Saturday, October 30, 2004


They teach political ideology instead

What could possibly sound more innocuous than a general education English 100 course? To me, it sounded like my semester at California State University Long Beach would be full of reading classical literature, struggling through another play by Shakespeare and then writing an essay on symbolism or some other literary term that English teachers love to use. However, I knew that this would not be the case the first night of class when Dr. Snider, the English 100 composition professor (a general education course required by the university for all students to take in order to graduate) at CSULB, handed out his course syllabus. I quickly thumbed through this syllabus, like a typical student does, trying to find out how many tests we would have, when essays were due, the basics. Instead, I found a document that seemed more suited for a political training course.

The first paragraph of the syllabus states that the professor’s goal for the course was to "promote tolerance and open-mindedness" through "the open discussion of controversial issues"- however the rest of the syllabus proves to be anything but. Instead of any attempt to be "open-minded" the syllabus was entirely stacked in favor of Dr. Snider’s leftist ideologies.

The last three class meetings have been spent watching Fahrenheit 9/11 and writing on the moral issues that Michael Moore rises in the film. This assignment consisted of each student writing a paragraph on a single moral issue in the film, and then listing all the evidence that Michael Moore uses to prove it.

The moral issue I chose to write my paragraph about was "the controversial decision made by President Bush to lead the United States into a pre-emptive war against Saddam Hussein." I stated that in the "documentary" Michael Moore argued that President Bush made this decision in great haste and failed to investigate the true threat that Iraq posed to the United States. I then went on to describe the "evidence" that Michael Moore uses to prove his point as " a single advisor saying that he overheard President Bush" and " inserting a series of clips of President Bush on his Texas ranch". I wrote my paragraph very tongue in cheek and purposely ridiculed the insufficient evidence that Michael Moore used in his film. However, when I received my paragraph back, I found it marked up in red ink by Dr. Snider with comments like, " You miss the point of the film", or that advisor "was Richard Clark… a terrorist expert!" I was blown away by these comments. I didn’t realize that I was being graded on the way I interpreted the film! From what I understood about our in class paragraphs, Dr. Snider was only supposed to grade grammar, spelling, and mechanics, of which I had no corrected errors. Funny though that I still received the lowest grade in the class on this assignment (after receiving all A’s on past assignments), while papers with numerous spelling errors and mechanical corrections but with an anti-Bush perspective received A’s.

More here


So blame the testing, of course

Nearly two-thirds of California schools improved academically in the last year, but half of the schools failed to meet their targets for standardized test scores, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell said Thursday. Last year, 90 percent of California's schools improved their Academic Performance Index scores, while 78 percent met their API targets - which is a 5 percent increase over last year's score.

O'Connell characterized the results as disappointing, but stressed that overall, California's public schools are still improving. "While our schools continue to grow, their rate of improvement has slowed," O'Connell said. "Frankly, this is unacceptable and I know, and educators around the state know, that we can do better."

The API gives schools a score between 200 and 1,000 - depending on the school's previous scores and how much they increased over the previous year. The statewide target for all schools is 800. The index is calculated based on results from the California Standards Test, which tests curriculum unique to California classrooms, and the California Achievement Test, or CAT-6, which allows educators to see how California students compare to children around the nation. High schools are also judged by graduation rates and scores on the California High School Exit Exam. Some basic API data was released in August, when the state released schools' progress toward federal No Child Left Behind goals. The federal accountability program set a goal of having 100 percent of children proficient at English and math by 2014.

About one-third of California schools fell short of this year's federal goals, but that was an improvement over last year, when about half the schools didn't reach that goal. O'Connell has long criticized the federal system because it doesn't look at whether schools' academic performance has grown, just whether the schools have made the current target. "The starting line isn't the same for all of our kids," O'Connell said. "The API lets people know exactly where the schools stand."

Mike Bowman, spokesman for the California Business for Education Excellence, defended the federal accountability system as more true representation of what's going on in classrooms. The NCLB measures "are looking at whether kids are performing at their grade level," he said.

