Saturday, July 14, 2007

Blissfully Uneducated

Colleges lost their way in the 1960s, contends VICTOR DAVIS HANSON, a classics professor. Students now get a `therapeutic curriculum' instead of learning hard facts and inductive inquiry. The result: we can't answer the questions of our time

Is "ho"-the rapper slang for the slur "whore"-a bad word? Always, sometimes, or just when an obnoxious white male like Don Imus says it? But not when the equally obnoxious Snoop Dogg serially employs it? Is the Iraq war, as we are often told, the "greatest mistake" in our nation's history? Because Israel and the United States have a bomb, is it then O.K. for theocratic Iran to have one too?

Americans increasingly cannot seem to answer questions like these adequately because they are blissfully uneducated. They have not acquired a broad knowledge of language, literature, philosophy, and history. Instead, our youth for a generation have been fed a "Studies" curriculum. Fill in the blanks: Women's Studies, Gay Studies, Environmental Studies, Peace Studies, Chicano Studies, Film Studies, and so on. These courses aim to indoctrinate students about perceived pathologies in contemporary American culture-specifically, race, class, gender, and environmental oppression.

Such courses are by design deductive. The student is expected to arrive at the instructor's own preconceived conclusions. The courses are also captives of the present-hostages of the contemporary media and popular culture from which they draw their information and earn their relevance. The theme of all such therapeutic curricula is relativism. There are no eternal truths, only passing assertions that gain credence through power and authority. Once students understand how gender, race, and class distinctions are used to oppress others, they are then free to ignore absolute "truth," since it is only a reflection of one's own privilege.

By contrast, the aim of traditional education was to prepare a student in two very different ways. First, classes offered information drawn from the ages-the significance of Gettysburg, the characters in a Shakespeare play, or the nature of the subjunctive mood. Integral to this acquisition were key dates, facts, names, and terms by which students, in a focused manner in conversation and speech, could refer to the broad knowledge that they had gathered.

Second, traditional education taught a method of inductive inquiry. Vocabulary, grammar, syntax, logic, and rhetoric were tools to be used by a student, drawing on an accumulated storehouse of information, to present well-reasoned opinions-the ideology of which was largely irrelevant to professors and the university.

Sometime in the 1960s-perhaps due to frustration over the Vietnam War, perhaps as a manifestation of the cultural transformations of the age-the university jettisoned the classical approach and adopted the therapeutic. Many educators and students believed that America was hopelessly corrupt and incorrigible. The church, government, military, schools, and family stifled the individual and perpetuated a capitalist, male hierarchy that had warped Western society. So if, for a mere four years, the university could educate students to counter these much larger sinister forces, the nation itself could be changed for the better. Colleges could serve as a counterweight to the insidious prejudices embedded in the core of America.

Unfortunately, education is a zero-sum game in which a student has only 120 units of classroom instruction. Not all classes are equal in the quality of knowledge they impart. For each course on rap music or black feminism, one on King Lear or Latin is lost.

Presentism and relativism are always two-edged swords: today's Asian victims of racism are tomorrow's Silicon Valley engineers of privilege. Last year's "brilliant" movie of meaning now goes unrented at Blockbuster. Hypocrisy runs rampant: many of those assuring students that America is hopelessly oppressive do so on an atoll of guaranteed lifelong employment, summers off, high salaries, and few audits of their own job performance.

Once we understand this tragedy, we can provide prescribed answers to the three questions with which I started. "Ho," like any element of vocabulary in capitalist society, is a relative term, not an absolute slur against women. "Ho" is racist and sexist when spoken by white men of influence and power, jocular or even meaningful when uttered by victims from the African-American male underclass.

If few Americans know of prior abject disasters during the winter of 1776, the summer of 1864, or January 1942, then why wouldn't Iraq really be the worst mistake in our history?

If there are no intrinsic differences-only relative degrees of "power" that construct our "reality"-between a Western democracy that is subject to continual audit by a watchdog press, an active political opposition, and a freely voting citizenry, and an Iranian theocracy that bans free speech to rule by religious edict, then it will matter little which entity has nuclear weapons.

In the end, education is the ability to make sense of the chaotic present through the prism of the absolute and eternal truths of the ages. But if there are no prisms-no absolutes, no eternals, no truths, no ages past-then the present will appear only as nonsense.


Pittsburgh schools drop 'public' from name to boost image

Leftist belief in verbal magic again. Reality does not suit them so they do all they can to conceal it

The Pittsburgh Public Schools will drop "public" from its name and adopt a new, standardized way of referring to its schools as part of a campaign to brighten and strengthen the district's image. For example, Schenley High School will be called Pittsburgh Schenley. Superintendent Mark Roosevelt's staff unveiled the policy at a school board Education Committee meeting last night. Under the policy, the district simply will call itself the "Pittsburgh Schools." The district's logo -- a pattern of circles, triangles and squares -- will still be used. But the district also will begin using "Excellence for All," the name of its sweeping academic-improvement plan, on all stationery and other written materials. "Excellence for All" has its own logo with a gold swirl and star.

Lisa Fischetti, chief of staff, said the district isn't changing its legal name or the legal names of its 65 schools, it's just introducing a new way of referring to them. She said the new policy complements Mr. Roosevelt's efforts to remake the district academically and boost its image. Under the new policy, Sterrett Classical Academy will be called Pittsburgh Sterrett. But the school's traditional name still will be used -- albeit in smaller print -- on stationery and other printed materials.

School board members offered little reaction to the policy, which does not require board approval. By dropping "public" from its name, Randall Taylor said, the district might be able to avoid the negative attitude often associated with public schools. Ms. Fischetti noted that suburban districts don't have "public" in their names, and a marketing consultant who helped develop the policy, Meade Johnson, said the district is less interested in the "public" tag than in linking its identity to the "Excellence for All" agenda.

By adding Pittsburgh to the identity of each school, Ms. Fischetti hopes the public will come to associate a level of quality with every school in the district. Ms. Fischetti said the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has developed that sort of customer respect by attaching its acronym, "UPMC," to its member hospitals throughout the region. Ms. Fischetti said she had no timetable for implementing the name changes.

