Thursday, April 01, 2004

31 March, 2004


"Social studies textbooks used in elementary and secondary schools are mostly a disgrace that, in the name of political correctness and multiculturalism, fail to give students an honest account of American history, say academic historians and education advocates. 'Secondary and college students, and indeed most of the rest of us, have only a feeble grasp of politics and a vague awareness of history, especially the political history of the United States and the world,' says Paul Gagnon, emeritus professor of history at the University of Massachusetts."


Australia's Left falls foul of teachers' unions: "Latham's policy that good teachers in bad schools be paid more is a good idea. It is recognition from the Labor Party that market forces apply in education as they do in all walks of life.... The great myth of education policy in this country is that non-government schools outperform government schools because government schools must teach any student that wishes to attend, while non-government schools have the privilege of choosing who they enrol. In fact, non-government schools achieve higher outcomes because they employ better teachers, and they are largely free from the dictates of state education departments and teachers unions.... the union of teachers in government schools, the Australian Education Union, is implacably opposed to merit pay and differential salaries because such measures require an assessment of the performance of individual teachers and their school... Latham can't have it both ways. He can't reform government schools and satisfy the teachers union."

Educational control freaks: "Although many teachers and principals officially tout the benefits of parental involvement, they become nervous when parents actually do get involved. They fear parents and seek to stop them from making choices about which schools their children will attend, about the curriculum used in their children's instruction, and about the punishments used in the schools."

Home schooling "A newer breed of home schooler is emerging, motivated not by religious belief or countercultural philosophy. Uppermost for such parents are concerns about violence, peer pressure, and poor academic quality in their schools."


30 March, 2004


Southwest Missouri State University (SMSU), a public institution bound by the First Amendment, is investigating the faculty advisor and student editor of its campus newspaper, The Standard, for publishing an editorial cartoon that a Native American group found "offensive." SMSU has refused to rule out a formal hearing on the matter, has requested that Standard faculty advisor Professor Wanda Brandon and editor-in-chief Mandy Phillips attend "mediation" to discuss the issue, and, according to Philips, has contacted The Standard to "advise" it that even reporting on the administration's intervention in this case could violate university policy.

"SMSU's attack on free speech, freedom of the press, and due process must end immediately," said Greg Lukianoff, director of legal and public advocacy for FIRE. He added, "If publishing an innocuous satirical cartoon is sufficient to set off secret investigations and proceedings, then truly no speech is safe on America's college campuses."

More here

(Note: "Gestapo" is an abbreviation of the German name "Geheime Staatspolizei" or "secret police" and was set up to serve Hitler's National SOCIALISM -- so the parallels are closer than one might at first think)

29 March, 2004


Excerpts from an article by Dale Spender
School is one of the few places where boys don't do well. They don't do well at reading and writing; they don't stay on at school in the same numbers as girls - and they make up only about 43 per cent of university students.....
Which makes the question we should be asking not what is wrong with the boys, but what is wrong with the school?
Most of the people in the workforce are now being called upon to manage vast amounts of information. And it's not the old print form; it's digital. It's all about computers. And this is where the boys come into their own. Boys today are members of the Net generation. They have grown up wired, and whenever they can get their hands on the equipment, most of them excel at anything to do with computers. They can handle massive amounts of information and massage complex systems as they download files, swap music and hack and chat their way through the day. They are immensely digitally literate. They can deconstruct images almost instantly; they can read screens. What's more, these are the very skills they will need for future employment. Their digital literacy is very different from the print literacy of earlier generations - and different from the print literacy on which most of them are still being tested in school.
The Net kids don't sit still, they aren't quiet, and they aren't ordered and disciplined. Their computer behaviour is seen by many teachers as a discipline problem, and their noise and activity as a lack of concentration. For these young people are not only "taking in" information, they are constantly sending it out. The key difference between print and digital is that the computer is interactive. The Net generation has not been taught these skills by parents or teachers. They are the hands-on generation. They have worked it out for themselves. They arrive at the school door with a range of sophisticated computer skills, and there are plenty of teachers of five-year-olds who readily acknowledge that the kids know much more about computers than they do.
But what does the Net generation think of the culture of the school? The answer is generally "not much". It's because most classrooms are not well equipped. For the first time in history, the chances are that the home is better resourced than the school. But this isn't the only limitation the wired kids confront; it's the fact that the school often doesn't value their digital literacy.
Adolescent boys who are recognised as whizzes by IT experts are almost never given credit for their advanced performance. Instead, teachers who are familiar with books, but for whom computers remain something of a mystery, are more likely to regard the speed, dexterity and flashing eye movements of the boys as the product of too many video games - and as something to be kept out of the classroom. Here you have the real problem: The boys have not fallen behind; rather they are ahead of the school.
But can they use their sophisticated information management and knowledge-making skills that the school has not taught them? Rarely. The reality of the classroom is a mob of boys who can hardly wait to get away from the place so they can get back to the real thing - doing the digital. Boys are not underperforming; it's the school. The minute the boys (and some girls) leave the classroom behind, and can be boisterous and adventurous in their use of the digital - and not get into trouble for it - they will be the winners once more.
The minute they can get credit for what they do so well, rather than being penalised for not being able to do what their teachers were taught in another age, boys probably will be ahead of the girls - even in the classroom.

