Saturday, September 16, 2006

UK: Head teachers predict suits on obesity targets

Headteachers yesterday warned that litigious parents could soon sue schools for failing to prevent their children from drinking, smoking or taking drugs. They fear that government plans to set targets for improving young people's health and welfare in England could unleash attacks on their ability to control wider health and social trends.

Families are already taking legal action over schools' alleged failure to tackle bullying and heads say they could soon be held responsible for obesity, pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, drug taking and drinking.

John Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "We are not clear at all yet who is going to be held to account. You cannot be set targets for things you cannot control: alcohol consumption, for example, among young people." The government is expected to propose a wide range of targets and indicators for local authority children's services. Mr Dunford said: "We really think it is going to be very dangerous and difficult if schools are held to account for all these things."

Some measures and targets which ministers are thought likely to introduce will have a direct educational impact, but others, say heads, could divert attention from the core job of teaching and learning. They argue that litigation could follow if schools became too involved in other areas. The Department for Education and Skills said schools had a role to play in the new programme "but we don't expect them to do it alone".


Teenage boys failing in England

Fewer 14-year-olds reached the expected standard for their age in English this year, national test results revealed yesterday.

Whereas results for maths and science improved, in English the proportion reaching Level 5 in their Key Stage 3 tests dropped by 2 percentage points to 72 per cent and boys in particular were failing to make the grade in the 3Rs. In reading, 59 per cent of 14-year-old boys reached the standards expected in the tests known as Sats, compared with 74 per cent of girls.

In writing, 83 per cent of girls reached Level 5, whereas only 69 per cent of boys matched them.

In maths, 77 per cent of girls achieved the expected level, one percentage point ahead of boys. Overall, maths results rose by three percentage points from 2005 and in science, 72 per cent of pupils reached the expected level for their age - a rise of two percentage points on last year. The tests were taken by 600,000 pupils in England.

Government officials said they hoped that freeing up the curriculum, investing œ1 billion in personalised learning and reintroducing synthetic phonics would reverse the trend. However, the Government highlighted the successes of pupils attending privately run academies.

Passes for teenagers rose 8.8 percentage points in English, more than 10.6 percentage points in maths and 12.9 percentage points in science.

Jim Knight, the Schools Minister, said: "The results indicate that academies ... are improving at about three times the national rate in maths and about six times the national rate in science. They are also seeing a big improvement in English."

Nick Gibb, the Tory schools spokesman, said that it was unacceptable that one in three children at 14 are not reaching their expected reading level. Sarah Teather, the Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman, said it was unacceptable that so many boys had such poor language skills.


Religion back on school syllabus in Australia

Religion will return to Australia's state school classrooms, with students expected to study beliefs from the Aboriginal Dreamtime to the Koran. A high-powered team of academics working on a chronology of Australian history are united on threading a religious narrative through history teaching, but as an issue rather than a matter of faith.

Federal Education MInister Julie Bishop has now thrown her support behind the move, saying history cannot be properly taught without examining religion's influence. The Catholic-Protestant divide which defined Australian pre-war society looks set to be one area of inquiry, with the bitter conscription referendum of 1916-17 possibly appearing on the chronology.

Aboriginal spiritual beliefs and their impact on mainstream society (as seen in the Olympics opening ceremony) are also believed to be under consideration. Examinations of the Muslim and Jewish religions, the Christian Bible and the Koran may form part of the curriculum. "Religion has played a key role in many aspects of society including the legal system, many charitable organisations, the education sector, government and much more," Ms Bishop said last night. "It would not be possible to explain fully the development of Australian society without including religion in the history curriculum."

Professor Tom Stannage, who attended last month's Canberra History Summit said delegates were united in their desire for students to examine religion's role in shaping society. But educators also recognised a thirst among young Australians for religious education expressed in an historical rather than spiritual context. "The difficult question is the way we go about it, introducing it into the syllabus. "I think as Julie Bishop herself said, the commonsense middle ground can prevail in these matters."



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, September 15, 2006


Harvard University is to drop a controversial fast-track admission system for elite students in an attempt to open up America's top colleges to more poor and minority students. In the competition to attract top talent, Harvard's "early admissions" policy enables it to lock in the best students four months before other candidates are allowed to apply - a system that largely benefits well-heeled applicants from good schools. Similar policies have been adopted by most of America's top colleges, but they have been increasingly criticised as excluding poor and minority students.

"Early admission programmes tend to advantage the advantaged," Derek Bok, Harvard's interim president, said. "Students from more sophisticated backgrounds and affluent high schools often apply early to increase their chances of admission, while minority students and students from rural areas, other countries and high schools with fewer resources miss out. "Students needing financial aid are disadvantaged by binding early-decision programmes that prevent them from comparing aid packages."

A recent Century Foundation study estimated that only 3 per cent of new entrants at the nation's 146 most selective colleges came from the bottom socio-economic quarter, compared with 74 per cent from the top quarter. Harvard, which accepts more than a third of its students through "early admissions", will now move to a single application deadline of January 1, with successful applicants being notified by April 1.

The change came a week after publication of a new book, The Price of Admission: How America's Ruling Class Buys its Way into Elite Colleges-and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates, by Daniel Golden. The book argues that the "preference of privilege" favouring rich whites overshadows the number of minorities benefiting from affirmative action. It relates how top institutions give preference to "legacy" applicants, whose families attended the same college, and "development" cases, whose families have no previous link with the university but are seen as likely to become future donors. The book claims that the sons of Al Gore, the former Vice-President, Michael Ovitz, the former Hollywood power-broker, and Bill Frist, the Senate Majority Leader, leapt ahead of more deserving applicants at Harvard, Brown and Princeton.

Harvard's decision to end early admissions is a risky gambit, because it could lose top students to rival institutions, but experts suggested that Harvard was the university most able to make the switch because its prestige virtually guarantees it will continue to attract the best applicants.



Another evil of unionism

Imagine a company president being ordered by the board of directors to hire any misfit who knocks on the door. It's a crazy scenario -- but it's exactly the way many California school districts operate when an unsuccessful teacher is quietly edged out of a school. As long as the teacher agrees to leave voluntarily, union rules require the principal of any other school in the district with an opening to hire that teacher.

