Saturday, April 14, 2007


A controversy over free-speech restrictions on college campuses continues to grow after Jewish student leaders at Brown University canceled an appearance by a pro-Israel speaker because a Muslim chaplain called her controversial. Jewish students had asked the student board of Brown's chapter of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life to co-sponsor a Nov. 30 speech by Nonie Darwish, an Arab who had become pro-Israel and author of "Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror." Earlier this month, however, after tentatively agreeing to sponsor the event, the board nixed the event after Brown's Muslim chaplain, Rumee Ahmed, raised objections.

Born in Cairo and raised in Gaza, Darwish is the daughter of an Egyptian intelligence officer killed by Israeli soldiers. She says she was indoctrinated from childhood to hate Israel but changed her views after befriending Jews who yearned for peace and after her brother's life was saved by Jewish doctors at Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital. She since has converted to Christianity and attends an evangelical church. The California-based Darwish now speaks around the United States on the difficulties women face under Islam and on the Muslim jihad against Israel.

According to Serena Eisenberg, director of Brown's Hillel, Jewish students wanted to bring Darwish to speak about rights in the Middle East, and by default in Israel. They enlisted Hillel and Brown's Sarah Doyle Women's Center as sponsors. But Ahmed reportedly said Darwish's views were offensive to Muslims, who Ahmed claims live in fear at the university. Then "the Muslim Students Association and the Muslim chaplain and the Chaplain's Office expressed concern about bringing Nonie to campus, so the women's group withdrew their sponsorship," Eisenberg told JTA on Monday. Neither Ahmed nor Gail Cohee, director of the Women's Center, would return phone calls from JTA.

Once the Women's Center withdrew its sponsorship, the Hillel students considered whether they wanted to be the lone sponsors of an event that could prove controversial, Eisenberg said. According to Yael Richardson, the Hillel chapter's student president, the board was lobbied by Ahmed and via e-mail by Brown's head chaplain, the Rev. Janet Cooper Nelson. Cooper Nelson "told us to think about the implications of what this would do with our religious communities on campus," Richardson said. "She encouraged us to think carefully about whether we wanted to fund the event."

After researching Darwish's writings and past statements, the five members of the board decided against bringing her to campus so as not to jeopardize their "lovely" relationship with Muslim counterparts, Richardson said. Eisenberg said there also were scheduling issues. Richardson said she's proud of the decision, which earned Hillel a scathing rebuke from the New York Post and led to the resignation of one student Hillel official.

In an e-mail message to Jewish student leaders obtained by JTA, Eisenberg urged students to consider whether the event was "of such benefit as to outweigh the rifts we are certain to cause in the Muslim community and perhaps among Jewish students and others on campus who question whether Hillel should be bring [sic] Arab speakers to campus who speak poorly of Islam." But she says she wanted the decision to come directly from the students.

"Did the Muslim Students Association and the administration exert some influence? Yes," Eisenberg said. "Did our board cave? No. They made a thoughtful decision about constructive dialogue and about moving forward." However, the cancellation comes after Brown's Office of the Chaplains and Religious Life supported Palestinian Solidarity Week earlier this month "over my objections," Eisenberg said.

That event was sponsored by the parents of Rachel Corrie, an American student and pro-Palestinian volunteer who was run over and killed as she tried to stop an Israeli bulldozer from searching for arms-smuggling tunnels in the Gaza Strip. Since her death in 2003, Corrie has become an icon for pro-Palestinian groups on college campuses such as the International Solidarity Movement. Cooper Nelson, the head chaplain, did not return repeated calls from JTA.

Brown officials did offer a response, and suggested that Darwish may speak at the university at some point. "The Brown University community values the contributions of affiliated student religious groups and supports open discussion among people of all faiths and religious beliefs. Administrative officials at Brown are working with student groups to discuss alternative ideas for sponsoring a Nonie Darwish presentation on campus," Brown's vice president for public affairs and university relations, Michael Chapman, said in a release.

The decision to cancel the Darwish event angered several pro-Israel students involved in planning it and prompted Yoni Bedine, a Brown student and Hillel staff member responsible for Israel programming, to resign. "I think the failure here was a failure of Jewish leadership," he told JTA. "I think it sends a really bad message to potential future Jewish leaders. I think it was a catastrophic decision in terms of the precedents that it sets."

Darwish is the latest in a series of controversial speakers on the Middle East who have had their appearances canceled amid complaints from opposition groups. Recently Columbia University's chaplain's office revoked as many as 115 invitations hours before a speech by Walid Shoebat, a former PLO terrorist turned evangelical Christian and author of the book, "Why I Left Jihad."

Last month, Tony Judt, a New York University academic who advocates replacing Israel with a binational state of Arabs and Jews, had an appearance canceled at the Polish Consulate in New York following phone calls from two prominent Jewish leaders. The following week, a French Embassy office in New York scrapped a party in honor of author Carmen Callil after complaints that she equated Jewish suffering under France's Vichy government with Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. In those cases, questions raised by Jewish opponents led the hosts to cancel the events. But at Brown, the decision was taken by Jewish students themselves, apparently out of concern that the speaker could harm Muslim-Jewish dialogue.

Darwish denied that she was controversial, and her Brown supporters say they carefully vetted her writings to ensure there was nothing inflammatory. "I never speak against the Koran, I speak against terrorism," Darwish said. "Books don't commit terrorism, people do." She has had only one other speaking engagement canceled because of fears of controversy, said Darwish, who claims there's a concerted campaign of intimidation aimed at Muslims who speak out about their own culture. "Any Arab who speaks differently from the status quo is immediately just branded as traitor, and they want to shut us up," she told JTA. "We left the Middle East thinking we're coming to America, our freedom of speech is protected. And then the radicals follow us here and shut us up."

Bedine insists he wanted Darwish's talk to be constructive. But others say the sensitivity argument is being carried too far - and often is applied in only one direction. Bedine says he wouldn't have dreamed of asking Muslim students to cancel speakers at Palestinian Solidarity Week, though Jewish students found some of them controversial. "We're here to be challenged and hear the full spectrum of views," Bedine said. "In free speech, toes get stepped on."


Wikipedia references a needless source of anxiety

By Eric Rauchway, a professor of history at the University of California. The good prof puts a lot of faith in the Marxist Juergen Habermas and misplaced faith in the Green/Left magazine "Nature" as well (See here about that) but he is right in highlighting a big change in knowledge management

The history department at Middlebury College in Vermont, the US, has banned students' citation of Wikipedia, saying the free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit "suffers inevitably from inaccuracies deriving in large measure from its unique manner of compilation". What's at stake here isn't error. It's how we in the professional knowledge business greet our new overlords: the plain people of the internet. Right now, we're lobbing fibs at them of just the kind the internet is good at puncturing and, indeed, of just the kind the losing side used the last time our civilisation endured a revolution in the ownership of knowledge.

Wikipedia's founder Jimmy "Jimbo" Wales agrees with the Middlebury historians. "Basically, they are recommending exactly what we suggested: students shouldn't be citing encyclopedias. I would hope they wouldn't be citing Encyclopaedia Britannica, either." All encyclopedias stand several degrees of separation away from the events on which they report.

