Saturday, October 18, 2008

Ayers Is No Education 'Reformer'

The new media spin is worse than Obama's original evasion


One of the most misleading statements during the presidential debates was when Barack Obama claimed that William Ayers was just "a guy in the neighborhood."

But that piece of spin is nothing compared to the false story now being peddled by Mr. Obama's media supporters that Mr. Ayers -- who worked with the Democratic nominee for years to disperse education grants through a group called the Chicago Annenberg Challenge -- has redeemed his terrorist past. In the New York Times, for example, Frank Rich writes that "establishment Republicans and Democrats alike have collaborated with the present-day Ayers in educational reform."

I've studied Mr. Ayers's work for years and read most of his books. His hatred of America is as virulent as when he planted a bomb at the Pentagon. And this hatred informs his educational "reform" efforts. Of course, Mr. Obama isn't going to appoint him to run the education department. But the media mainstreaming of a figure like Mr. Ayers could have terrible consequences for the country's politics and public schools.

The education career of William Ayers began when he enrolled at Columbia University's Teachers College at the age of 40. He planned to stay long enough to get a teaching credential. But he experienced an epiphany in a course offered by Maxine Greene, who urged future teachers to tell children about the evils of the existing, oppressive capitalist social order. In her essay "In Search of a Critical Pedagogy," for example, Ms. Greene wrote of an education that would portray "homelessness as a consequence of the private dealings of landlords, an arms buildup as a consequence of corporate decisions, racial exclusion as a consequence of a private property-holder's choice." That was music to the ears of the ex-Weatherman. Mr. Ayers acquired a doctorate in education and landed an Ed school appointment at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC).

Chicago might seem to be the least likely place for Mr. Ayers to regain social respectability for himself and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn. After all, the Windy City was where their Weathermen period began in 1969, with Mr. Ayers, Ms. Dohrn and their comrades marauding through the Miracle Mile, assaulting cops and city officials and promulgating slogans such as "Kill Your Parents." But Chicago's political culture had already begun to change by the time the couple returned in 1987. And the city would change even more dramatically when Richard Daley Jr. became mayor in 1990.

Daley the son has maintained as tight a rein over the city's Democratic Party machine as did his father, doling out patronage jobs and contracts to loyalists and tolerating as much corruption as in the old days. But unlike his father, he was ready to cut deals with veterans of the hard-core, radical left who were working for their revolutionary ideas from within the system they once sought to destroy from without. There is no lack of such veterans. One of Chicago's congressmen, Bobby Rush, is a former chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party; Louis Gutierrez, a former leader of a Puerto Rican liberation group, the Puerto Rican Socialist Party, is another.

In this Chicago, where there are no enemies on the left, Mr. Ayers's second career flourished. It didn't hurt that his father, Thomas Ayers, was the CEO of the Commonwealth Edison company, a friend of both Daleys and a major power broker in the city.

Mr. Ayers was hired by the Chicago public schools to train teachers, and played a leading role in the $160 million Annenberg Challenge grant that distributed funds to a host of so-called school-reform projects, including some social-justice themed schools and schools organized by Acorn. Barack Obama became the first chairman of the board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge organization in 1995. When asked for an opinion on the Obama/Ayers connection, Mayor Daley told the New York Times that Mr. Ayers had "done a lot of good in this city and nationally." In fact, as one of the leaders of a movement for bringing radical social-justice teaching into our public school classrooms, Mr. Ayers is not a school reformer. He is a school destroyer.

He still hopes for a revolutionary upheaval that will finally bring down American capitalism and imperialism, but this time around Mr. Ayers sows the seeds of resistance and rebellion in America's future teachers. Thus, education students signing up for a course Mr. Ayers teaches at UIC, "On Urban Education," can read these exhortations from the course description: "Homelessness, crime, racism, oppression -- we have the resources and knowledge to fight and overcome these things. We need to look beyond our isolated situations, to define our problems globally. We cannot be child advocates . . . in Chicago or New York and ignore the web that links us with the children of India or Palestine."

The readings Mr. Ayers assigns to his university students are as intellectually diverse as a political commissar's indoctrination session in one of his favorite communist tyrannies. The list for his urban education course includes the bible of the critical pedagogy movement, Brazilian Marxist Paolo Freire's "Pedagogy of the Oppressed"; two books by Mr. Ayers himself; and "Teaching to Transgress" by bell hooks (lower case), the radical black feminist writer.

Two years ago Mr. Ayers shared with his students a letter he wrote to a young radical friend: "I've been told to grow up from the time I was ten until this morning. Bullshit. Anyone who salutes your 'youthful idealism' is a patronizing reactionary. Resist! Don't grow up! I went to Camp Casey [Cindy Sheehan's vigil at the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas] in August precisely because I'm an agnostic about how and where the rebellion will break out, but I know I want to be there and I know it will break out." (The letter is on his Web site,

America's ideal of public schooling as a means of assimilating all children (and particularly the children of new immigrants) into a common civic and democratic culture is already under assault from the multiculturalists and their race- and gender-centered pedagogy. Mr. Ayers has tried to give the civic culture ideal a coup de grace, contemptuously dismissing it as nothing more than what the critical pedagogy theorists commonly refer to as "capitalist hegemony."

In the world of the Ed schools, Mr. Ayers's movement has established a sizeable beachhead -- witness his election earlier this year as vice president for curriculum of the American Education Research Association, the nation's largest organization of education professors and researchers. If Barack Obama wins on Nov. 4, the "guy in the neighborhood" is not likely to get an invitation to the Lincoln bedroom. But with the Democrats controlling all three branches of government, there's a real danger that Mr. Ayers's social-justice movement in the schools will get even more room to maneuver and grow.


Australia: Football "too rough" for schoolkids

There are many reasons to say that very active sports are good for kids so banning them for everybody instead of dealing with the troublemakers is just cowardice

Touch football and soccer have been banned from the playground at Coombabah State School, as well as rougher full contact games such as rugby league, AFL and rugby union.

Yesterday, a number of outraged students took part in a protest against the new rules. But the school says those students could now face disciplinary action.The blanket ban on all contact sports, which only applies to Year 7 students, comes after reports of fighting during games. The schoolyard games, including football and soccer, which past generations can recall playing every morning tea and lunch breaks, often without supervision, are now being referred to by the school as 'too rough'.The ban will be in place until the end of Term 4, which finishes on December 12. Students will still be allowed to play alternative games during play times, provided they do not fall under the category of those considered 'contact'.