The practice, common in large and mid-size urban districts, is so reviled by principals that they've given it a derogatory name. "It's called the Dance of the Lemons," said state Sen. Jack Scott, a Pasadena Democrat who wrote a bill to ban the practice in low-scoring schools and to limit it in others. Scott, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, got the Democrat-controlled Legislature to pass his bill despite opposition from two traditional party allies: the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers. The bill was approved 33-1 by the Senate in May and 59-12 by the Assembly last month. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has until Sept. 30 to sign or veto the bill. If the governor signs it as expected, California will become the first state in the nation to rein in the practice.

"There are a lot of states watching what's happening in California, and I think it'll have significant ramifications nationwide," said Michelle Rhee, chief executive officer of the New Teacher Project, a national nonprofit group that worked on the Scott bill.

Barbara Kerr, president of the California Teachers Association, called the bill "insulting to teachers," because it implies that every teacher who voluntarily leaves a school is a poor one. Some teachers leave a school for reasons unrelated to performance, such as a personality clash with a principal. Disapproval from the teachers unions often can kill a bill. But their opposition was counterbalanced this time by a constituency that proved just as persuasive: advocates for poor and minority students, who most often attend the schools where the lemons land. "Right now, poor kids and kids of color don't have their fair share of the state's experienced, credentialed teachers," said Russlynn Ali, executive director of the Oakland advocacy group Education Trust-West. "By giving a principal in a high-poverty, high-minority school some power to recruit those teachers, we can finally make headway on closing that teacher-quality gap."

Principals also love the idea. "I believe in the teachers union, but some things protect ineffective employees. We've got to put children first," said Principal Patricia Gray of Balboa High in San Francisco. "It's not just about good and bad teachers," Gray said. "Sometimes there's chemistry and a fit -- personalities that work better together. I've got a wonderful staff. I'd like to have some choice in who comes and who's going to be a good fit for the school."

Under the Scott bill, SB1655, existing labor contracts with teachers would be honored, but future agreements would largely disallow the forced hiring. The new law would no longer require principals in low-scoring schools to hire unwanted teachers. Like Balboa, these schools rank 1, 2, or 3 on the state's 10-point Academic Performance Index. Principals in higher-scoring schools would have a window of time each year to hire whom they please -- beginning on April 15 and running through the summer. Under current law, principals don't have that window. They are forced to give unwanted teachers hiring priority throughout the summer, forcing more desirable candidates to look for jobs elsewhere, usually in suburbia.

The so-called Dance of the Lemons is not just a California problem -- it goes on across the country. "It is the students who lose the most," according to a recent study by the New Teacher Project, which found that the forced hiring results in the placement of "hundreds, and sometimes even thousands, of teachers in urban classrooms each year with little regard for the appropriateness of the match, the quality of the teacher, or the overall impact on schools." The New Teacher Project looked at the impact of forced hires in five urban districts across the country. It found:

-- City schools have large numbers of unwanted teachers;

-- Teachers who should be fired are instead passed from school to school;

-- Good teachers are unable to wait all summer for the chance to be considered, so they apply elsewhere, usually by June.

The practice of forced hiring has been a part of labor contracts since the early 1960s, beginning with districts on the East Coast and growing in popularity over the years, according to the New Teacher Project. In San Francisco, Balboa High was one of those schools that could never get ahead. In 1999, Gray was hired as principal and was asked to turn the school around. But it was slow going. Gray wanted to transform the school's chaotic atmosphere by setting clear expectations for students and teachers and aligning the curriculum with the state's expectations for high school students. Though it sounded simple, Gray said it took the cooperation and enthusiasm of every staff member.

Under Gray's new system, all Balboa students could look at the blackboard and know immediately what they were expected to do because every teacher wrote a "Do Now" list for every class. Teachers also wrote the "Aim for the Day," the "Lesson Steps" and the homework assignment on the board for all to see. "You find that in every room," Gray said. The idea was to lessen confusion and help students improve.

One day, a new teacher started at Balboa who had been "consolidated" -- teacher talk for squeezed out -- from another high school. Gray had no choice but to hire her. "I was forced to take a consolidated teacher on more than one occasion," Gray recalled. When this particular teacher arrived at Balboa, Gray said, she refused to follow the school-improvement plan that every other teacher had agreed to do and that students had come to rely on. "She felt it stifled her creativity," Gray said.

Since then, Gray and a few other San Francisco principals trying to turn around low-scoring schools have received a district waiver from forced hiring. "It did make a difference," Gray said. "If you've got a teacher who has had problems in another school because she was ineffective, then of course the children are not getting the instruction they need. So the children absolutely benefited."



Education Secretary Alan Johnson has signalled an embarrassing U-turn over the downgrading of language learning in secondary schools. He admitted the Government was reconsidering its decision to allow teenagers to opt out of studying foreign languages from the age of 14. The revelation follows a dramatic decline in the numbers choosing to take French and German after ministers made languages optional at GCSE two years ago. Entrants for GCSE French have slumped 26 per cent from 318,095 in 2004 while German has also plummeted 26 per cent, with entries falling below the 100,000 mark this summer.

Youngsters have instead flocked to subjects considered in some quarters to be less academically rigorous such as media studies and physical education. Head teachers' leaders said modern foreign languages were now in "freefall" and warned that British teenagers would be disadvantaged on the job market. The National Union of Teachers described the declining popularity of languages as a "complete disaster".

Mr Johnson has already expressed "disappointment" at the decline in exam entries for languages, although he claimed it was not "wholly unexpected". But yesterday, in an unscripted question-and-answer session after a keynote speech to the Social Market Foundation, he admitted the decision to allow 14-year-olds to drop languages was under review. Mr Johnson said: "We are wondering whether we should have done that now. We are having another rethink about that." He went on to point out that the Government has placed on obligation on primary schools to allow all children aged seven and above to learn a language by 2010. However he admitted the initiative will not translate into increased GCSE entries for many years to come.

Late year ministers took desperate damage limitation measures following an outcry over the decision to make languages non-compulsory for 14-year-olds. They said that schools from this term would be expected to ensure at least half of pupils study a language until they are 16. But now Mr Johnson is signalling a full-scale reversal of the decision to downgrade language study, and has paved the way for the study of at least one foreign language to be compulsory up to GCSEs. It is a remarkable turnaround, for as recently as last month he said he believed 14-year-olds should not be "forced" to learn languages.

Tory schools spokesman Nick Gibb said: "It was a mistake to end the compulsion to study a modern foreign language to the age of 16 in the state sector. "In this globalised world, the ability to communicate with emerging economies such as China and India will be increasingly important, which is why the ability to learn a modern foreign language is a vitally important skill that we need to be teaching in our schools."

