Saturday, July 01, 2006

More schools ban games at recess

Some traditional childhood games are disappearing from school playgrounds because educators say they're dangerous. Elementary schools in Cheyenne, Wyo., and Spokane, Wash., banned tag at recess this year. Others, including a suburban Charleston, S.C., school, dumped contact sports such as soccer and touch football. In other cities, including Wichita; San Jose, Calif.; Beaverton, Ore.; and Rancho Santa Fe., Calif., schools took similar actions earlier.

The bans were passed in the name of safety, but some children's health advocates say limiting exercise and free play can inhibit a child's development. Groups such as the National School Boards Association don't keep statistics on school games. But several experts, including Donna Thompson of the National Program for Playground Safety, verify the trend. Dodge ball has been out at some schools for years, but banning games such as tag and soccer is a newer development. "It's happening more," Thompson says. Educators worry about "kids running into one another" and getting hurt, she says.

In January, Freedom Elementary School in Cheyenne prohibited tag at recess because it "progresses easily into slapping and hitting and pushing instead of just touching," Principal Cindy Farwell says. Contact sports were banned from recess at Charles Pinckney Elementary early this year, says Charleston County schools spokeswoman Mary Girault, because children suffered broken arms and dislocated fingers playing touch football and soccer. Some schools that ban games at recess allow children to play them in gym class under supervision.

Critics of the bans say playing freely helps kids learn to negotiate rules and resolve disputes. "They learn to change and to problem-solve," says Rhonda Clements, an education professor at Manhattanville College. Joe Frost, emeritus professor of early childhood education at the University of Texas-Austin, sees playground restrictions as harmful. "You're taking away the physical development of the children," he says. "Having time for play is essential for children to keep their weight under control."


Neglected government school suddenly noticed

If it had been a private school in such a state, there would have been lawsuits left, right and centre

Parents at this Brisbane primary school battled for years to get the State Government to fund an urgent upgrade to the school's crumbling electrical system. Despite the wiring being so bad that students at Darra State School in the southwest suburbs risked a blackout every time they turned on a computer, and despite warnings of an extreme fire risk, their desperate pleas were refused. Then they contacted The Sunday Mail.

Within hours of this newspaper asking Education Queensland for a response, the school was told it would get $25,000 towards the upgrade. Darra State School P&C president Tania Schott was amazed by the development. "They couldn't find the money on Tuesday when I was told there would be no funding for this," she said. "Then, all of a sudden, they've found $25,000 worth of upgrade a few hours after the media called them."

But the money is not enough. Ms Schott, a mother of two, said the school still needs another $55,000 to ensure the electrical system is safe. "You never know when you flick a switch if it is going to short the whole system out," she said. Ms Schott said the school was operating on single-phase power, the same system used in a normal domestic home. "Electricians have told us we should be running on nothing less that phase-three power," she said. Funding is available for a new airconditioning system but there is no point in installing it because the electrical system could not provide enough power.

When more than six PCs in the computer lab are turned on, it causes a short. "It is so outdated we cannot even put an oven in our tuckshop because it is in the same building block as the computer lab. If we use an oven, the computers shut down," Ms Schott said. Electrical experts say the system is a fire hazard and would most likely be illegal if it were in an industrial building of the same size. "Any system which cuts out regularly because it can't handle the power is inherently dangerous," an electrician, who asked not to be named, told The Sunday Mail. "In this day and age every school should be on at least a phase-three system."

Queensland Teachers' Union representative Marion James said the school needed an urgent upgrade of the electrical system. "We need it to be able to install airconditioning, which has been made available through a Federal Government grant, but more importantly to run our computer lab," she said.

Opposition education spokesman Stuart Copeland demanded Education Minister Rod Welford explain why the electrical system had been allowed to deteriorate so badly. "So much for Peter Beattie's Smart State. When our kids can't use the school's computers, when the tuckshop can't feed our kids, it's an appalling indictment of the Beattie Government," he said. "A good education and safe school is one of the basics. "The Coalition calls on the Education Minister to explain why his department refuses to provide adequate funding - particularly when there is a danger to children at this school."

The Sunday Mail was refused an interview with principal Warren Beetson but an Education Queensland spokesman denied parents' claims that they were ignored. "An audit needed to be carried out to determine precisely what work was required. That audit was completed recently and arrangements have been made for an upgrade to occur during the school holidays," the spokesman said. "The main switchboard will be upgraded to provide three-phase power for the school's computers and resolve electrical issues in the tuckshop."

But the department still refuses to completely upgrade the school to the phase-three level. "The electrical capacity provided to schools is determined by the electrical load within the school. On this basis, it is not necessary to have three-phase power in all schools," the spokesman said. Education Queensland declined to answer a request for information on the number of schools in Queensland suffering from the same problem.