An Education Queensland spokesman from the Department of Education, Training and the Arts said the move was necessary."The safety and welfare of all students is the school's highest priority," he said."The school has been forced to restrict Year 7 students from taking part in contact sports, following a number of recent incidents that have escalated into fights."Coombabah State School does not tolerate bad behaviour, particularly physical aggression between any students."

The department said the ruling by the school had the full support of staff and the school P&C.However, a concerned grandfather, who has a grandchild at the school, contacted The Gold Coast Bulletin yesterday to complain about the new rules.He said he was worried his grandchild might be expelled and did not wish to comment further or be named.

Without the lunchtime games, coupled with the crisis most schools are facing with a lack of volunteer coaches available to supervise team games, some students may miss out on playing contact sports altogether.

Education Queensland said disciplinary action had been taken against students caught fighting and those who showed disrespect to staff trying to manage the situation. "Other students who took part in an unruly protest yesterday against the school directive have been warned they may also face disciplinary action," he said.

The department said the school would be happy to discuss its course of action with any concerned parents.

School principal John Hoskings was not available to comment on the issue yesterday. However, on the school's website, Mr Hoskings' welcome message for parents who have enrolled their students at the school says: "We trust that you and your children will enjoy being a part of our school community and that you will feel confident to join in our school life in whatever capacity you can."It is important for your child that parents and staff have a positive relationship."To this end, we encourage you to make good use of all available channels of communication, thereby providing the best possible support for your child while he or she is at our school."

Coombabah State School was originally built to service the growing population north of Biggera Waters and classes began in 1981.About 850 students attend the school, which is located on Oxley Drive at Paradise Point.


Update: Publicity works wonders

A Gold coast school which caused uproar when it banned touch footy and soccer in lunchbreaks has now suspended six students for rough play. The entire year 7 level at Coombabah State School has been barred from the lunchtime sports for the term because of bouts of fighting that occur during games. Queensland Sports Minister Judy Spence said yesterday the school might have over-reacted, saying teachers needed to step up playground supervision.


Australia: Grammar returns in English curriculum revamp

Long overdue -- so long overdue that one wonders where they will find teachers to teach it

Basic English and grammar lessons, downgraded decades ago, will be restored in schools to boost students' slipping spelling and writing skills. Traditional lessons are to be reinstated nationwide after complaints that pupils struggle to form proper sentences and don't understand nouns, verbs, adjectives and punctuation. Schools will also revert to a focus on teaching the alphabet through sounding out letters, known as phonics, rather than by showing pictures on a card displaying the word beneath. It was also announced this week that maths in Australian schools will get a makeover.

The National Curriculum Board will today unveil for public comment recommendations to revamp English from kindergarten to year 12. "Pop culture" English that studies soap operas and mobile phone text-messaging is expected to be scaled down. The emphasis will be on classics by writers such as Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and Jane Austen, and works by modern authors such as Tim Winton and Peter Carey. The study of literature will be broadened to embrace modern digital technology such as the internet and CD ROMs.

Under proposed changes, bright students in primary school will be given more advanced books to read, and elementary literacy will be reinforced for secondary students falling behind.

It has been revealed that too many students battle to read and write properly. One in five who sat national literacy and numeracy tests in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 this year either fell below the standard or only reached the minimum. Employers, recruitment companies and universities have bemoaned school-leavers' sloppy spelling and writing. "We have to do better," National Curriculum Board chairman Prof Barry McGaw conceded. "Establishing a national English curriculum is an opportunity to raise standards for all young people and to ensure no one slips through the cracks."

The advice is that the subject should be broken into three areas: English as a language, including grammar, punctuation and spelling; literature; and the application of skills to achieve confident and accurate speaking and writing. "A focus on grammar, spelling and conventions of punctuation will be necessary across all stages of schooling," the paper says.

The proposal follows a backlash over the 1970s shift from a grammar-based curriculum. Monash University deems the situation so dire that it's introducing remedial grammar and punctuation classes. The draft says that books, novels, short stories, poetry, drama, movies and documentaries should be introduced progressively from early years.

Education Minister Julia Gillard this week raised concerns about falling reading performance among 15-year-olds. Australian students still score above the OECD average, but have slumped from second to sixth in recent years. The National Curriculum Board is remodelling English, history, maths and science curriculums. The new framework will be introduced by 2011.


Friday, October 17, 2008

Imposing San Francisco Values On First-Graders

Thank God for San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. If, when the dust settles at the ballot box this Nov. 4, California voters definitively repudiate the California Supreme Court's unjust gay marriage ruling by voting Yes on Proposition 8, Mayor Gavin Newsom will be a big part of the reason why. Even the San Francisco Chronicle acknowledged on Monday that in recent weeks, Mayor Newsom's role in the gay marriage debate "has turned decidedly unheroic." "He's become everyone's worst nightmare," said Barbara O'Connor, a professor of political communications at Sacramento State University

Gay marriage is coming "whether you like it or not," Mayor Newsom intones in news clips featured in the first round of Yes-on-Proposition-8 ads, looking unbearably smug and arrogant in dictating the future of marriage for the rest of California from his San Francisco perch. (See the ads for yourself at

Public opinion polls showed a dramatic surge in support for Prop 8 after these Yes-on-Propostion-8 ads featuring Newsom hit the airwaves. Faced with a dramatic drop in public support once the real potential consequences of gay marriage for parents, public schools, church groups and others are highlighted, gay marriage advocates have responded with a rebuttal ad. (See it at

Their allegedly pro-gay marriage message? Labeling the concerns that public schools will teach about gay marriage, if we permit gay marriage to remain the law of the land, as just "lies!" Right. What do gay marriage advocates think public schools should teach about marriage if gay marriage is the law of the land? Could we have a reasonably honest discussion please about what you have in store for California's first-graders? Instead of standing their ground and defending their moral views, gay marriage advocates are simply pretending to voters that legalizing gay marriage won't affect anyone else at all.

Marriage is a publicly affirmed status -- a shared social ideal -- not just a private act. When the government says gay unions are the ideal -- exactly the same as husband and wife -- a whole lot of people who disagree are going to find life gets a whole lot harder, especially when it comes to raising our children.

So what does Mayor Newsom, the poster boy for arrogance among gay marriage advocates, do in the middle of this campaign to deceive California voters about the real consequences of gay marriage? Why, he presides over a lesbian teacher's wedding ceremony at City Hall, to which public school children are bused, at taxpayer expense, during school hours. (Newsom claims he wasn't aware of that fact when he agreed to preside.)