In a wide-ranging speech on the theme of tackling poverty, Mr Johnson also admitted a flagship 1 billion pound scheme to raise standards in inner-city schools was failing to help many of the neediest pupils. He said Department for Education research suggested nearly half of youngsters on free school meals due to low family income were "missed out" of the Excellence in Cities scheme. The poorest children also continued to "progress more slowly."

He also attacked independent schools which "breed elitism" and repeated calls for them to share facilities and teaching expertise with state schools and help set up new trust schools and academies. In an echo of Chancellor Gordon Brown's controversial attack six years ago on the "old school tie", he added: "As we know, the 'old boys network' still infiltrates some of Britain's oldest institutions." [Including the Labour government]



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, September 14, 2006


Dropping out of high school has its costs around the globe, but nowhere steeper than in the United States. Adults who don't finish high school in the U.S. earn 65 percent of what people who have high school degrees make, according to a new report comparing industrialized nations. No other country had such a severe income gap. Adults without a high school diploma typically make about 80 percent of the salaries earned by high school graduates in nations across Asia, Europe and elsewhere. Countries such as Finland, Belgium, Germany and Sweden have the smallest gaps in earnings between dropouts and graduates.

The figures come from "Education at a Glance," an annual study by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The report, released Tuesday, aims to help leaders see how their nations stack up. The findings underscore the cost of a persistent dropout problem in the United States. It is rising as a national concern as politicians see the risks for the economy and for millions of kids. Adults in their 20's and 30's have slightly lower high school completion rates than older adults. "We, perhaps as parents, are doing better than our kids. And I have real worries about that," said Betsy Brand, director of the nonprofit American Youth Policy Forum.

The new report says 44 percent of adults without high school degrees in the United States have low incomes - that is, they make half of the country's median income or less. Only Denmark had a higher proportion of dropouts with low incomes. Also, the United States is below the international average when it comes to its employment rate among adults age 25 to 64 who have no high school degree. Even U.S. adult education and job training do little to close gaps, because too few dropouts take part, said Barbara Ischinger, director of education for the OECD. "Those with poor initial qualifications remain disadvantaged throughout their life, because they have fewer opportunities to catch up later on," she said.

About one-third of students in the United States don't finish high school on time - or at all. Estimates on that dropout rate vary, though, and state data are often shaky. Policymakers know how to keep kids in school, Brand said. It takes specialized teaching, relationships with caring adults and coursework that's relevant to career plans. What's missing, she said, is a sustained national effort and more "political will."

The importance of a high school degree on income varies across nations. It depends on the demands for skills, the supply of workers, minimum wage laws and the strength of unions. The disparity is more pronounced in the United States, Ischinger said, partly because the U.S. labor market is more flexible. Other nations protect people with weak education qualifications through regulations or tax systems that favor the low skilled, she said.

On the other end of the spectrum, however, the United States more richly rewards those who go to college. An adult with a university degree in the U.S. earns, on average, 72 percent more than someone with a high school degree. That's a much bigger difference than in most countries.

The study compares the United States to 29 other nations that belong to the economic organization, although not every country reported data on every indicator. In perspective, the U.S. economy remains strong and competitive, the report says. The country has a high proportion of educated adults and greater gender equality than other nations. But a troubling theme of the last couple years continues: The United States is losing ground internationally because other countries are making faster and bigger gains. The high school and college graduation rates of recent U.S. students are now below the international average. For example, among adults age 25 to 34, the U.S. ranks 11th among nations in the share of its population that has finished high school. It used to be first.

The United States remains, by far, the most popular place for international students to study. But there, too, the U.S. is losing its market share of students studying abroad. When it comes to money, the nation remains a big spender. From elementary school through college, the United States spends an average of $12,023 per student. That's higher than in all countries in the comparison except for Switzerland.



The governing board for the California community college system on Monday voted unanimously to raise requirements for a two-year associate's degree, starting in the 2009 fall semester. "We're not trying to train for dead-end, low-wage jobs," said Ian Walton, a math teacher at Mission College in Santa Clara and president of the Academic Senate.

Community college professors have pushed for the tougher standards since 1999. The requirements replace an old graduation standard that critics said was inappropriate and embarrassing for a higher education system that educates 2.5 million students in California. Old requirements for an associate's degree were elementary algebra and an English course one level below freshman composition -- which is what it takes to get a high school diploma. Those classes also weren't rigorous enough to transfer the credits to the state's public universities, California State University and University of California. (The new English standard is, but the new math standard still falls short.)

Board president George Caplan, an attorney from Los Angeles, said the move reflects the national rise in education standards. "It's necessary. It's really necessary, otherwise our work force will be terribly unprepared," Caplan said. Advocates say it puts in place an added degree of difficulty and expertise in community college education. They likened it to learning piano with simple chords and scales using only the white keys, then progressing to a more intermediate level of playing simple tunes.

There was some resistance to the proposal, mostly from counselors, English-language teachers and vocational instructors. Community college students bound for a four-year degree already surpass the associate's degree requirements, so the new requirements could create more obstacles to students already at risk, opponents said. Teresa Aldredge, a counselor at Cosumnes River College, said raising the bar for students who can't even meet the old standards could further discourage them from reaching their educational goals.

However, potential opponents on the board were swayed by delaying the implementation until 2009, giving colleges time to create a safety net for those students, with expanded tutoring, counseling and other intervention services. "I don't want to put up another gate, another barrier for students," said board member Margaret Quinones, dean of counseling at Coastline College in Orange County. She called the new graduation requirements an opportunity to shine a "floodlight" on colleges that need to do a better job preparing students.

Others disagreed. "The system needs to be fixed before they try to do this," said Chris Denney, a student at Merced College. But Francisco Fabian, who studies at San Diego City College, told the board he flunked intermediate algebra twice and was determined to pass it this semester. "It's one of the courses I know I need," he said. "It's one of those foundation courses you need for success."



As a very amateur Latinist, I am delighted to hear of this. It should mean that more kids learn how to construct a clear sentence in their own language

Latin appears to be enjoying a quiet revival in Britain's secondary schools. Teachers and classicists across England have noted a dramatic rise in the numbers of children starting secondary school who are expressing an interest in the subject. It is 40 years since it was dropped as a compulsory subject at school, but specialists are hoping that the resurgent enthusiasm will result in more children studying Latin at GCSE and A level, in spite of it being seen as a difficult subject.

