Saturday, September 13, 2008

Leading British scientist urges teaching of creationism in schools

Creationism should be taught in science classes as a legitimate point of view, according to the Royal Society, putting the august science body on a collision course with the Government. The Rev Michael Reiss, a biologist and its director of education, said it was self-defeating to dismiss as wrong or misguided the 10 per cent of pupils who believed in the literal account of God creating the Universe and all living things as related in the Bible or Koran. It would be better, he said, to treat creationism as a world view.

His comments put him at odds with fellow scientists as well as the Government. Former Fellows of the Royal Society include Charles Darwin, who first proposed the theory of evolution. National curriculum guidelines state that creationism has no place in science lessons. The Government says that if it is raised by students, teachers should discuss how creationism differs from evolution, say that it is not scientific theory and that further discussion should be saved for religious classes.

Professor Reiss, a biologist, was speaking at the British Association's Festival of Science in Liverpool. Other scientists were vociferous in their response, saying that creationism should remain entirely within the sphere of religious education.

Professor Lewis Wolpert, of University College Medical School, said: "Creationism is based on faith and has nothing to do with science, and it should not be taught in science classes. It is based on religious beliefs and any discussion should be in religious studies."

Dr John Fry, a physicist at the University of Liverpool, said: "Science lessons are not the appropriate place to discuss creationism, which is a world view in total denial of any form of scientific evidence. Creationism doesn't challenge science: it denies it!"

However, Professor John Bryant, a biologist at the University of Exeter, agreed that creationism should be discussed as an alternative position of the origins of man and earth. "If the class is mature enough and time permits, one might have a discussion on the alternative viewpoints," he said. "However, I think we should not present creationism as having the same status as evolution."

The Royal Society's support for the presence of creationism within the classroom points to a remarkable turn-around. Last year the society issued an open letter stating that creationism had no place in schools and that pupils should understand that science supported the theory of evolution. A spokesman for the organisation, which counts 21 Nobel Prize winners among its Fellows, confirmed yesterday that Professor Reiss's views did represent that of its president, Lord Rees of Ludlow, and the society. He said: "Teachers need to be in a position to be able to discuss science theories and explain why evolution is a sound scientific theory and why creationism isn't."

More here

'Vege math' to be abolished in Australia

The national maths curriculum is still a blank page but the man in charge of framing the document knows what won't feature: easy maths courses for weaker students. While so-called "vege maths" courses teaching day-to-day skills have been offered to less able students, Peter Sullivan said they basically told students to give up. Instead, he envisages a national maths curriculum that gives all students the understanding they need for life after school.

Professor Sullivan, appointed by the National Curriculum Board to draft a direction for maths, said the course should offer the depth for talented maths students to pursue their interest, but still provide comprehensive skills to weaker students. "People need maths to be able to understand the world and their lives but also to be able to participate effectively in the workplace and their job," he said. "That's what curriculum can do, it can make education more interesting and relevant to the world today."

Professor Sullivan, from Monash University, said extended courses were necessary for students in the final years of school, when they were making choices about their careers. But for the compulsory years of schooling, the curriculum should preserve opportunities for all students as long as possible and not discard them as unable to do maths. "If there were low-achieving students falling behind, then schools and systems have to find ways to support them so they can improve, not give up on them and say 'here, do this easy course'," he said.

Professor Sullivan said many young students developed an attitude that they just could not do maths and one of the aims for the curriculum was to teach them that persistence pays off. "Giving up is not the way to do it. The amount of maths they learn depends on how hard they try, not how bright they are. These are the sorts of things the curriculum should try to do."

Professor Sullivan said technology had a crucial part to play. "It has the potential to change the way students study maths. It will allow students to place less emphasis on the memorisation of skills and formulas and use technology to solve real problems with real data."

He said fundamental knowledge such as the times tables would always be required. Rather, he was referring to the blind manipulation of memorised formulas. "A lot of people learn things in maths they don't understand, but once they're able to use technology to explore the concept, the maths makes sense," Professor Sullivan said.


Friday, September 12, 2008

Maine shoots the messenger

After 78 percent of eighth-graders fail to make the grade on the state writing test, officials toss the results

More than three-quarters of Maine's eighth-graders performed below standard on the state writing test for 2007-08, prompting education officials to toss the results and try to figure out why so many students missed the mark.

State Education Commissioner Susan Gendron and her staff say the one-question test was somehow flawed because 78 percent of the estimated 14,900 eighth-graders who took the exam failed to write a persuasive essay as required. That's a 50 percent increase, over 2006-07 in the number of eighth-graders who failed to meet or only partially met state writing standards.

