Saturday, April 21, 2012

'I Had an Abortion’ Shirt Sales Stir Controversy at University of North Carolina Wilmington

Not a nice place to send your kid however you look at it

While the right to privacy may have been the key to securing abortion rights in Roe v. Wade, some advocates of the controversial procedure today want to walk around with a sign, t-shirt to be exact, broadcasting their reproductive decisions.

In 2004, abortion advocate and author Jennifer Baumgardner  launched the “I Had an Abortion” project to encourage women and men to “come out” about their procedures. The campaign featured shirts that read “I Had an Abortion,” a book, photo exhibit, and documentary film featuring 10 women – including feminist Gloria Steinem –  describe their abortion experiences spanning seven decades.

In preparation of an upcoming panel discussion and book signing featuring Baumgardner at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, controversy ensued when “I Had an Abortion” shirts began to pop up around campus. WWAY reports that the panel was held Monday by the Women’s Studies Department and LGBTQIA Resource Office, where the controversial shirts were sold for $15 each at the event.

WECT reports that the shirts caused a protest and other students rallied with their own shirts, saying things like “I haven’t killed a baby.”

“It’s still a very controversial issue,” Jimmy Eastman, a spokesman for several students that held a silent protest outside the panel room, told WWAY. ”It’s not about the abortion or pro-choice. It‘s about ending a human life and that’s the real issue here. That‘s what we’re trying to get at.”

Supporters of the shirts told WWAY that they are simply trying to de-stigmatize the word abortion. Critics said the abortion shirts are out of line and embarrassing to the UNCW student body.

Proceeds from t-shirt sales went to Soapbox Inc., the feminist non-profit group formed by Baumgardner and fellow author activist Amy Richards.


RI: Mural controversy at Pilgrim High

Who is not being "inclusive" here?  Are traditional families an obscenity that may not be mentioned?

A student's artwork is at the center of a controversy at Pilgrim High School in Warwick.

Seventeen year old Liz Bierenday designed the mural, which shows a man's evolution from a child into adulthood.

She said she was given the go ahead from the school's vice principal after showing him the sketch. However, the last portion of the mural, which depicts the grown man married with a wife and child, was later painted over.

"Some members of the Pilgrim High School Community suggested that the depiction of a young man's development... as displayed may not represent the life experiences of many students at Pilgrim High School," Supt. Peter Horoschak said in a news release.

Bierenday says she thinks its her depiction of wedding rings that has stirred the controversy, and that some may feel the mural has religious undertones. She told Eyewitness News she is upset with the changes made to her design, but is willing to work with the school.

Supt. Horoschak suggested the student artist's ideas be respected and that she be allowed to finish the mural as she had originally visualized it.


The sheer number of immigrants has made it harder than ever for British parents to secure a place at a good primary school

For just over half a million parents this week is Terror Week, when the nation’s four-year-olds are allocated a place at primary school. In most countries, this is a dull formality. In Britain, it is anything but: gaming the system has become nothing short of a national obsession. Some atheist mothers will have spent years in the pews with their offspring, praying for nothing more than a school place. Others will have rented a second home near the catchment area, calculating that this is cheaper than going private. Many parents who refused to play this game will lose none the less. A handful will be told there is – at present – no place for their child at all.

This year the problem is worse than ever, with one in seven parents in England likely to be denied their first choice. Every child will eventually find a place but it may well be in a portable building in the playground. All the indicators suggest an even bigger pile-up in the next few years, so the nation’s supply of angry mothers will grow exponentially. If David Cameron thinks he has trouble with women voters now, then he should wait until the May 2015 election, by which time hundreds of thousands will have been refused their first choice of school by his Government.

All of this raises a basic question: where are Michael Gove’s new schools when you need them? The Education Secretary’s success story, so far, has been mainly about state secondaries being granted “academy” status. A great liberation to their teachers, no doubt, but it hardly broadens the choice available to pupils. When it comes to actual new “free schools”, set up from scratch, the story is less impressive. There were just two dozen of them last year and 70 more have been approved to open in September, half of which haven’t even found a building yet. Of these, just 21 are primaries. All of this is welcome, but England needs 410 new primaries a year, for the next four years, just to keep up with pupil numbers.

The size of Britain’s schools problem is rapidly outgrowing the size of Michael Gove’s solution. The Education Secretary has made much progress, and in less than two years has granted quasi-independent academy status to half of England’s secondaries. Yet he has failed in several critical areas. In opposition, Mr Gove spoke about bold new powers that would grant planning approval to any new school, sweeping aside council objections. Such powers have not emerged. Anyone wishing to set up a new school now needs permission from the very people intent on strangling the experiment at birth.

The Tories originally wanted the best academies to use their freedom to expand. Some attract six applicants for every place, so they could open a new wing, or even sponsor a new school. Or they could become chains, like the extraordinarily successful Harris Federation in London. But the schools have been denied the basic requirement for anyone who wants to expand anything: to be able to borrow money. They are told to wait until they secure a large cheque from a philanthropist (such as Lord Harris of Peckham) or to negotiate a large transfer of government funding. If businesses cannot borrow to expand, the economy does not grow. The same is true for schools.

Mr Gove has prevailed in his battle with the teachers’ unions. His real struggle lies in persuading the rest of Mr Cameron’s Government to help. The Treasury hates the idea of schools borrowing money to enlarge their capacity. The Communities Department lets councils blackball new schools simply on the grounds that parents would clog up the morning traffic. The Cabinet Office has failed to deliver the empty government buildings that Francis Maude once offered. And No 10 is failing to bang these heads together, or accept that the problem will be much worse for the class of 2015.

At the heart of this lies denial about the ongoing surge in immigration. The concerns, so widely felt throughout the country, were never driven by racism or xenophobia. It was more about the supply of GP clinics, houses or school places. Under the last government, a refusal to talk frankly about immigration mutated into a failure to consider its implications. Of the children who enrol in primary school this September, one in four will have a foreign-born mother (including, I should add, my eldest son). The implications of our multilingual baby boom were known about for years, yet preparations were not made.

The government machine has spent so long managing a decline in education that it cannot handle its expansion. The Labour years meant the closure of, on average, 110 schools each year, with teenagers being shoehorned into Grange Hill-style secondaries for bureaucratic convenience. Even today, the Department for Education arranges its statistics in a way that suggests there is no problem because there is, overall, a surplus of places. Under-filled schools vastly outnumber the popular ones. This, of course, is precisely the problem – bureaucrats hate opening new schools if there are places to fill in bad ones. But in the real world, parents want the best schools, and many will do anything, even fake a religion or a divorce, to secure a place.