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

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


Friday, June 30, 2006

Great Moments in Higher Education

Post lifted from Taranto

The U.S. Senate is considering an amendment to the Constitution that would exclude the desecration of the flag from the First Amendment's free-speech protections, effectively overturning the Supreme Court's ruling in Texas v. Johnson (1989) that held burning the flag to be a form of "symbolic speech." Sixty senators have signed on as sponsors, with 67 needed to propose the amendment. The House approved it last year, 286-130, so an affirmative Senate vote would send it to the states, 38 of whose legislatures would have to ratify it. Weighing in against the proposed amendment, in an op-ed for the Charlotte Observer, is Dr. Susan Roberts:

Flag burning was thrust into the public eye following an arrest of a young man during the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas. The man identified himself as a member of a group calling itself the Revolutionary Youth Brigade. He was charged with a violation of the Texas Desecration of Venerated Objects statute.

In 1989 the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed an appellate court decision that the man was within his First Amendment rights. Wasting no time, Congress passed the Flag Protection Act just months after the ruling. Wasting no time, the Supreme Court ruled that the Flag Protection Act was inconsistent with First Amendment freedoms and thus unconstitutional. It seems unlikely that the Supreme Court would now uphold an amendment prohibiting flag burning, even with the change in the court's composition.

It may seem unlikely that the Supreme Court would uphold a statute prohibiting flag burning (and indeed, in 1990's U.S. v. Eichman it overturned the federal Flag Protection Act of 1989). That's why Congress is considering a constitutional amendment, which the court couldn't overturn.

It's embarrassing enough that Dr. Roberts's error got past the editors of the Observer, but it's even worse that she made such a goof in the first place. For she is not a real doctor but a professor of political science, at North Carolina's Davidson College, where she teaches such courses as The Legislative Process (POL 211) and The Politics of Feminism (POL 215). It is troubling indeed to think that the political scientists of tomorrow are being taught by people who lack basic knowledge about the workings of American government. [No doubt she was an "affirmative action" appointment with an "affirmative action" doctorate]

No place for New Age school syllabus

In the Australian State of New South Wales

NSW Education Minister Carmel Tebbutt has slammed other states for designing their curriculums using an "outcomes-based" approach, saying school students should be protected from syllabuses adopting the latest educational fads. Ms Tebbutt warned that if those curriculums infused the new national syllabus and Australian Certificate of Education being promoted by the Howard Government, there was a risk NSW students could be penalised. "What's happened in some other states is that they've elevated one (outcomes) at the expense of another (content) and my view is you need both," she told The Australian.

The NSW school curriculum differs from other states in prescribing the content of what students should be taught as well as describing the outcomes of what students should be able to do, which Ms Tebbutt said shielded NSW students from the educational trends adopted in some other states, such as postmodern interpretation of literature. "I certainly don't subscribe to the view that there are no pieces of work that aren't more superior than other pieces of work," she said. "There are great pieces of literature, and they should be studied as such." In some states, literary works such as those by Shakespeare are treated as having equal merit with websites, film posters and CD covers.

Ms Tebbutt, who belongs to the Left faction of the ALP, expressed concern that NSW students would be forced into studying a narrower curriculum if the new national syllabus were restricted to the common elements from among the other states. "Any attempt to examine students right across Australia would end up ... pooling the common elements from each state and territory, and we'd only get a part of what we teach being tested," she said yesterday. "The danger is that your teaching program gets skewed to what's being tested, and that ... would narrow our curriculum."

The NSW school curriculum is widely regarded by educational experts as the benchmark, with the West Australian Government saying it would look to the NSW system in redesigning its controversial courses for Years 11 and 12. The Australian Certificate of Education and a national curriculum are expected to be discussed at the national education ministers' council next month.

Ms Tebbutt gave short shrift to many of the current educational trends that carry weight in other states. For instance, she questioned the ability of senior students to grasp complex philosophies, such as Marxism, and apply them to English texts. "I don't subscribe to the view that there are no universal truths ... we might as well all give up now if that's the case," she said. "I don't support that view because it then becomes completely unclear what students are supposed to be learning."

Ms Tebbutt said ensuring a content-rich syllabus was taught consistently throughout the state had enabled NSW to avoid its curriculum becoming dominated by one approach. "We've had a strong approach and we don't want fads in our system," she said. "We stick to an approach that's worked." While some teachers asked senior English students to analyse Shakespeare plays from a Marxist and feminist point of view, Ms Tebbutt questioned the capacity of students to interpret a work at that level. "You've got to remember it's Year 12 students," she said. "And sometimes we're expecting them to have a level of understanding about other philosophies that at that age they're not able to make."



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

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


Thursday, June 29, 2006


Below is a circular from University of Colorado head Phil DiStefano

Fifteen months ago, I met with you to discuss the findings of specific allegations concerning the scholarship and conduct of Professor Ward Churchill. My Committee sought to answer two primary questions raised in various allegations. First, did certain statements by Professor Churchill exceed the boundaries of protected speech? Second, was there evidence that Professor Churchill engaged in other conduct that warranted further action by the University-such as research misconduct, teaching misconduct, or fraudulent misrepresentation in performing his duties? The key findings of this review were the following:

* The content and rhetoric of Professor Churchill's essay on 9/11 and other works that we examined were protected by the First Amendment.