But by "barring Wikipedia citations without mentioning other encyclopedias", as Middlebury American studies professor Jason Mittell says, "it would seem that their problem is with the Wiki, not the pedia".

Yet in pitting Wikipedia against the Britannica, British journal Nature found: "The exercise revealed numerous errors in both encyclopedias, but among 42 entries tested the difference in accuracy was not particularly great. The average science entry in Wikipedia contained around four inaccuracies; Britannica, about three."
Wikipedia lets anyone write or edit it, which makes it vulnerable to vandalism. But Wikipedia relies on this openness to defend itself. Its (mostly) upstanding citizens don't take kindly to rotten kids ruining their encyclopedia and they quickly stop it.

In contrast to this reliance on openness, consider Britannica. Nature critiqued Britannica by conducting a peer-reviewed comparison of the reference works, acting as academics are supposed to: by getting expert opinion, then getting other experts to go over the conclusions. Britannica's response was to buy ad space in The New York Times lambasting Nature.

People with money, reputation and control over public information have historically used their power to retain control over the means of producing knowledge, as philosopher Jurgen Habermas noted. During the Middle Ages, the only public things were the symbols of authority, displayed to the people by kings and the church, who told them what to think and do. As market towns arose, so did a new public culture. Now information didn't just move down from above; it moved horizontally and, by the 17th century, vigorously, in print journals, coffee houses and taverns where political and literary discourse flourished. As Habermas noted, the rise of public opinion annoyed the experts: "The conflict about lay judgment, about the public as a critical authority, was most severe . where hitherto a circle of connoisseurs had combined social privileges with a specialised competence."

But, once public, knowledge became so cheap to make and spread that it demanded attention. Everyone who was anyone was reading and listening. And, throughout the period of liberalisation in the West, the great and good, the ambitious and the worthy, learned to reckon with "the sense of the people".

The rise of the modern state and the expensive apparatus of modern media undid this revolution in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. As Al Gore noted, borrowing from Habermas, it meant a refeudalisation of the public sphere.

Now the internet is de-feudalising it again. There's no point romanticising what's going on, de-feudalisation doesn't mean democratisation. Like the coffee-house culture, the internet's public sphere is noticeably male, crude and given to the concerns of the rich middle class. But it's not subject to the control of press barons, either.

Professors can no more undo the public sphere of the internet than the embattled experts of the early modern era could undo the coffee houses. That doesn't mean our days are numbered (although Britannica's may be). As Habermas noted, deft politicians learned to use "the knowledge of the millions".

And scholars still have a role to play in the world of Wikipedia. It needs us: Wikipedia articles need to cite reliable sources that use "process and approval between document creation and publication". In other words, academic work: Wikipedia is on our side.



Run by a tinpot Hitler with all the flexibility of a brick

A school has banned a grade A pupil from its end-of-year prom because her parents would not force her to attend extra revision classes. Kayleigh Baker, 16, a prefect at Hurworth School, in the Prime Minister's Sedgefield constituency, is a model student with a 100 per cent attendance record and a series of outstanding annual reports. Last year, she achieved A grades in two GCSE examinations that she had sat a year early and is expected to achieve top marks in nine subjects this summer.

Her invitation to next month's prom has been withrawn after a dispute between her parents and the school's senior management about its demand that Year 11 pupils should attend compulsory after-school revision sessions. The annual event, which will be held in an 18th century country manor house, is the highlight of the school's social calendar and for many pupils represents the climax of their school career.

Dean Judson, the head teacher, has also barred Kayleigh from the netball team and from going on any school trips. He allowed her to attend a recent achievement ceremony, at which she collected five awards.

Kay and Ellis Baker say that their daughter is a talented and diligent student who does not need the extra burden of two weekly, hour-long revision lessons at the end of the school day. They believe that they have the backing of the Department for Education and Skills, which told them in a letter: "All study support (out of school hours) activities are entirely voluntary and there should be no compulsion on young people to attend."

One of Hurworth's governors has resigned in protest at its "severe and extremely punitive" treatment of Kayleigh, who hopes to become a lawyer, but yesterday the school, near Darlington, Co Durham, showed no sign of backing down. Eamonn Farrar, its chief executive, said: "We know what's best for the children and that is why we make them go to these lessons." If one pupil were allowed to miss the sessions, others would soon follow suit, he said. "In life, if you don't do something you are asked to, then you can't expect anything in return. Children who don't conform to the school rules cannot expect to go to the school prom."

The 636-pupil school, for children aged 11-16, has won praise from Ofsted inspectors for its "very good leadership and teaching", which has led to a significant recent improvement in its GCSE results. The proportion of pupils achieving five or more A*-C grades rose from 39 per cent in 1998 to 93 per cent last year. Mr Farrar denied that the introduction of compulsory after-school lessons was prompted by an unhealthy obsession with school performance tables. "If I said I run these classes because of the league tables, that would be immoral. We don't play the league table game - we just celebrate when we top them."

Kayleigh, described in a recent school report as "an inspiration to others with impeccable behaviour and a totally focused attitude", said that she was deeply disappointed by the school's decision. Her dress, handmade for her in China last year, was inspired by the gown worn by Kate Hudson in the Hollywood film How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days. Kayleigh had a companion to go with and said that she had been "looking forward to the prom all year". Boys wear black tie and the girls full-length gowns, and many will be travelling to the Hardwick Hall Hotel, near Sedgefield, by limousine. "Everybody has been talking about it, getting excited. My friends are talking about their dresses and asking each other where they got their shoes from, and I can't join in," she said. "I've been excluded from everything fun at school, everything that I enjoy. It's cruel and I feel like I'm being punished when I haven't done anything wrong."

Kayleigh said that, by passing her religious studies GCSE a year early, she already had five free periods in her timeta-ble that were allocated for revision. As a result, she did not need the after-school sessions. Her father, a health and safety consultant, said: "All children that age need balance. Kayleigh is studious and conscientious. We made a decision about her welfare and the school has punished her for it." Mrs Baker said that her daughter had been so upset that she had lost a stone in weight.



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 13, 2007


In case parents choose a Christian alternative rather than the prevailing school religion of amoral Leftism. I am an atheist but I sent my son to a Catholic school because I thought that an exposure to Christian traditions would be beneficial

The new Democratic Governor of Ohio, Ted Strickland, has the Republican-dominated statehouse in an uproar over his proposal to eliminate funding for private “charter schools” in the state budget. The Ohio budget has previously allowed children in poor performing public school districts to apply for state funds to be directed to a private charter school on their behalf. Even Christian schools have been able to compete with public schools for state funds to educate children.

The argument for charter schools is convincing: many charter schools have a proven superiority over public schools intellectually and financially. In short, you get a higher quality education for less state money. Introducing competition into public education can only be good for the children and for the taxpayers. The argument against charter schools is as follows: granting state funds for private Christian schools is a violation of the separation of church and state. It also takes desperately needed funds away from the public school systems where the funds are needed the most: in poor-performing districts.

