Monday, May 31, 2004

28 May, 2004

It has often been noted (see here) that it is education rather than occupation which is the major social class influence on ideology. Exposure to the educational system is a Leftist influence. And the Gore/Bush election results do show that. Gore's strength was among both those with the lowest level of education (for economic reasons) and those with the highest level of education (for ideological reasons). Just why education is a Leftist influence is set out at some length again here.

27 May, 2004

Amazing. The fat filmic slob is in favour of school choice: "Every parent wants to do what's best for their child. Whatever I can afford, I'm going to get my kid the best education I can get" More on Moore on the Adam Smith blog.

24 May, 2004


Even the brighter kids learn only a small fraction of what they could. As for the rest .....

Where does the idiotic opposition to phonics come from? "Last week, President Bush met with researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) who have identified successful reading-instruction methods that break words into sounds. For nearly a decade, however, districts have ignored such research, preferring to stick with traditional - and less-effective - reading instruction that expects students to memorize words. Today, many districts are switching to the NIH approach only because the federal government has offered $900 million in grants to encourage them to change". I guess that because phonics was the old-fashioned method of teaching reading, it HAD to be wrong in the minds of Leftist educational theorists. Too bad about many kids not learning to read at all the "correct" way.

Separating school and state: "Is anyone happy with the public schools? It seems not. Those with no financial stake in the schools have translated their unhappiness into various reform proposals, such as charter schools or voucher plans. Those who do have a stake in the current system -- the teachers' union, for example -- point to the schools' bad condition as a reason for the government to appropriate more money. Whichever way they lean, people generally believe that the schools are not doing what they are supposed to be doing."

Leave them behind? "The Arkansas Education Association (don't let the name fool you -- it's just our branch of the national teachers union) chose to welcome George W. Bush to the state the other day by urging the president to leave children behind. Naturally the AEA's spokesman didn't use those exact words. His boilerplate criticism of the administration's No Child Left Behind Act concentrated on the wrinkles that need to be ironed out in the law, not the whole fabric of accountability it has finally given American education."

"Philadelphia schools are typical of poor-quality big-city schools. Susan Snyder, Philadelphia Inquirer staff writer, in her article "District to Help Teachers Pass Test" (March 24, 2004) reported "that half of the district's 690 middle school teachers who took exams in math, English, social studies and science in September and November failed."... The unflattering fact that we must own up to is that many, perhaps most, of those who choose teaching as a profession represent the very bottom of the academic barrel". At that rate they are not even IN the academic barrel. And it's no surprise. Nobody with any choices would agree to stand up in front of an undisciplined rabble every day.

"At least 75 California teachers helped students cheat on standardized exams since a new testing program began five years ago, according to a newspaper report citing state documents. Incidents include teachers who gave hints by drawing on the blackboard or leaving posters on the wall, told students the right answers and changed the students' responses themselves, the Los Angeles Times reported, referring to documents obtained through a Public Records Act request." Smallest Minority has some comprehensive comments on THAT one.


23 May, 2004

The multi-culti dictatorship: Apparently it is "harassment" to expose students and teachers to conservative viewpoints. You can only object to "white" racism, not Hispanic racism: "Complainants say they were repeatedly harassed by the math teacher.... Kehowski posted hundreds of Internet links relating to "racial hatred, intimidation and supremacy," with titles including "Mexicans Think U.S. Belongs to Them!" and "Mexican Double Standard"."


"Bill Cosby was anything but politically correct in his remarks Monday night at a Constitution Hall bash commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision. To astonishment, laughter and applause, Cosby mocked everything from urban fashion to black spending and speaking habits.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal," he declared. "These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids -- $500 sneakers for what? And won't spend $200 for 'Hooked on Phonics.' . . .

"They're standing on the corner and they can't speak English," he exclaimed. "I can't even talk the way these people talk: 'Why you ain't,' 'Where you is' . . . And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk. And then I heard the father talk. . . . Everybody knows it's important to speak English except these knuckleheads. . . . You can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth!"

