Saturday, April 07, 2007

California High School "diversity" nonsense good for Asians

In 1969, when nearly every student at Beverly Hills High School was white, school officials went looking for some help diversifying the campus. They found it in the polyglot Los Angeles school system that surrounds the tony, iconic city. Under a system of "diversity permits," the high school began enrolling scores of minority students from Los Angeles each year. For decades, the permit program aimed to bring in a deliberate mix of black, Latino and Asian students from outside the city limits.

Today, however, the vast majority of the students enrolled with diversity permits at Beverly Hills High are high-performing Asian students. The dramatic shift stems from California's stringent anti-affirmative action law, approved by voters in 1996. Concerned with running afoul of the sweeping ban, Beverly Hills school officials have followed what amounts to a "don't ask, don't tell" policy on the diversity permits. Students who apply are not allowed to identify their race or ethnicity.

The program has become as competitive as the Ivy League, with about 8% of the students who applied last year being accepted. Critics say the program has shifted by default from a program aimed at increasing racial and ethnic diversity to one that simply brings smart, well-rounded students into the district. "We were looking to expand diversity but didn't have any racial information," said Dan Stepenosky, the former principal at Beverly Hills High. "We were operating blind, to be honest."

Not only does the high number of Asian students raise questions about the purpose of the program, but it also illustrates the inability of the Los Angeles Unified School District to keep its high-performing students in its schools. The permit program offers another option, along with private schools or even moving outside the district, for parents dissatisfied with the academics and concerned about safety on L.A. Unified campuses.

"Why wouldn't I take advantage of this opportunity?" said Teresa Roth, whose two sons are half Asian and attend Beverly Hills High on diversity permits. "In LAUSD, they don't care if your kid is gifted, if he plays sports, if he is well-rounded. They couldn't have cared less. I felt quite let down." Roth, who lives in Westwood, said she started looking for a way out of the L.A. school system after applying unsuccessfully to enroll her older son, David, in one of the district's selective magnet high schools. Sending her sons to a large, traditional Los Angeles Unified high school, she said, was not an option she was willing to consider.

The Beverly Hills High diversity permits, Roth said, offered a free, quality education on a safe campus. Several Asian students who attend Beverly Hills High on the permits gave similar reasons. In California, students cannot enroll in schools outside their districts without special permits.

Of the 159 Los Angeles Unified students who attend Beverly Hills High on diversity permits, 108 - more than two out of three - are Asian, according to L.A. Unified statistics. Only 16 of the students are Latino and 19 are black. Those numbers do nothing to balance diversity at Beverly Hills High, where - excluding those with permits - minority students are also mostly Asian. About 17% of the 2,362 students at the school are of Asian extraction, about 4% are Latino and about 5% are African American. Nearly 70% of the students are white, a category that includes 450 students of Persian descent.

The disproportionate number of Asians who receive the permits also stands in stark contrast to the racial breakdown of the 12 L.A. Unified middle schools that participate in the permit program. More than half of the students at those schools are Latino, one-quarter are African American and fewer than 8% are Asian. Beverly Hills Unified School District Supt. Kari McVeigh acknowledged that the numbers are skewed, but she defended the permits. The Los Angeles students, she said, bring an element of diversity to the sheltered, upscale world of Beverly Hills regardless of their race. "This is very much a small town surrounded by a large city, and kids here experience life very much through the lens of a small town," she said. "Any time you can . have different kids who come together from different experiences, it's a good idea. The permit program allows us to do that."

She also conceded that money is one of the motivating factors for keeping the program alive. Because the amount of public funds a school receives is based on the number of students enrolled, Beverly Hills High uses the diversity permits - and other types of permits - to fill empty seats and maximize funding. This year, the district will receive nearly $1 million for enrolling the diversity-permit students.


Choosing education

America’s system of public education has earned an extraordinary distinction in comparison to the public schools of our international competitors. Only in America do we commit such egregious malpractice against our children that they actually get dumber every year they remain trapped in the public school monopoly. Public schools suffer the same defense as members of Congress: “They’re all terrible except for mine.” As I am a candidate for Congress and a product of American public schools, I feel I have an obligation to speak truth to power. Your public school and your Congressional representative are - statistically speaking - probably both dismal failures, and for the same reason: neither is truly accountable to constituents. The similarities are striking, if not terrifying:

· Political forces largely outside the control of citizens and voters establish districts that rarely have anything to do with serving the public, but frequently have everything to do with maintaining monopoly power.

· In Congress, members gerrymander their districts to insulate themselves from competitive elections.

· In public schools, bureaucrats set neighborhood school boundaries that prevent competition among schools.

· We measure inputs rather than results.

· In Congress, increasing budgets are the most important measure of a program’s power and success, regardless of whether the program accomplishes anything, whether it’s necessary, or even if the program is counterproductive.

· In public schools, supporters equate greater quality with increased funding, despite the absence of any statistical correlation between increased budgets and improved outcomes.

· Failure results in more funding.

· In Congress, failed programs are never the result of bad ideas, implementation, or employees. They are always the result of too little funding.

· In public schools, illiteracy, dropouts, declining test scores, and the inability to match wits with our international peers are never the result of bad curricula, bad teachers, or bad instruction methods. They are always the result of bad parents, unreasonable expectations, and too little funding.

· The leaders follow fads without any evidence that their path will take them where they want to go.

· In Congress, legislators and committees use the rule of magpies - they find something bright and then they land on it. This is why Congress holds endless hearings about issues that belong on “Entertainment Tonight” and “Dateline” rather than about issues that really matter to citizens.

· In public schools, the curriculum is so dedicated to political correctness, new math, and whole language learning that it has escaped the attention of professional educators that our children do not know whether the phrase, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” comes from Thomas Jefferson or Karl Marx; how to read a food label, make change, or balance a checkbook; and, how to read, spell, and write.

· Our best and brightest flee with alarming speed and regularity.

· In Congress, voters commonly complain that they rarely have the opportunity to choose among candidates that excite or enthuse them.

· In public schools, teachers with the highest ratings for generating positive educational outcomes among their students rarely work more than five years before leaving the field entirely.

· When we are unsatisfied with the outcomes, we have few alternatives and very little recourse.

· In Congress, because of gerrymandered voting districts, earmarking, and the financial and promotional advantages of incumbency, lawmakers are virtually guaranteed re-election.

· In public schools, our only option is to move our children to private schools, at our own expense, because parents have virtually no influence over institutions that serve bureaucrats, politicians, and unions rather than students. To add insult to injury, even if we can afford private school tuition, we still have to pay property taxes for a service we found so dissatisfying that we abandoned it.

I believe that universal public education is essential. Universal public education is essential for developing engaged citizens, critical thinkers, and an advanced economy. It’s an investment in our children, our country, and our future. But, like any investment, we can make wise or poor decisions about where to allocate our resources. Today, and for a generation or more, we make very poor decisions.

This is not unusual in a socialized system - a system in which public servants allocate investments on behalf of a public they supposedly represent. In reality, the central planners who control education investments respond to politics rather than the needs of our children. The reason is simple and understandable: the public education system survives on the largesse of a political system, rather than on the dollars and needs of its customers.

The bureaucrats in the federal and state departments of education are as hopelessly out of touch as the bureaucrats who tried to centrally plan the economies of the failed communist countries. Without any information about which outcomes are actually relevant, they rely on the only information they have - how much money they spend. The Federal government made an effort at remedying this bizarre situation with mandatory testing in the tragic “No Child Left Behind” law. Unfortunately, NCLB allows each state to decide how to conduct that testing. The result is entirely predictable: state political and education leaders manipulate the tests and their definition of “passing grades” to comply with the Federal mandates and secure the Federal funding. So, rather than finding out whether our children are learning anything, we find out how bureaucrats have to adjust the “passing grade” each year to make sure that it reflects “adequate yearly progress.”

