Saturday, January 06, 2007


He's a Leftist loony but he's black so that's just fine

The Vanderbilt Register is the "paper of record for Vanderbilt University. An official publication, it appears once every two weeks.

It recently published a profile of one of Vanderbilt's new professors, Houston Baker. The article highlighted Baker's telling of his past achievements in "typically self-effacing fashion," and offered a fawning tone throughout. The chair of the English Department, Jay Clayton, hailed Baker as "one of the most wide-ranging intellectuals in Americatoday in any field of the humanities. He is prolific and writes to an audience far broader than academic specialties." [Translation by JR: All he is capable of are ignorant rants]

Here's how the article described Baker's behavior last spring, in a tone and content that suggested admiration for his activities: "He also was the leading dissident voice inside Duke University regarding that administration's handling of rape accusations against members of its lacrosse team."

How did Baker become the "leading dissident"? The paper doesn't actualy tell people at Vanderbilt.

In late March, lamenting the "college and university blind-eying of male athletes, veritably given license to rape, maraud, deploy hate speech, and feel proud of themselves in the bargain," Baker issued a public letter denouncing the "abhorrent sexual assault, verbal racial violence, and drunken white male privilege loosed amongst us." To act against "violent, white, male, athletic privilege," he urged the "immediate dismissals" by Duke of "the team itself and its players."

Has Baker adopted a more tolerant attitude between last March and the penning of the Vanderbilt publication? It appears not. A mother of an unindicted lacrosse player recently wrote him, "asking for your help." She noted,

Over the past eight months, much of the evidence has revealed that the three falsely indicted young men have been the victims of rogue DA Nifong. They have been denied due process and are the victims of a possible conspiracy. Whatever you believed in March, I am sure you must be questioning the actions of DA Nifong. Therefore, I respectfully request that you join Pres. Brodhead in asking for a special prosecutor. In addition, I respectfully request you petition Pres. Brodhead to allow Collin and Reade to resume classes this spring.

Our paths may have been different, but I am sure all of us seek the truth and justice. This can only be accomplished with an impartial prosecutor. Collin and Reade, along with Dave, have had to put their lives on hold due to a false accusation. I trust that with the filing of ethics charges by the NC State Bar and the Conference of District Attorneys calling for DA Nifong to recuse himself, we can all agree that justice can best be served with Nifong's removal.

Here is the full text of Baker's reply:

LIES! You are just a provacateur on a happy New Years Eve trying to get credit for a scummy bunch of white males! You know you are in search of sympaathy [sic] for young white guys who beat up a gay man [sic] in Georgetown, get drunk in Durham, and lived like "a bunch of farm animals" near campus.

I really hope whoever sent this stupid farce of an email rots in .... umhappy [sic] new year to you ... and forgive me if your really are, quite sadly, mother of a "farm animal."

So speaks "one of the most wide-ranging intellectuals in America today in any field of the humanities."


Australia's anatomy courses for doctors given an F by the students

Largely because of trendy bullsh*t teaching methods

Almost three in four medical students say they are taught too little anatomy during their medical degree - and more than a third don't even think they have been taught enough about how the body works to be a competent doctor when they graduate. A survey of more than 600 medical students also found more than half - 53.7 per cent - thought their knowledge of anatomy was inadequately assessed. And nearly 90 per cent of students agreed that the traditional, guided style of anatomy teaching was "more effective" than the alternatives.

In many medical schools, traditional teaching has been increasingly replaced by a self-directed process where students research topics themselves in groups. The findings - which have already been sent to the federal Government as part of a submission for its current review of medical school curriculums - are likely to reignite a controversy revealed in The Australian earlier this year, after senior doctors warned the state of anatomy teaching in Australia's medical schools was so bad that public safety was at stake.

The survey was conducted by the Australian Medical Students Association, partly in response to the revelations. Federal Education Minister Julie Bishop said the findings would be considered as part of the government review, which is due to report later this year. Ms Bishop called on medical school deans to consider the findings carefully. "If 75 per cent of medical students believe the quality of education they are receiving is wanting in some way, that should be taken seriously by our medical schools," Ms Bishop said. "It reinforces the Government's action in setting up this inquiry in the first place."

The survey found more than half the students also cited pharmacology and radiology alongside anatomy as subjects that were given too little time in courses. Many students also criticised selection interviews, with about a quarter saying they were not objective enough, and the trend to tutors who are not medically qualified.

And while most students were in favour of the modern problem-based learning techniques, the report found there was "significant room for improvement as 25 to 30 per cent of students didn't respond positively" to all questions on the topic.

AMSA president Rob Mitchell, a fifth-year medical student at Monash University, said the survey showed medical education was still of high quality. Overall, 71.3 per cent of surveyed students agreed their course would turn them into competent doctors. "There's a perception, and I emphasise it's a perception, that students don't receive enough anatomy teaching," Mr Mitchell said. But students also valued the newer subjects that had squeezed traditional subjects including anatomy - such as ethics, communication skills, and cultural awareness - and did not want them cut back.

Survey respondent Claire Wise, a fifth-year student at Monash, said she could "echo a lot of students' concerns" on anatomy teaching, which she said needed to be more guided and relevant. "When there's 10 students standing around a cadaver and dissecting a muscle, it's not as clinically relevant as when a doctor sits us down and tells us about a patient with a head injury he had last week, and which arteries were damaged, and we can see an MRI scan," she said. "We can relate it to a patient, and more time needs to be devoted to that."

Barry Oakes, a former associate professor at Monash University and a longstanding critic of the cutbacks to anatomy teaching, said universities had "failed miserably" to compile written benchmarks detailing what medical graduates needed to know.

Paul Gatenby, a member of the Committee of Deans of Australian Medical Schools, agreed time for anatomy and some other subjects had been cut back but said this was inevitable given the "explosion of medical knowledge in the past 50 years". "Is there so little anatomy taught that students are dangerous? I don't accept that at all," Professor Gatenby said.


Anatomy of a crisis: Medical students vent spleen at substandard teaching

(Editorial comment from "The Australian" national newspaper)

Eight months ago, The Australian reported that anatomy training was in many cases so poor that students could make it to the last year of medical school and not be able to visually distinguish between a beating heart and a liver, or correctly identify the location of the prostate gland. So it is not surprising to discover that Australians studying to be doctors are increasingly concerned they are not being taught the fundamentals, according to a survey just released by the Australian Medical Students Association. It does not make for happy reading. A majority of students do not feel their training places enough emphasis on vital subjects such as anatomy and pharmacology. About 30 per cent of students are neutral or pessimistic when asked whether they will leave college well-equipped to become competent doctors. And less than four in 10 respondents agreed that when they finished their medical course they would "know enough anatomy to become a competent doctor".

