Saturday, June 20, 2009

The (Pro)-White Professor

A tenured professor who has taught education classes at the University of Vermont for nearly 40 years has written extensively and sympathetically about white nationalism, drawing fire from civil rights groups but support from his institution in the name of academic freedom.

The Times Argus reported Sunday that Robert S. Griffin has authored several books and articles that are widely read by white nationalists, neo-Nazis and other extremists. In 2001, Griffin self-published The Fame of a Dead Man's Deeds: An Up-Close Portrait of White Nationalist William Pierce, a biography of the late National Alliance leader who hoped to establish an all-white "living space" in the United States and Europe. William Pierce's novel The Turner Diaries in part inspired Timothy McVeigh to carry out the Oklahoma City bombing.

On his Web site, Griffin describes Pierce as "a person of remarkable capability, decency, integrity, courage, and dedication," adding, "This book changed my life forever. I came away from my encounter with Pierce far more conscious of race from a white perspective and of myself as a white man and of my European cultural and historical roots."

In addition to his other books -- among them One Sheaf, One Vine: Racially Conscious White People Talk About Race and Living White: Writings on Race, 2000-2005 -- the professor has penned dozens of articles on the subject of white nationalism. They include "When They Attack," written last year, which offers "advice to those who care about white people and their future in a culture that is committed to shutting them down hard and hurting them." Such advice includes "Get in the best shape you can: Figure you are in a war. Get battleready," and "Don’t buy what they tell you about yourself: The people doing the talking in this country tell you that being for minorities is good but being for whites is bad, that you are bad, that they are the action and you should kowtow to them and keep quiet over in the corner."

Griffin -- who stated emphatically in an e-mail that he is not a racist and that he deplores violence -- makes no attempt to hide his views on bolstering white society. On the University of Vermont's Web site, Griffin's areas of expertise are listed as: "Traditionalist, or non-Progressive, approaches to teaching; the media, including computer technology; the personal wellbeing of educators and other helping professionals; the status of European heritage, or white Americans, including the way they are educated." According to the site, he earned his master's and doctoral degrees at the University of Minnesota in 1967 and 1973, respectively. He joined the University of Vermont faculty in 1974.

On his personal Web site, he writes, "I do not consider myself to be a racial writer, as it were. I write whatever is there to be written, and if it is about race, so be it, but I don't consider myself linked to that subject." However, he links to several extremist Web sites, including the National Alliance and White Revolution, whose home page says, "We must secure the existence of our people, and a future for White children." Another link goes to the Vanguard News Network, whose slogan is "No Jews. Just Right."

As director of research for the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization, Heidi Beirich says there is "no mystery" in her mind that Griffin is a neo-Nazi. "It's an amazing thing to see a tenured professor at a serious university writing a fawning biography of a neo-Nazi nut -- just shocking," she said. She urged the institution to investigate the professor's classroom activities and condemn his work.

But Griffin said via e-mail that Beirich's declaration that "Dr. Griffin is a neo-Nazi," as reported in the Times Argus, is "absolutely untrue." Griffin also vehemently denied Beirich's suggestion that he "certainly ran in the same circles as" James von Brunn, the man charged with a shooting at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum last week. The professor noted that "even the most cursory review of my writings would show that I deplore violence."

As for Daniel Barlow, the journalist who initially reported on the professor, Griffin wrote in an e-mail, "I don't know Barlow at all, but I think he is a relatively recent graduate of Keene State University, and if he is like most university students he has been immersed in the teachings of professors like James Loewen. That is to say, he has been conditioned to assume that any expression of white racial identity, concern, commitment, solidarity, organization, advocacy, or activism must be racist, anti-Semitic, neo-Nazi, violent, evil."

The University of Vermont is obligated to protect its faculty's views in the interest of preserving academic freedom, said Enrique Corredera, a spokesman. No formal complaints have been filed against Griffin to date, he said.

For any form of speech to violate the campus's rules of conduct, Corredera said it would have to "incite violence," "be inflammatory against individuals" or "have the potential to pose a threat to specific individuals or members of our community at large." He would not comment on Griffin's work specifically.

Other campuses have faced disputes over controversial statements made by faculty members. In 2006, Arthur Butz, a tenured associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Northwestern University, drew heat when his status as a prominent Holocaust denier resurfaced. The university president denounced Butz but affirmed his right to free expression.

David Shiman, a professor at the University of Vermont, differs from Beirich in his view of Griffin. Shiman, who is Jewish, said that in the 35 years he has known his colleague he has "never seen from him an anti-Semitic remark, never heard him make a racist remark."

Several years ago, Shiman assigned Griffin's 2001 article "Rearing Honorable White Children" in some of his multicultural education classes and brought in the author to field students' questions. Griffin's work may be provocative and unorthodox, he said, but such views are the stuff of learning and debate. "It certainly brings a perspective to multicultural issues that is different from what dominates the field," Shiman said, adding that he does not agree with Griffin's views. "I think the students need to hear diverse perspectives, need to challenge themselves and be exposed to views that cause them to reflect on the views they think they hold -- and maybe get stronger holding them, but at least challenge themselves."

Of the more than 10,000 students who make up the University of Vermont, 92 percent are white. Rising junior Melena Saddler, president of the Black Student Union, said she would "probably feel awkward" in one of Griffin's classes after reading his essays. She added, "I kind of understand that it is a predominantly white school and a predominantly white state and a lot of things aren't going to be easy."

"Everyone has an opinion, but as a teacher you kind of are representing the student body. You should always be objective and open to different ideas," she said. "I do think it is a problem he is on campus, but in a way I'm pretty much not surprised -- most people don't let go of past feelings when it comes to slavery and stuff like that."


Schools 'too safe' British teachers say

Daily Mail report

Children are being made to wear goggles before handling Blu Tack and are forbidden to run in the playground as a health and safety culture sweeps through schools. A survey of nearly 600 teachers revealed the most restrictive rules being imposed in an attempt to avoid injuries and lawsuits.

Pupils at one school are forced to put on goggles before using Blu Tack to prevent them rubbing the common adhesive into their eyes. In another, teachers are given a five-page briefing note on the dangers of Pritt Stick before they may use it with their charges. Generations of youngsters who made things out of empty egg boxes will be dismayed to learn that some schools have banned them for fear of salmonella poisoning. And many teachers reported bans on footballs, snowball fights, conker games and running in the playground.

Nearly half of teachers and classroom assistants polled by Teachers TV believe health and safety regulations are holding children back at school.

The findings emerged days after the Local Government Association urged parents and schools to shake off the 'cotton wool' culture. It vowed that town halls would not 'bow to the compensation culture' and would build new adventure-playgrounds. Judith Hackitt, chairman of the Health and Safety Executive, said the examples cited were 'frankly ridiculous'.

She added: 'Health and safety is blamed for a lot of things not going ahead, but they're often about something else - high costs, an event that requires a lot of organising or fear of getting sued. 'Children cannot be wrapped in cotton wool - risk is part of growing up and our children need to learn how to manage risks in the real world.'

