Monday, April 14, 2008

Corrupt Mexican education

During a five-day visit to the United States in February 2008, Mexican President Felipe Calderon lectured Washington on immigration reforms that should be accomplished. No doubt he will reprise this performance when he meets with President George W. Bush and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in New Orleans for the annual North American Leaders Summit on April 20-21, 2008. At a speech before the California State Legislature in Sacramento, the visiting head-of-state vowed that he was working to create jobs in Mexico and tighten border security.

He conceded that illegal immigration costs Mexico "a great deal," describing the immigrants leaving the country as "our bravest, our youngest, and our strongest people." He insisted that Mexico was doing the United States a favor by sending its people abroad. "Americans benefit from immigration. The immigrants complement this economy; they do not displace workers; they have a strong work ethic; and they contribute in taxes more money than they receive in social benefits."

While wrong on the tax issue, he failed to address the immigrants' low educational attainment. This constitutes not only a major barrier to assimilation should they seek to become American citizens, but also means that they have the wrong skills, at the wrong place, at the wrong time. Ours is not the economy of the nineteenth century, when we needed strong backs to slash through forests, plough fields, lay rails, and excavate mines. The United States of the twenty-first century, which already abounds in low-skilled workers, requires men and women who can fill niches in a high-tech economy that must become more competitive in the global marketplace.

Most newcomers from south of the Rio Grande have had access to an extremely low level of education, assuming they have even received instruction in basic subjects. Poverty constitutes an important factor in their condition, as well as the failure of lower-class families to emphasize education in contrast to, say, similarly situated Asian families. These elements aside, Mexico's public schools are an abomination - to the point that the overwhelming majority of middle-class parents make whatever sacrifices are necessary to enroll their youngsters in private schools where the tuition may equal $11,000 to $12,000 annually.

The primary explanation for Mexico's poor schools lies in the colonization of the public-education system by the National Union of Education Workers (SNTE, according to its initials in Spanish), a hugely corrupt 1.4 million-member organization headed by political powerhouse Elba Esther Gordillo Morales. Rather than lecture American lawmakers on what bills to pass, Calder¢n would do well to devote himself to eliminating this Herculean barrier to the advancement of his own people within their own country.

This Backgrounder will (1) examine Mexico's educational levels, (2) discuss the enormous influence of the SNTE's leader Elba Esther Gordillo Morales, (3) focus on corruption in the educational sector, and (4) indicate reforms that the administration of President Calder¢n should consider.

Mexico's educational system teems with ugly facets, none more alarming than the high dropout rate. Roughly 10 percent of those who finish elementary school never complete middle school, either because their families cannot afford to send them, they drop out to earn money, or there is simply no room for them. "There is a bottleneck in the system," says Eduardo V‚lez Bustillo, education specialist on Latin America at the World Bank. "Quality is bad at every level, but middle school is a crisis point because that's where the demand is highest," he adds. Although Mexico has made significant strides in recent years by increasing overall enrollment and boosting investment in education, the country still trails other developed nations in most proficiency standards.

In 2006 the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) conducted its triennial Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) among ninth-graders. As indicated in Tables 1, 2, and 3, Mexican students placed at the bottom in reading and mathematics among youngsters in the 30 OECD member nations. Of the 27 non-OECD countries assessed, Mexico fell below Chile, China (Taipei), Croatia, Estonia, Hong Kong, Israel, Romania, Russia, and Slovenia in three areas. Other measures, including student hours in class, show Mexico as an underachiever.

The elementary school day provides for only four hours of instruction in an outmoded curriculum that has been handed down from generation to generation and is zealously guarded by the change-averse SNTE. In lieu of creative approaches to stimulate students, teachers stress rote learning and harsh discipline as evinced in their mantra: "Be Quiet, Pay Attention, and Work in your own seat!" In indigenous areas, instructors sometimes use students to perform menial chores for them. This same ethos of submissiveness to strong, hierarchical control characterizes the teachers' relationship to their union.

