Monday, August 20, 2012

The last laugh

Asinine Education Officials

September's coming, so let's look at the latest way our federal government screws up public schools.

Black students are suspended or expelled far more than white students - 350% more. President Obama's Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, claims it's because of white racism. I think that's baloney. Black students are disciplined more because they misbehave more, but it doesn't matter what I think.  Liberals are in charge of the US Department of Education, most state education departments, and all teachers' unions. What they think is what matters. They think they can solve the problem the same way they try to solve so many other social problems - by blaming it on racism and spending money on it.

The result is always the same too: It gets worse and we go further into debt because nearly half the money they spend is borrowed from China. Obama Administration officials and civil rights advocates like to repeat one phrase, according to Heather MacDonald, writing in her City Journal essay Undisciplined: the "school to prison pipeline."

They think racist schools steer black students to prison. They believe white racist discrimination causes poverty and poverty causes crime. They're completely stuck in that sixties mindset and cannot think any other way. That would be fine, but they're running our schools and spending billions. MacDonald points out that white boys are suspended or expelled twice as often as Asian or Pacific Islander boys, but administration officials ignore that. It doesn't fit their world view. Neither do they seem to notice correlation between black misbehavior in schools and the black murder rate.

"The homicide rate among males between the ages of 14 and 17 is nearly ten times higher for blacks than for whites and Hispanics combined," writes MacDonald. "Such data make no impact on the Obama administration and its orbiting advocates, who apparently believe that the lack of self-control and socialization that results in this disproportionate criminal violence does not manifest itself in classroom comportment as well."

Why the blindness? It's easy to explain. These officials are all devout members of the multicultural priesthood. They mustn't look at cultural clues among black students like fatherlessness, drug use, (c)rap music, domestic violence, graffiti, sexual behavior, "ebonics," generational welfare, domestic violence - to name just a few. It's okay to bring up those things if you're going to blame them on racism, but if you were to suggest that the black community itself might share responsibility for any of it - or might even foster it in some cases - you'd be quickly labeled "racist" and shunned.

In graduate school during the 70s, I was trained to apply standardized tests to students measuring intelligence, achievement, and various other learning abilities. If I obtained low scores measuring intelligence, there were items to rule out lest it skew an individual student's profile, and one was "cultural deprivation." It had to be considered when trying to determine if a student had enough gray matter to learn what the school was trying to teach. In other words, he might be intelligent but his culture was holding him back. But as I said, that was back in the 70s. Writing anything like that in a student's folder today would be dangerous to one's career.

When black students or any other students are suspended or expelled, follow them out to their cars. Watch them struggle to get in with their pants hanging down below their asses and their hats on sideways. What do you hear as they pull away? Even if you're deaf, you would likely feel the air around you literally vibrate from a deep base box in the trunk with a (c)rap music beat. Listen to the anger and hate in the "ebonic" lyrics. There are definite cultural clues there about what may be affecting their behavior, but Arne Duncan and his ilk have to ignore them. To acknowledge them would force a modification of their entire world view.

(C)Rap is the signature music of a sick, black subculture. Unfortunately though, it's celebrated in countless award ceremonies televised around the world. It's worshiped and glorified by Hollywood and by students of all races and it's not good. It's poison, and the solid black Christian culture from which emerged people like the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. wanes as the sick, black subculture spreads.

American Heritage Dictionary defines multiculturalism as: "The view that the various cultures in a society merit equal respect and scholarly interest. It became a significant force in American society in the 1970s and 1980s as African-Americans, Latinos, and other ethnic groups explored their own history." To the multicultural priesthood, I'm obviously a heretic and I don't march in their parade. I believe that good and bad are perfectly fine adjectives to use when describing culture. Cultural trends that degrade women and kill children are bad. Cultural trends that nurture them are good. Our educational elite doesn't seem to get this because they drink multicultural Kool-Aid every day. That's how they "race to the top" of their profession. And yes, the puns are intentional.

Regardless of race, students who misbehave must be removed from classrooms lest they deprive others students of their right to education. Anyone who doesn't understand that shouldn't be making education policy. They shouldn't be in the profession at all.


British High School  students must be told the whole truth about the value of a degree

"Mis-selling of higher education is one of the least remarked upon scandals of our time"

To listen to ministers talk about university education, it is as if Britain has entered an academic arms race with the rest of the world. China’s universities, we’re told, are spewing out six million graduates a year: we must compete, or we’re doomed. In the Blair years, a national target was set: half of all young people ought to enter higher education. They’d have to get into debt, but they were reassured it would be a worthwhile investment. Having some letters after your name meant going further in your careers and earning far more. Those without a degree, by implication, would enter the workplace at a distinct disadvantage.

It is surprising that David Willetts should continue this line of argument, because he is clever enough to know what simplistic nonsense it is. It is understandable for the Universities Minister to be in favour of studying, but the real picture of education in Britain is far more complex. The idea of a binary divide in the career prospects of graduates and non-graduates is not a picture that would be recognised by employers. In many lines of work, those who did not get the A-levels for university now have a future just as bright (or otherwise) as the graduates.

From the moment that John Major started to abolish student grants, the British government has been in the business of selling (rather than simply providing) higher education. Yes, studying costs, runs the argument, but it is an investment: what students pay is a small fraction of what they will get back.