A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said: 'We urge schools to take a commonsense approach to keeping safe. 'Health and safety should not be a major burden and it shouldn't stop pupils from learning and playing. 'A small amount of risk is part and parcel of growing up and we do not subscribe to a cotton wool culture-of a sanitised childhood.'

The survey also revealed that two in five teachers are concerned about being alone in a room with a pupil in case they are falsely accused of inappropriate behaviour. And more than half have had to deal with a situation where they feared a child was being abused. But almost a third did not feel properly prepared and trained to deal with such situations.


Schools 'too safe' British teachers say

BBC report

Nearly half of teachers questioned for a survey believe the health and safety culture in schools is damaging children's learning. When questioned by Teachers TV, teachers complained about a five-page briefing on using glue sticks and being told to wear goggles to put up posters. Others said pupils were not allowed to enjoy the sun or snow without taking health and safety precautions.

Teachers TV surveyed 585 subscribers to the channel by questionnaire. Around 45% of those who took part thought health and safety precautions had a negative effect on teachers, as well as on students' personal development and learning. However, 45% said they did not think health and safety regulations were too restrictive. And just over 10% of teachers surveyed thought accidents in schools had increased during the last five years.

The teachers were also asked about general safety - their own and that of their pupils. More than half of those who responded - 56% - said they had had to deal with a situation where they suspected a child was being abused. More than two in five said they were afraid to be alone in a room with a pupil in case they were falsely accused of inappropriate behaviour. Just under a third of respondents said they were under-prepared in this area.

Questions regarding weapons checks in schools appeared to divide teachers. Exactly half said they favoured weapons checks in schools and half opposed it.

Chief executive of Teachers TV Andrew Bethell said: "The more extreme examples [of health and safety] are thankfully not the norm but schools still need to take into consideration the workforce's concerns when trying to protect pupils. "It is worrying that almost a third of the education workforce feel under-prepared to deal with the very complicated issues surrounding abuse and potential abuse."


Friday, June 19, 2009

Scottish Education Awards: Going back to old methods helped me win honour, says teacher of the year

WE'RE used to hearing about schools employing the very latest technology in today's modern classrooms. But for newly-crowned Teacher of the Year Ian Houston, it was dusting off some old equipment which sparked the interest of his students. The physics teacher from St Joseph's College in Dumfries won the praise of pupils, colleagues and judges alike for his original approach to teaching, which included experiments that dated back to the 19th century.

He was just one of the winners announced yesterday at the 2009 Scottish Education Awards, which took place at the City Halls in Glasgow. Ian said: "The history of our school goes back more than 100 years. I found old stuff in our cupboards which no one had a clue how to use, so I bought some old books which had pictures of this equipment. "So we've been able to give them a new lease of life by showing students the old way of doing things, then working up to more modern ways. "A lot of modern science these days involve black boxes where you put stuff in one end and get a measurement out, but with older equipment you get to see what's going on inside."

Ian's teaching methods became so popular that pupils began asking to be transferred to his class, with parents also being struck by the enthusiasm of their kids for the subject.

But Ian himself was surprised to hear that he'd made such an impact. He added: "I was teaching the Advanced Higher class this year, so I made a big effort for it, but it didn't occur to me that I was doing anything unusual. "Like most teachers, I sit there worrying that I'm not doing it properly."

Also celebrating yesterday was maths teacher John MacKenzie. He picked up the Lifetime Achievement Award for 30 years of dedicated work as principal of the maths department at Oban High School. He said: "When I heard I'd been nominated, I was overwhelmed and humbled that my colleagues had gone to the effort of doing that. "So to win the award is wonderful. I'm even more humbled by it. "My colleagues have always said networking is one of my strengths, and if I come across an idea I think will be beneficial to our pupils then I'll certainly pursue it to motivate our young people."

While the day offered John a chance to look back on his career, for other teachers, their days in the classroom are only just beginning. They include chemistry teacher Alice Thompson, of Eastbank Academy in Glasgow, who was named Probationary Teacher of theYear for a mammoth amount of work which included organising a crime scene investigation project for the school's chemistry club. She said: "I applied to the British Science Association for a grant and that allowed us to do some work on forensic techniques. "We set up a fake crime scene, we had a mock murder trial and a lot of different departments got involved. The maths department were looking at the velocity and angles of blood spatter patterns and things like that. It was fantastic."

The Head Teacher of the Year Award went to Paul McLaughlin of St Ninian's High School in Bishopriggs, East Dunbartonshire, for the huge impact he has had on the life and culture of the school since he took over there five years ago. Last year's Teacher of the Year, David Miller, also came from St Ninian's. Paul said: "I feel great to have won this award, but I don't believe that this award is really for me, it is for the whole school. "The school won two awards last year, so it is just amazing to be back again at such an exciting event which is such a great celebration of teachers and teaching." ...

The staff and pupils of Perth Grammar School also went home happy after winning the Ambition award in recognition of their work to improve the school. Head teacher John Low said: "We had a issues in the school in terms of behaviour and morale, but we tackled it head-on and within a matter of weeks, things had improved as the staff and the vast majority of pupils wanted things sorted out. "We worked on the themes of pride, respect and ambition as they were the three things that were missing, and it's worked to the extent that winning has now become a habit within the school. "The energy of the school is now going in the right direction."

More here

'Mom, dad better than certified teachers'

Report says it's 'myth' that 'qualifications' help

Not only do a long list of studies show that mom and dad can teach their own children as effectively as any "certified" teacher, there are indications that for some subjects, those "qualified" instructors actually deliver a negative impact to the performance of their students, according to a new assessment assembled by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

The organization periodically assembles information for its constituency, the hundreds of thousands of families across the United States that teach their own children at home. This new report by Chris Klicka, senior counsel for the HSLDA, is titled, "The Myth of Teacher Qualifications."

He reported, "Educational research does not indicate any positive correlation between teacher qualifications and student performance. Many courts have found teacher qualification requirements on homeschoolers to be too excessive or not appropriate. The trend in state legislatures across the country indicates an abandonment of teacher qualification requirements for homeschool teachers. In fact, Americans, in general, are realizing that the necessity of teacher qualifications is a myth. The teachers' unions and other members of the educational establishment make up the small minority still lobbying for teacher certification in order to protect their disintegrating monopoly on education."

He said homeschoolers need such information to deal with issues such as that raised in Kansas a few years ago, when the state school board association tried to obtain a law that would have required homeschool teachers to be subject to state certification and licensing requirements.

The assessment reviewed literally dozens of studies that looked into the issue. For example, a 1999 Thomas Fordham Foundation study called "Better Teachers, Better Schools" looked at data from the National Educational Longitudinal Study survey of 24,000 eight-grade students.

Two key questions were whether teachers with "standard" certification outperform teachers with alternative or probationary credentials in terms of student achievement and are different teacher licensure components related to achievement.

In that study, the authors found, "Although teacher certification is pervasive, there is little rigorous evidence that it is systematically related to student achievement. Contrary to conventional wisdom, mathematics and science students who have teachers with emergency credentials do no worse than students whose teachers have standard teaching credentials, all else being equal. This result should, at the very least, cast doubt on assertions that standard certification should be required of all teachers."