In 1988, the first full year of GCSE examinations and the start of the national curriculum, more than 16,000 pupils took GCSE Latin, of whom about half were from state schools. Since then the numbers have fallen, to just 9,743 last year. However, as Latin teachers retired and fewer schools offered the language, the Cambridge School Classics Project (CSCP) embarked on a scheme to teach Latin online. Its package, designed for schools without Latin teachers, consisted of books, a CD-Rom interactive project and "e-tutors" to answer pupils' questions by e-mail and help to mark work.

Now the organisation estimates that about 40,000 children aged 11 and older are learning Latin, and says that more schools want to take it up. It has become so popular that CSCP is employing a full-time tutor to teach Latin at GCSE level via a live video link.

Will Griffiths, director of the CSCP, said that about 1,200 schools were offering Latin. He said that the increase had been caused partly by the number of non-specialist teachers able to offer the subject with the help of computer study aids, and because schools were having to find new ways of keeping bright children interested. "The Gifted and Talented initiative has forced schools to provide for bright children, so schools are perhaps associating Latin with the more able children, and also more money is going into different out-of-hours learning projects," he said.

Jeannie Cohen, founder of the Friends of Classics, a charity that gives money to schools to teach Latin, said that she had also noticed a new keenness. "We are a small charity, but anecdotally we've noticed a three or four-fold increase in schools writing to us for grants to teach Latin to children at that level," she said.

At Saffron Walden High School, in Essex, where pupils have been studying Latin online and via video link in recent years, numbers have steadily increased and the school now employs Ann Dodgson, a part-time GCSE Latin teacher. She credits the revitalisation to computers bringing it to life but also to its exclusivity as a subject. "It has parent appeal, because it's quite an exclusive subject, certainly here in Saffron Walden," she said.



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

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

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


Wednesday, September 13, 2006


British independent schools are attracting record numbers of Chinese pupils as China's new elite seek the prestige of a traditional English education. More than a thousand Chinese pupils have entered Britain's leading boarding schools this term, double the number five years ago. Many are the offspring of China's new wealthy entrepreneurial classes, who can comfortably afford 20,000 pounds-a-year boarding fees, but there are some from more modest backgrounds. These children cover the fees with pooled donations from their extended families, who regard the expense as a sound investment in the future of the whole clan.

Most of the pupils arrive to do A levels, with the aim of gaining entry to one of Britain's leading universities where they hope to gain professional qualifications, mainly in the sciences, accountancy, business studies and economics. The Independent Schools Council said that there were about 2,500 pupils from mainland China in British independent schools. "The numbers have risen sharply over the past ten years, from a base of zero," the council said. "The Chinese regard British independent schools as the best in the world and the schools, for their part, are actively recruiting in China, just like the universities do. It is a great British export success story."

In Harrogate Ladies' College, which was one of the first schools to recruit from China, half the 120-strong sixth form are Chinese. At Roedean, in Brighton, 80 per cent of the sixth form are Chinese. [Amazing!] David Andrews, the deputy head at Harrogate, said that the North Yorkshire school visited educational fairs in Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai once a year to attract pupils. "The girls come here for two years and tend to study non-English-language subjects, such as maths, further maths, science and business studies. Their work ethic is amazing," Mr Andrews said.

Neil Hawkins, principal of Concord College, in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, which has 45 Chinese pupils, said that there was now competition for potential pupils. "In the early days, Chinese parents were interested in their children getting an English education, full stop. Now the market has developed and they are becoming more discerning and are relying on personal recommendations for particular schools," he said.

However, Heathfield St Mary's School, in Ascot, Berkshire, is keeping its Chinese intake down. "It's a small school and if you start to over-fill it with a particular type of pupil, it can be too much," Frances King, the headmistress, said. "In China, there is a notion that the teacher is always right, and this can make the girls reluctant to ask questions for fear of exposing the teacher as ignorant. Our emphasis on encouraging the girls to engage in challenging discussion can sometimes take them by surprise."

For Weishi Kong, 18, from Beijing, an A-level student at Harrogate Ladies' College, studying in England has opened up a whole new world - and a whole new way of thinking. "At school in China, there can be up to 60 students in a class. We don't have the chance, or the time, to ask questions. The tradition there is: let the teacher teach. Here we are encouraged to ask questions. I like it," she said. "I get opportunities here to do things, like amateur radio, that I might not do in China." She was able to speak English before arriving in Britain and is studying biology, chemistry and maths at A level.

Angel Sin, 19, a Hong Kong Chinese pupil at the school, is taking A levels in the sciences and further maths and hopes to go on to study at the University of Manchester or the University of Liverpool. "Back home everyone is always in a hurry. Here you are given more time just to be yourself and try your hardest," she said. Although she was initially homesick she has now settled in to the English way of life. "One thing I really like about England is fish and chips. And ketchup. I love ketchup," she added. [An amusing response from someone brought up on one of the world's great cuisines! I share her liking for fish & chips, however]


California needs a 'lemon' law for teachers

California's education officials say they want to lure the best and brightest teachers to the state's poorest and most troubled schools. Too often, they have paid lip service -- or looked the other way -- when these schools became the home of last resort for teachers no one else wanted. Last month, legislators took a small but important step to meet that commitment to low-achieving schools. In doing so, they ignored the opposition of the state teachers' union, which usually gets its way in Sacramento.

These schools in particular face a lot of pressure to raise test scores. Since they are being held accountable for results, principals deserve more power over hiring. With the passage of SB 1655, now awaiting Gov. Schwarzenegger's signature, principals in those schools will no longer be forced to accept veteran teachers who use seniority rights for open positions. These schools will now be able to compete for teachers in the spring, when the best candidates are on the market.

Until now, job openings sometimes remained unfilled through the summer as veteran teachers weighed their options and exercised contractual rights. Sometimes, principals didn't list jobs until the last minute, for fear that teachers they didn't want would claim them. Under the bill, sponsored by Sen. Jack Scott, D-Pasadena, principals in higher achieving schools will also gain more hiring discretion. Until April 15, veteran teachers will have preference for job openings in those schools. But after April 15, they will have to compete equally with other applicants.

Scott's bill could slow down the ``dance of the lemons'' -- the annual migration of a minority of veteran teachers who either were burned out or who didn't get along. They agreed to take voluntary transfers and gravitated to low-performing schools, where principals were desperate and parents less vigilant.

