Thursday, January 26, 2012

Schools of education

By Walter E. Williams

Larry Sand's article "No Wonder Johnny (Still) Can't Read" -- written for The John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, based in Raleigh, N.C. -- blames schools of education for the decline in America's education.

Education professors drum into students that they should not "drill and kill" or be the "sage on the stage" but instead be the "guide on the side" who "facilitates student discovery." This kind of harebrained thinking, coupled with multicultural nonsense, explains today's education. During his teacher education, Sand says, "teachers-to-be were forced to learn about this ethnic group, that impoverished group, this sexually anomalous group, that under-represented group, etc. -- all under the rubric of 'Culturally Responsive Education.'"

Education majors are woefully lacking in academic skills. Here are some sample test questions for you to answer. Question 1: Which of the following is equal to a quarter-million? a) 40,000, b) 250,000, c) 2,500,000, d) 1/4,000,000 or e) 4/1,000,000. Question 2: Martin Luther King Jr. (insert the correct choice) for the poor of all races. a) spoke out passionately, b) spoke out passionate, c) did spoke out passionately, d) has spoke out passionately or e) had spoken out passionate. Question 3: What would you do if your student sprained an ankle? a) Put a Band-Aid on it, b) Ice it or c) Rinse it with water.

Guess whether these questions were on a sixth-grade, ninth-grade or 12th-grade test. I bet the average reader would guess that it's a sixth-grade test. Wrong. How about ninth-grade? Wrong again. You say, "OK, Williams, so they're 12th-grade test questions!" Still wrong. According to a Heartland Institute-published School Reform News (September 2001) article titled "Who Tells Teachers They Can Teach?", those test questions came from prospective teacher tests.

The first two questions are samples from the Praxis I test for teachers, and the third is from the 1999 teacher certification test in Illinois. According to the Chicago Sun-Times (9/6/01), 5,243 Illinois teachers failed their teacher certification tests. The Chicago Sun-Times also reported, "One teacher failed 24 of 25 teacher tests -- including 11 of 12 Basic Skills tests and all 12 tests on teaching learning-disabled children." Yet that teacher was assigned to teach learning-disabled children in Chicago. Departments of education have solved the problem of teacher test failure. According to a New York Post story (11/14/11) titled "City teacher tests turn into E-ZPass," more than 99 percent of teachers pass.

Textbooks used in schools of education advocate sheer nonsense. A passage in Enid Lee et al.'s "Beyond Heroes and Holidays" reads: "We cannot afford to become so bogged down in grammar and spelling that we forget the whole story. ... The onslaught of antihuman practices that this nation and other nations are facing today: racism, and sexism, and the greed for money and human labor that disguises itself as 'globalization.'"

Marilyn Burns' text "About Teaching Mathematics" reads, "There is no place for requiring students to practice tedious calculations that are more efficiently and accurately done by using calculators."

"New Designs for Teaching and Learning," by Dennis Adams and Mary Hamm, says: "Content knowledge is not seen to be as important as possessing teaching skills and knowledge about the students being taught. ... Successful teachers understand the outside context of community, personal abilities, and feelings, while they establish an inside context or environment conducive to learning."

That means it's no problem if a teacher can't figure out that a quarter-million is the same as 250,000. Harvey Daniels and Marilyn Bizar's text "Methods that Matter" reads, "Students can no longer be viewed as cognitive living rooms into which the furniture of knowledge is moved in and arranged by teachers, and teachers cannot invariably act as subject-matter experts." The authors add, "The main use of standardized tests in America is to justify the distribution of certain goodies to certain people."

Schools of education represent the academic slums of most any college. American education can benefit from slum removal.


Law Schools Teach Junk, Exaggerate Their Students' Job Prospects

Propped up by government subsidies and regulations requiring students to attend law school before taking the bar exam, law schools waste their students’ time teaching irrelevant legal theories and ideologies, even as they paint a deceptively rosy picture of the job prospects that await their students upon graduation. As I noted in The Wall Street Journal this weekend,
At Harvard Law School I learned about trendy ideological fads and feminist and Marxist legal theory. But I did not learn the basics of real-estate and family law until I took a commercial bar-exam preparation course after graduating from law school. I learned more practical law in one summer of studying for the bar exam than I did in three years of law school. Students should not have to attend law school before taking the bar exam.

As Charlotte Allen notes at Minding the Campus, law schools are “fudging the facts” regarding their students’ job prospects in order to attract students and justify skyrocketing tuitions:
law schools, along with the universities to which they are attached, crave their students’ tuition dollars (law schools, where expensive labs are nonexistent and large lecture courses are the rule, tend to be cash cows for their host campuses) . . . One way to do this is to boast a high percentage [to U.S. News & World Report of] “graduates known to be employed within nine months after graduation.”

The “known” in the phrase “known to be employed” is the operative word. Law schools send their recent graduates surveys . . . The graduates then self-report their employment, if any, and the school calculates the percentage of those who responded who say they have jobs and submits it to U.S. News. Graduates who fail to respond to the survey or who can’t be located don’t count.

