Saturday, July 21, 2007

Vast racial gap in American educational achievement

As Thomas Sowell has pointed out, the best results with black education have in the past come from old-fashioned high-discipline schools -- which is exactly what the education mandarins today oppose most fervently. So all the pious hopes expressed below are just desperation. Reality is bound to disappoint those who are guided by wrong theories.

If you could take a class photo of the 1.2 million young people who drop out of high school in this country each year, one detail would be obvious -- and troubling. Students of color, usually poor, dominate. It's true in Detroit, where one recent report estimates that city schools graduate only 24.9 % of students who start 9th grade, and shows up in every major study of the dropout population. Failure to complete high school is an epidemic problem among poor minorities, the population that's most in need of education to escape poverty.

So it's encouraging to see many of the nation's leading civil rights groups band together -- belatedly, given how long this has been a problem -- to make educational inequity a more urgent agenda item for state and federal policymakers. The groups behind the Campaign for High School Equity include giants such as the NAACP, the National Council of La Raza, the National Indian Education Association and the National Urban League, each with solid track records of improving opportunities for minorities.

Working in conjunction with the Alliance for Excellent Education, this new super group should have clout and data to command the attention of the political leaders and the community groups, parents and children who have first-hand knowledge of the costs of this crisis.

Nationally, minority students are four times as likely to be enrolled in one of the 2,000 high schools that have been identified as producing approximately half of the nation's dropouts, according to the Campaign's report, "A Plan for Success." Anyone daring to dismiss this fact as just another minority problem isn't paying enough attention to the population trends. The minority students who are either dropping out of school or getting a grossly inequitable education are also the growing segments of the U.S. population. Finding ways to keep them in school now and ensuring they get proper skills is a sounder solution than paying for their education deficits later.


A profound loss of culture in modern Britain

If even literary people don't recognize some of Britain's greatest literary work, what hope is there for the mass of the people even to know what they are missing? Education once transmitted a people's inherited culture. The only thing it transmits well now is Leftist propaganda

A frustrated author has confirmed what other unpublished writers have long suspected: even Jane Austen would have difficulty finding a book deal in the 21st Century. But what really astonished David Lassman was that only one of 18 publishers and literary agents recognised her work when it was submitted to them under a false name. Mr Lassman, 43, had spent months trying without success to find a publisher for his own novel Freedom's Temple. Out of frustration - and to test whether today's publishers could spot great literature - he retyped the opening chapters of three Austen classics: Pride and Prejudice, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion.

He changed only the titles, the names of the characters and his own name - calling himself Alison Laydee, after Austen's early pseudonym "A Lady" - then waited for the offers to roll in. Instead he received yet another sheaf of rejection letters, including one from Penguin, which republished Pride and Prejudice last year, describing his plagarised chapters as "a really original and interesting read" but not right for Penguin. That was one of the gentler rejections. But Mr Lassman said: "Penguin neither requested to see the rest of the novel nor did they recognise a work they already publish.

"I wasn't surprised that the publishing process rejects people out of hand, but I was staggered that no one recognised the work. Here is one of the greatest writers that has lived, yet only one recipient recognised them as Austen's work. "At best their letters were mildly apologetic about declining the material and at worst completely indifferent to what they had in their possession. If major publishers can't recognise great literature, who knows what might be slipping through the net."

Mr Lassman concocted his plan after returning from the Greek island where he had been writing his own novel and found himself facing a brick wall. "I was having a hard time getting it published and I was chatting to friends about it, saying I wondered how Jane would have fared today. "Getting a novel accepted is very difficult unless you have an agent first, but I had no idea at the scale of rejection poor old Jane suffered."

The literary agency Christopher Little, which represents J.K. Rowling, regretted that it was "not confident of placing this material with a publisher". Jennifer Vale of Bloomsbury publishers turned down Northanger Abbey, renamed Susan, saying "I didn't feel the book was suited to our list."

The one publisher to recognise the deception was Alex Bowler, assistant editor at Jonathan Cape. His reply read: "Thank you for sending us the first two chapters of First Impressions; my first impression on reading these were ones of disbelief and mild annoyance, along with a moment's laughter. "I suggest you reach for your copy of Pride and Prejudice, which I'd guess lives in close proximity to your typewriter and make sure that your opening pages don't too closely mimic the book's opening. After all, there is such a thing as plagiarism and I'd hate for you to get in any kind of trouble with Jane Austen's estate."

Last night a spokeswoman for Penguin admitted that Mr Lassman's submission may not actually have been read. She said: "We don't take anything that is not agency-led, so I doubt the person would even have read it. I can't comment on this individual case but I don't think we have done anything bad." Neil Blair at Christopher Little said Mr Lassman had received a standard response. He said: "As you can imagine we get hundreds of submission each week - some from genuine writers or would-be writers, but also some from cranks. Our letter was a polite note declining representation and provided a standard response. "However, our internal notes did recognise similarities with existing published works and indeed there were even discussions about possible plagiarism. We chose an approach was designed to end the chain of communication with this person and not start a whole new one. Sadly, we have had experience of where accusations of plagiarism can lead to." Bloomsbury declined to comment.



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 20, 2007

Children denied the joys of competition

On Saturday, the river Thames at Henley was a picture of grey. Contented, fulfilled, cheery, but undeniably grey. And occasionally bald. It was the Henley Veterans' Regatta, a rowing competition held the week after the grand Royal occasion, after the corporate hospitality marquees had gone, the picnic tables been folded away and the jazz bands packed up their instruments. Here rowers in their forties, fifties, sixties and in several cases seventies wheezed and sweated their way down the very same course the elite athletes had so recently taken, persuading themselves for a moment that they were still contenders

Everywhere you looked, the joys of competition were in evidence. It wasn't the winning - though for a few that provided a singular pleasure - but the fact they could still take part that was the point. The clutch of nerves gripping the stomach at the start line, the adrenaline rush of the first few strokes, the long haul up the most picturesque sporting track in the world: it made them feel more alive. For these people, sporting competition had been a vital part of their being for as long as they can remember.