28 March, 2004

Bureaucratic lies: "Last fall, every state was required by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act to identify schools with a 'persistently dangerous' atmosphere so parents would have a better idea of whether their children were being educated in a safe learning environment. When 44 states denied having any such schools and the remaining states admitted to having a combined total of fewer than 50, one safety expert greeted the publication of the lists with a Bronx cheer."

27 March, 2004


Unless you are Muslim, of course

University sued for discrimination against Christian group: "Attorneys for the Center for Law and Religious Freedom recently filed suit in federal court on behalf of an Ohio State University Christian student club that has been threatened with being stripped of its status as a recognized student organization. The Christian Legal Society has refused to accept non-Christians and practicing homosexuals as club members and officers. Although all students are welcome at meetings of the student Christian Legal Society club at Ohio State's Michael E. Moritz College of Law, the club's constitution and bylaws require its members and officers to profess faith in Jesus Christ and its leaders to exhibit exemplary moral conduct in accordance with orthodox Christian doctrine, including a prohibition on practicing homosexuality."

Fighting Leftist discrimination: Students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill say they have had enough with being made to feel their views -- decidedly not liberal -- are illegitimate. Campus conservatives say they are fighting back after a student who expressed his opposition to homosexuality during a classroom discussion was publicly ostracized by his professor. Dean Bresciani, the vice chancellor of students at the school, admits that the professor was out of bounds. ... But students want more than recognition that the professor was wrong. They have formed a group called Students for Academic Freedom and are demanding the right to express their ideas without ridicule and retaliation. They also are seeking oversight of professors to make sure they keep their biases out of the classroom."

26 March, 2004

"Hispanics and the Bottom Rung: Often uneducated, many are more willing than blacks or whites to take less desirable jobs, which keeps their jobless rate fairly low.... Latinos' thirst for labor and employers' eagerness to hire them "is so powerful that it offsets the education advantage blacks have," adds William M. Rodgers III, chief economist at the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University." No comment.


"A Christian high school student in Virginia has been given permission to wear a pro-life sweatshirt after a Michigan law center threatened to sue the school on his behalf last month for banning the garment. Daniel Goergen, a high school student at Denbigh High School in Newport News, VA, wore a black hooded sweatshirt to school on February 18. However, Assistant Principal Marylin Sinclair-White immediately forced Goergen to either remove it or turn it inside-out to conceal the pro-life message. The words on the front of the sweatshirt read 'Abortion is homocide' while the back of it states 'You will not silence my message. You will not mock my God. You will stop killing my generation. Rock For Life.'"

More here

25 March, 2004


"Oxford University is moving to reintroduce entrance tests for history and English in the latest assault on the credibility of the A-level system as a means of identifying bright pupils. The move comes just nine years after the university scrapped its entrance examinations amid concern that they favoured independent school pupils.

Teachers hate free speech: "The Michigan Court of Appeals today threw out a lawsuit filed by the Michigan Education Association that attempted to punish the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a free-market think tank that accurately quoted the union's president in a fundraising letter. The Court stated that discussion on matters of public interest, such as school choice, should enjoy broad protection under the First Amendment ..."

Janet Albrechtsen argues against special scholarsips to entice males into teaching: "In promoting special privileges for male teachers, the Government has made exactly the same mistake as the unionists and the feminists - extrapolating the wrong conclusion from raw numbers without looking behind the numbers" Albrechtsen is not entirely fair, however. All Australia's conservative Federal government proposed was to REMOVE certain legal restrictions on what private bodies can do.


24 March, 2004


Below are three articles on forthcoming educational reform in my home State of Queensland, Australia. Queensland is however not greatly different from other places in the English-speaking world so it seems reasonable to expect that the changes in Queensland might be the harbinger of much more widespread changes.

