Saturday, July 03, 2010

Educational Bias In HS Advanced Placement Government Classes

Once again, we must address ‘What Our Children Are Being Taught In Our Schools.’ This time it is in our nation’s High School Advanced Placement (AP) Government curriculum. It is quite disturbing.

We start with the following practice question from this year’s Barron’s test preparation book for the Advanced Placement (AP) Exam for “U.S. Government and Politics” taken by millions of our brightest HS students. See if you can surmise the answer.

Traditionally, the Republican Party has been viewed as favoring which of the following groups? (A) Big business; (B) The poor; (C) The middle class; (D) African-Americans; (E) Hispanics

The answer, of course, is (A). Consider the effect of teaching this to our children. First, it marginalizes the Republican Party by suggesting upwards of 80% of the electorate are NOT favored by Republicans. It makes you wonder how they ever win elections. Second, it isn’t even true, especially in the last election cycle, when large financial, pharmaceutical, and health care companies backed Obama.

But more importantly, selection (A) could have been ”Economic growth,” “Entrepreneurs,” or even “Business.” But those characterizations do not demonize business or Republicans enough. Wonder if there is a similar question tying Democrats to Big Unions or Big Government? No, there isn’t. I looked.

Reagonomics, Bad; Clintonomics, Good

To continue with the previous discussion, the Barron’s test preparation book also prepares students for the Free-Response Essay portion of the AP U.S. Government and Politics exam. On pages 345-347, the test-taker is asked to: (a.) Identify and explain one key policy of Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton as it relates to economic philosophy; and (b.) Show how it was applied to economic policy.

The following are excerpts of what Barron’s illustrates as an appropriate response to the question.

It’s a lot to read and even more to swallow. (You’re lucky I’m only making you read excerpts)

Ronald Reagan’s Policies: ”Supply-siders held that an abundance of efficiently produced goods could actually stimulate demand enough to raise the entire GNP. During the 1979 campaign, Reagan construed such a theory as the solution to the lingering problem of stagflation. . . .

Yet after his election, supply-side economics did not manifest itself in a significant reduction in government expenditures, nor even an increase in government revenues. . . . [Reagan] successfully instituted a regressive income tax and lowered the capital gains tax, resulting in an expansion of the upper-income tax bracket. But an examination of the fluctuations in GNP indicated that the economy expanded decidedly unevenly, encouraging a widening distribution of personal income comparable to the 1920s. Reagan’s policies had indeed provided American firms the capital necessary to invest and develop more efficient and cost-effective goods and services. Yet unlike Japanese businesses, American firms invested little of such assets, so that the proportion of the GNP dedicated to R&D never increased.

This trend may explain precisely why a boost in incomes of the business class. . . . never increased supply and in turn failed to stimulate demand or produce massive national wealth. Firms and the wealthy used increased revenue to consume rather than to save. Productivity gradually declined, much technological innovation never hit the factory floor, and quite simply, businesses consequently did not need to hire more workers and could not afford to increase wages proportional to the amount of revenues businesses were receiving.

The decline in productivity increased the deficit and increased the wealth of the smallest portion of the economy. This wouldn’t have been quite so harmful had it not been for one other component of Reagan’s policy. . . . the systematic reduction of the government’s mechanism’s of demand. Because this reduction was not offset by an increase in demand, the middle class lost vital programs resulting in loss of wages.

The decline in prosperity of the heart of American society precipitated an electoral crisis in confidence. The middle class identified the U.S. deficit as a symbol of the manner in which government trapped them. Not only did the eight years of regressive taxation inhibit them, but they faced the prospect of having to pay back the debt at increasing levels of interest.”

Bill Clinton’s Policies: Clinton successful defined the agenda of the 1992 election. James Carville identified the principal issue. ”It’s the economy, stupid. . . . ” By the beginning of the 1990s the negative effects of Reagan’s policies manifested themselves in economic recession and massive unemployment. . . .

The Clinton camp articulated a platform that embodied a large increase in government spending. . . . He proposed an increase in education spending, a middle class tax cut (which would undoubtedly have stimulated demand but was not fiscally plausible, and was not enacted), a reduction of corporate welfare, and a general stimulus package, which the Senate never passed. Such a platform theoretically would have reduced the burden of the middle class, because [they] would not have to rely on the trickle-down generosity of the wealthy business class. And since businesses failed to invest the money that Reagan had provided them Clinton sought to stimulate innovation and productivity through labor and educational spending. . . .

Although Clinton’s fiscal policies, alongside a turn in the business cycle, succeeded in ending the recession and stimulating a new period of growth, other problems resulted in a Republican mid-term victory. But after Clinton victory on 1996, the economy remained on solid ground. The deficit was reduced by more than half. Millions of jobs were created. So James Carville’s 1992 prophecy became economic reality in 1996.

REMEMBER, the students taking this AP exam are our best and brightest, and are among those most likely to enter the fields of law and politics.