It's hard to know how widespread the problem is. But in a survey by the New Teacher Project, 21 percent of principals reported that a majority of teachers hired through voluntary transfers were unsatisfactory. The New Teacher Project highlighted the problem in ``Unintended Consequences: The Case for Reforming the Staffing Rules in Urban Teachers Union Contracts,'' a national report last fall. California has become the first state to act on one of its key recommendations.

The better alternative to the dance of the lemons is an efficient, fair and impartial evaluation process in which the few worst teachers are more easily fired (without the district spending $100,000-plus in legal fees), and teachers needing improvement are given more opportunities to succeed. SB 1655 could end up encouraging that process. Meanwhile, principals in low-achieving schools will benefit through an even start in competing for new hires.


Australian teachers forced back to school

Teachers will be made to undergo rigorous training on issues from bullying to obesity under a Federal Government plan to dramatically lift classroom standards. To be implemented by the states, the plan entails teachers taking time off from the classroom to undertake professional development courses in technology and teaching techniques. States refusing to adopt the plan would risk losing hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding, while teachers failing to participate would lose their teaching certificates.

Federal Education Minister Julie Bishop said the move was part of a drive to improve standards in the classroom. The courses would cover issues such as dealing with schoolyard bullying, helping gifted and talented students, identifying cases of child abuse and promoting healthy lifestyles to prevent childhood obesity. "What I don't want to see is 20th-century teachers teaching 21st-century students," Ms Bishop told The Sunday Telegraph. "As a result, I am currently considering implementing a compulsory professional development program, which will see teachers undertake a minimum amount of professional development each year in order to retain their teacher registration. "A federally mandated professional development program will also be evidence-based to ensure that all teachers across Australia benefit from a broad and comprehensive professional development program."

About 80,000 students move between jurisdictions each year, and Ms Bishop said the parents of those students needed to be assured that teachers in one state or territory were keeping up with teachers from other jurisdictions. "I want to ensure that teaching is treated just like any other profession and that includes requiring professional development that is of a high standard and uniform across the nation," she said. "If it's OK to make lawyers, doctors, dentists, accountants and architects do compulsory professional development then it's only proper that teachers also do compulsory professional development."

Only two states publicly report substantial spending on professional development. Queensland reports $40 million in the past year and NSW $144 million over four years. But the Federal Government is unsure how and where this money is spent.



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, September 12, 2006


Spurred partly by campus and community concern over dwindling numbers of African American students, UCLA is moving toward a major shift in its admissions process, perhaps as early as this fall. The changes in admissions, pushed by acting Chancellor Norman Abrams and several faculty leaders, would be the most dramatic at UCLA in at least five years. They would move the Westwood campus toward a more "holistic" admissions model - much like UC Berkeley's - in which students' achievements are viewed in the context of their personal experiences.

UCLA officials emphasized, however, that the campus would continue to abide by the restrictions imposed by Proposition 209, the 1996 voter initiative that barred California's public colleges and universities from considering race in admissions or employment.

A key UCLA faculty committee approved the broad framework for the admissions changes last week, with two more faculty panels expected to vote on it this month. Many details remain to be worked out, but officials said the new process, if approved, would take effect for students applying to UCLA in November for 2007. Abrams, a veteran UCLA law professor who became acting chancellor July 1, said the faculty had been studying admissions reforms for some time. Under the University of California's system of shared governance, faculty members set admissions and eligibility standards.

But Abrams said the admissions figures released in June, which showed that only 96 African Americans - or 2% of the freshman class - were likely to enroll at UCLA this fall, spurred many to action, inside and outside the university. Those numbers, the lowest at the campus since at least 1973, prompted calls from black alumni, community leaders and some legislators for an overhaul of UCLA's admissions practices.

The UCLA figures stood in contrast to a trend toward slightly higher numbers of black, Latino and Native American students across the UC system. Those groups, though still considered underrepresented at UC, will make up just under 20% of the anticipated 2006 freshman class, compared with just below 19% for the current class, but they vary by campus.

The enrollment numbers "have been a catalyst for us within the university to look at our processes, and also for many in the community who want to see change," Abrams said in an interview this week.

Abrams and faculty leaders said they believe the shift, if approved, will lead to fairer admissions for all applicants. They said the new process would make UCLA's admissions similar to that used not only by UC Berkeley, but by the Ivy League and other elite private colleges. They also emphasized that although UCLA's low numbers this year for both African American and Latino freshmen helped spark the changes, it was not clear what effect they would have on those figures. And they said the reforms were not geared specifically at raising those levels. "In my view, this should not be done - and under California law, cannot be done - to improve our African American admissions numbers, but because it's desirable to improve our processes overall," Abrams said.

In response, Ward Connerly, the conservative former UC regent who was an architect of Proposition 209, said Wednesday that UCLA had the right to change its procedures, within the boundaries of law and UC guidelines. Yet he scoffed at the idea that UCLA was not making the shift in direct response to the racial numbers, saying it "doesn't pass the giggle test." "It's obvious why they're doing it and what their objective is," Connerly said.

Others praised the steps toward change. "It's hard for big institutions to make 90-degree turns while driving 70 mph, and I'm proud of my alma mater for doing that," said Peter Taylor, a Los Angeles businessman and prominent UCLA alumnus.

Taylor, who is African American, heads a UCLA task force of alumni, community leaders and donors formed in response to the enrollment numbers. That group has endorsed the holistic approach. Darnell Hunt, a UCLA sociologist who heads its Bunche Center for African American Studies, said the new process would be "a good first step," but he also said it could not address all the factors involved, including the socioeconomic and educational inequities that affect many minority students. "Any change that moves UCLA toward a more inclusive, more holistic review, I'm certainly in favor of," said Hunt, who along with several colleagues has been studying admissions as part of a research project on the challenges facing black students in California universities.

The center's most recent report, posted on its website last week, said UCLA's current process "relied too heavily on minute differences in numbers and gross rankings."

Under admissions changes that took effect for the 2002 entering class, all UC campuses accept students under a system called "comprehensive review," in which personal factors, not just grades and test scores, are considered for all applicants. Previously, nonacademic factors, such as unusual talents and overcoming adversity, could be taken into account in admitting no more than half the freshman class at each campus.

But each UC campus, though required to stay within the broad guidelines, also was free to interpret the policy in its own way. UC Berkeley allows individual readers to review all parts of an applicant's file. At that campus, 140 black students, 10 more than in 2005, have said they will enroll this fall, making up 3.3% of the class of about 4,200. The number of Latino students also rose.

