Saturday, January 13, 2007


I have received the following email from a reader who is an inmate of a government High School:

As a year 11 student in **** with more than a passing fancy for history, I took Modern History as one of my choices in the second semester of school. I wouldn't know anything about Australian history from that class, there was not a single mention of it apart from a very brief look at Australia's role in the Vietnam War.

The Vietnam War is a case in point about why History in schools is failing miserably, or at the most generous, being changed into -- as you so eloquently put it -- a "politically correct, ideological prism." The Vietnam War was portrayed in a rather interesting fashion, as a Communist North reaction against American imperialistic ambitions on the region. No mention was made of the North's continued covert support of terrorists or its intentions to invade and then annex the South.

The class even from the very first was told to look critically at the American conduct of the war. We looked at the Mai Lai massacre, which was a horrible abomination, but instead of treating it as an isolated case (which it was probably not). It was used to illustrate an imaginary trend and we then proceeded to spend the six weeks examining American conduct in great deal.

A personal favourite was the curriculum's view of the Tet offensive; it was not treated as a communist attack on cities full of non combatants on a national holiday. Instead we looked at the conduct of the Americans in dealing with it, every report of heavy handedness, every possible picture that could possibly be used to attack America was brought up. No mention was made of the massacres which the communists perpetrated in which thousands were killed.

Even more entertaining was the constant left wing rants from many of my co-students. I have heard communism called many things in front of me, but a good system which helped all the people, that was a first. So I guess that Marx must have been rolling in his grave when the Soviet Union was formed, with Gulags (people need to go somewhere), with the God-Comrade Stalin (better a man who tries to be god than god), with the KGB (someone needs to keep the Proletariat and reactionaries in order) and with the mass starvation of the Poles and Ukrainians (they tried to be different) and all the other trappings of the Russian version of communism. He must have died again when China fell to God-Comrade Mao better than God-Comrade Stalin (he was a peasant), then died again when God Comrade Mao used peasants instead of Marx's beloved industrial workers (is that communism?), then once more when Mao then proceeded to starve millions, and Marx's beloved industrial workers and less than loved peasants (Stalin at least cared, he hoped). Which sadly the class did little to damp or in anyway impede in fact it encouraged it.

A measure of respect can be aimed at people who have read Marx and understand the finer principles of Communes and the like, even if they like a grievously flawed philosophy. There were too many flaws in the way the class was presented to list but that is one example. The teacher was exemplary. The scorn in this letter is directed solely at a curriculum that is so utterly biased it destroys the notion of history: A curriculum in which questions for essays in which the only answers could be biased (however hard I attempted to do otherwise), where evidence for the exam could have come from a whose who of left wing images and views of the Vietnam War, where choices were coaxed to fit a narrow biased view that a bunch of left wing ideologues intent on ruining the world under the weight of their "good" intentions want the entire world to meet.


Less than half of the students passed overall -- even including lots of "soft" subjects -- and BritGov says that's good! And the teachers want grading scrapped so nobody will know how badly the schools are doing. What a mess! Marvellous what years of Leftist educational practices will do. Note: Passing is no longer called passing. It is now called meeting a "gold standard". Beware the dreaded "tinplate standard", I guess. Amazing rubbish!

More than 300,000 secondary school pupils failed to reach the Government's target of five good GCSE passes in subjects including English and maths, league tables released yesterday show. In a quarter of England's 3,100 secondary schools, 70 per cent of pupils (105,000), failed to meet the gold standard of five A* to C grade passes in subjects including maths and English. Overall, 45 per cent of 15-year-olds achieved five A* to C grade passes at GCSEs including maths and English. When those two core subjects were not included, 58.5 per cent achieved five good GCSE passes.

The poverty of teenagers' literacy and numeracy skills was most acute in one in ten secondaries, where four fifths of pupils failed to meet the benchmark. It was also revealed that 26,000 pupils sat neither maths nor English GCSE last summer and less than half (49.8 per cent) took an examination in English, maths, science or a modern foreign language.

Nevertheless the Government insists that standards are rising and 375,000 more pupils have gained 5 GCSE passes in the past nine years. Jim Knight, the Schools Minister, said that he was determined to continue working to improve underperforming schools, but praised pupils for getting record numbers of five good GCSEs. "The results clearly show that our record investment continues to drive up standards faster than ever," he said.

However, many schools plummeted down the league tables after Ruth Kelly, when she was Education Secretary, insisted last year on the new target. In the past heads have admitted that they have encouraged children to take easier vocational exams in an effort to push their schools up the tables.

Tony Blair wants 400 schools to become academies [charters] by 2010. But yesterday's results showed that only a fifth of pupils in the 46 new schools gained 5 good GCSEs, including maths and English. Mr Knight defended the schools and said that huge parental demand for places was proof of their success. Of those pupils who achieved five good GCSEs, 88 per cent took academic subjects, while 9.7 per cent of them took vocational qualifications as part of their five passes. All students of English and maths passed GCSEs.

But David Willetts, the Shadow Education Secretary, said that pupils were being short-changed as less than half had attempted "rigorous core subjects". "We need to ensure that every pupil leaves school with a decent education in the basics - not just in maths and English, but in the sciences, history, and modern languages. "Instead pupils are being pushed into subjects which will meet targets without providing them with an education which will benefit them throughout life," he added.

Sarah Teather, the Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman, said that the new benchmark showed the "perverse incentives" created by the league tables and called for them to be scrapped. Steve Sinnott, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, echoed her call and said that children should not be written off for failing to gain a C grade. "They may have achieved wonders to get to a grade D," he added.

Last night independent schools reacted angrily to the exclusion of International GCSE (IGCSE) results, for academic subjects such as maths and physics, from the tables.


Swedish Supreme Court: Uppsala University Guilty of Anti-Swedish Discrimination

Late last month Uppsala University was found guilty of discrimination against Swedes by the Swedish Supreme Court (Hoegsta domstolen). Three years ago, the university refused to enroll Cecilia Loenn and Josefine Milander in its Law Faculty even though they had better grades than thirty other students with a foreign background.

In 2003, thirty of the available places for the law courses had been reserved for students with a foreign background. Cecilia Loenn and Josefine Milander, both with better grades than all of those thirty students who were allowed in, were refused by the university. The two young ladies sued the university. They won twice in lower courts. Now the Supreme Court, too, has ruled in their favor and ordered the university to pay them a compensation of SEK 75,000 (approximately 8,200 Euros). The court expenses they made, about SEK 41,000 (approximately $4,500), will be reimbursed by the state.

Neither the Supreme Court nor the two women question the principle of positive discrimination, as long as it is practised between candidates who are equally qualified. Not so, however, when somebody with a foreign background is favored even though the Swede had better grades, since this is not positive discrimination, but just plain discrimination. Hence the Supreme Court wanted to set a clear example of what cannot be considered to be positive discrimination and therefore is illegal.

Of course, the two students have had two tough years. Ironically, however, the whole case may turn out to be an advantage rather than a disadvantage to them. As law students, they now have practical experience in bringing a case to court and taking it up to the level of the Supreme Court. Moreover, the fact that they have participated and won an important case will undoubtedly help them in their careers.



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 12, 2007

Radical Islam and British Universities

Leading Muslim terrorists have been educated at Britain's universities

British Universities have long been centers of radicalism, usually of the brand of amateur socialism espoused by the Socialist Workers Party or its ugly sisters Militant and the Worker's Revolutionary Party. Pretending to understand Dialectical Marxism and Trotskyite "permanent revolution", the leftist radicals infested, and still infest, campuses across Britain.

Since the 1970s, these activists have promoted the myth of Palestinian perpetual martyrdom, and portrayed Israel as a bogeyman. During the 1980s, they supported the women who camped rough outside RAF Greenham Common, a US-linked air base in Bedfordshire, Britain. Though ignored by most students, activists promoted an agenda of anti-Americanism and anti-semitism that has infected at least two generations of post-graduates.

Ultimately they contributed to British media's fawning over the notion of Palestinian, and by extension all Muslims', victimhood. Now grown up, the former student union activists are the first to hurl the term "Islamophobe" at anyone who questions the spread of radical Islam. In such a climate, it has been easy for Islamic radicalism to flourish, and even to be welcomed on Britain's campuses.