Much more here

"What We Have Here Is A Failure To Educate" And Other Kinds Of Child Abuse

One of the most accurate reflections of the state of health and fitness of a nation, culture or society is the state of health of it's educational system. The more education a nation, culture or society affords it's students, the more healthy that nation, culture or society. The more a nation, culture or society demands good education, the more advanced that society and culture are. Education is also a barometer of the state of freedom within a a nation, culture or society. The more freedom a citizen has to learn and explore, the freer that society is.

Education is not about ideologies or specific beliefs. Education is about the freedom to explore, be it of the armchair or field variety. In a healthy society, education exists along side ideology and specific beliefs. There are Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist and Jewish universities where religious beliefs and instruction go hand in hand with the experience of learning and the exploration of new ideas. This is no small distinction. Religious institutions have contributed mightily to the great body of knowledge that has benefited all mankind. Conversely, in an unhealthy or undeveloped societies, education devolves and becomes becomes less about learning and exploration and more about indoctrination. Dr Sanity, in The Evolution Of Education Into Indoctrination:
Hegel, building on Kant, Rosseau and Fichte, would go on to write, "It must be further understood that all the worth which the human being possesses-all the spiritual reality, he possesses only through the State."

If you can convince children that objective reality is an illusion; that A does not equal A; that black is white; and that good is bad; if you can make them accept that everything is subjective and relative; then you have successfully breathed new life into doctrines that by all objective measures and standards led to the death and misery of millions of people. Through the careful manipulation of language, everything can be distorted, without the messy need to resort to facts, logic, or reason.

For the children of postmodernism, what matters is not truth or falsity-only the effectiveness of the language used. Lies, distortions, ad hominem attacks; attempts to silence opposing views-all are strategies that are perfectly satisfactory if they achieve the desired effect-i.e., furthering the collectivist agenda. Ideas and reason make way for reification of feelings; and freedom is replaced by thought control and preservation of "self-esteem" at all costs.

The postmodern assault as it is used by the new totalitarians of the 21st century is a four-pronged attack to undermine

- Objective reality
- Reason and the rational debate of ideas
- Individual freedom and freedom of thought and speech
- Progress and capitalism

The strategies used are:

- The distortion of language and meaning to undermine the individual's perception of reality;
- The use of direct or threatened physical violence to suppress speech and individual freedom;
- Politically "correct" thought control and cultural relativism to undermine reason and rational debate;
- The promotion of environmental hysteria to undermine progress, industrialization and capitalism

Most of `who we are,' as a nation, society and culture is determined by the kind of education we receive. If the education we receive serves freedom and equality, then we are a free people. If the education we receive undermines freedom and equality, then were are slaves, no more than chattel for those who would use and abuse us for their own needs and agendas.

Freedom cannot coexist with conditions that reinforce or tolerate oppressive and repressive behaviors, ideologies or beliefs. It is because we have allowed for and tolerated behaviors that are abhorrent, all in the name of pluralism, that we find ourselves in a `clash of behaviors.' What was once unacceptable in our society has now become tolerable because we have created conditions where oppression and repression are considered acceptable forms of political expression, equal to our own. See also Dr Sanity, The Corruption Of The Curriculum:

Make no mistake about it, what many teachers today are doing is indoctrinating their students minds into an unquestioning obedience to the collective. This they cannot do unless they also can manage to corrupt even the hard sciences with their dogma.

There can be no area where a child is allowed to think freely and without the proper political perspective.

While our popular culture refrains sensitively from portraying Islamofascists as villains in movies out of political correctness (yet another aspect of socialism's quest for "social justice"); it does not hesitate to make businessmen evil and malignant oppressors of the innocent. Individualism, the pursuit of profit, and private property is always bad and everyone must bow to the will of the collective.

One very harmful result of this sorry educational situation is that there are few people-even among those who stalwartly defend the free market, who understand and appreciate the essential morality of capitalism. Certainly our children, taught by ideological purists like the ones above who are leftover from the 20th century debacle of socialist/communist tyranny-never even have a chance to rationally consider any ideas not approved by their aggressively collectivist teachers, so intent at quashing those aspects of human nature they don't like.

This is child abuse, pure and simple. It is indoctrination. It is the willful manipulation of young minds which cannot never be allowed to develop even the capability of thinking for themselves. And these perverts call it "social justice."

