Wednesday, December 31, 2003

30 December, 2003


"The mantra of 'school choice' is getting louder. The wholesale failure of the K-12 public school system to adequately educate children, no matter how much money is spent per pupil, is universally acknowledged by all but the most diehard teacher union bureaucrat. Educational reform is a leading topic of governors, state legislators, members of Congress, teachers, school boards, presidential administrations, think tanks, and concerned parents."

29 December, 2003


But what do you expect of the Leftists and Feminists who dominate U.S. school teaching?

For many years, researchers and educators alike believed that reading problems affect far more boys than girls, with boys suffering problems at rates as high as five to one. About 15 years ago, our research group at Yale decided to investigate the occurrence of reading problems in boys and girls. Using data from our ongoing Connecticut Longitudinal Study (CLS) of learning we, too, found that elementary schools indeed were identifying nearly four times as many boys as girls as having a reading disability. However, when we individually tested each child, we found comparable numbers of boys and girls are affected by reading problems.

Why the difference?

School identification of a reading disability is dependent on teacher perceptions. Examining the CLS data, we discovered that teachers perceive boys and girls quite differently. In fact, they rate males as having more problems than females in virtually every area assessed. According to their teachers, boys are more inattentive, more active and exhibit more behavioral and academic problems. Yet, despite such teacher reports of difficulties in the classroom, we found that boys and girls perform similarly on individual tests of reading and math.

Why are more boys identified by their schools? The answer is behavior. For example, boys who may exhibit normal activity levels for their gender - but excess activity for girls - are perceived as outside the range of normal, and subsequently are referred for testing. Behavior is used as a proxy for a learning disability and here, the normally increased activity level of boys is perceived as pathological.

More here

28 December, 2003


A 15-year-old Brookfield Central High School student's homemade rhymes earned him a five-day suspension and could get the honor student expelled because of a lyric deemed threatening toward the principal - perhaps the first such case in Wisconsin.

Over the course of three months, Sashwat Singh wrote and recorded a 32-minute, 14-track rap compact disc featuring rants that made reference to illegal drug use and explicit sexual acts. He denigrates classmates, his mother and his high school. One track is a rap he used when campaigning to be class treasurer...

Singh's suspension may mark the first time a high school student in Wisconsin has been removed from school for a song he'd written, said Ken Cole, the executive director of the Madison-based Wisconsin Association of School Boards...
Dan Macallair, the executive director of the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice in San Francisco, said the suspension is indicative of a national trend toward zero tolerance in schools.

"We're punishing kids for things that we adults never would have been punished for when we were that age," he said. "If we try to criminalize every comment that adolescents made, all our kids would be locked up."

Neither Macallair nor Cole was familiar with any other case of a student being disciplined for a song recorded outside school...

More here

24 December, 2003


How goes the annual battle to delete Christmas from schools and the public square? News is mixed, but on the whole, things are not going well for the Grinches. In New Jersey, for example, the Hanover Township school district said it was considering a ban on Christmas carols and other religious songs at school concerts. Parents protested and threatened to sue, so the school board beat a hasty retreat. "If a school wants religious music, they can have it, the way they could before," said the school board president.

The key phrase here is "threatened to sue." In the old days, when an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer would show up to hammer some tiny school board into submission, the legal costs of resisting were so high that the boards usually caved in. Now the anti-Grinches have legal muscle of their own. The Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund, which supported the Hanover parents, claims to have 700 lawyers ready to fight anti-Christmas assaults around the country....

More here

23 December, 2003


One of the most unlikely recent successes in the book world has been Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss. Being a light-hearted guide to the importance of correct punctuation, it is hardly the kind of thing you would have expected to fly off the shelves....

I believe that behind the success of Truss' book is anger at the British education system. Two generations now have not been taught grammar. The post-1960s consensus, that state education should be less didactic and 'pedantic', and more creative and pupil-orientated, has left a sizeable proportion with a feeble grasp of the English language and, consequently, little interest in it.

It is a serious matter. Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between poor education and disposition to crime. Inarticulate people who cannot spell properly are also more likely to be unemployed.

More here.

21 December, 2003


Mike Adams has some good questions:

Communications Professors: Last week, the College Republicans appealed a decision to de-recognize them as an official student group. During their appeal, a professor called the president of the group "arrogant" and their advisor "paranoid." He shouted them down every time they tried to make an argument. He also used a condescending voice just like that guy in the movie "Office Space" (did you get the memo I sent you?). The professor has tenure and teaches, of all things, communications. So, which one is easier to get, a hunting license or a PhD in communications?