On September 26, 2005, Britain's Social Affairs Unit published a report by Professor Anthony Glees and Chris Pope from Brunel University. This report, entitled "When Students Turn To Terror", listed 24 universities where radicalism flourished, including Birmingham, Brunel, Durham, Leeds, Leeds Metropolitan, Luton, Leicester, Manchester Metropolitan, Newcastle, Nottingham, Reading, Swansea, and Wolverhampton.

Coming out while Britain was still reeling from the horrors of 7/7, when 52 people died on London Transport, Professor Glees' report galvanized the UK media. Already mosques and radical preachers had been named as contributing factors to the bombings of July 7, 2005. Universities had thitherto been ignored. Yet Britain's campuses had long been the playgrounds of amateur radicals and Islamists.

Many leading Muslim terrorists have been educated at Britain's universities. Azahari bin Husin, the senior bomb-maker from Jemaah Islamiyah who masterminded the Bali bombings of October 12, 2002 (killing 202 people) and October 1, 2005 (killing 20), studied at Reading University in the 1990s. He gained a doctorate in engineering before going off to join Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

On February 26, 1993, Ramzi Yousef drove a truck carrying a 1,200 pound bomb laced with cyanide into the car park beneath the World Trade Center. The ensuing blast killed six and injured 1,000. Four years before he committed this atrocity, Yousef completed a degree in engineering at West Glamorgan Institute (now Swansea Institute of Higher Education). Dr Rihab Rashid Taha al-Azawi, Saddam Hussein's "Doctor Germ", responsible for his biological warfare programs, learned her trade in Britain. In 1984, she gained a PhD in plant toxins at the School of Biological Sciences at the University of East Anglia.

Individuals such as the above did not flaunt their Islamist credentials at college. Other individuals in British universities linked to terrorism have been allowed to lecture. One such person is 52-year old Bashir Musa Mohammed Nafi, who is alleged to be a founder of the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Like Sami al-Arian, who formerly lectured at the University of South Florida, Bashir Musa Mohammed Nafi was, as recently as 2003, an occasional lecturer at Birkbeck College at the University of London. Here, he taught Islamic studies. In the 1990s, Nafi collaborated with al-Arian in Florida. Accused by the US of being the UK leader of PIJ, Nafi has denied the claims.

In 2004, Professor Anthony Glees claimed that academics in Britain's universities were actively hampering attempts by security services to defend the nation against Islamist threats. He claimed that many academics were "hostile to the idea of intervention in international affairs and have, since 1980, harbored strong suspicions of American motives." In July 2004, the Times reported that two UK universities, the University of Wales and the University of Loughborough, had given official approval to two Islamic colleges which supported both the Taliban and terror-group Hamas. The rector of the Markfield Institute of Higher Education is a member of the extremist party in Pakistan, the Jamaat-e-Islami, who was said to have praised the Taliban. Markfield was supported by Loughborough University and has been praised by the pro-Islamic Prince Charles.

The European Institute of Human Sciences in Llanybydder, West Wales, was validated by the University of Wales. It teaches Arabic courses inspired by Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Times claimed.

During the 1990s, a new phenomenon emerged on campuses and colleges in Britain - that of open radicals who loudly proclaimed their contempt for Western values, and unequivocally pronouncing their jihadist intentions.

Bizarrely, as Melanie Phillips reported in her book "Londonistan", the department of MI5 which dealt with radical Islamism was closed in 1994, while they considered the issue of the IRA to be more important. With the cat put away, the rats come out to play, in full force. During this hiatus in surveillance, two groups came to the fore, both connected with the Syrian-born Islamist preacher Omar Bakri Mohammed.

Bakri had arrived in Britain in 1985 as an "asylum-seeker", after he was deported from Saudi Arabia for belonging to a group classed as too "extreme" even for the center of Wahhabism. This group was called "Al-Muhajiroun", or "the emigrants". Bakri, a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood had founded this group in Saudi Arabia in 1983 as a front for Hizb ut-Tahrir, the "revolutionary" Islamist group which is banned in most Middle Eastern countries.

When he arrived in Britain, Bakri founded the British branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir. In 1996, he also established Al-Muhajiroun in Britain. These two groups have the aim of establishing Britain as an Islamist state, and yearn for the restoration of the Caliphate, a system of Islamic central government. The last Caliphate, that of the Ottomans, was dissolved in 1924.

On Britain's campuses, the two groups established their influence during the latter half of the 1990s, particularly after MI5 stopped treating Islam seriously. Hizb ut-Tahrir members regularly threatened to kill Peter Tatchell, a homosexual rights campaigner, and Al-Muhajiroun openly pronounced their hatred of Jews. In the fall of 2000, they hung posters at university campuses which proclaimed: "The last hour will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and the Muslims kill the Jews."

Threats and slogans aside, both groups had a more real danger inherent in their activities. The presence of Al-Muhajiroun on campuses in various universities led MI5 to set up a unit to monitor student Islamism at the dawn of the millennium. In early 2001, Russian authorities urged Britain to ban Al-Muhajiroun, as their intelligence showed that students from the London School of Economics had been recruited by the group to become terrorists in Chechnya.

In December 2000 Mohammed Bilal, a young British Muslim, who had been studying his "A-levels" at a sixth form college in Birmingham, went to India. Bilal had links to Al-Muhajiroun. He blew himself up in a stolen car. This suicide attack at an army barracks in Kashmir killed six soldiers and three civilians.

In October 2001, Al-Muhajiroun claimed that three British Muslims were killed by a US rocket attack in Kabul, Afghanistan. The group claimed that 1,000 British Muslims had gone to Afghanistan since 9/11.

In November 2001, Hassan Butt of Al-Muhajiroun announced that five British Muslims had died in Mazar-i-Sharif in Afghanistan. Butt said: "They all died as martyrs fighting the so-called coalition against terrorism. They went out there to fight for the Taliban and were prepared to give their lives." On January 7, 2002, Butt told the BBC's Today program from his base in Lahore, Pakistan, that many of the British Muslims in Afghanistan would, upon their return, launch terror attacks which would "strike at the heart" of Britain. Butt boasted of personally recruiting 200 people to fight the coalition.

Bakri cannily denounced Butt's claims, saying that Al-Muhajiroun did not support military actions. He also said that Butt was no longer a member of the group and was no longer its spokesman. Bakri was lying. At a meeting in Sparkbrook in Birmingham, held less than a week after 9/11, Al Muhajiroun urged listeners to join the armed jihad against coalition troops. One speaker said that Muslims who supported the invasion of Afghanistan were to be urged not to do so. "But if they do not listen, they are Kufr (unbelievers) too and so it is our duty to fight and even kill them." Leaflets at the meetings proclaimed: "The final hour will not come until the Muslims conquer the White House." In Derby, Bakri used to regularly visit Al-Muhajiroun members, who had a strong following in the town. In 2000, he told a meeting there that Muslims must send armies "to fight the aggressors and occupiers and establish the Khilafah (Caliphate)." He issued a fatwa saying that "the Israeli cancer in Palestine must be uprooted."

While Al-Muhajiroun targeted students with an attempt to inspire them to jihad, the other group headed by Omar Bakri Mohammed was making inroads at universities and colleges throughout Britain. Hizb ut-Tahrir began to infiltrate student unions and Islamic societies, and its message was equally uncompromising. Hizb ut-Tahrir's approach was similarly supportive of violence, and used intimidation to achieve its ends. Its most notable influence was to force Muslim women students to wear the hijab or Muslim headscarf. This item had been only used by the older generation of Muslim women until the 1990s. Before the campaigns from Hizb ut-Tahrir, the item had hardly been seen on a campus.

During this decade, while the British government downplayed the seriousness of Islamic radicalism as part of a global movement towards dominance, the behavior of Hizb ut-Tahrir should have raised alarm bells. Britain's Channel 4 even made a documentary of Omar Bakri Mohammed, filmed over a year in and around his base in Tottenham, north London. Screened on April 8, 1997, this show, entitled "Tottenham Ayatollah" portrayed Bakri as a clownish buffoon. The documentary's approach was almost consciously misleading. In 1996, Bakri had tried to invite Osama bin Laden to Britain, to attend an "Islamic Revival Rally". Though the show supplied evidence of Bakri's preaching of hatred towards Jews, it was condemned by various Muslim groups. Makbool Javaid, chair of the Association of Muslim Lawyers, tried to prevent the broadcast going out.