The snowball effect has led to the inevitable. There exists now have a class of people who share the same views and ideologies as those we find repulsive, going as far as to call for renunciation of the very things that make us free. They openly offer vociferous support of those who call for our destruction.

Immigration is redefining the kind of society we live in, That is not necessarily a bad thing. This nation was built by immigrants and would not be what it is today if were not for the `wretched refuse' that blessed these shores.

It is also true that the immigrants that came before are very different than the immigrants who are arriving today. This is very true of Europe and that truth is often played out on the nightly news. The mass influx or Arabs world immigrants has changed the Continent forever.


British education boss on ropes over entry to faith schools

Ed Balls, the children's secretary, has been forced to soften his demands that faith schools change their admissions policies. Jim Knight, Balls's deputy, moved to defuse the row when he told a delegation from Jewish schools that ministers would consider changing the legal code governing admissions to "maintain the concept of equity whilst meeting the need to clarify how we define the ethos of [a religious school]". Religious groups claimed they were unfairly singled out by Balls when he accused dozens of schools of breaching the code, which is designed to prevent "backdoor selection" of middle-class children.

Those at the meeting last Thursday said Knight also talked of changing laws that prevent oversubscribed schools from admitting children only of their own faith, saying: "It is important that you [Jewish schools] preserve your ethos" and "are able to promote strong family values". The hour-long meeting, held at the offices of the Board of Deputies of British Jews in London, was described by Winston Pickett, a spokesman for the board, as a "frank and open interchange".

Michael Gove, the shadow children's secretary, described the concessions by Balls and Knight as "not a total retreat, but definitely a climb-down". "There was a miscalculation and an acknowledgment they had to retreat because they did not have their facts straight," he said. "For ideological reasons, though, they are still intent on making schools the villains in the admissions process."

The row erupted earlier when Balls accused dozens of schools from Manchester, Northamptonshire and Barnet, north London, of breaking the code. He claimed some were "asking parents to commit to making financial contributions as a condition of admission", putting off poor families. Ministers said the abuse was a national issue and "shocking", although they were able to name only six schools that linked payments to admissions. Most of the accused schools turned out to be religious and Balls was accused of a "witch hunt" to pander to the left, many of whom see faith schools as middle class strongholds.

The attack on Balls was joined last night by Frank Field, the reformist Labour MP, who called the criticism of faith schools "incomprehensible ... near-criminal" and "a rant" designed to position the schools secretary for the next leadership contest. He called on Gordon Brown to "rein him in".

Parts of Balls' claims came unstuck last weekend when it emerged that only about a third of parents at some of the schools made the voluntary payments. They are intended to subsidise religious education, security and refurbishments, but it is illegal to link them to admissions. It also emerged that many of the admissions criteria criticised by Balls's officials had been drawn up before the code came into force last year and had already been amended.

Although most schools have now changed their codes to meet the deadline on Tuesday, religious groups are particularly angry that they are not allowed to ask parents whether they support a school's ethos. They argue that this information is vital to preserve a school's distinctive character. Labour's code bans it as it may be interpreted as a request for financial support. It is also seen to favour articulate parents. "It has become absurd, it has come down to arguing over one person's interpretation of the word `support' against another's," said one Catholic head teacher, adding: "They should think hard before they pick a fight with us over angels dancing on pin-heads."

Knight said yesterday: "The Board of Deputies and the government are committed to ending unfair admissions practices . . . we look forward to working with them."

The government is not relaxing its approach to enforcement of the code. Philip Hunter, the schools adjudicator, has written to every education authority demanding signed assurances that they will force schools to comply with the code. Hunter has also taken on a team of barristers to vet policies and told councils "we will expect you to use your powers to object" to any policy deemed noncompliant by the lawyers.

Paul Barber, education officer of the Roman Catholic diocese of Westminster, called Hunter's approach " heavy-handed", but a YouGov poll for The Sunday Times suggests that many voters are sympathetic to Balls. It finds 38% believe that faith schools are being undermined by government statements, but these are outnumbered by the 50% who agree with the statement: "[Balls] is right to get tough on schools that erect hidden barriers that discourage poorer families from applying".


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