Friday, June 04, 2010

Head Start: Corrupt and useless

Just a pretentious child-minding service

Head Start, which provides child development services primarily to low-income families and their children, is one of the few popular programs that came out of President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. But following up on hotline tips alleging fraud and abuse, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) began an undercover investigation of Head Start centers in California, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin. Heritage Senior Policy Analyst David Muhlhausen details what the GAO found:

* In eight of the 13 eligibility tests, the fictitious families were told by Head Start staff that they were eligible for the program and encouraged to attend class;

* In all of these eight cases, Head Start staff instructed the fictitious families to misrepresent their eligibility for the program;

* In seven of these cases, Head Start staff deliberately disregarded part of the fictitious families’ income to make these families eligible for participation;

* In at least four of the cases, the GAO later received doctored documents that excluded income information originally provided to the Head Start staff;

* In two cases, Head Start staff designated on application forms that one parent was unemployed, even though the GAO presented documentation of both parents’ income; and

* In one case, Head Start staff assured the fictitious family that no one would validate that the income information submitted was correct.

Fraud is just the latest of Head Start’s problems. Earlier this year the Department of Health and Human Services released the first scientifically rigorous experimental evaluation of Head Start. And contrary to Head Start’s usually great press clippings, the study found that Head Start has had little to no effect on cognitive, socio-emotional, health, and parenting outcomes of participating children. [There has been plenty of previous evidence to that effect -- going back many years]


CA: Blatant political propaganda in the classroom

LA students to be taught that Arizona immigration law “un-American”. Hate speech against Arizona?

The Los Angeles Unified School District school board wants all public school students in the city to be taught that Arizona's new immigration law is un-American.

The school board president made the announcement Tuesday night after the district's Board of Education passed a resolution to oppose the controversial law, which gives law enforcement officials in Arizona the power to question and detain people they suspect are in the U.S. illegally when they are stopped in relation to a crime or infraction.

Critics of the law say it will result in racial profiling.

The school board voted unanimously on Tuesday to “express outrage” and “condemnation” of the law, and it called on the school superintendent to look into curtailing economic support to the Grand Canyon State. About 73 percent of the students in the school district are Latino.

But supporters of the law say the school board is way out of bounds and that the measure will just distract from the children's education.

“This is ridiculous, it’s ridiculous for us to be involved in Arizona law,” said Jane Barnett, Chairman, Los Angeles County Republican Party. “There is a 50 percent dropout rate in some parts of the school district—is this going to keep kids in school?”

According to its press release, "The Los Angeles Board of Education also requested that Superintendent Ramon Cortines ensure that civics and history classes discuss the recent laws with students in the context of the American values of unity, diversity and equal protection for all people.”

"America must stand for tolerance, inclusiveness and equality,” said Board President Monica García, according to the release. “In our civics classes and in our hallways, we must give life to these values by teaching our students to value themselves; to respect others; and to demand fairness and justice for all who live within our borders. Any law which violates civil rights is un-American."

In an e-mail to, school district spokesman Robert Alaniz elaborated:

“The Board of Education directed the Superintendent to ensure that LAUSD civics and history classes discuss the recent laws enacted in Arizona in the context of the American values of unity, diversity, and Equal Protection for all. Much like a number of controversial periods and laws that are part of our history and are currently taught including:

-- Slavery

-- Jim Crowe laws and segregation

-- Native American reservations

-- Residential schools (for Native Americans)

-- The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882

-- Anti-Irish racism in the 19th century

-- Racism against immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe in the 20th century

-- Anti-Semitism

-- Internment camps for Japanese Americans during World War II

-- The Mexican Repatriation Program (1929-1939)."

The school district resolution also opposed another new Arizona law that bans schools from teaching classes that promote the overthrow of the government or advocate ethnic solidarity.

The school board called on Arizona's leaders to reverse both of these “misguided” new laws, the press release said.

The board said the laws “effectively sanction and promote unconstitutional racial profiling and harassment,” and “blatantly violate the civil rights of both Arizona residents and all visitors to the State.”

They said Arizona’s new laws also “severely restrict the education of all children in Arizona by refusing to incorporate vital sections of history that incorporate the contributions of this country’s many diverse groups.”