Stupid British schools trying to shelter kids from real life

Winning banned in two thirds of schools as teachers reward ALL students

Two out of three schools are rewarding all pupils on sports days to ensure that nobody feels left out, according to a survey. Teachers want to be 'inclusive' and give prizes to both winners and losers to stop anyone's feelings being hurt.

The findings come as the Government has pledged to reintroduce competitive sport into the country's primary and secondary schools. Ministers are launching a new 'School Olympics' programme to end the widespread culture of 'prizes for all'. The championships are intended to give every child an experience of hardfought competition and prevent schools from refusing to pit youngsters against each other.

However, a survey by School Stickers, a provider of rewards for primary and secondary schools, reveals the scale of the problem the new policy must overcome. It surveyed almost 300 primary and secondary schools and found that 69 per cent reward all participants in sports days. The figures are 54 per cent for secondary schools and 77 per cent for primaries. Nine per cent of all schools refuse to single out any winners at all. Extrapolated across the country, this would equate to more than 2,000 schools.

The survey also found that two per cent of schools miss out on competitive games as they have no sports days. This figure equates to almost 500 nationally.

The schools all blame the organisational burden as the reason for not holding one, rather than health and safety reasons.

Henry Shelford, chief executive of School Stickers, said: 'It is ironic that just days after the Government announces plans to reinvigorate competition in school sports, our survey reveals how many schools prefer a more "inclusive" approach.

'With England's footballers again failing at the World Cup, and the 2012 Olympics looming, the nature of sports participation in schools is firmly on the agenda. Each school is unique and needs to choose the system that works for them. 'But I feel sorry for the 500 schools where teachers and pupils want a sports day but can't. 'All miss out on a fun and stimulating day.'

The new school sports championships are designed to reverse the decline in competitive sport brought about by Left-wing councils that scorned it as 'elitist' and insisted on politically correct activities with no winners or losers.

The first championship will take place in the run-up to the 2012 Olympic Games. They will involve a wide range of sports including football, rugby, netball, golf, cricket, tennis, athletics, judo, gymnastics, swimming, table tennis and volleyball. Schools will compete against each other in district leagues from 2011 with winning athletes and teams qualifying for as many as 60 finals. The most talented will then be selected for national finals.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said: 'We need to revive competitive sport in our schools. 'Fewer than a third of school pupils take part in regular competitive sport within schools and fewer than one in five take part in regular competition between schools.'


Phenomenal school performance by East Asian students in Australia

Despite the large handicap of coming from a different linguistic and cultural background. Effort alone cannot account for that. For an Asian to become competent in English is a huge leap. Try learning Chinese if you doubt it

CHILDREN of recent Asian migrants are dramatically outperforming students from English-speaking households to dominate the ranks of the top selective high schools.

A Herald analysis shows 42 per cent of children from non-English speaking backgrounds who sat the annual selective high school entrance test last year won a place in the elite system. Fewer than 23 per cent of students whose families speak English at home were successful.

Letters and emails were sent this week to inform 4133 year 6 students that they had won a place for next year at a selective high school. The percentage of students from migrant families entering the selective system has risen dramatically from 29 per cent in 1995 to as high as 62 per cent in 2008. The component is sharply skewed towards children from Asian-origin families.

Students whose families speak other languages comprise a little more than one-quarter of the total public school population.

Many of the successful students are graduates of the burgeoning network of private coaching colleges which gauge their success by their ability to secure places in the selective system and who tailor courses towards the "opportunity class" and selective exams. Coaching colleges are dominated by children of recent migrants.

"Anglo families have a different sense of what a child's life should look like and they are really concerned about narrowing a child's life down to passing the selective school entrance test," says Craig Campbell, a Sydney University academic and co-author of School Choice, a book on how parents negotiate the school market. "But they're having to change because of the competition."

High school principals, worried about losing students and prestige, are said to be pushing hard to establish selective streams in their schools, according to Associate Professor Campbell.

At James Ruse Agricultural High, the state's top selective school, an overwhelming majority of students are from families that have migrated from Asian countries.

The selective system was expanded this year with 600 more places created through the establishment of 14 partially selective high schools, where a high-achieving stream has been added to a comprehensive high school.

The students from migrant families also win up to half the opportunity class placements available for years 5 and 6 at specialised public schools. These classes are designed to provide "intellectual stimulation and an educationally enriched environment for academically gifted and talented children", says the Department of Education.

Anecdotal evidence suggests some parents avoid selective high schools because of the extent of Asian domination. The former head of the NSW selective schools unit, Bob Wingrave, recalls his surprise to hear a colleague had decided against sending his child to James Ruse "because there were too many Asians there".

"All kids who go to a selective high school will benefit from going," Mr Wingrave said. Coaching might gain students a few marks at the most.

Children from a non-English-speaking background answered more questions in the selective schools entry test than other students, he said. "The Anglo kids won't answer it if looks too hard and they are less likely to finish than the non-English-speaking background kids," Mr Wingrave said.


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