In short, the introduction of private charter schools into the public education field of competition is good for the taxpayers and the students, whereas maintaining the monopoly of government-controlled public education over the state treasury is good for the teacher’s unions. We know where Ted Strickland’s loyalties lie.

The problem with the deterioration of public education is not a financial problem. Our nation spends more per child for public education than any other civilized society and we are ranking dead last among industrialized nations in science and math. I live in Zanesville, Ohio, and the cost of Zanesville’s public education system is twice the average cost of a private school in Ohio ($9200 annually per child in Zanesville versus $4500 annually per child in an Ohio private school). Even public school superintendents wouldn’t freely give their own money for a Zanesville public school for their own children if they had the choice. The problem with public education is not a lack of funds; it is who is doing the spending of it.

Parents love their children more than child development experts and state bureaucrats and have the God-given responsibility for the education of their own children. Parents would never have taken prayer, the Ten Commandments, and phonics out of school. Parents would never have brought condoms, atheism, acceptance of homosexuality, and “outcome-based education” into school - only bureaucrats could be so impervious to common sense. The cost, efficiency, and quality of the education of future generations will drastically improve if parents are at the helm. If we want to do what is best for the education of Ohio’s children and the rights of their over-taxed parents, we must break the state’s monopoly over public funds for public education. Parents must be free to educate their own children as they wish, without state interference and without state coercion of their wealth for a public education system to which they would not give willingly if they had the choice.

There are two million home-educated children and 5.9 million children educated in private school. Many of them have been dissuaded from the public education system because of the deteriorating intellectual quality. Others fear that evil company will corrupt the good morals of their children, as the Bible warns in I Corinthians 15:33. Others have withdrawn their children from the government-controlled education system because of moral objections to the curriculum and the prevailing moral standards in public schools.

Most parents, I have discovered, are woefully ignorant of the deteriorating moral conditions of public education. Government schools have become more and more captive to the leftist agenda of the socialists, homosexuals, feminists, earth-worshipers, and atheists. Public schools have become pulpits of humanism and liberal dogma. Science classes continue to propagate the myth of atheistic macroevolution in spite of the plethora of damning evidence against it. The federal courts have consistently upheld the government’s right to teach children, without parental permission or oversight, to accept homosexuality and practice “safe sex” like “mutual masturbation” and anal sex with a condom.

It was not always this way. Before 1962, prayers were prayed and the Bible regularly read in public schools. Congress approved the first publishing of Bibles in the U.S. in 1782, “a neat edition of the Holy Scriptures for the use of schools.” McGuffey’s Reader, the mainstay of public education from 1836 to 1920, primarily consisted of prayers to God, Scriptural references, and religious instruction to abstain from sin. One of our first educational bureaucrats, Noah Webster, said, “Education is useless without God and the Bible.” This sentiment is almost universal in the first generation of public schools in the United States. The anti-Christian sway of public education has been recent – only in the last thirty years has our nation abandoned the Bible as the basis of morality and adopted a counterfeit standard of atheistic humanism.

It is frequently repeated that teaching religion in schools violates the constitutional wall of separation between church and state. When Thomas Jefferson penned those infamous words “separation of church and state”, he did so in a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in response to their concern that the Federal government would sponsor a particular denomination as the English government had done with the Anglican church and as the states had done with their preferred Christian denomination. Jefferson assured them that the federal government would not hinder the free practice of their religion. The same time that Jefferson wrote those words, however, he was superintendent of the school district of Columbia, and can you guess what the only required textbook was for all classes? The Holy Bible!

Thomas Jefferson said, “Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” In his endorsement of a separation of church and state, he never intended to imply that the public schools should not endorse and teach Christianity, but that the state would not hinder the free practice of religion. The separation of church and state, as it commonly taught, is a myth that has been fostered to preserve the government’s monopoly over the corrupt public education establishment, at the expense of our children’s minds and souls, and at the expense of the taxpayers’ wealth.



Schools should not “over discipline” persistently unruly pupils for fear of alienating them and should instead hand out praise five times more often than punishments, the Government has said. New guidance on school discipline published yesterday cautions teachers against repeatedly praising only “the same good pupils”, suggesting that rewards also be given to persistent miscreants who show an improvement in behaviour, however small. It cites research recommending a “rewards/sanctions ratio of at least 5:1”. Rewards might include “good news” postcards sent home, “special privileges” or “prizes”. “Striking the right balance between rewarding pupils with consistently good behaviour and those achieving substantial improvement in their behaviour is important. This can help improve relations with parents who have become tired of receiving letters and phone calls when things go wrong,” the guidance states.

It also advises teachers to take account of pupils’ race and culture when telling them off, suggesting that they go easy on those insubordinate youngsters for whom being “loud” or “overfamiliar” may be a cultural norm or “social style”. Teachers should understand the importance of showing respect to children from racial or religious backgrounds for whom public humiliation is seen as particularly shameful. In these cases, staff should not use language that might humiliate youngsters in front of their friends.

In other areas the guidance advocates a tougher approach, encouraging teachers to give Saturday and after-school detention and to punish pupils who make false allegations against teachers. It has been published to accompany new legal powers enabling teachers to use “reasonable force” to restrain violent children, confiscate mobile phones and punish pupils for poor behaviour on their way to and from school.

But critics described the guidance as “soft”, stating that most teachers already knew how to use positive reinforcement techniques. The document coincided yesterday with a threat of strikes by the National Union of Teachers unless schools speed up the process for expelling violent or abusive pupils.

David Willetts, the Shadow Education Secretary, said that the new guidance could be resented by pupils if it implied that bad behaviour brought rewards. He said that if school children could see badly behaved pupils being praised “then the school’s policy would lose all credibility”.

Alan Smithers, Professor of Education at the University of Buckingham, said the move could encourage perverse behaviour. “Children and parents will be quick to pick up on false praise. That simply devalues the use of encouraging words. The key thing is that it has to be honest feedback. As a soft approach it won’t work because children and their parents will soon pick up that it’s false. “If you reward the children who have been poorly behaved for behaving well you might actually be getting children who have been perfectly happy behaving well to behave badly in order to pick up the rewards.”

Robert Whelan, deputy director of the thinktank Civitas, said: “The idea that teachers have to take account of a child’s ethnicity when disciplining them is racist. It’s telling teachers they have to treat children differently according to their skin colour.”



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 12, 2007

Grounds For Optimism: Sandra Day O'Connor Is Pessimistic!

Post below lifted from Discriminations -- which see for links

Peter Schmidt reports on the Chronicle of Higher Education news blog that former Justice O'Connor acknowledged in a recent speech that "she is not confident the court had preserved affirmative action in higher education for much longer." The former Justice would obviously prefer "the people" (my quotes, not hers) to leave constitutions to the courts, and not take matters into their own hands by amending their state constitutions in an attempt to clean up messes made by the Supreme Court.

