Sunday, February 29, 2004

27 February, 2004

Illegal aliens are imposing an additional cost amounting to $900 per American child (i.e. child of American-born parents) in the public school system.

"A German drag queen has been given an honorary professorship from the University of Hamburg's faculty for Gender Studies to teach Queer Theory. Oliver Knoebel, better known in Germany as drag queen Olivia Jones, has said he feels honoured to have received the title of professor. ... Queer Theory is primarily concerned with how gender and sexuality bridges social gaps. The subject has developed out of feminist and gay-lesbian research and is mainly taught in the USA."

If he had been studying Queer theory, feminism or environmentalism that would have been fine: "The Supreme Court, in a new rendering on separation of church and state, voted Wednesday to let states withhold scholarships from students studying theology. The court's 7-2 ruling held that the state of Washington was within its rights to deny a taxpayer-funded scholarship to a college student who was studying to be a minister."


Is Australia a last bastion of sense about school discipline?

"STATE schools are adopting "zero tolerance" of misconduct, suspending or expelling about 170 students across Queensland each day.

Schools around Roma suspended the highest proportion of students due to disruptive behaviour.

Education Minister Anna Bligh confirmed that many school communities had set zero-tolerance policies to counter problems.
"Bad behaviour will not be tolerated in our schools," Ms Bligh said yesterday. "I make no apology for schools setting high standards of behaviour for students nor their willingness to enforce those standards."

Queensland Teachers Union president Julie-Ann McCullough said some schools needed more help in handling bad behaviour.
"For some time we have been calling for more support in schools," she said.

Across the state 23,244 students were placed on a "short suspension" of between one and five days. Another 1967 were on "long suspensions" of five to 20 days. A total of 655 students were expelled over the period - more than 10 per cent of them in Logan.

Physical misconduct - or violence against teachers, parents and other students - accounted for 1003 of the Logan district's suspensions.

Education Queensland said the disciplinary figures were comparatively low in a system of 435,000 students. A spokesman said there were a number of behaviour management programs in place in Logan, Roma and Torres Strait Islands districts, including "alternative schooling" sites and vocational programs. "Schools must be able to remove extremely disruptive students in order to protect the other students and ensure they receive the attention they deserve," the spokesman said. "Decisions to exclude or suspend a student are not taken lightly.""

More here

26 February, 2004


"A conservative group at Texas A&M University has established a $10,000 essay contest for students who disagree with affirmative action. The Young Conservatives of Texas are asking prospective writers to discuss 'how you or a family member have overcome institutionalized discrimination and/or the stigma imposed by policies giving preference to particular racial and ethnic groups in college admissions, employment, and other competitive arenas.' YCT established the contest in response to Texas A&M's 'Graduate Diversity Scholarships' and new race-based hiring quotas in the College of Engineering."

More here

25 February, 2004

I like it: "Education Secretary Rod Paige called the nation's largest teachers union a 'terrorist organization' Monday, taking on the 2.7-million-member National Education Association early in the presidential election year. Paige's comments, made to the nation's governors at a private White House meeting, were denounced by union president Reg Weaver as well as prominent Democrats."

Review of Peter Brimelow's The Worm in the Apple: How the Teacher Unions Are Destroying American Education: "The point here is not to debate the dubious merits of Mr. Bush's plan to improve accountability in the nation's failing schools. As Brimelow proves, the perverse incentives in this socialized system don't allow for much latitude. The thing to observe, however, is how masterful the educrats are at mounting a noisy, well-masked offensive at the slightest threat to their Soviet-style status quo."

22 February, 2004


From "Opinion Journal"

"The thought police are on the defensive on at least one liberal college campus. An instructor at the University of North Carolina's Chapel Hill campus "has apologized after a student said during a class discussion that he opposed homosexuality--and found himself singled out by the teacher for hate speech," reports the Raleigh News & Observer:

In an e-mail message sent Feb. 6 to her "Literature and Cultural Diversity" students, the lecturer, Elyse Crystall, wrote, "[W]hat we heard [T]hursday at the end of class constitutes 'hate speech' and is completely unacceptable. [I]t has created a hostile environment." Crystall went on to name the student, identified as Tim, and said he was a perfect example of the topic of discussion during class: privilege.
She referred to Tim as "a white, heterosexual, [C]hristian male" who "can feel entitled to make violent, heterosexist comments and not feel marked or threatened or vulnerable."