I couldn't help comparing the energy, the vibrancy, the camaraderie with another event I attended: a non-competitive team morning at a primary school. Emphatically this was not a sports day: sport, for the head teacher, needed to be eradicated in all its forms, as pernicious an evil as sexism and racism. Sport represented competition at its most corrupting: trying to beat someone else at games was, to this head, morally indefensible. And so the children were obliged to stand in line, hanging around waiting to do things like tip water into a bucket or sort plastic bricks into colour-coded lines. Running was banned (someone might hurt himself) and winning didn't happen.

As the head passed between the rows of children congratulating herself that she had discovered the root of youthful nirvana, every child she passed wanted to know one thing: who was winning. "Nobody wins here," she'd trill, apparently oblivious to the groans her every remark solicited. I have never seen such a listless, bored bunch of children. Those veterans at Henley may have been 10 times older, but they had 10 times the spark of these seven-year-olds. What these children wanted was competition.

They didn't know about all those long-term, beneficial side-effects the old rowers had enjoyed, they just wanted to pitch themselves against their peers. Yet they were being denied the one thing they craved by an educational philosophy that made no sense.

The image that haunted me was of an 11-year-old girl, who looked like Denise Lewis must have done at that age, all balance, grace and legs like a gazelle, being scolded by the head teacher for running, beautifully and at sprint speed, during one of the challenges. "We don't do that sort of thing here," she was told, as if what she were doing were a social embarrassment, like picking her nose in public.

Far from offering encouragement to help nurture her natural ability, here was the girl's educational mentor telling her that her skill was worthless. All this happened not in the grounds of some expensive boarding school established by utopian loons for the offspring of the Bohemian, but at a bog-standard, mainstream north London primary school.

My memories were stirred this week when Gordon Brown announced his wholehearted support for competitive sport in schools. Of all the things the new man has said that we can cheer (the end of the super-casino among them), this is the most important.

Yet the gap between prime ministerial proposal and reality can be as wide as the space between that head teacher's ears. The non-competitive team challenge I witnessed took place at the tail end of John Major's watch, when the PM was waxing on about warm beer on the boundary, even as great swathes of his education system were treating all sports as if they were a dangerous perversion.

Brown needs to ensure competition is given room on the curriculum, that those many great teachers who appreciate its value are supported, that the facilities are developed in which it can be practised. Proposals, initiatives, study documents are not enough. We have allowed almost a whole generation to be schooled without sport, marooning them on the sofa, sagged down by their ever-expanding waistbands. The next generation must rediscover the spirit of their grandparents competing at Henley; and that requires actions, not words.


Christian fraternity sues University of Florida, claiming discrimination

A Christian fraternity sued the University of Florida on Tuesday, claiming discrimination because the university refuses to recognize it as a registered student group.

University officials have told Beta Upsilon Chi that it cannot be registered as an on-campus student group because only men are allowed to join, which amounts to sex discrimination, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Gainesville.

And Beta Upsilon Chi is not allowed to join the off-campus Greek system of fraternities and sororities because the fraternity requires its members to be Christians, the suit said. The organization that governs the university's Greek system prohibits religious discrimination.

"As a Christian fraternity, (Beta Upsilon Chi) is locked out of the UF campus," the lawsuit said. "The only way UF will recognize (the fraternity) is if it chooses to give up its identity as a men's organization or if it abandons its religious criteria for members".

"They're caught in a conundrum," said Timothy J. Tracey, one of the attorneys who filed the suit. By not being registered as a student group, the fraternity is deprived of benefits including access to meeting space and the ability to advertise and recruit members on campus, the suit said. University spokesman Steve Orlando said the school does not comment on pending litigation.

Beta Upsilon Chi, also known as Brothers Under Christ, was founded in 1985 and has 21 chapters nationwide. The University of Florida chapter has eight members and claims that the school's failure to recognize it has hampered recruiting efforts.


A degree in prostitution?

New Zealand wackiness

Funding for tertiary courses in prostitution could be considered under changes aimed at boosting quality and relevance in the sector, New Zealand education officials say. But MPs on parliament's education and science select committee were told today that although courses in the world's oldest profession might be considered if providers put them forward, they would still have to meet tight criteria to get funding.

The questions on prostitution, posed by New Zealand First MP Brian Donnelly, surfaced as MPs were quizzing Tertiary Education Commission officials on changes to how tertiary education was funded. Under the changes, from next year, institutions will be bulk funded on the basis of agreed three-year plans rather than on the number of students enrolled in specific approved courses.

Tertiary Education Minister Michael Cullen has said the changes are aimed at increasing the "quality and relevance" of courses. However, they have raised questions regarding the TEC's actual control over individual courses. National Party education spokeswoman Katherine Rich said she was concerned by the TEC's apparent "agnostic" attitude towards the content of courses under the new system. She questioned whether it might lead to a continuing proliferation of courses such as twilight golf seen under the old system. TEC chief executive Janice Shiner said under the new system a request to provide prostitution courses would be assessed against the same criteria as any other course.



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 19, 2007

University of Michigan finally goes colour-blind (?)

The University of Michigan has long been one of America's most colour-conscious campuses. Both the Supreme Court and a State constitutional amendment were needed to stop them discriminating between blacks and whites. Have they finally learnt their lesson? Not really. The events below show clearly that their agenda is still a fanatically racist one. Post below excerpted from Discriminations. See the original for links

In this long struggle the official student newspaper, The Michigan Daily, has rarely if ever encountered any "color-conscious" program or activity that it opposed. Now, finally, it appears to have found one

Man mugged at gunpoint by campus
DPS issued crime alert to warn suspects
By Emily Barton, Daily News Editor

The Department of Public Safety issued a crime alert Saturday after an Ann Arbor resident was mugged at gunpoint near campus because the suspects are at large and potentially dangerous.....