There are many reasons why medical students are not getting the training they want and so vitally need. Among them is a concern expressed by AMSA members that the Howard Government's drive to increase medical school places might ultimately come at a cost to quality. Culturally, too, medical schools have, like so many other institutions, fallen victim to the fashion for dismantling traditional structures without replacing them with anything similarly useful or effective. Thus traditional lectures have been replaced by such supposed innovations as problem-based learning, where instructors (who are often not doctors) are not allowed to tell students what is right and what is wrong, leaving them to work it out for themselves. Hard science must compete with an increasing emphasis on soft topics such as cultural sensitivity. Certainly medicine is about more than just mechanics, and doctors should be trained to deal with patients' minds as well as their bodies. But while humanities courses can be watered down without harming anyone beyond those paying for the degrees, medicine is a serious business. To go down the same soft road in medical faculties is to write a prescription for disaster.



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 Pages are here or here or here.


Friday, January 05, 2007


If classics are no longer mentioned in schools, there will be no "demand" for them, of course

You can't find "Abraham Lincoln: His Speeches and Writings" at the Pohick Regional Library anymore. Or "The Education of Henry Adams" at Sherwood Regional. Want Emily Dickinson's "Final Harvest"? Don't look to the Kingstowne branch. It's not that the books are checked out. They're just gone. No one was reading them, so librarians took them off the shelves and dumped them. Along with those classics, thousands of novels and nonfiction works have been eliminated from the Fairfax County collection after a new computer software program showed that no one had checked them out in at least 24 months.

Public libraries have always weeded out old or unpopular books to make way for newer titles. But the region's largest library system is taking turnover to a new level. Like Borders and Barnes & Noble, Fairfax is responding aggressively to market preferences, calculating the system's return on its investment by each foot of space on the library shelves -- and figuring out which products will generate the biggest buzz. So books that people actually want are easy to find, but many books that no one is reading are gone -- even if they are classics. "We're being very ruthless," said Sam Clay, director of the 21-branch system since 1982. "A book is not forever. If you have 40 feet of shelf space taken up by books on tulips and you find that only one is checked out, that's a cost."

That is the new reality for the Fairfax system and the future for other libraries. As books on tape, DVDs, computers and other electronic equipment crowd into branches, there is less room for plain old books. So librarians are making hard decisions and struggling with a new issue: whether the data-driven library of the future should cater to popular tastes or set a cultural standard, even as the demand for the classics wanes. Library officials say they will always stock Shakespeare's plays, "The Great Gatsby" and other venerable titles. And many of the books pulled from one Fairfax library can be found at another branch and delivered to a patron within a week. But in the effort to stay relevant in an age in which reference materials and novels can be found on the Internet and Oprah's Book Club helps set standards of popularity, libraries are not the cultural repositories they once were.

"I think the days of libraries saying, 'We must have that, because it's good for people,' are beyond us," said Leslie Burger, president of the American Library Association and director of Princeton Public Library. "There is a sense in many public libraries that popular materials are what most of our communities desire. Everybody's got a favorite book they're trying to promote." That leaves some books endangered. In Fairfax, thousands of titles have been pulled from the shelves and become eligible for book sales.

Weeding books used to be sporadic. Now it's strategic. Clay and his employees established the two-year threshold 18 months ago, driven, they say, by a $2 million cut to the budget for books and materials and the demand for space. More computers and growing demand in branches for meeting space, story hours and other gatherings have left less room for books.

And nowadays, library patrons don't like to sit at big tables with strangers as they read or study. They want to be alone, creating a need for individual carrels that take up even more space. And the popularity of audiovisual materials that must be housed in 50-year-old branches built for smaller collections only adds to the crunch. To do more with less, Fairfax library officials have started running like businesses. Clay bought state-of-the art software that spits out data on each of the 3.1 million books in the county system -- including age, number of times checked out and when. There are also statistics on the percentages of shelf space taken up by mysteries, biographies and kids' books.

Every branch gets a printout of the data each month, including every title that hasn't circulated in the previous 24 months. It's up to librarians to decide whether a book stays. The librarians have discretion, but they also have targets, collection manager Julie Pringle said. "What comes in is based on what goes out," she said.

Classics such as Ernest Hemingway's "For Whom the Bell Tolls" and Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird" are among the titles that haven't been checked out in two years and could be eliminated. Librarians so far have decided to keep them.

As libraries clear out titles, they sweep in new ones as fast as they can. A two-month-old program called "Hot Picks" is boosting copies of bestsellers by tracking the number of holds requested by patrons. This month, every Fairfax branch will display new books more prominently, leaving even less space for older ones. "We don't want to keep what people don't use much of," Clay said. Circulation, a sign of prestige and a potential bargaining chip for new funding, is on pace to hit 11.6 million in the Fairfax system this year, part of a steady climb over the past three years.

No other system in the Washington area is tracking circulation as quickly -- or weeding so methodically. Montgomery County, a similar-size suburban system, has not emphasized weeding in several years, said Kay Ecelbarger, who retired last month as chief of collection management. In the District, library director Ginnie Cooper said she has not tackled weeding and turnover policy in the system, which is struggling to increase circulation. She hopes to address those concerns with a recent infusion of cash from the D.C. Council.

There are no national standards on weeding public library collections. As Fairfax bets its future on a retail model, some librarians say that the public library may be straying too far from its traditional role as an archive of literature and history. Arlington County's library director, Diane Kresh, said she's "paying a lot of attention to what our customers want." But if they aren't checking out Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring," she's not only keeping it, she's promoting it through a new program that gives forgotten classics prominent display. "Part of my philosophy is that you collect for the ages," Kresh said. "The library has a responsibility to provide a core collection for the cultural education of its community." She comes to this view from a career at the Library of Congress, where she was chief of public service collections for 30 years.

The weight of the new choices falls on the local librarian. That's especially hard at the Woodrow Wilson branch in Falls Church, one of the smallest in the Fairfax system. It's a vibrant place popular with Latino and Middle Eastern immigrants, the elderly and young professionals. Branch manager Linda Schlekau, who has 20 years of experience, says she discards about 700 books a month. "Nine Plays by Eugene O'Neill" sat on the top shelf of a cart in the back room one day in late December, wedged between Voltaire's "Candide" and "Broke Heart Blues" by Joyce Carol Oates. The cart brimmed with books that someone on Schlekau's staff had pulled from the shelves. Sometimes she has time to give them another look before wheeling them to the book-sale pile. Sometimes she doesn't.