Fast-tracking for teachers

(Credentialism bites the dust at last)

A REVIEW of Queensland teacher registration could result in scientists and tradesmen being fast-tracked into schools. State Education Minister Anna Bligh yesterday announced a major overhaul of Queensland's teaching watchdog, the Board of Teacher Registration. Ms Bligh said the review of the board's powers and function would include an examination of ways to expand the teaching talent pool to include other professionals such as engineers and scientists. "Currently the entry path into teaching is very restricted," Ms Bligh said. "The review will examine ways to fast-track people with other qualifications and life experience, including trades, technical and other professions, into teaching, with more flexible registration options." Teachers are currently required to have a four-year education degree.

A teaching degree is notoriously the one with the lowest standards of any degree so any able person should see it as an almost criminal waste of the years spent on it. It has, in other words, been a reasonably good filter for keeping the ablest people out of teaching. At the moment, even a person with a Ph.D. would not be allowed to teach in a Queensland school unless they also had that tokenistic teaching degree!

The above is a news item that appeared in "The Courier Mail" (Brisbane, Australia) on March 23, 2004 but which does not appear to be otherwise online

Gifted students to get a fast-track education

(Are the schools finally giving up on the Leftist "all kids are equal" myth?)

By Rosemary Odgers

QUEENSLAND'S 48,500 gifted students will be able to fast-track their education under a new State government strategy to help ensure they reach their full potential. Under the plan, state schoolteachers and principals will be required to identify gifted students and offer them extra learning opportunities. This could include allowing them to skip a grade, study subjects one or two years earlier than their peers or excuse them from classes where they already know the work so they can study something new.

Education Minister Anna Bligh will release the strategy today, two years after a committee was established to review Education Queensland's policies on exceptionally talented children amid concerns they were being forgotten.
"At least 10 per cent of all students are gifted and need help to achieve their best or risk disengaging from learning and becoming withdrawn or disruptive through boredom," Ms Bligh said. "Without recognition and specific support, they can face unique difficulties in education which are just as debilitating as for other students with special needs.

Gifted students are identified as having extraordinary intellectual abilities and capabilities well above other children their age.

Some state schools already have accelerated learning programs in place which have allowed teenagers to take university subjects while at school or to learn subjects from two different year levels at the one time.

The above is an excerpt from an article that appeared in the Brisbane (Queensland, Australia) "Courier Mail" on Saturday March 20th, 2004, p. 16 but which does not appear to be online elsewhere

Poor male enrolment in higher education

(This article would seem to reduce to absurdity the idea that the group identities of the people in any given activity must be exactly proportionate to the numbers in the same groups in the community at large)

By Tess Livingstone

MEN have become so under-represented in higher education that a Government report has raised the idea of classifying them as an "equity" group along with other groups. Equity groups are normally defined as those groups less likely to enrol in university courses, often because they face significant barriers of finance and distance. They include indigenous students, students from low socio-economic backgrounds, rural students and those from isolated areas, students from non-English speaking backgrounds and women in non-traditional areas of study such as engineering.

However, An Analysis of Equity Groups in Higher Education 1991-2002 has raised the possibility of adding men as a group to the list. "The participation rate for male students overall has now fallen to an all-time low of 43 per cent," the report noted. With males representing 49 per cent of the population, "this does seem to represent a position of significant disadvantage".

QUT Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Coaldrake said there was no doubt that young women were outperforming young men at school, but the main reason for the discrepancy was the under-representation of men in teaching and nursing courses.

Any male who goes into teaching these days has to be a great optimist. Too often have male teachers had their lives and careers ruined by false allegations of sexual abuse.

The above is an excerpt from an article that appeared on p. 3 of "The Courier Mail" (Brisbane, Australia) on March 23, 2004 but which does not appear to be otherwise online

23 March, 2004

School Promotes Homosexuality to 1st-Graders

From Interested Participant

"(Wilmington, NC) According to this story in the Wilmington Star (reg. req'd.), Barbara Hawley, the librarian and media coordinator for Freeman Elementary School, ordered a library book for 1st-grade students that celebrates male homosexuality and marriage. After parents objected, the program to indoctrinate children on male homosexuality was defended.
"We have a lot of diversity in our schools," said Elizabeth Miars, Freeman's principal. "What might be inappropriate for one family, in another family is a totally acceptable thing."
Miars then compared parents' objections to homosexuality to complaints about religious books. For any action to be considered, parents must file a written complaint with the New Hanover County School System.

My take is simple. The situation at Freeman Elementary School is wrong and it should not have occurred. For public elementary schools to have an agenda to teach homosexuality while prohibiting the Ten Commandments is bizarre. I don't know how the school authorities get any sleep at night."