* Allegations regarding research misconduct, including plagiarism, fabrication and misuse of others ` work, had sufficient merit to warrant further inquiry, and they were referred to the Standing Committee on Research Misconduct.

* Questions raised about Professor Churchill's possible misrepresentation of his ethnicity in order to gain employment advantage were reviewed, resulting in a finding of no action warranted. However, questions raised in regard to the allegation of misrepresentation of ethnicity to gain credibility and an audience for scholarship were also reviewed, and the Committee felt that such misrepresentation might constitute research misconduct and failure to meet the standards of professional integrity.

Nine allegations of research misconduct were sent to the Standing Committee on Research Misconduct. The nine allegations were reviewed by an Inquiry Subcommittee, which dismissed two of the allegations because they did not fall within the definition of research misconduct. The Inquiry Committee referred the remaining seven allegations to an Investigative Committee to explore them in more detail.

Membership of the Investigative Committee included three distinguished professors from the Boulder campus and two distinguished professors from other universities. I want to publicly thank these outstanding faculty members for their time and commitment to this difficult and onerous task. The investigative Committee concluded that Professor Churchill committed research misconduct. You all have seen a copy of that previous report and can refer to it for additional detail. It is also posted on our Web site.

The Standing Committee on Research Misconduct accepted the Investigative Committee's report on May 15, 2006, and issued its report to the provost and dean of the College of Arts & Sciences on June 13, 2006. Both the Investigative Committee and the Standing Committee on Research Misconduct recommended sanctions ranging from suspension without pay to termination.

I have carefully reviewed the Report of the Investigative Committee, Professor Churchill's responses to the Committee, and the Recommendations of the Standing Committee on Research Misconduct. I have met with and obtained the separate input of Provost Susan Avery and Todd Gleeson, the Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. I met with Professor Churchill and his attorney, David Lane. After conducting the due diligence I felt was necessary, I have come to a decision regarding the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Research Misconduct pertaining to Professor Ward Churchill. Today, I issued to Professor Churchill a notice of intent to dismiss him from his faculty position at the University of Colorado, Boulder. My issuance of this notice now triggers a process that is governed by Regents Law, Article 5.C.1 and 2 and Regents Policy 5-I.

Let me make two very important points. The first is about the integrity of the process that was used to investigate the allegations of research misconduct. Faculty members from this institution and others across the country enjoy the freedom of expression that is the foundation of what they do in their scholarly pursuits. A university is a marketplace of ideas-a place where controversy is no stranger and opinionated discourse is applauded. Indeed, one of our most cherished principles is academic freedom-the right to pursue and disseminate knowledge without threat of sanction.

But, as is true with all liberties enjoyed by all Americans, with freedom comes responsibility. Appropriately, we in the academy are held to high standards of integrity, competence and accuracy, at the same time we freely engage in spirited, unimpeded discourse in the "marketplace of ideas." The faculty members on both Committees fully understood their duty to uphold the standards that allow them academic freedom and freedom of expression, and I applaud them for their work, their dedication, and their commitment.

Secondly, of great importance to me as chancellor is the suggestion that the University's ethnic studies department is in some way responsible for, or deficient, because of the investigation of research misconduct of one of its faculty members. This perception is unfounded in fact, and it is a perception that the University will work to reverse in the coming months.

At no time during the work of the Inquiry and Investigative Subcommittees, or the Standing Committee on Research Misconduct, has the work of the other faculty members of the ethnic studies department been called into question. As stated in the Standing Committee's recommendation, "We have taken pains in this report to explain that the findings apply only to Professor Churchill, and should not be casually generalized to others in his department or field of study." Indeed, the proceedings of all the Committees have been focused on the research misconduct of one faculty member only.

The Standing Committee also made some recommendations with regard to the University's policies and procedures. We are following through on these specific recommendations.

Now, let me briefly explain the process as we go forward. Professor Churchill may request within 10 days to have President Brown or me forward this recommendation to the Faculty Senate Committee on Privilege and Tenure. If Professor Churchill does so, a special panel will then conduct hearings about this matter and make a recommendation to the president about whether the grounds for dismissal are supported. The handout you received outlines more detail about this process.


Corrupt lesbian UC Chancellor takes a jump

Shocked community leaders wondered Sunday whether the pressure of the job prompted the apparent suicide of the University of California, Santa Cruz chancellor. "Everybody's stunned," Santa Cruz Mayor Cynthia Mathews said of the death Saturday of Denice Dee Denton, 46. "It's sad for her personally and for the university. It's been a very tough tenure for her."

Denton apparently jumped from a 43-story luxury apartment building in downtown San Francisco, police and university officials said. Her longtime partner, Gretchen Kalonji, has an apartment in the building, according to property records.

In this city famous for political activism, running the University of California campus can be a pressure-cooker, Mathews said. "This is a community that puts everybody in a spotlight," she said. "That can create a lot of pressure. I'm not sure she was prepared for that." Denton's mother, Carolyn Mabee, was in the apartment building the time of the death, and reportedly told investigators her daughter was "very depressed" about personal and professional problems.