The Oates would return to the shelf, "because she's a real popular author at Woodrow Wilson," even if "Broke Heart Blues" isn't, Schlekau said. The Voltaire would go. An obscure Edgar Allan Poe volume called "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket" might be transferred to another branch. Schlekau hesitated over the volume of O'Neill plays, which was in good condition but had been checked out only nine times in its lifespan at the library, falling short of the system's new goal of 20. She sighed. "The only time things like this are going out is if they're [performing the plays] at the Kennedy Center." But, she said, she's disinclined to throw O'Neill into the discard pile: "That's the English major in me."


Black schoolkids make NJ library unusable

Low discipline schools spread their poison

Every afternoon at Maplewood Middle School's final bell, dozens of students pour across Baker Street to the public library. Some study quietly. Others, library officials say, fight, urinate on the bathroom floor, scrawl graffiti on the walls, talk back to librarians or refuse to leave when asked. One recently threatened to burn down the branch library. Librarians call the police, sometimes twice a day. As a result, starting on Jan. 16, the Maplewood Memorial Library will be closing its two buildings on weekdays from 2:45 to 5 p.m., until further notice.

An institution that, like many nationwide, strives to attract young people, even offering beading and cartooning classes, will soon be shutting them out, along with the rest of the public, at one of the busiest parts of its day. Library employees will still be on the job, working at tasks like paperwork, filing, and answering calls and online questions. "They almost knocked me down, and they run in and out," said Lila Silverman, a Maplewood resident who takes her grandchildren to the library's children's room but called the front of the library "a disaster area" after school. "I do try to avoid those hours."

This comfortable Essex County suburb of 23,000 residents, still proud of its 2002 mention in Money magazine on a list of "Best Places to Live," is no seedy outpost of urban violence. But its library officials, like many across the country, have grown frustrated by middle schoolers' mix of pent-up energy, hormones and nascent independence. Increasingly, librarians are asking: What part of "Shh!" don't you understand?

About a year ago, the Wickliffe, Ohio, library banned children under 14 during after-school hours unless they were accompanied by adults. An Illinois library adopted a "three strikes, you're out" rule, suspending library privileges for repeat offenders. And many libraries are adding security guards specifically for the after-school hours. In Euclid, Ohio, the library pumps classical music into its lobby, bathrooms and front entry to calm patrons, including those from the nearby high school.

A backlash against such measures has also begun: A middle school in Jefferson Parish, La., that requires a daily permission slip for students to use the local public library after school was threatened with a lawsuit last month by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Librarians and other experts say the growing conflicts are the result of an increase in the number of latchkey children, a decrease in civility among young people and a dearth of "third places" - neither home nor school - where kids can be kids. "We don't consider the world as safe a place as it used to be, and we don't encourage children to run around, hang around and be free," said Judy Nelson, president of the Young Adult Library Services Association, part of the American Library Association. "So you have parents telling their kids that the library is a good place to go."

More here


You need to know what it is about the entry into the EU on Monday of Bulgaria and Romania that is problematic. It's the same problem as when, on January 1, 2004, eight other new member states joined the EU: the people who gained access to the British labour market are too good. They either work too hard, or they are too skilled. 447,000 workers from that first new batch of member states applied to register under the Workers Registration Scheme in the first two years since their accession. Including the self-employed, the total working in Britain has been well over 600,000. And that excludes the illegal workers. Economically, this is good news. Jobs can be done better and cheaper thanks to this new pool of labour. But there is a downside: many British manual workers can't compete with them.

The mistake that is usually made is to concentrate on the immediate cause of this problem: the rights of those workers to come here. The real cause of the problem, however, is nothing new and has nothing to with the EU. The real cause is our failure to manage the basic task of educating children properly.

After nearly ten years in office, Tony Blair's pledge to make "education, education and education" his top three priorities is the dog that barked but didn't bite. There has certainly been some improvement in standards. But when ministers celebrate the improved statistics, it's akin to a football team that regularly gets a 3-0 hammering taking comfort from losing 3-1. The most recent Department for Education and Skills study, in 2003, found that 16 per cent of the adult population would fail to pass an English GCSE and 29 per cent of adults could not calculate the area of a floor, even with a calculator, pen and paper.

Instead of the necessary wholesale reforms, tackling the fundamental flaws in school structures and teacher training, the Government has introduced a piecemeal variety of initiatives and schemes. Last week we learnt of the latest, a 65 million plan to give 800,000 of the most able pupils an "e-credit". The pupils will be allocated about 80 pounds in credits, which their schools can use to buy extra lessons from companies, independent schools, universities or other academic bodies. It is a thoroughly sensible idea, which no one committed to excellence could oppose. So, naturally, it has been opposed by a number of Labour MPs and teachers.

But for all the plan's merit, it is symbolic of the Government's failure. By proposing such a scheme, the Government shows that it understands the benefits of competition and a variety of teaching options. Instead of acting on that understanding, however, it restricts it to the most gifted. And it refuses even to contemplate any wider extension of the voucher principle. Why not?

There's a perfect example of a "because I say so" dismissal of a logical extension in a speech made by Alan Milburn, the former health secretary, in November. Intriguingly, he argued that: "To break the cycle of educational disadvantage we need to give parents in the most disadvantaged areas more than preference. They should have choice . . . The evidence suggests both that choice programmes (abroad) helped raise standards across all schools and that the most disadvantaged pupils benefited most."

All good stuff. And to bring about that choice, he proposed a weighted voucher: "I believe that parents with children in those schools where performance has not crossed these thresholds (of success) for two or more years should be given a new right to choose an alternative school. They would be given an education credit weighted to be worth perhaps 150 per cent of the cost of educating the child in their current school. This would give a positive incentive to the alternative school to take them and to expand their intake numbers."

Even better stuff. Mr Milburn clearly grasps the need for choice, and how the market empowers the most disadvantaged and raises standards. But then he shows how the only word that really counts in the phrase "new Labour" is "Labour": "The credit . . . could be used in any state school." At a stroke, Mr Milburn circumscribes the impact of his proposed voucher by limiting its application to state schools. And he offers no explanation why other schools should not be able to compete for the pupils' custom.

Even when Labour sees the benefits of competition, it rules it out in any but the most limited form, for no reason beyond ideology. The same holds in health. Patients are to be given a choice of provider for treatment. But the choice will be from a limited list and there will be no wider application of the acknowledged benefits of competition. Why not?



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 Pages are here or here or here.


Thursday, January 04, 2007

Long Live Military History

Saving a disappearing portion of Academia. Excerpt from a post by Milbogger Mind in the Qatar

A long important part of the study of history, has been the study of the subset of military history. It is incredibly important to understand both U.S. and global military history, as many significant events across time have involved and been driven by military influences of one form or another.