Also, the district last night announced plans to upgrade its parent hotline into a "customer service center," another initiative aimed at boosting the district's image. The plan includes better training for operators, the ability to send out thousands of phone messages or e-mails at once and a standard turnaround time for responding to parent complaints.

The district also said it was forming a committee to revise its curriculum on human reproduction. Mr. Roosevelt said the group will study the possibility of adding contraception to the curriculum. Currently, that subject is raised only in presentations by outside agencies. Students must have their parents' consent to attend those sessions.


Australia: Safety 'sanitises' science

STUDENTS have been robbed of the fun of Bunsen burners and the whiff of sulphuric acid as fears of litigation rule out classroom experiments. A federal inquiry into Academic Standards heard yesterday Australia will regret the day it sanitised science. Megan Motto, from the Association of Consulting Engineers Australia, said science and maths were being left behind in the prevailing shift to humanities studies. Engineering students often spent the first year of their degree doing remedial work in maths and science, she said. Ms Motto suggested parents be invited into classrooms to help oversee science experiments. "This could make a great difference to the way science teachers teach."

The inquiry also heard from the Australian Association for the Teaching of English, which said literacy levels in Australians schools were not as bad as portrayed in some sections of the media. Vice-president Mark Howie said Australian standards were considered quite high from an international perspective. But he said Australia could learn from Finland where literacy standards were more consistently high across demographic areas. Mr Howie said one area of concern for all teachers was computer skills, with school kids often better skilled and better equipped in the technical area. Teachers seldom had the luxury of picking up the phone and calling the Information Technology department when computers crashed, he said. "We ring some poor colleague who might not be able to get to your problem for the next few days."



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

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

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


Friday, July 13, 2007

Most American academics are believers

Contrary to popular opinion, the majority of professors - even at elite schools - are religious believers, a new study shows. Accounting professors are the most religious among the top 20 bachelor's degree-granting disciplines, with 63% saying they believe in God. Overall, American professors are less religious than the general public, but a majority of academics do believe in God, the survey of about 1,500 professors found. A professor at Harvard University, Neil Gross, and a professor at George Mason University, Solon Simmons, conducted the survey.

A professor of religion at Barnard College, Randall Balmer, said the study helps to refute the notion that academics are almost universally atheist or agnostic. A research scholar at New York University's Center for Religion and Media, Jeff Sharlet, likewise said the idea that the ivory tower is detached from the main currents of religious life is as sound as believing that "The Beverly Hillbillies" is a fair representation of rural poverty. About accountants being so religious, Mr. Sharlet quipped, "The god is in the details."

The new research shows that mechanical engineers are those whom one is least likely to be seated next to at a church, mosque, or synagogue. Nearly 71% attended religious services once or twice a year or less. Psychology, communications, marketing, biology, and sociology professors follow, although the authors caution that some differences might reflect differing institutional locations of various disciplinary fields.

Mr. Balmer said he was surprised that biologists were among the disciplines that were most atheist and agnostic. Between 20% and 30% of professors overall termed themselves atheists or agnostics.

The survey also showed that faculty members at elite institutions are more secular than their counterparts at community colleges. Mr. Balmer said the apparently smaller number of religiously identified professors at elite institutions could possibly be explained by the abundance of religiously affiliated colleges throughout the country, many of which require some sort of religious affirmation.

Mr. Gross said the study shows that professors who are more oriented toward research tend to be less religious. "At elite doctoral-granting universities, nearly all professors are oriented first and foremost toward research," he said via e-mail. He said also the study showed that professors whose parents completed college tend to be somewhat less religious.

Mr. Gross said the only consistent disciplinary predictor of being less religious was being a social scientist. Mr. Gross said some sociologists have hypothesized that social scientists are less religious than other professors because they are more inclined to think of religion as a social phenomenon to be explained. Others believe, he said, that it is because social scientists want to establish themselves as "scientists" and therefore distance themselves from anything appearing unscientific.

In general, professors in applied fields tend to be more religious and answer most like members of the general population in terms of their social and political attitudes and characteristics, he said. After accounting professors, those most likely to profess belief in God are professors of elementary education, finance, marketing, art, and criminal justice.

Mr. Gross found that the closer to the research core of the university one gets, the less religious professors become, although, again, the majority still are religious believers. Mr. Sharlet said liberal arts professors are more likely than many others to be immersed in "Enlightenment assumptions."

Regarding researchers, Mr. Sharlet said a person would want his or her neurologist, for example, to be obsessed with scientific medical data. He said that the engagement of a neurologist or a political science professor to their work at a top college could tend to crowd out other concerns, such as spiritual ones.

Nevertheless, many elite institutions once originally served quasi-religious purposes such as training and educating clergy. But Mr. Balmer, who has a forthcoming book on how faith has shaped the presidency starting with President Kennedy, said places such as Harvard are never going to be the "nurseries of piety" that they were in the 17th century. At the same time, he said, there is a growing recognition that religion needs to be taken seriously as a cultural force as well as a source of motivation for human activity.


Lagging US science education and science competitions

Last year, in his State of the Union speech, President Bush promised $5.9 billion this year for an American Competitiveness Initiative addressing, among other issues, the lack of trained scientists and researchers. Science fairs offer a rare flash of American technical brilliance. What can these kids, and the research programs that produce them, tell us about how to save American science? Perhaps if more teens could do their own scientific research, more would get interested in science and we might not lose our innovation edge.

The problem is how to get more kids involved. Science fair kids and their teachers point to the rock-star factor to explain why students stop competing in fairs after they leave middle school, where participation is often mandatory. Because science isn't seen as sexy, students don't always realize how cool research can be.

"We're very comfortable saying some kids are the best in sports, but we're not as comfortable singling out the kids who are really exceptional in academics," says science fair alumna Lisa Randall, a Harvard theoretical-physics professor who won the Westinghouse competition as a senior. Over the last 65 years, winners of that contest, including six Nobel laureates, have gone into science or medicine at a 70% rate.