The victim told police that the men were of average build, about six feet tall and wearing black hooded sweatshirts with the hoods up.

Now, here is a report of the same incident in the conservative Michigan Review:

The Michigan Daily goes colorblind!

After years of trolling for a racially-sensitive admissions process, the Michigan Daily has seemingly come to the realization that race just isn't that important - at least when it comes to armed robberies near campus.

An Ann Arbor resident was robbed at gunpoint near the intersection of Lincoln and Hill. The suspects fled, and are described by police to be at large and potentially dangerous. According to the Daily, the suspects were:

"of average build, about six feet tall and wearing black hooded sweatshirts with the hoods up."

According to DPS [Department of Public Safety] however, the suspects were:

"#1: Black male, 6'2", medium build and clean-shaven, wearing a black-hooded sweatshirt with hood up and dark pants.

#2: Black male, 6'0", medium build, wearing a black-hooded sweatshirt with hood up."

The Michigan Daily - where skin color is central to college admissions, but not relevant to armed robberies.

Look, we all know that criminals come in all shapes and colors. And if these suspects had been apprehended, I don't have a problem with the Daily withholding their race. But if there are two gun-toting dudes prancing around campus, robbing people two blocks away from East Quad (the home of Summer Orientation) and the University's own Department of Public Safety issues a crime alert, for the love of God, can't the Michigan Daily put the racial agenda on hold for two seconds.

Apparently not.

Disgrace at another Michigan university

We read:

School officials on Monday fired Eastern Michigan University President Jim Fallon, and accepted the separations of the college's Department of Public Safety Chief Cindy Hall, and James Vick, vice president of student affairs, months after top school officials were accused of covering up the rape and slaying of a student by publicly ruling out foul play, school officials said.

Eastern Michigan University's Board of Regents confirmed Fallon's Sunday evening firing today before announcing they also were accepting the separations of Hall and Vick. EMU Board of Regents Chairman Thomas Sidlik also said Monday that the board would put a letter of discipline in the file of university legal counsel Kenneth McKanders. In addition, the board appointed Provost Donald Loppnow as executive vice president. In that dual role, Loppnow will serve as the school's chief executive until an interim president is selected.

The Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents voted unanimously, by telephone, to fire President John Fallon. His termination -- two years into a 5-year contract -- comes on the heels of a report that blasted EMU officials for their handling of a student's death in December. The key findings in an 18-page U.S. Department of Education report said the school failed to report in a timely manner such crimes as rape, alcohol, drug and weapons violations.

The report came following an investigation of how the university responded to the death in December of Laura Dickinson, 22, of Hastings. The U.S. Department of Education report said the university failed to alert the public of the rape and killing of Laura Dickinson, and that it violated federal law by underreporting and misreporting other crimes on campus since 2003.

It was roughly 10 weeks before EMU announced that there may have been foul play in Dickinson's death on Dec. 15. A fellow student, Orange Taylor III, 20, of Southfield, had been arrested and charged. His trial is set to begin in October.

Orange Taylor is black. See pic below. He has a history of arrests for drugs and break-ins on campus, and was kicked off campus -- but allowed to remain a student -- two months before Laura's death. Cameras filmed Taylor sneaking into the dormitory behind another student, a practice called "tailgating." The cameras caught him leaving more than an hour and a half later, one of Laura's gift bags in hand. Sometime during those roughly 90 minutes, he killed her, prosecutors say. Even as investigators zeroed in on Taylor as a suspect, after they interviewed him in January and after his DNA was found in the room, EMU insisted there was no foul play. Not until Taylor was arrested, 10 weeks after her body was found, did the university acknowledge Laura had been killed.


Covering up black crime seems to be a deep-seated compulsion in Michigan universities. There is probably a very popular course in most of them called "Deceit, deception and lying 101".

It's a strange compulsion. Do they really think that Americans are not aware that 9 out of 10 crimes of violence in America are committed by blacks? Who do they think they are fooling? Abetting crime out of such a compulsion really does suggest that they are seriously deranged.

The victim was not too good either. She was a "happy hippie" who did not even lock her door. She no doubt heartily agreed with her university's race policies.

College jocks rape unconscious woman

After the Duke Lacrosse player scandal we can expect to see this in all the media, can't we? Not likely! The reason why is at the foot of the post: Photos of the accused

Prosecutors call it rape at a drunken party which was caught on cell phone video. They have charged University of Minnesota cornerback Dominic Jones with third-degree criminal sexual conduct. However, WCCO-TV has confirmed that another U of M football player who'd been kicked off the team actually organized the party. Robert McField had been convicted of two armed robberies but was somehow still living in campus housing the night of the attack. On Monday, Jones was charged with sexually assaulting an unconscious woman.

The woman's blood-alcohol level was estimated at least 0.30 percent by a doctor who reviewed police reports and witness statements, according to the criminal complaint. Stephen Smith, the doctor, based his estimate on her size and weight and descriptions of the amount of alcohol consumed.

A friend of Jones had taken a video of part of the assault on his cell phone at the apartment that night. The file was deleted, but forensic experts examining the phone were able to recover a portion of the deleted file. The female in the video was unresponsive and was identified as the victim. The male in the video was identified as Jones.

Prosecutors said Jones was involved in an incident at the University Village apartments late on the night of April 3 or early April 4. On April 6, a woman told police she was raped in the University Village complex. The woman was taken to a local hospital and evidence was collected.