However in the increasingly leftward tilt of the ivory tower of higher education, military history is "...dead at many other top colleges and universities as well. Where it isn't dead and buried, it's either dying or under siege..." This according to John Miller in his National Review article "Sounding Taps" from earlier this fall.

"A decade ago, best-selling author Stephen Ambrose donated $250,000 to the University of Wisconsin, his alma mater, to endow a professorship in American military history. A few months later, he gave another $250,000. Until his death in 2002, he badgered friends and others to contribute additional funds. Today, more than $1 million sits in a special university account for the Ambrose-Heseltine Chair in American History, named after its main benefactor and the long-dead professor who trained him.

The chair remains vacant, however, and Wisconsin is not currently trying to fill it. "We won't search for a candidate this school year," says John Cooper, a history professor. "But we're committed to doing it eventually." The ostensible reason for the delay is that the university wants to raise even more money, so that it can attract a top-notch senior scholar. There may be another factor as well: Wisconsin doesn't actually want a military historian on its faculty. "

In fact Miller points out that a look at more than a thousand history professors from the top 25 History Departments around the country, only 21 listed military issues amongst their specialties. Fortunately, military history does have a few benefactors out there, and I would like to present one of my favorites. I do this since I have never seen any mention of it anywhere on any milblogs.

This one resource that I find most interesting is the Pritzker Military Library.

I discovered Pritzker purely by chance, as I was searching the iTunes Music Store for military related podcasts. They exist as a real brick & mortar library in Chicago, which offers a collection focused on "history of the military, military fiction, and the military's current practices as part of the belief that Citizen Soldiers are an essential element of a democratic society." They also offer a tremendous number of live events on site featuring military authors and historians, as well as 'Front & Center' symposiums on varieties of military issues, and lastly their invaluable 'Medal of Honor' series presenting living history through the words of actual CMH winners

Australia: Gloves off for the rumble in the blackboard jungle

Kevin Donnelly says school education has become a burning issue that will only get hotter in 2007

Education has certainly been a barbecue stopper in the past 12 months. On these pages, as well as across the media more generally, barely a week has gone by without debates about topics as diverse as Australia's second-rate ranking in international maths and science tests, the dumbing down impact of outcomes-based education and the fact that state governments are under-resourcing schools; both government and non-government.

At the start of 2006, Prime Minister John Howard entered the debate with his comments about the parlous state of history teaching in our schools. Not only are students taught a black-armband view, but as a consequence of the "new history", the focus is on victim groups and students no longer celebrate the grand narrative associated with our growth as a nation.

The Prime Minister entered the culture wars with his complaints about the destructive impact of postmodern gobbledegook on English as a subject, especially literature. The moral and aesthetic value of literature is lost as students are made to analyse texts in terms of power relationships, and graffiti and SMS messages are on the same stage as Shakespeare and David Malouf. It is significant that David Williamson, somebody not normally associated with the PM's conservative agenda, also publicly criticised the way classics are undermined as a result of forcing students to interpret literature through a politically correct, ideological prism.

While much of this year's debate has focused on national issues - such as the need for plain-English report cards, the introduction of assessment of students on a five-point scale of A to E and the viability of a national curriculum - state and territory issues have also been prominent.

Such were the concerns in Western Australia about the destructive impact of extending outcomes based education into years 11 and 12 and the inept and insensitive way the then state education minister, Ljiljanna Ravlich, handled the situation, that Premier Alan Carpenter was forced to hose down the issue by postponing the introduction of the new certificate and, eventually, by dumping the minister from the portfolio.

In Tasmania, as a result of teachers being forced to adopt what was termed essential learnings - an approach to curriculum where traditional subjects are replaced by generic skills such as world futures and social responsibility - the education minister responsible, Paula Wriedt, nearly lost her seat at the state election and, like Ravlich, was eventually demoted.

While some educationalists, such as the Adelaide-based academic Alan Reid, argue that the education debate is being fuelled by social conservatives, the fact is that in Tasmania, much of the fight against essential learnings has been led by the local branch of the Australian Education Union. The union argued that teachers were being drowned in a bureaucratic, cumbersome and confusing curriculum regime that destroyed the joy of teaching.

As is evident on Perth-based internet site, much of the criticism of OBE has been led by classroom teachers of various political persuasions. That opposition to OBE transcends political boundaries is highlighted by criticisms made by the NSW Labor Education Minister, Carmel Tebbutt, midway through the year in support of the PM's stance, and the way both Kevin Rudd and new federal shadow education spokesman Stephen Smith are echoing widespread concerns about falling standards and a lack of academic rigour in the curriculum.

There is no doubt education will continue to be a significant issue in 2007, especially given the coming federal election. As with this year, much of the debate will focus on the value of OBE and whether students are receiving a sound education. Debates about the impact of the culture wars on subjects such as history, English and science will alsocontinue.

What other issues might be on the agenda? While not receiving much publicity over the past 12 months, except for calls for increased accountability, the need to attract teachers to the profession and to properly reward them will be seen as vital.

Research by Andrew Leigh and Chris Ryan, both academics at the Australian National University, suggest that teacher quality, as reflected by the academic aptitude of beginning teachers, has fallen. Teacher surveys carried out by the Australian Education Union show that many of those who have recently entered the classroom do not see teaching as a long-term commitment.

Teachers need to be paid more and better supported in their professional development. Instead of having to re-invent the wheel by designing their own syllabuses, teachers should be given clear, concise road-maps of what to teach, and be given more time to mentor one another.

While accountability is important and better teachers should be rewarded and underperforming teachers dealt with, it is vital that any proposed system is not overly intrusive and bureaucratic and that the complex and demanding nature of teaching is recognised.

Coupled with properly rewarding teachers is the need to give schools the power to hire and to fire staff and to allow decisions about the school curriculum and management, as far as possible, to be made at the local level.

Supporting parental choice in education will also be on the agenda in 2007. The fact that about 40 per cent of year 11 and 12 students now attend non-government schools - and given the attraction of selective government schools, especially in NSW - it's obvious parents want to choose where their children go to school and that a "one size fits all" approach no longer works.

In the US, school vouchers, where the money follows the child, are increasingly popular in areas such as Washington DC and Milwaukee and the reality is that Australia already has a de-facto voucher system - depending on which non-government school the child attends, both state and federal governments subsidise a percentage of the cost.

As a general rule, while education is often debated, Australians tend to spend more time discussing sporting events and sportsmen and women such as Shane Warne, Ian Thorpe and Cathy Freeman. In 2006, education became a topic of strong media interest and public debate, and 2007 will be no different.



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 Pages are here or here or here.