According to the HSLDA report, "The study also found that having a degree in education has no impact on student science test scores and, in mathematics, having a B.A. in education actually has a statistically negative impact on scores in math!"

According to the evaluation of studies, "Most education officials publicly claim that teachers need special 'qualifications' in order to be effective. As a result, public education organizations often promote legislation or an interpretation of the law which would require home school parents to have one of three qualifications: 1) a teacher certificate, 2) a college degree, or 3) pass a 'teacher's exam.'"

But, the HSLDA report said, "Although this seems reasonable on the surface, such requirements not only violate the right of parents to teach their children as guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments, but virtually all academic research documents that there is no positive correlation between teacher qualifications (especially teacher certification requirements) and student performance."

"I have talked," wrote Klicka, "with hundreds of school officials who cannot understand how a 'mere mother' with a high school diploma could possibly teach her own children. These officials literally take offense that parents would try to teach their children and actually think that they will do as well as teachers in the public school who have at least four years and sometimes seven years of higher education.

"Unfortunately, critics in the media have also believed this myth and will question the validity of homeschooling by asking, 'But are the parents qualified?' What is so laughable about this belief in teacher qualifications by public school authorities are the statistics which show the appalling decline in competency among certified public school teachers and the failure of the teacher colleges," he wrote.

The assessment said, "One of the most significant studies in this area was performed by Dr. Eric Hanushek of the University of Rochester, who surveyed the results of 113 studies on the impact of teachers' qualifications on their students' academic achievement. Eighty-five percent of the studies found no positive correlation between the educational performance of the students and the teacher's educational background. "Although 7 percent of the studies did find a positive correlation, 5 percent found a negative impact," the report said.

Sam Peavey, professor emeritus of the School of Education at the University of Louisville, also concluded: "I wish I could tell you that those thousands of [teacher certification documents] contributed significantly to the quality of children's learning, but I cannot. ... After fifty years of research, we have found no significant correlation between the requirements for teacher certification and the quality of student achievement. He said the one way to identify a good teacher is to look at the performance of the students.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Good teachers have to be selected for personal qualities. No teacher education will make everyone a good teacher

What makes some teachers successful with so-called “unteachable” kids and others not?

One of the best explanations comes from Martin Haberman, a leading authority on preparing teachers for urban, poor schools and developer of the National Teacher Corps. Hundreds of school systems nationwide use the selection criteria devised by Haberman to identify teachers most likely to succeed and stay in urban schools.

Haberman contends that it’s not teacher training that matters most, but an interview process that drills deep into whether teacher candidates believe that students can learn despite lives marred by poverty, violence, gangs, drugs or fractured families. Without a bedrock belief that poor children are not defined nor doomed by their life circumstances, teachers can’t succeed, he says.

When I sat down with him at a conference once, Haberman expressed skepticism toward the teacher recruitment efforts to lure promising young college scholars to struggling schools. Such teachers, he said, are only dabbling in most cases and will eventually capitulate to pressure from their families to get an MBA or go to law school.

“We should thank them for going to law school, ” he said. “We shouldn’t be luring people who don’t want to be there. There are plenty of people who want to be there.” Besides, it’s not enough, he said, that enthusiastic young teaching applicants profess a great love for children. As any veteran teacher will agree, students aren’t always lovable. That’s why it’s more important to hire teachers who believe that kids are still teachable even when they aren’t lovable, he said.

In Haberman’s research, the most effective teachers tend to be mature adults who come to the classroom later in life and who live or grew up in the local community. They are not shocked by the conditions of the school or the chaos of their students’ homes, so they carry neither pity nor fear with them into the classroom. What they do bring is a steely determination to reach their students and a refusal to blame their own lack of success on the kids, the parents or the neighborhoods.

Yes, these “star” teachers, as Haberman describes them, encounter all the same problems as their ineffective colleagues, a group that Haberman distinguishes as the quitters and failures. (Half of the teachers in urban schools quit within three years.) But they aren’t immobilized by the problems. “Star teachers believe that, regardless of the life conditions their students face, they as teachers bear a primary responsibility for sparking their students’ desire to learn,” Haberman said. “They do not wear down easily nor do they blame the students and their inadequacies,” he said. “Rather, they assume responsibility for doing more. They believe that success is a result of persistence and effort and that students have great potential if given ample motivation and opportunity.”

When teachers argue they can’t overcome a student’s background, they underestimate their power to change lives and they shortchange their profession. If childhood poverty were destiny, we’d have a lot fewer doctors, teachers and lawyers today. Children whose backgrounds would predict only failure achieve every day in Georgia because of smart, inventive and dedicated teachers.

Those achievements don’t come easily. And teachers, no matter how dedicated, can’t engage and reach every child. However, the teachers who change lives never stop trying.


Former British schools chief attacks Labour's 'focus on fairness'

The senior official who ran the country's schools until last year has condemned the comprehensive system, saying academic standards have suffered because of an obsession with fairness. In a startling indictment of Government policy, Ralph Tabberer, the former director-general of schools, said not enough emphasis had been put on "scholarship, genuinely high quality study and its importance". Even teaching children "character" and the difference between right and wrong had been neglected, he said.

He gave warning that the comprehensive system was "not working" and said Britain risked being overtaken by developing nations. Mr Tabberer, who now works for the world's biggest chain of fee-paying schools, said the future of education could only be assured by increased involvement of the private sector. But he said "inverted snobbery" in Britain had led to 30 years of near-apartheid between state and independent schools.

Mr Tabberer's comments, in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, will come as a serious blow to Gordon Brown. He was director-general of schools at the Department for Children, Schools and Families until stepping down for family reasons last year. His warning will resonate with those who fear that the needs of the brightest schoolchildren have been marginalised in recent years, leading to a rise in applications for state grammar schools and private schools.

A recent Government-backed report suggested bright children in state schools were being failed by teachers who refused to give them extra help for fear of promoting "elitism". Fewer than half of pupils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland left school with five good GCSEs last summer, including the key subjects of English and mathematics.

"We have tried a comprehensive system and that is not working," said Mr Tabberer. "The clock's ticking. Everybody else is catching up because they haven't got the same struggle to reconcile fairness and excellence." He added: "How do you make that the focus of education, and also the development of character, to turn out people who know the difference between right and wrong? "These are areas which are not getting enough attention in state policy and in the education debate."

Mr Tabberer led the Training and Development Agency for Schools, which trains teachers, before effectively becoming the second highest ranked civil servant at the DCSF. After stepping down he was appointed chief schools officer at Dubai-based GEMS Education, which manages almost 100 schools.

In his interview, he was careful not to levy personal or political blame, but he compared the current situation with the reforms of the Blair years. "We got a lot of things done, particularly between 1997 and 2004 or 2005 - the pace of change was fantastic," he said. "But the problem has got bigger and harder."

GEMS runs international schools in the Gulf, as well as a number in Britain. But it has made its name by providing low-cost education to the large south Asian communities of the Middle East.

Mr Tabberer said it was "humbling" to see Indian children at schools of 5,000 pupils, where costs per head were a sixth those in British state schools, achieve far superior GCSE results.

He criticised the failure of British parents to teach children to value education and to encourage competitiveness. But he said politicians needed to show more leadership.