21 March, 2004

Even the tolerant Dutch cannot stand Muslims: "Dutch parents are abandoning the state-run school system in droves, and sending their children to private schools with high education standards, which just coincidently happen to be almost exclusively native Dutch. The private schools are referred to as 'white' schools, and the remaining high-ethnic state schools are referred to as 'black' schools, and the phenomena is being called 'white flight'."

19 March, 2004

Dumb teachers? No problem! "The nation's schools, under deadline to get a top teacher in every core class, have won some wiggle room in areas where the task hasn't survived a collision with local reality. Rural teachers, science teachers and those who teach multiple subjects will get leeway in showing they are highly qualified under federal law, the Education Department said yesterday."


Walter Williams: "The low academic quality of many of our teachers is neither flattering nor comfortable to confront, but confront it we must if we're to do anything about our sorry state of education."

Bureaucratized public schools: "Although many students there are now receiving a much better education thanks to vouchers enabling them to choose better schools, the failing public schools themselves have not improved as well as some expected. Hiatt rightly argues that the reason is clear. 'The system was designed to insulate the public schools from the consequence of failure.'"

A Sydney talk-radio host has put on the net an article originally printed over 30 years ago in the Sydney Morning Herald which detailed plans by the then Communist Party of Australia to use the schools to promote Leftist ideas. The article does make an interesting read. Most of what the CPA planned seems to have come about. The CPA folded up a few years ago under the influence of the Soviet implosion -- probably because funding from Russia dried up at that time. I knew the last boss of the CPA -- Mark Aarons -- slightly. His girlfriend was the younger sister of my girlfriend at one stage. The Johnson sisters were/are two very fine women.

A reader draws on his studies of accountancy and business management for some insights about outsourcing: "There is much talk of outsourcing being either good or bad. Both views are quite ridiculous. Each firm must make its own "make or buy-in" decision. There is no absolute view as to whether it is appropriate. The simple question of whether it is cheaper to make or buy-in is relatively minor. Most of the weighting is for qualitative factors such as whether the quality and timeliness of supply could be assured, the effects on other parts of the firm, and so on. Like pre-emption, outsourcing is merely an option; circumstances determine its efficacy. I think the outsourcing trend may also be one reason why a decreasing number of men are entering universities. While the dysfunctional educational system in this country may play its part, isn't it also possible that many men have realised that the work of plumbers, electricians, mechanics and others cannot be performed overseas whereas much of the work performed by university graduates will soon enough be at hazard? Given this, and the likely shortage of such people in the future, it seems that the many men's decisions to forgo university could be quite rational." The Happy Carpenter would agree.


15 March, 2004


Individual responsibility and frequent testing:: How incorrect! Even that hopelessly old-fasioned PHONICS!

"Although many children are already performing well below grade when they arrive at kindergarten, the district has achieved dramatic improvement in elementary school test scores. Romer thinks this is because an elementary school ``is a small learning community.'' More elementary school teachers than high school teachers want to be what they are, because elementary school teachers have the satisfaction of what Romer calls ``ownership'' of the child. Secondary school teachers are more oriented to the subject matter, and if a child fails math or science, well, the child did not have the suitable background, which is someone else's fault.

The school district's dramatic improvement in elementary school scores is the result of a rigorous curriculum featuring instruction in phonics. Plus what Romer calls ``really trained teachers -- trained after they leave school,'' trained especially in how to teach reading. Plus teaching coaches in classrooms. Plus -- Romer calls this ``the real culture-changer'' -- diagnostic measurement every 10 weeks that returns results in 24 hours, revealing what homework is needed, and shaping classroom instruction for each child during the subsequent 10 weeks.

To those who criticize ``teaching to the test,'' Romer responds: That is what flight schools do. Because we take flying seriously.'

More here.

13 March, 2004


In Australia

"SCHOOLS will secure a record $31 billion injection of federal funding if they agree to national student testing, offer uniform starting ages and deliver parents "plain language" report cards.

Under a new funding model announced by John Howard yesterday, both private and public schools will be forced to provide more student performance results, along with programs to tackle bullying and improve literacy and numeracy."

More here

12 March, 2004

There is an article in the NYT about Christian homeschoolers and the Patrick Henry College to which many homeschooled kids go for tertiary education. Leftists of course hate it when any kids escape the Leftist brainwashing that is normal in mainstream schools so the article does its best to make the homeschoolers look sinister. But the sentence that struck me was: "I would definitely like to be active in the government of our country and stuff," Mr. Olmstead, 19, said as he sat in a Christian coffeehouse near the campus, looking up from a copy of Plato's "Republic." So a student at a Christian college was reading one of the great works of PRE-Christian Greek literature. No prejudice against "dead white males" there. No wonder the graduates of the college do so well. They get a REAL education -- one that draws on all the strengths of the great culture that made us what we are. Even the very words from the past can be powerful. One of JFK's most famous sayings was: "Ask not what your country can do for you; Ask what you can do for your country". Dreadful Right-wing garbage by modern Leftist standards I guess. But JFK stole the words from Pericles, the great Athenian statesman of around 450 BC.