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

How to chase people with choices out of teaching

"Modern" approaches to discipline degrade teacher quality

Compensation payments to Scottish teachers injured as a result of assaults by pupils have risen tenfold over the past year, new figures show. In 2006, 55,000 pounds was paid out to members of Scotland's largest teaching union as a result of assaults, compared with just 5525 the previous year. The dramatic increase in compensation will spark renewed concerns over rising levels of indiscipline in schools.

The number of incidents resulting in compensation recorded by the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) doubled from four in 2005 to eight last year. One teacher was paid 26,000 compensation after an attack by a pupil, while another received more than 18,000 for facial injuries following an assault. Two teachers were given payments of 2475 and 1500 following injuries they received while trying to break up fights between pupils. Last year, the total amount of compensation paid following accidents or assaults to teachers and college lecturers by local authorities and the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board was 170,000, the same as 2005. Figures obtained by the Scottish Tories in September showed a 25% increase in attacks on teachers in 2005-06, with 2768 incidents of physical violence against school staff.

A Scottish Executive-backed survey two months ago by the National Foundation for Educational Research found that primary and secondary teachers thought schools had become more violent since 2004. In November, primary headteachers called for school staff to be offered lessons in how to restrain violent pupils. Ronnie Smith, general secretary of the EIS, said: "These cases are at the extreme end of the scale and there are more than 52,000 teachers in our classrooms. It is nonetheless discouraging that this is happening at all. "We don't want to get to a situation where it was felt that this sort of violent incident came with the territory because that would be a major deterrent to recruitment and would have an impact on the quality of teaching."

Mr Smith said teachers should always report serious incidents. "Teachers, in common with many other public service workers, are far too often on the receiving end of assaults in the course of their work. "Employers have a duty to assess and minimise the risk facing teachers, and also to send a clear message that all violent conduct - physical or verbal - will not be tolerated."

David Eaglesham, general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association, echoed the concerns. "We haven't had as much support as we could have from the local authorities. The executive has at least agreed the problem needs addressed," he said. "We want to encourage a zero-tolerance approach, but it requires a sustained, long-term campaign by everyone involved in education."

Charlie Gray, education spokesman for Cosla, which represents local authorities, said councils treated the safety of all employees seriously. An executive spokeswoman added: "It is important to remember that most Scottish children behave well in school and most schools deal effectively with indiscipline."


Australia: Plan to send parents back to classrooms

Better late than never to give people the education they should have got first time around

Western Australia's new Education Minister wants to send parents back to school in an effort to improve the reading, writing and numeracy skills of their children. Mark McGowan said yesterday there was "anecdotal evidence" that giving parents the right teaching skills would improve their children's education.

The state's smartest student, Christopher Mofflin, 17, from Hale School, Perth, yesterday credited parental support for his 99.95 Tertiary Entrance Examination score, saying they encouraged his reading at an early age. "I first started really reading in Year 3 when they gave me a copy of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings," Christopher said, after being awarded one of two Beazley medals in the state.

Mr McGowan said pilot programs could be made available to all parents, but they should be targeted at those who had children with learning difficulties. "Where children aren't doing as well as they could ... we could invite parents back, work with them, show them how to teach their children these basic skills," he said. "It's about getting parents involved to show parents what they can do to assist their children. There is concern about young people not being able to have the basic competencies ... and it would be irresponsible of me not to investigate options to deal with that."

Mr McGowan has recently touted an overhaul of the state's history curriculum as he tries to boost the Carpenter Government's tarnished standing in the education sector. Former minister Ljljiana Ravlich had a year of calamities in the job.

Christopher's Beazley Medal was based on results including 100 per cent for French and 98.8per cent for physics. Student Michael Gibbings, of Harvey College of Agriculture in the state's southwest, won the vocational studies Beazley Medal


Australia: Continued teacher resistance to grading

Morris Iemma made it personal when he said he couldn't understand his children's school reports. The NSW Premier strongly advocated the use of A to E grades in school reports on the ground that they would alert parents to any learning difficulties as early as possible. But it seems his Education Minister, Carmel Tebbutt, has not personally interfered with the reporting system at her child's school, which has ignored the Government's requirement for all reports to include the A to E scale.

Schools were originally told to grade subjects from A to E, but opposition from teachers forced Ms Tebbutt to soften her position and allow schools to use an equivalent five-point scale that describes grades as outstanding, high, sound, basic and limited. Schools using the alternative scale had to provide a key showing how the A to E grades matched up with the descriptive scale. "Schools who choose to grade students using word descriptors instead of A to E must explain on each report that the words equate to the A to E scale," Ms Tebbutt said at the time. But in its end-of-year reports, the school Ms Tebbutt's child attends used a descriptive scale without any reference to the A to E scale. The word "achieved" was used instead of "sound".

The Federation of Parents and Citizens' Associations of NSW said the C grade had caused confusion for many parents who had associated it with a poor performance. The president of the NSW Teachers Federation, Maree O'Halloran, said Ms Tebbutt's child's school had made a professional judgement about its report format. "I hope that the Government supports them, just as the Teachers Federation supports them in that choice," she said. Ms O'Halloran accused the Government of trying to put a positive spin on the new reports by commissioning a study of parent responses. "The focus group commissioned by the Government didn't really test parent opinion because the questions they asked were very narrow and the methodology they used was flawed," she said. "The Government is trying to put a positive spin on what has been for them a debacle."

The president of the Federation of P&C Associations, Dianne Giblin, said she had received mixed feedback from parents. A spokesperson for the minister said 80 per cent of public schools had adopted the five-point grading scale for their end-of-year student reports.



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 Pages are here or here or here.


Tuesday, January 02, 2007


It hugely degrades thinking and standards of argument even among those who should be most competent and careful. Post lifted from Keith Burgess-Jackson

John Deigh is a "professor" of law at the University of Texas at Austin. (I put the word "professor" in quotation marks, since Deigh has no legal credentials. His training is in philosophy.) Deigh is the editor of Ethics, a prominent philosophical periodical. In the most recent issue, dated October 2006, he editorializes about the fallacy of deriving an "is" statement from an "ought" statement (not to be confused with the fallacy-known as Hume's Law-of deriving an "ought" statement from an "is" statement). Deigh gives two illustrations of the fallacy. The first concerns "Stalin's efforts at falsifying the photographic record of Russia's October revolution and the early history of the Soviet Union" (page 2). The second concerns the war in Iraq. Let me reproduce the two paragraphs about the war in Iraq:

The Soviet Union was of course a totalitarian regime. Its rulers had vast power over their subjects. Nothing like this sort of propaganda campaign, it is easy to think, is imaginable in modern liberal democracies. Yet the propaganda campaign undertaken by President Bush and his administration in the run up to the invasion of Iraq and during the subsequent occupation of that country should make us think twice. It too was propelled by the fallacy of deriving `is' from `ought'. And it too used false and misleading representations of fact to gain support for its architects' ends. Thus Bush and the leading members of his administration loudly denounced the Iraqi government as an evil regime whose malignancy not only threatened to destabilize the Middle East but placed the Western world in grave peril as well. A regime this wicked ought to be in league with the most diabolical enemies of the West, plotting our destruction, and it ought to be amassing weapons of such destructive power as to give it a real chance of succeeding in these plots. So there followed from the Bush administration a steady stream of alarming, now discredited statements about the regime's ties to al-Qaeda terrorists, its active program for developing nuclear arms, and its stockpiling of huge stores of chemical and biological weapons. In the words of the head of British intelligence, reporting in the secret Downing Street memo of July 23, 2002, on the Bush administration's prewar strategy, "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." One could not give a better description of the fallacy.