There was nothing funny about Omar Bakri Mohammed. Before the documentary was shown, Bakri had addressed 200 students at the Newham College of Further Education, on Thursday, February 23, 1995. Bakri had a core group of supporters at this college in east London. The following day an African student, Ayotunde Obanubi, was stabbed in the arm at the college by a Hizb ut-Tahrir supporter. On Monday February 27, a group of several Hizb ut-Tahrir supporting students, led by Saeed Nur, again attacked Mr Obanubi. The Nigerian student was accused of "insulting Islam". The group was armed with hammers and knives. Struck on the head with a hammer and stabbed through the heart, Ayotunde Obanubi died on the steps of the college. Bakri's followers had claimed their first victim.

More here

Shockingly low level of literacy in West Australian students

About one in five students who completed Year 7 in Western Australia last year are functionally illiterate, failing to meet minimum national standards in reading, writing and spelling, and performing well below the national average. But two years ago when the same group of students were in Year 5, they recorded one of the nation's highest performances in literacy tests, with more than 90per cent reaching the minimum standard.

The 2006 results of the West Australian Literary and Numeracy Assessment released late last year show almost 84 per cent of Year 7 students met national reading standards while about 85 per cent met writing standards and 84 per cent met numeracy benchmarks. By comparison, 92 per cent of the same students in Year 5 met reading standards for that level of school, with 87 per cent meeting the Year 5 writing standard and the numeracy standard. Nationally, 91 per cent of Year7 students in 2004, the latest available figures, met the reading benchmark while among Year 5 students nationally, almost 89 per cent met the reading standard. When last year's group of West Australian Year 7 students were in Year 5 almost 94 per cent met the reading benchmark, a national report says.

The head of the federal Government's literacy review, Ken Rowe, said part of the problem had been the poor teaching of reading in previous years, with inadequate teacher training compounded by the whole language method, which relied on children recognising words rather than sounding them out. Dr Rowe, from the Australian Council for Educational Research, and the University of Western Australia's Bill Louden, who have just completed a literacy and numeracy review for the state Government, said a flattening of results was expected between Years 5 and 7, reflecting the onset of adolescence and the more demanding standards.

But national reports show some states report a rise in student performance, compared to when the same students were in Year 5. The national benchmarks adopted by all states and territories define the levels of literacy and numeracy a student needs to make sufficient progress at school. The reading standard for Year7 says students should be able to identify the main purpose and idea of a text and make connections between the ideas and information. The examples given include labelling a step in a flowchart, identifying the meaning of an unknown word and interpreting a simple simile such as "spaghetti ends dribbled from his mouth like wet mop ends".

The acting executive director of curriculum standards in the West Australia Education Department, Chris Cook, said the literacy and numeracy trends remained stable over time, indicating student performance had not significantly changed. "To achieve the Year 7 benchmark in reading, students are expected to apply sophisticated interpretation and comprehension skills to dense and complex texts that take into account the reading ability required in secondary school. This is significantly more demanding for students than the standard expected in Year 5," she said.

Professor Louden said the state's results had remained stable over the past few years. "My first hypothesis if there's a drop-off in the score is that the benchmark has changed or the items around the benchmark were a bit harder."


Unfortunate victims of fashion: If you can read this, don't thank outcomes-based education

One need not have a doctorate in education to understand that if one stops penalising students for spelling and grammar mistakes in English classes, and instead allows them to treat a promotional movie poster as a "text" equivalent to a book published between proper covers, academic standards will inevitably decline. Or to grasp that an overweening emphasis on largely disproven student-centred teaching methods such as constructivism might not be good for teaching students the fundamentals. Or to think there might be something wrong when teacher training colleges spend just 10 per cent of their time teaching how to teach. Yet in falling for precisely these fallacies, the educational establishment of Western Australia - and indeed state governments across the country - have allowed young people to make it to Year 7 and beyond while remaining functionally illiterate.

The verdict is in on Western Australia's great experiment in throwing over musty old teaching methods in favour of the trendiness that is outcomes-based education, and the results are not pretty. According to figures from the state's Department of Education, just 80 per cent of Year 7 students meet the reading benchmarks, or base standards. The numbers also show this same cohort of students has gone backwards since being tested two years ago. And similarly poor results have been recorded in the field of numeracy.

While it is easy to snicker at the outrages of Western Australia's curriculum boffins, it must never be forgotten that ultimately lives and careers are at stake. The one in five Year 7 students found to be functionally illiterate will, if corrective measures are not taken quickly, help form a low-skilled underclass with few employment prospects - all due to an educational fad. Nor is this a problem solely confined to Western Australia. Urgent remedial reading programs are required to try to catch those students left behind by fads and trends. And education ministries across the country need to abandon the faddism that threatens to create a permanent underclass at a time when Australia is in urgent need of skilled workers.



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 11, 2007


A lottery is OK to select pupils but evidence of ability is not

Schools will be able to allocate places by “lottery” to ensure fairness between all applicants and to stop middle-class families from dominating the best secondaries, under a new admissions code for England. The mandatory code, which will come into force in September 2008, is being introduced to tackle “back-door selection”, where schools cream off the best students and pick pupils by social background. Many of the best state schools have become largely the preserve of families who can afford to buy homes nearby or expensive uniforms or who can show their commitment to the school through generous donations.

Labour MPs demanded that the code be toughened during the revolt against Tony Blair’s school reforms last year. Alan Johnson, the Education and Skills Secretary, said that the code would create a system where all children, regardless of their background, had a fair opportunity of gaining a place at the school they want to attend. “[It] puts mandatory measures in place to ensure that this is the case at all schools, including the few schools that persist in using unfair or unnecessarily complex arrangements that can disadvantage some families and reduce the life chances of thousands of children,” he said.

Lottery systems, which are already common in countries such as the United States, could be used to counter the house price effect by giving children from all backgrounds a chance to enter a draw for places. “Random allocation of school places can be good practice, particularly for urban areas and secondary schools,” the code states. “It may be used as the sole means of allocating places or alongside other oversubscription criteria. Random allocation can widen access to schools for those unable to afford to buy houses near to favoured schools and create greater social equity.”

However, it adds that the practice might not be suitable for rural areas, where schools draw children from a wider geographical area and where children who did not win a place through the lottery draw might otherwise have to travel a considerable distance to an alternative school. A spokesman for the Department for Education said that lottery systems were most likely to be used to allocate places left over after the use of other admissions criteria, such as distance or membership of a faith group. They could be open to challenge by local parents who lost out for not benefiting the local area, he added.

The code will also ban covert forms of selection such as requirements for expensive school uniforms, sportswear or costly trips, unless arrangements are put in place to ensure that parents on low incomes can afford them. It will also ban admission interviews. Comprehensive schools will still be allowed to operate sibling policies, which allow children automatically to follow older brothers and sisters into the school.

However, in the case of the 39 partially selective state schools, which select more than 10 per cent of pupils, the schools must ensure that their admission arrangements do not exclude families living nearer the school. Sarah Teather, the Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman, said: “This new tighter code is welcome, but it will only make a difference if it is rigorously enforced. Heads and governors must realise that they will not get away with ignoring or flouting the new rules.”



In a recent controversy simmering on the Johns Hopkins University campus, university administrators seem to be giving credence to an observation by Abigail Thernstrom, who categorized left-leaning, politically correct institutions of higher education as "an island of repression in a sea of freedom."

Instead of actually functioning as marketplaces of ideas - "to protect the university as a forum for the free expression of ideas," as described in Johns Hopkins' own student handbook - universities continue to punish what they categorize as "offensive" speech and behavior that do not conform to the acceptable, liberal views of politics, race or sexuality.

When posting invitations on, an online social networking site, for a "Halloween in the `Hood" party to be hosted by his Sigma Chi fraternity, junior Justin Park included some racist comments, crude stereotyping and such vivid descriptions as likening Baltimore to a "motherf---ing ghetto" and "hiv [sic] pit" - all of which drew the not-surprising accusation that the party was not only "offensive," as critics of the party put it, but pointed to "institutionalized racism" at Johns Hopkins.

Apparently Johns Hopkins administrators found offense as well: on Nov. 20, Park was suspended from the university for one year and ordered to perform 300 hours of community service, read and write thoughtful reviews of 12 books, and participate in mandatory workshops on diversity and race relations.