In a rare move, Maine's Department of Education found the test results inconclusive, and withheld them from school districts and the media when it released the latest Maine Educational Assessment scores in July. The department's decision surprised even longtime educators like Tom Lafavore, director of educational planning in Portland Public Schools, Maine's largest district. "I've never seen test results pulled like this," Lafavore said.

The department provided overall Grade 8 writing results to the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram only after the newspaper requested the information under Maine's Freedom of Access Act. "It is our responsibility to ensure the validity of test data," Gendron said. "It would be irresponsible for us to release data if that performance is based on a question that was unreliable." Gendron and her staff say parents shouldn't worry. Students are learning to write. The test triggered false results. Still, they say, they don't know exactly why.

The 45- to 70-minute test, administered last March, asked students to support or refute the following statement, known as a prompt: "Television may have a negative impact on learning." Instructions outlined how the essay would be scored and listed 20 writing skills students should demonstrate, from identifying a logical position to using correct punctuation. The test included two lists of facts, pro and con, to use in the essay.

"Kids got ticked off at the (question)," Gendron said. "In many cases, it was an emotional response rather than the intellectual exercise we were seeking, so it was not an accurate reflection of their writing skills."

One student's essay began: "These facts are lies. I do my homework and get good grades even though I watch TV." This example came from an e-mail to Susan Smith, Maine's MEA coordinator, from Julie-ann Edwards, a staff member at Measured Progress, the state's testing consultant based in Dover, N.H. The newspaper obtained the e-mail through its request for records and internal communications related to the test question. "This year, students often took issue with the prompt and fact sheet," Edwards wrote. "They reacted emotionally, spouted a bit, and did not use the fact sheet information to support their argument."

Edwards noted that eighth-graders who took the writing test in 2007 were able to draw from their own experience to sustain arguments for or against the following statement: "Rather than maintaining separate teams for boys' and girls' sports, a high school is considering combining teams and having a completely coed sports program." "That did not appear to be the case this year," Edwards wrote.

Patricia Ross, spokeswoman for Measured Progress, referred questions to state officials. Overall, less than 23 percent of eighth-graders who took the test last spring met or exceeded state writing standards, down from 48 percent in 2006-07, indicated a report from Measured Progress. That's a 52 percent decrease. The marked difference surprised education officials because the television prompt had done well when it was field tested in 2005-06, Smith said. The state started administering writing tests as part of the MEA in 2006-07. The MEA assesses reading and math skills

More here

Why we should teach the Bible in all our schools

Comment from Australia -- a much less religious place than the USA

Fewer and fewer people know the Bible, even among those with religious commitment. The latest National Church Life Survey of 500,000 people across 22 denominations, reported in yesterday's Herald, shows a whopping 59 per cent of respondents read the Bible only occasionally, rarely or never at all. But why would you bother reading it if you didn't have some belief the words of the good Book were true? What could motivate you to wade your way through those strange, cigarette-paper pages?

To my mind, there are still plenty of reasons to bother with the Bible. But at least one is indisputable, and it reveals a gaping hole in the Australian educational experience. You need to know the Bible in order to understand the history, literature and arts of Western culture. In fact, it is an educational and cultural tragedy that the Bible has quietly disappeared from the schooling experience of many Australians.

In the US, a major project to restore biblical literacy is under way, called the Bible Literacy Project. It is a joint venture of Jewish and Christian educators intended to "encourage and facilitate the academic study of the Bible in public schools". In a country where religion and public education mix like oil and water, it is no mean feat they have got their textbook, The Bible And Its Influence, into the curriculum in 40 states, and counting.

The project had its own statistical grounding. A Gallup Poll for the project found only 37 per cent of American high school students could recognise any of Jesus' words from the Sermon on the Mount (Australia would have to be worse). And yet 98 per cent of English teachers surveyed agreed knowing the Bible delivered a distinct academic advantage in the study of English literature.

I know it firsthand. I was the only one in my first year tutorial who understood what the title of John Bunyan's book, Grace Abounding To The Chief Of Sinners was about. (You need to be familiar with the first letter to Timothy, chapter one, verse 16, to get it.) And I laughed alone at the joke in Waiting For Godot when one of the tramps says, "One of the thieves was saved. It's a reasonable percentage." (See Jesus' crucifixion in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 23.) Two ticks to the boy with the Sunday school upbringing.