The solution to this Kafkaesque comedy of manners is simple, radical, and painfully controversial: allow parents and children to decide which school they want to attend. Only by allowing this kind of choice - using the public funds we already allocate to universal education to permit families to choose the right school, the right teachers, the right instruction method, and the right curriculum - will we be able to convey to schools the infinite range of variables necessary to make wise investments. In the same way that entrepreneurs strive to build better mousetraps, to deliver better products at lower costs, to respond to the unique demands of 300 million Americans - entrepreneurs will respond to educational choice with a veritable mall of choices that meet the needs of the real consumers of universal public education.

Putting more money into a system that doesn’t work will not make the system work. The incentives to perform in today’s public education system are set by people who have an interest in securing more power and more money, and the people responding to those incentives are accountable to the politicians and bureaucrats who set them. Only educational choice will make schools accountable to the constituents who matter - our children.



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

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

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


Friday, April 06, 2007

Victory for freedom of association at CMU

Reversal of Policy Forbidding Student Groups from 'Discriminating' on the Basis of Politics

In an important victory for free association, Central Michigan University (CMU) has revised a policy that banned ideological and political groups from “discriminating” on the basis of “political persuasion.” The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) urged CMU to change this policy after students who disagreed with the mission of the Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) student organization attempted to become members of the group in order to destroy it from the inside.

“Central Michigan University should be commended for quickly fixing its constitutionally unsound ‘anti-discrimination’ policy,” FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said. “Freedom of association means little if you cannot deny membership to people who do not share the core beliefs of the group. A conservative political student group should be allowed to ‘discriminate’ in its membership on the basis of political beliefs, just as liberal, objectivist, anarchist, or Whig party groups should be allowed to exclude members who don’t agree with their ideologies.”

YAF is a Registered Student Organization (RSO) at CMU described in its constitution as “a conservative non-partisan, non-sectarian voluntary educational organization.” Following an attempt by the CMU student government to derecognize YAF last February, YAF members report that students from various liberal student groups began attending and disrupting YAF meetings. On February 13, 2007, some students created a group entitled “People who believe the Young Americans for Freedom is a Hate Group,” where members posted messages suggesting ways to get YAF expelled from CMU. One post encouraged members of the Facebook group to attend YAF meetings, vote students opposing YAF’s mission into board positions, and thereby force YAF’s dissolution.

After learning of these proposed attempts to drive the group off campus, YAF President Dennis Lennox II e-mailed Assistant Director of Student Life Thomas H. Idema, Jr., on February 20 to inquire whether YAF could deny membership to individuals who publicly disagreed with YAF’s purpose. Idema responded in an e-mail by quoting from the non-discrimination clause of the RSO Manual, which states that “[a]n RSO may not discriminate in its membership criteria or leadership criteria on the basis of…political persuasion….” Idema further explained to Lennox that YAF could “not require members to be ‘like-minded’ as that opens [the group] up to discrimination based on political persuasion.”

Lennox contacted FIRE, which wrote to CMU President Michael Rao on March 16 reminding him that denying political or ideological student groups the right to associate with students who share the group’s beliefs violates the freedom of association afforded to all CMU students. FIRE explained that the U.S. Supreme Court addressed this exact situation in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale (2000), when it held that “forced inclusion of an unwanted person in a group infringes the group’s freedom of expressive association if the presence of that person affects in a significant way the group’s ability to advocate public or private viewpoints.” FIRE also pointed out that CMU allows religious student groups to choose their membership based on shared beliefs, resulting in an inconsistency regarding the policy for secular student groups.

On March 27, CMU President Michael Rao informed FIRE that CMU would implement a new policy extending the rules in place for religious student groups to all belief-based student groups. The change was announced to all presidents of registered student groups in an e-mail from the Office of Student Life on March 28. The policy will supposedly be in place by the start of the next academic year.

“Going forward, members of any belief-based student organization at CMU can rest assured that outside opponents will not be able to overtake and undermine their group,” FIRE Vice President Robert Shibley said. “FIRE is deeply heartened that CMU has recognized its legal and moral duty to uphold the full extent of students’ right to freedom of association.”



British Jewish leaders have spoken of their concern after a Haifa University lecturer who has called for a boycott of Israeli academics, was made Chair of History at Exeter University in the south of England. Ilan Pappe has published numerous books and essays accusing Israel of "ethnically cleansing" the Palestinians. "Zionism is far more dangerous to the safety of the Middle East than Islam," Pappe said in one interview recently and two years ago he was a major supporter of the Association of University Teachers' proposals for an academic boycott of Israel.

The Union of Jewish Students is one of a number of organisations who have said they are concerned about the appointment. Mitch Simmons of UJS told The Jewish Telegraph: We're concerned that his anti-Zionist views will spread to other British universities. If an Israel academic has been appointed with more balanced opinions, then that would be fine."

Jon Benjamin, Chief Executive of the Board of Deputies, said he was concerned that impressionable students may be "exposed to his biased views." Benjamin told "After taking full advantage of all the freedoms accorded to him in Israel, a country he has so shamelessly attacked, Pappe has decided to set up shop here. "Whilst this provides the opportunity for academics here to challenge him on his revisionist agenda, the uncomfortable fact is that in the lecture theatres and seminar rooms at Exeter, many impressionable young minds will be exposed to his partial and biased views."


There is an amusing comment here on Pappe: "In both books Pappe in effect tells his readers: "This is what happened." This is strange, because it directly conflicts with a second major element in his historiographical outlook. Pappe is a proud postmodernist. He believes that there is no such thing as historical truth, only a collection of narratives as numerous as the participants in any given event or process; and each narrative, each perspective, is as valid and legitimate, as true, as the next. Moreover, every narrative is inherently political and, consciously or not, serves political ends. Each historian is justified in shaping his narrative to promote particular political purposes. Shlomo Aronson, an Israeli political scientist, years ago confronted Pappe with the ultimate problem regarding historical relativism: if all narratives are equally legitimate and there is no historical truth, then the narrative of Holocaust deniers is as valid as that of Holocaust affirmers. Pappe did not offer a persuasive answer, beyond asserting lamely that there exists a large body of indisputable oral testimony affirming that the Holocaust took place."

Caste quotas limited in India

India's struggles with the legacy of its ancient caste system took center stage again Thursday, with the highest court suspending a controversial government policy that reserved more seats at elite colleges for students born into "backward" classes. The policy sparked protests from students across the country when it was announced last year.

Top state-run colleges already reserve 22.5% of admissions for students from lower castes. However, last summer, the government said it wanted to create an additional quota of 27% for "other backward classes," a move that protesters charged was pandering for votes in a country that sees intense competition among millions of students each year for seats in the top-tier colleges.

On Thursday, a two-judge panel of the Supreme Court threw a wrench into the quota hike, asking the government to provide more accurate data on numbers and the educational status of lower-caste groups -called "other backward classes" - before implementing the new quotas. In a ruling that provided respite for protesting students, many of whom are from the upper castes, the bench said: "The state is empowered to enact affirmative action to help backward classes but it should not be unduly adverse to those who are left out of such action." It went on to observe: "Nowhere in the world do castes queue up to be branded as backward. Nowhere in the world is there a competition to become backward."

"We had raised doubts on the government's intentions and today the Supreme Court has given an order which serves a lesson to all opportunistic powers," Anil Sharma, a member of the voluntary group Youth for Equality, was quoted as saying. The group, which has close to 19,000 members, was started by students at medical colleges to protest the new policy. Youth for Equality and several other groups filed a public interest petition against the government policy last year.

Significantly, the court's main objection appeared to be that the policy relied on data collected in 1931. It did not seem to have an issue with the increase, per se. The government hasn't released exact figures on what percentage of the population "other backward classes" account for. Varying estimates put that number between 35% and 50%, and depending on what side of the fence they're on, interested groups choose what statistic to use. The last census in 2001 did not gather information on "other backward classes."

On its web site, Youth for Equality spotlights data from the elite Indian Institutes of Technology that shows that even the present quota of reserved seats is not fully filled. At the seven prestigious science and engineering schools, 50% of the reserved seats remain vacant, and about 25% of those who enroll under the quota system drop out. An estimated 33% of seats reserved for backward caste students in colleges reportedly go unused every year because there aren't enough students who meet basic admission criteria.