That's right. Taxpayers paid for first-graders to take time from reading, writing and 'rithmetic to strew rose petals after a lesbian marriage ceremony -- no doubt in the belief that there was something educational about witnessing a historic civil rights victory the courts have endorsed as the law of the land.

Let me be clear about one thing: I know many, many gay people who have no truck with the arrogance of so many leaders of the gay marriage movement in California (see for example I even know some gay people (though, not very many) who think marriage means a husband and wife, and that the California solution struck down by the courts -- civil unions for gay couples, marriage remains marriage -- is common sense, not some kind of gross injustice motivated by seething hatred to gay folks.

If Prop 8 loses, expect a lot more public schools to join Mayor Newsom's crusade to promote gay marriage, "whether you like it or not." People who think that's a good thing should have the decency to stand up before California voters and say so, instead of pretending it's not going to happen. It already has.


Australia: The high standards of government schools again

No wonder around 40% of Australian teenagers go to private schools. Government education departments don't give a stuff about anything -- except their tea-breaks, of course. I worked in one once so the story below does not surprise me. "Just don't bother us", is their attitude.

It's the poor who have to put up with all this crap, of course. So we see what the "compassion" of a Leftist government really leads to: The opposite of what it claims. They don't give a stuff about the poor. All they care about is sounding good

The mother of a student at a country primary school plagued by years of inappropriate sexual behaviour between its pupils has hit out at the lack of action by authorities. As revealed by The Advertiser yesterday, a country primary school has reported to the Education Department at least 60 incidents of inappropriate sexual behaviour by its students in the past three years. Among the incidents were boys exposing themselves in class, throwing girls to the ground and simulating sex, pulling down other students' pants and underwear, writing sexually explicit stories and the use of threatening sexual language among students. In one case, a student brought a plastic penis to school and sexually harassed another student. The school's plight only became public after the 28-year-old mother complained to her local MP.

The MP used Freedom of Information laws to obtain pages of school incident reports detailing a catalogue of shocking sexual behaviour since 2006. The mother yesterday told The Advertiser her five-year-old son had only been at the school for a fortnight when he was urinated on twice by another student. "This same child later on knocked a toilet door off and asked him to touch his penis, and this same child was also asking my son and other children at the school for sex," she said.

"We reported it to the school. The school counsellor then told us she had already been into the reception classroom a couple of times to talk about inappropriate sexual behaviour. "As parents, we were never told a counsellor had been having sex education talks with our reception-aged children."

The mother said her 11-year-old daughter also had been the victim of violent sexual threats by boys at the school, who had talked of raping her. "Teachers dismissed that as children just learning a new word over the holidays," she said. The mother, who has since pulled her son out of the school, said Education Department officials only took her complaints seriously after she told them she had met with her local MP.

University of South Australia child development professor Freda Briggs told ABC radio yesterday that "this is the tip of the iceberg". "I'm getting desperate parents ringing me every other week about this sort of thing," she said. "We are dealing with teachers ignorance and also ignorance in the department."

Opposition education spokesman David Pisoni yesterday called on Education Minister Jane Lomax-Smith to explain what was being done to address the problem. "The Minister repeatedly refused on ABC radio today to reveal what steps the department had taken to protect children and stop the extraordinary behaviour involving children as young as five," he said. "It is not good enough for the Minister to say these incidents happen in disadvantaged schools and blame forms of media. "This is totally inappropriate sexual behaviour and parents want to know what the Minister is doing about it."

But Dr Lomax-Smith accused the Opposition of using children to "score political points". "I have been assured that the school and district have dealt with the incidents immediately and appropriately when they occur, including advising relevant authorities where necessary," she said.

Education Department chief executive Chris Robinson said swift action had been taken, but he remained "very concerned" by groups of students who were "multiple" offenders. He said some students had been suspended, mandatory reports had been made to child protection authorities and students and parents had been counselled. Police have not been involved, he said.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Charter Success in L.A.: School choice in South Central

With economic issues sucking up so much political oxygen this year, K-12 education hasn't received the attention it deserves from either Presidential candidate. The good news is that school reformers at the local level continue to push forward.

This month the Inner City Education Foundation (ICEF), a charter school network in Los Angeles, announced plans to expand the number of public charter schools in the city's South Central section, which includes some of the most crime-ridden neighborhoods in the country. Over the next four years, the number of ICEF charters will grow to 35 from 13. Eventually, the schools will enroll one in four students in the community, including more than half of the high school students.

The demand for more educational choice in predominantly minority South Los Angeles is pronounced. The waitlist for existing ICEF schools has at times exceeded 6,000 kids. And no wonder. Like KIPP, Green Dot and other charter school networks that aren't constrained by union rules on staffing and curriculum, ICEF has an excellent track record, particularly with black and Hispanic students. In reading and math tests, ICEF charters regularly outperform surrounding traditional public schools as well as other Los Angeles public schools.

ICEF has been operating since 1994, and its flagship school has now graduated two classes, with 100% of the students accepted to college. By contrast, a state study released in July reported that one in three students in the L.A. public school system -- including 42% of black students -- quits before graduating, a number that has grown by 80% in the past five years.

Despite this success, powerful unions like the California Teachers Association and its political backers continue to oppose school choice for disadvantaged families. Last year, Democratic state lawmakers, led by Assembly Speaker Fabian Nœez, tried to force Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign a bill that would have made opening a new charter school in the state next to impossible. Mr. Nunez backed down after loud protests from parents in poorer neighborhoods.

School reformers in New York, Ohio, Florida, Connecticut, Utah and Arizona have faced similar challenges of late. Last year in Texas, where 81% of charter school students are minorities (versus 60% in traditional public schools), nearly 17,000 students had to be placed on charter waiting lists. Texas is currently bumping up against an arbitrary cap on the number of charters that can open in the state. Unless the cap is lifted by state lawmakers, thousands of low-income Texas children will remain stuck in ineffective schools.

Back in California, ICEF says that its ultimate goal is to produce 2,000 college graduates each year, in hopes that the graduates eventually will return to these underserved communities and help create a sustainable middle class. Given that fewer than 10% of high-school freshmen in South Los Angeles currently go on to receive a college diploma, this is a huge challenge. Resistance from charter school opponents won't make it any easier.