Although he does not advocate a return to grammar schools, he said the emphasis on making sure the system was fair and equal had reduced the stress on teaching children to be competitive. "We don't spend enough time at the moment arguing about scholarship, genuinely high quality study and its importance."

He also called for closer ties between the state and private sector. "UK people are going to have to set aside a 30-year history of almost apartheid where inverted snobbery stands in the way," he said.

A spokesman for the DCSF said: "We make no apology for making closing the social gap an absolute priority. "It is about making sure that every child fulfils their potential."


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Educational destruction in Connecticut

The stupid Leftist pursuit of "equality" is behind this. But in a typically destructive Leftist way, it will prevent students getting the attention appropriate to them. Either dull students won't be able to keep up or brighter students will be bored stiff and learn much less than they could or should

Sixth graders at Cloonan Middle School here are assigned numbers based on their previous year’s standardized test scores — zeros indicate the highest performers, ones the middle, twos the lowest — that determine their academic classes for the next three years.

But this longstanding system for tracking children by academic ability for more effective teaching evolved into an uncomfortable caste system in which students were largely segregated by race and socioeconomic background, both inside and outside classrooms. Black and Hispanic students, for example, make up 46 percent of this year’s sixth grade, but are 78 percent of the twos and 7 percent of the zeros.

So in an unusual experiment, Cloonan mixed up its sixth-grade science and social studies classes last month, combining zeros and ones with twos. These mixed-ability classes have reported fewer behavior problems and better grades for struggling students, but have also drawn complaints of boredom from some high-performing students who say they are not learning as much.

The results illustrate the challenge facing this 15,000-student district just outside New York City, which is among the last bastions of rigid educational tracking more than a decade after most school districts abandoned the practice. In the 1960s and early 1970s, Stamford sorted students into as many as 15 different levels; the current system of three to five levels at each of four middle schools will be replaced this fall by a two-tiered model, in which the top quarter of sixth graders will be enrolled in honors classes, the rest in college-prep classes. (A fifth middle school is a magnet school and has no tracking.)

More than 300 Stamford parents have signed a petition opposing the shift, and some say they are now considering moving or switching their children to private schools. “I think this is a terrible system for our community,” said Nicole Zussman, a mother of two. Ms. Zussman and others contend that Stamford’s diversity, with poor urban neighborhoods and wealthy suburban enclaves, demands multiple academic tracks, and suggest that the district could make the system fairer and more flexible by testing students more frequently for movement among the levels.

But Joshua P. Starr, the Stamford superintendent, said the tracking system has failed to prepare children in the lower levels for high school and college. “There are certainly people who want to maintain the status quo because some people have benefited from the status quo,” he said. “I know that we cannot afford that anymore. It’s not fair to too many kids.”

Educators have debated for decades how to best divide students into classes. Some school districts focus on providing extra instruction to low achievers or developing so-called gifted programs for the brightest students, but few maintain tracking like Stamford’s middle schools (tracking is less comprehensive and rigid at the town’s elementary and high schools).

Deborah Kasak, executive director of the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform, said research is showing that all students benefit from mixed-ability classes. “We see improvements in student behavior, academic performance and teaching, and all that positively affects school culture,” she said.

Daria Hall, a director with Education Trust, an advocacy group, said that tracking has worsened the situation by funneling poor and minority students into “low-level and watered-down courses.” “If all we expect of students is for them to watch movies and fill out worksheets, then that’s what they will give us,” she said.

In Stamford, black and Hispanic student performance on state tests has lagged significantly behind that of Asians and whites [And based on all experience it always will]. In 2008, 98 percent of Asian students and 92 percent of white students in grades three to eight passed math, and 93 percent and 88 percent reading, respectively. Among black students, 63 percent passed math, and 56 percent reading; among Hispanic students, 74 percent passed math and 60 percent reading.

The district plans to keep a top honors level, but put the majority of students in mixed-ability classes, expanding the new system from sixth grade to seventh and eighth over three years. While the old system tracked students for all subjects based on math and English scores, the new one will allow students to be designated for honors in one subject but not necessarily another, making more students overall eligible for the upper track.


Britain: Capable students to miss out on university as clearing places cut

British universities have the rather weird system of accepting students on the basis of their "predicted" results in their final High School exams. Places left over after that process are later filled on the basis of actual exam results. Those places are called "clearing" places

Two thirds of A-level students who would normally get into university through the clearing system will be left without a place this year, according to research by The Times. In the biggest squeeze on higher education for 20 years, tens of thousands of capable students will miss out on higher education after a huge rise in applications and an effective freeze on university places.

Almost two thirds of clearing places have been cut at universities that accept large numbers of students looking for a place after A-level results in August. The figures from a survey by The Times indicate that some of the biggest recruiters will have to halve their clearing intake, while others say that they will have no clearing places at all.

Universities are also saying that they will be far less lenient this year on those who fall slightly below their predicted grades, as they have been told by the Government that they will face financial sanctions if they overrecruit.

Pam Tatlow, of Million+, which represents new universities, said: “It’s clear this could be a very sticky summer if the Government doesn’t think more carefully and positively about what it can do to prevent potential students from joining the dole queue.”

The Times contacted 60 universities that usually take the highest numbers through clearing. The ten that were able to confirm the number of spaces that they expect to have left this August have lost 2,300 places between them — 58 per cent down on last year.

Northumbria University, which has experienced an 11 per cent rise in applications this year, will have 60 per cent fewer spaces on offer in August compared with last year, when 500 students got last-minute places. Goldsmiths, University of London, the University of the West of England and the University of Surrey all predict a significant reduction in clearing places. If this drop is applied to the 44,000 places available through clearing last year, only 18,480 places will be available this summer.

By April there were 524,151 applications for full-time undergraduate courses compared with 481,784 at the same time last year. At least 58,000 more applications are expected before the end of the June deadline, Ucas, the university admissions service, said. The sector has experienced an 8.8 per cent rise in prospective students, but many of the 30 universities who responded to The Times survey — those that are most popular with clearing candidates — have seen far bigger increases. The Government has made provision for only 10,000 more places this year, including those taken by postgraduate and part-time students.

Wes Streeting, president of the National Union of Students, said that the Government’s cap on extra places would mean that at least 28,000 good candidates would be disappointed. “Applicants are clearly making the correct assessment that it is better to invest now in their education and training, and it is very disappointing that the Government is limiting their ability to do that,” he said. Vocational and business-orientated subjects are increasingly popular, with huge rises in the number of applications for nursing, economics, engineering and business-related degrees.

A spokesman for Ucas said: “If an applicant cannot find a suitable place through clearing, all is not lost. They can reapply again for the next year, take a gap year or do some voluntary work.” [How consoling!]


British school bans bananas because one teacher has life-threatening allergy to them

This sounds pretty cockeyed. How does somebody ELSE eating a banana affect the allergy sufferer?

Nutritious and delicious, bananas are a lunchbox favourite. But they have been banned from a primary school because a teacher is allergic to them. The school has forbidden pupils to eat bananas because a female staff member suffers from the rare and potentially lethal condition 'latex fruit syndrome'. Any contact with the fruit could result in anaphylactic shock - which in extreme cases can cause collapse or even death.