The Post's Hamil Harris reports that Cosby also turned his wrath to "the incarcerated," saying: "These are not political criminals. These are people going around stealing Coca-Cola. People getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of pound cake and then we run out and we are outraged, [saying] 'The cops shouldn't have shot him.' What the hell was he doing with the pound cake in his hand?"

20 May, 2004


Few people now remember that the U.S. Supreme Court's Brown decision (forcing racially mixed schools) was substantially based on evidence from a psychologist -- fraudulent testimony, as it turns out. As Jonah Goldberg comments: " "The watershed moment for this thinking was when the Supreme Court cited those famous "doll tests" conducted by Kenneth Clark in their Brown v. Board of Education decision. The tests showed that black kids in segregated Southern schools preferred white dolls, and hence had low self-esteem. This low self-esteem, in turn, was cited as a justification for getting rid of the segregation.... Indeed, as former NR bright light Ernest van den Haag noted in 1960, the tests Clark conducted were, at minimum, irrelevant--and Clark was more than a bit dishonest. Writing in The Villanova Law Review, van den Haag noted that Clark also ran doll tests in integrated schools up North, and got the same or even more dramatic results as he did in segregated schools. Black kids everywhere chose white dolls over black ones; segregation was irrelevant. Clark didn't tell the Court about those tests" More on the Kenneth Clark fraud here

Patrick Buchanan summarizes the great damage to democracy done by the Brown decision.

End government schools: "Government school racism did much more damage than private enterprise could ever have afforded to do. It would have been better if government had stayed out of the schools altogether. The Brown decision ignores how government schools started the problem that Brown ended. When government began socializing schools in the late 1800s, it expanded government-mandated racism. Brown is another example of government peeing on everyone and then claiming that it was rain."



Stephen Karlson has been writing a lot about the absurdities of academic life lately and Anthropology & Economics has taken up his question about why people do "useless" social science and humanities courses at universities -- and why they do Ph.D.s in particular. I actually think that most (say 95%) of the social science and humanities Ph.D. candidates have no choice. They are psychologically unfit for the real world or a real academic discipline and their "studies" are just a sort of sheltered workshop for them -- which is why they often take a long time to get the degrees concerned and which is why they rely a lot on post-doc programs after that. And it sure beats driving a cab. As I myself have done both (driven a cab and gotten a social science Ph.D.) I guess I know a little about it all. I myself did well in both academe and in business but that seems to be extremely rare. Most social science and humanities academics would not last 5 minutes in business.

And I notice that Marginal Revolution takes seriously the claim by Anthropology & Economics to the effect that anthropology and economics are just two different ways of looking at human values. I taught for 12 years in a university Department of Sociology & Anthropology and I have also taught economics so maybe I know a bit about that too. From my observations, both Sociology and Anthropology are 95% Marxist claptrap -- in no way comparable with economics. Margaret Mead, the lying Leftist propagandist, was not so much an exception in Anthropology as the rule. It has also recently come to light that modern anthropology actually started out on the basis of deliberately fraudulent work designed to prop up Leftist beliefs. Franz Boas was the fraudster concerned. See also here


19 May, 2004

Compulsion does not work: "In 1953, right before the decision in Brown v. Board of Education, Atlanta Public Schools consisted of 600 schools serving 18,664 students. Black and white students were kept apart by the government. Fifty years after Brown, APS consists of 96 much larger schools serving 55,812 students of all races, and more than three quarters of them are still in schools where one race has a 90 percent majority. Atlanta's private schools today draw students from the same basic geographic area as APS, yet they are significantly less segregated than are the public schools. How can this be?"

More brainless education spending: "Initiative 884 calls for a 15.4 percent sales tax increase to raise one billion dollars a year in additional funding for our state's education system. Backers of the measure promise taxpayers the expenditures would be targeted, accountable and efficient. Unfortunately, they are wrong. Even if they could guarantee the money would be used for the programs proponents advertise, the programs themselves have shown little or no promise of increased academic achievement, which is the point of the initiative."