British government scraps public examinations for 14-year-olds

Being in favour with the teacher is all that matters now. The teenage years bring big changes. Assessment at this age could detect students who are going off the rails and help them to straighten out

National school testing for 14-year-olds in England is to be scrapped as part of a major shake up of testing in primary and secondary education, the Government announced today. Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary, said that Key Stage 3 National Curriculum tests, known as Sats, would be replaced by better and more intensive classroom assessment by teachers and more frequent reporting of pupils' progress to parents.

As part of the reforms, an annual School Report Card will be drawn up for every school in England, awarding it a grade from A-F. The report card will show pupil test scores as well as information on attendance, pupil motivation, and other non-academic measures. The report cards replicate a system currently operating in New York City, which provides parents with a "simpler more understandable and more comprehensive view" of individual school performance, Mr Balls told MPs in the House of Commons.

National Key Stage Two testing for 11-year-olds at the end of primary school will remain. A new expert panel will be created to advise on the implementation of the reforms.

The Conservatives welcomed the move, while the National Union of Teachers called for a suspension of all testing in primary schools.

Mr Balls denied that the measures were a U-Turn, but accepted that the decision to scap the Key Stage 3 tests had been based on the view of both head teachers and education experts who believed the tests, introduced by the Conservatives in 1993, had out lived their usefulness. In recent years, Key Stage 3 tests for 14-year-olds have routinely been condemned as unnecessary because GCSEs and A-Level exams already provide an objective and externally marked measure of school performance.

"These reforms will provide more regular and more comprehensive information to parents about their progress, support heads (and) teachers, to make sure that every child can succeed and strengthen our ability to hold all schools to account, as well as the public's ability to hold government to account," Mr Balls said. "Key Stage Two tests are here to stay. They are essential to give parents, teachers and the public the information they need about the progress of every primary aged child and every primary school. "The final year of primary school is critical to prepare children for the step up to secondary school", he said.

More here

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Leftist racism in Arizona And Nebraska

The invaluable Center for Equal Opportunity has recently released studies documenting the degree of preference given to minority applicants to law schools in Arizona and Nebraska. As I've written to my friend Roger Clegg, CEO's president and general counsel, he publishes important reports faster than I can read them.

Defenders of preferential treatment usually begin their defense by denying that they practice it. Thus nearly a year ago I quoted Doug MacEachern, an editorial writer at the Arizona Republic, who predicted that the Arizona Civil Rights Initiative would fail because Arizona is "different" from California, Washington, and Michigan.
... Arizona is different from those states in one key respect. And it's not something that necessarily reflects well on this state: College admissions programs are the primary battleground of the racial-preference wars, and the fact is Arizona colleges are not terribly selective about who gets to attend.

Actually, it failed because thugs from ACORN and other groups succeeded in preventing the gathering of the required number of signatures, but that's another story.

Back to this story, the degree of racial preference in admissions to the law schools at the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, and the University of Nebraska, Clegg and CEO Chairman Linda Chavez noted (in the press releases accompanying the reports, which can be found on the CEO sites linked above):
CEO chairman Linda Chavez said: "Racial discrimination in university admissions is always appalling. But the degree of discrimination we have found here, at both schools but especially at Arizona State, is off the charts." She noted that the odds ratio favoring African Americans over whites was 250 to 1 at the University of Arizona and 1115 to 1 at Arizona State. "As a result, nearly a thousand white students during the years we studied were denied admission even though they had higher undergraduate GPAs and LSATs than the average African American student who was admitted--and over a hundred Asian and Latino students were in the same boat with them."

CEO president Roger Clegg agreed, and stressed that, not only was race weighed, but it was weighed much more heavily that residency status. "For instance, a white Arizonan in 2007 was about eight times less likely to be admitted to the University of Arizona than a black out-of-state applicant, and at Arizona State he would be twelve times less likely to be admitted."

Arizona, it turns out, is not so "different" after all. And Nebraska is no better. At the University of Nebraska law school, Chavez noted,
the odds ratio favoring African Americans over whites was 442 to 1. She pointed out, "During the two years studied (the entering classes of 2006 and 2007), 389 whites were rejected by the law school despite higher LSATs and undergraduate GPAs than the average black admittee. Racial discrimination in university admissions is always appalling. But the extremely heavy weight given to race by the University of Nebraska College of Law is off the charts."

At the state-supported law school in Nebraska, as in Arizona, race was also weighted much more heavily than residence. As Clegg noted,
a white resident of Nebraska in 2007 was more than twenty times less likely to be admitted than an African American applicant from out of state."

I urge you to read both studies, as I intend to do. Meanwhile, as an appetizer, you should take a look at the graphs from them presented on TaxProfBlog. These graphs reveal that for most of the years studied at all three schools the 75th percentile score on the LSAT for entering black students was lower than the 25th percentile score for entering whites.

Also about a year ago I quoted the Dean of the University of Arizona law school, Toni Massaro, who proudly defended her school's use of race preferences because of the "diversity" the preferentially admitted provided to the non-"diverse" students.
Consider, she suggested, teaching constitutional law to a class which includes a Native American student from a reservation with different cultural and legal traditions. "It's a positive value that informs the class discussion,'' she said.

As I pointed out at the time, one problem here is that diversity, even pigmentary "diversity," can be provided by means that do not require pervasive racial discrimination in admissions. It could also be achieved, for example, by something as unthreatening to the "without regard" principle as inviting guest speakers to the campus.

Let me conclude now the same way I concluded then (what's the point of having your own blog if you can't quote yourself at will?):
Actually, inviting guests to articulate "different cultural and legal traditions" would also have the virtue of lifting from the admissions committees the obligation they no doubt now feel to admit some CEOs to enliven and inform discussions of corporate law, old people for their essential views on trusts and estates, fishermen and ship captains for their angle on law of the sea, a boatload of foreigners from all over to provide international perspectives on international law, and tax cheats and felons for their unique and essential points of view on tax and criminal law

Source (See the original for links)

Australia: School science curriculum to be further watered down

The kids are going to get vague generalizations and warm feelings instead of knowledge -- another unfortunate following of the British trend

The traditional school science subjects of biology, physics and chemistry will disappear until the senior years of school under a draft national science curriculum that proposes teaching "science for life". The curriculum, released yesterday, proposes one science course through to Year 10 in which students will explore the big ideas of science, drawing on knowledge from the three traditional disciplines. In the senior years of 11 and 12, the draft proposes three common courses in physics, chemistry and biology, and suggests a fourth more general science course with an emphasis on the applications of science.