At UCLA, in what admissions officials have described as an attempt to increase objectivity, applicants' files have been divided by academic and personal areas, and read by separate reviewers. That is proposed to change. Adrienne Lavine, an engineering professor and the outgoing chairwoman of UCLA's faculty senate, said the new process would allow the campus to better define the kind of student it wants. She and others said that was increasingly important, given the numbers of applications the campus receives. More than 47,000 students applied for the incoming freshman class.

Thomas Lifka, who oversees admissions as UCLA's assistant vice chancellor for student academic services, described the change as one of philosophy and process but said it should not affect how students apply to the campus. "They shouldn't worry about presenting their credentials in a different light or manner," Lifka said. "It has to do with how we capture the concept of merit - and it means that for each applicant, we'll be looking at all the information about them at the same time."

He and others said that although specifics of the changes remain to be decided, admissions officials must start now to shift gears, and they will start with a comprehensive study of UC Berkeley's process.



The system of higher education in the United States, long seen as the best in the world, is starting to lag behind other countries, a new national report card says. Today's generation of students could end up less-educated than previous ones, the report card warns.

While Illinois compares favorably with other states in the report, the study points to troubling trends in participation rates here and the increasing percentage of income families have to pay toward rising tuition costs. "There is a large reason to be concerned about the young people in this country,'' said Patrick Callan, president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. The center will release the report, "Measuring Up 2006,'' today.

At 39 percent, the United States ranks second among nations in the percentage of working-age adults with college degrees but seventh among just younger adults. "We are in a situation where for the first time in our history, the next generation will be less educated,'' Callan said. The United States also ranks near the top in college participation but at the bottom in college completion, the report found.

Illinois received an "A'' for participation, based on a relatively high number of 18- to 24-year olds -- 35 percent -- and of working-age adults -- 5 percent -- enrolled in college. But the report showed a 15 percent drop in the chance a 19-year-old will go to college: from 49 percent in 1992 to 42 percent today. Only a handful of states had a steeper drop.

Like 43 other states, Illinois flunked on affordability, with the report saying it has become harder for lower- and middle-income students to pay tuition. The bottom 40 percent now must pay more than half their median income for four-year public schools.


Australia: More evidence of failing schools

Apprentices fall short in maths, science

A large workplace training provider has been forced to teach maths and physics to apprentice electricians. The move by Adelaide-based Peer Tec -- which trains hundreds of apprentices -- follows warnings that universities may need to lengthen courses or drop subjects unless the review of the South Australian Certificate of Education produces more maths and science students.

Peer Tec chief executive Michael Boyce said a shortfall in the maths and physics knowledge of students who had left in years 10 and 11 had forced the company to introduce classes for its first-year apprentices. He said the 40 hours of maths and physics classes were essential for apprentices training to be electricians, refrigerator mechanics and data communications technicians. "We have found that the maths taught at Year 10 and Year 11 level is not relevant to what we require in electrotechnology courses," Mr Boyce said. "The high school maths education does not provide them with the skills to work with formulas. Physics is required to be able to handle the concepts underpinning the trades." Peer Tec's parent, Group Training Australia (South Australia), has also hired senior maths teachers to review the "gaps" between senior school courses and the requirements of an electrical apprenticeship.

The Rann Government's review of SACE is in its early stages and includes input from state schools, universities, TAFE colleges, and Catholic and independent schools. Education Minister Jane Lomax Smith said yesterday the leaving age for students would soon be increased to 17 to ensure they had the academic background to enter apprenticeships. The review of SACE would also include recommendations to increase the flexibility for students who left school at Year 11 to enter the workforce but required extra tuition.

University of South Australia pro-vice-chancellor Peter Lee said last month degrees may have to be increased by a year if the SACE review failed to turn around the shortage of students.

Group Training Australia manager Mal Aubrey said the classes were introduced along with "aptitude tests" in maths and physics, made up of the sorts of problems first-year apprentices should be able to answer. Demand for places in apprenticeships was growing in the face of a national skills shortage in trades and heavy industry. Despite the strong demand for apprentices and a key role in finding jobs for school leavers, Mr Aubrey said Group Training Australia held a "peripheral" position in the review of SACE. But high-school education standards concerned the organisation enough to hire a senior maths teacher to conduct a review of the high school maths and physics curriculums. "There appears to be a couple of areas where there are gaps between what we require and what the school system is delivering," Mr Aubrey said. The maths and physics classes at Peer TEC started in January and the review will report to the Group Training Australia annual general meeting in November.



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, September 11, 2006

U.K.: School sports not quite dead yet

Post lifted from Majority Rights

By and large, there are few more certain ways to make your MP’s eyes glaze over (yes, yes, I know it’s usually the other way round) than to ask him a question in some way connected to school sports. It just isn’t done in polite society, and besides the MP will most probably be under specific instructions not to say a thing about both the Government’s and the Opposition parties’ papable contempt for all physical endeavour. The few old fashioned Tories who once cared about such things are dead, either literally or politically, and if not are either kept on a leash or treated as amusing relics of a distant past.

The result of such neglect has been disastrous. If you read Private Eye (sadly mostly unavailable online), you will know about the sheer number of state school sports fields sold off. Those few that do keep theirs nonetheless keep them simply as mementos of a dying era, all actual exercise having been abandoned in order to prevent anyone’s feelings getting hurt or to engage in whatever latest nonsense has been dreamt up by the Labour meddlers, such as ‘cooperative’ Sports Days. In essence, sport and political correctness (and the therapy culture) simply don’t mix, and as the latter are the modern day religion of our leaders sport just has to go.

In such a climate, even the slightest turn-around is encouraging, and so with that in mind this should be considered:

Children across the UK are to be given the chance to compete in their own version of the Olympics.

The government hopes the UK School Games will help unearth British talent for the London Olympics in 2012.

Granted, this is still just bread and circuses, something to make sure that London’s 2012 Olympics do not end in the embarrassment that we, quite frankly, deserve. There is also every chance that this’ll turn into yet another showcase for how much Africans contribute to the UK. I’ll be convinced otherwise if and when I hear a govenrment employee make full clear why sport is to be encouraged.

First of all, and this shouldn’t be beyond even one of our hollow NuLabour/NuTory types, it should be made clear that a healthy lifestyle must inevitably involve exercise, and that such a lifestyle reduces the burden on the NHS, reduces working days lost to illness, etc, etc, etc. Going further, we might also add that a healthy population is less likely to fall prey to various potentially dangerous fads and enthusiasms. That a healthy mind requires a healthy body was medical orthodoxy until Hitler’s advocacy of this idea discredited it in the minds of certain people (who probably don’t get enough exercise).