The pro-quota Communist Party of India (Marxist), which supports the ruling federal coalition, called the court ruling "unfortunate." "The judgment has ignored the fact that there are clear-cut lists of other backward classes in all the states," the party said in a statement. "It is on this basis that there is already reservation for OBCs in educational institutions in many states." And in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, which is vehemently in favor of affirmative action, the ruling coalition called a dawn-to-dusk strike for Friday to protest the move.

The Supreme Court ruling means upper-caste students applying to college this year will not have to face stiffer competition for fewer seats. But with the government determined to push the measure through, the issue is likely to come up again soon. And when it does, there will no doubt be more loud protests from students and plenty of political posturing.



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

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

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


Thursday, April 05, 2007

Jury awards $1.4M to teacher who was punished for refusing to change failing grades

For once the kids got feedback on how little they knew. Wicked!

A Louisiana school system must pay more than $1.4 million to an English teacher who was suspended and demoted after refusing to change the Ds and Fs she gave to 70 percent of her students, a federal jury has found. The jury of four men and five women deliberated almost four hours before finding that the school board, superintendent and the principal at West Feliciana High School had harassed Paula Payne, violated her First Amendment rights and retaliated against her.

Payne said, "I'm just so thankful the truth is known." Jurors awarded her $1.2 million for mental anguish and $200,000 in punitive damages.

The lawsuit filed two years ago said the teacher, who had worked for 16 years, was suspended and demoted because she refused to change the low grades and told her story to a television station. School system administrators said they never asked her to change any grades. Superintendent Lloyd Lindsey said she was suspended for five days in November 2004 because she refused to meet with administrators unless a Louisiana Education Association representative was there.

Until she resigned in 2005, Payne taught English at the school in St. Francisville, where students called her class the "House of Payne" because of her high expectations. In the first six weeks of the fall 2004 semester, court documents show, she gave 70 percent of the school's 180 sophomores a 'D' or an 'F' in English II. The low scores conflicted with those same students' grades in other subjects as well as English grades for freshmen, juniors and seniors.

Payne's lawsuit said principal Michael Thornhill told her that if she would not change the grades, she would be assigned to teach in the behavior modification clinic for troubled students. Louisiana law bars any principal, superintendent or school board member from influencing or altering a student's grade. In January 2005, the West Feliciana School Board suspended her for 45 days for willful neglect of duty. When she returned to the high school, she was assigned to be a library monitor and given tutoring classes with no students. She taught only two English classes.

Payne now teaches English to inmates at Dixon Correctional Center. Asked whether she would consider returning to teach in Louisiana public schools, Payne said she would not.


Hostage drill at NJ school features mock 'Christian terrorists'

The head of a national, Texas-based pro-family group says a recent hostage drill at a New Jersey high school, which portrayed conservative Christians as terrorists, is reflective of a dangerous philosophy that has become prevalent in many parts of America, where it is having negative effects on education.

A local paper reports that a drill at Burlington Township High School in New Jersey involved police portraying mock gunmen, described as "members of a right-wing fundamentalist group called the 'New Crusaders' who don't believe in the separation of church and state." The fake gunmen were said to have been "seeking justice because the daughter of one [member] had been expelled for praying before class."

Historian and constitutional expert David Barton is president of WallBuilders, a national pro-family organization that distributes historical, legal, and statistical information and helps citizens become active in their local schools and communities. He says the stereotyping used in the high school's drill is an accurate indicator of what is being taught in public schools in the Northeast region of the country. "It's been interesting to see the indoctrination that goes on," Barton notes, "where we've had in the same region, even federal courts up in that same area, say it's okay to start teaching second graders about homosexuality and homosexual 'marriage.'"

Also, the author and historian observes, the common thinking prevalent in this region is "that, by the way, we do not have to notify parents that we're going to indoctrinate kids because this is such an important societal value that all citizens need it." But in fact, he asserts, such liberal indoctrination of students in religious and moral areas of thought has been shown to lead to some undesirable outcomes.

"There is now a study that has been done by the University of Connecticut that shows that kids who have gone through that type of education actually know less academically than when they enter [school], and they're calling that phenomenon 'negative learning,'" Barton points out. "So that kind of indoctrination or philosophy is having an adverse effect academically," he says.

Nevertheless, the WallBuilders founder observes, liberal attitudes like the one that informs the Burlington Township High School drill are "fairly reflective of the philosophy that has really inculcated that part of the country. He says many schools, local officials, and members of Congress from the Northeast share a strong hostility toward traditional values. The "separation of church and state" phrase invoked in the school hostage drill, Barton asserts, was rarely used by America's founding fathers and is currently construed by many liberals to mean almost exactly the opposite of what it originally meant, protecting churches from the government.



Some faint and unexpected rumblings from the far-Left DePaul U. Scholarship is about considering ALL the relevant facts. Finkelstein goes nowhere near that. DePaul, however, can only look at style. They are too far-gone down the relativism path to think that facts matter

Norman G. Finkelstein has been more controversial off his campus than on it. On his frequent speaking tours to colleges, where he typically discusses Israel in highly critical ways, Finkelstein draws protests and debates. When the University of California Press published Finkelstein's critique of Alan Dershowitz and other defenders of Israel in 2005, a huge uproar ensued - with charges and countercharges about hypocrisy, tolerance, fairness and censorship. But at DePaul University, Finkelstein has taught political science largely without controversy, gaining a reputation as a popular teacher.

But the debate over Finkelstein is now hitting his home campus - and in a way sure to create more national controversy. Finkelstein is up for tenure. So far, his department has voted, 9-3, in favor of tenure and a collegewide faculty panel voted 5-0 to back the bid. But Finkelstein's dean has just weighed in against Finkelstein.

In a memo leaked to some supporters of Finkelstein and obtained by Inside Higher Ed, Chuck Suchar writes that he finds "the personal attacks in many of Dr. Finkelstein's published books to border on character assassination" and that Finkelstein's tone and approach threaten "some basic tenets of discourse within an academic community." Suchar says that Finkelstein's record is "inconsistent with DePaul's Vincentian values, most particularly our institutional commitment to respect the dignity of the individual and to respect the rights of others to hold and express different intellectual positions."

While the leaked memo led to some false online reports that Finkelstein had been denied tenure, his case is very much alive and no final decision will be made until June, according to a university spokeswoman, who added that the dean's memo was not meant for public consumption and that no administrators could comment.

Debates over scholars who take controversial views on the Middle East are, of course, nothing new to academe. But Finkelstein's case may be in a category all its own. He portrays himself as a courageous scholar, bringing rationality to discussions of the Holocaust and Israel - all the more bold for being Jewish and doing so. While criticizing people who invoke the Holocaust to justify political positions, he constantly identifies his parents as Holocaust survivors.

His supporters tend to characterize Finkelstein as the victim of right-wing, pro-Israel forces - and there are plenty of conservative supporters of Israel who despise Finkelstein. But among the groups he's currently sparring with is Progressive magazine, a decidedly left-of-center publication that regularly publishes pieces that are highly critical of Israel's government. Finkelstein and his supporters also say that criticisms of his tone are an excuse for attacks on his political views - and that issue appears to be key to the DePaul dean's review.

Much of the criticism from the dean focuses on Finkelstein's book The Holocaust Industry. The book argues that supporters of Israel use the Holocaust unreasonably to justify Israel's policies. While the book does not deny that the Holocaust took place, it labels leading Holocaust scholars "hoaxters and huxters." A review of the book in The New York Times called it full of contradictions (at one point he rejects the idea that the United States abandoned Europe's Jews and then he later praises a book for which that idea was the central thesis) and full of "seething hatred" as he implies that Jews needed the Holocaust to justify Israel. The reviewer, Brown University's Omer Bartov, a leading scholar of the Holocaust, described the book as "a novel variation on the anti-Semitic forgery, `The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.' "

Finkelstein said he could not comment on his tenure case in detail until later in the week, although he confirmed via e-mail that he had been approved at the departmental level and college levels, and that the dean was opposing his tenure. He also questioned the fairness of being judged by whether he adheres to Vincentian values. He said that the issue was never mentioned in his annual reviews and that he had always been told that his research would be judged by "the conventional academic requirements for scholarship." It is wrong for DePaul to raise these issues now, he said. "You can't spring new criteria at the second stage of the last year of a tenure-track position," he said.