More here


American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.


Friday, October 29, 2004


Virginia has "High" standards for its teachers yet even their "good" teachers are failing a test (Praxis I) that requires 9th grade Math. Solution? Make the test easier!

"Virginia has the highest minimum required scores of the 28 states that use Praxis I. While most teachers pass the state requirements, others struggle.. On Oct. 28, the state Board of Education will consider lowering the standards in one or more of the three assessment areas.... The standardized test is similar to the SAT. Each section takes about an hour to complete. The reading section tests comprehension of included passages. Math problems are at about a ninth-grade level. The writing section tests grammar and requires a writing sample.....

Hoskins added that Virginia's standards make it hard to recruit. She said the state loses teachers to North Carolina, whose minimum section scores are three points lower on average. Of the 260 teachers Spotsylvania hired last year, Hoskins said four didn't meet the standards. She said 48 of this year's 270 hires still have to pass Praxis I--most of them newer teachers from states not requiring it. Caroline County has lost excellent teachers who struggle with Praxis I, according to Superintendent Stanley Jones".

More here

"Excellent" teachers who cannot do 9th Grade Math? Lord preserve us from even thinking about what the average teachers must be like. And I don't think I need to spell out what it implies about teaching diplomas and degrees. And I don't suppose that I should be so awful as to point out that what is called 9th Grade Math these days would have been 5th Grade Math 50 years ago


-- As Stalin said. But at the University of Massachusetts they still practice that. An update on my post of 17th.:

"Last April, 'The Daily Collegian,' the student paper at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, ran a column by graduate student Rene Gonzalez attacking Pat Tillman, the football player who had volunteered for the US Army and was killed in Afghanistan. Gonzalez called Tillman an 'idiot' who was 'acting out his macho, patriotic crap' and got what he deserved. An outcry ensued, on and off campus. The Collegian printed a statement defending Gonzalez's free speech rights while distancing itself from his views; university president Jack M. Wilson publicly deplored the column but affirmed the writer's right to free speech.

In my commentary on the brouhaha, I wondered if the people who stood up for free expression in this case would have been as generous toward, say, racist, sexist, or antigay expression. Now, we have an answer. In recent weeks, UMass has been up in arms about an alleged racist incident involving a humorous drawing of a grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

The incident happened last March after the elections for the UMass Student Government Association, at a post-election party attended by nine association members. One of them, Patrick Higgins, had been labeled a "racist" during his unsuccessful run for SGA president because he opposed a proposal to reserve a quota of seats in the student Senate for members of ALANA, a group purporting to represent "African, Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Native American" students. At the party, someone drew a caricature on a dry-erase board depicting Higgins as a "grand wizard" in a pointed hat and with a burning cross in his hand, with a speech bubble that said, "I love ALANA!"

Photos from the party were posted on a student's website; last month, someone tipped off the campus community to their existence. There were forums and meetings to deplore an alleged climate of racism on the UMass campus. The university launched disciplinary proceedings against the students for "harassment." While the charges also involved underage consumption of alcohol, that was clearly a tangential issue.

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Michael Gargano told The Daily Collegian that he was considering a variety of sanctions against the offenders -- dubbed "the KKK9" -- including removal from their posts in student government or 500 hours of community service. Still others demanded the students' immediate expulsion from UMass. In an e-mail communication last week, Gargano told me that the case was closed, having been "resolved within the parameters of the university Code of Student Conduct." Citing student privacy, the university will not comment on the specific penalties issued to any of the students.

More here


American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.


Thursday, October 28, 2004


Students should at least hear about it and its claims to guide lives

Public schools should put religion back on the curriculum as part of a "values education" push to enhance student wellbeing, and prevent the slide into substance addiction and suicide. Murdoch University emeritus professor of education Brian Hill will tell a conference on student wellbeing that young people need to learn more about moral principles and values, and the world views underpinning them. "Australian state schools have been encouraged to factor the religious variable out of the curriculum, thereby leaving values education in freefall," Professor Hill, a values-education consultant will tell the Australian Council of Educational Research conference opening in Adelaide today. "If a balanced education is our goal, this is counterproductive."