There are troubling issues here, putting aside the basic question of fairness of punishing a student with a draconian, life-altering college suspension because he exhibited loutish behavior. He received his punishment, not because he participated in actual illegal harassing or intimidating behavior, but because some individuals were "offended" by speech that was not even made directly to them.

Students have a right to be offended by the speech - even hate speech - of their fellow students, but they also have a Constitutionally protected right to be offensive, provided their conduct is within the bounds of the law. When did universities stop teaching students how to think and instead begin indoctrinating them on what to think?

And the Johns Hopkins administration has previously demonstrated its own hypocrisy when dealing with issues of free speech. In May this year, 2,000 copies of the conservative, student-run Carrollton Record were confiscated from parts of campus by University officials who were unhappy with a published story that questioned why students' funds were used for an April lecture by gay pornography director Chi Chi LaRue, an event sponsored by the Diverse Sexuality and Gender Alliance (DSAGA). In the curious world of campus "free speech," a lecture to students by a sexually deviant pornographer is not offensive, but reporting about it somehow is.

Administrators at Johns Hopkins seemingly hold the notion that free speech is only good when it articulates politically correct, seemingly hate-free, views of protected victim or minority groups. But legal scholars, including such jurists as Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., have always been dedicated to the protection of unfettered speech, where the best ideas become clear through the utterance of weaker ones.

"If there is any principal of the Constitution," he observed, "that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other, it is the principal of free thought - not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate."



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 10, 2007

British government minister who sent child to private school 'has let down Labour Party'

(It offends against their "all kids are equal" kneejerk)

A Cabinet minister is facing pressure to justify the decision to place a child in a private boarding school for pupils with special needs after rejecting state provision as inadequate. The decision was attacked by several Labour MPs as wrong. One left-wing MP called it a betrayal of the party’s principles.

The Mail on Sunday reported that the minister withdrew the child from a state school, choosing instead a preparatory school for children with learning difficulties which has annual fees of £15,000, saying that local state provision was inappropriate. The newspaper withheld the minister’s name on the ground that this would identify the child, but said that he or she had been “closely involved with Tony Blair’s education policy”.

Ian Gibson, the Labour MP for Norwich North, said: “I am fascinated to know who it is because there have been examples of this in the past and it has caused anger among Labour backbenchers. “I think it’s wrong. You should set an example as a minister and support your local school. It is a slap in the face for the teachers and the pupils in the school that the child has been taken out of.”

His words were echoed by Ann Cryer, the MP for Keighley, who said: “MPs should try to get state provision for their children because that is what we believe in.” Lynne Jones, the MP for Birmingham Selly Oak, said: “I think it goes against the principles of the Labour Party. It makes me wonder about the sort of people who achieve high office who are in New Labour.” Margaret Hodge, a Trade and Industry minister, said that politicians’ children should be kept out of the spotlight, but admitted: “Given our commitment to state education, it is an issue of public interest.”

Neither the child’s former school nor the new one was identified. Nor was the local authority named, but more details emerged when The Sunday Times reported that the minister had spent time “working in the education team” in the Government and gave details of the child’s condition.

The school in question, where pupils board weekly or termly, is in a country house in the Home Counties. It has 60 pupils aged 7 to 13 and offers extensive grounds, a heated swimming pool, tennis courts, golf and horse-riding. Its main purpose is to help children with the child’s condition to pass exams for top public schools. Its pupils have gone on to Winchester, Harrow, Rugby and Gordonstoun in recent years.

One of the minister’s officials refused to comment when approached by The Times. The minister is understood to have sought the help of the Press Complaints Commission, the industry’s voluntary regulator, to block publication of all details that might identify him or her. The commission’s code of practice states that young people should be free to complete time at school without unnecessary intrusion and editors must not use the position of a parent as sole justification for publishing details of a child’s private life. Human rights legislation also gives a right to privacy.

The case has the potential to embarrass the Government by highlighting how a minister who has been involved in education policy is dissatisfied with the special needs provision in their area. The Government has faced criticism for closing special schools while seeking to cater for special needs children in mainstream schools under its policy of inclusion.

The Department for Education and Skills refused to discuss the case but defended its record on provision for children with special needs. It said: “We are increasing spending on pupils with special educational needs so that the quality of education available to them is improved. This year we will spend more than £4 billion on SEN, an increase of more than £1 billion in only three years.

“This is being made available both to special schools and to mainstream schools in order to improve their support for pupils with specific learning difficulties. Our policy is clear that every child with special educational needs must get a high-quality education which meets their individual needs.”


The minister replies:

Ruth Kelly launched an emotional defence yesterday of her decision to send her son to a 15,000 pounds-a-year private school, saying that he had "substantial learning difficulties" and she wanted to do the right thing for him. "Bringing up children in the public eye is never easy," she added.

Having failed in her attempt to keep her move secret in the interests of her child, the former Education Secretary said that she had removed her son from a state school after professional advice recommended that he be placed in a school "able to meet his particular needs". Ms Kelly emphasised that her three other children were in the state system, that she intended her son to return to the state secondary sector, and that none of the cost of the private schooling would fall to the taxpayer.

With Ms Kelly facing charges of hypocrisy for choosing to opt out of the state sector, her friends insisted that her son was facing more than one serious learning difficulty - it is thought dyspraxia as well as dyslexia - and that the state schools in her area could not meet his needs.

But one Labour MP called on Ms Kelly to stand down from her current job as Communities Secretary and others strongly criticised her decision. She has chosen to send her son to a school based at a country house which offers 60 pupils aged up to 13 the use of a swimming pool, tennis courts and a music room. The school refused to comment yesterday.

Labour was criticised while Ms Kelly was Education Secretary for closing schools that cater for children with learning difficulties. Some 138 have shut in the past ten years. The Government's "inclusion" policy suggests that children with special needs should be taught in ordinary schools alongside their peers where possible.

Ms Kelly said: "I appreciate that some will disagree with my decision. I understand why, but we all face difficult choices as parents and I, like any mother, want to do the right thing for my son - that has been my sole motivation."

Dyspraxia is a learning difficulty that makes it difficult for people to co-ordinate their movements and to process information. It can affect speech and the fine movements that children need to hold a pencil and write, and often accompanies other conditions, such as dyslexia.

Ms Kelly received backing from Downing Street and the Conservatives. The Prime Minister's official spokesman said that Tony Blair did not believe being a minister barred a parent from sending his or her children to schools outside the state system.

David Cameron also defended Ms Kelly's right to choose, saying that he did not think she was being hypocritical. "Some people are going to say it's hypocrisy. Well, if they were going to abolish private education, then it would be hypocrisy, but they're not. He added: "People should recognise that politicians, like everyone else, are parents first and will act in the best interests of their children."

A spokesman for Tower Hamlets Council, the local authority involved, said that it had been rated highly by Ofsted and the Commission for Social Care Inspection. "We have a strong track record in helping children with a wide range of learning needs to succeed. We are confident that our schools are well resourced and provide high-quality education for all learners, including those with special needs."

Ken Purchase, Labour MP for Wolverhampton North East, called for Ms Kelly to resign. "It's extremely disappointing that a person who was in charge of our schools clearly shows no commitment to state education." But Ian Austin, Labour MP for Dudley North, said: "I think Ruth's child ought to be able to get on with his or her education without being subjected to this sort of scrutiny."


HAWAII: Educational Apartheid ratified in 9th Circuit

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ratified racism that celebrates Native Hawaiian ancestry with tortured reasoning reminiscent of Jim Crow. The 9th Circuit's 8-7 en banc ruling in Doe v. Kamehameha Schools (Dec. 5) upholding a racially exclusionary admissions policy for Kamehameha Schools marks manipulative judging at its worst.

King Kamehameha I's signature contribution to Hawaii's legal and political culture was the general erasure of distinctions between Native and non-Native Hawaiians. The king anticipated United States Chief Justice Harlan Fiske Stone's admonition that racial distinctions are odious to a free people.