We need something similar to the Bible Literacy Project, something that enables the teaching of the Bible in the English, art, music and history classrooms. An Australian version of the project would see discussion of Les Murray, Tim Winton and John Coburn in place of Emerson, Melville and Abraham Lincoln. But the backbone is there in the American work: a textbook that respects the content and structure of the Bible, Hebrew and Christian, and then seeks to communicate to students its vast significance for understanding the Western tradition, and more.

There's no need to be sidetracked by six-day creationism, or Zionism, or the subtleties of denominational differences. This is about teaching the Bible in the same way that you teach scales for learning a musical instrument, or the colour palette for painting. It's necessary to the whole task of understanding what is going on in our culture, literature, and history.

I have a vested interest in biblical literacy; after all, I'm a Christian and I think there's something to the big, unfolding story it tells. But I'm also a literary academic, and I can't bear the biblical ignorance students display. Regardless of whether you find something alive and kicking in the Scriptures, there is a strong argument it should be somewhere near the foundation of Australian education.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

A nasty British school bullies handicapped kid

But publicity has them spinning. It's a government funded school with pretensions to quality. Sounds like it's just pretentious

Since losing his hair to a serious illness as a young child, Dale Platts and his baseball cap have become inseparable. The New York Yankees hat has not only helped the 13-year-old to cope with the cruel taunts of other children, but also protects his head and lashless eyes from the sun. But the schoolboy has now been ordered to remove the cap after his school decided it went against its uniform policy. Dale - who was warned that he would be taught in isolation if he refused - is now at home and missing classes.

His mother, Kenina Platts, 41, said: 'It's really cruel. I'm outraged the school can be so short-sighted. He wears the hat for medical reasons - it's not a fashion statement. 'Dale has to suffer at the hands of child bullies. Now the school itself is pressurising him and bullying him. He is too ashamed to take it off. 'To say he would be taught in isolation is madness. It is like putting him in solitary confinement. It is punishing him for being bald.'

Dale lost his hair, toenails and fingernails when he was five months old after suffering from severe bronchiolitis, a respiratory virus that left him in hospital for a week. During the illness, his immune system began to attack parts of his body, including his hair follicles, stopping the hair and nails from growing - a condition known as alopecia universalis. Dale lost his hair at five months old after suffering from bronchiolitis. The condition is the most severe form of alopecia, affecting one in 100,000 people, including Little Britain comedian Matt Lucas.

However, Dale, of Collingham, Nottinghamshire, was unconcerned by his baldness until he started secondary school aged 11 and the bullying began. He has had items thrown at his head and been taunted with cruel names and chants. He has not left his bedroom without wearing his baseball hat for two years. But at the end of last term, Maggie Brown, the deputy head of Robert Pattinson School in North Hykeham, Lincolnshire, told him the cap contravened its dress code.

Although he has been told he can wear a beanie hat as a compromise, Dale has complained the woolly hat causes eczema and headaches, and does not offer the same protection-against harsh fluorescent lighting and dust as his cap. He was sent home last Thursday, the first day of the new school term. Dale said: 'I just want to go to school and get no bother.'

A spokesman for the school said its uniform policy does not allow peaked caps or hoodies, but some allowances could be made for medical or religious reasons. In Dale's case, the school said it believed the family had agreed the teenager would wear a beanie hat.


Australia: Far-Left school curriculum coming up under PM Rudd

The latest chapter in the history wars returns one of its chief protagonists, Stuart Macintyre, to the front line, with his appointment by the National Curriculum Board to draft the course for schools from the first year of school through to Year 12. Professor Macintyre, the Ernest Scott professor of history at Melbourne University and chairman of Australian Studies at Harvard, was sidelined by the Howard government in its pursuit of a national curriculum for Australian history. But Professor Macintyre is one of four educators appointed to draft "framing documents" setting out a broad direction for the curriculum in four subjects.

The board has made another controversial appointment in its adviser on the English curriculum, selecting Sydney University literacy researcher Peter Freebody, who is identified with the critical literacy side of the so-called reading wars. The adviser on science is University of Canberra professor Denis Goodrum, and Monash University professor Peter Sullivan will draft the mathematics curriculum.

Professors Macintyre and Freebody were understood to be overseas yesterday and unavailable for comment, but NCB chairman Barry McGaw defended the appointment of both academics, saying they were leaders in their fields. Professor McGaw said Professor Macintyre - a former communist - was a "very sane historian" and the politics of Australian history was less of an issue with the board developing a broader history curriculum. He described Professor Freebody as a "fine scholar" and while his background was not in literature, the board would convene a panel of experts to work with him on that aspect of the curriculum.