A consultant to the 2003 Commonwealth Values Study, Professor Hill says schools have a vested interest not only in moral values, but in "cognitive-intellectual, technical-vocational, political, economic, socio-cultural, physical-recreational, aesthetic, interpersonal-relational and religious-spiritual" and educational values. If wellbeing is a goal, "we must attend to the values and goals which literally give them (individuals) reasons to go on living". ... "If a person's framework disintegrates in the face of neglect, abuse, or despair, then suicide can and manifestly often does occur, or self-harm through addiction - even in the midst of plenty." But Professor Hill believes schools can teach students about both religious and anti-religious values or frameworks. The comments follow John Howard's pre-election critique of some public schools as "values-neutral".

However, according to Professor Hill, introducing values-education packages into schools in a vacuum will not resolve young Australian school students' search for meaning. "It seems commonly believed that one can separate values as such from the wider world views from which they derive," Professor Hill says. "The result is that values recommended for attention hang loose . . . and discourage integrative teaching."

Professor Hill also takes educators to task for failing to espouse democratic values. "Increasingly, traditional values have been challenged and the available horizon of possibilities enlarged by ethnic diversification and novel technologies . . . But democracy itself is a value. In today's world, those who cherish it are required to be eternally vigilant." ... "A kind of tunnel vision often hinders social researchers and educators from talking about the values inherent in the concept of democracy ... the discourse sometimes gets round to rights talk and procedural values, but fails to balance these with talk of responsibility and shared substantive values."



To its credit, it is a Left-leaning government in my home State of Queensland that is standing up to the vested interests -- mainly teachers -- and providing at least some information about their schools. "OP" stands for "Overall position" -- The final High School mark used for University admission decisions

Queensland parents will be able to compare schools on the basis of Year 12 results from 2006, but the Beattie Government insists it will not create league tables, or name and shame schools. Queensland's Education Minister Anna Bligh says all schools will be required to publish performance information on their websites, and that the publication of final year results will be mandatory for state as well as non-government schools. "This is not about shaming or humiliating schools," Bligh said last week. "In some cases, the information will confirm perceptions of a school, in other cases it will challenge them."

Queensland's reforms are based on the Victorian system, bringing them into line with the most comprehensive school reporting systems in Australia. Most other states publish either limited Year12 statistics, such as NSW's distinguished achievers list, or none. While details are yet to be finalised, the minimum information required to be published includes the total of senior certificates awarded, the number of students completing vocational education and training units, and the percentage of students eligible for an overall position score of 1-15. These items differ from those set out as options in the discussion paper released by the Queensland Government earlier this year.

In particular, the range of the OP score has widened from 1-10 to 1-15, and the median OP score and performance in individual subjects is not in the list of minimum requirements. This will make it more difficult to distinguish between schools on the basis of academic performance. In explaining the changes, Bligh says: "You have to look at the purpose of providing the information. The purpose is to indicate whether schools are doing a reasonable job of preparing students for university, apprenticeships, employment, or whatever path they choose."

Queensland Teachers Union president Julie-Ann McCullough says "there are aspects of the strategy we don't like, but if it has to happen we don't mind that it's a broad range of information. "We are concerned that OP will be a focus not necessarily for parents, but for others that critique schools. While it will highlight deficiencies in the system, which would be a positive, it will potentially place criticism on the school - not on the system."

The April discussion paper also proposed publishing primary school's results in Year 3, 5 and 7 basic skills tests, but this was not specified in the mandatory information announcement. "That is something we would definitely not support," McCullough says. Queensland has resisted calls for school performance reporting and Premier Peter Beattie says the changes "represent a new era in school reporting accountability". Bligh says parents have become increasingly discerning consumers: "Parents are more willing to ask questions, and they expect answers."