The Kamehameha Schools were created under a charitable testamentary trust established by the last direct descendant of King Kamehameha I, Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop. The trustees chose to confine admissions to students with at least one Native Hawaiian ancestor because the exclusion of non-Native Hawaiians was thought to represent the wishes of Mrs. Bishop. Native Hawaiians were not preferred to overcome past legal, social, economic or other discrimination. Indeed, Native Hawaiians have been special favorites of the law for more than a century since annexation. Nor were Native Hawaiians favored to promote educational diversity. The exclusion of non-Natives impaired that objective. In sum, the admissions policy amounted to racial exclusion or the sake of exclusion.

A non-Native applicant challenged the Kamehemeha Schools' "Native Hawaiians Only" admissions policy under a federal civil rights statute prohibiting racial discrimination in making or enforcing contracts, Title 42 of the U.S. Code, Section 1981. (The social ostracism unleashed against persons in Hawaii who challenge the political correctness of Native Hawaiian preferences obligated the plaintiff to sue under the pseudonym "John Doe.") The Supreme Court held in Runyon v. McCrary (1976), that Section 1981 prohibits private schools from racially discriminatory admissions policies. Indeed, the high court later held in Bob Jones v. United States (1983) that an unexpressed public policy of the United States prohibited tax exemptions for discriminating private schools.

The 9th Circuit, speaking through Judge Susan P. Graber, insisted, nevertheless, that the racial exclusivity of the Kamehemeha Schools was a proper remedial measure. But a remedy implies a wrong. And Native Hawaiians have never received less than equal treatment under federal or state law. Further, Native Hawaiian enrollees are not vetted for past discrimination. Their families may be highly privileged.

Judge Graber absurdly maintained that, "Native Hawaiian students are systematically disadvantaged in the classroom." She was unable to point to any class activity or instruction indicating Native Hawaiians were treated differently from non-Native Hawaiians. The judge simply recited that as a group Native Hawaiians displayed less academic success than their non-Native Hawaiian counterparts. But lesser performance does not establish discrimination. If it did, every subperforming minority group would hold a federal civil rights claim against every public or private school in the country.

Judge Graber argued Kamehameha Schools' racial exclusiveness was justified to help perpetuate Native Hawaiian culture. But that reasoning endorses racial balkanization, and turns E Pluribus Unum on its head. Whites, blacks, Hispanics, Chinese Americans, Japanese Americans, etc. would be permitted monochromatic schools to promote their respective cultures.

Judge Graber scolded plaintiff Doe for complaining about his race-based exclusion. She lectured that "students denied admission by Kamehameha Schools have ample and adequate alternative educational options," a variation of the "separate-but-equal" doctrine that the Supreme Court repudiated 52 years ago in Brown v. Board of Education (1954).

In a feat of Orwellian logic, the judge scorned Doe's legal expectation of nondiscriminatory treatment because Kamehameha Schools' racial discrimination had been notorious for 118 years: "When the schools began, a non-Native Hawaiian had no expectation of admission to the schools. ... In the intervening 118 years, the schools' admissions policy, and therefore the expectations of non-Native Hawaiians, has remained constant. Thus, denial of plaintiff's application for admission [based on race] 'unsettled no legitimate, firmly rooted expectation.' " With that reasoning, Jim Crow would still be thriving in the South because blacks knew at the inception of the Civil Rights Movement they confronted a racism that had been continual since the end of Reconstruction and thus had no reasonable expectation of equal treatment.

Judge Graber fancifully argued that the schools' 118 years of racial exclusiveness was temporary, not perpetual, and thus satisfied relevant precedents regarding preferential admissions. The exclusiveness is scheduled to continue until the achievement gap between Native Hawaiians and non-Native Hawaiians has been eliminated. But exclusiveness for more than a century has done nothing to narrow the gap. Adding more zeroes to zero still equals zero.

The 9th Circuit surrendered reasoning, law and moral justice to placate a moblike atmosphere in Doe. It embarrassed many of the profiles in judicial courage that accelerated that end of Jim Crow.



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 09, 2007


When Jonathan Hu was going to high school in suburban Southern California, he rarely heard anyone speaking Chinese. But striding through campus on his way to class at the University of California, Berkeley, Mr. Hu hears Mandarin all the time, in plazas, cafeterias, classrooms, study halls, dorms and fast-food outlets. It is part of the soundtrack at this iconic university, along with Cantonese, English, Spanish and, of course, the perpetual jackhammers from the perpetual construction projects spurred by the perpetual fund drives.

This is in part because getting into Berkeley - U.S. News & World Report's top-ranked public university - has never been more daunting. There were 41,750 applicants for this year's freshman class of 4,157. Nearly half had a weighted grade point average of 4.0 or better (weighted for advanced courses). There is even grumbling from "the old Blues" - older alumni named for the school color - "who complain because their kids can't get in," says Gregg Thomson, director of the Office of Student Research.

Across the United States, at elite private and public universities, Asian enrollment is near an all-time high. Asian-Americans make up less than 5 percent of the population but typically make up 10 to 30 percent of students at the nation's best colleges:in 2005, the last year with across-the-board numbers, Asians made up 24 percent of the undergraduate population at Carnegie Mellon and at Stanford, 27 percent at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 14 percent at Yale and 13 percent at Princeton.

And according to advocates of race-neutral admissions policies, those numbers should be even higher. Asians have become the "new Jews," in the phrase of Daniel Golden, whose recent book, "The Price of Admission: How America's Ruling Class Buys Its Way Into Elite Colleges - and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates," is a polemic against university admissions policies. Mr. Golden, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, is referring to evidence that, in the first half of the 20th century, Ivy League schools limited the number of Jewish students despite their outstanding academic records to maintain the primacy of upper-class Protestants. Today, he writes, "Asian-Americans are the odd group out, lacking racial preferences enjoyed by other minorities and the advantages of wealth and lineage mostly accrued by upper-class whites. Asians are typecast in college admissions offices as quasi-robots programmed by their parents to ace math and science."

As if to illustrate the point, a study released in October by the Center for Equal Opportunity, an advocacy group opposing race-conscious admissions, showed that in 2005 Asian-Americans were admitted to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, at a much lower rate (54 percent) than black applicants (71 percent) and Hispanic applicants (79 percent) - despite median SAT scores that were 140 points higher than Hispanics and 240 points higher than blacks.

To force the issue on a legal level, a freshman at Yale filed a complaint in the fall with the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, contending he was denied admission to Princeton because he is Asian. The student, Jian Li, the son of Chinese immigrants in Livingston, N.J., had a perfect SAT score and near-perfect grades, including numerous Advanced Placement courses. "This is just a very, very egregious system," Mr. Li told me. "Asians are held to different standards simply because of their race."

To back his claim, he cites a 2005 study by Thomas J. Espenshade and Chang Y. Chung, both of Princeton, which concludes that if elite universities were to disregard race, Asians would fill nearly four of five spots that now go to blacks or Hispanics. Affirmative action has a neutral effect on the number of whites admitted, Mr. Li is arguing, but it raises the bar for Asians. The way Princeton selects its entering class, Mr. Li wrote in his complaint, "seems to be a calculated move by a historically white institution to protect its racial identity while at the same time maintaining a facade of progressivism."

Private institutions can commit to affirmative action, even with state bans, but federal money could be revoked if they are found to be discriminating. Mr. Li is seeking suspension of federal financial assistance to Princeton. "I'm not seeking anything personally," he says. "I'm happy at Yale. But I grew up thinking that in America race should not matter."

Admissions officials have long denied that they apply quotas. Nonetheless, race is important "to ensure a diverse student body," says Cass Cliatt, a Princeton spokeswoman. But, she adds, "Looking at the merits of race is not the same as the opposite" - discrimination.

Elite colleges like Princeton review the "total package," in her words, looking at special talents, extracurricular interests and socioeconomics - factors like whether the applicant is the first in the family to go to college or was raised by a single mother. "There's no set formula or standard for how we evaluate students," she says. High grades and test scores would seem to be merely a baseline. "We turned away approximately half of applicants with maximum scores on the SAT, all three sections," Ms. Cliatt says of the class Mr. Li would have joined.

In the last two months, the nation has seen a number of new challenges to racial engineering in schools. In November, the United States Supreme Court heard a case questioning the legality of using race in assigning students to public schools in Seattle and Louisville, Ky. Voters are also sending a message, having thrown out racial preferences in Michigan in November, following a lead taken by California, Texas, Florida and Washington. Last month, Ward Connerly, the architect of Proposition 209, announced his next potential targets for a ballot initiative, including Arizona, Colorado, Missouri and Nebraska.