"Almost anyone is controversial in literacy," he said. "If anyone doesn't have enemies, they probably haven't been engaged in the debate." Professor McGaw said the framing documents were intended as a starting point for public consultation. The final decision on the curriculum would rest with the board.

A spokeswoman for Education Minister Julia Gillard said she was confident in the judgment of the NCB, which is independent. But Wollongong University associate professor in history and politics Greg Melleuish said Professor Macintyre's appointment was akin to the Howard government appointing Keith Windschuttle, noted for his questioning of the Aboriginal genocide. "They seem to have selected the person who is most likely to raise the hackles on the other side," he said. "I would have thought it incumbent on whatever government it was, particularly in history, to try to depoliticise the process and Professor Macintyre's appointment won't do that."

Professor Macintyre is often described as a left-leaning historian and co-authored a book about the history wars, which debates the interpretation of European colonisation and its effect on indigenous people. The debate became heavily politicised after John Howard championed an alternate to the black-armband view of history.

Professor Freebody was a developer of a widely used model in the teaching of reading called the four pillars of literacy, which sees it as "not a 'scientific' decision, but rather as a moral, political and cultural decision". Literary academics say Professor Freebody has since moved away from that model, and now has a strong commitment to the need to teach phonics or the letter-sound relationships.

Professor Goodrum, who is working with the Australian Academy of Science in developing school curriculum, said the challenge was to reduce the amount covered in courses. "There's a tendency to succumb to breadth rather than depth of learning and that's one challenge to try to meet," he said.

Professor Sullivan said the challenge was to create a maths curriculum for the 21st century. "Children who start school at the same time as this new curriculum is implemented will enter the workforce in 2030 and they're not going to need the type of skills people needed in the 1950s," he said.

Opposition education spokesman Tony Smith said: "Stuart Macintyre brings a well-known, left-wing perspective to Australian history. We can only hope that Stuart Macintyre is able to suppress his views and develop a quality, non-biased, Australian history curriculum, but I'll guess we'll find that out when it's released."


My worst fears have been realised. No educational balance under Rudd

By Kevin Donnelly

Leading up to the federal election, I welcomed the ALP's policy calling for a national curriculum based, as it was, on a conservative agenda very much like the Howard government's approach to reshaping the teaching of history and English. The fear was that the devil would be in the detail and, given the cultural-Left's control over the curriculum, that the agenda would be captured by those opposed to the more academic and balanced approach.

Stuart Macintyre's appointment as a so-called eminent educationalist to oversee history as a subject in the national curriculum - primary to Year 12 and mandated for all schools at the start of 2011 - shows such fears were well-founded. Macintyre, from the University of Melbourne and one-time member of the Communist Party, is a staunch advocate of what he terms "history from below" - one that dismisses a grand narrative celebrating what we have achieved as a nation. For historians like Macintyre, unlike Geoffrey Blainey, who called for an end to what he termed a black-armband view of history, the subject is about privileging victim-groups and interpreting the past in terms of power relationships.

In his book The History Wars, published in 2003 and launched by Paul Keating, Macintyre condemns so-called conservatives such as Keith Windschuttle, Janet Albrechtsen and me for suggesting history teaching is unfairly slanted towards a left-wing, blinkered view. Macintyre continued his attack on the more traditional view of history at a recent Australian Council for Educational Research conference where he defended "educational progressivism". One wonders what Macintyre has to say about Julia Gillard, the Minister for Education, who describes herself as an educational traditionalist and argues that Australia was settled, not invaded.

The second appointment proving that the national curriculum has been captured by the usual suspects is that of Professor Peter Freebody, from the University of Sydney, who will oversee English as a subject. One of the main criticisms of the way English is now taught in schools and teacher education is the impact of critical literacy - a view of reading that asks students to analyse and deconstruct texts in terms of power relationships and theory. Critical literacy draws on the work of the Brazilian Marxist Paulo Freire and, as noted by one overseas academic: "Where Freire's ideas have found the most fertile soil in recent years is in Australia. The Australians have led the world in a movement now called critical literacy."

Freebody advocates critical literacy on the basis that being literate is no longer defined as being able to read and write to the required level. Instead, in the jargon loved by advocates of theory, it involves "a moral, political and cultural decision about the kind of literate practices that are needed to enhance people's agency over their life trajectories and to enhance communities' intellectual, cultural and semiotic resources in print/multi-mediated economies". Freebody, like the Australian Association for the Teachers of English, argues that any talk about a literacy crisis is manufactured and that teachers need to be wary of approaches to literacy that lend themselves to "centralised political surveillance and technocratic control in education".