But they're the exception. Hard-science degrees (biology, physics, the tough stuff) have been stuck at 12% of college degrees over the last 20 years, with engineering currently representing 5% of degrees, down from 11%. From 1980 to 2000, advanced degrees in science and engineering grew at 1.5% annually, not coming close to filling the 4.2% growth in science jobs during the same period. As we fall behind in science, other countries are happy to send their scientists to the U.S. for training.

Our kids are not taking those places in part because they're increasingly not being pushed to do proto-research in school. Educators finger the No Child Left Behind law and the move toward state science exams, which reward memorization, says Gerald Wheeler, executive director of the National Science Teachers Association. "All the standardized testing leads schools away from encouraging the time and energy it takes to do independent research," says Michelle Glidden, director of science education at Science Service, which runs the three big international fairs. She surveys fairs with participation levels too low for their winners to qualify for ISEF and has found that teachers are too worn out by the demands of testing, and the challenges of understanding high-level student projects, to herd students into the fairs.

The enticements are there. ISEF hands out $4 million in cash and scholarships. The top finisher in Intel's (nasdaq: INTC - news - people ) Science Talent Search, the vaunted research-paper competition formerly sponsored by Westinghouse, gets a $100,000 scholarship; of 1,700 entrants, the 300 semifinalists win $1,000 apiece. At regional and state science fairs, winners get money from universities, companies and the military, as well as medals, trophies and ribbons for Mom's mantelpiece. While winners have traditionally come from New York and its Northeast neighbors, other states are gaining. Florida, Texas and Missouri all sent strong contingents to the big fairs in recent years, as did California and Oregon, where Intel's presence is helping spread the word since the tech giant began sponsoring ISEF and the Talent Search a few years ago.

Jose Manuel Otero realized that science was his goal in 1996, when he went to ISEF with a project on filtering diesel from water using charcoal that he made from leaves and grass. Otero, the son of Spanish immigrants who never finished high school, took first place in the Connecticut state fair and went on to the internationals, winning third place in his division. "I didn't know I wanted to be a scientist until I got to ISEF," he says.



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

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

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


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Widespread concern about bias problems in American colleges

As legislation is introduced in more than a dozen states across the country to counter political pressure and proselytizing on students in college classrooms, a majority of Americans believe the political bias of college professors is a serious problem, a new Zogby Interactive poll shows. Nearly six in 10 - 58 percent - said they see it as a serious problem, with 39 percent saying it was a "very serious" problem. The online survey of 9,464 adult respondents nationwide was conducted July 5-9, and carries a margin of error of +/- 1 percentage point.

Predictably, whether political bias is a problem depends greatly on the philosophy of the respondents. While 91 percent of very conservative adults said the bias is a "serious problem," just 3 percent of liberals agreed. Conservatives have long held that college campuses are a haven for liberal professors. The activist group Students for Academic Freedom, founded by David Horowitz, has promoted state legislation invoking a "Students Bill of Rights" on campuses to protect conservative students from academic reprisals by professors who hold contradictory beliefs.

Men were much more likely than women to see the bias of professors as a problem - 64 percent of men agreed, while 53 percent of women said the same. Whites were twice as likely to call it a "serious problem" as African-Americans, the survey showed. The survey also showed that an overwhelming majority also believe that job security for college professors leaves them less motivated to do a good job than those professors who do not enjoy a tenured status - 65 percent said they believe non-tenured professors are more motivated to do a good job in the classroom.

Asked whether they think the quality of a college education today is better or worse than it was 25 years ago, 46 percent said they think it is worse, while 29 percent said it is better. Another 16 percent said the quality now is about the same as it was a generation ago.


Phonics wiped out illiteracy where it was tried in Scotland

But with plenty of window-dressing to prevent critics from saying it was phonics only

It is mid-morning at St Mary's primary school in Alexandria, a bleak, post-industrial town north-west of Glasgow that often features on Scotland's list of areas of multiple deprivation. In Margaret Mooney's primary 1 class, 20 five-year-olds have gathered on the floor at the teacher's feet, pretending to be trains. "Ch, ch, ch, ch, ch," they intone, small arms circling wildly like the wheels of a locomotive. Mooney turns the page of a giant, colourful book. "This is the one where you are allowed to be cheeky to the teacher," she says, pointing to the letters "th". "What sound do they make?" The children stick out their tongues and blow through their teeth, before dissolving into giggles. "Cheeky, cheeky children," says Mooney. "Let me see how cheeky you can be."

They are too young to know it, but the children in Mooney's class are part of a remarkable experiment, one that has proved so successful that it is being held up as a model for education authorities across the world and has caught the eye of Britain's new prime minister. Gordon Brown has been taking a keen interest in events in West Dunbartonshire, and has held talks with Dr Tommy MacKay, the educational psychologist who pioneered the scheme.

Back in 1997, MacKay persuaded West Dunbartonshire council to commit itself to eradicating pupil illiteracy in its schools within a decade. This year, it is on track to reach its target, becoming what is thought to be the first local authority in the world to do so. When the project was launched, West Dunbartonshire had one of the poorest literacy rates in the UK, with 28% of children leaving primary school at 12 functionally illiterate - that is, with a reading age of less than nine years and six months. Last year, that figure had dropped to 6% and, by the end of this year, it is expected to be 0%. In all, 60,000 children have been assessed, and evaluations show that children now entering primary 3 have an average reading age almost six months higher than previous groups. In 1997, 5% of primary school children had "very high" scores on word reading; today the figure is 45%.

Across the UK, it is estimated that 100,000 pupils a year leave school functionally illiterate. Synthetic phonics, where children learn to sound out the single and combined sounds of letters, has been at the core of the scheme but it has not been the only factor. A 10-strand intervention was set up, featuring a team of specially trained teachers, focused assessment, extra time for reading in the curriculum, home support for parents and carers, and the fostering of a "literacy environment" in the community. "The results we have now are phenomenal," says MacKay.

When he approached the council with his proposal, he was not sure what response he would get. "I sent a letter to the director of education. It was one of these things you expect to find they are interested in, but will put in the bin. What I was saying was: why not try doing something that has not been done anywhere before in the world? You could eradicate illiteracy."