In Dean Suchar's letter, he starts by noting that there has been no dispute at DePaul over the quality of Finkelstein's teaching. He has received "consistently high" course evaluations, Suchar writes, and many students report that they have had "transformative" experiences in his classes.

The dispute over the tenure review focuses on research. The College Personnel Committee, a faculty-elected body that reviewed Finkelstein's candidacy and unanimously endorsed it, raised concerns about the "tone" and "frequent personal attacks" in Finkelstein's work, Suchar writes. That committee, however, concluded that "the scholarship was, on balance, sufficiently noteworthy and praiseworthy to merit their support for the application for promotion and tenure."

Suchar disagrees. "I find this very characteristic aspect of his scholarship to compromise its value and find it to be reflective of an ideologue and polemicist who has a rather hurtful and mean-spirited sub-text to his critical scholarship - not only to prove his point and others wrong but, also in my opinion, in the process, to impugn their veracity, honor, motives, reputations and/or their dignity," Suchar writes. "I see this as a very damaging threat to civil discourse in a university and in society in general."

Finkelstein has also threatened to sue DePaul if he is denied tenure, Suchar writes, adding that this fits into the pattern. "Disagreements over the value of his work seem to prompt immediate threats and personal attacks. This does not augur well for a college and university that has a long-standing culture where respect for the dignity of all members of the community and where values of collegiality are paramount." Suchar's memo was sent to a universitywide committee that will now review the case, which will then work its way to the president.

Supporters of Finkelstein take issue with the dean's letter. "This is all because of Dershowitz wanting him to be fired. These people play rough," said Peter N. Kirstein, a professor of history at Saint Xavier University who has blogged about the case and who is on the board of the Illinois conference of the American Association of University Professors. (Via e-mail, Dershowitz - who has previously battled with Finkelstein - said he had no information about the case.)

Kirstein questioned why the dean would mention Finkelstein's threat of a lawsuit. "Doesn't this country allow people to do things like suing?" he asked. It would be appropriate for a dean to question the accuracy or significance of a professor's work, but not to focus on its tone, Kirstein said. On the question of the tone of one's writing, Kirstein said he had plenty of experience. In 2002 he was suspended from his job after he sent an e-mail to a cadet at the U.S. Air Force Academy, calling the cadet "a disgrace to this country" and criticizing the "aggressive baby-killing tactics" of the military. Kirstein was reviled by many conservative groups and defended by many civil liberties groups. "Tonality is usually a red herring to destroy controversial speech that elites don't like," Kirstein said.

Anne Clark Bartlett, a professor of English and president of the Faculty Council at DePaul, said that it is "not common" for deans to write letters disagreeing with the views of a department and collegewide panel reviewing a tenure candidate. But she also said that the faculty handbook did give deans that right. Bartlett, who said she does not know Finkelstein, said that she has not taken a stand on his case and wants to see how the process plays out. She said that it was important that administrators respect that the university's regulations "give the faculty primary responsibility over promotion and personnel matters" for professors.

Robert Kreiser, associate secretary of the American Association of University Professors, said that the national office of the group had recently received the dean's memo and was paying close attention to the case, but had not been asked to play a formal role. He said that the dean's involvement and raising the issue of tone were not - in and of themselves - cause for concern with regard to academic freedom. He said that any questions about academic freedom would focus on the fairness of the dean's comments, the due process afforded to Finkelstein, and how those comments were viewed in the totality of the evidence about Finkelstein's tenure bid.

However, Kreiser said that the AAUP believes that "ordinarily a dean would defer to the judgment of a faculty member's peers." AAUP policy calls for administrators to have "compelling reasons" that they can present before they overrule a faculty recommendation on tenure. "The dean would have to provide compelling reasons," Kreiser said. The question going forward will be: "Were the dean's reasons compelling?"



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

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

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


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Educators Run Wild; Parents Co-conspirators

Post lifted from Democracy Project -- which see for links

Any industry in which costly resource inputs increase at a faster rate than the economic and social value of outputs is considered inefficient. While academics and politicians, not to mention ordinary citizens, impacted by the rising cost of health care rile about the strain on resources and alternative spending objectives, calling in various guises for greater efficiency of delivery, the value of outputs is not seriously disputed by either statistics or common experience - number served, treatment improvements, cures. Yet, the "higher education" industry is not near similarly critically examined.

Census data shows that the number of undergraduate students enrolled in universities, colleges and community colleges increased 75% from 8.1 million in 1975 to 14.2 million in 2005, graduate students increased by 50% from 1.6 million to 2.4 million, while the number of faculty increased 93% from 622-thousand to 1.2 million in 2003. Accompanying this disproportionate increase in faculty has been a decrease in tenure granted and slowing salary increases.

The American Association of University Professors properly points out that institutions of higher learning are spending a higher proportion of their budgets on facilities, as the proportion spent on faculty declines. Most campuses and dormitories are far more lavish than a generation or two previously. I don't recall where I saw the statistic, but the California state colleges and universities spend about 75% of their budgets on fixed assets. That means that expense constraints must fall upon faculty salaries and student tuition. The AAUP, however, does not focus on the vastly increased supply of graduate students and PhD's, whose only employment is within higher ed, as a downward pressure of staff salaries.

Still, higher education costs are, nevertheless, increasing at a faster rate than the rest of the states' budgets. In California, for example, its legislative analyst notes that General Fund spending is slated to increase about 1% but University of California and California State University spending is slated to increase about 6%.

Like any union, faculty demand higher salaries, but conveniently omit certain elements of compensation, like short work schedules, or few classes taught, or generous fringe benefits. The California legislative analyst, for example, says:

The CPEC's [California Postsecondary Education Commission] faculty salary reports only measure base salaries. Faculty typically receive various other forms of compensation as well, including retirement and health benefits, sabbaticals, housing allowances, and bonuses. Several studies commissioned by the segments have found that the nonsalary benefits provided to UC and CSU faculty are worth considerably more than the average of their comparison institutions. In fact, when all forms of compensation are considered, UC and CSU appear to be at or above their comparison averages.

The U.S. Department of Education provides average fringe benefits of full-time instructional faculty at Title IV degree-granting institutions for the 2005-6 academic year: (figures rounded)

Retirement Plan $6-thousand
Social Security contribution by employer $4.3-thousand
Medical/Dental Plans $6.5-thousand
Life, Disability & Other Insurance $1.6-thousand
Tuition for dependents $4.3-thousand
Housing plan $5.6-thousand
Unemployment & Workers Compensation $0.7-thousand
Other benefits in kind with cash options $1.5-thousand

Total = $30.5-thousand of average fringe benefits, above salaries.

Certainly not all higher education educators are garnering this average, but for it to be an average many are. One can argue all day long about how a college degree is today's high school diploma, but I don't notice much improvement in restaurant waiters' and waitress' service as college grads fill non-educated roles. Careers are bright for those with technical and professional skills, but many other majors are economically worthless.

But, it's among the faculty, overwhelmingly liberal or radical in their politics, that this gross inefficiency of higher education inputs is most felt. Their economic security is declining compared to yesteryear, and the value to anyone but themselves of (politely speaking) esoteric humanities curriculums is negligible. Among many, their resulting alienation, although self-created by their own life choices, results in resentments against a relatively rich society, against business and free enterprise accomplishment, against America and Western civilization.

The accomplices, even from conservative homes, are the parents who agree to shell out up to tens of thousands of dollars a year for their cuddled children to take such basket-weaving courses and enjoy country club campuses. The cure for higher education lays in elimination and avoidance of useless majors and academics, the revolt of taxpayers and parents, and continuation of present trends which place a compensation worth on academics that will decline more compared to other occupations. It will also do much to help cure America of its naysayers, negativists, and internal enemies of cultural and national security survival.

Racial integration and diversity unpopular in black Seattle school

A school so pathetic that it can only handle dumb blacks. Whites not welcome. One gets the strong impression that the white school Principal actively dislikes having whites on her patch -- perhaps because they are less liklely to bow down before her

A large photo of smiling children hangs at the entrance of Madrona K-8. Superimposed across their faces is the caption: "This is who we are." Most of the children in the photograph are African American.