Given Kevin Rudd's belief in academic standards and a back-to-basics approach, one would have hoped the national curriculum would represent a break with the politically correct, ideological view so prevalent over the past 10 years. Such is not the case.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The agonies of educational choice in Britain

The quality of British government ("State") schools is very uneven and is often very low, depending in part on where the school is located. Only the many private schools offer a reasonable guarantee of a good education. So the middle class try to send their kids to private schools in the hope of catching up with the upper class. But the upper class have the last laugh. They often send their kids to government schools! So what's a good British Leftist to do? The one below feels he has been cheated but still feels he has to send his kids to a private school! He explains:

Arabella Weir: "Why I would never send my kids to private school," she wrote in another newspaper last week. "The underlying snobbery and racism are shocking." Oh, I know. It's like the thought of another four years of Christian rightwingers in the White House. Don't get wound up, my wife says. But I can't help it. My kids dwell in a school playground that looks like happy hour at the United Nations but apparently we're all racists. I'm picking them up with Peter the plumber and Tom the builder but in Arabella's mind we're snobs. I wonder if her kids ever got met at the gates by a bloke in a van.

Apparently not, because she wrote that her ten-year-old daughter walks home from school through several council estates "without even thinking about it". I reckon mummy thinks about it, though. I reckon if you know how many council estates your children walk through you are not quite as down with the working class as you would like us to believe.

Really posh people don't send their children private these days. They go state and smug, judging all the hapless arrivistes scrabbling to give their children the half-chance that might protect them from having to get up before dawn each morning to run a greengrocer's like their dad. Gordon Brown's son, John, is going to the local community school where almost half the pupils have free meals, apparently. Big deal. Chances are that what with his father being the Prime Minister, junior might need less of a leg-up in his teenage years than some of his schoolfriends.

Ms Weir talked about sending her children to the less desirable of the two state primaries in her area - Camden, naturally - as if she were bestowing her bounteous gifts of spawn on the poor. She said that when her parents moved to Camden they were advised against it by friends because "people like us" didn't live near council-house folk. And that was the clue. Something was not quite right in that sentence. You know what it is. I'm talking to the state school attendees here. Were any of your classmates called Arabella? No, me neither. [In Britain, Arabella is a famously upper-class name]

Arabella may have attended state school in Camden, but there the gamble ended. Her father was Sir Michael Weir, Balliol scholar, Foreign Office diplomat, former Ambassador to Egypt and the man Jim Callaghan referred to as his mentor on Middle East politics. When Anwar Sadat was assassinated, Sir Michael was seated two rows behind. Sir Michael died two years ago leaving an obituary that read like a Who's Who of 20th-century history. It said that he persuaded Sheikh Ali bin Abdullah al-Thani of Qatar to abolish slavery, which my dad was definitely going to get round to, if he had not had 400 boiling chickens to gut at a market stall each day in East London.

"It's only information," sniffed Arabella of private education; but it isn't. It is an often forlorn attempt to level the playing field by those not born with connections that will put them at the front of every queue. State education can never provide the same opportunities for all because there will remain the sons and daughters of the truly powerful, the truly wealthy, the famous, who can call in favours from a network forever closed to the bloke with the plumbing business that has just had a good year. All he can do is try to buy his way in; this is why you rarely hear of a black guy with a guilt complex about getting his children privately educated.

My kids watch Doctor Who. The godfather to Arabella's kids is Doctor Who. David Tennant. You see the difference, Arabella, don't you? You don't need to send your little angels to private school. They are already in the Tardis, just like their mum.


Parents 'are neglecting manners'

But those parents are themselves the product of a Left-dominated educational system which told them that there is no such thing as right and wrong! Teachers have sown the wind and are reaping the whirlwind

ANGRY teachers are sick of lazy parents who leave it to them to educate their kids everythying from manners and morals to eating habits and hygiene. They say they are fed up with playing "mum and dad" in the classroom and have told families to lift their game by devoting more time and effort to teaching their children on social issues. Teachers told a survey they were now expected to take responsibility for educating children on a host of subjects parents no longer bothered with - including respect, good behaviour and punctuality.

Even the etiquette of mobile phone use is listed in a new six-step guide prepared for parents by an elite teacher group fed up with the rising burden imposed on classrooms. The new guide, Parent-Teacher Partnerships, has been produced by the Australian Scholarships Group and the National Excellence in Teaching Awards organisation. Its key message is, "Education doesn't only happen in the classroom". The guide provides tips to parents to take up some of the slack for teachers whose desks are piled with extra programs on road safety, personal health, obesity, safe foods, civic pride, values, drugs and alcohol, multi-culturalism, child protection, life skills, bullying and anti-homophobia.

