Sunday, May 20, 2007

Black school boss in California had only diploma-mill degrees

A blind eye was obviously turned -- anything to get a black face in your group photographs -- and thus show how wonderful you are! It's only when he was found to be crooked in other ways that anybody looked into his qualifications

Elk Grove schools' recently hired facilities chief -- already surrounded by questions about cronyism and a controversial land deal at his former job -- claims university degrees on his r‚sum‚ that education experts say appear to have come from a diploma mill. The Elk Grove job posting required a master's degree, but The Bee discovered that the company hired to vet Frank C. Harding Jr.'s r‚sum‚ never checked his academic credentials.

On his resume, Harding, who did not respond to several requests for comment, states that he did course work at UCLA from 1972 through 1976 but received both his bachelor's degree in economics and an MBA from Edenvale University. For $2,000 to $8,000, that university will provide a degree based upon "life experience, work experience and any kind of courses taken" at a prior college, said Edenvale registrar Brian Winslow. Currently, Edenvale is a non-accredited online organization with offices in Dallas, New York and London, Winslow said. Previously, he said, it was a correspondence and distance learning organization. Winslow declined to provide an address or phone number for the university's headquarters unless a reporter paid a fee for a degree.

Clients send Edenvale their resume and transcripts and a panel of professors determines if they are qualified for degrees, Winslow said. Letters of recommendation and customized transcripts also are provided. Many legitimate online college programs exist. But education experts said the practices described by Winslow can be tip-offs that an institution sells diplomas. Alan Contreras, administrator for Oregon's Office of Degree Authorization, is widely known as an expert on bogus degrees. He looked at Edenvale's Web site, "Fake, fake, fake," Contreras said. "This is not even a close call. This is a diploma mill."

Government officials in Texas and the United Kingdom say it is illegal for Edenvale to issue diplomas from those locations. "(Edenvale) has never been recognized as a degree awarding body by U.K. authorities," Jackie Stevenson, a spokeswoman for Britain's Department for Education and Skills, said in an e-mail.

The superintendent of the Elk Grove Unified School District, Steven Ladd, said the district hired School Services of California to vet Harding's references as part of a rigorous screening process. Harding's previous jobs include posts with the Natomas Unified School District and the private consulting firm School Facilities Planning & Management. Ladd said nothing of concern arose during that screening. "The question for us is, 'Does he have the degrees?' and he does," Ladd said during a break in Tuesday's school board meeting. "You're asking questions about the quality of those degrees."

Yet it turns out the education portion of the screening never actually occurred. Ronald Bennett, president of School Services of California, at first said his firm paid another company to verify Harding's claims. When The Bee found that firm had not made the checks, Bennett said he had accidentally neglected to make that request.


Academic Thuggery

"Indoctrinate U" examines higher learning's left wing bias

IRONICALLY ENOUGH, aspiring conservative documentarian Evan Coyne Maloney received his inspiration from Michael Moore, the left-wing firebrand responsible for the anti-gun polemic Bowling for Columbine and the anti-Bush screed Fahrenheit 9/11. This isn't to say that Moore inspired him figuratively: Maloney literally stopped Moore on the street, interviewed him, and left with some helpful knowledge. When Maloney confronted the Oscar winner about the liberal slant of most Hollywood-produced documentaries, Moore responded thusly:

"I agree with you. I think this art form should be open to people of all political persuasions and not just be people who are liberal or left of center or whatever. . . . You want to encourage all voices to be heard because that's the best way to have, to come up with the best decisions in a free society. You don't want just one voice or one stream of thought being put out there. . . . Make your movies and then the people will respond, or not respond, to them."

Taking this advice to heart, Maloney posted the video of this exchange on his blog in 2003 along with a note that read "I have not yet received payment for the services I have rendered to the [vast right wing] conspiracy. I'll assume this is merely a clerical error on your part and will expect remuneration shortly." This tongue-in-cheek plea for cash was not entirely sarcastic and his fishing expedition landed a nice haul--Stuart Browning, the cofounder of Embarcadero Technologies (a software company that was named 2000's best IPO).

"He sort of threw down the gauntlet," Browning said of Maloney. "Hey, you know, why can't we make these sorts of things too? Why can't conservatives have a voice in this art form too?" Intrigued by Maloney's appeal, Browning then "sent him an email and said 'what would it cost, and what kind of projects are you interested in?' That's how we met."

"He was the guy that put up the first dollars to get" Indoctrinate U going, Maloney says in an interview. "He, and I, and another gentleman, Blaine Greenberg, decided to start a production company after I was able to convince them that there was a feature-length film in analyzing what is going on on college campuses." Browning was interested. "At that point I was pretty well versed on the topic, having read Dinesh D'Souza's books, and Bloom, Closing of the American Mind. I had read all the literature and was very open to the idea," Browning said, adding "And [Evan] looked like a college student! Even though he'd been out of college for a while, he looked the ideal guy to play the part."

WITH FUNDING IN PLACE, Maloney set out on his quest to gather material for the documentary. "We were looking for specific cases that were fairly well-documented that would show different examples of people having their free speech or free thought rights trampled on campus," Maloney says.