16 May, 2004


"We have forgotten that student achievement actually involves hard-working students and talented teachers. Students who work hard and are challenged have the best chance of success. Perhaps this last myth is the most damaging of all. Hard work will cure a lot of the problems that are commonly attributed to a lack of funding or lack of diversity. Racial diversity, and the presence of white kids specifically, do not result in minority students achieving more-intense studying every day does. The human person was created with an innate desire to know and the potential to use acquired knowledge. Fostering this God-given desire and potential leads to personal fulfillment and academic success.
In the final analysis, natural ability and a strong work ethic on the part of teachers and students have more to do with student success than any other factors. Recognition of that fact would put the responsibility for achievement on individual students and teachers. Blaming the unquantifiable scapegoats of "race" and "class" would no longer be convenient in a climate of individual irresponsibility. Respect for the dignity of every student demands that educators, parents, and students themselves take an honest look at their efforts and judge how well they are fulfilling their own responsibilities".

15 May, 2004


When government of the people, by the people perished in the USA

"May 17 is the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court decision that used federal force to integrate public schools in the US... Many on the liberal-left and in black civil rights circles have soured on Brown and regard the decision as contributing little to the "black freedom struggle" and even as a disservice to blacks.... Derrick Bell, a former NAACP Legal Defense Fund attorney, has written that Brown was based on unwarranted faith in integrationist ideals and has harmed black education....

Brown still matters to the left, Garrow writes, because the power the Court seized in its Brown ruling can be used to mandate homosexual marriage. The Massachusetts court has taken the lead, and on May 17 homosexuals will be able to obtain state marriage licenses. This, Garrow writes, is a fitting tribute to Brown's constitutional vision on its 50th anniversary. Whether one looks with favor or disfavor on homosexual marriage, Garrow is correct. Brown gave the judiciary the power to impose its morality on society, regardless of legislation or societal values....

Brown did something else. It ushered in kritarchy - government by judges - as Supreme Court Justice Stanley Reed recognized. Kritarchy is fundamentally at odds with the separation of powers and the character of the American political system. Now that judges rule, the fight over Court appointments has become a life and death matter for the two political parties.

Even worse, in place of good will and persuasion Brown substituted coercion as the basis for reform. May 17, 1954, is a day of infamy, because it is the day Marxism triumphed over liberalism in America.

Americans have forgotten that Brown was based in sociology, not in law. This was widely recognized at the time. "A sociological Decision: Court Founded Its Segregation Ruling On Hearts and Minds Rather Than Laws," read a New York Times headline on May 18, 1954. James Reston commented that "the Court's opinion reads more like an expert paper on sociology." Columbia Law professor Herbert Wechsler, a consultant to the NAACP in the case, said that Brown would have to be "accepted on faith" as there was no constitutional principle that justifies the ruling.

That's because the Brown decision was based on Swedish socialist Gunnar Myrdal's argument that all Americans (even Northeast Liberals) are so racist that democracy would forever uphold segregation. To get rid of the great evil, an elite would have to seize power and rescue America from immorality."

More of the above article here

It is also amusing to read the rather desperate piece of propaganda here which starts out trumpeting the success of school integration in mainly white Topeka, Kansas but which ends up admitting that the supposed aim -- better black educational achievement -- has not been attained and that there have been disadvantages as well as advantages in integration.


13 May, 2004

"One of the great goals of education is to initiate the young into the conversation of their ancestors -- to enable them to understand the language of that conversation, in all its subtlety, and maybe even, in their maturity, to add to it some wisdom of their own. The modern American educational system no longer teaches us the political language of our ancestors. In fact our schooling helps widen the gulf of time between our ancestors and ourselves, because much of what we are taught in the name of civics, political science or American history is really modern liberal propaganda.


Students struggle to set up GOP club: "Students at a Maryland high school known for its environmental activism have encountered several setbacks in starting up a young Republicans' club at the school. Five students at Sparrows Point High School in northern Baltimore County say school administrators and teachers have intentionally delayed their efforts to form a Teenage Republican Club because they don't want to have a conservative club at a liberal school. 'It's frustrating because nobody will help us,' said club President Donald Caldwell, a senior at the public school of about 830 students. 'We're about 90 percent liberal here.' Principal Robert SantaCroce initially refused to allow the students to form the club. When he changed his mind, the club's faculty adviser withdrew his support."