The draft is a fundamental shift in the approach to teaching science, away from a focus on facts to fostering students' own inquiries and experiments. It argues that a science curriculum should develop science competencies, give students an understanding of the big ideas, expose them to a range of science experiences relevant to everyday life, and give them an understanding of the major concepts from the sciences. "It is also acknowledged that there is a core body of knowledge and understanding that is fundamental to the understanding of major ideas," it says.

The author of the draft, science education professor Denis Goodrum of Canberra University, said the major challenge of a national science curriculum was to engage and interest students by linking science to their everyday lives. "What we have to do within our curriculum is marry contemporary issues with underlying basic science," he said. Professor Goodrum said the curriculum was not simply to train future scientists but had to provide all students with the scientific skills and knowledge to understand the voltage in their homes or complex issues such as climate change. "Surely a lawyer should have a better understanding of scientific principles in a rich way, just as a medical doctor or a businessman or social worker," he said. "All these areas have a social scientific dimension which is important."

The proposal to drop the traditional disciplines was supported by science education professor at Flinders University, Martin Westwell, who said the advances in science happened at the boundaries where the disciplines intersected. Professor Westwell said the only place where people studied or practised biology, physics and chemistry was in universities. "If you ask a professional scientist what their speciality is, they don't identify as a physicist, biologist or chemist but as a neuroscientist or other," he said. "If you push them, they'll tell you the name that was over the door of the faculty where they did their degree."

Professor Westwell said learning scientific facts and knowledge was fundamental, but had to be balanced with teaching scientific concepts and inquiries. "Perhaps there's been an overemphasis on the stuff taught in science rather than learning about science, about some of the big ideas," he said.

Professor Goodrum said contemporary issues should be included in the curriculum as a way of providing a meaningful context to students, such as cloning, stem cell research, global warming, water conservation and recycling, and hybrid cars.

The draft curriculum blames science curriculums of the past for being too full of content, which students memorise rather than understand, for turning students off the subject. The draft proposes science education start in early childhood, with children's play used to develop an awareness of their world through observation and using their senses. In primary school, the curriculum focus is recognising questions that can be investigated scientifically and investigating them.

The big ideas cover order, change, patterns and system, with suggested topics including weather and how clouds form, sound and how it travels, plants and their reproduction, and the night sky covering the stars andplanets. In Years 7 to 10, the curriculum focuses on explaining phenomena involving science and its applications, covering topics from earth and space science, life science and physical science. The big ideas to be studied cover energy, sustainability, equilibrium and interdependence, form and function, evidence, models and theories.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

UK's Largest Teachers' Union Lobbies to Legalise consensual Sex with older Students

Criminalizing otherwise legal sex because one of the parties is a teacher does seem anomalous

The largest UK teachers' union wants the government to decriminalise sex with students who are over the legal age of consent. Chris Keates, the general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), said that teachers who have sex with pupils over the age of consent should not be placed on the sex offenders register. Keates called prosecution for statutory rape "a real anomaly in the law that we are concerned about."

NASUWT complained that media reports had misrepresented their position. "To describe the NASUWT's comments on this as 'teachers want the right to bed pupils' as one report has done, simply for pointing out an anomaly which criminalises a teacher but would leave any other adult free from prosecution for the same type of relationship, is a travesty."

Gregory Carlin, however, a child protection activist and head of the Irish Anti-Trafficking Coalition, said that such ideas were another sign of the erosion of legal protections for young people against exploitation. "If the NASUWT philosophy has its day," he said, "exploiting a 16 year old in a brothel would carry no extra penalty." Under the same logic, he said, "Jail guards would be able to take their pick from their charges and foster parents would be spared prosecution for having sex with foster children."

In an official statement dated October 6th, Keates said, "From the time the Sexual Offences legislation was first drafted in 2001 the NASUWT consistently raised the significant anomaly within its provisions. A teacher having a consensual relationship with a pupil over the age of 16 on the roll of the school in which they teach is liable under the Act to prosecution and being placed on the sex offenders register. "However, if the same teacher has a consensual relationship with a young person of the same age who attends another school they would not be prosecuted or classed as sex offenders."

Carlin told that Keates "knows what she was asking for," which is simply to "legalise sex crimes." List 99 is a secret register of men and women who are barred from working with children by the Department of Education and Skills. Carlin said, "Thousands of teachers are referred to List 99 each year, most of them from the NASUWT. In fact, the referrals doubled between 2003 and 2005."



Three current articles below

Greater serve of history in national curriculum

History lessons will be soon be compulsory for every Australian student until the end of Year 10 under radical national curriculum proposals. The Rudd Government is pushing for extended and compulsory history subjects across Australia as educators survey a generation of students with "gaps in their history". The National Curriculum Board will this week unveil its proposals to transform history, science, maths and English subjects in our classrooms from 2011.

Arguably the most controversial of these reforms is the content and structure of history taught to students from Cape York to Perth. The NCB proposes the subject become compulsory and stand alone with about 100 lessons a year from Years 7 to 10, and a "distinctive branch of learning" constituting 10 per cent of all primary class time. The NCB also suggests what and when matters of ancient, modern, Australian and world histories should be learned by students.

Currently most Queensland schools teach history to Year 10 as part of the studies of society and environment (SOSE) subject, which also integrates geography and social studies. Less than half of Australian students now learn history as a stand alone subject.

The radical reforms were formulated by a 10-strong advisory group containing Brisbane Girls Grammar School head of history Julie Hennessey, and led by University of Melbourne Professor Stuart Macintyre. Professor Macintyre said many high school leavers now had "gaps in their history" and were "not aware of major topics". "History should be taught as history because the skills of historical understanding and the importance of historical knowledge are not being given as important a place in the timetable," he said. The proposals draw heavily from Monash University's National Centre for History Education.

A NCB spokesman said the reforms could be modified at an educators' forum in Melbourne on Wednesday, before being placed on the NCB website for "public discussion" from November 2008 to February 2009. The changes to history, science, maths and English curricula - forming the first national curriculum - will then be trialled for two years before implementation in 2011. Future science students are set to learn about cloning, stem cell research and hybrid cars.


Curriculum to scale back Australian history

The emphasis on teaching Australian history in recent years will be scaled down in the national curriculum, as its initial draft, to be released today, outlines a course that places the national story in the context of broader global events. The draft says restricting the study of history to Australian history is inappropriate, and while it retains an important place in the national curriculum, knowledge of world events is necessary to understand the nation's history.