His letter coincided with a decision by the Scottish executive to offer funding packages for early intervention in literacy and numeracy. What made West Dunbartonshire different from other authorities launching literacy projects at the time was that it wanted a cradle-to-grave system that involved the entire community. "What we were looking at doing had never been done in the world before, bringing about inter-generational change in a whole population," says MacKay. "We deliberately built in things other people weren't doing: vision, profile, commitment, ownership and dedication."

The approach was two-pronged. First, a robust early intervention programme from nursery onwards reduced the number of children experiencing reading failure. Then, those who did fall through the net were caught in the later years of primary school and given the intensive, one-on-one Toe by Toe programme. "You pick up every one of them, and you blooter them with individual help," says MacKay.

Lynn Townsend, head of service for education at West Dunbartonshire council, says the project would not have succeeded if they had not focused on the few falling through the cracks. "If we were to achieve our goals, we really needed to be doing something with them," she says. "There used to be a sense that if kids had not got reading by secondary, there was no point in teaching them. That is no longer appropriate. Nobody gets left behind. "We have seen dramatic results. Kids in primary 7 who could not read at all now can, and it opens the world to them. It means secondary school is going to be meaningful. It really does change lives."

As new research has been done, new strands have been incorporated. "We started very much with the emphasis on synthetic phonics. That's one strand now. We have a West Dunbartonshire approach now," says Townsend.

Headteacher Charles Kennedy noticed the difference the scheme was making when he took up his post at St Mary's school after working in another area. "I was struck by the level the children were at, the pace and the impact," he says. "And also the way they were enjoying it. It's vibrant and it's alive."

A key component has been parental involvement. "Research shows that middle-class kids have had thousands of hours of reading practice before they get to school," says Townsend. "A lot of our homes just can't or don't do that." A home support system was set up and regular parents' evenings held to introduce them to phonics. Nursery children are given a startpack with reading materials to practise at home.

Officials say that often during the parents' meetings, one or two will approach staff and admit that they can't read. They are advised about where they can find help and support. MacKay hopes the project's success will have far-reaching implications for West Dunbartonshire as a community. "We believe that, ultimately, we are looking at a stronger economy, lower crime rates and a lower prison population."

Townsend believes the scheme has worked because there was a collective determination to see it through. "We stuck to our principles. When the funding was reduced and stopped by the executive, we maintained it," she says. [Stopping funding for a successful project? Sounds right -- or predictable anyway. It's failure that bureaucracies throw money at]

Interest has been immense. MacKay has spoken about the project in countries as far away as South Africa, and a delegation from Dublin was in West Dunbartonshire at Easter. The Centre for Public Policy Research held it up as a model for other education authorities last year. The new prime minister has been aware of it for some time.

A spokeswoman for Brown confirmed that he had met MacKay and was "very interested" in the project. It is understood that they had several discussions while Brown was chancellor and that he was keen to know how the scheme might be rolled out across the UK. "Many of our primary schools are in some of the most deprived areas of Scotland, yet they perform above the national average," Townsend points out. "That is staggering. If you say from the outset, we are going to eradicate illiteracy in 10 years, which politician does not want to be part of that soundbite?"


Australian students taught to sing an apology for a politically correct myth

Judicial enquiries have found that the "stolen generation" never happened but Leftists prefer a good myth to the truth any day. It's just another part of the anti-white Leftist lies about Australian history

CHILDREN as young as eight are being taught to sing sorry to Aborigines, sparking concerns that NSW students are being "politically indoctrinated". A widely distributed song book, which has been used in NSW for 40 years, has included Sorry Song about the Stolen Generation in its recent editions. Kiama Public School students were taught the song for Naidoc Week. When one eight-year-old boy arrived home confused about the issue, his father labelled the song's inclusion a "political stunt".

Hamish East, of Kiama, said he had to explain the meaning of the song to his son Brian when he believed he had done something wrong. "(He) arrived home from school and asked 'How come I have to say sorry for stealing the Aborigines' children?'," he said. "I have raised each of my children to apologise for their actions ... central to this is an understanding of the nexus between poor behaviour and an apology."

The song by West Australian composer Kerry Fletcher was written in 1998 for Sorry Day festivities and included in the ABC Song Book, distributed to NSW primary schools by Scholastic. It is used by teachers in addition to the official curriculum. The song features the words: "If we can say sorry to the people from this land, sing, sing loud, break through the silence, sing sorry across this land. We cry, we cry, their children were stolen, now no one knows why."

Mr East, a Kiama councillor, said he was not against reconciliation but "these are all emotive, controversial political issues and matters in which personal views should not be forced down the throats of our children". School principal Jenny Maude told Mr East children didn't listen to the words and since Mr East made a complaint they have stopped singing the song.

Australian Council of State School Organisations said teachers needed to be sensitive when it came to teaching values. "When schools get into values they need to talk through with the community what they are proposing to do," projects manager Rupert Macgregor said.

Song author Ms Fletcher, 38, who is not Aboriginal, said she was disappointed people had misread the song. "I believe children under eight could understand how other children their age would feel to be separated from their parents," she said. "I think if more people had first-hand experience of personal friends who were taken away as children we might see this for the personal tragedy that it is."

Teachers Federation deputy president Angelo Gavrielatos defended the song, saying exploitation of Aboriginal culture needed to be recognised. "We have to take some responsibility for our past," he said. [OUR past?? I am responsible for what I do, not what others do]

Opposition education spokesman Andrew Stoner said: "Any discussion of Australia's history must include the indigenous perspective but controversial political issues should be left to parents." Education Minister John Della Bosca defended the school's actions and said although he did not subscribe to the "black armband version" of history he thought it was important to be frank about Australia's history.



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

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

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


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Arizona: Teachers' political bias issue heats up

Bill would stop educators from taking sides in class

Troy Hyde's ears perked up in a college class when his professor called President Bush an idiot, and he said he was stunned when another professor said suicide bombers are reasonable people. "I thought, 'Holy cow. I can't believe this guy just said that,' " Hyde recalled.