"It's amazing what the forensics can do to reconstruct that. That cell phone video ... A picture is worth 1,000 words, and that video reflects what happened, at least at that point in time," said Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman. "The charges represent a significant next step in this case. The charge is a serious one."



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 18, 2007

Strikes at public universities

In a free society when employers and employees negotiate on terms of trade, both sides are free to walk away from the table. Employers would then be left with the need to hire new staff, while employees would need to find a new job. Neither is a welcome prospect, so both sides try to avoid it. But customers can live with this because other sources of goods and services usually exists in the market place where they can purchase what the negotiating parties offer.

When one turns to public employment, however, the situation is markedly different. That's because customers are not free to refrain from purchasing the goods and services public institutions offer. So, for example, if the teachers at the California State Universities, who are threatening to strike if their terms are not met by the university system, walk of their job, those who pay their salaries and for the schools operations must keep paying. The paying customers, namely, California taxpayers, aren't legally free to walk, whereas teachers are. And this is unjust.

The entire notion of striking is at home only in a free market system where all parties have alternatives. In a public service industry, however, those who pay for the service lack the freedom to seek other ways to spend their funds. Their funds are confiscated, no matter what.

Now if it is OK, which it isn't, of course, to force customers (mostly the parents of the students in the case of CSU) of public services to pay, it could be argued that it is OK to have providers put out the work for which these customers are legally required to pay. There is clearly an imbalance afoot-teachers may refuse to work but those who pay them are not free to refuse to pay.

The lesson, of course, is that there should be no public employment other than those required for the maintenance of justice-the courts, military, and so forth. And those should not be able to go on strike since their pay is secured by means of coercion and cannot be withheld.

In a free market of education, colleges and universities would be just like shoe stores or recreation facilities or weight loss centers-their provisions would be obtained with the full consent of all the parties involved in the exchange relationship. No one would be privileged, favored by government as against others involved in the provision of the service (in CSU's case, education). Because no one's resources could be obtained against his or her will, there would have to be serious, honest negotiations, with no one in the position to act like an extortionist.

With public service institutions, however, not all the parties are free to deal on their own terms. Taxpayers are stuck having to pay taxes, while teachers can refuse to teach. They can even shut down a university or the entire system while those who pay them will go to jail if they attempt to withhold payment of their taxes that go to the maintenance and administration of the system.

So, perhaps all this is moot since we do have a massive public service sector in this country, which is far from a free one the rhetoric to the contrary notwithstanding. What is the right approach given this plain enough fact?

Striking would have to be banned, just as refusing to pay taxes is banned. This is not a welcome option, of course, to anyone who believes that the flow of goods and services ought to be free. But when it isn't free for customers, maybe it shouldn't be free for employees either.

In some public service industries strikes are banned precisely for this reason. If a monopoly or near-monopoly has been established for the delivery of certain goods or services, so that it is nearly impossible to go elsewhere to gain what one wants (since resources for this are conscripted and one could go to jail if one failed to provide them), then no one ought to make it seem this is a free market in which all parties are free agents.


Income diversity does not desegregate

When San Francisco started trying to promote socioeconomic diversity in its public schools, officials hoped racial diversity would result as well. It has not worked out that way. Abraham Lincoln High School, for example, with its stellar reputation and Advanced Placement courses, has drawn a mix of rich and poor students. More than 50 percent of those students are of Chinese descent. "If you look at diversity based on race, the school hasn't been as integrated," Lincoln's principal, Ronald J. K. Pang, said. "If you don't look at race, the school has become much more diverse."

San Francisco began considering factors like family income, instead of race, in school assignments when it modified a court-ordered desegregation plan in response to a lawsuit. But school officials have found that the 55,000-student city school district, with Chinese the dominant ethnic group followed by Hispanics, blacks and whites, is resegregrating.

The number of schools where students of a single racial or ethnic group make up 60 percent or more of the population in at least one grade is increasing sharply. In 2005-06, about 50 schools were segregated using that standard as measured by a court-appointed monitor. That was up from 30 schools in the 2001-02 school year, the year before the change, according to court filings.

The San Francisco experience is telling because after the recent United States Supreme Court decision restricting the use of race-based school assignment plans, many districts are expected to switch to economic integration plans like San Francisco's as a legal way to seek diversity. As many as 40 districts around the country are already experimenting with such plans, according to an analysis by Richard D. Kahlenberg of the Century Foundation, a nonpartisan public policy research group.

Many of these experiments are modest, involve small districts or have been in place only a few years. But the experiences of these districts show how difficult it can be to balance socioeconomic diversity, racial integration and academic success.

Only a few plans appear to have achieved all three goals. Others promote income diversity but not racial integration while still other plans are limited and their results inconclusive. Those who have studied them say a key to that outcome is how aggressively a plan shifts students around and whether there are many schools that can lure middle-class students from their neighborhoods into poor ones. "Systemwide programs are more effective than piecemeal programs," said Mr. Kahlenberg, who has studied plans like these.

The purpose of such programs is twofold. Since income levels often correlate with race they can be an alternate and legal way to produce racial integration. They also promote achievement gains by putting poorer students in schools that are more likely to have experienced teachers and students with high aspirations, as well as a parent body that can afford to be more involved. "There is a large body of evidence going back several years," Mr. Kahlenberg said, "that probably the most important thing you can do to raise the achievement of low-income students is to provide them with middle-class schools."

Economic integration initiatives differ from each other, and from many traditional integration efforts that relied on mandatory transfer of students among schools. Some of the new initiatives involve busing but some do not; some rely on student choice, while some also use a lottery. And so it is difficult to measure how far students travel or how many students switch schools.