Denton was appointed two years ago and inherited an array of controversies. There were red-hot debates over the university's long-range plans to increase enrollment, and growing statewide concerns about UC perquisites for executives. Denton was also plagued by accusations of lavish spending at a time the university is raising fees and cutting budgets. She was criticized for demanding $600,000 in renovations to her campus home and for helping secure a $192,000-a-year job for Kalonji as director of international strategy development. Denton was also ensnared in the controversy that erupted last fall over revelations that UC executives were granted millions of dollars in bonuses, housing allowances and other perks without proper approval. An independent audit released in April found that Denton received a series of benefits in violation of UC policy, including a $21,000 moving allowance and a $16,000 signing bonus....

And though Denton was not heavily involved in activism surrounding local gay and lesbian issues, she was an influential role model, said Bob Correa, past director of The Diversity Center, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community center. "She came to town with the label as an 'out lesbian,' no one outed her, and that always has a positive impact," Correa said. "Young people need to see that. Her role as a leader in the UC community was an important symbol."

More here. See also here regarding the corruption. From the photo supplied with the original article, she looks more like a guy with a wig on than anything else. If she did indeed have female genitals, no wonder she was depressed


For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

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


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Blacks Call UCLA Biased, Seek Overhaul of Admissions

Leaders in Los Angeles' African American community called Thursday for the overhaul of UCLA's undergraduate admissions practices, charging that many black applicants were unfairly rejected by the university.

The demand for reforms follows the disclosure two weeks ago that blacks account for only 96, or 2%, of the more than 4,700 freshmen expected to enroll at UCLA this fall. That is the lowest level in more than three decades, and gives UCLA a lower percentage of African American freshmen than USC or UC Berkeley.

The call for changes was also propelled by this week's release of a report by researchers at UCLA's Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies that was sharply critical of the university's freshmen admissions procedures.

In a news conference on campus, a newly formed group consisting of African American religious, civic, alumni and student leaders said UCLA's admissions practices discriminate against blacks.

The Alliance for Equal Opportunity in Education rejected university administrators' frequent assertion that California's ban on affirmative action in public employment, contracting and education - mandated by the passage of Proposition 209 in 1996 - was a major impediment to bringing in more black students.

The activists called for a complete overhaul of admissions practices to bring about "immediate and demonstrative actions to increase African American admissions and enrollment." They did not offer specifics other than urging a more holistic approach that would put applicants' achievements and performance in a fairer context.

Mandla Kayise, president of the UCLA Black Alumni Assn., said the alliance holds the University of California regents and the UCLA administration responsible for "denying highly qualified African American students who have achieved some of the highest levels of academic achievement [and] personal achievement and have overcome some of the greatest life challenges of any group of students the African American community has ever produced."

"They have been accepted at UC Berkeley, they have been accepted at USC, they have been accepted to top campuses across this country and yet we find some of those same students have been denied at UCLA," Kayise said.

UCLA officials said that their declining number of black freshmen was tied to Proposition 209. Before the ban was imposed on affirmative action, "We consistently led the UC system year after year after year in both the number of admits and the proportion of our freshman classes that were underrepresented minorities," said Tom Lifka, a UCLA assistant vice chancellor.

But many of the group of about 20 black community leaders who appeared at the UCLA news conference cited the new Bunche Center report as evidence of UCLA's flawed admissions practices.

That report noted that UCLA is extending fewer admissions offers to black high school seniors despite rising percentages of African American students in the state who are meeting the minimum standards for eligibility for UC campuses and who are applying to the schools.

Darnell Hunt, director of the Bunche Center, said UCLA's admissions procedures fail to fully account for the obstacles low-income black students often face compared to affluent students who have more opportunities to take Advanced Placement courses and SAT preparation classes.

He added that UCLA's numbers of African American students have fallen to such low levels that even when black prospective students visit the campus, "It becomes a tough sell when they . don't see any other people like themselves."

Ward Connerly, a former UC regent and leading opponent of affirmative action, took issue with the Bunche report, saying that the main problem is a small pool of high-performing black high school students.


Bush/Kennedy education reforms not doing much good: Harvard study

U.S. President George W. Bush's signature No Child Left Behind education policy is failing to close racial achievement gaps [Surprise!] and will miss its goals by 2014 according to recent trends, a Harvard study said on Wednesday. It said the policy has had no significant impact on improving reading and math achievement since it was introduced in 2001, contradicting White House claims and potentially adding to concerns over America's academic competitiveness. Bush's No Child Left Behind Act was meant to introduce national standards to an education system where only two-thirds of teenagers graduate from high school, a proportion that slides to 50 percent for blacks and Hispanics.