To muzzle instructors who champion political views in classrooms, a Republican state legislator has proposed a law that would punish public school teachers and professors for not being impartial in the classroom. If the idea were to become law, teachers said they might shy away from teaching controversial issues out of fear of being misunderstood and punished.

Senate Majority Leader Thayer Verschoor, R-Gilbert, wrote the bill that has drawn a stream of criticism and support since it received preliminary approval in a Senate committee this month. "In theory, it wouldn't affect me at all," said Joe Thomas, a high school government teacher. "But . . . what could a student take from my room and take what I say out of context? He-said/she-said becomes a teacher on a soapbox."

Verschoor said his bill would protect students who are afraid to clash with instructors. "This is absolutely about academic freedom. It allows students to practice their First Amendment right without fear of a poor grade because of it or any retaliation because they disagree with the instructor," Verschoor said during a recent Senate committee hearing.

Hyde, a junior business administration major at Arizona State University, said that if students want good grades, they have to absorb what their professors teach, which can include professors' opinions. Hyde said Verschoor's bill is important. "You might have your own opinions, but don't use a public university where people and taxpayers are paying you to teach," said Hyde, chairman of the Arizona College Republicans. "Don't use (the classroom) as your soapbox and think you're put there to teach me why you think the president is an idiot. That's not your job."

Teachers said that if the bill became law, they would think twice about controversial lessons because they would not want to risk being misunderstood. For example:

Thomas, who teaches history and government at Skyline High School in Mesa, wondered how the proposed law would affect his lesson about President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. Thomas said some students could argue he does not talk enough about business-oriented aspects of the plan. Others might think he should talk more about the job-oriented aspects.

Rep. Jackie Thrasher, D-Glendale, who is a music teacher at Lookout Mountain Elementary School in Phoenix, said she might second-guess herself before playing Tchaikovsky's music in class. The composer was gay, and a student who knows that might not want to hear his music, she said.

A teacher who assigns a high school history class to write a persuasive essay about why the U.S. military should or should not be in Iraq could be seen as promoting one view or another because Verschoor's bill is so broad, said John Wright, president of the Arizona Education Association.

Verschoor said his bill would target a teacher who said, for example, that Bush is the best president ever and former President Clinton was the worst. "If a teacher in a class . . . wants to talk about the war in Iraq, they are more than welcome, but they can not advocate their opinions," Verschoor said during the hearing.

Over the past few years, activist David Horowitz, president of Students for Academic Freedom, has led a movement to stop indoctrination in classrooms. He said teachers and professors should not use their positions to impress opinions onto students.

Hyde said Arizona College Republicans support that "equal playing field" on campus. "Inside the classroom, it's a place for learning and not partisan politics," Hyde said. "That goes for either side. . . . We see the indoctrination on either side."

Verschoor told those who attended the hearing that his bill is about "allowing more freedom in the classroom and more free discussion back and forth."

Teachers said they do not see indoctrination in classrooms. "If this is going on, we would've addressed it years ago," said Thomas, who also is on the Arizona Education Association board of directors. "This is a case where you have a solution in search of a problem." All teachers come to the classroom with their own set of experiences, Thrasher said, and politicians cannot and should not take those away.

One of Thrasher's former students, Vaughn Hillyard, a 15-year-old sophomore at Thunderbird High School in Phoenix, said he and his classmates like to ask their teachers about their political beliefs. Most of his teachers will not say what they think, he added, but some do. "It's nice to know where they're coming from, so we have it in the back of our heads" when the class is discussing controversial issues, such as the Iraq war, he said. Hillyard said that he does not like the idea of Verschoor's bill but said that teachers who talk about their opinions too often are out of line. The proposed law would highlight a "new era of censorship," said Alessandra Soler Meetze, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona. Politicians are not censoring education by pulling books off shelves, she said; instead, they are stifling classroom discussion about controversial topics. "It certainly does raise significant free-speech concerns for teachers," she said.

Verschoor said that his bill does not stifle free speech and that teachers still would be allowed to discuss their political beliefs outside the classroom.


Britain: Do primary schools let boys down?

By the age of seven more than a quarter of boys need special help with their education, the latest figures show. Is there something inherently wrong with a large chunk of one of the sexes - or are primary schools simply letting boys down?

It has long been known [to everyone except the feminists -- who are influential in education] that male and female brains are different - that they mature at different rates and develop in different ways. You only need to look at the way very young boys and girls play to see that often they like different things and approach things in different ways. Experts say girls' brains are more wired up for communicating and reading emotions, while boys like moving, doing and solving practical problems.

Principal of the School of Emotional Literacy Dr Elizabeth Morris says: "Boys like doing things for a purpose and having things that are concrete and relevant to deal with. "Girls will be happier with discussion, relationship building, team activities and reading." She adds: "The teaching profession in primaries is dominated by women who, with the best will in the world, will tend to deliver a larger proportion of the curriculum in teaching styles that make most sense to them - and therefore favour the girls."

Girls tend to be auditory and visual learners whereas boys are more kinaesthetic learners. This means that while girls like to listen and watch, boys like to learn by doing and taking part in discussions in small groups. So teachers need to be aware of the ways in which their pupils find it most natural to learn, says head teacher at the Churchill School in Folkestone, Jennie Carter. "If someone's picking at the carpet when the TV's on - they are not likely to be a visual learner."

To ensure that all pupils are being given an equal chance to learn, teachers at the school ask pupils to rate how clearly they understand what has just been taught to them. If the pupils who say they have not quite grasped things are the ones she knows to be visual learners - then she might show them a picture to help them grasp what's being taught, for example. As a result of this and other measures, of the 43% of children who get extra help at the school, 93% reach the required level in national tests.

Good school behaviour in the early years is often about sitting still, not fidgeting and waiting your turn to answer the teacher's question. "Given that boys in particular need to rough and tumble play as part of their development - and that this is happening less with parents now because they are not around so much - we may be seeing boys trying unconsciously to do what is right for their bodies by being physical," says Dr Morris. "But they have it misunderstood and classified as an emotional behaviour disorder because it doesn't conform to school needs."