Speaking at Washington's National Press Club at a symposium on diversity at colleges, Justice O'Connor said, "The future of affirmative action in higher education today is certainly muddy." As the basis for her observation, she cited Michigan voters' adoption last fall of an amendment to that state's Constitution banning affirmative-action preferences, as well as the passage of similar measures in California in 1996 and Washington State in 1998, and current efforts to place preference bans on several states' ballots in 2008.

Several of her other comments were equally interesting. For example, she stated that in Grutter she and the court's majority "had tried to be careful in stressing that affirmative action should be a temporary bandage rather than a permanent cure." Should be? Was that friendly advice, wishful thinking, or a constitutional command? Alas, her opinion wasn't careful enough to answer that question. She was also quoted as saying:

"It probably would be better if we could remedy the racial gap in academic achievement long before application for college admission," by finding ways to improve elementary and secondary schools enough that race-conscious admissions policies will no longer be necessary.

Probably? No matter. The good news, which is what worries Justice O'Connor, is that substantial majorities of the pesky people believe that racial discrimination (politely if euphemistically known as "race-conscious admissions") is not necessary now.


John Fund has an excellent, longer piece on Justice O'Connor's speech in today's Wall Street Journal. You should read the whole thing, but here are some excerpts:

Justice O'Connor continued to defend her original position. She lamented statistics that showed that as a result of California's Proposition 209 (passed in 1996) only 2.2% of UCLA freshmen were black, and a fifth of those were on athletic scholarships. (California's overall population is 6.1% black.)

She seemed strangely unaware, however, of the growing evidence that racial preferences might have actually decreased the likelihood that blacks and Hispanics will graduate from college. Put differently, if the body of evidence is correct, the whole affirmative action enterprise has been deeply and tragically flawed from the beginning, failing to achieve its most basic aim: increasing the number of minority college graduates, doctors, lawyers and other professionals.

Moreover, Justice O'Connor's comments about UCLA obscured an important and promising real story. While it's true that black and Hispanic enrollment at UCLA and Berkeley went down after Prop 209, these students simply didn't just vanish. The vast majority were admitted on the basis of their academic record to somewhat less highly ranked campuses of the prestigious 10-campus UC system, which caters only to the top one-eighth of California's high school graduates. In the immediate wake of Proposition 209, the number of minority students at some of the nonflagship campuses went up, not down.

This "cascading" effect has had real benefits in matching students with the campus where they are most likely to do well. Despite what affirmative action supporters often imply, academic ability matters. Although some students will outperform their entering credentials and some students will underperform theirs, most students will succeed in the range that their high school grades and SAT scores predict. Leapfrogging minority candidates into elite colleges where they often become frustrated and fail hurts them even more than the institutions. It creates the illusion that we are closing racial disparities in education when in fact we are not. While blacks and Hispanics now attend college at nearly the same rate as whites, only about 1 in 6 graduates.

Affirmative action often creates the illusion that black or other minority students cannot excel. At the University of California at San Diego, in the year before race-based preferences were abolished in 1997, only one black student had a freshman-year GPA of 3.5 or better. In other words, there was a single black honor student in a freshman class of 3,268. In contrast, 20% of the white students on campus had a 3.5 or better GPA.

There were lots of black students capable of doing honors work at UCSD. But such students were probably admitted to Harvard, Yale or Berkeley, where often they were not receiving an honor GPA. The end to racial preferences changed that. In 1999, 20% of black freshmen at UCSD boasted a GPA of 3.5 or better after their first year, almost equaling the 22% rate for whites after their first year. Similarly, failure rates for black students declined dramatically at UCSD immediately after the implementation of Proposition 209. Isn't that better for everyone in the long run?

These are more examples that the recent study by two Princeton professors, discussed here, can't explain.

School Renames Easter Bunny 'Peter Rabbit'

Since the Easter Bunny was originally a pagan fertility symbol, this ban has its amusing side -- but the anti-Christian intention is clear nonetheless

A Rhode Island public school has decided the Easter bunny is too Christian and renamed him Peter Rabbit, and a state legislator is so hopping mad he has introduced an "Easter Bunny Act" to save the bunny's good name.

"Like many Rhode Islanders I'm quite frustrated . by people trying to change traditions that we've held in this country for 150 years, like the Easter bunny," Rhode Island State Rep. Richard Singleton told "Good Morning America Weekend Edition."

The Easter bunny was scheduled to make an appearance at a craft fair on Saturday at Tiverton Middle School in Tiverton, R.I. But the district's schools Superintendent William Rearick told event organizers to change the bunny's name to Peter Rabbit in "an attempt to be conscious of other people's backgrounds and traditions."

Singleton struck back this week by proposing a bill, nicknamed the "Easter Bunny Act," to stop all local municipalities from changing the name of popular religious and secular symbols like the Easter bunny. "The underlying theme here is serious," he said. "I don't think a superintendent of schools should have the authority to change something we've held so deeply for 150 years."

Not everyone in Rhode Island, however, believes the Easter bunny is worth fighting for. "As a Christian symbol, I would say [the Easter bunny] is not one of those that I would go to the barricades to defend," Rev. Bernard Healy, the Catholic Diocese of Providence, R.I., said in a statement.

Singleton, however, said the perceived religious symbolism versus its actual religious significance is why it shouldn't be banned. "The Easter bunny is not a religious symbol," he said. "Why it's being banned doesn't make sense."

The American Civil Liberties Union has also spoken out the issue. "Public schools should not be promoting Easter celebrations, and to the extent that the school districts try to avoid that problem they are to be commended," Steve Brown, the executive director of the ACLU Rhode Island affiliate, said in a statement.

Singleton, however, dismissed the ACLU's comments. "I don't pay a lot of attention to what the ACLU says quite frankly," he said. This is "political correctness gone wild. 'It's crazy." Singleton said the bill is meant to protect all traditional and religious symbols for example, if someone wanted to change "the name of the menorah to the candelabra." The politician isn't positive that Peter Rabbit would have been the right replacement anyway. "By the way, Peter Rabbit stole cabbages and that's not a good role model for our kids," he joked.


Britain: Discipline crumbles in large schools

A marked increase in the number of supersize secondary schools has led to an erosion of discipline, as teachers try to keep control of children they cannot identify even by year group, let alone by name, research suggests. Expulsions from the largest secondaries, with 1,500 or more pupils, have risen by 28 per cent since Labour came to power in 1997, leaving 730 pupils a year permanently excluded from school. Temporary exclusions are now running at nearly 10 per cent of pupils in schools with more than 1,000 children, compared with 3 per cent in schools with 1,000 or fewer pupils.

David Willetts, the Shadow Education Secretary, obtained the figures as the result of a parliamentary question. He said the problem was not to do with class size, but with the creation of giant, anonymous institutions. "Maintaining discipline is now becoming very difficult in the biggest schools. This is partly because the pupils and teachers in a large establishment are anonymous to each other, making it difficult for staff to tell pupils off and follow up with the appropriate action. If head teachers don't know who all their pupils are, it becomes difficult for them to identify the ones who may cause problems and to intervene early to stop these from escalating," he said.