The study released by Harvard University's Civil Rights Project said national average of achievement by U.S. students has been flat in reading since 2001 and the growth rate in math has remained the same as before the policy was introduced. The study follows results last month from the first nationwide science test administered in five years which showed achievement among U.S. high school seniors falling over the past decade -- a time when students in many other developed countries are outscoring U.S. students in science testing. The Harvard report said only 24 to 34 percent of U.S. students will meet a reading proficiency target by 2014 and 29 to 64 percent will hit a math target under current trends.

Under No Child Left Behind, children in every racial and demographic group in every school must improve their scores on standardized tests in math and English each year. Failure to achieve annual progress can lead to sanctions against schools. Children in poorly performing schools can switch schools if space is available. In extreme cases, schools can be closed. But a surge in the number of schools identified as "needing improvement," including many considered top performers in their state, has stirred opposition to the law nationwide -- from a legal challenge in Connecticut to a rebellion by state legislators in staunchly Republican Utah.

U.S. officials counter the reforms are working. "Across the country test scores in reading and math in the early grades are rising," Deputy Secretary for the Department of Education, Raymond Simon, testified in Congress on Tuesday. "The 'achievement gap' is finally beginning to close."

That differs from Harvard's study, which predicts less than 25 percent of poor and black students will hit the 2014 target in reading proficiency and less than 50 percent in math, with the overall racial achievement gap barely closing by 2014. The averages were based on the federal government's National Assessment of Educational Progress, considered the most accurate test for measuring achievement in core subjects.



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

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


Tuesday, June 27, 2006


The adage "like a kid at heart" may be truer than we think, since new research is showing that grown-ups are more immature than ever. Specifically, it seems a growing number of people are retaining the behaviors and attitudes associated with youth. As a consequence, many older people simply never achieve mental adulthood, according to a leading expert on evolutionary psychiatry.

Among scientists, the phenomenon is called psychological neoteny. The theory's creator is Bruce Charlton, a professor in the School of Biology at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, England. He also serves as the editor-in-chief of Medical Hypotheses, which will feature a paper outlining his theory in an upcoming issue.

Charlton explained to Discovery News that humans have an inherent attraction to physical youth, since it can be a sign of fertility, health and vitality. In the mid-20th century, however, another force kicked in, due to increasing need for individuals to change jobs, learn new skills, move to new places and make new friends. A "child-like flexibility of attitudes, behaviors and knowledge" is probably adaptive to the increased instability of the modern world, Charlton believes. Formal education now extends well past physical maturity, leaving students with minds that are, he said, "unfinished." "The psychological neoteny effect of formal education is an accidental by-product - the main role of education is to increase general, abstract intelligence and prepare for economic activity," he explained. "But formal education requires a child-like stance of receptivity to new learning, and cognitive flexibility." "When formal education continues into the early twenties," he continued, "it probably, to an extent, counteracts the attainment of psychological maturity, which would otherwise occur at about this age."

Charlton pointed out that past cultures often marked the advent of adulthood with initiation ceremonies. While the human mind responds to new information over the course of any individual's lifetime, Charlton argues that past physical environments were more stable and allowed for a state of psychological maturity. In hunter-gatherer societies, that maturity was probably achieved during a person's late teens or early twenties, he said. "By contrast, many modern adults fail to attain this maturity, and such failure is common and indeed characteristic of highly educated and, on the whole, effective and socially valuable people," he said. "People such as academics, teachers, scientists and many other professionals are often strikingly immature outside of their strictly specialist competence in the sense of being unpredictable, unbalanced in priorities, and tending to overreact."

Charlton added that since modern cultures now favor cognitive flexibility, "immature" people tend to thrive and succeed, and have set the tone not only for contemporary life, but also for the future, when it is possible our genes may even change as a result of the psychological shift. The faults of youth are retained along with the virtues, he believes. These include short attention span, sensation and novelty-seeking, short cycles of arbitrary fashion and a sense of cultural shallowness. At least "youthfulness is no longer restricted to youth," he said, due to overall improvements in food and healthcare, along with cosmetic technologies.

David Brooks, a social commentator and an op-ed columnist at The New York Times, has documented a somewhat related phenomenon concerning the current blurring of "the bourgeois world of capitalism and the bohemian counterculture," which Charlton believes is a version of psychological neoteny. Brooks believes such individuals have lost the wisdom and maturity of their bourgeois predecessors due to more emphasis placed on expertise, flexibility and vitality.



Boys and girls are no more likely to achieve better results when they are educated in separate schools than together, according to a study of the way children learn. Girls' schools consistently top the league tables at GCSE and A level - which the author suggests is attributable to selection and background, rather than gender.

Advocates of single-sex schooling argue that children achieve more academically when they are taught separately. After reviewing a decade of international and national research, Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at the University of Buckingham, says that the evidence does not support this view. "On performance, there is no evidence that girls will get better results in a single sex than a co-educational school. The same is true for boys," Professor Smithers said. "The girls' schools feature highly in the league tables because they are highly selective, their children come from particular social backgrounds and they have excellent teachers."