Indeed, it is simply obvious why sport is beneficial. Only an organisation utterly incapable of looking beyond the next few years would not encourage its members to participate in it. Step forward egalitarian democracy, the God that Failed.

The question of sport in schools may seem trivial by comparison to others facing us, but it is controlled by the same dynamics which control our heedless immigration, social and economic policies. As such, it is fairly obvious why the impeccably populist Messiah that Failed, Tone Blair, should wish to ignore entirely its long term benefits. He’s still a Keynesian at heart, at least in the sense of believing that ‘in the long run, we’re all dead’, and until that pernicious doctrine is shown up for the destructive agent that it is, no long term future of any sort can be secured for us.


The Government's pledge that top-up fees would not disadvantage those from low-income families was under threat last night after one university announced that it would offer a discount to students who could pay for their entire degree in advance. Students at the University of Gloucestershire will be entitled to a 20 per cent discount on their fees if they can pay the entire 9,000 pounds for their three-year degree when they start.

The offer will not be available to those who need state help. The university said that there were other "generous, means-tested" bursaries on offer to families as part of its "innovative pricing policy". In addition students who did not pay up-front but instructed the Student Loan Company to pay the university o3,000 per year would be entitled to a 10 per cent rebate as they completed each year of study. The university said it had had "a couple of inquiries" about the scheme.

Gemma Tumelty, president of the National Union of Students, said: "It seems ridiculous that somebody who is rich enough will end up paying less for their education."


Leftist propaganda in Australian school textbook

A high school textbook that teaches Victorian VCE students that the United States and Israel have been linked to "state terrorism" has sparked outrage and a demand from the Federal Government that it be immediately withdrawn from classrooms. The book, used by about half of Victoria's 700 politics students, is being criticised for playing down the threat of terrorism and containing flawed thinking and ideology.

A furious federal Education Minister, Julie Bishop, has called on the Victorian Government to withdraw the book. "It is inconceivable that information is being taught in schools which claims Australia is 'reaping the harvest' of our foreign policies and our 'Western imperialism'," she said. "Of greatest concern is the claim in the textbook that the Howard Government is deliberately using the threat of terrorism to keep Australians fearful and thus supportive of Government policies and actions. "The person who wrote this text should talk to the families of those killed in Bali and explain to them that there is no need to be fearful of terrorism."

But the Bracks Government said the book was not a set text or officially endorsed by the Victorian Curriculum Assessment Authority (VCAA) or the Education Department. "You can't withdraw a text that is not compulsory to start with, so the Bishop thing is a furphy," said Tim Mitchell, a spokesman for Education Minister Lynne Kosky. "The decision about the use of textbooks in classrooms, and the treatment of issues in classrooms, is a matter best left to teachers and school principals, not politicians," he said.

The textbook, Power and National Politics, published by the Victorian Association of Social Studies Teachers, is one of two texts being used in schools for the new national politics subject. The author is Northcote High School teacher Paul Gilby, 35, who says he is "very concerned and distressed" at the furore surrounding his work. He said he had written the book quickly last year for a new course, but that he had tried to present all viewpoints in good faith and felt the book was being subjected to "a very decontextualised attack". He rejected the claim he played down terrorism, but acknowledged that the terrorism section was "problematic" and said it was being revised, along with other parts of the book, for the second edition for next year. Mr Gilby, who is not teaching national politics this year, was a member of the VCAA review panel that developed the international politics course.

The 166-page book contains a one-page sub-section headed "Fear of terrorism" in the section dealing with Australian foreign policy. It adopts as its definition of terrorism: "Any action taken with the aim of achieving a political or military purpose through the use of violence against civilians can be considered terrorism." This definition is challenged by the Australia/Israel Jewish Affairs Council's analyst, Ted Lapkin, who says it crucially lacks the element of "intention" to harm civilians. The book says terrorism is not new "and is not necessarily increasing" and that students need a historical perspective "to gain insight into the current media response to the terrorist situation".

The book asserts that "throughout history, most terrorist acts have been carried out by nation states. "The United States itself was accused of committing acts of state terrorism in Nicaragua in the 1980s. "Other examples of state-run terrorist campaigns have taken place in Russia (in Chechnya most recently), Turkey (in Kurdistan), Israel (in Palestine), Indonesia (in Aceh, West Papua and East Timor most recently)."

Seeking to address the context of terrorism, the book acknowledges there is no simple solution. But it then goes on to elaborate only one theory - that the US and its allies are "reaping the harvest" of their foreign policies and Western imperialism. The book directs students' attention to critics of the Howard Government who accuse it of using anti-terrorism policies to keep people in fear of terrorism and therefore supportive of Government actions and policies.

The executive director of the Australia/Israel Jewish Affairs Council, Colin Rubenstein, said the section was "rife with partisan bias and errors of fact". "The claim made about the greater danger of 'state terrorism' is the product of ideology, not scholarship," he said. State Opposition shadow education spokesman Martin Dixon backed calls for the book to be withdrawn.



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, September 10, 2006


The school system is what most people think of as "education." It consists of 125,000 elementary and high schools and 2,500 four-year colleges and universities. It has strengths (major research universities) and weaknesses -- notably, lax standards. One reason that U.S. students rank low globally is that many don't work hard. In 2002, 56 percent of high school sophomores did less than an hour of homework a night.

The American learning system is more complex. It's mostly post-high school and, aside from traditional colleges and universities, includes the following: community colleges; for-profit institutes and colleges; adult extension courses; online and computer-based courses; formal and informal job training; self-help books. To take a well-known example: The for-profit University of Phoenix started in 1976 to offer workers a chance to finish their college degrees. Now it has about 300,000 students (half taking online courses and half attending classes in 163 U.S. locations). The average starting age: 34. The American learning system has, I think, two big virtues.

First, it provides second chances. It tries to teach people when they're motivated to learn -- which isn't always when they're in high school or starting college. People become motivated later for many reasons, including maturity, marriage, mortgages and crummy jobs. These people aren't shut out. They can mix work, school and training. A third of community college students are over 30. For those going to traditional colleges, there's huge flexibility to change and find a better fit. A fifth of those who start four-year colleges and get degrees finish at a different school, reports Clifford Adelman of the Education Department. Average completion time is five years; many take longer.