The ban, introduced two years ago at Stoke Damerel Primary School in Plymouth, has divided parents. 'When it was first brought in we couldn't believe it,' said Mary Williams, 54, as she dropped her grandchild at the school. 'Banning bananas because a member of staff - not even a pupil - is allergic is ridiculous. 'A lot of us feel this is a massive overreaction. But another parent said: 'It does seem a little silly, but then if it was my child who was allergic I would be relieved that they would not be in danger.'

Latex fruit syndrome is related to latex allergy. Experts say up to 50 per cent of those allergic to natural rubber latex are also sensitive to fruits, particularly bananas.

A spokesman for the school said the ban would be lifted in September when the affected teacher is leaving the school. She added: 'These are very unusual circumstances but the school community has been supportive and understanding over the last two years.'


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Georgia Court: Teacher-Student Sex Now Legal

(Atlanta, Georgia) The Georgia Supreme Court has ruled that teachers can legally engage in sex with students who have reached the age of consent. The age of consent in Georgia is 16. According to Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears:
“Generally speaking, it is not a crime in Georgia to have physical sexual contact with a willing participant who is 16 years of age or older.”
The ruling came in an appeal of the conviction in the case of Melissa Lee Chase (pic), 30, who was sentenced in 2007 to 10 years in prison for sexual assault of a 16-year-old high school girl.

Chase is a former teacher and softball coach at Harlem (GA) High School and the female victim had been her student.

I suggest that the ruling will prompt appeals of other cases and renewed vigor on the part of teachers who want to have sex with adolescent students. As the court ruled, if the student is at least 16 years old and consenting, teachers should feel free to get a room.

Therefore, despite the fact that the teachers are in positions of authority and responsibility over the immature students, youths can be groomed to clack erasers, euphemistically speaking, with adults enjoying impunity. This is not right.

A parent’s plea on teaching

IF I could change public education, here's what I'd do first: reward the best teachers with higher pay and stature, and fire the worst teachers, because they shouldn't be in the classroom.

My children have gone through a total of 16 years of public schooling in New Jersey. Over the years, I've seen outstanding teachers, and outstandingly bad ones. Our kids have had teachers who introduced them to everything under the sun, and made every day different and fascinating. Some of our daughter's teachers gave up their lunch and stayed late to help her find her way through the maze of math. Two of our son's teachers comforted him when traumatic events laid him low. My daughter's sixth-grade teacher made students feel like real scientists; her language arts teacher covered everyone's papers with useful suggestions. These people put everything they have into teaching. They light sparks that stay lit for years.

But we've also seen teachers who put dents in our children's spirits, day after day, teachers who barely taught anything at all, who, I suspect, chose the profession because they wanted summers off.

My father used to come home from his post office job railing about co-workers who didn't do their share of the work, but couldn't be fired. Watching bad teachers fail to do their jobs, I'm even angrier than he was. How can anyone justify protecting the jobs of teachers who:

hand out worksheets every day, or let students play on computers or watch videos, instead of teaching?

batter their students daily with shouting and ego-bruising remarks?

create stress and despair by giving incomprehensible assignments at the last minute?

It could be worse. We haven't had to deal with broken arms or sexual abuse. But should that be the bar we set? With so much at stake, it seems absurd to treat teachers like civil servants - good and bad compensated the same way, and everyone immune to firing regardless of performance.

You might think that complaining to the principal would be enough to fix these problems, but it doesn't usually work that way. Operating in permanent damage-control mode - in part because they don't have the freedom to fire teachers - many principals preserve tranquility by placating parents every way they can, short of solving the problem.

To fix the system, we need first to identify problem teachers. This shouldn't be left to the principals. Every school should seek specific feedback from every student's parents, every year. Don't wait for unsolicited complaints: For every gripe that reaches the principal, there are many unhappy students and parents who didn't want to take that step. Discount the extreme responses, if you like; but don't ignore criticisms that are repeated over and over.

Yes, give bad teachers training, support, a chance to improve. But watch them closely. If there's no progress, don't force another two dozen or more children to endure a year with them.

This means changing the tenure system - something people assume can't happen because teachers unions are too powerful. There's hope, though: In experimental programs, teachers have accepted change, when they had a say in drafting the new rules. In exchange for the right to fire terrible teachers, some districts are now rewarding exceptional performance. That should be a national model. Higher pay for excellent teachers would improve teaching in two ways: by attracting high-caliber candidates, and by allowing stellar teachers to stay in the classroom instead of pursuing raises by the administrative route. Since cities and towns are already having a hard time paying their school bills, the federal government could help by offering major tax reductions for teachers.

Smaller classes, better textbooks and curricula, early childhood education, deemphasizing standardized tests - each of these reforms might help improve schools. But I'd happily sign my children up for crowded classrooms with antiquated curricula and no computers, if I knew they'd be getting inspiring teachers. I think every parent would.


British students pushed out of universities by EU applicants

British sixth formers could be "crowded out" of university places because of an increase in applications from candidates from the rest of Europe, according to vice-chancellors. An unprecedented surge in applications by young people to start higher education in the UK in September has seen the number of British candidates rise by 8.8 per cent from last year. Applications from the rest of the European Union are rising even more quickly, up by 16.4 per cent.

Yet even though 43,367 more Britons and 3,576 more Europeans are chasing places, the Government has set a controversial 10,000 cap on the number of additional places available across the sector. A combination of the cap, the rise in EU applicants and a rule that prevents universities from discriminating in favour of homegrown talent means that British sixth formers risk losing places to well-qualified rivals from abroad. Students from the EU are funded by the Government in the same way as British students, and count in an identical way towards universities' student quotas.

"We have never seen anything like the upsurge in applications," said Malcolm Grant, the provost of University College London. "It is across all sectors, postgraduate, international and even our conventional UK and EU undergraduate applications. "EU students have to be treated the same. There is a crowding out possibility – if you take an EU student it is a place that is not available to a UK student.

"We get superb overseas students, especially from France and Germany, and we must treat them on the same basis and offer them places on the same basis. "They turn up here and they are dead keen to have come to London on their own initiative. They have studied English in a formal way and are pretty impressive."

The number of EU students studying in the UK is already on the rise. Between 2006/07 and 2007/08 there was a six per cent increase to 112,150, while enrolments of Britons actually fell by one per cent. Over the same period, the number of non-EU overseas students increased by four per cent.

The squeeze on places this year will mean even greater competition for courses. It is estimated that as many as 80,000 applicants could fail to find a place. Les Ebdon, the vice-chancellor of Bedfordshire University, who has condemned ministers for restricting higher education at a time of recession, warned that if British students are turned away, while EU students win places, it could lead to a backlash that mirrors the "British jobs for British workers" row. "Institutions are not allowed to discriminate against any student in the EU," said Professor Ebdon, chairman of the Million+ group of newer universities. "And for EU students, the UK is an increasingly popular destination. "But in a situation when you have increased applications, a cap on places and few places through clearing it will be difficult for the public to understand why a Polish student can get a place but their own kids can't."