The result has been a major human disaster, whether one measures it by the common conservative estimate of nearly 50,000 civilian Iraqi deaths since the invasion or by the radical estimate published this month in the Lancet of over 600,000 civilian Iraqi deaths or by something in between. And while the death toll in any case is dwarfed by that of Stalin's tyranny, such comparisons will bring no comfort to the Iraqi people or to the many families of soldiers who have died in the war or have returned home horribly and permanently maimed. A human disaster of this magnitude calls for investigation into its causes. Has it been due to undemocratic features of America's political institutions? Was it by exploiting them at an opportune time that a determined clique of government officials was able to grab the levers of power and push through policies of unnecessary war and conquest? Or should we conclude that the institutions of liberal democracy themselves have become less reliable safeguards against such efforts than we thought? These are questions for political scientists and perhaps eventually historians. For philosophers the disaster does not appear to have generated new questions for study. Our discipline's research is not as responsive to current events. But we are not isolated from them. And one thing we can do is to acquaint our students with the fallacy of deriving `is' from `ought', to alert them to the ease with which it is committed, particularly in government propaganda. (pages 2-4; footnotes omitted)

My first reaction upon reading Deigh's editorial was that it's a paranoid rant that has no place in a serious philosophical publication. It might be fit for a blog, or even a newspaper op-ed column, but it's not appropriate for a scholarly organ. My second reaction was that my first reaction was uncharitable. So let's put the best spin on Deigh's editorial, even if he doesn't put the best spin on the Bush administration's reasoning, for he claims to be making a serious philosophical point. Did President Bush commit the fallacy of deriving an "is" statement from an "ought" statement?

I don't see it. Deigh refers to a "propaganda campaign" undertaken by the Bush administration. But he doesn't support this claim. He says the Bush administration used "false and misleading representations of fact to gain support for its architects' ends." The implication is that lies were told. But a lie is not merely a false statement; it is a false statement uttered with intent to deceive. If Deigh believes that President Bush lied, then, given the seriousness of the charge, he has an obligation to supply the false statement together with evidence that, at the time it was uttered, it was known by President Bush to be false. Furthermore, he must adduce evidence that President Bush uttered it with the intent to deceive. That one or more of President Bush's factual claims was false, or turned out to be false, doesn't make it a lie; nor does it make it propaganda. In short, Deigh makes a number of wild and unsupported assertions. We teach our students not to do that sort of thing. Indeed, we grade their term papers down when they do.

Deigh next complains that President Bush described the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein as an "evil regime." Was it not an evil regime, by any reasonable standard? How many thousands of people did Hussein have murdered, tortured, raped, and mutilated? How many people did he terrorize, and for how long? Does Deigh deny that it was an evil regime? If it was an evil regime, what is wrong with saying so and acting accordingly? And keep in mind that President Bush did not have to speculate about Hussein having evil intentions toward the United States. There was plenty of evidence that he did, including Hussein's own statements over a period of many years. As for President Bush's belief that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, this wasn't something that the president cooked up for propaganda purposes. Almost everyone in American government, including Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and John Kerry, believed it. Deigh has to show not that the belief was false, for there can be justified false beliefs, but that it was unjustified or unreasonable. He goes no way toward doing this. Deigh's discussion of President Bush's beliefs, decisions, arguments, and actions is uncharitable in the extreme-to the point where Deigh's honesty must be called into question. There is a lesson here for students of philosophy, but it's not the one Deigh supposes.

As for the Iraq war being a "disaster," that requires both elaboration and argumentation. Calling it a disaster several times does not make it a disaster. (Students, take note.) Yes, people have died in Iraq since the invasion. Lots of them, on both sides. But people die in every war. Does that make every war unjustified? How many people died fighting Hitler? If Deigh believes that the war in Iraq was unjustified, he must make his case. He must state his principle of just war and apply it to Iraq. He doesn't. He simply assumes that the war was unjustified and goes on to "explain" why it occurred. That's called begging the question. Students should take note. That Deigh's audience (professional philosophers) overwhelmingly believes that the war was unjustified is neither here nor there. Is he merely preaching to the choir? What would be the point of that? He should do what philosophers routinely do, or profess to do, which is to try to persuade those whose minds are not already made up. But this would require more than the three pages he devotes to the topic, and it would require a lot less manipulative rhetoric. Deigh's editorial is drive-by philosophy. No wonder philosophers get no respect!

Deigh compounds his problem by trying to explain how the "disaster" came about. Doesn't that have the cart before the horse? First he must establish that there has been a disaster (by what standard?); then he must explain (in a plausible way) how it occurred, so that similar disasters can be prevented or averted. Suppose we used Deigh's technique on Deigh's editorial. Suppose we assumed, without argument, that Deigh published a scurrilous, poorly reasoned editorial, and then set about to explain how it could have been published in a journal as prestigious as Ethics. We might say that since Deigh is its editor, nobody had the power or the courage to stand up to him, or to tell him that his editorial is nothing more than a paranoid rant. Or perhaps we would explain it in terms of the left-wing bias of the academy. Everyone to whom Deigh showed the editorial, we might speculate, shared his values, so he got no disinterested feedback. Or maybe it's just a case of Bush Derangement Syndrome. And so on. I don't think Deigh would appreciate having his editorial dismissed in this way. So why does he dismiss the arguments of the Bush administration in this way? President Bush made a multi-pronged case for invading Iraq-before he invaded. Other people, including serious scholars, have made a case for war. Deigh ignores these arguments. This, I assure you, is not in keeping with philosophical practice. It is, in fact, a disgrace.

I've been teaching logic for almost a quarter of a century. Nothing in Deigh's editorial convinces me that President Bush committed the fallacy of deriving an "is" statement from an "ought" statement. If anyone has committed any fallacies, it is Deigh. He's lucky he's not my student. If I were grading his editorial, it would receive a D.