When I ask the chancellor at Berkeley, Robert J. Birgeneau, if there is a perfect demographic recipe on this campus that likes to think of itself as the world's finest public university - Harvard on the Hill - he demurs. "We are a meritocracy," he says. And - by law, he adds - the campus is supposed to be that way. If Asians made up, say, 70 percent of the campus, he insists, there would still be no attempt to reduce their numbers.

Asian enrollment at his campus actually began to ramp up well before affirmative action was banned. Historically, Asians have faced discrimination, with exclusion laws in the 1800s that kept them from voting, owning property or legally immigrating. Many were run out of West Coast towns by mobs. But by the 1970s and '80s, with a change in immigration laws, a surge in Asian arrivals began to change the complexion of California, and it was soon reflected in an overrepresentation at its top universities.

In the late 1980s, administrators appeared to be limiting Asian-American admissions, prompting a federal investigation. The result was an apology by the chancellor at the time, and a vow that there would be no cap on Asian enrollment. University administrators and teachers use anguished words to describe what has happened since. "I've heard from Latinos and blacks that Asians should not be considered a minority at all," says Elaine Kim, a professor of Asian-American studies at Berkeley. "What happened after they got rid of affirmative action has been a disaster - for blacks and Latinos. And for Asians it's been a disaster because some people think the campus has become all-Asian."

The diminishing number of African-Americans on campus is a consistent topic of discussion among black students. Some say they feel isolated, without a sense of community. "You really do feel like you stand out," says Armilla Staley, a second-year law student. In her freshman year, she was one of only nine African-Americans in a class of 265. "I'm almost always the only black person in my class," says Ms. Staley, who favors a return to some form of affirmative action. "Quite frankly, when you walk around campus, it's overwhelmingly Asian," she says. "I don't feel any tension between Asians and blacks, but I don't really identify with the Asian community as a minority either."

More here


Like most alternative methods, it seems to work if the teachers are able enough and committed enough

The Montessori teaching method, in which children learn at their own pace and testing is banned, has been adopted by a second state primary school in England. Teachers at the Stebbing Primary School, near Great Dunmow in Essex, which has 90 pupils, began to pilot Montessori teaching in September and say that it has already had a dramatic effect on the behaviour of pupils. Teachers removed brightly coloured wall displays and brought in natural wood furniture and equipment. The children now behave more calmly and can work effectively for three hours without a break.

Janet Matthews, the head teacher, said that the school would evaluate the success of the move after a year before taking a final decision. “But what is overwhelmingly coming across is the calmness of the school,” she said. “Children are working for sustained periods of time on the activities they are choosing, and the maths and literacy levels seem pretty good. The classroom was a typical reception classroom, very bright displays, brightly coloured doors and floors. Over the summer holidays we calmed everything down.” The changes have been funded by 20,000 pounds from the Montessori St Nicholas Charity.

In Britain, Montessori teaching had a strong following until the 1970s when it was condemned as elitist. While increasingly popular in nursery schools, the current focus on raising standards and testing means that it is still largely rejected at primary and secondary level. That could change. Ministers set out plans last week for changes to state school teaching with greater emphasis on personalised learning and pupils designing their own education.

Recent research from the US found that children at Montessori schools were better at basic word recognition and mathematics and were more likely to play co-operatively. By 12, they are more creative and better able to resolve social problems.

Gorton Mount became the first state primary to adopt Montessori two years ago. The school, based in inner Manchester and with many disadvantaged pupils, was judged to be failing by Ofsted. The switch had dramatic results. Inspectors praised the calm atmosphere and high concentration. A Department for Education and Skills spokeswoman said: “The conditions attached to maintained schools apply to Montessori, such as providing the national curriculum and participating in national curriculum tests and assessment, as well as staff holding qualified teacher status.”


The Narcoleptic Teacher

Post lifted from Sigmund et al

From the ‘You just can’t make this stuff up‘ department, comes an exchange on a forum for teachers.

The thread, Teacher Sleeping During Nap Time? that asked if it was appropriate for teacher of kindergarteners to sleep during nap time.

That’s right- a teacher, entrusted by parents to teach and look out for the safety and well being of students, wants to know if it’s OK to sleep while children are under their care and supervision.

What makes the thread interesting is are the responses of some of the teachers. Take a few minutes and go through some of the responses.

Adults are discussing and debating the question.

Somebody shoot somebody.


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 08, 2007


Mary loved that her father shared his work with her, shared his love of science and engineering. It was what got Mary fascinated with science since she was three years old, sitting on her father's lap in front of the computer screen, while he let her click the mouse as he was designing. But she didn't have time to do that now. "No Daddy, I have to talk to you about something first," she said.

"O.K. sweetheart, what is it?," he said, as he turned around in his chair and gave her his full attention. Mary loved her father's kind, bright, playful brown eyes. "By the way," he said, "how come you're home in the middle of the morning? Shouldn't you be in school?"

"That's what I want to talk to you about, Daddy. I got this letter from my science teacher. The principal told me to give it to you. He said it was about the note I wrote to my science teacher, Miss Johnson. Here's the letter from her. Josh took the letter and read it.

The letter said, "Dear Mr. Hanlan, I must speak to you about your daughter, Mary. She wrote me an insulting and inexcusable letter criticizing my teaching. We cannot allow such behavior from our students. You must come to see me immediately, or serious measures will be taken against your daughter. Please call me as soon as possible for an appointment."

Josh looked up from the letter at his daughter, who had a worried, but angry look on her face. Josh knew that look. His daughter was so bright, but also willful when she thought she was right.

"What's this about, honey? What letter is Miss Johnson talking about."

"Oh Daddy, I was so bored with her science class, I could just scream. Daddy, I want to learn science. I love it so much. You know that, don't you?

"Of course sweetheart."

"Well, Miss Johnson does the silliest, stupidest things in class. For a science project, she had the whole class pick up bird seed with the bottom of wet spoons, to show us how birds use their tongues. She makes us do projects like that all the time, and they're all just as silly.

"Then after we do these projects, she has all the kids sit in a circle holding hands, and each kid has to tell their feelings about the project. Daddy, I like the other kids in class, but I don't care about their feelings when they pick up bird seed. Why is Ms. Johnson doing this? It's stupid and a waste of time. I want to learn real science." "And the textbook is so simple it bores me to death," continued Mary. AI can't sit still in class, and I annoy Miss Johnson by always raising my hand to ask questions. Daddy, I knew most of the stuff in that textbook when I was six years old from what I read myself and what you taught me. Here, look at the textbook, Daddy."

Josh took the textbook and looked through it. He was appalled. The book was filled with pictures like baby books, and the reading level seemed geared to six-year-old kids just learning to read. Also, the book had too many stories about global warming, save-the-polar-bears, and other environmental propaganda. "Honey, do all the kids in all the science classes read textbooks like these?," asked Josh.

"Yes, Daddy. The textbooks in the higher grades are a little harder, but not much. I know everything in those textbooks already. Daddy, I don't want to spend three more years in science classes that bore me so much and where I don't learn anything. I would rather be home with you. You could teach me so much more than I could ever learn in these stupid classes."

"Honey," Josh Hanlan said, "did you ask Miss Johnson if you could skip grades and go into the more advanced science classes for seniors, or a more advanced class in your grade? "Yes, Daddy. I asked her so many times. But she said they don't have advanced classes anymore. She said the school doesn't allow special classes for students who learn quickly. Ms. Johnson said it would be unfair to the other students if she put me in an advanced class or with the seniors. She said it would hurt the other students' feelings. So they don't allow it. And I'm stuck in this class with this same teacher for the next three years."

Josh was shocked at what his daughter said. "They don't let you take advanced classes because it would hurt the other students' feelings? That's what Miss Johnson said?" He couldn't believe his ears. "Honey, do they follow this policy in all your classes, like math and English? You mean they don't have any advanced classes for faster-learning kids anymore?" "Yes, Daddy, the whole school works the same way. Every class I take bores me, but especially science. I got so mad that I sent Miss Johnson a note telling her how I feel. I thought maybe she would help me. This is the note I gave her." Josh took the note and read:

"Dear Miss Johnson,

I am so bored in your class. You are not teaching us real science. I think the projects you make us do are silly and such a waste of time. Why don't you give us real science projects and teach us more difficult stuff? And why do we have to sit in circles and talk about our feelings? I want to learn science, Miss Johnson. Some day I will be a great scientist. And you are wasting my time. Please teach us real science that is challenging."