This is not middle-class paranoia. A quick look at the CVs of Cabinet members shows that schooling still matters very much in Britain. England’s state schools may rank a lowly 18th in world league tables but our private schools are second. This staggering quality gap, the largest in the world except for Uruguay and Brazil, is reflected in the difference between state schools. The top tenth of England’s state schools do every bit as well as fee-paying schools, so a house in the right area is worth the extra money (typically £90,000) for those who can afford it. The infamy of the bottom tenth, the sink schools, requires no elaboration. This is why so many parents play the school places game: the stakes are terrifying high.

Once, Mr Gove hoped to usher in a new era where pupils would inform schools by text message if they had been selected, not vice versa. With so few new schools being set up, this power flip now looks impossible unless changes are made. This would involve a single school licensing authority, saying “yes” unless there is an extraordinarily good reason not to. It means putting pupils before ideology, so Liberal Democrat objections to profit-making schools are overruled. It means No 10 starting to function properly, and grasping the urgency of the situation. And it means making the Coalition’s most radical policy bolder still.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Mother Outraged After Kindergartner Forced to Sit in Class With Poopy Pants

Sounds like a teacher who hates little kids. Perhaps she should get a job in a bar

A Missouri mother is seeking school policy reform after her kindergartner had an accident in class and was humiliatingly forced to sit in her own waste for an extended duration of time.

The 6-year-old daughter of Lisa Skidmore from Washburn was in class where the teacher had given students an opportunity to use the restroom before a testing period during which they would not be able to leave the room. While the test was in session, the little girl said she had to go but teacher said no. Unfortunately, she couldn’t hold it long enough and pooped her pants.

Skidmore said when she picked up her daughter, she still was covered in diarrhea. Skidmore said the teacher didn’t excused her daughter from the class nor did she clean her up. The little girl was forced to wait out the testing period and for her mother to come get her. In some act of benevolence, the teacher did provide the child with a plastic trash bag to wrap around herself.

“You don’t even treat a dog that way,” Skidmore said disgusted with how the situation was handeled.
Mo. Kindergartner Forced to Sit in Poop After Having an Accident in Class, Teacher Refused to Let Her Go

The girl’s father said, “If any parent sent their kid to school with crappy pants, those parents would be facing with criminal charges. I believe that with all my heart.”

Although the family is not pressing charges, they are seeking some reform on the school’s part for when a child expresses an emergency bathroom situation. The superintendent of the school told KY3 that he disagreed with how the situation was handled and has expressed to teachers how incidents such as this should be taken care of — or prevented — in the future.

The news anchor explained the school was in the process of taking a state standardized test when the incident occurred. Although the testing did not apply to children at this level, the kindergarten teacher was holding to the strict testing guidelines to prepare the children for what they would be met with in the future.


New Online Library Program in Tampa Bay Elementary Schools Includes Gruesome Content

While many Americans love TV shows depicting the gruesome ins-and-outs of crime fighting, such as “Law and Order” or “Dexter,” there seems to be one overriding consensus about the content features on those shows – it’s not for kids. So imagine the shock of some Tampa Bay parents when their children came home spouting details about murder, and with ready access to autopsy photos.

According to Tampa Bay Online, the culprit for this mass epidemic of children being exposed to highly adult material is a website called myOn, which purports to offer a “virtual library” experience in lieu of a visit to a physical library. Along with offering books or information, myOn includes navigational tools that students can use to browse by interest. So far, so harmless, but the absence of a filtering mechanism which can keep kids away from age-inappropriate material has some parents crying foul.

After all, one wouldn’t want a seven-year-old who just wanted to look up technology learning instead about autopsy procedure, and being privy to grisly photos involved in the subject.  As one parent put it, “Are we teaching our children to be medical examiners in elementary school? I don’t think so.”

The response of school district officials has been, understandably, somewhat mixed. Some teachers cite concerns about intellectual freedom, and point out that some children want to dissect a frog at early ages, so dissecting a human corpse might not be that far off. Others defend myOn for offering the same information that would be available in your standard order public library, just with fewer of the natural barriers to entry involved in such places. Still others admit that the content is inappropriate for children, but are uneasy about how to go about the process of censoring the material:

“I don’t want this to outweigh the positive information here,” one teacher said. “And that’s that 2,200 titles are in the homes of Hillsborough County school kids. These include houses that don’t have many books now.”

Tampa Bay Online also quotes myOn officials, who defend the product by pointing out that much of the material does come with grade level guidelines.


British government  Minister: admit students on 'potential' rather than grades

This is a perfectly reasonable proposition  --- DEPENDING on how "potential" is assessed.  High scores on an IQ test or something like the American SAT would be an excellent way of detecting potential

Bright students from poor-performing schools should be admitted to university with worse A-level results than other pupils, a minister claimed today.  Academics should look beyond raw A-level grades to select pupils by their “potential” to succeed in higher education, said David Willetts, the Universities Minister.

He also suggested that rising numbers of poorly-qualified students should be given a “foundation year” – before the start of their full degree course – to enable them to catch up.

In a speech, Mr Willetts denied charges of “social engineering” but insisted a “serious sorting exercise” was needed to ensure the university admissions system was based on “genuine meritocracy”.

The comments came as the Government announced that a record total of around £900m would be spent in 2012/13 on reforms designed to boost access to university – up by £100m in just three years.

Last month, figures showed the majority of universities belonging to the elite Russell Group admitted fewer pupils from state schools and the most deprived backgrounds in 2010/11.

Amid unprecedented demand for university places, academics insisted that many bright students failed to apply or fell short of tough entry requirements.

In a speech in London, Mr Willetts called for a “renewed push to ensure that universities are broadening participation and improving access” as a pay-off for allowing institutions to charge up to £9,000 in tuition fees this year.

“What we all want to see is not social engineering – and certainly not quotas – but quite simply genuine meritocracy," he said. "Because entry to our universities is a competitive process, with more applicants than there are places, there has to be a serious sorting exercise."

Mr Willetts added that admissions “can be based on more than just A-level results, by looking at all the information that indicates the potential of an individual to succeed”. “The aim is that those who can perform best at any given university are selected for it,” he said.

“We now spend a lot of money trying to overcome the barriers which might stop those who are perhaps at weaker schools or in low participation neighbourhoods going to university.”

A study last year found that almost 23 per cent of universities were planning to make “lower offers” to candidates from poor backgrounds starting in 2012 – up from 18 per cent in 2011.

Addressing the Higher Education Funding Council for England, Mr Willetts said that central Government and individual universities were preparing to spend £900m in 2012/13 on programmes designed to widen access. He said a “systematic assessment” of these programmes would be carried out to discover “what works and what is less effective”.

Speaking afterwards, he backed programmes run by many Russell Group universities in which academics mentor bright pupils from poor-performing schools throughout their A-levels.

He also praised a scheme run by King’s College London that gives bright students with poor A-levels a “foundation year” to prepare them for the demands of a full-time medicine degree course.

“We know, at the end of the day, that their chances of getting a good medical degree are as good as those who turn up with three As,” he said.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Once again police have to be called because of lack of disciplinary powers in the schools

Police in Georgia handcuffed a [black] kindergartner with her arms behind her back after she threw a tantrum at school, and the police chief defended the action as a safety measure.

