Thursday, March 29, 2007


Not enough students passing? Dump it! That Math and science are not as well taught as some other subjects is the obvious message but that must be covered up! Appearance always matters more than reality to Leftists

State lawmakers appear on the verge of dumping the math and science sections of the 10th-grade Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL), and replacing them with a very different kind of test. The idea is to do something about the fact that so few students pass the math and science sections. But the proposed remedy is generating a lot of concern because it could mean big changes in what students are expected to learn, and how they're tested. "We need to make sure that the cure is not worse than the ailment," said Marc Frazer, vice president of the Washington Roundtable, a nonprofit group of business executives.

If the math and science portions of the WASL are eliminated, it would be the second time the state has dropped part of the exam. A "listening" section, designed to measure communication skills, was removed without controversy three years ago. Two bills under consideration - one passed by the House, a similar version by the Senate - would phase out math and science on the 10th-grade WASL. The state Board of Education then would select new tests in algebra, geometry and biology to be given right after students finish courses in those subjects. The algebra test would become a graduation requirement starting in 2013, geometry in 2014, and biology in 2013; under the Senate bill or 2014 in the House version.

HIGHLIGHTS OF BILLS to eliminate the math and science sections of the WASL:

* The math and science sections of the WASL would be replaced with end-of-course exams in algebra, geometry and biology.
* Passing the end-of-course exams would become graduation requirements in - and -, depending on the test.
* Until that time, students still would take the math WASL or an approved alternative. If they failed, however, they could still graduate until 2010 (under the House bill) or - (in the Senate bill) if they continued to pass math classes.

Both bills would narrow the field of what's tested. The math WASL now includes probability and other topics in addition to algebra and geometry. The science WASL covers more than biology. The House bill also says the new exams "must rely" on multiple-choice questions, which the WASL doesn't. It has some fill-in-the-bubble items, but among its hallmarks are short-answer and "extended response" items that require students to solve problems, apply what they've learned, or explain how they arrived at an answer.

Many not passing

End-of-course exams emerged this year as one of many ideas for solving the state's math and science problem. Students in the class of 2008 - the first class that must pass reading, writing and math on the WASL (or an approved alternative) to graduate - have a long way to go in those subjects. Nearly 85 percent of the students in that class who've taken the exam have passed reading and writing. But it's a different story in math and science, with just 56 percent passing math and 38 percent passing science. And that doesn't include about 3,500 students who've yet to take the exam.

Even before the Legislature convened in January, Gov. Christine Gregoire and Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson asked for a three-year delay in requiring passing scores in math and science for graduation. (In the meantime, they want students failing the WASL to have to pass math classes to graduate.) The Legislature is considering the delay and a number of other bills that would provide more teacher training, add new math programs and bring a thorough review of the test. The state Board of Education recently hired an outside consultant to review the state's math-learning standards.

Some argue those are more important than changing the test, because the underlying problem is that students lack strong math skills. Advocates of end-of-course exams don't dispute that. "Obviously we need to have a better curriculum, better standards and better-prepared teachers," said state Rep. Pat Sullivan, D-Covington.

More here


Getting the kids to sit up, shut up and listen would teach them a lot more in more ways than one and it would also be cheaper

States and school districts nationwide are moving to lengthen the day at struggling schools, spurred by grim test results suggesting that more than 10,000 schools are likely to be declared failing under federal law next year. In Massachusetts, in the forefront of the movement, Gov. Deval L. Patrick is allocating $6.5 million this year for longer days and can barely keep pace with demand: 84 schools have expressed interest. Gov. Eliot Spitzer of New York has proposed an extended day as one of five options for his state's troubled schools, part of a $7 billion increase in spending on education over the next four years - apart from the 37 minutes of extra tutoring that children in some city schools already receive four times a week. And Gov. M. Jodi Rell of Connecticut is proposing to lengthen the day at persistently failing schools as part of a push to raise state spending on education by $1 billion.

"In 15 years, I'd be very surprised if the old school calendar still dominates in urban settings," said Mark Roosevelt, superintendent of schools in Pittsburgh, which has added 45 minutes a day at eight of its lowest-performing schools and 10 more days to their academic year.

But the movement, which has expanded the day in some schools by as little as 30 minutes or as much as two hours, has many critics: among administrators, who worry about the cost; among teachers, whose unions say they work hard enough as it is, and have sought more pay and renegotiation of contracts; and among parents, who say their children spend enough time in school already. Still others question the equity of moving toward a system where students at low-performing, often urban, schools get more teaching than students at other schools. And of all the steps school districts take to try to improve student achievement, lengthening the day is generally the costliest - an extra $1,300 a student annually here in Massachusetts - and difficult to sustain.

The idea of a longer day was first promoted in charter schools - public schools that are tax-supported but independently run. But the surge of interest has been spurred largely by the federal No Child Left Behind law, which requires annual testing of students, with increasingly dire consequences for schools that fall short each year, including possible closing.