11 May, 2004


Jeff Jacoby notes how hostile to religion public schools have now become: (Excerpts)

"Parents who take their faith seriously ought to think twice before putting their kids' education in the hands of the state. If war is too important to be left to the generals, the shaping of children's minds and values is surely too important to be left to government educators.
For the first two centuries of American history, it was taken for granted that education included not only reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic, but a fourth "R" -- religion -- as well. That began to change in the 19th century, however, and by the late 1800s, the burgeoning "common school" system was resolutely secular.
Nonetheless, many schools continued to affirm the importance of God and religion in American life. Well into the 20th century, for example, daily prayer and Bible reading were a familiar part of the public-education experience, and students sang Christmas carols in annual school pageants.
No more. Government schools today routinely suppress any trace of religious influence. Not only do teachers no longer lead their classes in group prayer, students have been reprimanded for uttering *private* prayer, such as grace before meals. Public schools have barred children from reading Bible stories during their free time or giving bags of jelly beans with a religious poem attached to their classmates before Easter. In a case now being litigated in Virginia, school officials want to ban a graduating senior from singing Celine Dion's "The Prayer" during commencement exercises because the song asks God to "help us to be wise in times when we don't know."
This isn't neutrality toward religion -- it's hostility."

For the record, I send my son to a Catholic school -- complete and unswerving atheist though I am. Unlike Leftists, I don't feel threatened by beliefs and attitudes different from my own. I recognize religion as an important part of life and think my son should learn about it. And I never say a word against religious faith -- either to my son or to anybody else. Religious tyranny -- which is what the Left, most Muslims and some old-fashioned Christians advocate -- is a different matter, of course.

I must confess, however, that I am not a little amused by how futile Leftist religious tyranny often is. Nowhere has Leftist religious tyranny been more complete than under the State-sponsored atheism of the old Soviet system. Yet Russia today is still a very religious country -- with many young clergy. By contrast, I did everything I could to assist my son to achieve his wish to be baptised and confirmed -- and now note that, at age 16, his views seem to be converging rapidly with my own!


Conservative Australian columnist Andrew Bolt gets a lot of space in the press so he gets a lot of email from High School students who have never before heard the conservative side of the many issues that he discusses. He describes and responds to some of the emails concerned here. (Excerpts):

"Many of our teachers are fine professionals. But some insist on shoving their opinions on to students. Happily, the kids are fighting back. The e-mails I get from students should worry me, but, guys, you make my day. Several times a week now, another e-mail from one of you bleeps into my inbox. Some of you have written in anger, and some as if you've figured something you hardly dare to believe. My teacher may not be telling me the truth, you write. Can you help? Send some information, maybe, to help me argue back?

Here's a typical e-mail from one of you in Year 12: "We are studying Stolen, the play (about the "stolen generations") and are also looking at the history. We were constantly shown evidence that 'it did happen'. Our 'unbiased' teacher was completely sure the stolen generations did happen. Are there any other articles that you could direct my attention to so to help me with an upcoming oral?" Most of your letters are much the same. In fact, more than a dozen of you have asked me for help after being made to study this same play, but that's very far from your only worry.

"The bias is shameful and blatant," stormed one of you, a young man with a Chinese name who graduated last year. "I feel cheated and deceived by our education system. I studied geography and one of the topics in the second semester was global warming. Surprise, surprise, every single handout painted Western countries, particularly the USA, as some kind of big, evil polluting satans responsible for a largely natural process. Then in English, teachers would continuously show their anti-war bias when we studied media texts."

Another of you, a Year 11 student from a Catholic school, helped me to understand why so many protesters turned up to anti-war rallies in school uniforms. "After I had listened to the first 20 minutes of blatant propaganda about the effects of the United Nations sanctions and the appalling way in which the US had conducted the last war, it came time for another member of the staff to preach to us about our duty as Catholics to stand up for 'those poor Iraqis'. "As I walked out of the theatre among a nervous silence and looks of guilt I noticed posters pinned to the wall encouraging students to join in anti-war marches."