EU nationals face the same £3,145-a-year tuition fees as their UK counterparts and are entitled to the same grants and subsidised loans, to cover the cost of fees and living expenses. Non-EU overseas students are charged full tuition costs by universities, which average £10,000 a year for arts students, and they do not count against Government student quotas.

Since 2006, EU citizens studying in Britain have been eligible to take out low interest loans to pay for tuition fees, in the same way as British students. They are supposed to pay back what they owe when they graduate. But figures published earlier this year revealed that among the 2,240 EU students who have so far become eligible to start paying back such loans, some 1,580 were not doing so, leaving taxpayers with a £3.8 million bill.

David Lammy, the universities minister, claims that the figure is misleading because a proportion of the 1,580 students will have changed courses and not yet graduated, or are earning below the salary at which loans have to be repaid - £15,000 in the UK, or an equivalent level in their homeland. Students from the EU currently studying currently studying at British universities have borrowed, between them, a further £124 million to cover tuition fees and living costs. It is feared that many who return to their home countries will never repay the money because there is no repayment mechanism outside of the UK. The Student Loan Company has to rely on students informing them of their earnings and making their own arrangements, although it said measures to track EU students will be in place by April next year.


Australia: Crooked private school still gets Federal "stimulus" cash

Typical of the low level of care that we expect of "stimulus" spending

AN elite Melbourne private school has been showered with new government infrastructure funding despite being under threat of deregistration for chronic mismanagement, including hiring a fake teacher and breaching the rules for its annual federal grants.

Melbourne Montessori School will receive $847,000 of taxpayer funds to build a new hall and classroom as part of more than $6billion in new funding announced by Education Minister Julia Gillard over the past week. Yet the private primary school, which commands fees of about $7000 for its students, is mired in controversy; about 20 families, representing almost 10 per cent of the school's 256 students, are taking legal action against the school. In March, a review by school watchdog the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority warned that the problems at the Montessori school were so severe it "no longer complies with the prescribed minimum standards for registration as a school".

In a desperate effort to survive, the school's board last week dismissed principal Nicolette Correy and briefed authorities about steps taken belatedly to comply with state and federal standards of governance.

Parents who have had children at the school say they have been failed by both the school's former management and also by Victorian regulatory authorities, which they say failed to step in and take decisive action when told of the school's problems. Sean Macdermott's daughter Sadhbh was taught by a fake teacher, Renai Brochard, who used another teacher's identification to get a job with the school in 2006 and 2007. "You take your child to school each day and you trust your school to protect them and it's really scary for a parent when it doesn't happen," Mr Macdermott said.

He was one of several parents to confront the school about Ms Brochard's qualifications when he noticed that she appeared to lack the most basic teaching skills, much less those associated with the alternative, Montessori philosophy. However, Ms Correy and the school board dismissed their complaints and insisted Ms Brochard was a qualified teacher. It was not until the end of the 2007 school year that the Victorian Institute of Teaching found ms Brochard had faked her teaching qualification.

Late last year, at the urging of parents, the VRQA examined the management of the school and in March it produced a damning report saying children were being taught by staff who had a Montessori background but who were not qualified teachers. It also found the school failed to comply with basic governance requirements including legal obligations to report on the performance of the school, its teachers and its students.

The failure to produce these reports meant the school was in breach of its legal requirements when it received $1.35 million in federal funding over the past three years. Parents have withdrawn about 30 students from the school in the past 18 months.

Now about 20 families are taking legal action against the school's insurer to recoup fees and other expenses incurred during the time when their children were being taught by Ms Brochard.

The head of the school's new board, Tony Swain, said the school was taking steps to put its troubled past behind it. "We have tried to deal with the problems that were plaguing the school in 2008 that led to a number of families leaving," Mr Swain said.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Conservatism and the University Curriculum

If they can find time for feminist theory, they can find time for Edmund Burke

The political science departments at elite private universities such as Harvard and Yale, at leading small liberal arts colleges like Swarthmore and Williams, and at distinguished large public universities like the University of Maryland and the University of California, Berkeley, offer undergraduates a variety of courses on a range of topics. But one topic the undergraduates at these institutions -- and at the vast majority of other universities and colleges -- are unlikely to find covered is conservatism.

There is no legitimate intellectual justification for this omission. The exclusion of conservative ideas from the curriculum contravenes the requirements of a liberal education and an objective study of political science.

Political science departments are generally divided into the subfields of American politics, comparative politics, international relations, and political theory. Conservative ideas are relevant in all four, but the obvious areas within the political science discipline to teach about the great tradition of conservative ideas and thinkers are American politics and political theory. That rarely happens today.

To be sure, a political science department may feature a course on American political thought that includes a few papers from "The Federalist" and some chapters from Alexis de Tocqueville's "Democracy in America."

But most students will hear next to nothing about the conservative tradition in American politics that stretches from John Adams to Theodore Roosevelt to William F. Buckley Jr. to Milton Friedman to Ronald Reagan. This tradition emphasizes moral and intellectual excellence, worries that democratic practices and egalitarian norms will threaten individual liberty, attends to the claims of religion and the role it can play in educating citizens for liberty, and provides both a vigorous defense of free-market capitalism and a powerful critique of capitalism's relentless overturning of established ways. It also recognized early that communism represented an implacable enemy of freedom. And for 30 years it has been animated by a fascinating quarrel between traditionalists, libertarians and neoconservatives.

While ignoring conservatism, the political theory subfield regularly offers specialized courses in liberal theory and democratic theory; African-American political thought and feminist political theory; the social theory of Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber and the neo-Marxist Frankfurt school; and numerous versions of postmodern political theory.

Students may encounter in various political theory courses an essay by the British historian and philosopher Michael Oakeshott, or a chapter from a book by the German-born American political philosopher Leo Strauss. But they will learn very little about the constellation of ideas and thinkers linked in many cases by a common concern with the dangers to liberty that stem from the excesses to which liberty and equality give rise.

That constellation begins to come into focus at the end of the 18th century with Edmund Burke's "Reflections on the Revolution in France." It draws on the conservative side of the liberal tradition, particularly Adam Smith and David Hume and includes Tocqueville's great writings on democracy and aristocracy and John Stuart Mill's classical liberalism. It gets new life in the years following World War II from Friedrich Hayek's seminal writings on liberty and limited government and Russell Kirk's reconstruction of traditionalist conservatism. And it is elevated by Michael Oakeshott's eloquent reflections on the pervasive tendency in modern politics to substitute abstract reason for experience and historical knowledge, and by Leo Strauss's deft explorations of the dependence of liberty on moral and intellectual virtue.

Without an introduction to the conservative tradition in America and the conservative dimensions of modern political philosophy, political science students are condemned to a substantially incomplete and seriously unbalanced knowledge of their subject. Courses on this tradition should be mandatory for students of politics; today they are not even an option at most American universities.

When progressives, who dominate the academy, confront arguments about the need for the curriculum to give greater attention to conservative ideas, they often hear them as a demand for affirmative action. Usually they mishear. Certainly affirmative action for conservatives is a terrible idea.

