Sunday, February 01, 2004

31 January, 2004

Some sanity in Taxachusetts: "The state's highest court refused yesterday to block the use of the MCAS exam as a graduation requirement, dealing a blow to high school students who are suing to abolish the controversial test. The Supreme Judicial Court denied a request for an injunction to stop the state from giving the high-stakes exam pending the outcome of a lawsuit, saying an injunction 'would undermine educator accountability and hinder education reform.'"

30 January, 2004

Seattle schools learn money doesn't buy grades "Seattle school officials are learning a valuable but surprising lesson -- throwing money at schools doesn't always help kids achieve. And spending more money on some students rather than others does little more than cause trouble. Under Seattle's weighted student formula, schools with kids who are poor, not fluent in English or have special needs get more money to help them compete. Only it doesn't seem to work. 'If money is the only thing we need to make better schools ... then we would have seen that by now,' said Lynn Harsh of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, an Olympia-based group that focuses on state budgets and tax policy, welfare reform, health-care reform, education and governance issues. 'Instead we're seeing the opposite results.'"

29 January, 2004

An interesting comment from a reader on my post yesterday about a brilliant black who is not allowed to teach High School: "Yes - there are Racists in Atlanta - racists who just don't want their Black students to have good role models - most likely the under achievers at the school - not the students, but the teachers and administrators who just can't stand someone that looks like them being a hell of a lot smarter". I think that may have hit the nail on the head.

The "gender" divide in education: Maybe a comeback of same sex schools is needed -- or maybe less feminist teachers -- or maybe males have been more rebellious against the Leftist and Greenie propaganda that so often passes for education these days: "The women's movement has taught us many things, one of the more surprising being that boys are not performing in school as well as they might... In the late 1970s more girls than boys began to enroll in college, and the disparity has since increased. Today women make up approximately 56 percent of all undergraduates, outnumbering men by about 1.7 million. In addition, about 300,000 more women than men enter graduate school each year." Given the meaninglessness of a lot of the credentials concerned, it may just mean that men have found better things to do -- like go into business.

28 January, 2004

Not all immigrants are equal -- despite what the Leftists would like to think: Apparently the Indians expelled from Uganda by Idi Amin who went to the UK are now one of the highest per capita income groups in the UK. They were entrepreneurial, with strong middle class ambitions and had received a traditional British-style education.

26 January, 2004


Michael Duffy tells how parents decode what defenders of government schools say:

"Here is a list of the values which, according to the defenders of state schools, are taught in them. In brackets I suggest what it really means to lots of parents:

Public schools preach diversity and accept every child who comes to their door. (Troublemakers are churned through the system.)

They are inclusive and accept children from poor families. (Your child's fellow pupils will come from homes that don't value education.)

They teach egalitarianism. (You'll never be told exactly how your child compares with the rest of the class.)

They accept children of all races and levels of academic ability.
(Your child will be dragged down by the presence in class of kids who don't want to be there.)

They advocate the good old Aussie fair go. (Pupils who misbehave won't be punished.)

They teach most physically and intellectually disabled children. (Your child's teacher will spend much of her time coping with problems for which she has been ill-prepared and resourced.)

They teach tolerance. (Bad teachers cannot be removed.)"

The above is an extract from an article in The Courier Mail newspaper of Brisbane, Australia -- published on January 24th, 2004 (p. 28) -- but which does not appear to be otherwise available online


"Minnesota's Commissioner of Education, comprehensively relates the history of American middle schools, focusing on a reform movement dedicated to egalitarianism that took shape in the middle of the 20th century. As part of this movement, a body of research and literature grew around the ideas that 1) middle school students cannot learn challenging material, 2) treating students differently based on skill level is harmful, and 3) middle schools should be used to conduct social experiments. The National Middle School Association, founded in 1973, embraced these ideas and led a movement to make all students equal through the suppression of excellent students.

This, says Yecke, is unethical. "Public schools were never meant to be the vehicle for massive social experiments aimed at achieving the questionable utopian goals of an elite few," she says.

Clearly the most destructive and widely-practiced method to accomplish these ends is what Yecke calls "heterogeneous grouping." Here students within classes are broken into groups and given assignments. The groups intermingle talented students with students who, though capable, either do not apply themselves to the same degree or do not grasp concepts as quickly. The result is that gifted students who already understand the material are not challenged by the content, thereby preventing their advancement and attenuating their ability to perform. The students who do not grasp the material do not participate as much in the project at hand, convinced that the talented students can do the work quicker and more completely; these non-participants, who are in need of the practice, then fall further behind their peers. Yecke explains how this process also takes place through peer tutoring and cooperative learning (similar to heterogeneous grouping).

Thus, in an attempt to treat all students equally, proponents of egalitarianism and "heterogeneous grouping" successfully restrain talented students, preventing their success, and completely alienate the perfectly capable students who simply take longer to grasp the same concepts.

"Amazingly, their message is that high ability students should succumb to peer pressure and strive not to achieve, or they will risk making their classmates look bad--and their actions might even go so far as to force these non-motivated students to work harder!" Yecke says.