“She might have misbehaved, but I don’t think she misbehaved to the point where she should have been handcuffed and taken downtown to the police department,” the girl’s aunt said.

Her father remarked: “A six-year-old in kindergarten. They don’t have no business calling the police and handcuffing my child.”
Police Handcuff 6 Year Old Salecia Johnson After Temper Tantrum in Georgia School

While it’s unusual to see a young child handcuffed in school, it’s not unheard of. School officials around the nation have wrestled with the issue of when it’s appropriate to call police on a student.

“Our policy is that any detainee unreported to our station in a patrol vehicle is to be handcuffed in the back…There is no age discrimination on that rule,” the city’s Chief of Police explained.

Salecia Johnson, 6, was accused of tearing items off the walls and throwing books and toys in an outburst Friday at Creekside Elementary School in Milledgeville, according to a police report.

Specifically, they say the child threw a small shelf which struck the principal on the leg, and also jumped on a paper shredder and tried to break a glass frame.

So, the school called the police. When an officer tried to calm the child in the principal’s office, she allegedly resisted.  The police report says she was then “restrained by placing her hands behind her back and handcuffed.”  A juvenile complaint was filed, accusing the girl of simple battery and damage to property.

The girl’s aunt and mother say the 6-year old waited in a holding cell until they picked her up, and was “so shaken up.”

However,  police chief says the girl was taken to the police department’s squad room, not a holding cell, and officers there tried to calm her and gave her a Coke.

Officials at Creekside Elementary did not immediately return calls Tuesday.

Salecia Johnson has been suspended and can’t return to school until August, according to her mother.

“We would not like to see this happen to another child, because it’s horrifying. It’s devastating,” her aunt told The Associated Press.

Elsewhere in the U.S., incidents involving students, police and handcuffs have raised difficult questions for educators, parents and policymakers.

In Florida, the use of police in schools came up several years ago when officers arrested a kindergartner who threw a tantrum during a jelly bean-counting contest. Since then, the overall number of student arrests in Florida has declined, but those for minor offenses have increased on a percentage basis.


"Teaching as a Subversive Activity": The Theory of Political Indoctrination

Last weekend I visited the U.C. Berkeley campus and on a whim attended a lecture with the provocative title "Teaching as a Subversive Activity — Revisited."

Because this was a presentation aimed at education insiders only, the lecturer, retired professor H. Douglas Brown from S.F. State, seemed perfectly willing to let the cat out of the bag about political indoctrination on college campuses. Fortunately, I had my trusty camera with me, so I was able not only to snap a few pictures but also record several key portions of his speech, which I found so eye-opening that I felt the general public deserved to hear it as well.

The timing couldn't have been better: A devastating new report issued by the National Association of Scholars had just been issued a few days beforehand, which documented with exquisite and irrefutable detail the extreme liberal bias at the University of California. However, the main problem with the NAS report (which you can download in full here if you're interested) is that it's too overwhelming and too technical to deliver the kind of emotional impact needed to sway public opinion. To drive home the point in a more personal way, the NAS report needed an introductory companion anecdote of a professor frankly confessing the rationale behind what is essentially the "theory of indoctrination." As if on cue, Professor Brown stepped into that role, unwitting though he may have been.

Let it be noted that Professor H. Douglas Brown is no wild-eyed extremist; in fact, he's rather bland and respectable and not the most thrilling of speakers, as you will soon hear. But that's what made his presentation so disturbing: radical and self-admittedly "subversive" attitudes that affect the future of society are discussed with matter-of-fact nonchalance. The main drawback of Professor Brown's verbal style (at least from my point of view) is that he often resorts to the academics' tried-and-true escape hatch, which is to rephrase statements as questions, so as to have plausible deniability if later confronted. Thus, for example, instead of just flatly saying something like "We should indoctrinate students with leftist ideologies," he asks "Should we indoctrinate students with leftist ideologies?" and only after five minutes of talking in circles eventually concludes "Yes."

The title of Brown's lecture is taken from an influential and groundbreaking book published in 1969. Written by Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner, the manifesto Teaching as a Subversive Activity did not actually advocate political indoctrination in the classroom, but rather it was one of the first books to completely deconstruct the concept of education itself, and the "subversion" it advocated was much deeper and more structural: Get rid of tests, the notions of "the right answer" and "the wrong answer," the memorization of facts, the ascendency of teachers, and so forth; instead, make education an ungraded process of learning how to think and how to criticize, respecting the opinions and ideas of the students themselves. Of course, this being 1969, it was presumed that the establishment status quo with its facts and rules was rigid and conservative, while the students were radical and transgressive, so all one had to do to foment a revolution was simply to put the kids in charge of their own education, and they'll naturally overthrow society without even being specifically instructed to do so. (If you're curious, the entire text of Teaching as a Subversive Activity is now available for free online as a PDF document.)

In the decades since, many of the recommendations in Teaching as a Subversive Activity and similar books were in fact implemented to various degrees, but things didn't quite work out as the authors envisioned. Without some structure, students often flounder aimlessly. Furthermore, the "authority figures" controlling academia are no longer uptight conservatives, but are instead now liberals, progressives and radicals themselves, so when students are encouraged to ignore those in charge, then they may very well ignore the progressive messages as well.

Professor Brown's talk focuses specifically on this problem: His basic thesis is that it is no longer sufficient to simply tell students to think for themselves, because then we lose the ability to influence them, and there's no guarantee that the students will then develop progressive worldviews. The "Revisited" part of the lecture's title means that these days, we must be more blunt and to the point: Since the good guys are now in charge, let's just dispense with all the experimentation and instead directly indoctrinate the students in leftist thought and ideals.

Now, I'm sure Professor Brown, were he to ever read this essay, would take exception to my characterization of his lecture; but listen to the excerpts below and judge for yourself. Although he (and his legions of fellow educational theorists) seems partly aware of his biases, and frankly admits them, he also seems to be blithely oblivious to the depth of his political prejudices, which you'll encounter below.

I'm not presenting this lecture in and of itself as a significant political watershed, nor as a shocking behind-the-scenes glimpse at academic bias. Rather, it's just another random day at a random university; stuff like this goes on all the time. And it's this normalcy of radicalism that makes it so alarming; people in the academic hothouse chat about the most disturbing ideas as if they were discussing the weather. The banality of subversion, as it were.

Below you will find six audio clips from his April 6 lecture, followed by six exact transcriptions. The sound quality of the audio is, admittedly, rather poor, so read the transcriptions as your main resource and only refer to the mp3s as proof that the transcriptions are true and accurate. The lecture was nearly two hours long in full, far too long to present in a short essay like this, plus I was only able to record segments of it, so what you see here are only excerpts; but they're a fair representation of the overall lecture. (Portions of the transcriptions [in brackets] indicate words that are not clearly audible; Ellipses [...] indicate passages skipped because they were inaudible or were asides.)