Most surveyed teachers said that despite being overloaded with extra curriculum work and other duties, they were under pressure from the increasing load imposed by having responsibility for issues no longer taught at home. The teachers' concerns follow suspension data in NSW showing students as young as five are being sent home at a rate of 1682 a week for misconduct including disobedience and bad behaviour.

Mother-of-three Kim Soldo from Minto in Sydney's south-west agreed yesterday teachers needed more help from their students' families. "I think teachers are getting too much lumped on them," she said. "Education starts at home - if you don't pack the child a healthy lunch you can't expect a teacher to solve it. "There are too many things a teacher has to juggle and it is distracting them so much from the curriculum."

Principal of Sarah Redfern Public School at Minto Cheryl McBride said parents ideally should shoulder responsibility for teaching their kids about punctuality, healthy foods and the benefits of exercise. "Any time there is a popular issue there is a mentality that teachers can cover it," Ms McBride said. "The curriculum gets stretched and the result is you dilute the effectiveness of the things you are supposed to be teaching."


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Muslims condemn censorship of hadiths seeking dead Jews

University calls website statements 'truly despicable'

Muslim students on the campus of the University of Southern California have condemned a school decision to take down certain hadiths - or sayings of Muhammad - that called for dead Jews and had been posted on a student group's website. "We are outraged at the censorship of a complete religious and classic text without consulting us or any religious authority first," the Muslim Student Union said in a prepared statement. "The 'compendium' is now incomplete. There are verses in many religious texts (be it the Torah or the New Testament) that when taken out of context can be taken as offensive."

The decision to order the hadiths taken down from a site run by the Muslim Student Association, a separate organization, was made by Provost C.L. Max Nikias, according to a report today in the student newspaper, the Daily Trojan. He approved the deletion of the statements because they urged Muslims to kill Jews. The statements were in a collection of hadiths, or historical sayings attributed to Muhammad although not included in the Quran.

The call for the deaths of unbelievers has become an issue even for some Muslims. In the new book, "Why We Left Islam," authors Susan Crimp and Joel Richardson profiled those who now would be under their old religion's sentence of death for abandoning Muhammad's teachings. One of those whose testimony is included in the book, Ali, wrote, "The Quran is full of verses that teach killing of unbelievers and how Allah would torture them after they die."

The offending student group hadith had been posted on a USC server as part of the MSA website, which now is defunct, the report said. Concerns had been raised by Rabbi Aron Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, who approached university trustee Alan Casden, the Daily Trojan said. After a review by Nikias, he found the "passage cited is truly despicable . We did some investigations and have ordered the passage to be removed," the newspaper said.

The Muslim Student Union is the larger Muslim student group but is not associated with the MSA. Leaders declined Daily Trojan requests for an interview but issued a statement that Nikias' actions were unconscionable. "USC, as a place of higher education, has prided itself on academic freedom and freedom of speech . The administration's actions have gone behind the backs of their students and we have been left in the dark," the student group stated.

The head of the David Horowitz Freedom Center told the newspaper similar statements permeate Muslim Student Association websites around the nation. David Horowitz told the newspaper the MSA is "an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood." The call to kill Jews, he said, "may be part of the religious canon, but that doesn't make them less hateful."


Australia: Third graders win mathematics awards

ARE you smarter than a third grader? Don't count on it. A national maths contest has proven Victoria has its share of baby brainiacs. Seven budding mathematicians rose to the top in this year's Educational Assessment Australia maths contest: Eddie Yao from Kew East Primary, Mingyi Wu from Tucker Rd Bentleigh Primary; Kelvin Sun from Parktone Primary; William Ruan from Serpell Primary; Laura Hung from Sunshine Christian School, Martin Huang from Glendal Primary and Morris Gu from Southwood Boys Grammar are Victoria's youngest whizzes.

Each will receive a medal for scoring 39 out of 40 on the written test. Kelvin Sun, 9, was shocked at the result. "I'm so surprised that I got that mark," he said. The New South Wales University's EAA program tests 1.7 million students a year across Australia and NZ.


Notice something about the kids concerned? It's the usual Asian educational supremacy. And it's only because they work harder, right? So no white kids work hard? If you believe that you would believe anything. Asians are just BORN brighter at mathematics -- and lots else. If you can't cope with that, you've got a problem -- because it is reality. Australia is now about 10% Asian and is fortunate to have them

Monday, September 08, 2008

Madness in German academe again

Six weeks before the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing, the German Professor of Sports History, ARND KRUEGER, from the University of Goettingen maintained at an academic conference that the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches who were murdered on September 5, 1972 at the Olympic Games in Munich had essentially committed suicide for the sake of Israel. Ilan Mor, the charge d'affairs at the Israeli Embassy in Germany, condemned Krueger's speech as the most abnoxious form of dehumanizing the State of Israel.