Adrien Lopez: Why did former Student Body President Adrien Lopez (hereafter A. Lo) ask me to leave the university because I frequently criticize the campus diversity movement? How can you promote diversity and tolerance by kicking someone off campus because they don't share your views?

19 December, 2003


Opinion Journal reports: "Clay-Chalkville High School in Pinson, Ala., has suspended 15-year-old Ysatis Jones, a sophomore, for a "major drug offense," the Birmingham News reports. The offense? She took ibuprofen for menstrual cramps. "It is harsh. I will admit that," Nez Calhoun, a Jefferson County School District spokeswoman, tells the paper. "If we don't have consequences for aberrations of the rule, then we never will get a handle on drugs in the school." "


"In a recent Washington Times commentary (December 7, 2003), I used language suggesting that the tactics of campus diversity proponents sometimes resemble tactics the Nazis used during World War II. A recent letter to the editor by UNC-Wilmington professor Dick Veit (rhymes with spite) lends credence to the analogy.

The UNCW College Republicans (CRs) have recently been involved in a highly publicized conflict with the university administration. The controversy began when the CRs tried to limit their membership to Republicans. The university wanted to force them to admit Democrats. When the CRs refused to capitulate, they had their official group status revoked and had their funds frozen by the university......"

More from Mike Adams here

18 December, 2003

Dave Huber has some more examples of the compulsive Leftism of the American teacher's union -- of which he is a regretful member.

17 December, 2003


A reader notes that alternatives to the degraded "education" offered by the universities are emerging. There is a similar private J-School here in Brisbane too.:

"Keith Windschuttle and his wife Elizabeth run Macleay College a private college here in Sydney that teaches journalism, editing and PR. This college runs out of inner city locations so is easy for adult part time students to attend. Macleay students are highly regarded and tend to do better in the job market than their government trained competitors. And the idea of CBD based class rooms is something the government run colleges have never thought of. Anyone who has tried to work full time and study part time knows the pain extra commuting to and from college, over and above work commuting, causes. Windschuttle says journalism isn't an academic profession and should be seen simply as an apprenticeship, craft or trade. The main thing is accurate reporting, quality notes, documented sources and the routine follow up of other opinions. These "basics" are the things that have suffered as media sociology, political correctness and cultural relativism have replaced basic skills among academic trained journalists. The academic teachers of journalists must consider these basics beneath them. The recent Jason Blair affair and the BBC's failure to take notes in the David Kelley affair may suggest this. My guess is that a lot of the hostility Windschuttle has received has little to do with his controversial work on Australian frontier history and may represent a backlash from 'the profession'."

Being a conservative in academe could be a lonely experience. Being born with the gift of self-confidence, I was never bothered a bit by it but I guess it would bother most. PID points out that in Australia's "history wars" it is basically one man on the conservative side (Windschuttle) versus the rest. That sure is a lonely eminence! But it only takes one person to show that the Emperor has no clothes, of course. And for all their numbers, the lying Leftist historians still have no answer to Windschuttle. They have been forced into admissions that ought to have seen them sacked, in fact.

Now here is a sentence that any Leftist reading this blog will enjoy quoting out of context: I have recently been browsing through my copy of Mein Kampf and noted this comment about the Germany of Hitler's time from the translator (Ralph Manheim): "Germany was a land of high general culture, with the largest reading public of any country in the world. In the lower middle class, there was a tremendous educational urge. People who in other countries would read light novels and popular magazines devoured works on art, science, history, and above all philosophy. Certain philosophical phrases became journalistic cliches. Hitler is forever speaking of 'concepts', of things 'as such' (an sich). Moreover, he is constantly at pains to show that he, too, is cultured". So being intellectual and cultured leads where? Like Hitler, the intellectuals of today are mostly socialists too. Most intellectuals think they know it all and want to impose that on others. It is no coincidence that the most intellectual country in the world also became one of the most vicious. And Bolshevik Russia was run by bourgeois intellectuals too.

My goodness! The Tugboat has ventured into giving lessons about basic moral philosophy. He tries to explain what words like "ought" and "good" mean. He seems to wander about a lot, though. I think everybody now agrees that such terms function to commend but where we go from there is contentious. I myself would add that such statements can convey empirical claims but see nothing further that they could conceivably do or be -- though my deontologist friend and fellow-conservative Keith Burgess-Jackson thinks there is yet more to be found in such statements. I point out how my view is distinct from Leftist moral relativism here.