Then came the proliferation of courses and institutions, from BA (Hons) in Golf Management at the University of the Highlands and Islands to Trade Union Studies at Blackpool College. The definition of a degree has changed massively, but the financial argument used for getting one has not changed at all.

When Mr Willetts trebled the cap on university fees, he justified this by arguing that a university degree will “on average boost your earnings by £100,000 over a lifetime”. If true, that would – more or less – justify the average £40,000 of debt which is expected to face those who start college this autumn. But it doesn’t take a A* in A-level maths to suspect that the £100,000 figure disguises a vast range of alternative scenarios, many of which imply disadvantage for those who, for whatever reason, give university a miss.

Last year the Government released a research paper that spelt it out. For doctors and dentists, a degree is a prerequisite. They will earn £400,000 more over a lifetime, as you might expect, having been fully trained for a well-paid profession. But for students admitted to less rigorous degrees, the premium quickly diminishes – especially for men. Those who graduate in the subjects I studied, history and philosophy, can expect to earn a paltry £35 a year more than non-graduates. For graduates in “mass communication” the premium is just £120 a year. But both are better value than a degree in “creative arts”, where graduates can actually expect to earn £15,000 less, over a lifetime, than those who start work aged 18.

With employment, it’s not much better. The old joke – “What do you say to an arts graduate? 'Big Mac and fries, please’”– has all too much resonance now. Of recent graduates, almost a third are in jobs that don’t require anything more than GCSEs. One in 10 recent graduates is now on the dole. All youth unemployment is tragic, but there is something especially scandalous about young people who have been sold a vision of graduate life, only to find it was a piece of spin to sweeten the bitter pill of student loans. The mis-selling of higher education is one of the least remarked-upon scandals of our time.

The simplistic argument – that the brightest get the best grades and go to the best universities – would be more convincing if Britain had a meritocratic education system. But here, perhaps more than any other country, the quality of exam results are linked to background. For all the egalitarian aims of the comprehensive school system, it has produced the opposite: a system where a direct relationship can be drawn between pupils’ exam results and their families’ wealth. Scandalously few of those who live in our sink estates will have done much celebrating after their A-levels yesterday.

The league tables, showing the best state schools, bear a suspicious resemblance to prosperity indices. And this is not, to paraphrase Neil Kinnock, because British children from poor backgrounds are thick. It is strange how, after each set of A-level results, there is a uproar about how many pupils who qualified for free school meals are admitted into Oxford University – but less interest in how these children do so much worse at school, from primary years onwards. Employers have learnt that bright children don’t necessarily have the best GCSEs.

The ministerial focus of education as an economic tool risks missing the larger point. David Cameron’s Government is doing much to make the system work better. The most pernicious equation in public life, between wealth and GCSE results, cannot be found in the new breed of Academy schools. The Harris Academy group, which runs 13 schools in deprived inner-city boroughs, announced yesterday that it is sending pupils to Bristol University for maths, Warwick University for law and Imperial College for medicine. These sixth-formers would have enrolled at the school when it was a fledgling New Labour project; now there are hundreds of Academy schools. It is perhaps the most rapidly vindicated social experiment of modern times.

Even for undergraduates, things may be on the turn. Tuition at Britain’s best universities has always ranked among the best in the world; it is the lower-ranking colleges that have tended to short-change students. Mr Willetts’s decision to remove the cap on places for students with AAB at A-level should soon have universities competing for pupils with such grades. Next year, this will hold true for pupils with ABB results. Having introduced the bad side of a market system (fees), the proper side (competition for custom) will finally get under way.

By next year, all universities will be forced to release information on graduate employment rates for each course. This will help students work out if they are being conned. If all goes well, the number of good courses will expand, and the courses that serve neither students nor society will be exposed. And while there has been a dip in university applications, it has come from wealthier students. The offer of bursaries for students from the lowest-income families seems to be having the desired effect.

Much has been written about the "jilted generation" and how twentysomethings feel betrayed, saddled with debt and robbed of prospects. Unemployed graduates, all 130,000 of them, will be richly entitled to such resentment. Theirs may well end up being known as the transition generation, those sold university education for a hefty fee, before they were able to know what they were buying. But there is an upside to all this. If a degree is no guarantee of success in modern Britain, then the lack of one is no guarantee of failure. For those whose A-level results have precluded university, there is still all to play for.


Australia:  Ombudsman slams Victorian University over soft marking allegations

VICTORIA'S Ombudsman has slammed Swinburne University in his annual report.

According to Ombudsman George Brouwer, a whistleblower reported that “a supervisor had directed a teacher to pass all of their students to ensure the university received upcoming federal government funding".

Mr Brouwer referred the allegation to the university for independent investigation, which found the claim was baseless.

However the Ombudsman criticises the process on seven counts, including a refusal by the investigator to address the federal funding issue and because; “the conclusions did not contain any analysis of the facts and findings of the investigation; specifically, there was no discussion of evidence that appeared to support the allegation”.

Although the university revised the report when challenged by the Ombudsman’s staff, “even the revision was inadequate, addressing only four of the concerns I had raised".

"I determined to finalise the matter in any case, as I considered that the outstanding issues were unlikely to significantly affect the outcome of the investigation, especially at such a late stage,” Mr Brouwer’s report states.


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