Following each clip are brief comments and analyses by me.

Also scattered throughout the essay are photos I took of various slides in Brown's PowerPoint presentation; if you want to see the whole thing as a PDF document, the Berkeley Language Center (which sponsored the lecture) has made it available here.

Ever wonder how "progressive" educators justify their one-sidedness? Behold:

Much more HERE

Nutty British bishop wants to keep Anglicans out of Anglican  schools

On Monday in the House of Commons, Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, said that he was keen to work with John Pritchard, the Bishop of Oxford, on extending the role of the Church of England in schools. His words have been taken to mean that the Government will support the creation of a new generation of state-funded Anglican academies.

In theory, that should please anyone who is concerned about two recent social trends. The first has been a steady decline in the country’s position in international educational league tables. The second has been our drift during the same period towards an all-consuming secularity.

For all who favour high standards, and who also believe that moderate religious affiliation benefits children and those involved in their education, the Secretary of State’s support for the expansion of publicly funded Anglican schools can only seem a cause of celebration.

But I’m not so sure. There’s a risk that educational standards, and even Anglicanism itself, might be endangered by the expansion of church schools. My fear is that Anglican schools may be forced, for the sake of becoming more inclusive, to dilute their distinctively religious character, and even to turn away applicants from genuine Anglican backgrounds, to accommodate those who are not.

Last year, the Church put John Pritchard in charge of developing its policy on schooling. He soon disclosed – much to the horror of many Anglicans – that he favoured his Church’s schools reserving no more than 10 per cent of places for children from Anglican backgrounds, an unprecedented level of “inclusiveness”. The bishop justified this, saying, “Our commitment [is] to serve the whole community, including those of other faiths and no faith. We are not a club that exists only for its members.”

He must realise, however, that church schools will only continue to achieve good academic results, and hence remain popular, so long as they preserve enough of their religious character. It’s what drives their success.

The question that should be exercising Bishop Pritchard and Mr Gove in the coming months is whether all or any new Anglican schools should be encouraged, or made, as a condition of extra state funding, to become so socially inclusive that the vast majority of their pupils cease to be from Anglican or Christian backgrounds.

Would it be wise to have admissions policies at Church of England schools that force them to turn away applicants from Anglican or other Christian backgrounds to accommodate those who are not? Surely not. Charity begins at home, after all.

Opponents of faith schools often claim that these schools only achieve better academic results because skewed admissions policies enable them to cream off middle-class children, who are easier to educate. They also claim that savvy, well-off parents know that an educational premium is attached to their children when they’re being taught with children from similar backgrounds.

Such concentrations of middle-class children at faith schools are said to be unfair to children from poor backgrounds, because these disadvantaged children become concentrated in community schools, often adversely affecting the performance of each other.

In support of their claims, critics of faith schools cite dodgy statistics that seem to bear them out. One is that nearly two thirds of Church of England primary schools have fewer pupils on free school meals than is the average for non-religious schools in their neighbourhoods. The same applies to nearly half of the Church’s secondary schools.

But such charges against faith schools are wrong because these statistics are misleading. There is no guarantee that distributing middle-class children evenly across all schools would improve the academic performance of children from poorer backgrounds. More likely, it would so widely diffuse their presence in the classroom as to spoil any potentially beneficial effect from it. The appropriate solution to the over-concentration of children who are difficult to teach in some schools is not to dilute the ethos of faith schools. It is, rather, to continue what the present Government has already started: to attach a pupil premium in the form of extra funding to schools for every child they admit from a socially disadvantaged background.

More important, pupils of faith schools often perform better on average academically than their counterparts at community schools, even when their levels of social deprivation, as measured by eligibility for free school meals, are similar.

Several studies suggest that children at faith schools do better than children at more secular schools because of the religious outlooks they share with each other, their parents and teachers. If so, the Department for Education and the Church of England would do well to tread cautiously when expanding the number of Anglican schools. The price of expansion may be too high if, to accomplish it, they are forced to water down their distinctive religious ethos and character for the sake of government funding.

The Church of England should be the last body to need reminding that it was for the sake of a mere mess of pottage that Esau lost his birthright.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My First Amendment Class

 Mike Adams

Author’s Note: I’ll be speaking at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio on April 19. The event will start in Harrison Hall, room 111, at 6 p.m. The speech is called “Three Liberal Assaults on Free Speech (and Three Conservative Solutions)."Because it is about free speech in public forums, the speech is free and open to the public

Tyranny is never more than a generation away. Those who wish to impose tyranny prey upon the ignorance of those they wish to subjugate. Knowing that it is easier to deprive people of their rights if they are unaware of their rights, academic elites often forsake their responsibilities in order to further their own political goals. In other words, they seek to preserve ignorance, rather than advance knowledge.

Against this backdrop, last spring I decided to dedicate an entire course to teaching the First Amendment. I’m writing this column to show one way it can be done and to show how it has been received by students. I hope other professors follow a similar path. Our students need to know what they risk losing if they remain indifferent to their God-given rights.

I originally intended (pun originally intended) to call my course “The First Amendment and Original Intent.” I also intended to use David Barton’s book Original Intent as a text. Additionally, I planned on covering 53 U.S. Supreme Court decisions. You can imagine how well that proposal went over. There was a predictable administrative “suggestion” that I change the title of the course. This was followed by a “suggestion” that I use a couple of texts written by avowed Marxists.

I successfully fought both the effort to change the course title and to “suggest” Marxist texts. In the wake of that success, I am left wondering whether a Marxist professor has ever had a capitalist administrator “suggest” that he teach using Adam Smith, Milton Friedman, or Thomas Sowell. These administrators are very predictable. Dripping with hypocritical condescension, they see academic freedom as a one way street.

But I prevailed – at least until a crisis emerged. An error in scheduling resulted in a request for me to cancel the First Amendment class and teach one of our senior seminars, which is required for graduation. The crux of the problem was that only one 25-student seminar was being offered - although there were fifty seniors graduating from our department. (Author’s note: I am not certain why we choose to call a class of 25 a “seminar” but that is beside the point).

The “First Amendment and Original Intent” course could not be used as a senior seminar for criminology graduates because it simply was not sufficiently crime-related. So I created a course called “The First Amendment and Crime” and did so in just a couple of months. That meant spending hours every day reading and re-reading a new set of Supreme Court cases and developing special oral and written requirements for graduating seniors.

The result has been highly satisfactory. It is not difficult to fill an entire semester calendar with courses relating the First Amendment to the issue of crime. Consider the following:

*Our first important free speech cases – Abrams, Whitney, and Gitlow (just to name a few) – began a long struggle to determine the appropriate limitations on the right to advocate illegal conduct, including violent revolution. This struggle would last for fifty years before the Court finally settled on the Brandenberg test.