The number of single-sex state schools has declined from 2,500 in the 1960s to 400 today. In the independent sector, 130 single-sex schools for boys and girls have merged, turned co-educational or closed. Many single-sex comprehensives perform relatively poorly overall. "If you look at GCSEs and at A-level results, girls overall do better than boys," Professor Smithers said. So, on average, a girls' school would achieve better results than a boys' school. "However, if you have a highly selective boys' school, they will do better than most girls," said Professor Smithers, who this week presents his findings at Wellington College, which recently turned co- educational.

Last year 23.9 per cent of girls were awarded A grades at A level, compared with 21.5 per cent of boys. In most subjects, with the exception of English and modern languages, girls outperformed boys. Professor Smithers, who sent both his daughters to a single-sex school, is keen not to diminish the schools' achievements but insists that their emphasis on gender is misplaced. He cites, for example, the claim that girls in single-sex schools are more likely to study science than if they study alongside boys. According to his research, this is simply not the case. The proportion of girls taking physics went up between 1960 and 1985 - at a time that single-sex schools in Britain were disappearing. The trend, he says, appears to have been caused by the new mixed comprehensives offering girls more opportunities to take physics. "The pattern emerging was that girls were at least as likely or more to study physics in co-ed schools, possibly because of the critical mass of students, the facilities and the teachers," said Professor Smithers. This was particularly the case among the brightest girls.

His research will be unwelcome to the top boys-only public schools such as Eton, Harrow and Radley - as well as to the country's 203 feepaying girls' schools. They point out that last year girls and boys in single-sex independent schools achieved 10 per cent more A grades at A level than those at independent co-educational schools. Brenda Despontin, president of the Girls' Schools Association and head of Haberdashers' Monmouth School for Girls, says that single-sex schooling offers more than academic achievement. "Children have the opportunity to develop at their own pace, to grow in confidence and not worry about others around them," she said. "They gain much more than As at A level - they come out aiming high and confident of taking the world by storm."

Last year a study by academics at Cambridge University suggested that single-sex classes within co-educational schools could be the key to helping adolescent boys and girls succeed. Schools that taught boys and girls certain subjects separately - to address differentials in achievement - found that both became more confident and grades climbed rapidly. This "parallel education" is favoured by Steve Biddulph, the Australian educational psychologist and author of Raising Boys. After 20 years of research he believed that there was strong evidence to suggest that boys and girls aged between 12 to 15 did not learn well together. "The reasons are developmental - there is an almost two-year difference in the onset of puberty, so girls leap ahead physically and emotionally," Mr Biddulph said. Among his suggestions were that although boys and girls should mix in the playground, in their teens they should learn separately until they reached the age of 16.



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

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


Monday, June 26, 2006

Charter schools moving parents away from union-controlled schools

A decade ago, charter schools existed largely on the fringes. Many were start-ups operating out of rented church basements -- alternatives to failing urban schools that struggled to teach the basics. Now more than 200,000 California students are enrolled in 574 charters -- independently operated public schools that have wide latitude in what they teach and how they teach it.

While charters are still most popular in big cities and among low-achieving students, they're starting to take root in bedroom communities and affluent suburbs, creating stiff competition for regular public schools and drawing students from highly regarded private schools as well. ``We shop around to find the right mechanic for our car, but a lot of time we don't take the same approach when it comes to choosing schools,'' said Wanny Hersey, a skilled pianist and principal of Bullis Charter School in Los Altos. ``Once parents realize that school choice is out there and that one size doesn't fit all, they can evaluate different programs.''

Bullis was founded three years ago by parents outraged after their neighborhood elementary school was closed during a budget crunch. The K-6 school lacks a permanent campus; it's housed in a dozen portable trailers on the parking lot behind Egan Middle School. But families are flocking to the young school's small classes, rich drama and instrumental music programs and individual learning plans for each student. One measure of parent interest: 180 students applied for 40 kindergarten slots available this fall. Sustainable cooking, public speaking and conflict management are among the electives. Numerous projects, including an environmental education partnership with Hidden Villa, a 1,600-acre wilderness preserve in Los Altos Hills, are in the works.

For Steve Johnson, moving his daughter Sophia, 12, from a private school to Bullis last year was like moving from a house to something that really feels like home. Sophia graduated from sixth grade last week. ``She has learned faster and better here,'' he said. ``It's challenging, but she's rising to the occasion. I wish they would expand.''

Charter schools are by no means a magic bullet for the numerous challenges of public education. Some stumble, fail to meet community expectations, lose students and ultimately close. The California Charter Academy, a statewide chain of schools, fell to pieces in 2004, and a state audit found millions of dollars in questionable spending.

Some schools never make it through the approval process. RAICES, a proposed K-8 charter school in San Jose's Alum Rock neighborhood, recently had its petition rejected by the Santa Clara County Board of Education. ``The curriculum hadn't been thought through, and it felt slapped together,'' said Bill Evers, who serves on the county board and is generally supportive of charter schools. ``The charter didn't look ready, and I couldn't in good conscience approve it.''