A block away, a different portrait emerges - that of a gentrified neighborhood where residents meet to chat at the corner bakery and young mothers push strollers along a main street of small shops and restaurants. On any given day, most of them are white.

In recent years, the school at the center of this neighborhood in Seattle's Central Area has undergone its own gentrification of sorts, as small numbers of middle-class white families began enrolling their children in a school that remains largely black and persistently poor. The resulting conflict spotlights a challenge the Seattle School District faces as it tries to attract and keep middle- and upper-middle-class families, while intensifying efforts to help disadvantaged students achieve.

Some parents, even before their own children were old enough for Madrona, had tried to improve the school. That left some parents with children already at the school bristling at the suggestion that somehow it wasn't good enough. The newer parents helped revive the Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA), started after-school programs and volunteered in classrooms. But in the end, some gave up, saying they didn't feel welcome, and last fall, several withdrew their children.

Madrona's principal, Kaaren Andrews, believes some left because, ultimately, they were uncomfortable with the school's racial balance. And she believes some of their expectations were unreasonable in a school whose most pressing priority is to help disadvantaged students succeed. Some supporters of the principal agree, saying some who left expected private-school extras at an inner-city public school. The result is a clash that speaks to race and class and achievement - where everyone seems to want what's best for the children yet is divided over how to get it.

In this school of 442 students, about 75 percent are black, 11 percent are white, and the others are of other races.

The hurt feelings are so widespread that the head of the PTSA asked Mayor Greg Nickels for help and the school district agreed to pay for a facilitator to bring the sides together. The result was a meeting Tuesday night that drew about 175 past, present and future Madrona parents who, in often emotional comments, tackled the issue of race at the school. They spoke of Madrona K-8's role in meeting the wide-ranging needs of all their children. Some white parents talked of wanting to feel that a school only blocks from their homes could be a place where their children could get a well-rounded education and where they could feel welcome donating their time. Some black parents pointed out that their ethnicity is appreciated at a school like Madrona and expressed concerns over white families changing the school in the same way they've changed the neighborhood.

Ed Taylor, University of Washington dean of undergraduate academic affairs, helped establish a partnership between the school and the university. In an earlier conversation, Taylor said, "Here, you have an interesting confluence where kids living in Section 8 [low-income] housing are brought together with what might be the children of Microsoft millionaires. There are fundamental questions for that neighborhood: Can you thoughtfully have a multiracial school in which the needs of all kids are being met?" ....

Orser, who is white, has lived in the neighborhood 12 years. He had gone to school in Baltimore with children of all races and income levels, knew the racial mix at Madrona and wanted that for his kids, too. He became active in the school three years before his eldest was enrolled. He was among those who helped revive the PTSA, serving as its treasurer for four years and volunteering in classrooms.

But in the end, he said, he never felt welcomed. Orser said the principal seemed to dismiss suggestions for reducing class sizes or incorporating art and music programs into the curriculum - something he felt would benefit all children. "We had financial resources and people with all kinds of skills willing to help," Orser said. "It was clear she didn't want our money and was reluctant to give us direction."

Disillusioned, Orser transferred his son at the start of this school year to Lowell Elementary School, where he tested into the gifted program. "The saddest day of my last 10 years was the day I realized my son would no longer be at Madrona - despite everything I'd put into it."

In the fall, two years after Andrews came to Madrona, nine families with those or other concerns followed him out of the school, withdrawing 11 students in all. They were allowed to transfer under a federal law that requires the district to offer them a choice of other Seattle schools because so few of Madrona's fourth-graders passed the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) last year.

They were among 21 families - professionals and stay-at-home moms, double-income spouses and single parents, black families and white - who wrote letters to the district expressing a variety of concerns. Some live a block or two from the school, others live on the neighborhood fringe. They wrote of crowded classrooms, harried teachers and other problems not necessarily unique to Madrona. Some said that as the school focuses on the basics of math, reading and writing to ensure students pass the WASL, it denies others a richer educational experience.

But several of the white parents expressed less-tangible unease - that the administration seemed intent on keeping the school predominantly black. A few have all but accused the school's white principal of being racist against them. The sense of rejection some were feeling was confirmed by an e-mail sent to a parent that appeared to come from vice principal Brad Brown. It admitted that the school intentionally misassessed a white student's reading skills to rid the school of his family and others critical of the administration, then bade them a "wonderful educational experience aboard the Mayflower."

More here


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

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

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


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Britain: Class bias a reality

SOME of Britain's leading universities are secretly operating selection schemes that can discriminate against applicants from good state or independent schools. Internal documents show that six of the 20 elite Russell Group universities are identifying applicants from schools with poor exam results or from deprived areas based on their postcode. Admissions tutors are then advised to favour them over equally well-qualified candidates from better schools or backgrounds. The schemes, revealed under the Freedom of Information Act, will fuel criticism that universities are attempting to socially engineer their intakes. It follows government pressure to increase the number of students from poorer backgrounds.

There have been previous controversies over ad hoc schemes introduced by universities or departments such as at Bristol University. However, the documents show some universities are now routinely filtering applicants. The trend is expected to accelerate under plans by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas). It has already decided universities should be told if applicants' parents went to university, and a working group is currently devising national schemes to identify applicants from weak schools.

The documents show Nottingham University tells all its admissions tutors that they should treat applicants from a socioeconomically deprived postcode or from a poorly performing school more favourably. They are told to drop a grade in their offer to applicants whose predicted A-level scores would mean they would normally be rejected.

Newcastle University has introduced a traffic-light system in which forms have symbols added by the administration office to rate applicants' socioeconomic or educational background. Tutors are told they should make lower offers to students whose predicted grades would normally rule them out. Where tutors want to reject such applicants, the advice states: "Applicants whose forms indicate two or more `contextual factors' should be routinely reconsidered within the faculty to confirm (or otherwise) the reject decision."

Newcastle also runs a scheme for applicants from certain postcodes or schools with poor results that allows tutors to make lower A-level offers. Such applicants have to attend a two-week summer school. In addition, administrators write on Ucas forms the percentage of students at the applicant's school that have gained five or more GCSEs at grades A* to C grades. The advice to tutors says: "The lower the average performance of the school, the more weight may be given to the candidate whose past examination performance significantly exceeds their school's average performance."

At Warwick, applicants from "low participation backgrounds" are asked to submit extra information that will be considered alongside Ucas forms. Liverpool, Southampton and Bristol all suggest admissions tutors take account of "contextual factors" such as educational opportunities or personal circumstances.

John Marincowitz, headmaster of Queen Elizabeth's grammar school in Barnet, London, said: "Selection should be based on academic results and the extracurricular achievements. You can't assign values to factors such as school exam results."

Nottingham University said it had introduced a "flexible" admissions policy, but that had meant applicants being asked for grades of AAB rather than AAA at A-level. The policy did not appear in the prospectus, but applicants were informed.

Newcastle University insisted its policy was fair. A spokesman said: "Admissions tutors have always taken into account available contextual information when assessing the academic potential of applicants to the university."


British schools drop Holocaust lessons to avoid "offence"

A sad day when the truth has become offensive

Teachers are dropping controversial subjects such as the Holocaust and the Crusades from history lessons because they do not want to cause offence to children from certain races or religions, a report claims. A lack of factual knowledge among some teachers, particularly in primary schools, is also leading to "shallow" lessons on emotive and difficult subjects, according to the study by the Historical Association.

The report, produced with funding from the Department for Education, said that where teachers and staff avoided emotive and controversial history, their motives were generally well intentioned. "Staff may wish to avoid causing offence or appearing insensitive to individuals or groups in their classes. In particular settings, teachers of history are unwilling to challenge highly contentious or charged versions of history in which pupils are steeped at home, in their community or in a place of worship," it concluded. However, it was concerned that this could lead to divisions within school, and that it might also put pupils off history.



Subsequent reports indicate that the above applies only to ONE school.