The national curriculum stems the push to privilege Australian history, which culminated in the call by the Howard government to make the study of Australian history compulsory in Years 9 and 10. "If only to equip students to operate in the world in which they will live, they need to understand world history," the draft says. 'History should have a broad and comprehensive foundation from which its implications for Australia can be grasped."

The lead author of the draft, Melbourne University history professor Stuart Macintyre, said yesterday the push to cement Australian history in schools had left the position of world history unclear in curriculums. "To think one can study Australian history in isolation is a bit short-sighted," Professor Macintyre said. "There was a concern ... that it was solipsistic and not conducive to understanding Australia and its place in the world. "I think there is very broad agreement that, while all Australian students should learn Australian history, we don't really do our duty to them unless they study other history as well."

The draft curriculum proposes history be compulsory for all school students until the end of Year 10, and introduced as a distinct subject in primary school. Professor Macintyre said having trained history teachers was crucial to implementing the curriculum, and attention should be given to the history education given to student teachers.

The draft curriculum outlines a sequential study of world and Australian events based on factual knowledge and the skills to "think historically" or analyse events in a course that spans from the earliest human communities to the Industrial Revolution to the dismissal of the Whitlam government and the Iraq war. The draft, described as initial advice to the National Curriculum Board, was developed by a group of historians and history teachers led by the Left-aligned Professor Macintyre, whose appointment was criticised as being provocative by the conservative side in the history wars.

The broad aim of the curriculum is to introduce students to world history from the time of the earliest human communities, and to have an appreciation of the major civilisations that have existed in Europe, Asia, Africa, America and Australia.

In primary school, history should occupy at least 10 per cent of the teaching time, covering student family histories in the early years to allow students to make connections between their past and that of others. In middle and upper primary school, students would study the history of their local community and key national events such as the significance of Anzac Day, migration, "contact to 1788", and the early years of the colony. In Years 11 and 12, history would be optional and offer more in-depth study in ancient, modern and Australian history.

The draft proposes extension studies, such as those offered in NSW, that allow students to explore traditions of historical research and writing, including debates between historians through the ages. The draft curriculum emphasises the importance of factual knowledge in history, but says historical thinking and the skills of historical inquiry are just as important.


Prominent conservative says Australian kids should learn about British history

OPPOSITION frontbencher Tony Abbott wants school students to study more British history, saying Britain has shaped the world and should get the credit for it. The National Curriculum Board today will release a draft curriculum which places a greater focus on world events in history classes.

Mr Abbott said he was in favour of world history but said the focus should be on Britain. "People have got to know where we came from, they've got to know about the ideas that shaped the modern world, and in a very significant sense, the modern world has been made in England," he said in Canberra. "I think (the curriculum) needs to be history that pays credit where it's due." "We are a product of western civilisation, in particular we are a product of English-speaking civilisation." History classes should start with the history of the Jews, then move on to the Greeks and Romans, then the history of Britain, Mr Abbott said.

Mr Abbott, the shadow indigenous affairs minister, did not mention Aboriginal or Asian history. When asked specifically about Aboriginal history, Mr Abbott said that could be studied too. "That's a part of it, sure, but if you want to understand modern Australia, you've got to understand world history," he said. When asked about Asian history, he said that was important, but it was important to know where we came from.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Police called in to prevent 'havoc' at school entrance exam in Britain

British parents know the value of "Grammar" (selective) schools but the British government does not. It is trying to abolish them instead of building more. A British "Grammar" school is a publicly-funded school run along private school lines -- with admission dependant upon passing an entrance exam. British Leftists hate them because they are "elitist". But the Leftist alternatives -- non-selective "comprehensive" schools -- are often a behavioural sink -- thus preventing even bright children from learning and so closing off their advancement to higher education

Police had to be called to a top grammar school to prevent havoc during an entrance exam day. Officers had to patrol the car park as visitors came to sit the 11-plus exam and threatened to cause chaos at the school. Nearly 1,500 pupils were competing for 126 places at Wallington County Grammar School in Sutton, Surrey.

Competition for highly-rated grammar schools has risen as parents are looking at cheaper alternatives to private schools during the financial crisis. The Good Schools Guide shows applications at almost one in five private schools has dropped by 10 per cent in four years. Highly rated grammar schools on the other hand attract at least 10 applicants for every place, especially schools such as Wallington which do well in the exam league tables without demanding fees.

Wallington, an 880-pupil school which admits girls in the sixth form, obtained five GCSEs at grades A* to C (including English and maths) for 98 per cent of its pupils last year. Tina Marden, admissions secretary, said: "We had 1,496 applications for 126 places this year and we are still expecting some 'lates'. "We had to have the police down to control parking... we are on a red route and, if we didn't, people would cause havoc."

Robert McCartney QC, chairman of the National Grammar Schools Association, said that applications across the country have risen in record numbers. He said: "Many aspirational parents who want their children to have a good education have tightened their belts and gone without other things to give them a place at independent school. "One of the effects of the credit crunch is that those people that were just able to make the fees are no longer able to do so. "Because of the poor state of the comprehensive system, they are desperate to get their children into grammar schools."

A Metropolitan Police spokesman confirmed they were asked to attend last month's exams at the grammar school.


France in shock as dictionary Le Petit Robert relaxes language rules

Modernization of spelling makes sense. English could do with some. But alternative spellings? Sounds like a recipe for confusion

Schoolchildren are celebrating, commentators are astonished and purists are fuming over what they describe as a scandalous attack on 500 years of French history. In the most sweeping linguistic reform in France for centuries, Le Petit Robert, the nation's premier dictionary, has cast aside tradition to allow alternative spellings for thousands of words. Accents have become optional, consonants can be doubled on a whim and hyphens will float in and out of literary texts under the changes imposed by Alain Rey, the linguist responsible for the opus.

He says that the reform has been necessary to enable a rigidly codified language to move forward in a society of slang and multi-ethnic innovation. "We have to make spelling simpler," he said. "It's too complicated and it's not surprising that schoolchildren have trouble learning it."

In an attempt to ease their task in schools that continue to impose weekly dictations, he has included variable spellings for 6,000 of the 60,000 words in his dictionary, including many of foreign, and notably English, origin. Cameraman, for instance, can be written with or without an acute accent over the "e" in Le Petit Robert 2009, published this month. Manager can be spelt manageur and acupuncture can be turned into acuponcture.