Second, it's job-oriented. Community colleges provide training for local firms and offer courses to satisfy market needs. Degrees in geographic information systems (the use of global positioning satellites) are new. There's been an explosion in master's degrees -- most of them work-oriented. From 1971 to 2004, MBAs are up 426 percent, public administration degrees, 262 percent, and health degrees, 743 percent. About a quarter of college graduates now get a master's. Many self-help books are for work -- say, "Excel for Dummies." There are about 150 million copies of the "For Dummies" series in print.

Up to a point, you can complain that this system is hugely wasteful. We're often teaching kids in college what they should have learned in high school -- and in graduate school what they might have learned in college. Some of the enthusiasm for more degrees is crass credentialism. Some trade schools prey cynically on students' hopes and spawn disappointment. But these legitimate objections miss the larger point: The American learning system accommodates people's ambitions and energies -- when they emerge -- and helps compensate for some of the defects of the school system.

In Charlotte, about 70 percent of the recent high school graduates at Central Piedmont Community College need remedial work in English or math. Zeiss thinks his college often succeeds where high schools fail. Why? High school graduates "go out in the world and see they have no skills," he says. "They're more motivated." The mixing of older and younger students also helps; the older students are more serious and focused.

This fragmented and mostly unplanned learning system is a messy mix of government programs and private business. In some ways it compares favorably to other countries' more controlled governmental systems. Of course, that isn't an excuse for not trying to improve our schools. We would certainly be better off if more students performed better. Nor should it inspire complacency. "Other countries are picking up these models of community colleges and online learning," says Chester E. Finn Jr. of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, a research group.

But the American learning system partially explains how a society of certified dummies consistently outperforms the test scores. Workers and companies develop new skills as the economy evolves. The knowledge that is favored (specialized and geared to specific jobs) often doesn't show up on international comparisons that involve general reading and math skills. As early as the 1830s, Alexis de Tocqueville observed that Americans are addicted to practical, not abstract, knowledge. That's still true.



Steve Frank writes:

A subscriber to the California Political News and Views wrote a letter to the editor after she attended a graduation ceremony (California State University at Monterey Bay) in Monterey. Read it carefully, the speakers spoke in both English and Spanish..not English alone--I just visited Monterey about a week ago and I had the impression that English was the language of the area--and at a college level you would think all the graduates already spoke English, guess I was wrong. Here is the letter to the editor:

"Frightening is what I call the experience at CSUMB at the graduation of 6/20/06.

Amalia Mesa-Baines, Director of Visual and Public Art, spoke at the direction of the President of CSUMB. Luis Valdez, Director of Teatro Campesino, was also a speaker. Ms. Mesa-Bains loudly and proudly proclaimed her membership in MEChA, which many (including Hispanics) consider a racist organization dedicated to the furtherance of the aims of Hispanics (to the exclusion of all other races, in reality). Most of them support the "reconquista" of the southwestern states for Mexico, asserting that this territory was "stolen" from Mexico.

Mr. Valdez mentioned many movers and shakers, including Karl Marx. I gathered he is one of his heroes. Parts of the speeches were in Spanish and it was made unmistakably clear that a "no borders and bilingual (Spanish) America" is one of the main goals of CSUMB. No American flag was visible anywhere.

Several students of other races told me later they wanted to get up and walk out since they were not represented in any way although I could count no more than possibly a third of the graduating class names being Hispanic. I feel as a half-Hispanic woman that the Hispanic people are being hijacked by these radical groups. We must wake up as we may face civil war on down the road. Call CSUMB and voice your displeasure.

More Bible education coming in Australian public schools?

Jesus Christ, Judas, biblical stories and Australia's religious divisions may soon be classroom topics to help students understand our past. Aboriginal history may have caused angst at last month's History Summit in Canberra, but it was the thorny question of religion which had educators most perplexed. Transcripts from the summit obtained last night show delegates struggled with religion in the national curriculum. It was Emeritus Professor Geoffrey Blainey who told delegates much of society could not be explained to students without religion. "Many of the great statements and parliamentary debates, be it about Judas, 13 pieces of silver or touching the hem of government, mean nothing now," he said. "Yet to that (previous) generation they were made powerful because they were metaphors chosen from the Bible." He said he believed the history curriculum needed to include religious knowledge, "irrespective of the vehicle used".

The broad gulf between Australian Catholics and Presbyterians in the first half of this century was a "lively" event which could easily engage youngsters, the summit heard. One unidentified delegate said religion became pivotal to Australian history in 1917 when the nation diverged "spectacularly" over the issue of conscription. "A Catholic archbishop was about to lead the flock against conscription," the delegate said. "Australians broadly of Presbyterian and Anglican background took a different viewpoint. At that point the different belief systems become lively and Australians get engaged. Until that point it is a boring story."

Curtin University of Technology Division of Humanities executive dean Tom Stannage disagreed. Professor Stannage said religion encompassed a far wider issue but was removed from the state curriculum and suppressed for 100 years. He said some students got their religious education from Sunday school and other sources. He said it was "a tough call . . . a major national decision to re-inject, it seems to me, religion back into the state schools in a non-controversial, open, inclusive sort of way." The one-day summit seeking a new path for the national history curriculum has agreed history should be compulsory for Years 9 and 10.



The following comment via email from a reader concerns the leading post above for this day:

"You have this quote: "In 2002, 56 percent of high school sophomores did less than an hour of homework a night."

It caused me to dig up my high-school grade book from 1959-1962. (In Chicago, we had 8 years of grade school and then 4 years of high school)

It stated in bold print, "Daily preparation of lessons at home is expected to take at least an hour and a half of the student's time." In reality I probably spent 3 to 4 hours every night. Looking back though what really stood out was what I studied. There was no time for the "hold hands and sing kumbyya..."courses, we studied.

4 years of English
Algebra and Science as a Freshman
Geometry and Biology as a Sophomore
Algebra, physics and history as a Junior
Solid Geometry, history and chemistry as a Senior.

Now consider this. I was majoring in music! Add to the above full courses in band, orchestra, marching band, instrumental music, harmony etc.

My younger associate at work went back to community college to update from a 2-year tech to a 4-year degree and had to take remedial math. The "remedial" stuff they were teaching him I learned in GRADE SCHOOL.

And finally an anecdotal note: Although I just retired, during my commute I often drove by a bunch of high-school kids queued up to board the bus. I'd estimate half of them had no backpack or tote, implying no homework at all. My own swag is that for many "under an hour" really means "none""


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