*Defining obscenity has proved to be a difficult task for the Court. Between the Roth and Miller cases, the Court would battle for 16 years before deciding on one test for defining obscenity. During this struggle, Potter Stewart would famously quip that he could not define hard-core pornography but that he knows it when he sees it! The court has also dealt with zoning issues relating to adult theaters. This is all tied in with the secondary effects (crime) that often flow from the presence of adult books stores and topless bars.

*In recent years, cases like Mitchell v. Wisconsin have tested state penalty enhancement statutes that consider race bias at sentencing hearings following criminal trials. The implication of these laws for hate speech legislation cannot be lost upon even the most casual observer of Supreme jurisprudence.

In addition to teaching those crime-related First Amendment cases, I have also taken the time to teach students about Rosenberger v. Rector, Wisconsin v. Southworth, and NAACP v. Alabama – and other cases dealing directly or indirectly with student rights. Against this backdrop, I also assign the students to a semester-end project dealing with the erosion of free speech rights in America. This is where things have become very interesting.

On the first day of class, students were asked to respond to the same question, which is “Who is responsible for censorship in America and who is being censored?” This question is asked in order for them to contemplate a hypothesis for their semester project. It has produced varied hypotheses, such as the following:

*The religious right is responsible for a disproportionate amount of censorship in America. That censorship is primarily directed towards atheists.

*Atheists are the most censorious people in America. Their censorship is generally directed towards Christians.

*Public universities restrict expression to a greater degree than private universities. First Amendment violations at public universities are usually directed towards religious rather than secular speech and organizations.

*Conservative Catholics are less tolerant of free speech than politically liberal Catholics.

After students form a hypothesis in Part I of their paper, they must get down to business. In Part II, they must turn to scholarly sources in order to explain (theoretically) their proposed hypothesis. In Part III, they must examine empirical evidence in support of (or opposition to) their hypothesis.

Since many of my students have decided to study campus free speech issues, they will soon have to evaluate and critique academic studies of campus censorship. When they do, they will find that the topic has been ignored by scholars at our institutions of higher learning. Imagine that: universities rarely speak about the issue of free speech at universities. (However, they do talk about free speech problems occurring elsewhere).

I’ve gotten the ball rolling by teaching specifically about First Amendment issues. But what we need now is an entire course explaining why censorship is so much worse among academic elites than among normal Americans. We could call it “The Sociology of Censorship.” But that will never happen. The censors of sociology would never allow it.


Educational attainment  as a signal of conformity

Tyler wants to use my little signaling model to predict the future of online education.  At risk of looking a gift horse in the mouth, I'm afraid a much richer model is required to address Tyler's question.

In the interest of parsimony, my model assumes that education is purely a signal of IQ; Tyler also considers a variant where education signals conscientiousness instead.  So far, so good.  But as I've said several times, in the real world education is also a signal of conformity.  One of the main things a stack of degrees says about you is, "I uncomplainingly submit to social expectations."

This makes educational innovation inherently difficult.  Why?  Because the first people to sign up for innovative alternatives to traditional education are usually people who have a beef with the powers that be.  As I've told Arnold before:
    [E]ducation doesn't just signal intelligence and conscientiousness; it's also signals another character trait employers pragmatically cherish: conformity.  This leaves us in a catch-22, because experimenting with new ways to signal conformity is a strong signal of... non-conformity!

You could of course reply, "All that's going to change.  The future is coming."  I'll bet against it.  In fact, I already have.  It's easy to imagine a society where traditional educational credentials could collapse at a moment's notice.  But that society is not ours.

Take out your sociological goggles and look around.  In our society, smart, hard-working, conformist kids go to old-fashioned brick-and-mortar colleges.  Their elders expect them to do so.  Their peers expect them to do so.  They feel like losers in their own eyes if they don't go.

The normativity of conventional education isn't a passing phase.  College attendance is a central tenet of our society's secular religion.  A student who scoffs at all these expectations probably has a serious problem with authority.  Would-be employers treat him accordingly.

There may well be a niche for online education.  Maybe it will attract the best students who currently don't go to college and the worst students who currently do: the top of the bottom plus the bottom of the top.  But until we sharply reduce subsidies for traditional education, traditional education will continue to dominate, warts and all.  Middle class jobs will no longer require college only after middle class kids can no longer afford college.  Hail austerity!


British education boss  urges church to extend role in education

The Church of England has been urged to establish a new generation of academies [charter schools] after Michael Gove said he wanted to 'extend' its role in educating children.

Mr Gove said he “cherished” the education currently provided by the Church to more than a million children.

His remarks in the Commons yesterday have been interpreted as backing for the Church to set up a new generation of faith schools.  There had been concerns that Mr Gove’s support for faith schools was wavering, but yesterday’s comments are expected to be welcomed by bishops who are currently considering the future role of the Church.

The Education Secretary backed an increased role after a review by the Bishop of Oxford which looked at the potential for new academies.

Mr Gove said: “We praise and cherish the role of the Church of England in making sure children have an outstanding and inclusive education.  “I welcome the report and look forward to working with Bishop John Pritchard to extend the role of the Church in the provision of schools.”  He also praised the Church for “driving in the first instance” the provision of education.

The Church of England is still the biggest single provider of education in Britain, teaching one million pupils in 4,800 schools. It is involved in 154 academies in England. The Church’s review came after a reduction in local authority provision of education, which gives potential for a new generation of faith schools.

There had been some concerns over Mr Gove’s commitment to faith in the schools after allegations that the importance of religious education has been downgraded. He has also supported attempts by some faith schools to keep more than half their places for religious families.

David Cameron has previously been a vocal backer of faith schools and his daughter was educated at a Church of England school.

He has called for an increased role for religion in public life and Baroness Warsi, the Cabinet Office minister, has warned of the dangers of “aggressive secularism”.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Italian university switches to English for teaching

One of Italy's top universities has sent shockwaves through the country's higher education system by announcing that from 2014 its courses will be taught exclusively in English.

The radical move by Milan's Politecnico university will, according to its rector, Giovanni Azzone, "contribute to the growth of the country". He said the strategy would attract brain power and yield the high-quality personnel that would "respond to the needs of businesses".

But the announcement has sparked a furious debate among academics and public officials. The higher education minister, Francesco Profumo, told La Stampa newspaper that he hoped other leading institutions would follow suit.

Others expressed alarm at the move. Luca Serianni, an eminent linguist at Rome's La Sapienza university, said the move was "excessive and not only in the ideological sense".

Despite having some of the oldest universities in the world in cities such as Bologna, not one Italian college appears among the world's top 200. Nepotism and closed-shop recruitment of staff have largely been blamed.