Mr Rey says that reform was long overdue, since the last great linguistic clean-up in 1762, when medieval spellings were prodded into what became modern French. He points out that the changes have been authorised by l'Acad‚mie Fran‡aise, the body that regulates the language, and that the concept of twin spellings is nothing new. The French word for key, for example, has been written two different ways for years, he says - cle or clef.

However, the initiative has sparked a furious row in a country that has clung to la langue fran‡aise as a pillar of its identity ever since King Fran‡ois I made it the official language in 1539. "Until now, we tended to consider the French language dictionary as the supreme judge, the final arbiter," Pierre Assouline, the renowned literary commentator for Le Monde, said. "We doubted, it decided, we obeyed. Those were the good old times. Confidence reigned. What are we to do if it is having doubts itself?"

The controversy has spread to internet forums, where users have denounced the arrival of text-message terms at the heart of Gallic culture. "I am scandalised," one opponent from southern France said. "We have a grammar and our roots. How can you just sweep that all away? One day text messages will replace our cherished French language." Comments on Le Figaro's chat forum accused Mr Rey of "treason", "spreading illiteracy" and "dumbing down" the nation's culture.

Some pointed out that his move flew in the face of President Sarkozy's drive to improve spelling among primary school children after a survey showed that 15 per cent of them had "grave difficulties" in French.

Michel Schifres, a commentator for Le Figaro, took a more cheerful view. "Is there more beautiful combat than to fight over your language? What other people than us is capable of that? It's a whole lot better than Japan, an ageing country, which has just invented a fashion show for elderly people in nappies."


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Decision to teach kids to be homosexual allowed to stand

Parental rights nullified. Fascism legitimized by SCOTUS!

A federal court decision approving mandatory public school instruction for children as young as kindergarten in how to be homosexual is being allowed to stand, drawing a description of "despicable" from the parent who unsuccessfully challenged his school district's "gay" advocacy agenda. The U.S. Supreme Court without comment has refused to intervene in a case prompted by the actions of officials at Estabrook Elementary school in Lexington, Mass., who not only were teaching homosexuality to young children, but specifically refused to allow Christian parents to opt their children out of the indoctrination.

The case on which WND has reported previously involves Massachusetts father David Parker, who with his wife now have withdrawn their children from public schools, for which they continue to pay taxes, and are homeschooling.

The decision by the Supreme Court leaves standing the ruling from the appeals court for Massachusetts, where Judge Sandra Lynch said those who are concerned over such civil rights violations "may seek recourse to the normal political processes for change in the town and state."

Earlier District Judge Mark Wolf had ordered that school officials' work to undermine Christian beliefs and teach homosexuality is needed to prepare children for citizenship, and if parents don't like it they can elect a different school committee or homeschool their children.

According to a new report from MassResistance, a pro-family organization following the case, the dispute was over the "Lexington Schools' aggressive policy of normalizing homosexual behavior to elementary school children and not allowing parents to be notified before or after, or being able to opt-out their kids from it."

The dispute grabbed headlines when Parker, on April 27, 2005, "was arrested and thrown in jail by school officials over his insistence on being notified regarding his son in kindergarten being taught about homosexual relationships by adults," Mass Resistance reported.

Another family was alarmed by a similar situation a short time later as the school not only continued its indoctrination, but "became more hostile to the Parkers, and local liberals and homosexual activists did their best to harass the family," Mass Resistance reported. In fact, the school, led by Supt. Paul Ash, then stated in school publications they would not "compromise" on any points regarding the homosexual agenda.

"The [Supreme] court did not even bother to notify the Parkers or their attorneys," said Mass Resistance, which said what now will be enforced in the judicial district will be the lower bench rulings that the state has not only the right but "even the obligation . to promote homosexual relationships to young children."

"The unrelenting action of the Lexington schools to push homosexuality in the lower grades, as well as the ugly hostility of local liberals toward the Parkers and their children over this incident has taken its toll," Mass Resistance said. "This year the Parkers removed both of their children from the Eastbrook Elementary School and have been homeschooling."

Parker gave no indication, however, he was quitting the overall battle against rampant normalization of homosexuality. "The federal Supreme Court of the United States has tragically decided to deny our case from moving forward," Parker said in a statement. "We have exhausted all our legal options in the federal system for the protection of young children in the public schools. The Supreme Court has cowardly turned their backs on a parental rights issue that clearly has national significance with profound consequences. "We believe that parents have the right and sacred responsibility to defend the psyches of their young impressionable children against such child predation. This includes more forceful measures to defend against, the inculcation and penetration, of perversion into their minds, behind the parent's back and against their will," Parker said.

"This despicable ruling is not of the people, nor for the people, and nor by the people - but against them. We, the people, must take back our government for the sake of our children and the sake of this nation," he said.

When Parker asked the Supreme Court for a review he noted the questions raised in the case have not been answered in previous cases. Those include: "Whether objecting parents have a constitutional right to opt their public school children out of, or even to receive notice of, undisputed government efforts to indoctrinate kindergarten, first and second grade school children into the propriety, indeed desirability, of same gender marriage." Also at issue is whether those schools' "open and specific intention to indoctrinate . children into disbelieving core tenets of their families' deeply held religious faith constitutes a burden on the families' free exercise of religion."

The high court previously found, the request argued, the "primary role of the parents in the upbringing of their children is now established beyond debate as an enduring American tradition. Aspects of child rearing protected from unnecessary intrusion by the government include the inculcation of moral standards, religious beliefs, and elements of good citizenship."

In an earlier interview with WND, Parker warned allowing the appeals ruling to stand would "allow teachers in elementary schools to influence children into any views they wanted to, behind the backs of parents, to a captive audience, and against the will of the parents if need be. "Teachers are being postured to have a constitutional right to coercively indoctrinate little children [into whatever they choose to teach,]" he noted.


The suppressed history of Communism

I have seen for quite some time that although we won the Cold War -- and defeated the Soviet communist empire -- America is vulnerable to varying degrees of collectivism, wealth redistribution, "creeping socialism" (Ronald Reagan's phrase), class-warfare rhetoric, and generally milder, more palatable (but still dangerous) forms of disguised Marxism. Why? How? The answer is simple: The history and truth about communism is not taught by our educators. That total failure to remind and understand means that Americans are painfully vulnerable to repeat mistakes that should have been forever tossed onto the ash-heap of history.