Some experts suggest that teachers are deliberately getting pupils labelled as having special needs with reading, for example, because it is an easy way of getting a difficult child out of the classroom for a while. Mrs Carter says if there is a lack of support for members of staff this misuse of SEN labels is likely to happen. She recalls one bright pupil with Asperger's syndrome (ASD). "Some days he would not want to be with people so we would let him lie on the floor under the white board and let him get on with his work. "He did really well and got into a grammar school but they couldn't cope when he got there." Thankfully, the grammar school sent a teacher back to the primary school to draw up a provision map to deal with the different situations he was likely to encounter....

Maybe schools' obsession with conformity is the root of the problem - perhaps our teachers are unconsciously trying to make boys behave more like girls? Dr Morris: "Boys are great - they are full of fun and life. I hate how we take that energy and try to contain it rather than finding channels and opportunities to work with them in ways that fit for them." She says that boys often end up being stereotyped which just creates a self-fulfilling cycle, but she adds that once those working with children are able to see what is going on developmentally or neurologically they see the children quite differently.



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

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

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


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

British pupils to be taught about the Olympic games - instead of geography

The dumbing down never stops. Propaganda is more and more being substituted for knowledge. Knowledge might enable kids to think for themselves -- and the Left can't afford that! Kids must be TOLD what to think

Traditional geography teaching is to be sidelined in favour of studying global warming, Third-World trade and the 2012 Olympics. A major shake-up of the secondary school curriculum aims to make subjects "more relevant" by introducing "modern day issues". Lessons in capital cities, rivers and continental drift will make way for "themed" teaching on issues such as the causes of climate change, the impact of buying clothes on poorer nations and the effects of the South-East Asian tsunami.

Other key subjects such as history and science will also be affected by the changes, which mark the biggest upheaval in secondary education since the national curriculum was introduced in 1988. The measures, which come into force in September next year, will be unveiled by Schools Secretary Ed Balls next week. Ministers hope they will encourage more pupils to stay on at school after the age of 16. But many teachers remain unconvinced.

A convention of history, English and science teachers on Thursday issued a plea for traditional subject disciplines to be protected. The new curriculum will be followed by 11 to 14-year-olds. Other new subjects include "emerging" languages such as Mandarin ["Emerging"? It's thousands of years old!] and Urdu, as well as personal finance and practical cookery. In cookery, pupils will be taught how to analyse a diet to ensure balance and variety, how to keep food safe at home and prepare contemporary healthy recipes.

The previous Education Secretary Alan Johnson insisted certain "untouchables" would remain in the curriculum, including the two World Wars. But swathes of other material will be relegated to optional status. Mr Balls will announce that "sustainable development" [Greenie propaganda] will become a compulsory part of the geography curriculum. Pupils will learn to understand relationships between people and the environment by studying the impact of the tsunami.

They will also conduct fieldwork projects such as "the regeneration of East London as part of the 2012 Olympics". And they will explore globalisation by looking at the impact of their choices as consumers, including buying clothes and trainers. Schools minister Lord Adonis said: "We want geography to excite pupils so that they continue studying the subject when they leave school."


Nursery rhymes no longer taught in many British families

There was a time when every child could tell you who cut off the tails of three blind mice, why a sneeze might signify death from the plague and which sadistic child pushed the poor pussycat down a well. But now the traditional nursery rhyme, in all its gruesome, bloody detail, is in danger of dropping out of modern culture. A survey suggests that 40 per cent of parents with young children cannot recite a single popular rhyme all the way through.

It is not that parents have stopped singing to their children entirely. Three quarters of parents surveyed agreed that singing to young children was a good way to help them to learn to read. But rather than sing nursery rhymes whose origins and meanings are lost to them, 44 per cent of parents said that they were singing pop songs and television theme tunes instead. These, they said, had much more relevance in their daily lives.

Ian Davidson, of the pollster MyVoice, which questioned 1,200 parents for the survey, said that the nursery rhyme was falling victim to market forces. "It all seems to be to do with choice and relevance. Twenty years ago there were 100 different breakfast cereals to choose from, now there are 300. The old brands such as Kellogg's Cornflakes remain, but there will also be many other options. "It's the same with nursery rhymes. They will never die out among a core of people, but they are facing more competition in popular culture and they no longer have a clear field any more," he added.

But Janine Spencer, a developmental psychologist at Brunel University, lamented the decline of the nursery rhyme, which she said was of enormous educational value. "Not only are nursery rhymes an important historical part of our culture, but by singing them to young children you can help speed up the development of their communication, memory, language and reading skills. "Singing nursery rhymes is also an entertaining and fun way to interact with your baby or toddler, and is crucial for recognising and learning phonic sounds," Dr Spencer said.

The survey, commissioned by the children's television channel Car-toonito, found the knowledge of nursery rhymes increased with age. Survey participants were given the first line of 15 common nursery rhymes and asked to complete it. Four out of ten (40 per cent) younger parents (aged 30 years and under) could not recall a single nursery rhyme in full, whereas only 27 per cent of those aged between 55 and 64 and 13 per cent of those aged 65 or more are unable to recall one in full. Overall, 27 per cent of adults were unable to complete a single rhyme. Of the rhymes people did know, the most popular were Jack and Jill (19 per cent), Humpty Dumpty (17 per cent) and Ring a Ring o'Roses (12 per cent). But 71 per cent of parents had no clear idea of their origins or possible historical meaning.

The survey follows the introduction by the Government of a new phonics teaching programme in English primary schools called Letters and Sounds, which emphasises the importance of preparing preschool children for phonics through songs and nursery rhymes.


Jack and Jill has several possible origins. It may mark King Charles l's unsuccessful attempts to reform the taxes on liquid measures, Jack being half a pint and Jill being a quarter of a pint, or gill. Although the King's measures were blocked, he subsequently ordered the volume standard measures to be reduced, while the tax remained the same

Humpty Dumpty was originally posed as a riddle, as "humpty dumpty" was 18th-century slang for a short, clumsy person, who might well be the kind to fall off a wall Similar riddles have been recorded in other languages, such as Boule Boule in French, or Lille Trille in Swedish

Ring a Ring o'Roses was usually accompanied by a playground skipping game that ended with children falling down and is said have originated with the Great Plague in 1665. Some experts dispute this, pointing out that European and 19th-century versions suggest that this "fall" was not a literal falling down, but a curtsy


Britain: Those who can't, teach

Less than half of primary school teachers have two good A levels [High school qualification], while only 41 per cent of secondary teachers have a degree in the subject they teach, according to a report claiming that the profession is in crisis.