Furthermore, any kind of job counts as “employment,” even a job that requires no legal training. In a Jan. 8 story for the New York Times, reporter David Segal wrote: “Waiting tables at Applebee’s? You’re employed. Stocking aisles at Home Depot? You’re working, too.” . . . Segal reported that Georgetown University’s law school, safely in the top tier . . . last year sent an e-mail to its graduates who were “still seeking employment” offering them $20-and-hour temporary jobs in the admissions office for the six weeks encompassing Feb. 15, the cut-off date under U.S. News’s nine-month rule. . .As might be easily predicted from these loosey-goosey controls on survey accuracy, even the lowest-tiered law schools report astonishingly high levels of employment for their graduates. . .Last year that number had jumped to 93 percent, with some schools reporting 99 percent and 100 percent employment.

Furthermore, many law schools report starting salaries for their graduates that seem unrealistically high, given the current dismal market. In a July 16, 2011 story for the New York Times Segal noted that New York Law School (NYLS), a third-tier institution in lower Manhattan with a U.S. News ranking of No. 134, told the magazine that the median annual salary nine months after its Class of 2009 graduated was $160,000–the same figure cited by Yale and Harvard, which ranked No. 1 and No. 2 for that year. Only the largest and most prestigious law firms pay three-figure salaries to brand-new lawyers, and they hire most of them from top-tier, not third-tier law schools. . .

Since it’s estimated that a law graduate needs to earn $65,000 at a bare minimum in order to pay down a student-loan debt in the $100,000 range, there’s quite a bit of anger among unemployed and under-employed young lawyers burdened with staggering loans that, like other federal student loans, can’t be discharged in bankruptcy. Class-action lawsuits alleging fraud and misrepresentation have been filed by graduates of NYLS and the Thomas M. Cooley Law School . . . the lawyers who launched the NYLS and Cooley suits plan to sue fifteen more law schools that have reported post-graduate employment rates ranging from 88 percent to 100 percent–rates that the lawyers say amount to misrepresentation.

As I have previously explained, there is no reason to require people to attend law school before sitting for the bar exam. As law professor Paul Campos notes, legal education is a rip-off, since the typical law professor “knows nothing about being a lawyer. Hence, he must bullshit,” and thus, “talks without knowing what he is talking about,” when explaining the practical workings of the legal system or how to be a lawyer. But since most states require people to attend law school before sitting for the bar exam, law schools have been able to increase tuition by nearly 1,000 percent since 1960 in real terms.


No punishment for kids who bullied redhead

There is serious prejudice against redheads in England. If he had been a Muslim there would have been a huge uproar

A 12-year-old boy who was relentlessly bullied for having ginger hair was offered lessons in a class for 'vulnerable' pupils. Teachers suggested Tyler Walsh be taught in isolation to escape merciless taunts about his red hair, it has been claimed.

His furious mother Emma has pulled her son out of Year 8 and is tutoring him herself at home. She accused staff of failing to punish the gang responsible after just a single one-day suspension was handed out to the ringleader, it was alleged.

However the school - Yate International Academy - denied he would be taught in isolation and claimed his mother had misunderstood.

Ms Walsh, 33, says Tyler has been subjected to an 18-month campaign of bullying over the colour of his hair. She said: 'It is not fair that Tyler should be bullied out of school. He wants to learn and has been getting excellent grades and earning points for his guild (house). 'He was going to after-school science club and would like to become a scientist or science teacher. 'He wants to go to school but not to that school.

'I don’t feel my son will be safe at school so I am keeping him at home until he can start at another school next week. I will be tutoring him at home.'

Ms Walsh, from Yate, Bristol, sent Tyler to Yate International Academy 18-months ago, where he began his secondary education. But his mum claims bullies began picking on him straight away because of his brightly-coloured hair and willingness to learn.

He was bullied in Year 7 and then attacked in the street before Christmas last year. The latest incident, where a gang chased him into a toilet cubicle - forcing him to be rescued by a Year 11 student - was the final straw, she has claimed.

Ms Walsh, a full-time mother, said her son had been extremely distressed by the incident, which she had been told happened after the main perpetrator 'had a bad day'. He was given just a one-day suspension, it was claimed. Ms Walsh said: 'Yate International Academy has punished one boy, when a whole group were involved. 'A day off school is hardly a punishment for what my child has had to endure. I think it is absolutely disgusting.'

According to Ms Walsh, she decided to take Tyler out of school and tutor him herself after staff suggested Tyler attend its 'pupil inclusion unit' for vulnerable students.

However the school said it managed the issue 'in accordance' with its policies and protocols. Roger Gilbert, headteacher of Yate International Academy, claimed Ms Walsh had misunderstood the situation. He said the 'inclusion unit' was simply a place where Tyler could go a receive support and tell staff how he was feeling [Big deal!], but that he will still be taught with his peers.

Mr Gilbert also claimed that Ms Walsh went to the media with her grievance instead of speaking to the school first. He added: 'The unit does not teach children - it just helps them talk about what happened.

'Tyler would be taught with his normal class and would not be separated. This situation is not as it has been reported. I was only aware of Emma's complaints after I was contacted by the press about it. 'As far as I was aware Tyler was a happy boy - I speak to him most days. I am fully satisfied that everything we have done has been done in accordance with our practices and procedures.'

Ms Walsh is also upset that the academy refused to send work for Tyler to do at home until he was able to start at a new school - claiming they are 'punishing him'. She said the academy told her it would not send work home for Tyler because it was felt that this would be condoning his absence.

Ms Walsh, who also has a 15-year-old son and an 11-year-old daughter, called for the school’s anti-bullying policies to be toughened up.

She said she had complained to education watchdog Ofsted about the matter.


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