One boy in a country school refused to join in this group-hate, as his proud mother told me: "When my son stated that he did not want to write a letter supporting this view but requested he be allowed to write one in support of Vanstone, he was told, 'OK, but it won't be posted'. "When two of his friends then made similar suggestions, (my son) was told to keep his opinions to himself and 'stop influencing others'."

No, we can't have you thinking for yourselves.

Yesterday I launched Why Our Schools Are Failing, a book by a friend, Dr Kevin Donnelly, who shows in chapter after chapter how you're not being taught the facts about so many subjects, but opinions. Your teachers' opinions, usually. As Donnelly explains, quoting many examples, over the past 40 years "academics, teacher unions and sympathetic governments argued that the Australian education system should be used as an instrument to bring about a more socialist society". And you're their guinea pigs, I'm afraid."

10 May, 2004


"Who cares?" say Leftist teachers: "One of the primary functions of a punishment is to motivate people to avoid it in the first place. Perhaps the strongest argument against so-called 'social promotion' is that kids would have no reason to study if there were no possibility of failure. Whether or not students who are held back do better the next time through a grade is not the major consideration."

Steve Sailer has more on the 'story' doing the rounds on the web that Gore-voting US States have higher average IQs than Bush-voting states. It is a hoax of course but Steve has some REAL data showing that educational achievement does differ from State to State. So what characterizes the high-achieving States? Democrat voting? No. A higher percentage of whites in their population -- unsurprisingly.

5 May, 2004


The teachers have won

Joanne Jacobs seems to be the best-known "Edublogger" (with apologies to Brian Micklethwait and Kimberly Swygert) and she has a lot of posts about education that seem quite similar to what I put on this blog. The generally Leftist bent of educators makes the vast educational system a happy hunting ground for political correctness. Political correctness in the schools takes the form not only of oppressive and ridiculous speech codes but also the form of a "self-esteem" gospel that is used to justify the usual Leftist notion that everybody must be made equal. The tale is that kids will have their self-esteem irreparably damaged and their life ruined if anybody ever tells them they are not as good as everybody else. So telling kids that they have failed to learn anything is a big no-no from the point of view of Leftists. This does of course clash with the community demand for assessment. Lots of people want to know which kids have learnt something and which have not. So there is a fundamental clash of goals between most teachers and the community at large. So how do teachers get around that? Easy, peasy. They make the standards so low that only those students who virtually opt out of their own accord are denied some sort of diploma. No sooner do governments institute some system for enforcing standards than the teachers do all they can to undermine the system concerned. The posts on Joanne's blog are replete with examples of what a mockery most forms of assessment are these days. See for example here

There are however other ways of undermining standards and I thought this post (see particularly the comments) about the pressure on college and university Professors to give everyone good marks was an excellent case in point. Professors now are just about all subject to assessment by their students and the results of such assessments are very important in deciding whether Professors get tenure and promotion. But -- surprise, surprise -- students tend to "fail" Professors who give them low marks! So good marks all round regardless of effort is the order of the day and university qualifications become meaningless too. Once again all students are falsely presented as being more or less equal.

And since standards are just oppressive and "patriarchal" (etc.) nonsense from a Leftist point of view, teachers don't have to measure up in any way either. Teaching diplomas are a notorious joke and there are plenty of occasions on which teachers have been shown to be little better than their students. This post about what it takes to become a "Highly Qualified" teacher in California is about what you would expect of the "self-esteem" world headquarters.

Just keep reading this blog and Joanne's if you doubt any of that.


Public education's 'broken promise' "The underlying promise of the nation's commitment to free K-12 education is to give everyone a shot at the American Dream by providing each child with the opportunity to acquire the skills and knowledge needed to meet the demands of the adult world. The award of a high school diploma long has been viewed as marking an American youth as 'ready for college and work.' That's no longer the case ..."

The devaluation of the high school diploma starts with state graduation requirements, the report suggests. Most states require high school students to take a certain number of English and mathematics courses, rather than specifying content to be covered, such as algebra I, algebra II, and geometry. As a result, there's no incentive for students to take challenging courses. Even high school exit exams provide little added incentive for students to take more rigorous courses: At best, the exit tests assess only eighth- or ninth-grade content....