Thank you. Mary Hanlan

Josh Hanlan threw his head back and laughed uproariously. He laughed for a long time, looking at his daughter with delight. He loved her spunk and her innocent directness. Mary at first looked sternly at her father, because she thought this was no laughing matter. But then, because she loved her father so much, and she loved his infectious laugh, she started laughing also. When they finished laughing, Josh re-read his daughter's note, then read Miss Johnson's letter again. Miss Johnson's letter had something ominous about it that he didn't like. He decided to take care of this matter immediately. "O.K. sweetheart, we'll go see Miss Johnson tomorrow. I don't want you wasting your precious time either. But first I want to do a little research on public schools before we meet your teacher. Do you want to help me?"

"Yes, Daddy," said Mary. She loved sitting with her father at the computer and loved especially when he asked her to help him. Her father did a search for "public schools" on Google and then Yahoo, and the two of them sat engrossed for the rest of the afternoon, absorbing everything they read like sponges. The next day, they found themselves in a dingy office with green walls sitting across from Miss Johnson. She was in her mid-thirties, with loose brown hair down to her shoulders, and wearing a paisley print dress. Her eyes were brown, and she had a prim, tight little mouth.

Miss Johnson said, a little red in the face, "Mr. Hanlan, I asked you to come here to talk about Mary's letter and her behavior. The letter she wrote me was absolutely incredible. I have been teaching for 15 years now, and I have never gotten such an insulting letter from one of my students. Most of my students enjoy my classes, so I was shocked at your daughter's letter. Not only that she wrote the letter, but that she said such insulting things to me. I have talked to the principal and he has agreed with me that Mary must write an official apology letter before we can allow her back into my class. We cannot allow our students to insult teachers in this manner. And if Mary is not allowed back in class, she will fail this class and be left back."

Josh Hanlan listened quietly to Miss Johnson. By the time she finished, his eyes had become a little colder and he felt anger rising in him. He said, "Ms. Johnson, my daughter is very bright. She loves science. She told me about the silly science projects you do in class, and about how you make the children sit in a circle and talk about their feelings. She's also told me that your public school does not have advanced classes for faster-learning students anymore, that you frown on such classes because they might upset the feelings of the other children. She also showed me the textbook you use in your class, which looks like a baby book suitable for a six-year-old, not for bright ten-year old girls." "I have to say that I agree with my daughter completely. You are wasting her time, and the time of all your other students. Mary only wrote you that letter because she loves science so much and she wants to learn so much, and she doesn't want to waste her time. She didn't mean to insult you, but was asking for your help. She was just telling you the truth as she saw it. Are you or your principal so frightened of criticism that you want to expel my daughter for telling you how she feels about your class?"

"I'd also like to ask you why your textbooks and teaching methods seem so simple-minded? Why is the textbook so dumbed-down? These childrens' time is as valuable as yours. These are their precious years in which they learn the basics of science and reading for their future life. If you don't expect much from them, you are hurting them. If you teach them that learning is boring and something they have to endure, that attitude will affect them their whole lives. You are supposed to be challenging their minds, not teaching them meaningless drivel so their feelings don't get hurt."

As Josh spoke, Miss Johnson's mouth got tighter and tighter, and her face got whiter and whiter. When Josh finished, she seemed ready to burst out like a steam kettle. "Well," she exploded, "I see where Mary gets her attitude from. Mr. Hanlan, I have been teaching for fifteen years. I went to teacher's college. I have had the best teachers-ed training available. Whatever projects I give in class are for a good reason, based on the best-known educational theories. We don't just teach dry facts or boring basics anymore, Mr. Hanlan. That went out thirty years ago. We now concentrate on our student's feelings and their self-esteem. That's why we have simple, fun projects. It's why we sit around in circles telling each other about our feelings. We can't make the textbook too difficult because the slowest children in the class would be upset that they couldn't keep up with the rest of the class. It's far more important that we protect the feelings of our slowest-learning children than give advanced classes to our faster students."

"Why should children who are lucky enough to be born fast learners take advantage of the slower students? Why should we give them special privileges like putting them in advanced classes? Such uncaring ideas have been discarded by our public-school experts long ago. In fact, we now require our faster-learning students to tutor the slower students, so they learn to share their skills. The feelings of all our kids are much more important than the fact that Mary is bored in class because she is a fast learner. Our kids' feelings are far more important than Mary thinking she is wasting her time. That's also why no student ever fails in our school. We automatically advance them to the next grade, no matter how well they know the material from the previous grade. This makes all our kids happy." "And who does Mary or you think you are, criticizing our teaching methods? These methods have been approved by the best educational experts in the field, experts who devote their whole lives to finding the best ways to teach children. We will not have our teaching methods insulted and criticized by a mere girl like Mary or by any parent. We know what is best for your child, Mr. Hanlan, and the faster parents like you realize this, the better off you'll be."

"Now as I said in my letter, the principal has agreed with me that Mary has to submit a formal apology letter before we will let her back in class. Will you make Mary write that apology?"

Mary looked at her father. She was shocked. She had never seen that look of rage on her father's face. In all her years with him, he had only looked at her with delight and serious attention. Even when he was arguing with someone from his company on the phone, she saw that it was a stimulating, challenging argument for her dad. She had never seen the murderous rage she now saw on her father's face.

Josh Hanlan forced himself to control his feelings. He wanted to slap Miss Johnson's face. Instead, after a few long moments, he said, "Why certainly, Miss Johnson, I will write that apology letter. But my letter will be to Mary, not you. I have been almost criminally negligent with my child's education. I will humbly apologize to her for not having investigated your school a long time ago. I will apologize to her for having let her remain in your school at all. "I have never heard such vicious horse manure in all my life as what you just told me.

Regarding your so-called expertise in teaching, and the so-called quality of your teacher colleges, that is a joke. Most of your teacher colleges are the laughingstock of the academic community. Most student-teachers who graduate from these colleges have never majored in the subject they are supposed to teach our kids. I understand that they stopped teaching phonics instruction in these teacher colleges 30 years ago. How can student-teachers who never leaned phonics or majored in science, teach kids these subjects? It's like the blind leading the blind. And I don't blame these teachers. They can't teach kids what their so-called teacher colleges never taught them."

"And your so-called theories of education are just junk pseudo-science, psychological gibberish foisted on unsuspecting parents and children. Over the last 40 years, your public-school theorists have concocted one nonsense theory of education after another. After each one failed, your education bureaucrats then came up with yet another goofball theory with which to torture 40 million school kids around the country. Every so-called education theory your "experts" have tried has been a miserable failure. SAT scores in this country are near the lowest they have ever been. Our high-school kids place in the bottom third on standardized tests among all the industrial countries in reading, math, and science skills. Millions of kids who graduate from public schools can barely read a bus schedule or write simple paragraphs, and 30 to 50 percent of our children now drop out of school." "Your schools cripple our kids' ability to read with whole-language or balanced-literacy reading-instruction methods, instead of teaching them intensive phonics. Our kids don't learn basic arithmetic because you have them using calculators since kindergarten. That's why so many kids can't even figure out change when they buy something at the store for their mom."

"You claim that you want to protect our kids' self-esteem by using easy textbooks and not failing the kids if they don't do their work or pass tests. You do just the opposite. You give them a false sense of self-esteem. When these kids hit college, or worse yet, when they apply for a job, then reality hits them-the reality you tried to fake for them by "protecting" their feelings and self-esteem." "Real self-esteem comes from working hard to meet challenges. By testing yourself. By persevering to learn difficult material. By not giving up. By being held accountable for the work you do. By achieving real learning skills and real goals from personal effort, and by gaining real self-confidence in your ability to learn and solve problems. Instead, your so-called teaching methods destroy children's real self-esteem and cripple their minds. Only you delay their day of reckoning, which can ruin the rest of their lives."