I have just discovered a new book on authoritarianism -- that favourite whipping-boy of Leftist psychologists. Only this time it is not conservatives under attack. The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power by Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad, says that, behind the humanistic and permissive mask, gurus and other "alternative" cult figures and "teachers" are all really a bunch of authoritarians who subtly do their best to control others. I agree!


15 December, 2003


"Two hours before she would be stabbed to death during sixth period, a lawsuit contends, Ortralla Mosley complained to teachers at Reagan High School that her ex-boyfriend was becoming increasingly violent with her and that she was worried about her safety. That suit, filed in Austin last week, says school officials knew of Marcus McTear's violence with girls but were 'deliberately indifferent.' Now Ortralla's mother, Carolyn, is suing the Austin Independent School District for wrongful death under Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sexual discrimination in public schools. She seeks $23 million in damages."

More here

13 December, 2003

Larry Elder has a pretty disheartening summary of GWB's socialist record. Just one excerpt: "By this time in his term, Reagan vetoed over 20 bills, President George W. Bush, none. Reagan campaigned to shut down the Department of Education. President Bush shook hands with a smiling Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., as they united to pass the so-called No Child Left Behind Act, increasing the federal government's role in education and, by the way, dropping the dreaded-by-liberals voucher provision. Bush also expanded Head Start despite the program's questionable effectiveness"

12 December, 2003


From Opinion Journal

"The Christian Science Monitor reports a "religious upsurge" among American college students: "Religion on campus--particularly evangelical groups . . .--is thriving these days, but it doesn't always find an easy home in the intellectual, secular world of higher education." Example:

Evangelism, intolerance of homosexuality and other lifestyles, and the "our way is the only way" version of Christianity can be awkward fits in secular higher education, with its increasingly inclusive culture.
At the University of Chicago, the school was so nervous about an evangelical speaker that it called in the campus police. And a few years ago, Tufts University derecognized the local InterVarsity [Christian Fellowship] chapter--though the group was later reinstated--after a very public dispute when a lesbian student filed a discrimination charge against InterVarsity.

See what we mean about the perversity of the left? An "increasingly inclusive culture" is one that deals with disagreement by calling in the cops and shutting down groups whose views are deemed unacceptable"

11 DECEMBER, 2003


"Three federal judges in Michigan now have ruled that school districts violated the free speech rights of students. On Friday, U.S. District Judge Gerald E. Rosen said the Ann Arbor School District acted improperly in the case of a Roman Catholic student who wanted to express her views on homosexuality. The case is 'about tolerance of different, perhaps, 'politically incorrect' viewpoints in the public schools,' Rosen wrote."

7 December, 2003


That "affirmative action bake sale" at Texas A&M University seems to have succeeded in getting the point across. A&M president Robert Gates announced this week that his institution will not engage in racial discrimination, despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows it to do so. From Opinion Journal

5 December, 2003

USA now more Marxist than Russia: "After arriving in the United States with a diploma from Leningrad University..., I realized that I had the extremely unmarketable skills of a Marxist-Leninist philosophy professor.... Eventually, I ... enrolled at San Francisco State University. I majored in creative writing. I couldn't believe what I found. Imagine the utter amazement of a refugee from a Communist country, where Marxism was forced on all students, now having to sink in a puddle of socialist propaganda again -- but this time in the middle of an American university! Imagine the astonishment of a person who, after fighting the KGB and being a refusenik, finally comes so close to her dream of receiving a real education instead of indoctrination, only to find herself, once again, in the middle of a socialist brainwashing machine -- but this time in San Francisco...

28 November, 2003

School bars "insensitive" costumes

"A group of Skokie [IL] first graders got an unexpected lesson in cultural sensitivity Friday when their principal wouldn't let them dress as American Indians for their annual Thanksgiving celebration. After a parent complained that the costumes the children had made might be offensive, the principal told the kids to leave their construction-paper headdresses on the classroom shelves. Those who had opted to be pilgrims fared no better. Their paper black hats and bonnets also were banned, and for the first time in more than two decades, the 1st graders at Madison School commemorated the events of October 1621 in their school clothes."

More here

21 November, 2003


If I have any Leftist readers, this post should make them froth at the mouth

There is a great letter here from someone in Britain who watched GWB's interview there on TV. It highlights the contradictory views many of GWB's detractors have of him and the arrogance behind such views.

The point the letter makes about GWB's relative inarticulateness reminds me of a similar phenomenon here in my home State of Queensland. Queensland was run for nearly 20 years by the very conservative Sir Johannes Bjelke-Petersen. I was one of his party members. "Sir Joh", as he was known, was universally condemned by the intelligentsia for his inarticulateness. He spoke like the ill-educated farmer he was. The media regularly said he made no sense at all. But he made plenty of sense to the ordinary Queenslanders who voted for him and in one State election (1974) his government actually got 59% of the popular vote -- a majority so large as to be almost unheard of in a Westminster democracy.