The most ambitious effort and the example most often cited as a success is in the city of Raleigh, N.C., and its suburbs. For seven years the district has sought to cap the proportion of low-income students in each of the county's 143 schools at 40 percent. [Discrimination against the poor?? Would that would survice a 14th Amendment challenge?] To achieve a balance of low- and middle-income children, the district encourages and sometimes requires students to attend schools far from home. Suburban students are attracted to magnet schools in the city; children from the inner city are sometimes bused to middle-class schools at the outer edges of Raleigh and in the suburbs.

The achievement gains have been sharp, and school officials said economic integration was largely responsible. Only 40 percent of black students in grades three through eight in Wake County, where Raleigh is located, scored at grade level on state reading tests in 1995. By the spring of 2006, 82 percent did. "The plan works well," said John H. Gilbert, a professor emeritus at North Carolina State University in Raleigh who served for 16 years on the county school board and voted for the plan. "It's based on sound assumptions about the environment in which children learn."

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district, North Carolina's largest, has also tried an economic integration plan, but with less success. Students were once assigned to schools in Charlotte and its suburbs based in part on achieving racial balance, but that system was struck down in federal appeals court in 2001.

The school board then created an assignment plan based on income and choice; a low-income student could transfer to a middle-class school if he came from a high-poverty, low-performing school. But such transfers could occur only if there was room, and there seldom was. "There are not a whole lot of seats available and so there is not a lot of choice available," said Scott McCully, the district's executive director of planning and student placement. Within several years, said Roslyn Arlin Mickelson, professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, "the schools became markedly more segregated."

In the smaller school system in Cambridge, Mass., children apply to the city's 12 elementary schools and socioeconomic status is an important factor in ultimate assignments. The system has been phased in gradually since the fall of 2002. Last year, 75.8 percent of Cambridge's low-income third graders were judged to be progressing toward reading proficiency. That was higher than the statewide average for low-income students, 71.3 percent, and better than the rate in more than a dozen other cities in the state.

Other districts have not seen such results. One district in San Jose, Calif., switched to using family and neighborhood income instead of race for assignments two years ago, giving a preference to students in low-income areas who try to transfer to schools in higher income areas, and vice versa. But in the first year, the number of students switching schools declined significantly and has only begun to recover in the last year.

San Francisco had been under a court order to desegregate for more than 20 years, with no school allowed to have a majority of students from one racial or ethnic group. But after Chinese-American parents whose children were kept out of certain elite schools sued, the district switched in 2002-03 to a plan that sought socioeconomic diversity.

Students apply to the schools they want to attend, and the district uses a "diversity index" for assignments when a school is oversubscribed. The index considers the language spoken at home, whether a child qualifies for free lunch or is in public housing, a child's academic performance and the quality of a child's prior schools. But it has not resulted in racial integration. "We were hopeful that the diversity index would work," said Stuart Biegel, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was the district's court-appointed monitor. "No one was rooting against it. But it didn't work."

Officials say one problem is that many students apply to neighborhood schools, which do not recruit enough students from outside their area. Another problem is demographics. Mr. Biegel said public school students in San Francisco were relatively low income over all, whatever their race or ethnicity, so the diversity index produced less mixing than hoped.

The wide ethnic diversity in San Francisco's schools, which are about one-third Chinese, also introduces calculations among parents that make it easier to get income diversity without racial or ethnic diversity.

At Willie L. Brown Jr. College Preparatory Academy, a fourth- through sixth-grade school in the predominantly black neighborhood of Bayview, 75 percent of the students are black. Most are poor. Tareyton D. Russ, the principal, said students from other neighborhoods did not seek to go there so the diversity index did not even apply. "Poor Chinese kids don't want to go to school with poor black kids," Mr. Russ said flatly.

Conversely, one white parent interviewed as she dropped her child off at summer school said some white parents avoided schools with a heavy Chinese concentration, like Lincoln, believing they would be too high-pressure for their children. She declined to be quoted by name.

David Campos, the general counsel to the school district, said the resegregation was so disappointing that the school board might try to test whether Justice Anthony M. Kennedy's opinion in the recent Supreme Court case left open the possibility of using race if other methods of integration fail. "We stopped using race at some point," Mr. Campos said. "And then for a number of years we have tried to use a number of race-neutral factors to achieve racial diversity, which methods haven't worked. Should the board decide to use race, and they may or may not, we are a very good test case."



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 17, 2007

Leftist hostility to reform of educational standards

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

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

For instance, in 1997 ACTA found that:

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

In 2000 ACTA found that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Australia: "Soft" educational options booming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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


Monday, July 16, 2007

Churchill dropped from England's history syllabus

Britain's World War II prime minister Winston Churchill has been cut from a list of key historical figures recommended for teaching in English secondary schools, a government agency says. The radical overhaul of the school curriculum for 11- to 14-year-olds is designed to bring secondary education up to date and allow teachers more flexibility in the subjects they teach, the Government said.

But although Adolf Hitler, Mahatma Gandhi, Joseph Stalin and Martin Luther King have also been dropped from the detailed guidance accompanying the curriculum, Sir Winston's exclusion is likely to leave traditionalists aghast.

A spokesman for the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority said the new curriculum, to be taught from September 2008, does not prescribe to teachers what they must include. But he added: "Teachers know that they need to mention these pivotal figures. They don't need to be instructed by law to mention them in every history class. "Of course, good teachers will be teaching the history of Churchill as part of the history of Britain. The two are indivisible."

Sir Winston's grandson Nicholas Soames, also a Conservative Member of Parliament, described the move as "madness." "It is absurd. I expect he wasn't New Labour enough for them ... this is a Government that is very careless of British history and always has been. "The teaching of history is incredibly important," he added. "If you're surprised that people do not seem to care that much about the country in which they live, the reason is that they don't know much about it."

