a generation, Muslim Arabs had conquered all of the Sassanid empire and much of the Byzantine. It is rather as if, between 1960 and 1980, Guatamala had annexed the U.S. and a considerable chunk of the USSR.

The Moorish political scientist Ibn Khaldun, writing about six hundred years ago, offered a simple explanation: The expansion of Islam was a miracle. Allah put courage in the hearts of the Arabs, fear in the hearts of their enemies. What could be more obvious? A Muslim teaching the relevant history would give that explanation; I would not. He is claiming Islam is true, I am claiming that it is false. Neither of us is, or should be, neutral.

My conclusion is that the existence of public schools is inconsistent with the First Amendment. Their purpose is, or ought to be, to educate-and one cannot, in practice, educate without either supporting or denying a wide variety of religious claims.



Pupils would be divided into sets according to ability for all classes in state schools under new Conservative education plans unveiled in The Times today. David Willetts, the new Shadow Education Secretary, makes clear that the party has abandoned years of free-market ideology on education, and that he accepts market forces and parental choice are not enough to drive up standards. There was an important role for government in day-to-day classroom activity and in ensuring that teachers used the best methods, Mr Willetts said. He called for a restoration of "setting", saying that classes based on ability should be the norm in every school.

However, a Conservative government would also seek to ensure that there was no return to the 11-plus, with selection limited to a maximum of 10 per cent of pupils. David Cameron, the Tory leader, will set out the new thinking in a speech today in Essex. Mr Willetts said that Conservatives would use the powers of central government more aggressively than Labour to set national standards. "The evidence that setting works is very powerful indeed, and yet you still have got more than half of lessons not taught in sets, where you can target your teaching methods to children with a particular level of skill."

He said that he realised that not every class could be run in sets. "What I will be looking at in the months ahead is how best to spread setting, and I would not rule out using the powers of central government more in this area," he said. Schools can currently set as much as they wish, and attempts by head teachers to introduce more setting by ability are often resisted by teachers. The latest figures show that only 38 per cent of classes are set by ability.

Selection within schools would be accompanied by a national admissions code under a Conservative government, which would ban a return to the 11-plus but extend the powers of specialist schools to select 10 per cent of pupils on aptitude.

Under Labour, schools can specialise in ten subjects, including maths and science. But only schools that specialise in four non-academic subjects - performing arts, sports, modern languages and technology - can select pupils on aptitude. Tony Blair has attempted to make selection a dividing line between Labour and Conservatives to try to shore up support for his plans for trust schools. He will argue that the new Tory policy is still selection, even if it is limited to 10 per cent.

Mr Willetts said that he welcomed Mr Blair's plans for trust schools to become their own admissions authority. He pledged Conservative support as long as he stuck to the key principles - that popular schools should be able to expand, parents have powers to set up new trust schools and that the trusts have control over admissions, subject to the national code.



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 09, 2006

Tufts: Absurd Affirmative Action in computer science

Tufts has more female faculty than male even though the great majority of graduates are male! Below are a few excerpts from an article bewailing the small numbers of women students in computer courses and asking how to entice them into computer courses.

As a long-time academic FORTRAN programmer myself, I do know a bit about where the bodies are buried in all this and the utter blindness of the article briefly excerpted below is stark. They would not of course dream of mentioning that programming is pure intelligence and requires the most rigorous logical thinking -- and at the top level of general intelligence and mathematical ability (which are highly correlated) women are comparatively rare. Given their rarity in the top range of mathematical ability, women are in fact probably OVER-represented among computer graduates -- presumably because of affirmative action. There is of course more to computers than programming, but programming is basic. If you can't program or understand at least the basic technicalities, you are not going to be much use elsewhere. The woman mentioned at the end of the excerpt below exempifies what the problem is: A stark lack of technical understanding and knowledge.

Nothing I have said above excludes SOME women from being good with computers. The person who taught me programming was a woman. But expecting women in general to be as good with computers as men in general are is the height of absurdity. There will be always more men than women in computing while work with computers requires the high level of ability that it does today.

And even in normal everyday personal computer support work, the customers are most likely to be women and the techies men. I myself can not remember a time when any adult male has asked me for help to get his PC working properly but I am always helping women to get their computers to behave

"Today, Souvaine chairs the Tufts University computer science department, which has more female professors than male. But few younger women have followed in her generation's footsteps. Next spring, when 22 computer science graduates accept their Tufts diplomas, only four will be women.

Born in contemporary times, free of the male-dominated legacy common to other sciences and engineering, computer science could have become a model for gender equality. In the early 1980s, it had one of the highest proportions of female undergraduates in science and engineering. And yet with remarkable speed, it has become one of the least gender-balanced fields in American society.