The big political battle in Australia in the mid-70s was in fact between the immensely erudite and silver-tongued Leftist Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, and the stumble-tongued but very canny Queensland Premier. And when the 1975 Federal election came around Sir Joh did Whitlam like a dinner. The Leftists won only one out of 18 Queensland seats -- which lost them power in Australia as a whole.

So I think that is a pretty good augury for GWB next time he faces the voters. I suspect that his "inarticulateness" is an asset to him with his voters too. And if GWB does as much good for the USA in his second term as Sir Joh did for Queensland he will be doing very well indeed.


19 November, 2003

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson tells it like it is: "The problems of the black community are due to a lack of moral character and not racism.... . Over 90% of black homicides in America are committed by other blacks, but instead of addressing the root causes of black-on-black crime, the NAACP absurdly blames gun manufacturers. The average black public high school graduate has in reality only an eighth-grade education, yet the NAAPC vehemently opposes school choice"

16 November, 2003


"Fourteen-year-old Lauren Lee recently got some great news in a progress report sent home from Sherwood High School in Montgomery County [MD]. The freshman got an 'A' in a tough honors-level geometry course. Not bad, thought Lauren's mother, Lauren Asbury, especially considering that her daughter never attended the school. 'She doesn't go to Sherwood,' explained Mrs. Asbury. 'She goes to Good Counsel High School.' Lauren, who lives in Olney, has never attended Sherwood High School in Sandy Spring, but that hasn't stopped teachers she's never met from giving her high marks."

More here

"Before they send their children onto a college campus in North America, parents should read two new reports. What passes for education at many universities is not merely an intellectual embarrassment; it is also tremendously expensive. The good news: A spotlight is now shining on these problems, and students in the near future may receive the quality education for which their parents having been paying through tuition and taxes."

14 November, 2003

Big cost for little value: "Amidst all the woeful tales of college students over-burdened with tuition and college loans, the real college cost story -- that it's taxpayers who are truly suffering -- has been ignored. Here's reality. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, more than half of public universities' revenues -- $79 billion -- were extracted directly from federal, state, and local taxpayers, while only 18.5 percent came from student fees and tuition. ... Of course, tuition, too, is covered largely by taxpayers."

13 November, 2003


An excerpt from email posted on David Horowitz's blog of November 6th

"Recently my daughter, an art major, was given an assignment to create a demonstration poster centered around the war in Iraq. I am happy to say she is conservative through and through. She was set on creating a poster in support of the President and the war but was abruptly instructed that she had to create one contrary to her values and opinions. She complied reluctantly and of course received a lesser grade, in my opinion, because her position was contrary to that of the professor. Most recently in a communications class the professor spent the better part of a 90 minute class going off against the President and his foreign policy. Unfortunately, any student who speaks out in these venues is seriously harassed by the professor. In another setting of art students the question of political preference came up. My daughter realized from the discussion that she was in the minority and only reluctantly voiced her conservative position.

What is particularly disturbing about these episodes is that she attends what can only be considered one of the more conservative institutions in the state, East Carolina University. Despite the traditional conservatism there, General Shelton spoke at commencement, the liberal academics continue to make their stands in the classroom often times at the expense of the conservative student. These liberal positions are effecting the outcome of student grades if the student does not conform to the political slant of the professor."

8 November, 2003


Mike Tremoglie writes (Excerpts):

If anyone doubts the need for an Academic Bill of Rights contact Professor Jay Bergman of Central Connecticut State University (CCSU).

Recently, Bergman sent a letter, signed by over twenty people, to the chairman of the university's board of trustees, noting the lack of intellectual diversity there. He cited several examples. One was a seminar about slavery reparations. According to Bergman it was an indoctrination session. "Not one of the presenters expressed the reasonable opinion, which students attending the seminar were entitled to hear, that reparations are a bad idea," Bergman wrote.

In addition to the reparations seminar, Bergman cited a Women's Studies program that rarely invited speakers who differ with feminist doctrine. He noted, for example, the complete absence of campus speakers who are pro-life or against Affirmative Action.

Bergman is president of the Connecticut Association of Scholars, the state chapter of the National Association of Scholars (NAS) - an organization of professors devoted to eliminating tendentious scholarship in academia. He has an abiding interest in academic freedom.