His comments come after a report last year from the schools watchdog, Ofsted, which found that schools with the most discipline problems were the ones that were unable to detect and deal with potential troublemakers early. Ofsted also noted that schools where teachers did not get to know their individual pupils well, because of high staff turnover, tended to have the biggest problems tackling poor behaviour.

Mr Willetts said the emergence of a new breed of giant comprehensive had been achieved by stealth. Since 1997 the number of secondaries with more than 1,500 pupils has more than doubled to 315. The number of secondaries with 1,000 or fewer pupils has dropped by a fifth to 2,119. "Partly by accident and partly by design, we have created powerful incentives for schools to get bigger and bigger. Students now do a wider range of subjects and schools need to be bigger, with bigger staffs, if they are to offer the full range now expected of them. Also, the way capital is allocated to schools means that it often makes more sense for local authorities to sell off one school site and rebuild others," he said. The doctrine of parental choice had also led to the expansion of the most popular schools. A more considered approach towards school size was needed, Mr Willetts said, before discipline problems spiralled out of control.

Chris Keats, the general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers, said it was simplistic to equate large schools with poor discipline, but accepted that the biggest schools did face particular issues with behaviour. "If you have a large school, you have to put in smaller units, such as year groups, or upper and lower schools, to make sure that the teachers know the pupils they are dealing with."

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: "Large schools can of course face additional challenges, but with strong leadership and good staff they can also use their size to benefit their pupils and the wider community by offering out-of-hours clubs and community facilities." He added that the expansion of the most successful and popular schools was part of the Government's commitment to increasing choice and diversity.



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 11, 2007

Unions obstruct better education for blacks -- but a failing racist school is OK

On March 29, the Los Angeles school board voted to oppose expansion of a diverse and improving charter-school consortium, and to extend the life of a low-performing racially centered Hispanic charter. A good day's work - if the goal is to sabotage the charter school movement.

The first vote involved Green Dot Public Schools, which operates several charter high schools, and wants to open new schools in the low-income Watts neighborhood. Green Dot's philosophy is that all students can learn if held to high expectations and taught by quality, empowered teachers. Students at Green Dot schools take college-prep courses and the schools stay open late to maximize learning. There are about 3,000 mostly black and Hispanic students in Green Dot charter schools in Los Angeles, with waiting lists in the hundreds. While not all student performance indicators are improving at all the Green Dot schools, overall the schools are showing encouraging early results.

At Animo South Los Angeles Charter, one of the Green Dot schools, the achievement of African Americans rose from less than 10 percent performing at or above the proficient level in mathematics to about 40 percent in just one year. The Green Dot high schools that have graduated students have a graduation rate of nearly 80 percent, compared an estimated rate of just over 30 percent at Locke High, a regular public school in the Watts area. Green Dot officials say that most of their graduates go on to college.

Despite Green Dot's promising results, the school board decided to side with the United Teachers of Los Angeles, a vociferous critic of charter schools, which claimed that Green Dot's higher scores were due to handpicking students and overworking teachers - claims the Los Angeles Times declared "unsubstantiated." The union had contributed a total of $1 million to two anti-Green Dot board members in their recent re-election bids, virtually the entirety of their campaign war chests.

According to the Times, "Parents and students from the impoverished, gang-ridden [Watts] community also implored the board to approve the charters, saying they were desperate for an alternative to the low-performing, often unsafe district middle and high schools in the area." These pleas fell on deaf union-bought ears. Board member and Green Dot supporter Mike Lansing, who represents the Watts area, said, "It's really disappointing that we keep talking about wanting to do what's best for children first, when without a doubt that vote was about a teachers union and three board members not having the backbone to stand up and do the right thing for kids over their ties to the union."

The school board, however, was more receptive to a nearly all-Hispanic charter school, Academia Semillas de Pueblo, when it renewed its charter. Since charters trade freedom from ordinary rules and regulations in exchange for higher student achievement, those charters that perform poorly are supposed to be put out of business. Semillas is one of the city's worst schools but that didn't matter to the board, especially with liberals like former Assembly education chair Jackie Goldberg and City Councilman Richard Alatorre plus a variety of extremist Mexican separatist groups backing the Hispano-centric anti-assimilationist school.

Marcos Aguilar, the founder and principal of Semillas, prefers race separation saying "We don't want to drink from a white water fountain," and that the "white way, the American way, the neo-liberal, capitalist way of life will eventually lead to our own destruction."

The school teaches students the Aztec language Nahuatl. Aguilar has said: "The importance of Nahuatl is also academic because Nahuatl is based on a Math system, which we are also practicing. We teach our children how to operate a base 20 mathematical system and how to understand the relationship between the founders and their bodies, what the effects of astronomical forces and natural forces on the human body and the human psyche, our way of thinking and our way of expressing ourselves."

Such multicultural gibberish has resulted in 93 percent of fifth graders at Semillas testing below the proficient level in math. Yet the board renews their charter and rejects the successful Green Dot schools. These actions confirm that what matters in California is not the achievement of children but raw self-interested political power and blinding ideology. As Arnold Schwarzenegger used to say, this is box that needs to blown up.


Help families educate their children

There is no family responsibility more important than educating the next generation. You may be wealthy or poor. You may be healthy or sick. No matter your conditions, you can be sure: If your children are not educated well, they will end up poor and sick.

As Libertarians, we believe that competitive private and market solutions will generally provide superior answers to challenging questions. Private and home schooling should offer children a richness of individually-designed education programs that other arrangements will find difficult to match. However, sensible Libertarians also recognize that public schools enjoy two huge advantages, namely large tax subsidies and a huge market and production base already in place.

How can Libertarians change America from where we are, to where we want to go, on a path each of whose steps is positive? Any proposed change must add to what is already there, not take away options from parents anxious for their children.

Federal intervention is not the answer. If your Congressman proposes that the Federal government should run your child's school, ask him about Washington, D.C. That's the school district for which Congress is responsible. It's one of the most expensive in the country. It's one of the worst, too. Congress didn't bring quality to D.C. schools. Congress will do no better when it tries to `bring quality' to your child's education.

I propose a much more direct approach to expanding educational opportunity, so that the market can choose between private, public, and home schooling. We should give each child a tax credit. As a reasonable round number, $5000 per year is about appropriate. When someone pays for part of your child's education, that payment comes dollar-for-dollar off the payer's income tax. For children in private schools, that's money for tuition. For home-schooled children, that's money for educational materials. Most important, for children in public schools, that's enrichment: computers, books around the house, a subscription to a daily newspaper, all the modest factors that make an enormous difference in how well children do at school.

What about poor children whose parents pay no taxes? I remembered them. They are the children most at risk. They are the reason I said `when someone pays' not `when their parents pay'. We have about 50 million children in this country, and about 50 million parents. We have another two hundred million Americans who don't have children, or who already have grandchildren, and who love their country and their fellow Americans. My tax credit plan lets every American support the education of someone's child, and to take their support as a tax credit.