In a year of heated debate about why there aren't more women in science, the conversation has focused largely on discrimination, the conflicts between the time demands of the scientific career track and family life, and what Harvard University President Lawrence H. Summers famously dubbed ''intrinsic aptitude."

In the wake of the dot-com bust, the number of new computer science majors in 2004 was 40 percent lower than in 2000, according to the Computing Research Association. The field has seen ups and downs before, and some think the numbers for men will soon improve at least a bit. But the percentage of undergraduate majors who are female has barely budged in a dozen years.

A Globe review shows that the proportion of women among bachelor's degree recipients in computer science peaked at 37 percent in 1985 and then went on the decline. Women have comprised about 28 percent of computer science bachelor's degree recipients in the last few years, and in the elite confines of research universities, only 17 percent of graduates are women. (The percentage of women among PhD recipients has grown, but still languishes at around 20 percent.)

When Tara Espiritu arrived at Tufts, she was the rare young woman planning to become a computer scientist. Her father is a programmer, and she took Advanced Placement computer science in high school. Because she scored well on the AP exam, she started out at Tufts in an upper-level class, in which she was one of a handful of women. The same men always spoke up, often to raise some technical point that meant nothing to Espiritu. She never raised her hand. ''I have not built my own computer, I don't know everything about all the different operating systems," she said. ''These people would just sit in the front of the class and ask these complicated questions. I had no idea what they were talking about.""

More here


Seniors who do not pass the California High School Exit Exam this year should be allowed to continue their education, but diplomas will be awarded only to students who pass the test, Jack O'Connell, state superintendent of public instruction, announced at a Sacramento news conference Friday morning. Within hours, lawyers who oppose the exam said they will sue the state in the coming weeks to try to lift the exit exam as a requirement for this year's graduating class.

O'Connell's announcement followed a three-month review of possible alternatives to the controversial math and English exam that was adopted in 1999 and is a graduation requirement for the classes of 2006 and beyond. To the disappointment of scholars and advocates who have urged the state to develop another path to graduation for students who fail the test, O'Connell said he believes no alternative exists that would show students have learned material tested on the exam. "I'm convinced the only way to make sure all our graduates have the critical skills is through passage of the high school exit exam," O'Connell said. But he drew a distinction between alternatives to the test and options for students who fail. He laid out ways students who don't pass the exam can continue to go to school and try. They include:

* Enrolling in an additional year of high school or independent study, subject to school board approval.
* Enrolling in an adult school program run by a K-12 school district.
* Enrolling in a charter school.
* Attending a community college that has a diploma completion program.

O'Connell also said students could obtain a diploma equivalent by passing the General Educational Development (GED) test or the California High School Proficiency Exam. And he said he is working with the Legislature to change laws to allow more students to attend adult school, summer school and independent study, and to allow students without diplomas to seek financial aid for community college. "Failure to pass the exam simply means their basic education is not yet complete," O'Connell said.

His decision applies to students in regular education - O'Connell said seniors with disabilities should be exempt from passing the exit exam this year. A lawsuit seeking to waive the exam for special education students goes to court Tuesday. A separate lawsuit - seeking relief from the exit exam for all other students in the senior class - is likely to follow.....

Supporters of the exit exam, including business leaders and education advocates, say the test is so basic - measuring performance on sixth-through 10th-grade skills - that relaxing the requirement would harm students in the long run. They joined Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in applauding O'Connell's position. "This is a test of California's will," said Russlynn Ali, director of Education Trust West, an Oakland group that advocates academic achievement for low-income students. "Do we believe students can learn up to a middle school level education? And will we do what it takes to get them there? If not, let's not pretend we're doing them a favor" by granting diplomas to those who can't pass the test, she said. At the start of the school year, an estimated 90,000 seniors had not yet passed the two-part exam.

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 08, 2006


The Florida Supreme Court struck down a statewide voucher system Thursday that allowed children to attend private schools at taxpayer expense - a program Gov. Jeb Bush considered one of his proudest achievements. It was the nation's first statewide voucher program. In a 5-2 ruling, the high court said the program undermines the public schools and violates the Florida Constitution's requirement of a uniform system of free public education.

Voucher opponents had also argued that the program violated the separation of church and state in giving tax dollars to parochial schools - an argument a lower court agreed with. But the state Supreme Court did not address that issue.

About 700 children are attending private or parochial schools through the program. But the ruling will not become effective until the end of the school year. "I think it is a sad day for accountability in our state," Bush said. He said the voucher program had a positive effect because it "put pressure on school districts to focus on the underperforming schools."

The voucher setup was a part of an education program on the governor's part that also includes testing at virtually every level and a school grading system that offers performance-based rewards and punishments. Bush said he will look for ways to continue the voucher programs, such as finding private money, changing state law or amending the Florida Constitution. "I don't think any option should be taken off the table," the governor said. "School choice is as American as apple pie in my opinion. ... The world is made richer and fuller and more vibrant when you have choices."