It’s beyond belief to teach witchcraft in British schools

Teaching Druidry and paganism in schools is just another example of our liberal fear of religious values, says Cristina Odone

Saint Morwenna, who in the 6th century built a church on a cliff with her bare hands, must be turning in her grave. Her beloved Cornwall, the last redoubt of Celtic Christians, is to teach witchcraft and Druidry as part of RE. The county council regards her religion (and that of other Cornish saints such as Piran and Petroc) as no better than paganism.

It makes perfect sense. Fear of being judgmental is so ingrained today that no one dares distinguish between occult and Christian values, the tarot and the Torah, the animist and the imam. Right and wrong present a problem for liberals who spy covert imperialism or racism in every moral judgment. Saying someone has sinned is “disrespecting” them, as Catherine Tate’s Lauren Cooper might say. Speaking of religious values is as dangerous as playing with the pin on a hand-grenade: it could end up with too many Britons blown out of their complacency. No one should dare proclaim that adultery is wrong; greed, bad; or self-sacrifice, good. In doing so, they’d be trampling the rights of those who don’t hold such values.

This mentality is not confined to Cornwall. When the BBC’s The Big Questions asked me to join its panel of religious commentators two years ago, I was taken aback to find it included a Druid. Emma Restall Orr rabbited on inoffensively about mother nature, but I was shocked that her platitudes were given the status of religious belief by the programme makers. Ms Restall Orr exults in her website that the media has stopped seeing Druidism “as a game” and now invites her on serious faith and ethics programmes from ITV’s Ultimate Questions to Radio 4’s The Moral Maze and Sunday Programme.

God, Gaia, whatever: school children are already as familiar with the solstice as with the sacraments. In pockets of Cornwall, children will point out a nun in her habit: “Look, a Druid!” Their parents will merely shrug — one set of belief is as good as another. How long before the end of term is marked by a Black Mass, with only Health and Safety preventing a human sacrifice?


Australia:  Private schools warn of fee rises

This is just a shot across the bows. Labor learned under Latham that attacks on private schools are a big loser.  With 39% of Australian teenagers going to private High Schools you can see why

SOME schools could lose up to $3.9 million a year under a proposed national funding system, forcing them to increase school fees, the NSW Association of Independent Schools has warned. Some might be forced to close.

The association's executive director, Geoff Newcombe, said he was concerned preliminary data suggested "serious flaws" with the new funding model proposed under a review led by the businessman David Gonski.

"We are very happy to work with the government," Dr Newcombe said. "But we are very concerned about how much independent schools could lose under the new model. This would be likely to put pressure on schools to increase fees and in extreme circumstances could cause a small school to close."

Dr Newcombe said 2009 data provided by the federal Department of Education to demonstrate how the new funding system would work suggested significant reductions in funding to many independent schools.

The association's analysis of the data showed that 86 independent schools in NSW would lose funding under the proposed model - a quarter serving communities with low socio-economic status. According to the analysis, 50 of the 86 schools would lose more than $250,000 a year.

Dr Newcombe said a small, low-fee school in outer Sydney would lose more than $65,000 a year, requiring an extra $280 per student to be found, based on the 2009 figures. A school with a low to medium socio-economic status in metropolitan Sydney would lose more than $960,000 a year, leaving the school to raise an additional $1300 per student. Some schools stood to lose as much as $3.9 million

"At this stage the independent schools sector in NSW is not withdrawing its support for funding reform as it does not believe this result was the intent of the review or of the government," Dr Newcombe said.

"However, the sector … is calling on the Australian government to give certainty to parents and independent schools by stating that funding to schools will not be reduced in real terms."

Brian Croke, the executive director of the Catholic Eduction Commission, said it was too early to tell whether individual Catholic schools would be better or worse off.

He said there were technical issues that needed to be resolved, but the concept of having a base level of funding for each student, topped up with additional loadings for disadvantage, was a good one.

Stephen O'Doherty, the chief executive of Christian Schools Australia, said he was "very positive" about the directions of the Gonski report, particularly because it promised to provide additional funding to schools serving needy communities.

The federal secretary of the Independent Education Union of Australia, Chris Watt, warned against rushing to adopt the current Gonski model. "It won't just be high-fee schools that would lose out in this, it's potentially every school in every sort of community," he said.

The federal Education Minister, Peter Garrett, said the government has said repeatedly no school will lose a dollar per student as a result of the review.

"All the work now being undertaken is predicated on that commitment," he said. "Mr Gonski and the review panel have made clear, there is still a lot of work to do to test and refine the various elements."


Monday, April 16, 2012

Progressive Teacher Pustule: Pay Your School Taxes and Shut Up and I continuously poke the belly of the education beast to see what kinds of pustules pop, and it never ceases to amaze us the types of low-lifes involved in our education system.

There are many great teachers – we work with a lot of them every day. But there are also a lot of people who don’t deserve the honor of teaching our children.

Whether it’s union-defended “pervy” teachers getting a slap on the wrist for very serious offenses, teachers doctoring student test scores for their own gain, or teachers union officials involved in spending scams, some people don’t belong in education.

Some simply have contempt for parents and taxpayers. School employees and education bureaucrats know best. Parents are the silly rubes who can’t figure out the very complex education system because they’ve never been in the classroom. They don’t know children (irony?).

Consider an exchange with one such pustule that was poked. Posting as “The Frustrated Teacher,” the anonymous self-described teacher explained to me on Twitter, “Teachers often combat the nonsense parents instill in their kids. That surely bothers U cuz misinforming yr kids is impt 2 U.”

Uh huh – teachers know better than parents. Got it. Where have I heard that before? Oh yeah. Sadly, he wasn’t done after the audacity of his statement was pointed out.

“Why? Because a teacher actually said parents intentionally, sometimes, screw with their kids and teachers have [to] unscrew them?”

But it’s worse than that. It’s not just that there is the belief that teachers need to “reeducate” students from what their parents teach them, but that any questioning of the system by a non-educator is not only unacceptable, but offensive.

“You have NO standing to discuss education anyway. You’re a nobody who knows little about schools, education, children or policy.”

You can just feel the love these so-called “public servants” have for taxpayers. But he wasn’t done, especially when I reminded him that taxpayers fund the system (not to mention his pay and benefits) and we will have a say.

“Pay & mind ur business. Once U understand education, then U cn make it ur business. I C no evdnce u have.”

When I broached the idea of opting out of the system and taking my tax dollars with me (which would negate the need for my criticism), that didn’t go over well.

“If you don’t like American schools, take your kids out and put them in private schools and STFU.”

I presume he means “shut the f*ck up,” which, sadly for him, won’t happen. We as parents and taxpayers fund the government education system and many of us are dismayed by the waste, abuse, corruption and misguided focus on the desires of adult employees, rather than the needs of students.

We constantly hear from the education establishment that parents aren’t involved and that’s leading to the decline of student achievement. What parent would want to be involved in their child’s education when they encounter the type of attitude that this teacher, and so many others, convey

And with tenure, even if parents are outraged by this type of attitude, there’s little or no leverage to do anything about it.