"I don't know why you use these idiotic teaching methods. I think you get away with it because your public schools are government-run monopolies. Most everything government controls turns to poison, and I don't see why public schools should be any different. Public schools don't go out of business no matter how bad they are or how stupid their teaching methods because they are government monopolies. That's a prescription for education disaster. If you really cared about our kids, you would agree with me that your public schools should be shut down and education turned over to the free-market." "I know that you and your principals and administrators don't agree with that, right? Because of tenure rules, you get job security, good salaries, and fat pensions and benefits, whether our kids get a good education or not. That's why you can be so arrogant or condescending with parents. Parents can complain till they are blue in the face, but your compulsory, tax-supported schools don't have to give our kids a decent education, right?

I know there are many good teachers in your schools, but many of your best teachers quit after a while because they can't stand the strangling regulations they work under. I see now that your public schools are like education prisons that promote mediocrity and dumb-down our kids' education to the lowest level. "Well, not with my child. I am hereby immediately withdrawing Mary from your school. I'll teach her at home or send her to a private school, even if I have to work two jobs to pay for that private school. I'm also going to get a little more active on this issue. I am going to tell every parent I know about your public schools. Maybe I can shake things up a bit so more parents take their children out of public school, permanently." "Let's go, Mary," Josh said, as Mary beamed up at her father with adoration. As they got up and left the room, Miss Johnson had a look of utter shock and rage on her face.


Standards being rediscovered in West Australian schools

Apparently a response to great public dissatisfaction with previous "postmodernist" policies

The WA Government could banish unruly public school students to special units, under tough new discipline measures. Education Minister Mark McGowan said he would look at setting up the units later this year as part of moves to improve order in state schools. He also wants students to wear traditional uniforms, including blazers and ties.

The Minister insisted he was not trying to be heavy-handed. But he said he was concerned that one or two disruptive students could spoil a classroom. "I just want to ensure that parents can send their kids to government schools which have pride and offer a safe, disciplined learning environment,'' he said. "I think that's what parents want. "I don't want to expel students. Every student has a right to an education and I want kids to go to school until they're 17.

"But, certainly, we can look at alternative education options for seriously disruptive students where they won't be able to disrupt classrooms. And I would want to do this later this year. "We can look at having special reintegration units, where we take the most difficult students out of classes and make sure they are intensively managed by professionals trained to deal with such problems.'' He said that in regional areas the units could be on school premises. In the metropolitan area, there could be separate facilities. "It's also not fair on students who don't fit into a normal school environment to have to continue in a place where they don't learn anything,'' he said. "So this would help those students, as well.''

Mr McGowan also said he did not want state schools to emulate their US counterparts, which had poor quality uniforms, causing image problems. WA schools can choose their own uniforms within certain parameters, such as restrictions on wearing denim, which started this year. "But I would certainly encourage schools, particularly at a high school level, to go for more traditional styles of uniform,'' he said. "This would be button-up shirts, blazers and even ties for boys. And for female students, proper dresses and skirts and blouses. "I won't force schools to do this because I know one size can't fit all in WA because of different weather conditions, but they should do it where possible. "I think a decent uniform shows that the students have pride in their school. It represents to parents a sense of discipline and it helps teachers identify any intruders in the school. "And it's often a cheaper option where you don't have the fashion contests that have sometimes gone on when we've had a bit more of a liberal uniform policy in the past.''

He said presentation was "incredibly important'' in encouraging parents to send their children to public schools. "The appearance of young people is an important part of that overall presentation,'' he said. "And just having pride in your appearance and your school would improve the behaviour of students. "I want public schools to be excellent and I want them to be able to compete with private schools and attract parents on the basis of choice.''



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, January 07, 2007

Classics in British schools are 'facing extinction'

The teaching of Classics in British schools has become a postcode lottery, with Latin and Greek likely to disappear from the state sector in some parts of the country in as little as five years. A study into the demise of classical languages suggests that they could vanish from all schools within 25 years unless substantial changes are made to the GCSE.

Bob Lister, one of only two lecturers in England to train Classics teachers and author of the research, said that the subjects will soon become the preserve of a wealthy elite, unless urgent steps are taken. Since Latin and Greek became optional under the national curriculum in 1988, geographical blackspots have begun to emerge, where virtually no children study the languages. Fewer than one in ten state schools now offers both subjects at GCSE and in the past 18 years the numbers taking Latin in comprehensives has dropped by 63 per cent to just 1,707.

In the East Midlands, only nine schools — of which just two were comprehensives — offered Latin candidates for GCSE, while eight of the nine were in Lincolnshire, the only county in the region with grammar schools. In contrast, three times the number of schools in the West Midlands offered candidates. In the South East, where there are large numbers of grammar schools, 73 put forward pupils for the exam.

Harrius Potter et Camera Secretorum and Latin translations of Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit may be flying off the bookshop shelves but, according to figures in Mr Lister’s forthcoming book, Changing Classics in Schools, the number of schools entering Classics candidates at GCSE has reached a low. He told The Times that part of the problem is that the amount of time allocated to study the course has decreased, making Latin one of the toughest subjects in which to achieve top marks at GCSE.

“I can’t see how Latin can survive in the next 25 years unless substantial changes are made to the GCSE,” Mr Lister, a Cambridge don, said. “It’s not that it’s necessarily more difficult, but it’s more difficult in the timetable available — especially when kids compare it to languages like French and see what they have to do to get an A or A*.”

Earlier this year a study by Durham University of the GCSE and A-level results of 200,000 students, revealed that, at grade C, Latin was a grade harder than the next hardest most difficult subjects, such as chemistry or physics.

Overall only 257 state schools entered pupils for Latin GCSE in 2003, of which 86 were grammar schools. Of those, 11 per cent entered a single candidate, 24 per cent entered fewer than five, and 49 per cent fewer than ten candidates.

The danger, according to Mr Lister, is that schools may drop Latin from their GCSE options. He said that the Latin GCSE should be made easier, with less translation from the original and more about the cultural aspects of Roman civilisation. He added: “There is now a serious danger of a downward spiral, with schools dropping Latin from the curriculum if they are unable to recruit Classics staff, leading to fewer classicists from maintained schools on classical language courses at university, fewer therefore eligible for the [teaching degree] and fewer newly qualified teachers likely to go into maintained schools.”



Where would they get the thousands more high-quality teachers they would need? Teacher standards are already dropping, not rising

Pupils would be able to choose what they study, ask each other for help in answering questions, mark their own work and grade their teachers' performance under ambitious government plans to tailor education to the needs of individual children and young people. Traditional grades or marks would go, to be replaced by "feedback", where the teacher would suggest what steps a pupil could take to improve performance. Pupils would be entered for exams as soon as they were ready to take them, rather than wait until they reached a certain age.

Catch-up classes for those who trail behind and extra tuition for the brightest pupils are also recommended in a review of personalised learning published today. The review, written by Christine Gilbert before her recent appointment as head of Ofsted, sets out the Government's vision for schooling by 2020. It aims to stop some children falling behind by replacing a "one size fits all" approach to teaching with one designed to fit the needs of each child. At the centre is a relentless focus on "keeping up", through regular assessments and individual target-setting. This could involve grouping children according to attainment, not age. There would also be surveys of pupil and parental satisfaction to ensure a shared understanding of each pupil's goals.

Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, emphasised that personalised learning did not involve teaching each child differently. It meant involving each child in its own learning. He said: "Many disadvantaged pupils are bright and talented but lose interest or motivation. We need to make sure that no one is left behind at any point - from the most gifted and talented children at the top of the class to the uninterested child at the back."

Jim Knight, the Schools Minister, said that the personalised classroom would look very different. "[It] might involve `traffic-light cards' to show if they are confident they understand - and asking those who show `green' to explain to those who show `red'," he said.

Personalised learning has long been an objective, and one that has become more urgent with the widening of the gap between pupils who perform best and worst. Yet the focus on standards, national testing and the perceived inflexibility of the national curriculum have made it difficult to achieve. Today's report notes that "many pupils still report that their experience of school is marked by long periods of time listening to teachers or copying from the board or a book". It suggests "learning conversations" with teachers so that pupils get into the habit of thinking about their learning and how to make progress. It also suggests that all pupils be allocated a "learning guide" - a teacher or classroom assistant to monitor their progress.

Teaching unions gave the report a guarded welcome. Chris Keats, of NASUWT, warned ministers against the development of an "overly bureaucratic processes" to put personalisation in place.



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.