Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Leftist hostility to reform of educational standards

Leftists were once supposed to be in favour of reform and change. Ever since Ronald Reagan's changes, we have seen what hypocrtisy that was. They only want change that benefits them. Post below lifted from Mitchell Langbert

I have been saddened at the indifference to standards, ethics and competence in higher education. Make-believe academic freedom that cloaks suppression; the commercialization of education that masquerades as student-centeredness but fails to educate; the self-indulgent politicization of the curriculum; and lack of interest in liberal education---all of this saddened me when I first began to teach and still saddens me 16 years later. One would hope that most academics would fight to improve higher education, but most do not. The few insiders who do are often ostracized, harassed and sometimes fired. In part, the task of demanding that universities renew their sacred duty to students, alumni, donors and the general public has fallen to Anne Neal and the organization that she leads, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA).

For instance, in 1997 ACTA found that:

"two-thirds of the top 70 colleges and universities in the nation no longer require even their English majors to take Shakespeare."

In 2000 ACTA found that:

"81% of seniors from the top 55 U.S. colleges and universities failed a high school level history exam, and none of the institutions surveyed requires a course in American history. Three-quarters require no history at all."

More recently, ACTA has made suggestions to Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings to address low levels of student learning and problems in accreditation.

It is difficult for me to understand then the hate, yes hate, that many academics feel toward Ms. Neal. In a profession such as teaching, which aims to broaden students' minds, consideration of criticism from outsiders would seem to be what might be called academic social responsibility. When environmental groups or advocates of fair working conditions criticize corporations, we expect them to investigate those criticisms, as many corporations have.

However, when Anne Neal criticizes academics, the academics respond just as General Motors did decades ago toward Ralph Nader--with intolerance not only toward the reformer, but toward the reformer's goals, which ought to be fundamental institutional goals or quality targets. Just as General Motors attacked Ralph Nader for saying that its cars were unsafe at any speed, so do academics attack Anne Neal for telling us that university graduates are too often innumerate, illiterate, unable to write and lacking in interpersonal skills.

An example of the intolerant reaction toward Ms. Neal and ACTA appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education in an article with the title "A Not So Professional Watchdog". How would we react if an automobile industry publication wrote an article about Michael Moore or Ralph Nader with this title? Are only auto engineers or race car drivers permitted to criticize the safety of cars? And if universities graduate students who cannot write; cannot do basic arithmetic; and do not know the rudiments of history should criticism of these quality gaps be restricted to academics whose "professionalism" has generated the performance shortfalls in the first place?

The Chronicle article attributes the following hate-filled remarks to Stanley N. Katz, president emeritus of the American Council of Learned Societies:

"Katz said he considered Ms. Neal's group to be a 'hostile organization.' He went on: 'We have to be prepared to know who our enemies are.' He even questioned why Ms. Neal was part of the higher-education debate. 'She represents only a couple of hundred people,' he said. (ACTA says it has supporters — including alumni and trustees — from more than 695 colleges.) But that Ms. Neal was a topic of discussion at all seemed to prove that she has become a force to be reckoned with."

Sharad Karkhanis just forwarded an e-mail concerning a call by Professor Sandi Cooper of the College of Staten Island to "organize" against Anne Neal in response to her appointment to the National Accreditation Review Panel:

"Now is the time for all CU* faculty who value liberal education to stand up and organize, starting with opposition to the fraudulent persecution and pending dismissal of Ward Churchill."

Ward Churchill was the Colorado professor who called 9/11 terrorism victims "little Eichmanns". Rather than protest on behalf of an unqualified bigot like Ward Churchill, perhaps the "CU" faculty should cheer the appointment of Neal, who is eminently qualified, honest, competent and brilliant.

*I believe that "CU" refers to "City University", of which the College of Staten Island is a part.

Australia: "Soft" educational options booming

The next generation of the state's skilled workers is abandoning the critical subjects needed to equip them for lucrative jobs in mining and defence. The number of students completing key Year 12 courses - including physics and maths - is dramatically declining, according to latest figures from the Senior Secondary Assessment Board of South Australia. In physics alone, completions last year sank below 2000 - 600 fewer than a decade ago - during a period when the number of students completing their high school certificate increased from 9000 to 12,000.

Fewer students undertook mathematical studies - completions were down by 500 in just three years - while student numbers in chemistry, information technology, specialist mathematics and geology have also dropped. The decline has extended to Flinders University, which has axed five maths staff because of a lack of interest in the subject.

The alarming downturn has prompted federal Finance Minister Nick Minchin to consider encouraging the study of science and maths by lowering university fees for these subjects.

SA Chamber of Mines and Energy chief executive Jason Kuchel said the state's mining industry alone would need an extra 14,000 people in the next seven years. "What really disappoints us is that schools do not reinforce to students that, if they want to keep their options open, they need to do maths and science in school - particularly in years 11 and 12," Mr Kuchel said.

The State Government wants to boost defence jobs from 16,000 to 28,000 within a decade.

Outer Harbor-based shipbuilder ASC, which will build three air warfare destroyers for the navy, last year launched a long-term recruiting campaign in schools for 1000 shipbuilding jobs. The SA Chamber of Mines and Energy also is campaigning in schools.

The state strategic plan targets a $2 billion defence industry by 2013, and $4 billion worth of mining and processing by 2014. But declines in subject enrolments almost exactly mirror the courses required to equip students for these sectors. Geology completions fell to just 60 last year, compared with 243 in 1996, and Information Technology numbers went from 815 to 155. Specialist Maths completions dropped from 1552 in 1999 to 1121, while Chemistry numbers were at 2217, compared with 2704 in 1998.

Flinders University vice-chancellor Anne Edwards said the university had previously announced it might not be able to continue an engineering faculty, saying "you can't make students study what they don't want to study". "It's a national emergency - we all recognise that - it's a national problem," she said.

University of Adelaide senior physics lecturer Dr Rodney Crewther blamed the decline on low numbers of qualified science teachers. The State Government in January announced targets committing the Education Department to increasing the number of students achieving a Tertiary Entrance Rank in maths, physics or chemistry by 15 per cent within three years.

Senator Minchin, a former science minister, said government intervention was needed. "Some have suggested changing HECS fee levels but there's no evidence that it is the cost of the courses that is the determinant of whether someone does or doesn't do a course," he said. In February, Labor leader Kevin Rudd announced a plan to halve fees in maths and science courses



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 INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"CU" is also the way "Colorado University" can be abbreviated. Since the subject was Ward Churchill, professor at the University of Colorado, that would be equally credible.