The superintendent was also asked to investigate ways to curtail contracts with Arizona-based businesses and district travel to the state.

"We need to do everything in our power to help our students be global citizens, develop appreciation for the diversity in our midst, and reject any forms of racism or bias," said Board Vice President Yolie Flores. "This resolution highlights our commitment to ensuring that our students understand the ideals and constitutional rights that this great country is founded on, while also gaining an appreciation of the histories and cultural contributions of those who have helped build this nation."

“It is a sad day in America when the rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution are trampled upon under the color of law and authority,” said LAUSD Board Member Martinez. “Everyone, regardless of their status in the United States, has the right to equal protection under our laws. These Arizona laws are nothing but a knee-jerk backlash resulting from the lack of a comprehensive and well thought out immigration reform policy.”

The LA County Republican chairwoman said she’s been inundated with phone calls, e-mails and Facebook messages from people all over Los Angeles who say their school district has no business meddling in another state’s laws when they’ve got so many problems of their own to deal with.

“This is really crazy,” she said. “Everybody is upset about this.”

Barnett called the school board resolution a “pathetic stunt” that distracts educators from what they should be focusing on: educating the students.

“This is nothing we should be involved in. Let the courts deal with this,” she said. “We need to keep out of other people’s states’ business.”

Nathan Mintz, the founder of the South Bay Tea Party and the Republican nominee for the 53rd State Assembly seat.

“This is just another example of these embedded bureaucrats in California doing anything they can to deflect and distract from the poor job their doing of educating our children,” said Nathan Mintz, the founder of the South Bay Tea Party and the Republican nominee for the 53rd State Assembly seat.

He said attacking Arizona’s immigration law is just “a distraction from the key issue of educating the kids in our schools.”

“We support Arizona,” Barnett said. “In fact, I think we ought to go there right now for vacation.”


British University degrees now mean a lot less than they used to

Traditional university degree grades have been rendered meaningless by the mass expansion of higher education, say researchers. A sharp rise in the number of people admitted to university since the mid-80s makes it impossible to compare degrees awarded by different institutions in different subjects, it was claimed.

Researchers said the 200-year-old system of first, second and third-class degrees is also threatened by increased competition between universities - with lecturers under pressure to mark up work to justify higher fees.

The study, by the Higher Education Policy Institute think-tank, said there was evidence of “management intervention in academic judgments on standards." Some institutions have also been better at weeding out cheating by students than other universities, the report said.

The comments come amid growing criticism of the existing degree classification system. Figures show the number of students achieving a first has more than doubled since the mid-1990s and two years ago the Quality Assurance Agency, the university watchdog, said grades were based on "arbitrary and unreliable measures".

Last year, a number of universities introduced detailed report cards as an alternative to old-fashioned degree grades. Some 18 universities are piloting the so-called Higher Education Achievement Record, which lists detailed scores in individual modules alongside a breakdown of students’ membership of sports clubs and debating societies, before being expanded nationwide.

The report's author, Roger Brown, professor of higher education policy at Liverpool Hope University, said all students graduating from university should reach a minimum standard. This could be done by appointing academics to scrutinise degrees to check they are worthwhile, he said.

The report said: “At a time when only a very small proportion of the population went to university, and the student population was broadly equivalent in terms of background and ability…it may have been a reasonable expectation that the outcomes of degree courses should be broadly comparable.

“Today, the environment is radically different. “Nearly half of the young population now participate in higher education, the range of ability of those students is much wider, and the purpose, nature and intended outcomes of programmes all vary considerably. “It makes little sense to seek comparability of outcomes, and indeed it would actually be wrong to do so.”

It said degrees from Oxford and Cambridge could not be compared with those from other universities because of the “extraordinarily high” standard of students' previous exam results, combined with the quality of lecturers and intensity of the Oxbridge tutorial system.

The comments follow claims last year by Prof Rick Trainor, principal of King’s College London, that a first-class degree in tourism and management from a former polytechnic could not be compared with a first in ancient history from a top institution.

Under Labour, growing numbers of school-leaver have been encouraged to strive for university. Almost 400,000 more students are now in higher education than in 1997. The number of people applying for courses this year is already up by more than a fifth.


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