The History Curriculum Association said it was "appalled" by the move, saying the new curriculum would "promote ignorance" and was pandering to a politically-correct agenda. The Conservatives' schools spokesman Michael Gove added: "Winston Churchill is the towering figure of 20th century British history. "His fight against fascism was Britain's finest hour. Our national story can't be told without Churchill at the centre."

Schools Secretary Ed Balls defended the move, saying a slimmed-down curriculum was overdue and traditional elements in all subjects had been protected. Among the few named figures that stay in the new history curriculum are William Wilberforce, the British law maker who was instrumental in efforts to abolish the slave trade.

Sir Winston, who was British prime minister from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955, was famous for his defiance to the Nazis, stirring oratory and trademark cigar and "V for victory" sign. In 2002, a BBC poll with more than one million votes saw him voted the Greatest Briton of all time.


Making a Balls-up of British education

As schools minister Ed Balls calls for lessons in emotional and economic wellbeing, it's clear the Brown government is as philistine as the Blairites

Over the past 10 years, New Labour's ministers for education and schools have been remarkably consistent. That is, they have consistently screwed up the school curriculum.

Those who thought that Estelle Morris (UK secretary of state for education and skills from 2001 to 2002) was as bad as it gets must now realise that dumbing down education is part of the job description for school ministers under New Labour. And it looks like Ed Balls, who has been appointed secretary of state for children, schools and families by new PM Gordon Brown, possesses a formidable skill for generating dumb ideas.

Balls' first major initiative, announced last week, was to introduce the teaching of social and emotional skills to schoolchildren. Schools in England will get œ13.7million in government funds to teach pupils manners, respect and good behaviour. So at a time when many children can barely spell `respect', Balls reveals that lessons in emotional intelligence will be the driver of his education revolution.

Last week it was respect - this week it's money-management. Balls has announced that, as part of an overhaul of the Key Stage 3 curriculum for older pupils, 11- to 16-year-olds will be introduced to a new subject: `economic wellbeing and financial capability'. Apparently Balls wants children to learn how to manage their money, since `money plays a crucial part in all our lives'; the aim is to `help youngsters to prepare for financial pressures after leaving school' (1).

Tomorrow, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority will unveil these reforms to the curriculum in full, as more and more worthy issues are recycled as academic subjects. For example, it is likely that there will be further tampering with the geography curriculum, to give it an even `greener interpretation' and an `additional focus on climate change and recycling' (2).

New Labour's pick'n'mix approach to the curriculum is underpinned by a belief that education is far too important to be left to educators, their pupils and families. The government seems to believe that if only schools would teach children enough about sex education, emotional intelligence and respect, then problems like teenage pregnancy, crime and community corrosion might disappear. They simply don't understand that the best way to turn children into inspired and socially responsible citizens is to challenge them through real academic subjects.

You don't need a degree from Harvard to know that a pupil who has grasped basic maths is likely to be better at handling money than a kid who got an A in `economic wellbeing and financial capability'. Decades of experience also show that citizenship classes do not produce brilliant citizens, that sex education does not reduce teenage sexual activity, and that emotional education has not given rise to a cohort of self-aware and confident young people. All that has happened as education has been instrumentalised by New Labour is that teachers and children have been distracted from engaging with the academic subjects that could take their classrooms forward and really prepare children for the future.

New Labour's philistinism towards education can seem contradictory. Both the Blairites and now the Brownites have appeared to have `too little' and `too much' interest in education. They are not very interested in the content of basic subjects like maths, English and science - but they are excessively interested in constantly changing the curriculum to make it reflect the government's policy agenda.

If I were a betting man, I would put my money on there being a further erosion of the important dividing line between education and the promotion of political values.


Student lenders get shafted -- not before time

Anything that keeps kids way from sharks like Sallie Mae is welcome

The House on Wednesday approved far-reaching changes in student aid programs, voting to cut $19 billion in federal subsidies to student lenders over five years, while increasing grants for needy students and halving interest rates on federally backed loans with the savings. The bill passed 273 to 149 in a sometimes raucous debate, with 47 Republicans joining Democrats, who took control of Congress this year on promises to help the middle class with the escalating costs of higher education.

The bill marks a stark reversal of fortune for the student loan industry, which for over 10 years had largely enjoyed unflagging support under the Republican majority. Investigations by Congress, the news media and the New York attorney general bruised the standing of lenders, exposing systems of paying colleges commissions to win business, offering college officials free trips and other perks.

While President Bush opposes some elements of the bill, it is widely expected that a broad overhaul of student aid will become law this year. Mr. Bush himself has proposed cutting government subsidies to lenders by $16 billion. And the Senate is expected to pass legislation later this month that would reduce these subsidies by $18.3 billion, while increasing the maximum Pell grant, the nation's major assistance program for low- and middle-income students, more swiftly than the House bill does.

Pointing to increases in college costs that have outpaced inflation by nearly 40 percent over the last five years, Representative George Miller, Democrat of California and chairman of the Education Committee, likened the legislation to the G.I. Bill, which began government financing of higher education in exchange for military service in 1944. "That took us to the first place in the world, and we've been there for 50 years," Mr. Miller said. "This is about a new investment for the next generation."

House Republicans criticized the bill as creating a panoply of nine entitlement programs, which they branded "welfare programs." They offered a substitute that would have largely focused on increasing Pell grants, without cutting interest rates. The substitute was defeated 231 to 189, in a largely party-line vote.

Representative Howard P. McKeon of California, the ranking Republican on the Education Committee, said the bill approved on Wednesday "overreaches by creating new entitlement spending for every conceivable constituency in higher education." Mr. McKeon also criticized it as "extracting too much blood" out of the federally backed student loan program, which he called "a success by all measures."