D.C.: Let the money follow the student

Mayor-elect Adrian M. Fenty has pledged to make education reform his administration's top priority. Unhappy with the progress of embattled DC Public Schools superintendent Clifford B. Janey, Fenty plans a New York-style mayoral takeover of the system. He may be popular enough to succeed, but unless he supports policies that fund students instead of failing schools, his coup cannot trigger an education revolution in the District.

Even without new ideas, a takeover may do some good: it would sideline a fractious and sluggish local school board and give the new mayor a chance to rid the DCPS of its most egregiously corrupt personnel and practices. But no managerial shake-up will rid the system of the honest but substandard teachers and techniques that keep District schools in the national-rankings basement year after year.

Only by empowering parents to choose their children's schools can Mayor-elect Fenty achieve his goal of a quality education for every child. He should increase public school choices, lift the arbitrary cap on the number of charter schools allowed in DC, and expand the district's nascent but promising school voucher program.

Poor teaching quality, one of the District's worst problems, is exacerbated by public school administrators who prefer to hire education majors instead math and science majors, even though the latter make better teachers in their subjects. Giving parents the ability to choose which public schools get their money discourages these and other counterproductive practices, as Harvard economist Caroline Hoxby has found.

Hoxby's work suggests that public schools that compete for funds and students are more likely to hire the most capable teachers available, improving results for students at all schools. But the DCPS still assigns students to schools largely by neighborhood. Fenty should recommend a city-wide open enrollment program for public schools to allow the most successful schools to expand their capacity and serve larger numbers of students.

Second, Fenty should unleash a new wave of Charter school entrepreneurship in the District. Charter schools have blossomed in recent years and now serve over 17,000 students in the District of Columbia. Although about three quarters of DC's charter school students come from low-income families, and virtually all are racial minorities, they routinely outperform DCPS students on math and reading tests, according to a recent study by the Progressive Policy Institute.

Despite good academic results and high rates of parental satisfaction, Washington's charter school movement is hobbled by an arbitrary cap of 20 new charters per year. Fenty should support lifting this cap. Equally important, he should smooth the way for charter schools to lease sought-after DCPS building space that is currently going to waste.

Finally, Fenty should rethink his former opposition to DC's promising new Opportunity Scholarship Program. The program offers scholarships of up to $7,500 to low and moderate income families who wish to enroll a child in a private or parochial school in the District. Both scholarships and places in participating schools are awarded on a lottery basis.

The program is too new to evaluate for educational results yet, but studies of similar programs elsewhere indicate that-while school choice benefits all students-African-American voucher recipients reap the largest academic gains. In a city with a painfully large academic achievement gap between white and minority students, the Opportunity Scholarship Program could be an important force for equity.

But only if it is expanded. While the program is probably priceless to many of the 1,802 students it serves, it is too small to provide meaningful competition for DC's public schools. A much larger program would not only benefit more scholarship recipients, it would also benefit the remaining DCPS students by forcing the public system to pull its socks up and improve the educational services it offers to local families.

Mayor-elect Fenty has promised to provide "qualified teachers for all children." If he is serious about that, he should put parents, not bureaucrats beholden to the American Federation of Teachers, in charge of choosing schools for them. To do so, he needs merely to embrace and expand existing programs that allow funding to follow students to the educational opportunities they deserve.



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 Pages are here or here or here.


Monday, January 01, 2007


The Young America's Foundation has come out with their 2006 list of the most bizarre and Politically Correct college courses of the year and it shows, once again, the foolishness being called an "education" that is foisted upon our children in our colleges and universities.

The number one most ridiculous is Occidental College's "The Phallus", supposedly a study on the relation "between the phallus and the penis, the meaning of the phallus, phallologocentrism, the lesbian phallus, the Jewish phallus, the Latino phallus, and the relation of the phallus and fetishism."....

There were a myriad of other "courses" that our highly priced and woefully inadequate universities have wasted time and effort upon, many of which attack America, the male of the species, white people and western culture. Of course, they all assault the sensibilities of any student who wants to actually learn something useful.

But, to my mind, the worst one on the list was Amherst College's "Taking Marx Seriously: Should Marx be Given Another Chance? Let me answer that query with a word even the pointy heads at University might understand: NO. A resounding no! Here is Amherst's course description:

Should Marx be given yet another chance? Is there anything left to gain by returning to texts whose earnest exegesis has occupied countless interpreters, both friendly and hostile, for generations? Has Marx's credibility survived the global debacle of those regimes and movements that drew inspiration from his work, however poorly they understood it? Or, conversely, have we entered a new era in which post-Marxism has joined a host of other "post-" phenomena? This seminar will deal with these and related questions in the context of a close and critical reading of Marx's texts. The main themes we will discuss include Marx's conception of capitalist modernity, material and intellectual production, power, class conflicts and social consciousness, and his critique of alienation, bourgeois freedom and representative democracy. We will also examine Marx's theories of historical progress, capitalist exploitation, globalization and human emancipation.

In light of the 100 million human beings murdered over the last 100 years or so by people inspired by Marx, it is a continual amazement to me that certain types of people still wonder if the failed theorist's ideas could still work "if only it were tried right".

Marx's ideas have nearly all proven chimerical at best and murderous at worst, yet we get one person after another traipsing about our college campuses claiming the mantle of thoughtful, professor positing the absurdities of Marx and his many murderous acolytes and ruefully pontificating upon their unrealized potential.

These are the same sorts of people who point to things like the Spanish Inquisition and the many wars launched under the name of Christ in previous centuries as reasons to de-legitimize Christianity. They proclaim Christianity's hypocrisy because of the many that have died in Christ's name. Yet, far more people have died as a result of Marx's religion than any other ever created. And not a word about the millions upon millions of Marx's victims is ever acknowledged by the ivory tower set.

So, according to such people, religion should be cast out because of such depredations, religion should be banished from the mind of man and excised from the university because of such historical excess, yet the excess caused by Marx? Well, let's not bring that up shall we? After all, they plaintively claim that Marx's ideas were never "really" implemented right as this fetid course description seems to allude, so his ideas must deserve a second look. Marx's followers just didn't get it because of how "poorly they understood it". Regardless of what Marxism has led to, let's give it another shot. no pun intended.

So, why can't we use the same argument for religion? Why can't we say religion has never been tried right, too? Not that I am equating Christ to Marx, far from it. But the pointy heads don't see their dichotomy. In fact, they don't even acknowledge it as a legitimate query.

Marx has proven an utter failure through every manner of implementation of his ideas on both large and small scale and does not behoove the time spent on him as a legitimate course of study unless it is as an adjunct to political science or history, and then only as a negative example therein. Marx deserves nothing but the contempt of everyone. And our universities don't deserve much better for their slavish love for this murderous, beast at this rate. Yes, he should be taught. But he deserves to be placed as the worst human being in human history. Worse than Hitler, worse then Stalin, even worse then Torquemada.