Decayed Australian mathematics teaching

It's been figured out: our numeracy is not what it should be, writes Kevin Donnelly

In March 2004, 26 Australian academics wrote an open letter to then federal education minister Brendan Nelson about the parlous state of primary school literacy teaching as a result of Australia's adoption of outcomes-based education fads. Among the concepts was whole language, whereby students are made to look and guess instead of learning the relationship between letters and sounds. The rest, they say, is history.

Nelson set up a national inquiry into literacy. The subsequent report concluded that state and territory curriculum documents, teacher training and professional development had been captured by the whole-language approach and a greater emphasis on teaching the traditional phonics and phonemic awareness was necessary.

Not to be outdone, Australia's mathematicians have organised an open letter to the Prime Minister, to be delivered next week. It has been signed by more than 440 local and international academics concerned about the parlous state of mathematical sciences in Australia. Signatories include Terry Tao, the recent winner of the internationally acclaimed Fields Medal; John Ball, president of the International Mathematical Union; and many of Australia's most qualified mathematicians and statisticians.

The open letter cites the fact that many universities are closing or reducing departments of mathematical sciences, that the shortage of graduates is so acute that "it inhibits the work of business and industry", and that the quality and rigour of mathematics teaching in schools and universities have been severely undermined.

The letter argues that there has been little, if any, action at the commonwealth [Federal] level - notwithstanding the release three months ago of Mathematics and Statistics: Critical Skills for Australia's Future, a report summarising the findings of the national strategic review of mathematical sciences - and that the time for action has long since passed.

In short, the report of the national inquiry concludes that the supply of trained mathematicians and statisticians is inadequate and decreasing, that Australian academics are becoming increasingly isolated and under-resourced, that not enough Year 12 students undertake more difficult courses (participation in higher-order mathematics fell from 41 per cent in 1995 to 34 per cent in 2004), and that high school mathematics is taught by teachers with inadequate mathematical training.

The report does not only concentrate on the negatives: it also offers a number of recommendations for improving the situation. They range from strengthening Australia's research base to guaranteeing funding for organisations such as the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute and the International Centre of Excellence for Education in Mathematics (funded at present by the Department of Education, Science and Training) and rebuilding mathematical science departments.

Given the concerns aired in these pages over the past two years about the quality and rigour of Australia's school curriculum and doubts about teacher effectiveness, it's hardly surprising that the report on mathematics and statistics also highlights the need to strengthen secondary school mathematics courses and to ensure teachers have a thorough grounding in the discipline.

Reading between the lines - and as noted in a submission to the inquiry from Tony Guttmann of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Mathematics and Statistics of Complex Systems - it is obvious, in the same way that subjects such as history and English have been dumbed down, school mathematics has also suffered.

Guttmann argues that the type of feel-good approach to education associated with Australia's adoption of outcomes-based education, where the word "failure" is banned and promoting self-esteem is considered paramount, has led to students being unable, or unwilling, to master so-called hard subjects. Guttmann says: "An attitude is being bred in schools that it does not matter whether a student succeeds in mastering a concept, so long as an effort is made and that effort is rewarded. The concept of failure is considered to be potentially damaging to the self-esteem of students, and so must be avoided. This attitude is particularly problematic for subjects in which a substantial body of knowledge is assumed and built upon."

In order to strengthen mathematics teaching, the report suggests teacher training must be improved. Although it does not go as far as to argue that all teachers should complete an undergraduate degree in their specialist discipline, followed by a diploma of education, thus ensuring that graduates have a firm foundation in their subject, the report suggests that mathematical science departments should have a greater involvement in teacher preparation.

Research shows that one of the key determinants of successful learning is a teacher's mastery of a subject. There is increasing concern that the type of general bachelor of education degree designed and taught by schools of education fails to provide such grounding. As Guttmann points out: "The training of teachers can be improved by making sure that mathematics teachers have a mathematics degree, followed by a diploma of education or equivalent. Their mathematical education should not be provided by education faculties, but by discipline experts."

In an election year, it is obvious the two main political parties see education as a significant issue and that Kevin Rudd and Stephen Smith have successfully repositioned the ALP by staking the territory once the preserve of the conservatives. It is also obvious that Australia's continued high standard of living and international competitiveness depend on the quality, rigour and effectiveness of our education system, especially in the areas of mathematics and related fields such as engineering, science and physics. In the same way that Nelson, when education minister, acted quickly to address falling standards in literacy and concerns about the quality of teacher training, one hopes that the federal Government will also move quickly to address concerns about mathematics.



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

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

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


Monday, April 02, 2007

Government education: Road to hell?

Good intentions will surely be the downfall of individual liberty and personal freedom. The greatest motivation that mankind has to abandon the principles of freedom is simply being afraid. And, fear plays right into the hands of legislators that use good intentions, whether quite sincere or merely conjured, to usurp individual freedoms and parley them into collective power. The consequences of this exchange is a bloated beast called Bureaucracy controlled by a tyrant, or group of tyrants, that seek to enslave the masses for their own good. In other words, Freedom dies. Remember my personal credo, “More government ALWAYS translates into Less freedom.” In no area is this more evident than the realm of government education.

Education is only one of the areas where good intentions have proven less than sufficient to cure the ills of society. It was with the very best of intentions that legislators decided to take upon themselves the responsibility of providing a free education to every child in America. Has a nobler thought ever been conceived in human mind than the desire to see America’s offspring properly prepared to face an ever-changing world? However, the consequence of such feel-good philosophy is a false sense of security, born in the supposition that the State can do something, anything, better than the individual. Freedom is relinquished willingly for nothing more than a promise that government can provide something to individuals that the individuals themselves cannot procure on their own. And the children suffer the most.

The worst consequence of passing responsibility of educating young minds from personal to collective is the task is botched so horribly. Some children are educated quite well in a state-supported system but most barely receive an average level of education. And, far too many fall through the expansive cracks of society that are the floorboards of a bloated bureaucracy grown so large it has become impossible to keep track of everyone. The result of all the good intentions of providing adequate education to children is a twelve-year factory system that produces more than its fair share of functional illiterates. Why do you think the majority of congressmen/women have their children in private institutions? These children are not trained to take charge of governing themselves; but rather, they are almost programmed to be willing taxpayers that obey a ruling elite. Seems we have been there before and it required armed revolution to free an oppressed people. Sound familiar?

So, which is better? Giving your precious children to the State and expecting something you are not likely to receive; or, taking back the responsibility of educating your own young, making sure YOU are satisfied that your loved ones are properly equipped to face the cold, cruel world? Nothing as important as educating a child should be left to government agencies that only have a mandate to provide minimal education to the children whose minds they are charged with filling. The State has no incentive to educate children other than to ensure the perpetuation of governmental power. Willing subjects are much easier to rule, after all. By giving into the good intentions of supposedly well-meaning elected representatives we allow the State to churn out generation after generation of willing slaves that will worship at the altar of the false-deity Security, and believe the lie that the State can provide them their necessities. The consequences again are just too great to ignore. Slavery is unacceptable even if it is of the subtle sort!

When we allow the responsibility of educating our beautiful children to be assumed by the State, we contribute to the agonizingly slow death of Freedom by allowing the government to control the path of each new generation. Good intentions have created a system that takes in free individuals and renders dependent servants of them. Good intentions that have allowed our children to be poorly educated.

There are no easy answers to all of life’s problems, but we should not allow that to become sufficient reason for believing the lie that the State can handle any problem better than individuals. There is simple no evidence to support the claim. We must stop allowing good intentions to be used to justify every great debacle while ignoring the cost in taxpayer’s dollars and human lives. We must learn from our mistakes and start thinking more about the consequences before we allow ourselves to be swept away by the tsunami caused by the sudden social shifts born in good intentions. Perhaps there is no truer adage than the one that cautions: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”


Ancient history dropped in Britain

The teaching of Ancient History in schools is to become, well, ancient history. The only examination board offering an A level in the subject is to drop it in favour of a new Classical Civilisation qualification. Boris Johnson, the Tory higher education spokesman and president of the Joint Association of Classical Teachers (JACT), criticised the OCR exam board for its “demented” decision to replace “a tough, rewarding, crunchy” subject with a softer option. “You can’t just subsume the study of Ancient History into the study of Classical Civilisation. You might as well say that you can learn English history through the study of English language and literature. If we lose Ancient History A level, we lose yet another battle in the general dumbing-down of Britain,” he said.