This example is just one of many that illustrate the myriad problems facing our education system. And if it requires getting a little dirty and gross to expose the problems, so be it. But we as a country cannot afford to have such destructive people teaching and influencing our children.


Georgia Professors Bribe Students to Lobby Legislators

Why would GALEO (Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials), which lobbies against enforcement of immigration laws, thank “students” and “educators” (among others) for defeating Georgia bills restricting illegal aliens? Their April 9 newsletter joyfully announces in a headline “ZERO anti-immigrant [sic] legislation from GA passed.”

Well, it’s because educators, public school teachers, and professors at Georgia public colleges and universities used their positions to influence students and engaged in lobbying efforts. At the Georgia State University College of Education, during a February 4 “Teach-In,” ostensibly to discuss curricula banned in Arizona, one of those professors pledged to give her students “extra points” for bringing in letters to legislators opposing bills that would enforce immigration laws—therefore bribing students with grades.

You can see the video of Jennifer Esposito, Associate Professor of Education at Georgia State University, making this pledge on my website Dissident Prof here.

On March 19, I testified about this at a House committee hearing on SB 458, a bill that “would have streamlined the process by which public benefits are administered and ended the official acceptance of undocumented foreign passports from illegal aliens as useable ID in Georgia,” according to D.A. King, president of the Georgia-based Dustin Inman Society, a group that advocates for enforcement of immigration laws. At the hearing, one of the many members of the illegal alien lobby present yelled out that she had been at the Teach-In and that I was lying. Chairman Rich Golick replied to her, “We’re not engaging in a dialogue here. . . . We’re not shouting out. That’s not the way the system works here.” It happens towards the end of the eight-minute testimony here.

You can also hear Golick call this information an “extremely disturbing reality” and promise to “explore that on a different track.”

GALEO focused on education benefits and cast SB 458, as “Georgia's Anti-DREAM Act,” because it “would have placed Georgia in the extreme position of being one of three states in the nation that deny access to higher education to undocumented students.” That’s the way the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported it too.

Sponsor Barry Loudermilk’s explanation—made with exceeding logic and patience during debate—however, was all but ignored. The bill was really about public benefits for illegal aliens and the type of documentation needed. PUBLIC education—at public universities—is a public benefit; under the bill, Georgia would enforce federal law and deny illegal aliens access to public universities. One of the points Loudermilk kept repeating, as opponent after opponent played the “children just wanting education” pity card, was that SB 458 did not prohibit access to PRIVATE colleges. But for GALEO higher education is synonymous with public higher education, one that they believe illegal aliens have a right to enjoy.

By the fortieth and last day of the session the by then toxic provision about higher education benefits would have been struck out had the bill been allowed to go to the House floor.

The Speaker of the House, David Ralston, however, did not call the bill up for a vote. There was a “skyrocket high majority” of votes in both houses to pass the bill, according to King. In his latest newsletter, King blames Governor Nathan Deal as the “root cause” for defeat.

But the negative cast on the bill, as affecting innocent children, was promoted by employees of the University System of Georgia, in the classroom and at the “Teach-In,” where the dean of the College of Education opened the day’s events with remarks in Spanish. D.A. King is used to seeing students and educators pack hearing rooms and dominate testimony. He calls most American universities “de facto training camps for future anti-enforcement radicals.”

The Board of Regents has been on the side of admitting illegal aliens to Georgia public universities. Chancellor Hank Huckaby testified AGAINST SB 458 on March 19, 2012. But in 2011, before he was appointed to the position by Governor Nathan Deal--when he was REPRESENTATIVE Huckaby--he voted FOR a similar bill, HB 59. One of the activists at the Teach-In bragged that legislators had “listened” to the many students and educators and tabled HB 59. According to King, at that earlier hearing opponents of HB 59 were allowed to take up far more than their allotted three minutes to speak; the chair, Carl Rogers, would not allow a vote, when it was clear that the bill had the votes to pass out of committee.

Why SB 458 failed in the GOP-controlled Georgia Capitol is somewhat of a mystery, although King said he has some theories about why the bill was refused a House vote.

What is not a mystery is that professors and administrators are using public facilities and using students for their own political lobbying purposes.

In addition to revisiting this immigration bill during the next session, legislators need to examine the corruption in education. The balance of power needs to be restored, back to the people who pay for the public institutions.


Australia: Tiger mothers and the social escalator

Observing the contrasting school experiences of the panellists on last week’s episode of Insight, one could be forgiven for thinking that the Australian ideal of a ‘fair go’ for all was all self-deception and no self-realisation.

While non-selective public schools are apparently under-resourced and blighted by underachievement, private schools and selective public schools seem to provide supportive and aspirational educational environments conducive to academic excellence.

Perceptions aside, Australia actually remains one of the most socially mobile countries in the developed world, according to a 2010 OECD report. This is consistent with a 2011 Smith Family study, which found that 29% of Australians whose father had stayed at school until Year 10 or less obtained a university degree.

Despite the relatively high level of social mobility, Australian children often go on to reproduce the socio-economic environments into which they are born. The same Smith Family report also found that 53.7% of the children with fathers who were managers and professionals become managers and professionals themselves, compared with only 27.9% of those whose fathers were operators, drivers and labourers.

However, a degree of social immobility is not necessarily cause for concern about economic opportunity. This is because social mobility is never exclusively a function of the opportunities offered by society; the values and aspirations of individuals are also crucial.

Assuming that the same material opportunities existed, a society of tiger mothers of the Amy Chau variety (‘Study hard, do well and do not date or drink’) would produce very different socio-economic outcomes from a society of Alfred Doolittles (Eliza Doolittle’s feckless father in George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion).

Unsurprisingly, social capital often trumps economic capital when it comes to producing a healthy, meritocratic society. As the testimony of the students on Insight made clear, academic achievement is in large part the result of the values and aspirations of fellow students, parents and teachers, and not simply a product of the number of dollars spent on schooling.

While an austere regime of constant study and no play might seem all too onerous for children and parents alike, an emphasis on self-realisation and responsibility is arguably the best way of speeding up our social escalator.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Grow Economy by Cutting Law School Subsidies

by Hans Bader ·

The economy remains slow, recovering from the recession at an unusually low rate, partly due to economically-harmful Obama administration policies. “U.S. stocks fell, dragging the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index lower . . . after employers added fewer jobs than forecast in March,” reports Bloomberg News. As one columnist notes, “Were it not for people dropping out of the labor force, the unemployment rate would be well over 11%.”

Under the Obama administration, the Education Department has poured increasing amounts of financial aid into law schools, while seeking to cut vocational education needed to train certain kinds of skilled factory workers who are in short supply, impeding the expansion of factory operations that would also provide jobs to many unskilled workers. As the American Bar Association’s ABA Journal notes, “Law students . . . are treated generously as future professionals and able to borrow, with virtually no cap, significantly more money than undergrads. . . For several decades, most higher education loans were made by private lenders with the federal government providing guarantees against loss—and, in some cases, interest rate subsidies.”