The research on charter schools is also mixed. A May report by EdSource found that charter elementary and middle schools were more likely than non-charters to reach their goals when it came to improving test scores, but that charter high schools lagged.

There are 18 charter schools in Santa Clara County serving more than 5,400 students. Roughly half were founded to help struggling students from low-income families. Two more are scheduled to open this fall, and others are in the planning stages. Downtown College Prep in San Jose got enormous statewide attention when its standardized test scores shot up 90 points in 2004-2005. It focuses on students who would be the first in their families to go to college; the vast majority speak Spanish at home. Entire classes go on field trips to colleges and universities.

But charters are also drawing families who are frustrated with the teach-to-the-standardized-test pressure facing many public schools, as well as parents shopping for specific programs. ``With No Child Left Behind, many schools are focusing just on reading, writing and arithmetic,'' said Caprice Young, president of the California Charter Schools Association. ``Parents of all kinds are looking for schools that still offer music and science and a diverse, enriched curriculum. Charter schools are a direct response to that.''

In Silicon Valley, the charter school movement has largely grown by word of mouth -- parents talking to other parents at soccer games and birthday parties. However, local school districts, which can approve or deny charter school proposals, are not always as enthusiastic as parents. ``The fact is that getting a charter approved is still difficult, and a number of districts have signaled `Over my dead body,' '' said Eric Premack, co-director of the Charter Schools Development Center in Sacramento.

Other districts are wholeheartedly in favor: Cambrian School District in west San Jose converted four of its five elementary schools to charters so each could have more autonomy. Charter schools are governed by their own boards, have fewer regulations and work rules and have greater flexibility when it comes to raising and spending money, hiring staff and developing curriculum.

The first years of a charter school are reminiscent of dot-coms in the early days: It's a mad scramble to find classroom space, and charters often outgrow their facilities within weeks. There's enormous energy and excitement, along with near-constant retooling. ``It's like a full-time start-up job. This is pretty much my obsession,'' said Barbara Eagle, a parent who has helped drive Discovery Charter School, scheduled to open this fall in Campbell with a student body drawn from 25 public and private schools. ``It's really hard, but I knew we could do it.''


Australia: Black welfare 'link to school'

The Federal Government is considering tying welfare payments to school attendance and nourishment at home as part of its response to the social crisis in Aboriginal communities. The idea has been endorsed by Treasurer Peter Costello ahead of tomorrow's summit of state and federal indigenous affairs ministers, called to find ways of combating violence and child sexual assault blighting many remote settlements. The summit is also expected to consider garnishing welfare payments for parents who are substance abusers. Under the proposal, part of their payments would be held by the Government and directed towards their children's welfare.

Mr Costello said there had been "no shortage of money spent on Aboriginal affairs". "Like any other people, they get family tax benefits and CDEP (Community Development Employment Projects). In addition to that, they get much higher per-capita spending on health and education, yet they're still suffering from great hardships. "What we've proven is that simply shovelling money at these problems is not necessarily the answer. "One option is to tie that money to health and education outcomes much more carefully. For example, making family benefits payments payable only if the parents' kids are going to school. "You could also make family benefits payments conditional on the kids being properly nourished. It's no good if the money is being spent on grog and gambling."

Mr Costello said he'd been convinced to try the scheme by Cape York Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson. He said the Government had set aside money for pilot schemes tying welfare to health and education in the Cape. But in the wake of a controversial call by Health Minister Tony Abbott for a "new paternalism" in Aboriginal affairs, Mr Costello said his plan would apply to all welfare recipients. He said it would probably work better in Aboriginal communities, where leaders were able to identify families in need.



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

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


Sunday, June 25, 2006


The charitable status of private schools and hospitals will be challenged by a powerful campaign led by MPs, charities and lawyers, and backed by the Charity Commission, when the Charities Bill returns to Parliament next week. The Bill replaces the 400-year-old common law definition of charity and removes the presumption of charitable status from independent schools. Instead, it requires all charities that charge high fees to demonstrate that they are of “public benefit” if they are to retain tax breaks worth a total of 88 million pounds a year.

As the Bill does not give any details of what constitutes the “public benefit”, critics believe that it is almost meaningless and want a stricter definition. Without it, the whole Bill could fall, taking with it changes that will modernise the legal framework within which charities operate, they say.

Stuart Etherington, of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), which represents 4,700 charities, said a tighter definition of public benefit was essential. “The Bill must protect and promote the charity ‘brand’ by making it clear that only those organisations that benefit the public can be charities,” he said. He insisted that the NCVO’s stance, which is widely shared by leading charities, was not aimed at excluding particular types of charity. “It’s about ensuring that long-term trust and public confidence in charities is maintained and enhanced.”

The Charity Commission, which will be responsible for ensuring that all registered charities pass the public benefit test, is also calling for a clearer definition of terms. “It would be helpful to see an amendment to the Bill removing some of the uncertainty, particularly as regards fee-charging charities,” a spokeswoman said.