I said `tax credit' not `tax deduction'. Tax credits come dollar for dollar from your tax bill. Every time you earn a dollar tax credit, you will pay one dollar less in Federal tax. That means you can give money to support a child's education, yet end up no poorer as a result.

I would give businesses the same opportunity to support education. If you are a small businessman, you can reward your employees by picking up education costs for their children. If you employ high-schoolers or college students, under my plan you can contribute to their education, too.

My proposed program is extremely expensive. If everyone took full advantage of it, as much as a quarter-trillion dollars a year would be pulled out from the Treasury and into the hands of educators and educational materials. As a realistic matter, this program will need to be phased in over five or ten years.



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 10, 2007

Technology no bandaid for stupid educational theories

Educational software, a $2 billion-a-year industry that has become the darling of school systems across the country, has no significant impact on student performance, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Education. The long-awaited report amounts to a rebuke of educational technology, a business whose growth has been spurred by schools desperate for ways to meet the testing mandates of President Bush's No Child Left Behind law.

The technology -- ranging from snazzy video-game-like programs played on Sony PlayStations to more rigorous drilling exercises used on computers -- has been embraced by low-performing schools as an easy way to boost student test scores. But the industry has also been plagued by doubts over the technology's effectiveness as well as high-profile bribery scandals, including one that led to the resignation of the Prince George's County schools chief in 2005.

The study, released last night, is expected to further inflame the debate about education technology on Capitol Hill as lawmakers consider whether to renew No Child Left Behind this year. "We are concerned that the technology that we have today isn't being utilized as effectively as it can be to raise student achievement," said Katherine McLane, spokeswoman for the Department of Education.

Industry officials played down the study and attributed most of the problems to poor training and execution of the programs in classrooms. Mark Schneiderman, director of education policy at the Software and Information Industry Association, said that other research trials have proven that the technology works, although he said that those trials were not as large or rigorous as the federal government's. "This may sound flip or like we're making excuses, but the fact is that technology is only one part of it, and the implementation of the technology is critical to success," said Schneiderman, whose group represents 150 companies that produce educational software. "We need to take every study with a grain of a salt and look at the overall body of work."

The study, mandated by Congress when it passed No Child Left Behind in 2002, evaluated 15 reading and math products used by 9,424 students in 132 schools across the country during the 2004-05 school year. It is the largest study that has compared students who received the technology with those who did not, as measured by their scores on standardized tests. There were no statistically significant differences between students who used software and those who did not.

In classrooms, the programs -- such as "iLearn Math" and "Achieve Now" -- are used in different ways, depending on teachers. Some educators use the software as a supplemental tool to drill students in particular lessons; others use it instead of textbooks to teach entire lessons. Backers say the technology better engages students by giving them individualized instruction and prepares them for a technology-filled world. Schools use the software to teach almost every subject, although the federal study looked only at math and reading programs.

In the Washington region, the debate over educational software raged most prominently in Prince George's, where Superintendent Andre J. Hornsby resigned and was indicted on suspicion of arranging for the school system to buy $1 million worth of software from LeapFrog SchoolHouse, where his then-girlfriend was a saleswoman. The indictment says that he demanded and received kickbacks. The schools have not made any major software program purchases since.



No respect for freedom of choice there: Green Fascism

THE Greens have called for the abolition of Catholic schools in Scotland. The party, who hope to win at least 10 seats at Holyrood, have included moves for Catholic schools to be integrated into a secular state system in their manifesto. Green leader Robin Harper claimed that having separate schools "tends to divide communities". He said: "Catholic children, for most of their time in primary and secondary, do not mix with other children. "And children who are non-Catholics do not, because the Catholics are educated separately, tend to mix so much with them. "Why have this totally artificial divide, that one group of children, simply because of their religion, should be brought up in different schools to everybody else? "They will get their religious upbringing at home, reinforced by their parents. They will get their religious upbringing in their churches, reinforced by the churches. "State education should be secular."

A spokesman for the Catholic Church said: "It is unfortunate that the Greens want to trample on the rights of Catholic parents and the thousands of other parents who aren't Catholics but choose a Catholic education for their kids. "This is an outrageous proposal."


Another kid who has never been taught about personal responsibility

A high school senior acknowledges he went too far when he mooned a teacher. But he thinks the decision of school officials to send him to a new school for the rest of the year was too harsh, so his family is suing. Tyler Tillung, 18, mooned a teacher "suddenly and without thinking about the consequences" in February, according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday. The teacher had declined to let him into a Feb. 21 school lip sync show that was full. He was suspended for six days and reassigned to a new school.

But the teen wants to graduate with his Palm Harbor University High class in six weeks and complete his final season on the varsity baseball team, the lawsuit said. "We're talking about his graduation," said Tillung's lawyer, B. Edwin Johnson. "That's an important event in a guy's life. ... This kid deserves a break."

School Board Attorney Jim Robinson said administrators stand by their decision. "Without knowing the allegations, we're confident in the administration's position on this case," Robinson said. Palm Harbor principal Herman "Doc" Allen described the mooning as "disgusting" and the teacher as "traumatized."



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 09, 2007

NY: Another kid-hating Principal

13-Year-Old Arrested In School For Writing On Desk

In this day and age where young students are frequently charged for serious school offenses such as possessing weapons, dealing drugs, or assaulting other students on school property, one Brooklyn teen's arrest may come as a surprise. A 13-year-old girl was handcuffed and placed under arrest in front of her classmates in Dyker Heights after she wrote "Okay" on her desk. The "suspect," Chelsea Fraser, says she's sorry for scribbling the word on her desk, but both she and her mother are shocked at the punishment.

"I'm appalled, because here we have rapists, murderers, and you're taking a 13-year-old kid? Wasting valuable manpower to arrest a child who wrote on a desk?" Fraser's mother Diana Silva told CBS 2.

Police confirm that that's exactly what's written on her arrest record and for the crime, she's been charged with criminal mischief and the making of graffiti. Fraser says the day she marked her desk, she was wrongly grouped together with troublemakers who had plastered stickers all over the classroom.

Fraser was arrested at the Dyker Heights Intermediate School on March 30 along with three other male students. She says she was made to empty her pockets and take off her belt. Then she was handcuffed and led out of the school in front of her classmates and placed in the back of a police car. "It was really embarrassing because some of the kids, they talk, and they're going to label me as a bad kid. But I'm really not," Fraser said. "I didn't know writing 'Okay' would get me arrested." "All the kids were ... watching these three boys and my daughter being marched out with four -- they had four police officers -- walking them out, handcuffed," Silva said. "She goes to me, 'Mommy, these hurt!'"

The students were taken to the 68th Precinct station house where Silva says they were separated for three hours. "MY child is 13-years-old -- doesn't it stand that I'm supposed to be present for any questioning?" Silva said. "I'm watching my daughter, she's handcuffed to the pole. I ask the officer has she been there the entire time? She says, 'Yes.'" On her report card, under conduct, Fraser has earned all "satisfactory" marks and one "excellent" mark.