But Representative Tom Petri, Republican of Wisconsin, who voted for the bill, called the federal loan program "fundamentally and structurally flawed." "Congress has no business setting lender returns," Mr. Petri said. Student lenders, who had lobbied heavily against the bill, predicted that it would drive some lenders out of business, and reduce services and discounts offered to borrowers. A group of private bidders planning to buy Sallie Mae, a publicly traded company that is the nation's largest student lender, warned the loan company that both the House and Senate bills might cause the $25 billion deal to fall through, according to a press release from Sallie Mae. The release also said that Sallie Mae "strongly disagrees with this assertion" and would move to close the deal as rapidly as possible.

But a report by the Congressional Research Service found that small and medium-sized lenders would probably be hardest hit, and would face difficulties competing with industry giants like Sallie Mae. The report said Sallie Mae would likely be able to handle the cuts unscathed.

As well as cutting lender subsidies, the bill reduces the share the government would guarantee in the event of student default. It halves the interest rate on federally backed loans gradually over the next five years, to 3.4 percent from 6.8 percent, and would limit monthly payments to 15 percent of the borrower's discretionary income.

The bill raises the maximum Pell grants by $500 over the next four years, to a total of $5,200 by 2011. It also grants $5,000 in loan forgiveness for police, firefighters, prosecutors and other public servants, and a complete release from student loans for public servants after 10 years. It would also provide for complete forgiveness of federal student loans after 20 years for economic hardship.

Mr. Bush has threatened a veto over the loan-forgiveness provisions as creating new entitlement programs, and said more of the savings from the cuts in lender subsidies should go to increasing the size of Pell grants.

The Senate version of the legislation is similar to the House bill, but includes more generous increases in Pell grants. Senate aides on both sides of the aisle said they doubted that Mr. Bush would follow through with a veto after the two bills have been reconciled. Both measures also require the federal Education Department to set up a pilot program to auction off the right to make student loans, giving the business to the lender that would charge the least.

Advocacy groups for student borrowers praised the legislation. Michael Dannenberg, director of the New America Foundation's education policy program, called Wednesday's bill "an important first step toward getting politicians out of the business of writing subsidized lender profit rates into law." The group was the first to pitch auctions as a way to set lender subsidy rates.



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 15, 2007

New way to fight campus antisemitism

At the University of California, Irvine, a Muslim student group is permitted every year to hold a week-long event on campus. Sometimes the event is titled "Israel Awareness Week," sometimes "Zionist Awareness Week," or sometimes "Anti-Zionist Week." This past year the event was titled "Israel Apartheid Resurrected," and the university allowed the group to extend the program for an extra week.

This event has nothing to do with educating the community about Israel or Zionism, said Susan Tuchman, director of the Zionist Organization of America's Center for Law and Justice (CLJ). Instead, she said, "it is a week-long opportunity to bash Jews." Tuchman, whose work for the CLJ led to landmark findings and recommendations protecting Jewish college students from bigotry on campus, addressed the Pittsburgh chapter of the ZOA at its annual meeting on Wednesday evening, June 27. She cited the annual UC Irvine event as just one example of the type of anti-Semitism facing Jewish college students in the 21st century.

"Campus anti-Semitism is a serious problem," Tuchman said, "but the good news is there is a legal tool to address it." That legal tool is Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Thanks in part to the efforts of Tuchman, anti-Semitism can now be challenged under Title VI.

Typically, she said, campus anti-Semitism is expressed as hateful rhetoric against Israel and Zionism. The perpetrators claim they are just engaging in First Amendment-protected political discourse. Tuchman stressed that she would "never suggest that criticizing Israel is anti-Semitic. It's not. It is perfectly appropriate to engage in heated debate about what's going on in the Middle East."

The problem, she said, is that "Israel is being singled out and vilified." The offenders are not just speaking in distortions, she said, but often in "outright falsehoods." It is this brand of speech that is equivalent to anti-Semitism. This type of anti-Semitic rhetoric happens at all varieties of colleges and universities, from small private schools, to large state universities, to community colleges. And it happens in and out of the classroom.

At San Francisco State University, the Muslim Student Union was permitted to circulate a flier with a blood libel cartoon. The cartoon depicted a baby with the caption, "Palestinian Children Meat - Slaughtered According to Jewish Rites Under American License," patently implying that Jews kill Palestinian children for ritualistic purposes.

At UC Irvine, which, according to Tuchman, has had frequent incidences of anti-Semitism, posters have been displayed on campus equating the Star of David to a swastika, or depicting the Star of David dripping with blood. During its recent "Israel Apartheid Resurrected Week," a member of the Muslim group sponsoring the event was permitted to stand in the center of campus, and through amplified speakers, pronounce: "You [the Jews] are the new Nazis.... Your days are numbered. We will fight you until we are martyred or victorious." University officials did nothing in response to this demonstration, nor in response to the destruction of a Holocaust memorial, which followed the speech.

In a letter to the chancellor a UC Irvine student wrote, "I am terrified for anyone to find out [that I am Jewish.]. Today I felt threatened that if students knew that I am Jewish and that I support a Jewish state, I would be attacked physically." The chancellor never responded to the student's letter. Another administrator, however, did respond. He suggested that the student visit the counseling center on campus to help her work through her feelings. [What nasty condescension!]

Many schools take the official attitude that it's not their problem, said Tuchman. Rather, the schools react as if "it's the Jewish students who have the problem, and they need to learn how to deal with it."

Tuchman also cited a few examples of the anti-Semitism students face within the classroom. A Jewish student at Columbia University was told by her professor in a Middle Eastern Studies class that she had no claim to the land of Israel because she had green eyes and therefore could not be a Semite. Another professor, at UC Santa Cruz, left his health advocacy course to the charge of a guest lecturer one day. The guest lecturer presented slides purportedly showing Israeli soldiers brutalizing Palestinians. "How did this relate to the subject of the class?" asked Tuchman. "It didn't." In another classroom, a professor refused to answer any questions posed by a student who was a former IDF soldier until the student told the class how many Palestinians he had killed.