The fact that there were more than twenty other signatories to his letter indicates that this is a genuine problem for CCSU.

Bergman's letter was reported by the Manchester (CT) Journal Inquirer. In it Bergman opined that, "Unless students are exposed to a wide variety of viewpoints, they cannot exercise the freedom they need as students to evaluate critically what they are told by their instructors." This is a professed tenet of colleges, yet many of those cited in the letter apparently do not believe this to be true

More here

7 November, 2003


Ron Edwards writes (Excerpts):

"So what on earth is the number one enemy of this great but troubled land? This wretched enemy number one I am refering to is this nation's government or public school system. Now please allow me to make my case! There is an old biblical saying that states as a man thinketh so is he. It is not difficult to see how that worthy verse could easily apply to a nation of sovereign individuals. You may not realize it but, when American children enter grammar school they are on par with students from other industrialized nations. However, they remain competitive with students from other lands for only a few short years. The reason being is that for the most part, government school teachers focus more on indoctrinating American students into becoming tree huggers. Government school teachers also mold their students into politically correct dolts with no concept of absolutes, moral or otherwise.

On the other hand, most foreign students are thoroughly instructed in math and science. In addition, students in other lands benefit from being completely immersed in the knowledge about their homeland and it's history. They are also encouraged to appreciate their nation of origin. Unfortunately, "We the People" of the United States are mentally coerced (from childhood) into not knowing about or giving a damn about our country.

Most assuredly, you can blame the nations mentally depleting government school system. Don't Believe me?. Then ask almost any American high school or college graduate from the past twenty five years to explain the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Then go ahead and ask them why they would believe a stupid lie such as 'lowering taxes doesn't stimulate growth in the economy.

Dear reader, for the past seven or more decades government schools have weaned America away from the very principles that made her the one-time envy of the world. Have you noticed how certain groups that foster deviant behavior now have or shall soon receive preferential rights and forced insurance coverage? Of course, you may think I'm drifting away from America's most dangerous enemy, but I'm not at all.

If you are a parent and your child attends a government-uh-public school, many teachers will spend more time focussing your young one on special rights for deviants, revisionist history and anti traditional family dogma than on reading, writing, arithmetic and real history. For example, many government school students in California are taught about and forced to experience being a Muslim. However if one of those students even whispers anything relating to Christianity they are harshly punished."

6 November, 2003


A reader writes:

"I have two incidents from my recent graduate education that I thought might interest you.

Several years ago I left an industry job to return to the University to pursue a Ph.D. in electrical engineering. For several reasons including class scheduling conflicts and personal interest I took a minor in STS (Science Technology and Society), basically a liberal arts view of science and technology. I was a bit surprised to find this area of study to be a bit of a fact free zone but there were some tidbits offered as facts.

I was told it was the invention of the steam engine that made it possible for England to ship its convicts to Australia and for England and the other colonial powers to establish empires. I had just read "The Hostile Shore" and knew transportation happen entirely in the age of sail. My elementary school history lessons are enough to know the Spanish, English, Portuguese and Dutch colonial empires were all established at least two hundred years before trans-oceanic steam ships appeared.

I was told here in America the very promising steam engine power automobile was defeated by an outbreak of hoof and mouth disease. In an effort to contain this disease, public watering trough were destroyed removing the water source needed by the owners of steam powered automobiles, most of which did not have condensers and therefore required several liters of water per mile to operate.

No word on why steam engines in steam ships which by definition do not lack for water for cooling fell into disfavor at about the same time."


1 November, 2003

But there's always money to pay the bureaucrats: "Stone-faced parents gathered at the Ottoson Middle School library in Arlington [MA] one recent morning looking determined and exhausted. 'We have all spent so much time in the last six months working to find money to restore what's been cut,' said Jeff Carver, who has two daughters at Ottoson in grades 6 and 9. Parents in Arlington who raised $275,000 after a Proposition 2 1/2 override attempt failed are now wondering where to draw the line. How much should public school budgets rely on private fund-raising?"


We all know that free speech in American universities is a lost cause but it is not doing too well in American High Schools either

Teens sue high school in speech case: "Two Snellville [GA] students have filed a federal lawsuit against their high school for suspending them over criticisms of a teacher they posted on a Web site. ... [Lloyd] Goldsmith and [Alexander] Morgan were suspended in March, after the two made postings on an off- campus Web site created by another student as 'an outlet to provide students, teachers and parents at Brookwood High School or other citizens a place to vent and post comments concerning a particular Brookwood teacher ... with whom many students were experiencing frustration and difficulty,' said the lawsuit, which was filed Aug. 22."