"My daughter just wrote something on a desk. I would have her scrub it with Soft Scrub on a Saturday morning when she should be out playing, and maybe a day of in-house and a formal apology to the principal," Silva said. CBS 2 contacted both the NYPD and the Board of Education for a response. The police say the arrests followed a request by the school's principal. The Board of Education said the matter is under investigation, adding that graffiti was found on several desks.


Australian 6-year-old expelled from school for "sexual harassment"

A SIX-YEAR-OLD Perth boy has been kicked out of his Year 1 class for allegedly sexually harassing a girl he sat next to. Jonathan Townsend is believed to be the youngest person in WA ever accused of sexual harassment. Despite denying everything, he has been removed from his class at Bramfield Park Primary School in Maddington after the girl's parents complained to the school principal.

Jonathan's mother, Veronica, is outraged. She says her son doesn't even know what sex is. The girl alleged Jonathan touched her inappropriately in class and made inappropriate sexual suggestions. She also said he threatened her with a large pair of scissors.

Ms Townsend said her son, who has not attended school for three weeks, would not know how to sexually harass a girl. "I'm strict with what he watches on telly, I only get the Walt Disney movies _ he doesn't watch any adult programs,'' she said.

"He has been found guilty, he's not in school any more and there's been no evidence. "Jonathan feels he's been punished, but he doesn't know what he's done. My son has been run out of class. "It's an absolute nightmare. It's bizarre - these are six-year-olds.'' Ms Townsend's lawyers have written to the Education Department, saying Jonathan is ``deeply hurt and confused'' and asking that he be allowed back into the class.

The Education Department refused to answer any questions from The Sunday Times about Jonathan's situation. Canning Education District director Greg Thorne said it was not appropriate to discuss the details of individual cases. "`There are behaviour management and child-protection policies for schools to follow where disputes between students arise,'' he said in a statement. "Depending on the nature of the incident, the support of psychologists and other professionals may be sought. Such issues may also be referred to other agencies.''

WA Equal Opportunity Commissioner Yvonne Henderson said the case was extremely rare. "In my time as commissioner, I've never seen any complaints of sexual harassment by anyone of that age,'' she said.

Ms Townsend said it was alarming children could fall victim to unsubstantiated claims. "Anyone can go in with a statement and destroy another child's life,'' she said. ``No one is concerned about Jonathan. I am beside myself and I don't know what to do. "He was happy in class, he was starting to read and write. "He sits at home now and tries to learn things. He wants to go back and learn.''

Ms Townsend said the school principal at first told her he regarded the accusations as baseless and said Jonathan could continue in the same class. But the decision was reversed, she said.


Australia: Dubious Leftist approach to the proposed national curriculum

Developing a national curriculum has become the Lasseter's Reef of education, says Kevin Donnelly. Lasseter's Reef is a legendary "lost" Australian gold mine that many have tried to find -- but none have. Donnelly fears that a national syllabus may be a dumbed-down one

Next week's meeting of Australian education ministers, under the auspices of the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs, has much to consider. Issues include performance pay for teachers, national benchmark testing and implementing a national curriculum. The proposal to introduce a national curriculum is especially contentious and politically sensitive.

The ALP has taken the lead on the issue with the publication of a document outlining its plan to establish a national curriculum and to improve our children's educational outcomes. Apart from suggesting that the states may be forced to implement a national curriculum by linking it to federal funding, the Coalition has yet to detail its plans.

Superficially, the idea of a national curriculum, as with a unified railway system or a common approach to Australia's environmental problems, seems worthwhile. But, judging from past experience, mandating what all Australian schools should teach and how it is measured and assessed - what in the US are called content and performance standards - is fraught with problems.

The idea of developing a national curriculum has become the Lasseter's Reef of Australian education. Beginning in 1980 with the publication of Core Curriculum for Australian Schools, continuing with the Keating government's national statements and profiles and, most recently, embodied in what are termed "statements of learning", millions of dollars and thousands of hours have been wasted in the search for a curriculum that can be used by all schools.

Although the 1980 core curriculum document had little, if any, effect on schools and it is too early to judge the effectiveness of the statements of learning, the substandard state of Australian education can be traced to the influence of the outcomes-based education-inspired national statements and profiles developed during the early 1990s.

Failed experiments such as Tasmania's Essential Learnings, Western Australia's attempt to introduce outcomes-based education into years 11 and 12, and fads such as whole language, fuzzy maths and a feel-good assessment system where everyone wins, are all children of the Keating government's national curriculum plan. Imagine the consequences if next week's MCEETYA meeting agrees to impose an outcomes-based education-inspired, politically correct curriculum on Australian schools, government and non-government, and all teachers, as a requirement for promotion, have to acquiesce to a second-rate, government-mandated curriculum.

Such an outcome is more than likely if the Kevin Rudd-Stephen Smith model is adopted because the federal ALP, if elected, has promised to give the Curriculum Corporation and the Australian Council for Educational Research key roles in developing a national curriculum; two organisations responsible for the present mess.

There is an alternative to a centrally imposed curriculum. The first step is for the federal Government to establish a body to evaluate and rank state and territory curriculum documents against one another and international best practice. This is the case in the US, where groups such as the American Federation of Teachers and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute evaluate state-based curriculum documents on an annual basis.

In contrast to Australia's approach, with its politically correct orientation and promotion of progressive shibboleths such as constructivism and developmentalism, the US approach is premised on the conviction that curriculums must be concise and teacher-friendly, related to year levels, internationally benchmarked and based on the academic disciplines. For too long curriculums in Australia have been the preserve of an educational cabal more concerned with promoting its own remedies, however misguided, and excluding the public, and the media, from debate. The second step is for the federal Government to develop syllabuses in key subjects across all year levels, including years 11 and 12.

Such intended curriculum documents would be unashamedly elitist - based on the assumption that not everyone is suited to a university education - and academic, given the consensus that generic skills and competencies are best taught within the context of the established disciplines. Instead of being centrally developed, far from the realities of the classroom, such a national curriculum would be primarily developed by practising teachers and discipline specialists within university departments, not schools of education, and offered to schools on a voluntary basis and in competition to state-developed alternatives.



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 08, 2007

Surprise! "Holistic" Review Helps Blacks & Hispanics, Hurts Whites & Asians

Anything to circumvent an anti-racist law. Post below lifted from Discriminations

UCLA has just announced, with great pride and relief, that its new, "holistic" admissions procedures have resulted in an increase in the percentage of formerly preferred minorities admitted to the next freshman class.

Prior to the university's adoption of the new admissions policy last year, two application readers reviewed each prospective student's academic records while a third took into account the applicant's outside achievements and any challenges he or she might have overcome. Under the "holistic" approach, every application is read and considered in its entirety by two readers, and the readers give more consideration to the opportunities that had - or had not - been available to applicants.

Whether or not increasing the number of blacks and Hispanics was the purpose underlying the new policy, it was the effect.

The new admissions policy appears to have increased black and Hispanic students' chances of being accepted, while making it more likely that white and Asian-American applicants would be turned away.