On Monday, Crystall apologized in another e-mail: "I regret that my e-mail to you last week crossed a line and inhibited free discussion," she wrote. "And I am sorry if anyone was offended by my e-mail; my intention was to promote respectful conversation among us, not to censor anyone. We should not make specific examples of anyone, and I should not have named anyone.""

21 February, 2004

The charade of American education: "The advent of high-stakes testing is revealing more than just information on what American high school students know and are capable of doing; it is also revealing a significant shortfall between that assessment of actual skills and what schools have been telling students about their achievement and ability. For some students, the failure to pass a high school exit exam is the first warning signal they may be sorely unprepared for the demands of college."

19 February, 2004

Leftists have always hated free speech. The facts are deadly to them: "If reaction to Daniel Pipes' lecture on Tuesday (2/10) was any indication, fascism is alive and well at UC Berkeley. Pipes was invited by the Israel Action Committee and Berkeley Hillel to speak at the college campus known for its leftist politics. But ironically, the home of ''free speech'' and ''tolerance'' has shown itself to be distinctly intolerant to those who express political views other than their own. And Daniel Pipes happens to fit that description.... All of these combined make Daniel Pipes public enemy number one according to UC Berkeley leftists and especially radical Muslim students. Indeed, the Muslim Student Association (MSA) was out in full force on Tuesday, acting like the thugs and bullies they routinely accuse Pipes of supporting. There were about 50-70 of them, amidst a crowd of 700, and after failing to prevent Pipes from speaking, they did their best to try and disrupt the lecture and intimidate the audience.... The fact is, radical Muslim students and their leftist counterparts are the most domineering, destructive, and dangerous forces in higher education today. If we're to win the War on Terrorism, we may have to start with our own college campuses." {Pipes's own account of the matter is here}

This article is presented as a commentary on just one American university. But most of it seems to be true of America's Left-dominated education system as a whole. Note that even Harvard needs to give around 20% of its "Freshers" remedial instruction in English. .

18 February, 2004


Wallpapering over "old history"' with new: "In late September of 2003, a now familiar scene played out at a School Board meeting in Richmond, VA. A board member, who is apparently a black activist, was attempting to obliterate one aspect of Southern history for another part of Southern history. Specifically, board member Carol Wolf wanted to change the name of Stuart Elementary School (named for J.E.B. Stuart, the dashing Confederate cavalry general) to Hill-Tucker Elementary (after Oliver W. Hill and Samuel W. Tucker, two prominent Richmond civil-rights lawyers).

Surprisingly, this effort went down to a resounding defeat. Across the South there has been a systematic effort to eradicate not just some, but practically all history prior to the 1880's, and in some cases history prior to the 1960's (except for references to slavery, for which black activists want money from the government). Time and again we see political correctness run amuck as the names of schools, streets and bridges are changed, losing the link to our past in favor of honoring someone of a more recent past, and maybe even someone still alive.

I have no complaint with the desires of people to honor those who have contributed to society and have had an impact on how we conduct ourselves as a people. What I do object to is the biased, bigoted manner in which one group is stomped underfoot for the sake of propping up the socialist ideology of egalitarianism. Granted, concerning schools, as a neighborhood changes, and the ethnicity or racial makeup of a neighborhood changes, it is not unreasonable to point out that the name of a school might not hold the significance it once did to the people attending it. However, many of these schools suffering name changes are old and will most likely be replaced in the not too distant future. Why slap one part of the community in the face with forcing this change when the change can come naturally when a new facility is built and the old one is demolished due to age and unsuitability for use? Why must the change be forced in such an antagonistic way as to perpetuate hostilities between the races?

It's not just the schools. Why must a road name be changed erasing the heritage of one aspect of the South for another aspect. Why must the older parts of our Southern heritage go to the back of the bus for the more recent parts of our heritage?