In her final chapter, "Implications for the 21st Century," a perceptive analysis of the implications of the middle school movement, Yecke argues that the movement's core values are un-American. "American values such as rewarding individual effort, honoring individual achievement, and promoting healthy competition have given way to a capricious smorgasbord of liberal ideas that undermine...traditional values in many of our schools." She goes on to say, "Beliefs driving radical equity include the leveling of achievement and the desire for equality of outcomes. This is in stark contrast with the premise underlying our nation's founding principles."

The middle school reform movement has sabotaged America's schools, and this intellectual genocide needs to be stopped. In one sense, while middle school reformers have not made all students equal, they have given all students subject to their poisonous methods something in common: none can achieve their full potential"

More here

25 January, 2004

Biased schools: "Some material taught in NSW [Australia] public schools was anti- farmer and 'blatantly deep green,' Acting Prime Minister John Anderson said today. Prime Minister John Howard this week sparked a political debate on education when he said government schools were too politically correct. Mr Anderson welcomed the debate on public schools, saying teachers' unions and government school curriculums were sometimes too ideological. He said some lessons on sustainable development given in NSW schools were biased against farmers."

About time: "A well-known conservative is reaching out to state lawmakers to beat back what he claims is rampant political bias against students and faculty who do not agree with a pervasive liberal orthodoxy in state schools across the country. As a result, leaders in several states are reportedly working on anti-bias legislation, including Colorado state Sen. John Andrews. Andrews told that lawmakers in the state General Assembly plan to introduce a bill in coming weeks that would require state college and university officials to educate students and faculty better about their rights against political and ideological bias by other professors and administrators."

23 January, 2004


But only Leftists are allowed to criticize of course. Freedom of thought is just not "appropriate" in an American university

"Republican students at the University of Colorado launched a Web site to gather complaints about left-leaning faculty members, saying they want to document discrimination against conservative students and indoctrination to the liberal viewpoint," the Associated Press reports from Boulder.

"I'm shocked the students would resort to this," says Barbara Bintliff, a law professor and chairman of the Boulder Faculty Assembly. "I'm concerned they may wind up with a blacklist." Is it really so shocking that young people would use their right to free speech and question authority?

From Opinion Journal

21 January, 2004


"Mr Howard said students were being moved out of public schools into the private system because there was too much political correctness in the government school system.

Figures released earlier this month show non-government schools will receive $4.7 billion in federal funding in 2004, beating universities which will receive $4.5 billion.
Public schools, which are largely financed by state governments, will get $2.4 billion in federal assistance.

Earlier, Mr Howard accused teachers' unions of being "out of step'' with mainstream views, and backed the publication of national league tables ranking public schools by performance.

In an interview with The Australian, Mr Howard also called for consideration of an after-hours care program supervising homework, to provide parents with more quality time with their children. Parents now send almost 40 per cent of teenagers to private secondary schools, and one in three Australian children overall do not attend public schools.

"They feel that government schools have become too politically correct and too values-neutral," Mr Howard said.

"It's a reflection of the extent to which political correctness overtook this country. Particularly through the teachers' unions, which I think are a bit out of step.
"Some schools think you offend people by having nativity plays. You know, the increasingly antiseptic view ... taken about a whole lot of things."

Mr Howard, who attended a public school in Sydney, said he did not want their enrolments to fall. "I don't want to see state schools decline, in fact I think it is important to maintain them," he said. "I'm a state-school boy myself. My wife and I both went to selective state schools. We sent our children to state schools at a primary level. It is fundamentally quite a good thing if every child at some stage can have an education at a state school. I'm not saying people have to ... particularly for Catholics."

He backed controversial calls to publish league tables ranking schools by performance. "The more information parents have about schools and their performance the better," he said. "My judgement is that the envy line that (the Australian Labor Party) ran at the last election fell on its face very badly."

Mr Howard said the present funding arrangements were "quite good", despite calls to introduce a voucher system giving parents a set amount they could spend at public or private schools. "One of the reasons why the voucher system was never adopted in Australia some years ago was that it doesn't sit easily with the funding of the Catholic system," he said"

More here

The private school system in Australia is so huge in part because all sorts of non-government schools already receive big Federal government funding. So a voucher system would not be a big improvement on that

20 January, 2004


I noticed that the professor who had just finished giving a test in the same classroom had accidentally left a copy of his test behind. It was a true/false exam. It was loaded with questions like "True or false. The American criminal justice system is racist" and "True or false. The war on drugs is racist." I thought the professor's method was pretty direct. Just repeat my political views for points. Dissenters will repeat the course.

More here


Believe it or not, this is advice that the British Education Department gives to its teachers:

"Discuss what makes human beings suspicious or afraid of each other. Pupils could interrogate bookmarked - or otherwise preselected - websites to find out why medieval Christians were suspicious and sometimes afraid of Jews. It is not recommended that pupils should search the internet themselves for information for this topic"

There is of course a lot of rubbish on the internet but it is no worse than the Leftist and Greenie rubbish that the kids get taught by their own teachers so the idea of teaching critical thinking as a way of dealing with internet nonsense would be far too dangerous. The kids might start thinking about what their teachers say as well. So once again we have the tried-and-true Leftist solution: political censorship. Leftists cannot AFFORD free speech or free thought.