We, the German section of the international organization Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, SPME-Germany, strongly condemn Krueger's assertion. We express our sincere sympathy with the families of the 11 murdered Israeli athletes and coaches in Munich.

Promptly after becoming aware of Krueger's speech, SPME-Germany sent a strongly worded letter to the president of the University of Goettingen saying that this is not the first time Krueger has uttered anti-Israel views, and we urged him to take action against that.

Unfortunately our letter was only answered evasively. The Board of the University of Goettingen distanced itself from Krueger's assertions but nevertheless declared on its home page that is not willing to take any further actions, because a supposedly scientific malconduct cannot be proved (see:

We agree with the judgement of the Central Council of Jews in Germany calling this conduct of a renowned German university a "declaration of moral bankruptcy". If such a statement will find followers in Germany, then the day will not be too far on which ugly anti semitic paroles could be presented as scientific findings in our country. We will do our best to stop this development.



Declared 'hero' led attack that murdered 36 civilians in Israel

A Palestinian Authority-allied university funded in part by the United Nations dedicated its graduation ceremony to one of the most infamous Palestinian terrorists, WND has learned. The Al Quds Open University dedicated the ceremony last weekend at a major campus in the West Bank city of Qalqiliya to the memory of female suicide bomber Dalal al-Mughrabi, who led an attack in March 1978 that killed a total of 36 Israelis.

According to a faculty member who helped lead the graduation, the master of ceremonies announced the year's graduation cycle was dedicated to the "hero" Mughrabi, who planned and led an attack in which she and 10 other Palestinians infiltrated Israel by sea, landed on a beach, killed an American photographer and then hijacked and blew up a crowded bus. Mughrabi long has been glorified as one of the most important "martyrs" in Palestinian society. Official PA institutions, such as girls' schools and police training camps, bear her name. Songs and poems in her honor are routinely broadcast on PA television and radio.

Israel had kept the remains of Mughrabi and the other terrorists in part so that Palestinian society would not make shrines of their burial places. But as part of a prisoner exchange deal with the Hezbollah terror group last month, Israel released Mughrabi's body and that of dozens of other Palestinians. In the controversial deal, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government also agreed to release Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar and four captured Lebanese guerrillas in exchange for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers.

Al Quds Open University functions like a community college and maintains campuses throughout the West Bank, with five additional centers in Gaza. The school's headquarters are in Ramallah, the de facto Palestinian capital. The university is funded by the PA and wealthy Palestinian donors as well as by the U.N. Development Program, or UNDP, the world body's global development network. Other contributors to the university include the French Agency for Development and the KFW Banking Group, a German development fund.

Several major U.S. charity funds, such as the Ford Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, contribute to the UNDP, but it could not immediately be determined whether those funds were used to donate to the Open University.


Sunday, September 07, 2008

Britain: White students 'avoid maths and science'

Thousands of high-flying white youngsters are giving up maths and science at 16 because they think they are not clever enough to succeed atA-Level, according to a report published today. The report reveals that white children who achieve A* and A grade passes at GCSE are far less likely than other ethnic groups to pursue the subjects to A-Level.

According to what is being billed as a "state of the nation" report on maths and science by The Royal Society, white youngsters are "known to develop the idea that success in mathematics comes from being naturally gifted". By contrast, Asian and Chinese youths, says the report, are more likely to believe that success comes from hard work.

It also warns that overall take-up of the subjects has fallen during the past decade. That means ministers are unlikely to reach targets they have set for qualified scientists and mathematicians to enable the UK to compete with other countries. "In chemistry, Pakistani students are 7.2 times more likely and Indian students 4.3 times more likely than white students with the same level of attainment at GCSE to progress toA-Level," the report says. "Bangladeshi, black and Chinese students are also more likely than white students with the same attainment to progress to A-Level. "A similar pattern can be seen in mathematics, with Chinese students being 4.7 times more likely to progress, Indian students 3.4 times more likely and Pakistani, Bangladeshi and black students also more likely to progress."