There was no shortage of topics. The free-wheeling film first documents the rise of the "campus free speech movement" in the 1960s and '70s, then cuts to examples of modern-day conservatives being shouted down and otherwise intimidated on college campuses. Ward Connerly is verbally assaulted for daring to disagree with campus orthodoxy on the issue of affirmative action and black professors like John McWhorter, formerly of UC-Berkeley, Carol Swain of Vanderbilt University's Law School, and Temple's Lewis Gordon all express their dismay with the current state of the academy, and the suppression of intellectual diversity therein.

From there, Maloney looks at the deprivations some conservative students have faced. He highlights the Kafka-esque nightmare faced by Steve Hinkle, a student at California Polytechnic, who the school attempted to sanction for placing a flier in the university's multicultural center announcing a speech by conservative African-American author, Mason Weaver.

Maloney points out the intimidation tactics used against ROTC recruiters on campus, including a students protest designed to shut down a college job fair the Army Corps of Engineers is attending. The litany goes on and on, with conservative student publications stolen and professors told "we never would have hired you if we knew you were a Republican." Daniel Pipes sums it up best noting, "Going to a university today in the United States is like joining a church--you have to be a believer, you have to have the right set of views, or you're excluded."

The documentary combines relatively shocking footage (one professor excitedly tells the camera "whiteness is a form of racial oppression . . . treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity") with snappy editing to create a documentary that bounces quickly from subject to subject. It's not a perfect production--Indoctrinate U tends to bog down a little when Maloney tries to ambush subjects who haven't replied to multiple requests for interviews. But these segments illustrate an important point: Rather than face a rational discussion with someone who disagrees with them, many academics simply call the cops. (Maloney even had the police called on him at his alma mater, Bucknell.)

WITH FILMING AND EDITING COMPLETE, Maloney is now looking for a way to distribute his film, which is an expensive proposition. "Your first set of prints will probably run you $20,000 to $25,000, and every set after that will be $2,000 to $3,000," Maloney says. It is virtually impossible for an independent filmmaker to shoulder that cost and convince theaters to run the films. If Indoctrinate U is going to be shown at your local art house theater, it will have to be picked up by a mini-major distributor, such as Lion's Gate, or New Line.

In order to generate interest from a studio, the film's producers have been trying to stir up excitement at the grassroots level. "At our website,, people can punch in their zip codes and when they do that, it puts a pin on a Google map. We've got thousands and thousands of pins on there now, and over 10,000 localities around the country where people have expressed interest in the film. That's a bankable asset," Maloney says. "We can go to distributors and say 'Look, we haven't spent a dime on promoting this film yet, and we've already had tens of thousands of people sign up saying they'd see this near them if it was shown there." Browning adds, "The idea is to show the demand for a film like this and show there's a ready made audience. That's the hope."

Maloney believes that his documentary has the potential to be a commercial success and hopes someone in Los Angeles takes notice. "I've gotta figure that there's at least one person in Hollywood who recognizes that there's a huge potential audience for this, and that if they think like a business person, and not like a political operative, we could very easily get mainstream distribution."

Failing that, Maloney plans to take his film directly to the people: "We've got this database of people who've already expressed an interest in seeing the film, and there's other ways of getting it to them, from DVD sales, to the iTunes movie store. One way or another, people are going to get to see this film. The only question is, 'Is Hollywood going to demonstrate that they're really nonpartisan, and do business with folks like us?'"


Australia: School geography has lost its way, say teachers

GEOGRAPHY is taught in schools as a series of issues pushing a particular opinion rather than giving students a grounding in basic facts about natural processes and human interaction with the environment. The Australian Geography Teachers Association and the Institute of Australian Geographers told a Senate inquiry into the academic standards of school education that geography, under the umbrella of Studies of Society and the Environment, had lost its disciplinary rigour.

AGTA director Grant Kleeman told the hearing in Sydney that students studied global warming but not the atmospheric processes required to understand climate change and its impact. "The traditional discipline encouraged students to look at issues from a variety of perspectives with the expectation students then formulate their own opinions rather than inculcate them with a particular perspective," Mr Kleeman said.

IAG president Jim Walmsley said the teaching of SOSE into schools resulted in geography students being "issue-led rather than being rigorous in their understanding of these issues".

Mr Kleeman said the notion of issue-based learning was introduced in the 1970s and 80s when everything taught in schools had to be immediately relevant to the lives of students. "We're advocating a return to a more systematic study of geography and history, where you look at processes as the entry point of study rather than the issue," he said.

AGTA chairman Nick Hutchinson said the perspectives pushed in school geography included radical green opinions and neo-liberal views school, when it should have a robust core as the base. "In geography, we've taken on board everything from extreme environmental perspectives through to peace perspectives," Mr Hutchinson said. "But all the time we come back to this core of the discipline, so we can deal with an issue like deep ecology, which might be as controversial as black-armband history, but we can do it within the discipline because we have tools of dissection," he said. Deep ecology is a philosophy that says animals and plants have the right to as much ethical consideration as humans. "The automatic reaction of most kids is they want to protect nature, the environment, animals and cuddly things," he said. "The job of the teacher is to show them other sides, to facilitate class discussion so they can work out their values towards issues." Understanding the processes at work in areas such as the Great Barrier Reef or cyclones destroying rainforests showed students that destruction was part of the natural growth cycle, he said.

The AGTA says geography should be compulsory for all students in years 7 to 10 as a stand-alone subject.



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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