Another section on the same site, about the achievements of Islam, specifies learning how the Crusades failed to dislodge Islam but there seems to be no mention of centuries of Islamic jihad in Europe failing to dislodge Christianity!

13 January, 2004

Dave Huber has a good post on the nonsense that passes for modern educational theory -- and which is all too often being imposed on our kids nowadays. I myself have taught High School under both systems -- "student directed" and "traditional" and there is no doubt which delivers students who know their subject.

11 January, 2004


Fun is now incorrect

In other zero-tolerance news, the Seattle Times reports that Alexander Graham Bell Elementary School in nearby Kirkland has expanded zero-tolerance madness to cover snowball fights:

"Julie Miles has two kids at A.G. Bell Elementary in Kirkland, a school with a zero tolerance for snowballs. Students there say they were told they can't even touch the snow, much less pack and hurl it".

And they're at it again in Rio Rancho, N.M. The Associated Press reports "a teenager has been suspended from Rio Rancho Mid-High School for five days for bringing an over-the-counter drug to school." The drug, Gas-X, "breaks up gas bubbles in the digestive tract."

More here

10 January, 2004


"You must not do anything without my permission" seems to be the message. Maybe the fact that he was a boy was his real sin.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Dave Lieber reports that [student] Carl used the instant-messaging system on the schools obsolete DOS-based computer network to send the message "Hey!" to some 80 users. "At first, Principal Tommy Rollins didn't think much of it," Lieber reports. But Beverly Sweeney, "a computer teacher and campus computer liaison with the district," was outraged. She tracked Carl down, confronted him and demanded: "Do you know that this is serious?" Eventually the principal suspended the boy for three days.

More here

7 January, 2004

Australia has nothing remotely like the race problems of the USA but lots of parents (including myself) still send their children to private schools. And Government statistics expose the myth that private schools are for the rich. "A breakdown of parental income shows 9 per cent of Australia's 3.3 million students live in families where the average annual income is less than $20,800. Almost one in five of these students - about 50,000 children - go to a non-government school". People just like to have choices about how their children are educated. But the advocates of government education don't like that one bit.

Is "free" education and medical care too expensive? This excerpt from a National Review article (not online) by Stephen Moore (titled "Nice goin' Uncle Sam") suggests that it is: "According to Department of Labor consumer-price index (CPI) data, since the creation of Medicare in the mid 1960s the health-care component of the CPI has grown at roughly twice the rate of economy-wide inflation. But in the 15 years prior to Uncle Sam's taking on the role of health insurer, medical inflation grew at about the same rate as inflation in other sectors of the economy. There are only two industries in America today that suffer from rampant inflation: health care and education. In virtually all other sectors of the economy, prices are relatively stable, or even falling. So why do prices in these two industries gallop out of control? In both cases, government plays a domineering role."

4 January, 2004

The is an amusing NYT article by David Brooks here that says that in the next election the GOP can no longer advocate reducing the size of government (because they don't reduce it) so will have to advocate change. That proposal is of course meant to be provocative and one hopes that it is. It might help drive out the last remnants of the nonsensical claim that conservatives oppose change. Brooks is right. There is a whole heap of Democrat nonsense enshrined in U.S. law that badly needs changing. Abolishing the entire U.S. public school system and replacing it with vouchers would be one nice change. No alternative school system could be worse than the present one as far as I can see. No doubt it won't happen but it gives you an idea of the scope for change that exists. And how about legislating for more "diversity" on campus by setting quotas that say the percentage of conservative professors on campus must mirror the percentage of conservatives in the community?

Britain: Shuffling the deckchairs on the "Titanic": "Downing Street advisers are pressing for the Government to take over direct funding of schools, which could spell the end of local education authorities. Two of Tony Blair's senior aides want him to 'nationalise' school spending, channelling money to headteachers and governors through a central agency that would 'cut out the middle man.'"

2 January, 2004


The teachers concerned deny being Leftist but prove the accusations themselves by their deeds

"Tim Bueler recently received some unusual advice: His principal and a campus police officer suggested that he stay home from his California high school for a few days.

They feared for his safety because Tim, the founder of Rancho Cotate High School's new Conservative Club, said he had received threats from other students after writing an article for the club newsletter calling for a crackdown on illegal immigration.

The 17-year-old junior says that stance inspired threats from which teachers have refused to protect him. Some faculty members even started a public campaign against his group, which seeks to promote "the pillars of the Bible, patriotism and conservative beliefs as balance to the mostly liberal viewpoints of teachers," according to its newsletter, "The Conservative Agenda."

In a telephone interview, Tim said he's been threatened at least three times by Hispanic students who call him "white boy" and "racist." One boy said he was going to "find someone" to beat up Tim.

In two of those instances, Tim said two faculty members stood by and did nothing to help him."

More here.