David Tristram, head of The Kingswood School in Corby, Northamptonshire and chair of the JACT council, described the move as “disgraceful”. “Cicero once said that not to know what took place before you were born is to remain forever a child. The cradle of democracy was Greece, and Western civilisation developed out of the Roman and Greek civilisations — their study is crucial to our own culture and civilisation,” he said.

Graham Able, head of Dulwich College, said that the move reinforced his own decision to opt out of the entire A-level system in favour of the new PreU examination. “Ancient History is a bona fide academic subject in its own right whereas Classical Civilisation tends to be a watered-down version with less historical rigour.”

The Ancient History syllabus covers 21 different aspects and eras of ancient Greek and Roman history, such as the conflict of Greece and Persia in 499BC to 479BC and the reign of Nero. Under the Classical Civilisation A level, history will be dealt with in units, such as “Romano-British society and history as depicted in the literary and archaeological record”.

The move by the OCR exam board follows a revival of interest in ancient history, the result of movie blockbusters such as 300,about the battle of Thermo-pylae , as well as books and TV programmes including the BBC’s Rome.Peter Jones, of the National Coordinating Committee for Classics, said that it made no sense to axe the subject when numbers studying it at AS and A2 level since 2000 had risen by 300 per cent.

Tony Little, Head Master of Eton College, cautioned against a more general trend to “whittle away” valuable periods from the study of history in secondary school: “The notion that history has to be mid-20th century and exclusively focused on the Nazis seems to undervalue history as a subject.”

An OCR spokesman denied watering down the subject. “Similar content to that in Ancient History is covered. In addition, there is a new ethos, which requires candidates to study sources in their historical and cultural context,” he said. New specifications for Classics are published as part of broader changes to A levels, designed to make them more testing for the brightest teenagers from next year.



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

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

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


Sunday, April 01, 2007

Class war -- in British university education

We live in a society which believes that any form of discrimination is an evil akin to slavery or fascism. Yet - rub your eyes - in the sacred cause of `diversity', our universities are now being told to practise discrimination when deciding to whom they should award a place.

As part of a drive to admit more students from disadvantaged backgrounds, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) says applicants will now be asked to declare whether their parents have degrees or other higher education qualifications. It has also decided to give admissions tutors information about parents' ethnicity and jobs.

The ostensible reason is to widen participation at university by compensating for disadvantage and thus creating a level playing field. However, this Orwellian formulation conceals the fact that, on the contrary, this proposal is designed to narrow participation by certain groups on an educational playing field where, in the name of `equality', fresh obstacles are to be raised against them.

In effect, it means that if you are unfortunate enough to have white parents who have degrees and good jobs, the university admissions process will be rigged against you. However well-qualified you may be, however hard you have worked and however good your exam grades, you stand to lose your chance of a university place to someone who can tick all the right boxes about their parents' circumstances.

This, we are told, is necessary to create a fairer society. Well, in that case why stop there? Clearly, there are many other unfair parental advantages that must now be ruthlessly excised from the system. We know, for example, that children do best educationally if their parents are married. So that's an unfair advantage over those from broken homes. We know that children who live in comfortable houses with lots of books and stimulation do better than those who don't enjoy such benefits. So we should discriminate against them too. And what about parents who have a particular talent - those who play the French horn, take part in chess tournaments or teach themselves Mandarin in their summer holidays? Or those who do not suffer from any physical or mental disability, or who are not in prison or are not alcoholics or drug addicts or child abusers? Surely their children have an unfair head-start too?

And why stop at parents? Why not also discriminate against those applicants whose grandparents went to university? Isn't such third generation advantage even worse? Clearly, in the interests of diversity and widening participation, the only people who should go to university are the black children of lone alcoholic mothers and fathers who are doing time for drug offences, and who were brought up by illiterate foster parents who sexually abused them in a mobile home up an isolated dirt track in Cumbria.

You think this is a joke? It is simply the logical outcome of this utterly indefensible process which would institutionalise rank injustice and prejudice. Universities should judge candidates on one thing alone - their academic potential. Instead, UCAS is telling them to judge their parents. The Higher Education Minister Bill Rammell said the information on candidates' backgrounds would ensure that all applications were `genuinely dealt with on their merits', and that it would help universities assess who had the potential to succeed.

But the one thing this proposal is designed to do is to ensure candidates are not dealt with on their merits, but on the basis of their parents' background. And the more that background is likely to help such candidates succeed at university, the less likely it is that they will be offered a place.

It was once axiomatic that it was fundamentally unjust to hold someone's background against them - for such factors are totally beyond their control and irrelevant to their personal merit and achievements. Who would ever have thought that this argument would come full circle? Such oppressive behaviour is the signature of totalitarian or fundamentally unjust societies such as Communist Eastern Europe or apartheid-era South Africa, where those deemed to be enemies of the ruling class were disbarred from higher education.

Not only is it monumentally unfair, but it is also self-defeating. The whole point is supposedly to help people escape from disadvantage in order to succeed in life. But discriminating in this way against those who have succeeded is obviously a powerful disincentive to succeeding in the first place. Why, after all, would anyone want to get a university degree if the consequence is that their own children will find it much harder to get a university place? `Widening participation' in this bone-headed manner is actually the surest way of halting social mobility dead in its tracks.

The central fallacy is the claim that the reason for the persistently low take-up of university places by people from disadvantaged backgrounds is that the system is somehow loaded against them. In fact, this is the least likely cause.

In many cases, such people are merely making perfectly reasonable choices about what is in their own best interests. They don't want to go to university because, for a variety of reasons, they don't think it is right for them. But the Government believes that, since it sees a university education as an advantage, not having one can't possibly be a matter of free choice. It is a view which at root assumes that people from disadvantaged backgrounds are either powerless or too stupid to think for themselves - and also that there is only one way to think.

The result is social engineering and an outright abuse of education which has been going on for years. The truth is that the Government has progressively turned education inside out, in order to pack the universities with students who have been chosen not because they are suitable for such an education but to force 'socially excluded' young people in and advantaged young people out.

Instead of candidates meeting the requirements of the universities, admissions tutors have dropped their requirements to accommodate the poor levels of attainment of more and more candidates - with a knock-on effect of lowering standards throughout the examination and school systems. They are doing so, moreover, under the threat of losing funding unless they attract more students from working-class homes or state schools.

The results have been catastrophic. Between 2002 and 2005, the proportion of university entrants from state schools and the lowest social classes fell. Social mobility has actually gone backwards as a result of the collapse of educational standards across the board.

Once, education was the means of lifting young people out of disadvantaged backgrounds. Then it became a means of trapping them within those backgrounds. And now, those backgrounds are to be used to provide such young people with the illusion of academic 'success' by being turned into a weapon against the middle class which - along with an inverted racism - is being used as a scapegoat for the manifold failures of education policy. Clause Four socialism may have been consigned to history, but the old desire to reshape society through a vicious class war is still very much alive.




THERE'S a fifth column in New York City's public schools - radical teachers who openly undermine Schools Chancellor Joel Klein's curriculum mandates and use their classrooms to indoctrinate students in left-wing, anti-American ideology. One center for this movement is El Puente Academy for Peace and Justice in Brooklyn, the city's first "social justice" high school. The school's lead math teacher, Jonathan Osler, is using El Puente as a base from which to organize a three-day conference in April on "Math Education and Social Justice."

Osler offers this urgent reason for the conference: "The systemic and structural oppression of low income and people of color continues to worsen. The number of people in prison continues to grow, as does our unemployment rate . . . However, in math classes around the country, perhaps the best places to study many of these issues, we continue to use curricula and models that lack any real-world - let alone socially relevant - contexts."

Among the speakers slated for the conference is Eric Gutstein, a mathematics-education professor at the University of Illinois and a former Chicago public-school math teacher. Gutstein's book, "Reading and Writing the World with Mathematics: Toward a Pedagogy for Social Justice," combines Marxist pedagogy with real live math lessons. In it, Gutstein recounts how, on the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, he was able to convince his 7th-grade mathematics class that the United States was wrong to go to war against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. "I told students that none of the hijackers were thought to be Afghan," Gutstein writes. He also announced to the students that he would not "fight against Iraq or Afghanistan . . . because I did not believe in going to war for oil, power and control."