With such weak content requirements in high school, it's not surprising the average high school graduate lacks the more advanced knowledge and skills required in the workplace and in college. Yet instruction in elementary school appears to be lacking, too, because most employers say high school graduates lack even basic skills. For example, a Public Agenda poll reported 60 percent of employers rate graduates' skills as only "fair" or "poor" in grammar, spelling, writing, and basic math.....

Several years ago, Public Agenda conducted a survey that showed a marked disconnect between what professors in teacher colleges thought was important and what employers and parents considered important.


Some San Jose area teachers are dumping the D as a passing grade. They say students who are doing the minimum to get by will just have to work a little harder. California's public universities won't accept anything below C- on an academic transcript. The San Jose Mercury News reports:

Where else in the world does anyone accept 'D work' but in public schools?'' says Pete Murchison, principal at Fremont's Irvington High School, which has done away with D's altogether.


In Australia, its not indisciplined minorities that are the big problem in public schools but rather teaching theories that are nothing but Leftist fads and a curriculum that is preoccupied with Leftist indoctrination. That's a large part of the reason why a third of Australian High School students are sent to private schools. But even the private schools have to toe the line on curriculum and teacher certification so that is only a very partial escape. My very bright son goes to a private school but reached his final year of High School without ever even hearing of great English poets such as Wordsworth and Coleridge -- but he had been made to study fourth-rate "indigenous" Australian poets. When I realized what had happened and read him some Wordsworth etc he really enjoyed it. The following is another account of Australian education (some excerpts):

"Nations that perform best in international tests include the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Singapore and South Korea, and they forsake outcomes-based education in favour of a syllabus approach. Unlike Australia, curriculum in such countries is discipline-based, measurable, incorporates high stakes testing, relates to specific year levels and enforces system accountability with specific rewards and sanctions (under-performing schools are identified and successful teachers are rewarded).

The flaws in Australia's outcomes-based approach to curriculum are manifold. As a result of adopting such fads as whole language, where students are taught to "look and guess" and to work out the meaning of words from their context, generations of students, especially boys, are placed at risk. As a result of fuzzy maths, where primary students are allowed to use calculators and where basic algorithms such as long division are no longer taught, many students are unable to do mental arithmetic or to recite their times tables. The very skills most needed if students are to master higher order thinking.

Teaching history has also suffered. As a result of the culture wars, not only is the focus on teaching politically correct values and beliefs, especially in areas such as multiculturalism, the environment, feminism and the class war, but many students leave school with a fragmented and superficial knowledge of the past. As Monash academic Mark Peel noted in a submission to the national inquiry into history teaching: "Indeed, their sense of the world's history is often based on intense moments and fragments. The 20th century is largely composed of snatches, moments that rarely gel into a longer narrative."

By focusing on process instead of content and by dumbing down academic subjects to make them immediately attractive and accessible, the end result is that many students leave school culturally illiterate, unable to write a properly structured essay and with a misplaced sense of their own academic worth."

3 May, 2004


Delaware teacher Dave Huber notes that forced integration of blacks and whites in Delaware public schools many years ago simply transformed all public schools into the sort of jungle that inner-city schools had always been: "Even as far back as 1975 (pre-official desegregation in New Castle County), noted [black] Delaware State Senator Herman M. Holloway noted a visit to a local city high school at the behest of a constituent whose daughter had been raped in one of the corridors. He remarked that "Disrespect for the faculty was evident. It was a scene that belonged anywhere but in a high school." He also commented on "the ultra sloppy dress of the students, the tremendous noise of the students gallivanting up and down the corridors, the absolute lack of discipline and even the timidity of the faculty members to attempt any control." The result now? "Delaware has the highest percentage of its students in private schools in the nation."

1 May, 2004

More amazement. Australia's Leftists are making the teachers shriek: "Labor's plan to give more money to poor private schools would hasten the flight of middle-class students out of the state system, defenders of public education have warned. Chris Bonnor, president of the NSW Secondary Principals Council, said the "populist" pledge to take money from wealthy private schools and redistribute it to needy non-government schools would make low-fee schools more attractive to parents".