If someone owed me millions, I would know all about it all the time

The government has been forced to release official accounts showing that in its rush to sign up city academy [charter school] sponsors it may have failed to collect millions of pounds pledged by wealthy businessmen. The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) has released figures showing that it has received only 32 million pounds of the 74m pledged to build academies that have already opened. Ministers said that for seven academies they "did not know" how much money had been paid by sponsors. It is not clear whether the money has not been paid, is not formally due, or whether the figures reflect lax accounting at the DfES.

The disclosure, made in a written parliamentary answer on the day Tony Blair was interviewed by detectives investigating the cash-for-peerages scandal, comes amid increasing concern over the city academy programme. Blair is desperate to sign up hundreds of sponsors before he steps down in the new year amid fears that Brown may halt the scheme. The premier has lauded and honoured businessmen backing academies. City academies are controlled by wealthy men or companies who have pledged 1.5m to 2m. The money is supposed to pay for the construction of the buildings.

However, the new figures show that for the 45 academies already open, the government can account for the full sponsorship pledged from only five donors. Teaching unions and other critics were led to believe that the sponsorship would be paid before any academy opened. The biggest shortfall in the DfES figures appears in the payments pledged by United Learning Trust (ULT), a Christian charity that has Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, on its board. The ULT has pledged 14.6m for the academies, but the government said it could account for only 2,979,000 received. The government has paid more than 120m towards the capital costs of building ULT academies.

In some cases, the DfES figures appear to be out of date. Lord Harris is recorded as having paid 1,157,000 of the 4.5m he pledged for four academies. However, yesterday he detailed how he had given all the money due so far. Last week ARK, the charitable group headed by Arpad Busson, the financier, which has opened one academy, also insisted it was up to date with its pledges, raising questions over the internal accounting system of the DfES.

The DfES figures also show that Barry Townsley, the stockbroker who secretly loaned Labour 1m before being nominated for a peerage, has handed over only 896,000 of his 2m. He said recently that he was up to date with his payments. Peter Shalson, another Labour donor, is said to have handed over only 989,000 of his 1,490,000. He could not be reached for comment.

Paul Holmes, a Liberal Democrat on the Education Select Committee, described the figures as outrageous. He said: "Nobody - either politician or DfES official - has ever been able to give clear figures on the finances of the academies. There's also a question over what is being handed over `in kind'." Under the system, each donor forms a trust that oversees the construction and running of the new school. The DfES then hands over tens of millions of pounds and the private sponsor provides their share of the money. The development plans are jointly agreed and regular accounts and invoices are submitted to the DfES.

Sarah Teather, the Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman, called for urgent action. She said: "The government does not know whether sponsors are actually giving the money to the academies. ULT has had 120m of public money and yet parents can't tell whether their schools have had any sponsorship."

More here


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

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

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


Sunday, December 31, 2006

A vision for Hispanic education

Like many millions of other immigrants, New Yorker Herman Badillo is living the American Dream. His new book, "One Nation, One Standard," is a call to arms for Hispanics who are being shut out of that dream. So why are some of Mr. Badillo's fellow Hispanic Americans now calling him a race traitor and bashing his book even before it was published yesterday?

We'll get to that, but first consider the credentials Mr. Badillo brings to his subject. He arrived in the U.S. as an 11-year-old orphan in 1941 and by 1970 was elected the first Puerto Rican-born U.S. congressman. Mr. Badillo has since been deputy mayor of New York under Ed Koch, run for mayor himself and was former Mayor Rudy Giuliani's counsel on education, eventually leading efforts to reform and restore to excellence the City University of New York system.

Out of this experience comes Mr. Badillo's blueprint for immigrant success in America. The main focus of "One Nation, One Standard" is the Hispanic community, and his central theme is education, without which, he emphasizes, no amount of work or other opportunity will help a person rise. What's got his critics in a tizzy is Mr. Badillo's assertion that Hispanic parents cannot depend on the government to educate their children. Instead, he says, they must push their kids and rise up against a system that steers Hispanic and other minority children into segregated classrooms of designated underachievers.

The critics have focused on a few phrases in the book noting that the Hispanic immigrant community has not always placed as high a value on education as, for instance, Asians have. This is not an insult and does not sound like one when you actually read his book. As Mr. Badillo explains, the Hispanic cultural experience was formed in part by centuries of Spanish colonialism and the feudalism it spawned in Latin America, followed by decades of dictatorships and strongmen. This cruel legacy has imbued many people with a subconscious notion that stations in life don't change, and a sense that help can only come through the luck of having a benevolent leader.

"One Nation, One Standard" calls on Hispanic Americans to throw off those mental shackles and claim the rights and opportunities that other citizens enjoy. His goal, he told us in an interview this week, is to sound an alarm that what is now the country's major immigrant group is at risk of becoming the first such group not to follow the path of each generation doing better than the last.

Although his book covers many topics--including immigration--its most important audience is the parents of Hispanic kids, 50% of whom don't graduate from high school. His advice: Don't leave education up to the schools, which pursue such failed policies as "social promotion" (said to create self-esteem despite failing grades) or "tracking" with other minority children into deceptively named "academic courses," while kids marked for success study a more rigorous curriculum. Get involved and demand that your children be prepared to participate fully in the American dream, through college and beyond.

If Mr. Badillo is generating controversy by suggesting that America's Hispanics are being sidetracked in the name of multiculturalism, or hobbled by bilingual education, he welcomes the attention. "That was the reason" to write the book, he says. "To provoke a recognition that this issue cannot be hidden any longer and has to come to the forefront of a national discussion. Because we can no longer allow this to fester from generation to generation."


NYT: End the dance of the lemons

Post lifted from Edspresso

The sea change at the New York Times continues apace:

The United States has a long and shameful history of dumping its least effective, least qualified teachers into the schools that serve the neediest children. The No Child Left Behind Act requires the states to end this practice. But the states are unlikely to truly improve teacher quality — or spread qualified teachers more equitably throughout the schools — until they pay more attention to how teachers are trained, hired, evaluated and assigned.

To get control of the assignment process, districts will need to abandon union rules that basically guarantee senior teachers the right to change schools whenever they want — even if the principal of the receiving school does not want them — by bumping a less senior teacher out of his or her job.

Read carefully, folks--that's the New York Times calling for shedding union rules related to dumping mediocre teachers.  As I've stated elsewhere: if even the NYT is getting onboard with this stuff, I'd say the debate is shifting in a positive direction. 


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 Pages are here or here or here.