The leftist law professors who dominate many law schools openly teach law students a contempt for property rights, the rule of law, and the free-market system, telling them that a lawyer’s role is to be “either a social engineer or a parasite on society.” Many law schools are more like incubators of evil than centers of learning.

Based on my experience as a graduate of Harvard Law School, much of what law schools teach their students is useless drivel, as some law professors themselves have conceded. Imagine how much more economic growth there could be if taxpayers no longer subsidized law schools and their indoctrination of students in left-wing group-think. (Since many law schools fail to teach much in the way of practical skills, there is also no reason to require people to attend law school before sitting for the bar exam, a requirement that merely enables law schools to jack up tuition.) The lawsuits and social engineering promoted by left-wing law professors harm economic growth.

Cutting subsidies to law schools would allow the government to either reduce the skyrocketing budget deficit, or redirect the money thereby saved to more productive uses, like vocational education. As The Washington Post has noted, as senior skilled factory workers are retiring, no one is taking their place, since “many of the younger workers who might have taken their place have avoided the manufacturing sector because of the . . . stigma of factory work.” Our government’s prejudice against manufacturing and in favor of white-collar college degrees is causing serious harm to our economy. As the Post observes, “A recent report by Deloitte for the Manufacturing Institute, based on a survey of manufacturers, found that as many as 600,000 jobs are going unfilled.” Meanwhile, millions of people are unemployed, many of them people with economically useless college degrees in politically correct majors that teach few useful skills.

Yet the Obama administration wants to slash useful vocational education that leads to high-paying blue-collar jobs, even as it seeks to increase wasteful education spending that has fueled massive administrative bloat and enormous college bureaucracies. As The New York Times notes, President Obama “aims to shrink the small amount of federal spending for vocational training in public high schools and community colleges. . .The administration has proposed a 20 percent reduction in its fiscal 2012 budget for career and technical education, to a little more than $1 billion, even as it seeks to increase overall education funding by 11 percent.”

Meanwhile, universities continue to expand their bureaucracies to include more duplicative jobs for campus administrators and left-wing apparatchiki. There are now “more administrators than teachers” at many colleges. One university that claims to have cut spending “to the bone” is expanding its huge bureaucracy even further, creating a new full-time “vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion.”

As Heather Mac Donald notes, that position augments the university’s “already massive diversity apparatus, which includes the Chancellor’s Diversity Office, the associate vice chancellor for faculty equity, the assistant vice chancellor for diversity, the faculty equity advisors, the graduate diversity coordinators, the staff diversity liaison, the undergraduate student diversity liaison, the graduate student diversity liaison, the chief diversity officer, the director of development for diversity initiatives, the Office of Academic Diversity and Equal Opportunity, the Committee on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Issues, the Committee on the Status of Women, the Campus Council on Climate, Culture and Inclusion, the Diversity Council, and the directors of the Cross-Cultural Center, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center, and the Women’s Center.”


Should unproductive academics be made redundant?

Below you will find the sort of rage-filled rant that comes from academics who have not shown academic excellence.  The "publish or perish" rule is a demanding one (though I never found it so) but a more objective  way of assessing intellectual excellence has yet to be found. And if a university is not about intellectual excellence, what is it about? 

The claim below that intellectual productivity is "philistine" shows by itself what a  confused thinker the author is.  He sounds like  one of the "Theorists" who tend to infest English Departments these days.

It is certainly true that some good teachers are inactive in research but they should not be in a research-intensive institution.  You can be good at both research and teaching and a university is right to demand that

How to assess academic productivity? At Sydney University, the question couldn't be more relevant: in November, management announced that it had made a serious budgetary mistake and would slash underperforming staff in order to pursue IT and building improvements. Although officially, research is only 40 per cent of academics' responsibilities, management retrospectively introduced a new performance test, just to purge staff. Anyone who hadn't published at least four articles in less than three years was threatened. This basic violation of natural justice was astonishing, particularly from managers who continually profess their commitment to high-minded, progressive values.

Like other workplaces, universities have performance management processes. These, not redundancy, are the answer to underperformance. But how to respond to a failure of management?

The cuts have provoked an outcry. With its simplistic measures, how will Sydney maintain research quality, when the finest researchers couldn't possibly teach and publish consistently at the rate administrators demand? How can management sack staff with classrooms already so crowded?

Sydney's administrators have not been so different from their counterparts elsewhere. Administrators everywhere are trying to shrink their already overstretched academic workforces. Universities, apparently, just don't need academics.

Talk of values such as productivity serves to justify managers' failure to promote the conditions necessary for universities to function. Local managerialism is the polar opposite of world's best practice - such as in the US Ivy League - and shows parallels with the disastrous financialisation of the global economy.

University technocrats are the equivalent of the regulators whose negligence caused the GFC. Just as markets favoured complex financial instruments far removed from commodities, so too universities have been alienated from their basic rationale by an ascendancy of executives hostile to the principles that should govern academic communities: respect for students and staff; research unfettered by philistine "productivity" requirements; security of academic tenure; uncasualised labour; low student-staff ratios. These are the ways to guarantee academic "productivity", rather than its bureaucratic substitutes.

It is the managers who are unproductive. Systemic managerial failures are compromising quality.


Music education helps education generally

MUSIC in schools is being sacrificed in the push to improve literacy and numeracy, but a major study shows its importance in improving students' results and attendance.

The Song Room, which funds music programs for schoolchildren, said students were falling behind despite a bigger focus on literacy and numeracy.

And a leading Hobart music teacher said fewer schools were investing in music, despite long-term knowledge that primary schoolchildren in particular benefited from specialised music teaching.

The Song Room report said children who had done its programs had higher academic grades, gained the equivalent of one year in literacy and reading results in NAPLAN scores, and had better relationships with teachers.

"The results show students taking part attend school more often, become more engaged with their studies and schooling and become happier, more well-rounded students," said co-author Professor Brian Caldwell.

Sandy Bay music teacher Annette Stilwell said music was offered less and less as part of school studies.

"The very sad thing is that they don't spend the money in the primary schools," she said. "It's especially important in the little ones. We know it helps their concentration, memory and time management skills.

"Everybody benefits but in particular in primary school, and it should be specialised music teaching."

Ms Stilwell said singing was cheap to teach but also had benefits.

"People talk about the high results in Asian students, and they neglect to mention they have intensive music classes in all their primary classes," she said.

The Song Room offers programs mainly to children who would not otherwise have the opportunity, with the possibility of some this year in Tasmania.

Chief executive Caroline Aebersold said the study showed music and art helped bridge the huge disparities in educational achievement for students from low socio-economic, indigenous or non-English-speaking backgrounds.