Some of the most barefaced Leftist liars are the teachers' unions. See here: Australian teachers' unions are publishing advertisements crying that government schools do not get as much money from the Federal government as private schools do -- completely ignoring the fact that most taxpayer funding for Australian government schools comes via the State governments not via the Federal government. The private schools, by contrast, get almost all their taxpayer funding via the Federal government. When you count in the State government money that the unions deliberately ignore, the situation is exactly the reverse of what the unions would have you believe. Can you imagine what a great education the lying low characters responsible for these advertisements are giving to the kids entrusted to their care? "How to deceive in ten easy lessons" would be an obvious curriculum item. No wonder a third of Australians send their kids to private schools.

Eleanor French Spreitzer has a good post about why America's Leftist elites send their kids to private schools while hypocritically telling everyone else about what a good thing public schools are.

17 February, 2004


"A student group at Roger Williams University is offering a new scholarship for which only white students are eligible, a move they say is designed to protest affirmative action. The application for the $250 award requires an essay on 'why you are proud of your white heritage' and a recent picture to 'confirm whiteness.'" More here

George Will has 28 excellent questions for the rubbery John Kerry. Just two of them: "You say the rich do not pay enough taxes. In 1979 the top 1 percent of earners paid 19.75 percent of income taxes. Today they pay 36.3 percent. How much is enough? You say the federal government is not spending enough on education. President Bush has increased education spending 48 percent. How much is enough?

A coverup uncovered: "The University of Newcastle's two top executives are to be replaced in the wake of a plagiarism scandal that has plagued the institution for more than a year." In my time teaching at a major Australian University, I was appalled at the lack of standards.

15 February, 2004

Inequality -- the statistics: "The main reasons some families earn more than others are not as shocking as politicians would have you believe. Consider these horribly shocking Census Bureau facts about inequality: -- Families with two people have incomes at least three times larger than families in which nobody works. .... Mature, experienced employees earn at least three times as they did when they were young apprentices and trainees. Average family income was $16,014 among families in which the household head was younger than 24, but $45,978 when the household head was 45 to 54.... College grads earn at least three times as much as middle-school dropouts. For family heads with a bachelor's degree, median income was $78,518; for those with less than a ninth-grade education, median income was $25,077. If all this rampant inequality strikes you as grossly unfair, you should indeed consider electing politicians promising to do something about it. But they can't really do much unless they promise to take money from two-earner families and give it to no-earner families, to take money from those who go to college and give it to those who didn't bother attending a free high school... "


They had a gutful of that under Communism

Germany is quietly moving away from PC in education: "How pleasant at last to find a place where political correctness is actually in retreat, where old values are treasured, common sense is respected and history is not treated as a rubbish dump to be forgotten, but as vital, irreplaceable experience. Welcome to the former East Germany, struggling to rebuild civilisation in the ruins of Socialism...Here, until 1989, political correctness took solid form; equal this, equal that, equal the other. Every slogan on every daft radical demonstration you have ever seen was turned into official policy. Everybody was so equal they had to put up a large fence and build miles of minefields to keep them all in, and keep them all equal.... Herr Box and two colleagues who also experienced the old days, Christine Michaelsen and Verina Runge, all independently agreed that the new system was both far better and more equal in outcome than the comprehensive system which it replaced. They are particularly pleased that bright children no longer have to be held to the pace of the slowest in mixedability classes, and can move ahead from the earliest possible age."

14 February, 2004


Maybe the Fascistic PC Juggernaut is at last being stopped

Victory for free speech at William & Mary: "A student group, the Sons of Liberty, saw its satirical protest unlawfully halted by W&M in November; it was one of many such protests nationwide that were shut down on campuses this past fall. While W&M allowed the group's bake sale to proceed without incident this time, W&M President Timothy J. Sullivan issued a statement denying that his administration acted improperly in stopping the same protest just months before."

13 February, 2004

The widely-read Chronicle of Higher Education has at last given coverage to the problem of Leftist bias in academe and what David Horowitz is doing to overcome it. There is also a site here run by students themselves which gives even more information on how huge the problem is. There is an article from last year here by David Horowitz that makes clear that there is actually what amounts to a blacklist against hiring conservative professors at almost all U.S. universities. The Chronicle has an attempted reply by a Leftist to Horowitz which admits that the Left "have won the curricular battle" (meaning that what is taught at U.S. universities is Leftist) but goes on to such absurdities as claiming that political correctness is used by Leftists as "irony". He must be the only one in the world who thinks it is a joke!