Political science departments should not seek out professors with conservative political opinions. Nor should they lower scholarly standards. That approach would embrace the very assumption that has corrupted liberal education: that to study and teach particular political ideas one's identity is more important than the breadth and depth of one's knowledge and the rigor of one's thinking

One need not be a Puritan to study and teach colonial American religious thought, an ancient Israelite to study and teach biblical thought, or a conservative or Republican to study and teach conservative ideas. Affirmative action in university hiring for political conservatives should be firmly rejected, certainly by conservatives and defenders of liberal education.

To be sure, if political science departments were compelled to hire competent scholars to offer courses on conservative ideas and conservative thinkers, the result would be more faculty positions filled by political conservatives, since they and not progressives tend to take an interest in studying conservative thought. But there is no reason why scholars with progressive political opinions and who belong to the Democratic Party can not, out of a desire to understand American political history and modern political philosophy, study and teach conservatism in accordance with high intellectual standards. It would be good if they did.

It would also be good if every political science department offered a complementary course on the history of progressivism in America. This would discourage professors from conflating American political thought as a whole with progressivism, which they do in a variety of ways, starting with the questions they tend to ask and those they refuse to entertain.

Incorporating courses on conservatism in the curriculum may, as students graduate, disperse, and pursue their lives, yield the political benefit of an increase in mutual understanding between left and right. In this way, reforming the curriculum could diminish the polarization that afflicts our political and intellectual classes. But that benefit is admittedly distant and speculative.

In the near term, giving conservative ideas their due will have the concrete and immediate benefit of advancing liberal education's proper and commendable goal, which is the formation of free and well-furnished minds.


British home education rules 'an abuse of civil liberties'

Parents could be banned from educating children at home in a move branded a "very bad day for civil liberties"

For the first time, local councils will have the power to enter family homes and question young children, under new plans. They will also be able to order under-16s to school if there are fears about their safety or quality of education.

Families' groups said they were "absolutely devastated" by the move, claiming it undermined their freedom to educate children beyond state control. Annette Taberner, from the group Education Otherwise, said: "To suggest parents can continue to home educate but then give powers to local authorities to enter our homes and interview our children without an adult being present is just extraordinary. This is nothing short of an attempt to regulate the private lives of people. It is a very bad day for civil liberties in this country."

A review ordered by the Government estimated that as many as 80,000 children could be educated at home. Previous estimates put the figure between 20,000 and 50,000.

Graham Badman, former director of education at Kent County Council, who carried out the study, recommended forcing all parents to register sons and daughters with local authorities every year.

The review - accepted in full by the Government - said officials from local authorities should have the right to access their home with just two weeks' notice and speak to children to ensure they were "safe and well". They can revoke the right to home schooling if they have serious concerns over their welfare, it said.

Parents must also submit a statement outlining what children will be taught over the following 12 months. Councils can impose a "school attendance order" if they believe the education received is not up to scratch, with parents facing legal action if they refuse.

Mr Badman said a further review would be carried out to judge the structure of an acceptable home education. Releasing the report in central London on Thursday, he suggesting children aged eight should be "competent in handling numbers, have "rudimentary" computing skills and be able to read. Lessons for those aged 11 to 16 should be based around "broad systems of knowledge", he said. "By raising the bar in terms of entry to home education, you effectively raise the standard of education on offer," he said.

It is not yet known when the reforms will be introduced. New legislation will be needed to enforce rules on registration and local authority access to homes.

The review was launched amid fears some children educated at home could be at risk of abuse. Mrs Taberner, a mother of two from Sheffield, said the "horrendous" suggestion had been "trotted out by the Government" to justify the crackdown.

Mr Badman's report said there was "no evidence" to suggest home education was linked to forced marriage, servitude or child trafficking. But he claimed the overall number of children "known to children's social care in some local authorities is disproportionately high relative to the size of [the] home education population."


Incomprehensible British university professors

UNIVERSITY students have come forward to claim that the poor standard of English spoken by their lecturers means they have run up debts of more than £20,000 without the prospect of a good degree. The economics students at Kingston University, southwest London, say some of the academics’ accents are so heavy and many of their words so incomprehensible that it is not worth attending their lectures.

Two students contacted The Sunday Times last week after reading a report in the paper describing how another undergraduate at Kingston, Joanna al-Zahawi, 22, had resorted to employing a private tutor. One factor was her despair at her lecturers’ poor English. Both students declined to be named. One of them, awaiting his degree results, said he had lost hope of obtaining a good-quality degree because he had been so poorly taught.

“In this economy, what graduate employer is going to want someone with a 2:2 from Kingston?” he said. “I have run up £22,000 of debts and I have no hope of getting a graduate level job.” Another said: “One of the lecturers had real problems saying basic words – like ‘zero’, which he pronounced ‘chino’. That is confusing when someone is talking about economics.”

Students around the country are becoming more vocal in expressing their discontent about poor value for money. Degree courses now cost undergraduates more than £3,000 a year. Protests are under way at universities including Bristol and Manchester as well as Edinburgh – where English students, although not Scottish ones, pay fees.

At Bolton University, students have posted anonymous cards in lecturers’ pigeonholes giving them marks out of 10. At Manchester Metropolitan, undergraduates send a text message to their student union when academics are late for classes and lectures or cancel them. The University and College Union, which represents academics, describes these actions as “hate mail” and “bullying”.

Kingston University said: “The academic job market is international. It would be unusual for a university department to be staffed only by people with English as their first language. In the case of Kingston’s economics department, just under half of lecturers are not native to the UK.”


Sunday, June 14, 2009

The anti-male bigotry in the schools and colleges will hurt women too

Men are staying away from places that are hostile to them. So the educated male is becoming rarer. The boiler-suited Lesbians won't care but normal women want male partners -- and they want partners they can respect. Many women are now set to fail in that search, as education is a major source of respect and there are now not enough educated men to go round

Over the Memorial Day weekend, many college administrators attended a conference about the absence of men on today's college campuses and expressed concern about the negative experiences and unprecedented challenges facing college men today. The "2nd Conference on College Men" at the University of Pennsylvania featured sessions examining the implications of negative comments about men that are prevalent on college campuses and the sexist campus activism of participants in the nation's 500 college gender studies departments. The conference program, attended by about 100 professors and student affairs personnel, exposed some unpleasant facts: men are "overrepresented" in drug and alcohol abuse, violations of campus regulations, and acts of violence and sexual assault, and they are "underrepresented" in academic programs and campus leadership activities.

Over the past couple of decades, the male-female ratio on campuses has been changing dramatically. Women outnumber men by a 4-3 ratio on college campuses. Men currently make up only 43 percent of college graduates. In short, many today acknowledge that there is a crisis of the disappearing educated male.

Some experts claim that the imbalance begins in the public schools, where recess and physical education are being cut. More active boys are at a disadvantage, they say, when there is no outlet for their energy and restlessness. In addition, Title IX programs have hurt men's athletics with the less profitable men's sports being cut (over 400 men's collegiate athletic teams have been cut since Title IX went into effect) in order to fund women's programs. According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), "for every new women's athletic slot created between 1992 and 1997, 3.6 male athletes were dropped."