The report warns that - despite rises in the take-up of maths and science subjects in recent years - numbers are still well down on a decade ago. "Between 1996 and 2007, the proportions of 17-year-olds in each of the four UK nations taking chemistry, physics and mathematics have actually shrunk," it says. "In England, Northern Ireland and Wales no more than 6 per cent of 17-year-olds took A-Level physics in any one year. For chemistry, the figure was 7 per cent and for biology and mathematics it was 12 per cent."

Government attempts to reform the curriculum during the past 12 years to make the subjects more attractive have, the report adds, "had worryingly little impact on increasing the number of students taking maths and science in post-compulsory education". Those include rewriting the maths syllabus to make it more accessible - or "easier" as some critics would have it.

The report says that children's attitudes towards science become "less positive" at secondary school, with the lack of specialist teachers being cited as one reason pupils are put off the subject. "There is enduring concern that students do not find the science and mathematics they encounter at school as interesting as might be hoped. "Negative attitudes are linked to a view of the science curriculum in England as overly full, fact-laden and hard. The situation is worrying, given the needs of industry for science, technology, engineering and mathematical (STEM) skills, the Government's stated desire to increase the number of STEM graduates, and the need for more science and mathematics teachers." The Government, it says, wants at least 80 per cent of all pupils to take the equivalent of two science GCSE's. This figure has not been met since 2005.

Professor Michael Reiss, director of education at the Royal Society, said last night: "Science and mathematics education, particularly in England, has been assaulted by reform over the last 20 years. "Unless we break the cycle of politically motivated knee-jerk reactions and constant change, we are in danger of never giving reforms the time they need to bed in. "Therefore [we are] not getting to grips with what works and what doesn't."

A spokeswoman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said: "Recent exam results tell a different story and show that our reforms are having a positive effect. The number of young people taking maths and science A-Levels continues to increase and this year the number of young people taking maths A-Level was at its highest for a decade."


Britain: Handwriting standards blamed as pupils ask for exam 'scribes'

Thousands of teenagers need "scribes" to help them write their A-level and GCSE papers because they are incapable of answering questions in longhand themselves, a study has revealed. The number of requests for "ghost writers" to help pupils do exams rose from 28,324 in 2005 to 40,215 last year, while the number of students asking to use a word processor or computer also soared by more than 50 per cent, to 21,713. Requests for practical assistance short of a "scribe", such as a teacher sitting in to help a pupil to write legibly, also increased.

Experts say more scripts than ever are illegible because the email and text generation are unable to write properly by hand. Teachers marking this summer's English, drama and citizenship GCSEs for the Edexcel exam board reported: "Some handwriting is a pleasure to read but an increasing minority is bordering on the illegible." They added: "Centres [where examinations are held] are asked to emphasise to candidates the importance of writing answers that are not only legible but coherent. Centres might wish to consider the use of scribes or word processors in more cases - especially for those candidates with known handwriting difficulties." In a report on this year's English exam, Edexcel added: "Centres should continue to stress to candidates the importance of clear handwriting which is not too small ... The actual quality of handwriting in some instances is such as to make responses virtually illegible."

Their concerns mirror those expressed by Scottish examiners, who have called for handwriting classes to be reintroduced because so many pupils cannot write longhand. They say teenagers who spend hours each week sending emails and text messages have lost the ability to work with pen and paper. As a result, a large number of Higher exams in English could not be marked because of illegible handwriting.

The latest report from exam assessors says "markers are increasingly concerned about handwriting that is difficult to read" and that dedicated classes should be held for "candidates whose handwriting is seriously weak or known to become so under pressure".

Nick Seaton, of the Campaign for Real Education, said yesterday: "This suggests to me that youngsters should be spending less time on computers and more on improving their handwriting skills. "Examinations are supposed to be a test of basic skills and, if they can't do the basics, they shouldn't be getting someone else to do them for them. Emails and text messaging have their place but not at the expense of basic skills."

The rise in requests for handwriting has prompted Ofqual, the new regulator of exams in England, to promise it will monitor the position. "The number of candidates approved for access arrangements has increased this year," it said. "This could be due to a greater awareness amongst exam officers in schools and colleges of what candidates are entitled to. As the regulator, we will closely monitor the situation to ensure that the system remains fair for all students." Exam boards pointed out that the figures related to the total number of scripts with which a pupil had asked for help - saying that a candidate might require help with more than one exam.

However, sources said the requests were only likely to be made in subjects which required detailed writing, such as English, history and citizenship, and it was unlikely that a single candidate would need help with more than three exams. To satisfy examiners that a request for a scribe is valid, a candidate must either have a physical disability, a sudden injury or be assessed by a qualified psychologist or specialist teacher. They are eligible for a scribe if they can prove they cannot write more than 10 words a minute.