Communism and the Cold War has been my area of research for years. I've written books on the subject. I lecture on the subject at Grove City College and around the country. The book I'm currently researching with Peter Schweizer is a Cold War book, which, ironically, inevitably brought us into contact with Marxist characters who allied with and even mentored Barack Obama.

Of all the lectures that I do around the country, none seem to rivet the audience as much as my discourse on the horrors of communism. In these lectures, which are usually connected to my books on Ronald Reagan, I do a 10-15 minute backgrounder on the crimes of communists-from their militant attacks on private property, on members of all religious faiths, and on basic civil liberties, to their total death toll of over 100 million bloodied, emaciated corpses in the 20th century.

As I do these presentations, the young people, especially on college campuses, are locked in, amazed at what they are hearing. I think they are especially struck that I always ground every fact and figure in reliable research and authorities -- books published by Harvard University Press and Yale University Press, quotes from the likes of Mikhail Gorbachev and Vaclav Havel and Alexander Yakovlev, anti-Soviet appraisals from certain Cold War Democrats like Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy and even early liberals like Woodrow Wilson. I rarely use right-wing sources because I don't want the professors of these students to be able to later shoot a single hole in my presentation -- a potential tactic to undermine the overall thesis.

And speaking of those professors, that gets to my point here: As the young people in my audience are fully engaged, hands in the air with question after question -- obviously hearing all of these things for the first time in their lives, from K-12 to college, as they are eager to inform me after my talk -- the professors often stare at me with contempt. In one case, a British professor, who could not step sighing, squirming, and rolling her eyes as I quoted the most heinous assessments of religion by Marx and Lenin, got up and stormed out of the room.

These professors glare at me as if the ghost of Joe McCarthy has flown into the room and leapt inside of my body. In fact, that's the essence of their criticism: It is not so much that these professors approve of communism as much as they disapprove of -- actually, utterly despise -- anti-communism. They are anti-anti-communist more so than pro-communist. Conservatives need to understand this, so as to avoid broad-brushing and losing credibility. Sure, a lot of professors are Marxists, and many more share the utopian goals of Marxism, but the vast majority are simply leftists.

Being on the left entails many strange contradictions and political pathologies, one of which is this bizarre revulsion toward anti-communists. These leftists -- to their credit -- despise fascism, and will preach anti-fascism until they're blue in the face. They are as appalled by fascism as conservatives are by communism. But while conservatives detest both communism and fascism, liberals only detest one of the two.

For instance, I recently saw that Human Events created a list of the top 10 worst books ever written, which included, as the top two, Marx's Communist Manifesto (#1), followed by Hitler's Mein Kampf (#2). That ranking is easily defended solely on numbers: Hitler killed at least 10 million; communism killed at least 100 million. Either way, kudos to Human Events, a conservative newspaper, for putting both communism and fascism in its top two. Yet, conversely, any liberal version of such a list would not even place the Communist Manifesto in the top 10. I guarantee that liberals who read the Human Events list will snicker at its alleged Neanderthal anti-communism.

The leftist intelligentsia that dominates higher education, and which writes the civics texts used in high schools -- I've read and studied these texts -- and which trains the teachers who teach in high schools, is not in the slightest bit notably anti-communist. These liberals do not teach the lessons of communism.

What's more, aside from failing to instruct their students in the crass facts about communism's unprecedented destruction -- its purges, mass famines, show trials, killing fields, concentration camps -- these educators are negligent in failing to teach the essential, non-emotional, but crucial Econ 101 basics that contrast capitalism and communism and, thus, that get at the heart of how and why command economies simply do not work. Each semester in my Comparative Politics course at Grove City College, it takes no more than 50 minutes to matter-of-factly lay out the rudimentary differences. Whereas capitalist systems are based on the market forces of supply and demand, which dictate prices and production levels and targets, communist systems are based on central planning, by which a government bureau attempts to manage such things. Capitalism is based on private ownership; communism on public ownership. Capitalism thrives on small government and taxes; communism on large government and taxes, typically progressive income-tax rates and estate taxes -- both advocated explicitly by Marx -- and much more.

This stuff isn't rocket science. It is easy to teach, if the professor desires. The problem is that it isn't being taught. Consequently, Americans today do not know why communism is such a devastating ideology, at both the level of plain economic theory and in actual historical practice. It is a remarkably hateful system, based on literal hatred and targeted annihilation of entire classes and groups of people. (Nazism sought genocide based on ethnicity; communism sought genocide based on class.)

Most Americans generally know that the USSR was a bad place and that it was good that the Berlin Wall fell; they lived through that. But they know little beyond that, especially young Americans in college today, born around the time the wall fell -- Obama's biggest supporters. Nowhere in America is Barack Obama worshipped as he is on college campuses, by students and professors alike.

What does it all mean for November 2008? It means that millions of modern Americans, when they hear that Barack Obama has deep roots with communist radicals like Bill Ayers and Frank Marshall Davis, don't care; they don't get it. Moreover, the leftist establishment -- from academia to media to Hollywood -- will not help them get it. To the contrary, the left responds to these accusations by not only downplaying or dismissing them but by ridiculing or even vilifying them, given the left's reflexive anti-anti-communism. The left will create bad guys out of the anti-communists who are legitimately blowing the whistle on the real bad guys.

When the leftists of the `60s took over higher education and the media, they really knew what they were doing. This was brilliant, masterful, a tactical slam-dunk, a tremendous coup for them and their worldview, with ripple effects we can scarcely imagine.

Does this mean that the McCain camp, talk radio and conservatives generally shouldn't bother exposing these things? Not at all. The truth is the truth, and needs to be told. Moderates especially need to be informed that Barack Obama is not your typical liberal: he is the most hard-left Democrat that his party has ever nominated for the presidency. It is absolutely not a coincidence that the man with these far-left associations just so happens to be ranked -- quantifiably, objectively, by non-partisan, respected sources like National Journal -- the most far-left member of the U.S. Senate, which is no small thing given the leftward drift of the modern Democratic Party. In other words, Obama's extremist associations matter; they are fully revealing, illustrative of the political-ideological realities that the pro-Obama media will not expose. His voting record bears this out.

That said, I warn my fellow conservatives: Be prepared to be really, really frustrated when few people seem to care. The Santayana aphorism is correct: those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. For decades now, we haven't taught the next generation what it needs to know from its immediate past. And now, to borrow from the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, America's chickens have come home to roost.