There has been a big increase in teacher numbers in recent years, after a shortage in the mid1990s. But the report from the think-tank Politeia says government policies focus too much on increasing numbers with too little regard for quality. It notes there there are two nonteaching members of staff for every three teachers. There are now 150,000 teaching assistants, while the number of unqualified teachers working in schools has increased significantly in the past decade.

Bob Moon, Professor of Education at the Open University and co-author of the report, said: "The assessment system allows even the weakest candidates through". The Training and Development Agency for Schools, the Government's teacher training agency, rejected many of the findings, insisting that standards had never been higher. [That doesn't say much]



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

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

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


Monday, July 09, 2007

Texas bills seek to decriminalize childhood

SOME good may yet come out of the case of Casey "The Kid" Harmeier, the 12-year-old desperado from Tomball who faces criminal charges for accepting a dare to remove the cover from a school fire alarm.

Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston) says he may call The Kid to testify regarding legislation intended to turn "zero tolerance" into "common sense" at the state's schools. Dutton chairs the House Committee on Juvenile Justice & Family Issues, and was appalled to learn that The Kid was still facing criminal charges even after school officials learned they were mistaken in thinking he had actually pulled the fire alarm.

Neither the students, the teacher, who was nearby, nor school administrators were aware that removing the cover set off a local horn but did not activate the fire alarm and send a signal to emergency dispatch. (This seems dangerous to me since in the case of a real fire a person under pressure could set off the horn and think the fire alarm had been activated.) The principal had a district police officer, who is also a Tomball policeman, take The Kid in for booking. He was charged with a felony before his parents were notified he was in trouble. (The charge has been reduced to a misdemeanor.)

Dutton said it is hardly uncommon for students to be turned over to police, even for less serious offenses than what The Kid was thought to have committed. A common technique these days is to have school district police issue Class C misdemeanor tickets not for crimes but for violations of school rules. These tickets require trips before a municipal court judge or a justice of the peace. "They've issued tickets for chewing gum," Dutton said.

As Billy Jacobs, a former Texas Education Agency school safety official, has said: "We hold children to higher standards than we hold adults. We don't leave any room for children to make mistakes."

Dutton said he's heard from school district police who are appalled that they are being used to enforce school rules rather than providing security and enforcing the law. "One officer said he thinks this breeds disrespect for the law," Dutton said. If district officials do turn over students to police, Dutton said, "they ought to notify the parents before they do it, especially if there is no threat of life or injury. They should talk to the parent and the kid before referral."

Dutton isn't alone among Houston-area legislators working on the problem. Rep. Rob Eissler (R-The Woodlands), who chairs the House Education Committee, tried to pass legislation two years ago that would have required school officials to take into consideration such factors as the child's intention in the matter and his or her disciplinary history.

The bill was watered down after school officials promised they would cut back on "zero tolerance" idiocy. I'm sure many have, and many others didn't need to. But enough administrators are still engaging in "zero tolerance" foolishness to make further legislation necessary, and Eissler had indicated he intends to work for some.

Rep. Dora Olivo (D-Missouri City) is pushing a bill that would allow a student who discovers he inadvertently left a Boy Scout knife in his pocket, or a hunting gun in his truck, to tell a school official and turn the knife or gun over without reprisal. As it is now, students who inadvertently bring a pocket knife or prescription drugs are sometimes treated the same as would-be thugs and pushers.

The problem of criminalizing childish behavior is not a bleeding-heart liberal issue. Some of the most thoughtful suggestions have been developed by the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation. Testifying at a Senate committee hearing last year, TPPF's Marc Levin noted that there has been a sharp rise in the sentencing of students to district alternative centers, which may be related to the fact that TAKS scores of students at these centers don't count against their home schools. The most recent statistics indicate that 80 percent of the referrals are discretionary, suggesting that many are relatively minor infractions. Levin recommends that schools be required to involve parents in the case of noncriminal and nonviolent behavior, giving parents the opportunity to work with the school to change the child's behavior before he or she is removed for weeks or months from the regular classroom.

Noting that about 500 kindergartners and more than 2,000 first-graders are sent to district alternative centers every year, he also suggested that guidelines be developed regarding such young children. These are only a few of the proposals that will be considered in Austin over the next few months. Teachers and well-behaved students need safe and controlled classrooms for learning to take place. But allowing school officials to hide behind "zero tolerance" and to criminalize childish mistakes is intolerable.


British pupils pass key English test with 30pc mark

A mark of 30 per cent was enough for 14-year-olds to pass national tests in English A mark of 30 per cent was enough for 14-year-olds to pass national tests in English this year, it has been revealed. In maths, they could achieve the required level with a score of only 39 per cent. The news prompted claims that pupils are being let down by an education system which allows them to be seen as successful despite poor performance in exams.

The pass marks in this year's tests were revealed by the National Assessment Agency. Eleven-year-olds needed 43 per cent to pass English by gaining the expected level four, 46 per cent for maths, and 51 per cent for science. These pass marks are either the same or slightly higher than last year's, suggesting the papers were judged to be marginally simpler. National curriculum levels run from one to seven in English and science and one to eight in maths. The Government expects 11-year-olds to reach level four. At 14 - Key Stage 3 - pupils are expected to reach level five at least, which this year required a minimum 30 per cent mark in English.

Parents' leaders voiced concern over the low level of the pass marks. Margaret Morrissey of the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations said: "We are not doing children any favours with these low pass marks. It may look good for schools to have many pupils clearing these hurdles, and maybe it makes parents feel happy for their children. "But when they go out to work, it is going to be picked up by employers. In anyone's book, if you have got 30 per cent of something, you have not succeeded."

A spokesman for the National Assessment Agency defended the marks, saying it used "a range of evidence in order to maintain standards".