12 February, 2004

More deceitful "education" being practiced on High School students: A group of students were shown how to examine one particular genetic marker that was already known to be widespread among different races. When they found that people of all different races in their class had the marker, that was presented as "proof" that there is no such thing as racial differences. Pity about all the OTHER millions of genetic markers that were NOT examined! The old nonsense about all races sharing more than 99% of their genes was also trotted out as proving that there is no such thing as race biologically. Somehow they forgot to mention that we share nearly as high a percentage of genes with chimpanzees. So by that reasoning humans and chimps are really the same too. Let's reserve more college places for chimps! Down with chimpism! The truth of course is that percentage of shared genes is a total red herring. Differences in just ONE critical gene out of millions of genes can make a huge difference to one's life -- as many people with genetic illnesses have sadly found. The students were also apparently told that "scientists know that traditional notions of race no longer hold up". I guess they must have just overlooked what these geneticists found! There are a lot of comments on the matter on the Joanne Jacobs site for anybody who thinks there is anything more worth saying about such nonsense.

11 February, 2004


Political correctness in Australian schools seems to be similar to what is taught in U.S. and U.K. schools but it is under attack in Australia. Christopher Pearson notes that both Australia's conservative Federal government and the Federal leader of Australia's major Leftist party (Latham) are agreed that the PC rot in the schools must be stopped. I understand that Pearson has declared his own homosexuality so his remarks on that subject are hardly "homophobic". Some excerpts:

"PAMELA Bone, an associate editor of The Age, artlessly encapsulated the education debate last week. "State schools are not so much politically correct, as John Howard charges, as ideologically sound." It is a classic example of a distinction without a difference. Still, Bone ploughed on. "So are most private schools, for that matter. But it's an ideology to which - one would think! - not even the Prime Minister could object" - of caring, sharing and self-esteem.
This is reminiscent of the early 1990s when the political correctness brigade would all but deny the existence of the phenomenon and say that they were simply being "good mannered". Note how, by implication, anyone who didn't follow their example was at best boorish. The coerciveness of this strategy, a self-serving tautological loop, plainly wasn't apparent to all but the slyest of its practitioners. They really thought that all civilised people either shared their world view or would in time come around to doing so. It reminded me at the time of William Blake's line about "the mind-forged manacles" of man....

Peter West, head of the research group on men and families at the University of Western Sydney, wrote last week in praise of Mark Latham's plans to educate and support parents experiencing difficulties. He says that the web of authority that children and boys especially need has been weakened. "Parents can't provide authoritative parenting. Schools are wary of saying the wrong thing. My teacher/education students are terrified about saying almost anything but the blandest praise about Aborigines or immigrants, for fear that someone might attack them." If only the curriculum were less transfixed by noble savages living in peace with one another and mystical harmony with the land. If some teachers at least believed in authoritative plain speaking as thoroughly as, say, Noel Pearson, without fear of being labelled racists, how much more productive a national conversation we'd be able to have.

There is abundant further evidence that PC (or, since the term's been over-used, what might for convenience sake be called coercive groupthink) is more than just the stuff of right-wing fantasy. Parents, whatever their political allegiances, ought to reflect on the Australian Education Union's policy pronouncements on sexuality. Take, for example, the union's rejection of "the assumption that heterosexual sex and relationships are 'natural' or 'normal"'. Would you want your or anyone else's sons and daughters to be exposed to teachers who shared their union's view and preached it?

It's possible to hold and demonstrate non-discriminatory attitudes towards what Peter Berger called "the erotic minorities" without questioning the naturalness of the majority and ordinary procreation. Likewise, it's possible, and indeed perfectly legitimate, to argue in schoolrooms about the necessity or propriety of waging war on Iraq. But was it proper of the Victorian branch of the AEU to advise teachers "to suspend normal classroom instruction to read a statement to their classes and present or undertake a peace activity"?