As more and more campuses institute distance education programs, we are learning that men typically are not drawn to such programs and either flunk out or drop out at a higher rate than women. We are also learning that men are told that it is not "cool" to study, make good grades or even to attend class and buy the textbook for a class. For many college males, "being manly" means tremendous external pressure to "not really work at anything; to just be cool and detached." Women, on the other hand, are encouraged to "be the best" and to excel in order to "make it" in the workplace. The end result is a disturbing imbalance in terms of numbers as well as performance of men in the university environment that is already carrying over into the job market where women are increasingly landing the top jobs and earning the big salaries.

According to USA Today, "currently 135 women receive bachelor's degrees for every 100 men." That imbalance, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Education, "is expected to widen in the coming years."

The negative implications are enormous. It will be harder for men to succeed, and the loss of educated men in the workplace will be incalculable. We are already seeing huge social gaps between educated women and the uneducated, immature and/or irresponsible men that constitute the marriage prospects available to them. That gap is showing up in the declining marriage rates as well as in the divorce rates. As Christina Hoff Sommers said in her book, The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism is Harming our Young Men, the fact that "women are significantly more literate, significantly more educated than their male counterparts" is likely to create a "lot of social problems;" the lack of well-educated men does not "bode well" for anyone.

Is it any wonder that men are avoiding today's college campuses? Hostility toward men and masculinity begins in daycare and increases each year thereafter. Sexual harassment training and policies have created an uncertain environment, if not a hostile one, where men have to watch their every word and action lest it be misunderstood or misinterpreted. Some experts criticize a campus "worldview that sees things only in terms of oppressors and the oppressed." Typically, the few campus men's studies programs are designed to push an anti-masculinity agenda.

Researchers have put the problem on their agendas. Some feminists are claiming that "educated women have always made some people nervous." Some even claim the gap is a matter of men realizing that they can make a better living than women even without an education.

In an increasingly more technological society, some experts are calling for a male affirmative action plan. Already, savvy campuses increase the number of males by instituting majors attractive to men, instituting or reinstating sports teams that were dropped, and highlighting programs that might attract male students. Almost all campuses feature men in their public relations pictures, being careful to avoid pictures that exclusively feature female students. Some campuses are shortening the period of accepting women's applications, while lengthening the time that applications are accepted from men. Some rumors claim that acceptance standards are lowered for men as well. Still, some experts think that the trend cannot be reversed.

Actually, the solution is much simpler: create an environment starting in kindergarten that teaches children to respect masculine traits. To do otherwise is to discriminate against our sons and brothers.


Arne Duncan backs charter schools

The Obama Administration's $100 billion in "stimulus" for schools has mostly been a free lunch -- the cash dispensed by formula in return for vague promises of reform. So we were glad to hear that Education Secretary Arne Duncan is now planning to spend some of that money to press states on charter schools. "States that don't have charter school laws, or put artificial caps on the growth of charter schools, will jeopardize their application" for some $5 billion in federal grant money, Mr. Duncan said in a conference call with reporters this week. "Simply put, they put themselves at a competitive disadvantage for the largest pool of discretionary dollars states have ever had access to."

Charter schools improve public education by giving parents options and forcing schools to compete for students and resources. For low-income minority families, these schools are often the only chance at a decent education. Charters are nonetheless opposed by teachers unions and others who like the status quo, no matter how badly it's serving students. As a result, 10 states lack laws that allow charter schools (see nearby table), and 26 others cap charter enrollment.

To his credit, Mr. Duncan singled out some of the worst anticharter states. "Maine is one of 10 states without a charter schools law, but the state legislature has tabled a bill to create one," he said. "Tennessee has not moved on a bill to lift enrollment restrictions. Indiana's legislature is considering putting a moratorium on new charter schools. These actions are restricting reform, not encouraging it."

On everything from test scores to graduation rates, charters in many states regularly outperform nearby public schools serving the same demographic groups. View Park Preparatory High School, for example, is a charter school located in predominantly black South Los Angeles, where the graduation rate is under 50%. Yet earlier this week View Park graduated every senior for the third consecutive year, and the entire class has been accepted to college. Charters are also much easier to shut down if children aren't learning, unlike traditional public schools that live on indefinitely regardless of student performance.

The Obama Administration's new rhetoric is certainly welcome, but the political reality is that every Member of Congress will want to see some of this money sent to his home state. So Mr. Duncan will be under intense pressure to soften or fudge his terms. A good test case will be Ohio, where Democratic Governor Ted Strickland's budget would reduce charter funding by 20% and add regulations that could make their creation more difficult.

This is one way that unions and their political allies try to kill charters by starving them rather than opposing them outright. Will these facts be considered when Mr. Duncan is determining which states are hostile to charters? And will he be willing to take on the unions in a state crucial to the President's re-election bid in 2012?

As a percentage of what the Obama Administration is spending on education, $5 billion isn't much. But it does give the federal government some leverage, and the best way to use it is for Mr. Duncan to show states that he means what he says about charters.


Lack of discipline destroying the education of young British children

Excluding children is the only means schools have of dealing with disruptive and violent behaviour. The situation will get ever-worse until they bring back the cane

Thousands of very young children are being excluded from primary schools for physically attacking pupils and teachers, research by The Times shows. It exposes the extent to which children of infant-school age are being expelled or suspended, even though the tactic is more commonly associated with uncontrollable teenagers.

The Times survey of 25 local authorities found that almost 4,000 primary school children had been excluded for fixed periods in 2007-08. This is the national equivalent to 25,128, a 6 per cent increase on last year, if extrapolated to cover the whole of England. Over the same period the primary school population fell by almost 20,000, so the real rise is 6.7 per cent.

More than three quarters of those who gave reasons said that one of the biggest causes of exclusion was the child physically assaulting another pupil. Another main reason was attacking a teacher.

Our findings underline national figures, which show temporary exclusions in primary schools have risen by 10 per cent in three years, from 41,300 in 2004 to 45,730 in 2007, because staff could not cope with their threatening and disruptive behaviour. More than 1,200 of the fixed-term exclusions in 2007 involved children aged 4 and under. Another 12,000 were under the age of 8.

Our survey paints a picture of teachers struggling to deal with violence from ever-younger children, some of whom in effect drop out of the education system before reaching secondary school.

John Bangs, head of education at the National Union of Teachers, said: “There’s a small and growing group of very young children creating very real problems, over whom parents seem to have no control. It’s a relatively new phenomenon for primary schools. They are reporting that groups of parents have real problems with their young children.”

Professor Carl Parsons, who has researched primary school exclusions for 16 years, said that children may be picking up bad behaviour younger. “The rise in fixed-term exclusions could be because there are more socially troubled families who are more isolated and less able to provide guidance and support for children.”

Many primary schools do not have the resources to deal with aggressive children in any other way, as they lack staff to offer one-to-one teaching and do not have on-call child psychiatrists. One teacher from a primary school in Norfolk told The Times: “I have worked at several schools and there has been a marked deterioration in behaviour in the last five years. Behaviour strategies don’t seem to work because schools have no power. Teachers are left to get on with it.”

Our survey showed that schools in Kingston-upon-Thames, southwest London, suspended 87 young children last year, including three from reception class and another seven aged 7 and under.