John McDonnell, MP for Hayes and Harlington, is one of perhaps 50 Labour backbenchers who want a more robust definition. He said: “Without it, the Government would have a problem.” Martin Horwood, the Liberal Democrat charities spokesman, favours an amendment modelled on Scottish law, to ensure that charities charging high fees do not place “unduly restrictive” conditions on people wanting to use their services. Scottish law requires the regulator to weigh up the benefit to those that can access a charity’s service against the “disbenefit” to the general public who cannot, particularly where there is a charge involved.

Stephen Lloyd, Head of Charity and Social Enterprise at the law firm Bates, Wells & Braithwaite, said that without such an amendment there would be two types of charity: Scottish and English. “If the English public benefit test is less onerous than the Scottish one, you could see independent schools which might be under threat under the Scottish test setting themselves up as English charities but operating north of the Border,” he said.

A spokesman for the Cabinet Office, the department in charge of the Bill said that the government was happy with the way it was worded. He added: “Of course, it still has to be scrutinised.”

The Independent Schools Council argues that most independent schools that are charities already provide a public benefit, saying that for every 1 pound in tax benefits they get they provide 3 pounds in assistance with fees. The Conservative Party seems implacably opposed to any kind of public benefit test. Andrew Turner, MP for the Isle of Wight, said such a test was unnecessary for schools, religious organisations or charities working for the poor.


Education Savings Accounts: Giving Families Ownership in Education

With college tuitions soaring, parents are beginning to save for their children's education earlier and earlier. A growing number of families are putting their savings in education savings accounts (ESA), which enjoy certain tax advantages. The popularity of these accounts suggests that parents want to control the resources spent on their children's education. Policymakers should consider how these accounts could be used to expand school choice and improve American education. Federal law provides two kinds of educations savings accounts. So-called 529 plans allow for tax-protected savings for higher education through state-managed plans. Coverdell ESAs allow for tax-free savings in privately-managed accounts for K-12 and higher education expenses.

529 accounts-named after a section in the IRS code-offer families two ways to save for college expenses. This first option is to lock in today's tuition rates and prepay tuition at a participating higher education institution. The second is to invest in a state-managed investment account where earnings grow tax-free and can be used for tuition when a child enrolls. Under 529 plans, annual contributions can range from $10,000 up to $300,000 in some states. States contract with financial institutions to manage the 529 accounts, and each state offers families different investment options. Most states don't require residency to invest in a 529 plan, and so families are free to shop the state plans to find the best investment. This is important, because some states offer different fees and rates of returns, and competition ensures that families can get the best deal.

The Financial Research Corporation reports that total assets in 529 college savings plans totaled $68 billion at the end of 2005-30 percent over 2004 levels. One reason for the growing use of 529 plans is that 25 states provide various tax incentives-credits or deductions-for investment contributions. (Learn more about 529 accounts here [] and whether your state offers tax incentives incentive here [].)

Until now, states have limited tax incentives for contributions to the state's own plan. But this year, the Maine state legislature enacted a per-beneficiary deduction worth $250 per year for a contribution to any state's 529 plan. This could pave the way for more states to provide tax breaks for out-of-state plans. If so, families can look forward to greater competition among providers and better investment options and returns. Unlike 529 plans, Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (ESAs)-named after the late Georgia Senator-let families contribute up to $2,000 per child annually in a tax-free savings account that can be used for K-12 or higher education expenses. Eligible expenses include K-12 private school tuition, books, school supplies, tutoring, and after-school programs. Unlike 529 college savings plans, Coverdell ESAs can be opened and managed by banks and brokerage firms, similar to 401(k) accounts.

No state currently offers tax incentives for Coverdell ESAs. And since the tax benefits of Coverdell ESAs are deferred, few families are using them. But many American families could make good use of this opportunity to save for their children's education.

As familiarity with education savings accounts grows, supporters of parental choice in education should consider reforms that give families control of education resources. One option would be for states to level the playing field between 529 accounts and Coverdell ESAs by evening out the tax breaks for contributions to either savings vehicle. Another option would be for Congress to reform 529 accounts to include K-12 education expenses, like Coverdell ESAs do today. At a minimum, federal lawmakers could increase contribution limits for Coverdell ESAs to give families greater ability to save.

The promise of a system of widespread ESAs is great. Parents, grandparents, and other relatives would have greater opportunities to save for a child's education. Charities, corporations, and individuals could be given incentives to make contributions to low-income children's accounts, which could be used to pay school or college tuition or any other legitimate educational expense. State governments could create matching-funds plans to help needy children-seven states are already doing this with their 529 plans.

Widespread use of education savings accounts would improve the efficiency of education spending. According to the Department of Education, U.S. taxpayers spend approximately $500 billion annually on K-12 education. Government officials and bureaucrat largely dictate how it's spent. Expanding access to education savings accounts would begin to return control of education decisions to parents. With parents in charge, educators would compete for students and tailor their products and services to individual children's needs.

Choice and competition are keys to improving American education. By giving parents greater power to direct their children's education, education savings accounts could make widespread choice and competition a reality.



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

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