Shaky British universities

A swath of universities were in financial crisis even after the introduction of tuition fees, according to a secret government list made public last night. More than 40 institutions feature on the list, which classifies them as at risk of financial failure after 1998, when means-tested tuition fees were introduced. Those on the list include South Bank University in London, Liverpool John Moores University and Queen Mary, University of London.

Another three institutions were deemed to be so at risk that their names were kept off the list, which was revealed after a Freedom of Information request by The Guardian newspaper. The Higher Education Funding Council for England published the list only after pressure from the Information Commissioner, who ruled that students applying to certain institutions had a right to know their financial buoyancy.

The disclosures highlight the problems institutions face, despite the introduction of fees, after decades of under-investment and the explosion in undergraduate numbers. In the academic year 1998-99 students started paying up to 1,025 pounds a year each to attend university, putting an end to free higher education. The move started generating thousands of pounds of extra income. But many of the universities and colleges named have been struggling to recruit sufficient numbers of students and keep their spending under control. Many have been forced to combine their strengths through mergers with other universities

A spokesman for the funding council said: "We work with these institutions to ensure that they develop a robust recovery plan, and this normally results in their restoration to financial health. "The information is historical in the sense that it refers to situations in existence more than three years ago. Much has changed since then." The Guardian, however, named one of the three endangered universities whose identity was not disclosed as Thames Valley University.



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

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

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


Sunday, July 08, 2007

Pro-Lifers Make Impact at NEA Teacher Convention - Some Delegates 'Shocked'

Seventy-five pro-life teachers, parents/taxpayers and children/students successfully picketed the NEA convention in Philadelphia on Sunday, July 1. Aged eight to eighty, they took positions on all four corners of Arch & 11th Streets, displaying high-visibility signs and posters easily seen by thousands of NEA Delegates disembarking from shuttle buses or entering and leaving the Convention Center's doorways. Pro-lifers and delegates were interviewed by reporters and photojournalists from FOX, Philadelphia Bulletin, Washington Times, Catholic Standard & Times, etc.

Many delegates openly expressed disbelief, skepticism, and even shock, at the revelation that NEA was involved in abortion at all - much less in an advocacy role - much less pro-abortion. They were totally unaware of NEA's long-standing "Family Planning Resolution" supporting "reproductive freedom" and "all methods of family planning" - including abortion. Some refused to accept the well-documented fact that NEA is one of Planned Parenthood's primary advocates and actually co-sponsored huge pro-abortion rallies in Washington in April 2004, April 1992, and November 1989.

A few belligerent delegates verbally berated the pro-lifers, accusing them of "lying". Others thanked pro-lifers for bringing NEA's abortion activism into sharp focus. Some said they would raise the issue on the Convention Floor and attempt to have NEA totally abandon its pro-abortion agenda and activism.

Bob Pawson, National Coordinator of PLEAS and NJEA member, said, "We joined NEA for collective bargaining representation; not to be misrepresented on socio-political or moral issues like abortion, homosexuality, or who to vote for. Respect the diversity of 3.2 million members. Totally disengage NEA from the abortion issue. Become truly neutral and completely non-involved."

"The NEA leadership's pro-abortion agenda is a perverse way of supposedly protecting our jobs. Babies are our business; our only business. For NEA to condone, much less promote, killing babies in their wombs is not only a moral outrage; it's economic suicide. Abortion costs us our jobs." NEA wants us unified for contract negotiations every few years, yet simultaneously divides us with radical, far left, extremist positions on issues like abortion. News flash: We don't feel unified. We feel betrayed. We resent having our dues monies used to subvert our personal moral values, and then being offered "thirty pieces of silver." "I urge pro-life NEA members across America to run for union offices at all levels, including Convention Delegate. Take back our union. Join the NEA Reform Revolution."


Raise British educational standards through increase in grammar schools, thinktank urges

More grammar schools [i.e. academically-oriented schools that select on the basis of scholastic ability] and low-cost private schools are needed to raise the "dire" standards of the education system, a report by one of the most respected economic think-tanks says today. Millions of people cannot read, write or count and millions more can barely do so because of the "socialist" state-directed system and comprehensive education, the Economic Research Council says.

Better off parents have escaped the worst aspects of comprehensive education by paying private fees, buying tuition or moving home to be close to the best schools, says the report. It is families on the lowest incomes that have suffered from the progressive theories and dumbing down of standards.

The Economic Research Council, Britain's oldest economic think-tank, says it is "rotten schooling" and not grammar schools that has harmed social mobility. Prof Dennis O'Keeffe, the report's author, says leading Tories who claim grammar schools no longer offer a ladder of opportunity for poor, bright children fail to understand the importance of selection. "Unlike David Cameron's parents who sent him to Eton, certain members of the modern Conservative Party appear not to understand the dramatically effective way competitive education encourages, identifies and rewards talent and consequently increases social mobility," he says.

"Comprehensive schools with soft and easy access for all have not served the community well. They have served only to eradicate upward mobility, and done so, perversely, in the name of eradicating privilege," adds Prof O'Keeffe, the professor of social science at Buckingham University.

Mr Cameron has pledged to preserve the existing 164 grammars but backed David Willetts, the shadow education secretary, when he blamed the schools for entrenching social advantage. In a speech last month that led to a rebellion in the Tory ranks, Mr Willetts said that changes in society since the 1950s meant that the middle classes now monopolised grammar school places.

Prof O'Keeffe wants the law to be changed so that education authorities can choose to re-introduce the 11-plus or provide more academically selective schools. "Today's comprehensive schools claim to eradicate privilege, but in reality they have only eradicated upward mobility," he says. An education elite in the Civil Service, universities and teacher training colleges had pushed ideas of "children thinking for themselves and owning the curriculum" as part of "socialist control" of the state system.

To help break down the monopoly system, there should be more cheap, private schools and tax relief on the fees.

Mr Willetts said last night: "One of the reasons for shockingly low social mobility is that it is very hard for someone from a modest background to get into our academically most successful schools. That is why we are proposing real reforms so that there are more good schools with more streaming and setting and tough discipline."



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

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

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