Under the 1999 law, students at public schools that earn a failing grade from the state in two out of four years were eligible for vouchers to attend private schools. Chief Justice Barbara Pariente said the program "diverts public dollars into separate private systems parallel to and in competition with the free public schools," which are the sole means set out in the state constitution for educating Florida children.

The ruling was a victory for public schools across the state and nation, said Ron Meyer, lead attorney for a coalition that challenged the voucher program. "Students using vouchers will now be welcomed back into Florida public schools," [Amid rejoicing all round, no doubt -- NOT] Meyer said in a statement. "It decides with finality that the voucher program is unconstitutional."

Anticipating the possibility of an adverse ruling, the governor has been working on a backup plan to keep voucher students in private schools by providing tax credits to corporations that give students scholarships. Clark Neily, an attorney who argued the case for voucher advocates, called the decision "a setback for those parents and children trapped in failing schools."

The U.S. Justice Department filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support the state. Voucher opponents included the state teachers union, the Florida PTA, the NAACP and the League of Women Voters. The ruling did not directly affect nearly 30,000 students in two other voucher programs for disabled and poor children, but it could be cited as a precedent.


A feisty comment from Dick McDonald on the ruling:

Proclaim a victory for Karl Marx and all he stands for. The Supreme Court of Florida has ruled that a voucher system that allows children to receive the funding that would otherwise be given to the public schools be given to private schools of the parent's choice is unconstitutional under Florida law. Unconstitutional because it "undermines" the sick public school system our children are presently indoctrinated into.

In other words, the "state", that revered institution of Karl Marx, the Democrat Party, the MSM and the NEA wins another battle in the fight of individuals for the liberty our Founders promised. The leftists have again stolen the rights of the many for the rights of the few elite socialists who want to decide what is right for our children. The problem is that they are failing miserably and will not surrender their power to the majority of Americans, especially blacks.

Unlike the lower court, the Supreme Court of Florida did not address the separation of church and state issue; another issue leftists are using to stop competition from entering any arena especially the school system. But let's be fair folks, competition is the death knell to our socialist handlers. It would cripple the entire structure of the Democrat Party and their "socialist" special interest groups like unions, teachers, state employees, etc. all of which are directed by their socialist leaders without approval of their members.

And so the beat goes on: the individual versus the state. The deciding Court is the most overturned Court in the land next to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. They support unfairness in favor of their Democrat Party as evidenced by their totally irrational decision to ignore standards in the counting of ballots in the 2000 election. I call them the "Manson Court"; they support helter skelter if it serves the Democrat purpose. Here again, the only thing "undermined" is the rights of the people. The state has a responsibility to educate. It hasn't. So what is new? Just more Karl Marx and his worship of the totalitarian submission of proletariat.

Market forces keep students out of useless courses

Expensive university fees have been blamed for a sharp drop in people seeking a tertiary education, as demand stagnates for full-fee places. University admissions figures show applications for entry to Victorian institutions fell 4.2 per cent, compared with courses last year. For NSW and the ACT, they are down 1 per cent.

As Year 12 graduates prepare for next week's first round of offers of university places, data from the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre shows the number of students vying for a spot fell 1.6 per cent. "School leavers and their families are starting to raise more questions about the worth of going on to university," said Richard James from Melbourne University's Centre for the Study of Higher Education. "The costs of university courses have gone up" and that had been widely discussed in the media, he said.

The figures were delivered to Victorian Education Minister Lynne Kosky in a brief, which also revealed a plateauing of student applications for full-fee-paying places. "Preferences for fee-paying courses have barely changed, totalling 1725," the brief says.

Ms Kosky said it was clear that the federal Government's plan to increase university places through fee courses was not working, and students were unable to afford higher education without financial relief. "The FEE-HELP scheme is there but students are not picking it up," Ms Kosky said. "If that's an assumption the federal Government has made about the way they're going to grow higher education places, and the attitude is they can't pay either now or through FEE-HELP, that has some serious implications for the higher education of this nation."

The Victorian figures also reveal a sharp decline in applications by non-school-leavers. They were down by almost 2300, or 7.7 per cent. "They're the ones who've been applying year after year and they're obviously giving up," Ms Kosky said. The Minister said the data did not remove the need for extra commonwealth-funded university places in Victoria - a demand she made after a decline in federal revenue. "The shift is very slight in demand for university places. It's about 4000 students who miss out, so we still need extra places to meet the demand," she said.

Universities Admissions Centre data for NSW and the ACT shows Year 12 applications are down by 0.4 per cent and non-school-leaver applications are down 2 per cent.



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