The feminist nonsense about there being no difference between men and women seems alive and well in Australian politics

LABOR and the Australian Democrats will oppose Federal Government plans to change national sex discrimination laws to allow private schools to offer male-only scholarships.

Opposition education spokeswoman Jenny Macklin and the party's status of women spokeswoman Nicola Roxon said the proposal would do little to boost male teacher numbers in the private sector.
The Sydney Catholic Education Office wants to offer men-only scholarships in a bid to counter the low number of male teachers. The office is due to go before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal next month, seeking to overturn a Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission decision last year to reject a five-year exemption from sex discrimination laws.
The Government has signalled it will amend the Sex Discrimination Act to allow the proposal.
More here.

11 March, 2004

Steve Sailer on social statistics. It's Southern whites, not blacks, who are most likely to end up on death row. (More detail here). From the same article: "the Department of Education and other sensitive sorts have reduced the percentage of children eligible for special education from 2.2% in 1977 to 1.3% in 1997. Why? Because retardation (as defined by the Supreme Court as an IQ below 70) is found about five times more often in blacks than whites. Liberal bureaucrats prefer to cover up this embarrassing fact by tossing a lot of retarded black kids into mainstream classes to sink or swim."

10 March, 2004


I recently discovered to my horror that my 16 year old son had never even HEARD of such great English poets as Wordsworth and Coleridge. He is in his last year of high school but the only poets he has ever encountered are various indigenous poets and others who were selected on their political rather than their artistic merits. So yesterday evening I got out my old GRADE 6 school reading book (from the 1950s) and read him from it three old favourites of American, British and Australian poetry -- "Hiawatha's Hunting", "Sea Fever" and the "Song of Cape Leeuwin". He enjoyed all three -- particularly the non-Greenie ending of "Hiawatha". When I remarked to him that it looked like he had been deprived of his entire cultural heritage, he commented, quite rightly: "It's racism -- racism against the English". It looks like it's up to parents these days to introduce their kids to the great cultural heritage that schools now deliberately conceal. Perhaps that's not such a bad thing, in a way. It should help engender disrespect for the corruption that passes for compulsory education these days.


4 March, 2004


The UNC-Greensboro (UNCG) College Republicans recently invited me to their campus to speak on the topic of political correctness. Like all of my other speeches, I arrived about an hour early and thus had a chance to explore the UNCG campus. In fact, I was so early I had enough time to read the last two editions of their student newspaper, The Carolinian.
The article that really caught my attention was about anal sex. It told how Tristan Taormino, author of "The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women," recently spoke at the university. Taormino is a porn star and director who refers to herself as "the poster girl for anal sex." Her speech was co-sponsored by the Office of Student Life and the UNCG Wellness Center. That means that the North Carolina taxpayers actually paid to promote pornography and anal sex all in the name of "wellness" and "diversity."
After browsing the student newspaper, I met the officers of the UNCG College Republicans (CRs). Before I spoke, they shared some of their frustrations in trying to get conservative speakers and programs funded on their campus. They sincerely wanted to present an alternative to the university's one-sided approach to diversity but they had not yet been successful.
While talking to the officers, I learned that UNCG is presenting its annual Gay Pride Week in March. Among the many highlights of this special week are a "drag queen day" and a "gay prom." The university directly funds some of these events. Others are funded by private sources after employees paid by the university have initiated them using various university resources. None are completely free from taxpayer expense.
In response, the CRs recently tried to organize a Morals Week to coincide with Gay Pride Week. When they tried to get equal funding and support, the university turned them down saying that they wouldn't fund anything having to do with "morals."
To make matters worse, they have also said that they will not fund "conservative" speakers. I learned after my speech that the CRs were stuck with paying the bill for my hotel room. A university that has no problem paying for porn stars promoting anal sex will not pay any expenses for conservative speakers because they are simply too offensive.
To add insult to injury, the CRs were removed from a room that they had reserved for my speech only minutes before the speech began. We were all ushered into a smaller room cluttered with tables that made it difficult for the audience to listen to my speech. This was the fourth consecutive week that the CRs were bumped out of a room they had specifically reserved.

More here.