Tuchman explained that Title VI provides a legal recourse with which to battle campus anti-Semitism. Title VI requires that recipients of federal funding must ensure that their programs are free from harassment, intimidation and discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin, or risk losing that funding. Historically, anti-Semitism did not fall within Title VI because it was viewed to be discrimination based on religion, which was not protected by the Act.

In the fall of 2004, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) clarified how it would interpret the law, and said that because Jews shared a common ethnicity, they would be protected under Title VI. In October 2004, the ZOA filed a complaint with the OCR under Title VI on behalf of the Jewish students at UC Irvine. The complaint alleged that, despite the university's awareness that its campus environment was hostile to Jewish students, the administration had done nothing to remedy the problem. A few weeks later, the OCR agreed to investigate. Tuchman said that this was the first case of anti-Semitism to be investigated by the OCR. That investigation is still ongoing.

The good news, Tuchman said, is that the inclusion of Jews as a protected class under Title VI was recently endorsed by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, a bi-partisan agency that investigates and studies discrimination, reporting its findings to Congress and the president. In 2006, the Commission recognized that anti-Semitism encompasses more than name calling and threats, and that sometimes it is expressed as "anti-Israelism" or anti-Zionism.

The Commission accordingly recommended that colleges and universities come out and condemn anti-Semitism, Tuchman explained. The Commission rejected the argument that universities could remain silent because of the perpetrators' right to free speech; instead, the Commission said, the schools had a moral obligation to take a stand against anti-Semitic speech.

The Commission's findings have sent "a powerful message to colleges and universities," Tuchman said. She advised college students experiencing anti-Semitism to file an appropriate complaint within the university system. If nothing productive comes from that, then they should pursue the legal remedies that are now available.


Dumb and dumber -- and that's the teachers

Graduates from Richmond's Binford Middle School [Virginia] get a diplomalike certificate, signed by the teacher and principal. It is ringed by six graphic marks, including icons of a notebook, an apple, the school mascot and such. Then there is a picture of a man. And who is this icon of American education? Not John Dewey or Horace Mann, both of whom were called fathers of American education. It's not Thomas Jefferson or Benjamin Franklin or George Washington, either. Nor is it even James H. Binford, the first superintendent of Richmond Public Schools, for whom the school was named when it opened in 1915. This picture looks a little like Albert Einstein, perhaps. Or maybe Frederick Douglass. Or the Smith Brothers cough syrup guy. . . .

Wait a minute. . . . It's Karl Marx! Not exactly the father of education. This is the father of socialism. The father of communism. Author of "The Communist Manifesto." Any Google image search confirms it. The specific Marx image on the Binford certificate, artistically embellished with books in the background, can be found online.

There's nothing odd with teaching Karl Marx. Any well-rounded education ought to include his ideas. But Marx as the sole human symbol of Binford Middle School? In fact, if you were to rank anyone in the world who might appear on a graduation certificate in Richmond what number would Marx be? Would he even make the top million? Karl Marx would rank below Groucho Marx.

Binford Principal Juanita Nicholson said yesterday that she had not known the photo was of Marx or the reason for its use. She agreed it was an odd choice. Nicholson said one of the teachers on a committee apparently had done it. "I'm not sure . . . she even knew who it was."

Turns out she didn't. Richmond schools spokeswoman Felicia Cosby called last night to explain: "She really thought she was capturing clip art representing Frederick Douglass. She did a search to pull up Frederick Douglass and this is what came up . . . with the beard and the hair." Hold on. Wait a minute.

One was a German philosopher, the other an African-American slave who became a leading abolitionist. They can't be distinguished?

The teacher, the school and the school system "apologize profusely if this image offended parents and children alike," Cosby said. "But it was not intentional to put an image of Karl Marx up." It will be taken off in the future, she said. Fair enough. But in the future, let's make sure this committee isn't teaching history. [or anything else!]


Dumb gets yet dumber in Britain

Britain's Leftist government will not be happy until British education is totally destroyed -- in aid of making everyone "equal" of course

Pupils taking GCSE [Middle school] exams will be asked multiple choice questions for the first time and be allowed to take unlimited resits. It has also emerged that, under a planned overhaul of the system, up to half of GCSE English marks would be awarded for basic skills such as punctuation. The planned reform of the exam system has fuelled accusations that testing standards are being lowered. Bethan Marshall, a senior lecturer in English education at King's College London, told the Times Educational Supplement: "If you make 50 per cent of the GCSE about doing the basics, you are dumbing down. "The subject is about so much more than being able to communicate accurately. And if you're still doing basic skills at GCSE level, Heaven help you. It's pretty boring."

Ministers said last night that the overhaul was an attempt to ensure all school-leavers gain basic numeracy and literacy skills. Jim Knight, the Schools Minister, denied reducing GCSE English to "primary school level" and insisted that the changes would ensure that pupils who passed were ready for the workplace. He added that students would still be required to have "deep and broad subject knowledge".

Under the revamped exam system, maths and information and communication technology students would potentially be awarded up to 50 per cent of the total marks for under standing the basics, known as "functional skills". One suggested question for an English test reportedly asks pupils which word is spelt incorrectly in the sentence: "Be careful, the kettel is hot."

Michael Gove, the Shadow Children's Minister, said: "The idea that 16-year-olds should be tested on how to spell "kettle" and the principle that this exam should be based on tick-box multiple choice tests undermine any claim to higher standards. "Ministers need to get a grip if these exams are to be genuinely testing." The Department for Children, Schools and Families said that no decision had been made on the 50 per cent figure, and emphasised that the reforms were subject to pilot tests.



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.