Pressed by the demands of the law, school officials who support longer days say that much of the regular day must concentrate on test preparation. With extra hours, they say, they can devote more time to test readiness, if needed, and teach subjects that have increasingly been dropped from the curriculum, like history, art, drama. "Whether it's No Child Left Behind or local standards, when you start realizing that we're really having a hard time raising kids to standards, you see you need more time," said Christopher Gabrieli of Massachusetts 2020, a nonprofit education advocacy group that supports a longer school day. "As people are starting to really sweat, they've increasingly started to think really hard about `are we giving them enough time?' "

Still, some educators question whether keeping children in school longer will improve their performance. A recent report by the Education Sector, a centrist nonprofit research group, found that unless the time students are engaged in active learning - mastering academic subjects - is increased, adding hours alone may not do much.

Money also has proved a big obstacle. Murfreesboro, Tenn., experimented with a longer day, but abandoned the plan when the financing ran out, said An-Me Chung, a program officer at the C. S. Mott Foundation, which does education research. Typically, she said, lengthening the school day can add about 30 percent to a state's per-pupil spending on education. Given that expense, New Mexico is acting surgically. The state is spending $2.3 million to extend the day for about 2,100 children in four districts who failed state achievement tests. The money, $1,000 a student, goes for an extra hour of school a day for those children, time they spend on tutorials tailored to their weaknesses in math or reading.


Love of terrorists in U.S. academe

Post below lifted from Phi Beta Cons

Ah, the depths of compassion that are sometimes shown by academics for their down-and-out colleagues!

Susan O’Malley, a former head of the University Faculty Senate of the City University of New York and current English professor at Kingsborough Community College, is just such a stand-up lady. Last fall she went to this governing body to plead for a job for Mohammed Yousry, the convicted co-conspirator of Maoist lawyer Lynn Stewart, for whom he worked and who supports armed revolution.

In 2005 Yousry was convicted of supporting terrorism, specifically, for translating a letter for, and reading letters to, blind Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman. These letters concerned communication between Rahman and his jihadist supporters, relating to his role in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.

As recorded in the minutes of that UFS meeting, the influential O’Malley put out the following feelers:

Do you think CUNY could hire Mohammed Yousry? What do you think? I have his phone number.  I could find out if he wants to be hired and if anyone would like to try to hire him. I’m just throwing it out; I don’t know. I know that it’s on appeal but it’s becoming increasingly clear that he really did just about nothing. 

To which one of her more level-headed colleagues responded:

I don’t think I have an answer to that question. Others may. As you may or may not know he’s been sentenced to 20 months and that is under appeal at the present time.

CUNY Professor Emeritus Sharad Karkhanis, who intrepidly reports, in The Patriot Returns (here and here), the machinations of leftist academics in the system, comments:

It's almost unbelievable…Queen O'Malley was…obsessed…Yes, yes, Mohammed was on her mind and she was not going to rest until she got this convicted terrorist a job. We do not know how many people she buttonholed, or telephoned, or e-mailed for him. But we sure do know that she used her position as a former Chair of the UFS to be recognized at the plenary and sneak in this "Job Wanted for the terrorist" ad.. She even made sure to notify the delegates that she had his telephone number and could contact him.

Karkhanis presses on:

1) Has Queen O'Malley ever made a "Job Wanted" announcement like this for a non-convicted, non-violent, peace loving American educator for a job in CUNY? There are hundreds of qualified people looking for teaching jobs. Why does she prefer convicted terrorists who are bent on harming our people and our nation…?

2) During her six year tenure as the Chair of the UFS, did she ever give UFS delegates an opportunity to make announcements of this nature? If not, why not?

3) Being on the PSC's Executive Committee [the Professional Staff Congress is CUNY's educational workers' union], she knew that Yousry, fired from his adjunct position at York in April 2002, was provided with all legal and contractual protection…up to arbitration…, which cost thousand of dollars, money which came from dues paying members…

Many of us know peace loving, law abiding, never-even-convicted-for-littering citizens who need work. How many law-abiding adjunct faculty have to worry about getting their two courses in order to hold onto medical benefits!? She does not worry about the "ordinary" adjunct — but she is worried about convicted terrorists! She will take these precious courses away and give them to terrorists and terrorist sympathizers!

We at the Patriot take the liberty of asking you, our readers, a question:

How many of you know, or have friends who know, a convicted terrorist and [have] his or her home telephone number?

We sure don't and believe that you don't either. But, watch out — Queen O'Malley does!

Brooklyn College (CUNY) Professor Mitchell Langbert, who brought the O’Malley’s job-plea to my attention, adds another exclamation to this intriguing testimony to the bottomless pit of leftist zealotry: “…rather than going for a Ph.D., students interested in academic jobs might just as well commit terrorist acts and be handed jobs by sympathetic left-wing academics!”

That O’Malley would publicly, without reticence or shame, beat the bushes for a felon convicted of abetting the most hateful enemies of this nation — enemies who would not hesitate to eliminate useful idiots like her in the name of establishing worldwide Islamist tyranny — illustrates once again the perverse and destructive bent of campus radicals.

When David Horowitz’s book The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America was published, hostile reviewers ridiculed the idea that a professor might be “dangerous.” But Horowitz demonstrated that all too many of the nation’s professoriate negatively affect America’s war on terror.

Would that O’Malley were one of a kind — a small, sad aberration. But such is not the case.  Her championing of Youssef, with no significant opposition from her colleagues, exemplifies a deep and suicidal pattern within academe.


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"

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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