The percentage of whites (33% of those admitted) who were admitted fell from 26.2% last year to 24.6%, but, as usually happens when factors others than academic qualifications are given more emphasis, the biggest losers were Asians. Last year Asians made up 45.6% of the admitted students; this year they are 43.1%, "with almost all of the decline taking place among two subsets whose numbers had been growing most rapidly on the campus: Chinese-Americans and Vietnamese-Americans."

Although the applicant pools from both populations grew only slightly, the share of Chinese-American applicants who were admitted declined from 35.8 percent to 31.6 percent, while the share of Vietnamese-American applicants who were admitted declined from 28.6 percent to 21.2 percent.


As the above numbers indicate, the percentage of Chinese-Americans who were admitted fell by over 11% from last year, and the percentage of Vietnamese who were admitted fell by over 25%.

It seems to me that the UCLA admissions reviewers have made a dramatic, even breathtaking, discovery that they should publish and share with the world: the nature of the heretofore unknown "opportunities" enjoyed by Vietnamese-Americans, opportunities that have obviously expanded exponentially in the space of one generation and that equally obviously served as a burden and handicap on their applications to UCLA.

Britain: Teacher dangers

The dangers resulting from indiscipline are played down below but the last paragraph lets the cat out of the bag

Teachers were awarded up to 25 million pounds in compensation last year for stress, accidents and violent attacks by parents and pupils. The highest award, of 330,000, was paid to a teacher in Birmingham who was assaulted by an intruder on school premises after hours. A female teacher in her thirties who was raped by a 12-year-old boy with severe learning difficulties received just 11,000. She was attacked in November 2004 while giving a one-to-one tutorial in English and IT at a special needs centre. The boy, who was sexually abused and is one of Britain's youngest convicted rapists, stole her car and crashed it 40 miles away.

The National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) secured nearly 6.9 million in compensation. The Association of Teachers and Lecturers won nearly 6 million for its members. The National Union of Teachers estimated its overall compensation figure last year at up to 12 million. In 2005, NUT members were awarded 7 million, but these only involved cases pursued by the union's lawyers. Steve Sinnott, general secretary of the NUT, said: "The injuries and injustices suffered by teachers can destroy their careers. It is imperative that employers recognise the positions that they can put teachers into. Teachers have a right to be treated fairly and to be protected from the dangers that can be inherent in the job."

Most of the personal injury cases involved teachers slipping up on wet surfaces, tripping over furniture or suffering other accidents on school property. Several listed involved road accidents. A teacher who was beaten up by two parents at her school received compensation for criminal injuries. Some of the payouts were more controversial. A lesbian teacher in East London, who was dismissed by a Roman Catholic school after asking for paternity leave to assist at the birth of her partner's baby, won 20,000 in compensation. Another teacher in London received 3,000 for unfair dismissal and race discrimination, although the discrimination claim was "extremely weak", according to the NUT. Graham Clayton, the NUT's senior solicitor, said that the compensation it sought was always fair. However, when he was questioned over the award to the rape victim he said that the union was often unhappy with the awards by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. "The criminal justice tariff scheme doesn't always produce justice that it should," he said.

At the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers, lawyers secured 6,877,197 in compensation for members, which included 330,000 for the assault on the teacher in Birmingham. Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said that there had been a steady increase in the number of claims. Stress was a major factor, but she admitted that the cases were often difficult to prove. "My greatest concern is the large amounts of public money being wasted, which could be avoided if schools had proper management issues in place," she said.

Last November the Education and Inspections Act gave schools a statutory right to impose discipline on pupils, ending decades of confusion about teachers' powers. Teachers can use physical restraint, confiscate mobile phones and march an unruly child out of a classroom. An amendment to the Violent Crime Reductions Act also enables them to search children for weapons.


Australia: Hire, fire power for principals coming

PUBLIC school principals will be given the right to hire and fire staff and determine how much to pay teachers based on merit under a new push to improve performance. At the annual meeting of education ministers next week in Darwin, Education Minister Julie Bishop will recommend a shift in the pay structure for teachers to align salary with the quality of their teaching rather than length of service.

Ms Bishop will also outline a plan to extend an agreement by the states to ensure school principals are granted more power over teacher appointments to expressly include recruitment and dismissal of staff and control of school budgets. Under the proposal, a new legal indemnity will be provided for principals to veto the transfer to their school of a new staff member and to sack staff for inadequate performance.

Ms Bishop will also recommend that the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs empower principals to pay teachers according to performance, based on criteria including the relative improvement in their students' academic achievement. Other measures suggested by Ms Bishop are feedback from parents and students, the contribution of the teacher to broader school life, and the attainment by the teacher of relevant academic and professional standards, including continuing professional development. Under Ms Bishop's plan, the states will run pilot programs of performance pay schemes next year, and while state governments will pay the salaries and cost of implementing any schemes, the federal Government will pay up to half of the administrative costs of conducting the pilots.

At present, teachers' pay is largely based on an incremental scale linked to years in the job, with about eight or 10 salary bands with little requirement to meet professional standards. Ms Bishop's proposal calls on the states and territories to recognise that quality teaching is the "single most important school-based factor in improving student learning" and that teacher salaries should reflect performance measures. "Yet current salary arrangements could be considered to undervalue quality teaching in the classroom," the proposal says.

School principals yesterday welcomed the proposals after years of warnings that bureaucratic red tape forced them to accept the hiring of sub-standard teachers. "There's nothing more important for a principal than having the people he or she chooses in front of students in the classroom," Australian Secondary Principals Association president Andrew Blair said. "You can't be accountable for school performance when you haven't got control over the teachers who are hired or the budget that determines how school funds are spent. If it's applied across the country, that's fantastic."

Primary control of school budgets would be devolved to principals at individual schools under Ms Bishop's plan, to ensure state bureaucrats do not continue to control the funds. Under the proposal, the states and territories would provide the commonwealth with advice on the introduction and implementation of the scheme within weeks, with the legislation to be introduced no later than next year.

"It is recommended that council agree that principals should be provided with a statutory right to veto the transfer to their school of a new staff member, appoint any registered teacher to the staff of their school, and terminate a staff member from their school on prescribed grounds, including for a lack of performance," the discussion paper states. "Primary control of school budgets should be devolved to principals at individual schools."

Primary Principals Association vice-president Colin Pettitt said research showed that where principals could select teachers they could get a better team together than those who were simply appointed.

But the Victorian Government dismissed the Bishop proposal, saying it has in place a system that rewards high-performing teachers and takes into account student achievement. "Ms Bishop is simply trying to pass the cost of education on to the states after her ideas were rejected by Peter Costello," a government spokesman said yesterday....

Kevin Rudd and Labor education spokesman Stephen Smith have embraced merit-based pay for teachers and greater autonomy for schools and principals. The ALP wants to offer top teachers up to $100,000 a year to work in the toughest schools and offer all teachers a pay rise of up to $10,000 a year if they meet rigorous standards. But performance pay advocates have criticised Labor's plan because it would not link teachers' pay to student success in exams or the views of parents and principals, but to accreditation by a bureaucratic body.



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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