Another of the math conference's "experts" is Cathy Wilkerson, an adjunct professor at the Bank Street College of Education. Her only other credential mentioned in the program is that she was a "member of the Weather Underground of the 60s." Some credential, indeed. On March 6, 1970, she was in a Manhattan townhouse helping to construct a powerful bomb to be planted at a dance attended by civilians on the Fort Dix, N.J., army base. The bomb went off prematurely, destroying the townhouse and instantly killing three of the bomb makers. Wilkerson escaped unharmed. After resurfacing years later and serving a year in prison, she became a high-school math teacher and, presumably, developed expertise on how to bring the revolution into the classroom.

The math conference is backed by another "social justice" teachers' group, the New York Collective of Radical Educators (NYCoRE). I attended an NYCoRE public meeting last October. About 80 public-school teachers gathered on the NYU campus to discuss approaches to social-justice teaching. The meeting was chaired by Edwin Mayorga, a fourth-grade teacher at PS 87 on Manhattan's Upper West Side, and NYU education professor Bree Pickower. Mayorga urged his fellow teachers to "be political inside the classroom, just as we are outside the classroom. The issues we are up against as we teach for social justice are the mandates of [Mayor] Bloomberg, Klein and No Child Left Behind."

Pickower reminded the teachers of the group's Katrina curriculum, which teachers could use to convince elementary-school students that the hurricane was not really a natural disaster, but an example of endemic American racism. Mayorga described how he had piloted the Katrina curriculum with his fourth graders at PS 87 and pronounced it a big success.

Leaving nothing to chance, the Katrina curriculum provides teachers with classroom prompts designed to illustrate the evils of American capitalism and imperialism. For example, one section of the curriculum is titled, "Two Gulf Wars," and suggests posing the following question to students: "Was the government unable to respond quickly to the crisis on the Gulf Coast because the money and personnel were all being used in Iraq?"

You might think that boasting in public about indoctrinating fourth graders with canned lessons in Marxist agitprop isn't the best way for a public-school teacher to advance either his career or the radical cause. Nor would a former domestic terrorist make the best poster girl for selling the idea of social-justice teaching. Surely, someone with responsibility for safeguarding public education in New York City should have stepped forward by now to say this goes too far, this violates every commonly accepted standard of ethical and professional responsibility for public school teachers. But the city's Department of Education has so far turned a blind eye. Indeed, the radical teachers are even funded by members of the capitalist class. El Puente was founded with help from uber-capitalist Bill Gates via his education foundation. And the conference on social-justice math has received a grant from an organization called Math for America, headed by billionaire hedge-fund entrepreneur James Simons.

Chancellor Klein has been eloquent about wanting to banish bad teachers from the schools. He could begin building a dossier by attending the radical math conference at El Puente Academy next month.


Germany steadily reverting to Nazism

And like all tyrannies, they rely on lies and censorship

A youth services social worker apparently has lied to a German television station about a 15-year-old homeschool student ordered into a psychiatric ward because of her "school phobia," and another employee of the same state division shut down a scheduled 1-hour weekly visit with her family when her father showed her the statement. According to the International Human Rights Group, who has a representative working with the family of Melissa Busekros in Germany, the incident yesterday was reported by Melissa's parents to Richard Guenther, director of European operations for IHRG, and his wife Ingrid.

Nearly two months ago the 15-year-old was taken by police away from her parents to a psychiatric ward after a social worker and judge determined she had a "school phobia" and was being homeschooled, which is illegal in Germany. She later was moved to foster care, and although her parents still are not allowed to know where she is staying, they have been allowed "semi-private" 1-hour weekly visits.

Yesterday, the Busekros family arrived to see Melissa, thinking they were going to have a "normal" visit, "normal within the confines of the nightmare they find themselves facing," according to the IHRG. "Unfortunately, the social worker who is charged by the youth welfare office with facilitating these visits refused to leave the room during the family's time together."

So, working within the confines of a now-supervised visit, the family continued its meeting. And since Melissa is cut off from the outside world much of the time, her family tries to keep her updated. "Hubert [Melissa's father] was using his laptop computer to show Melissa a video report on her situation aired by a German television station. On this video tape, a representative of the youth welfare office told the reporter that Melissa has never asked to be allowed to go home!" Joel Thornton, the IHRG president, told WND. "That's right, the youth welfare office is claiming that Melissa wants to stay in state custody rather than be with her family."

"They say this in spite of [as WND has reported] Melissa having told everyone she ever talked to that she wants to go home," Thornton said. "This includes the youth welfare workers, the judge, the psychiatrist at the mental ward where she was taken, her parents, attorneys, government officials who have visited her, and her foster family. She even sent a letter to the IHRG pleading for us to help bring her home; you can see the letter for yourself by going to this web link."

As the video report was playing, the government worker "forcefully closed Hubert's laptop," Thornton said. "She then called the police and ended the visit, even though their time was not up. She had Hubert removed from the property, declaring that he would no longer be permitted to come into the facility - even to visit Melissa." Thornton said the social worker indicated that any visits with Melissa now will be under supervision at all times and they will take place at another location.

"We also learned that the Busekros are now exercising their legal rights by bringing a civil action against the government officials who illegally removed Melissa from their home. This action will not be to seek money, but to have the government declare that local officials violated the family's guaranteed fundamental rights by raiding their home and taking their daughter," Thornton said. "Please pray for Melissa and her family. Her siblings are having trouble sleeping at night out of worry for Melissa and fear that they will be taken next," he said.

As WND recently reported, the attacks by the German government on homeschoolers now have begun expanding. A recent order in Saxony gave custody of five "well-educated" children to the state, fulfilling the direst predictions from human rights activists that the government's success in Melissa's case would encourage officials to act against others. Thornton had warned when Melissa first was removed from her home that, "There is an increased fear among homeschoolers about whether their children are next."

The court decision in the Saxony case, involving the Brause family, according to the IHRG, said the well-being of the children "can only be achieved by their attendance in the public schools." The judge had concluded that the children were well-educated, but accused the parents of failing to provide their children with an education in a public school. The court noted that one of the daughters expressed the same opinions as her father, showing the siblings have not had the chance to develop "independent" personalities.

But the IHRG vowed a battle. "No parent should have to watch their children being forcibly removed from their home because of their religious beliefs," the organization's statement said.

The newest developments came even as the United Nations issued a critique of the Germany education system. ".it should be noted that education may not be reduced to mere school attendance and that educational processes should be strengthened to ensure that they always and primarily serve the best interests of the child," the UN report said. "Distance learning methods and homeschooling represent valid options which could be developed in certain circumstances, bearing in mind that parents have the right to choose the appropriate type of education for their children, as stipulated in article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights," it continued.....

Wolfgang Drautz, consul general for the Federal Republican of Germany, has commented on the issue on a blog, noting the government "has a legitimate interest in countering the rise of parallel societies that are based on religion or motivated by different world views and in integrating minorities into the population as a whole."

Melissa had fallen behind in math and Latin, and was being tutored at home. When school officials in Germany, where homeschooling was banned during Adolf Hitler's reign of power, found out, she was expelled. School officials then took her to court, obtaining a court order requiring she be committed to a psychiatric ward because of her "school phobia."

Drautz said homeschool students' test results may be as good as for those in school, but "school teaches not only knowledge but also social conduct, encourages dialogue among people of different beliefs and cultures, and helps students to become responsible citizens." ....

The Home School Legal Defense Association, the largest homeschool organization in the U.S. with more than 80,000 member families, said the case is an "outrage." Practical Homeschool Magazine noted one of the first acts by Hitler when he moved into power was to create the governmental Ministry of Education and give it control of all schools, and school-related issues. In 1937, the dictator said, "This Reich stands, and it is building itself up for the future, upon its youth. And this new Reich will give its youth to no one, but will itself take youth and give to youth its own education and its own upbringing."



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"

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