The imagination cringes at what a peace activity might be -- holding hands while gathered around a few candles, perhaps, or singing John Lennon's Imagine. At any rate I suspect most parents would prefer debate and some attempt at balance rather than proselytising from teachers. However, when the Victorian branch urged teachers to "come into the city after school to a rally outside the State Library", plainly groupthink pressure was being applied to them as well as their students.

One welcome aspect of the Latham ascendancy is a likely greater convergence between the major parties on education. The Opposition Leader's attitude towards the teachers' unions has been nothing if not forthright: "The greatest obstacle to progress in this state's schools is the leadership of the NSW Teachers Federation. It is a serial offender when it comes to opposing high standards, basic skills and accountability. It has tried to obstruct every effort by the Carr Government to move in this direction. The federation is locked in a time warp, practising the education beliefs of the 1970s."

10 February, 2004

The most popular cry at Democratic rallies was against 'special interests'. Thomas Sowell asks about the Dems' own special interests: "When Senator Kerry gives examples of special interests, do not look to see the teachers unions included. When Senator Kerry votes against school vouchers, sacrificing the future of millions of children for the greater glory of the National Education Association, that is not called serving special interests because the NEA supports Democrats. Still less will the trial lawyers be called special interests. Presidential candidate Senator John Edwards made his fortune as a trial lawyer, winning huge damage awards from doctors and hospitals, thereby contributing to the rising costs of medical care, which he now so much laments".


"An actual debate on the merits of racial preferences has taken place on an American campus, Utah State University. Whether the Guinness World Records book is interested in this news is not certain. I know I am. Astonishingly, the university administration did not step in to halt the proceedings on the grounds that feelings might be hurt. The debate was civil, with some booing and cheering on both sides. Some students seemed a bit testy or angry. But as one student sponsor of the debate said, "that's part of politics and discussing divisive issues." This breakthrough raises a startling question: is it possible that other universities will begin experimenting with free speech?.... Another factor in the new atmosphere is that conservative students are now a bigger presence on campus. A Harvard poll in the fall found that 61 percent of U.S. college students supported President Bush, at a time when only 53 percent of all Americans supported him.... Repressive speech policies are under heavy pressure and starting to break down."

9 February, 2004


"THE Federal Government will force schools to reintroduce policies allowing teachers to fail students and make them repeat years if they cannot pass benchmark standards.

Education Minister Brendan Nelson said primary schools in particular now routinely sugar-coated students' results and refused to acknowledge failures. "I think we need to be able to say 'your son has not been able to meet the standard required', " he said. "I think there are circumstances when it is of much more benefit in the long term for them to repeat a year if necessary."
Dr Nelson said he was designing a funding model that would make school reporting standards a condition of receiving Federal Government money.

Since Dr Nelson complained last month that schools did not assess students in plain language any more, his office has been inundated with copies of school reports parents say they do not understand. The reports - largely from primary schools - no longer fail students but provide encouraging words such as "working towards", "emerging" or "developing". Dr Nelson said schools need not use the word "fail" but should provide some tough love when providing results.

More here

7 February, 2004

When Leftists fall out: Berkeley University recently got most unreasonably shafted over a technicality by the Federal Dept. of Education. Why? The first thing it shows is how nasty bureaucracies can be but jealousy of Berkeley's widespread acclaim in Leftist circles was certainly the cause of the bloodymindedness. Like the rest of America's educational system, the Education Department is sure to be Left-dominated and Leftists hate one-another at least as much as they hate conservatives -- look at Stalin versus Trotsky or the Soviets versus Mao etc. Leftist hate and envy know no bounds. A pity a lot of innocent students got caught in the middle. But who cares about them?

6 February, 2004


Practical Penumbra has a good post on how even Master's Degrees have become pure Political Correctness propaganda. She speaks from experience. Excerpt:

"What is this travesty of educational dollars? you wonder. Well, it's Human Relations Management. So far we have devoted 75% of our time and energy to sexual harassment in the workplace, and the other 25% to workplace diversity.

Now, I can certainly see how these two topics are worthy of coverage. But wouldn't a simple "sexual harassment bad; diversity good" have sufficed? Do we still have to be obsessing over it 7 chapters into the book? Do we have to be assigned a 6 page paper "case study" on a sexual harassment case from 1994?

Maybe it's me. Maybe I'm just too sensible. Or maybe I'm just too old to be offended by suggestive remarks very easily. The victims in case study were all barely out of their teens, after all. And teenagers, as I know too well, are to drama as cows are to methane. Now I'm not saying that young ladies should tolerate being groped by their lecherous bosses or even their lecherous co-workers. Nor should they lose their jobs when they say "Leave me the hell alone!" But we've covered that, already. It's time to move on. The next two chapters are on Workforce Training and Performance Management. I hope nobody's groping anyone in them, otherwise I'm really gonna wonder about the author of this text... "

5 February, 2004


"I am associate professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. I receive teaching evaluations that run from average to outstanding. I have more scholarly publications than half the full professors in my department. But as I sit here writing, three of my four classes have been cancelled. I am scheduled to be moved out of the office I have occupied for the last twelve years into a dank hole in the basement that was never intended to be used as office space. Recent events are the culmination of four years of retaliation, intimidation, and harassment. You see, I don't have the right politics. What's worse is that I'm not submissive and I refuse to be bullied and intimidated."

More here

4 February, 2004


"In November 1996, Dustin Seal, then a high school senior, was expelled after authorities at his Knoxville, Tenn., high school found a 3-inch knife in his car. Even though the knife wasn't Dustin's, and even though the friend who'd left the knife in Dustin's car claimed responsibility for it, the administration didn't budge: Under the school's 'zero tolerance' policy, every student found with a weapon on campus had to be expelled. ... Almost two years after his son's suicide, Dennis Seal is suing the Knox County school board for wrongful death, claiming that Dustin's suicide was a direct result of his expulsion."

More here

3 February, 2004

The history of education in the UK and USA shows that national levels of literacy at least as high as those of today were achieved through private schools BEFORE "free" and compulsory State education was introduced. And the degree of cultural sophistication in the population at large seems to have been higher then too. The E G West Centre has lots more on the topic. Clearly it is a myth that education without the state would be for the rich only.

2 February, 2004

An educational policy of a Leftist State government in Australia: "A flying squad of talent-spotters will work through West Australian high schools identifying and helping students who have the potential to get to university, under a landmark plan announced yesterday."

The collapse of "Theory" in literary studies is amusing. These guys actually think they matter. I have never thought that literary studies of any kind mattered myself. I have never needed someone else to tell me how to enjoy a novel or a poem. I know slabs of Chaucer by heart in the original Middle English not because I ever did a course on him but because I like it. And I think there is no other lyric poet who even approaches Robert Burns but study of him seems very rare in English literature courses as far as I am aware. I guess he is "too popular". What an indictment -- not of Burns but of the puffed-up elitist ignoramuses who see popularity as a negative.

1 February, 2004


Australia's conservative Federal government is cracking down on PC schools: "Education Minister Brendan Nelson's personal crusade to remove "political correctness" and impose "plain language" on the nation's school report cards has reaped a mail bag of examples from angry parents. However, his plans to boost accountability in schools go much further than the humble school report card. Dr Nelson flagged plans yesterday for report cards on schools ranking their students' strike rates on jobs, apprenticeships, TAFE and university.... "

Andrew Bolt summarizes the "mainstream values" that Australian teachers (the AEU -- similar to America's NEA) claim they teach:

But wait a bit. Is this the same non-ideological and mainstream AEU that told teachers to read anti-war statements to their students during the Iraq war?

Is this the same mainstream AEU that attacks the "assumption that heterosexual sex and relationships are 'natural' or 'normal' ", tells teachers to push their "human rights issues within their educational practice", accuses Australia of "attempts of genocide" of Aborigines, and demands the "stolen generation" myth be taught as true?

Is it the same AEU that insists schools produce "equal educational outcomes", which it says means not promoting or even streaming gifted children?

Is it the same AEU that "rejects any form of assessment which is competitive", and sabotaged statewide tests for Year 7 students despite great support for them from parents sick of not knowing how well their children were taught? ....

Isn't this the same state school principal who attacked "heavily masculinised contact sports" because they "serve to define dominant masculinity, connecting manhood with violence and competitiveness and often marginalising girls and women"?