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2004


That wouldn't be hard

The spiralling cost of a degree in Canada is perhaps the most pressing issue in our country's educational system. Thousands of young professionals are struggling under the burden of student debt incurred while completing their program.... And yet, seven years of work experience has proven to me that the most valuable aspects of my post-secondary education were gained outside the classroom.

For example, in 2002, I interviewed for a position as the communications manager for a small corporate training company in Vancouver. The employer was looking for someone who could produce a major kick-off event with little or no outside assistance. If my psychology degree had been the only product of my university career, I would never have even been considered for the position. But during my time on campus, I assisted in producing six years of orientation and special-event programs for thousands of students and parents. Not only did this experience give me a significant edge in landing that first position, but it also allowed me to deliver a program that became the most profitable revenue stream in the company's portfolio.

As a guest speaker and consultant working with Canadian universities and colleges, I routinely utilize communication, marketing and program development skills that were first developed through extra-curricular activities on campus.... The first, and perhaps best, of these opportunities lies in the freshmen orientation program. As a new student, I found it to be the fastest way for me to gather key information about the people and programs vital to my academic success.

But from a professional-development standpoint, the most important decision I ever made was to become an orientation leader. The sheer number and diversity of activities required to produce a successful program of that scale demanded that I develop a wide range of competencies. These invaluable skills would never have emerged in my academic course work. For instance, delivering dozens of presentations to more than 20,000 students honed my public-speaking abilities. Writing newsletters and promotional materials increased my communication and marketing skills. And working with new and existing volunteers developed leadership, training and team-working skills that have been critical to my success in the years after graduation.

Taking part in a co-op employment program was another very rewarding opportunity. Not only were the positions I found more challenging than my previous summer jobs, they also gave me an opportunity to gain practical experience of great benefit to future employers, even before I graduated. For example, through the co-op program, I was employed as the media and public relations co-ordinator for an innovative federal government project. That taught me how to work effectively with the local and national media -- a very useful skill that added significant value to my professional portfolio.

A third opportunity for students to add value to their degree is available through the campus chapters of major professional associations. For a fraction of the standard membership fee, students can gain access to these associations' educational and networking opportunities. The mentorship connections with experienced professionals can enhance their understanding of the professional world and facilitate their advancement within it. I am living proof students can offset the rising cost of education by taking advantage of professional development opportunities on campus.

More here


For more than two generations, this state's public schools have systematically robbed Latino and African-American children of equal educational opportunity ---- pushing them through school via "social promotions" that advanced them in grade without a commensurate advancement in learning. The arrival of Superintendent Alan Bersin in San Diego helped change that. He showed that a back-to-basics approach that refused to sell minority children short could succeed in raising not only their academic achievement, but their educational expectations.

With the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation providing millions of dollars in funding for Bersin's reform efforts, the SDUSD program has become a model for how to refocus schools' attention from high-achieving, middle-class white students to an approach that refuses to sell any student short.

Bersin's leadership is already providing dividends here in North County. It's difficult to imagine the Oceanside Unified School District's own back-to-basics approach having been taken were it not for the existing SDUSD example. Today, of course, nearly every district in our area has some sort of similar program to ensure that every child, no matter his or her socioeconomic background, leaves school with a real education.

And yet Zimmerman and school board ally John de Beck have continued to fight Bersin's reforms, claiming to defend the interests of minority children while opposing every proposal that would benefit these very students. Instead, in concert with the teachers union (which has continually endorsed and supported both Zimmerman and de Beck), this board minority has cast literacy programs as a "remedial stalag."

Why? Because the teachers who support them prefer to teach the college-prep and advanced placement courses that the high-achievers take. And who wouldn't rather teach kids who are self-motivated, for whom learning comes naturally?

But that's not why our public schools exist. And so if the immediate, short-term effect of Bersin's reforms is to de-emphasize college prep courses at schools like La Jolla High, taking a longer view forces us to recognize that revamping our schools to ensure true equal opportunity for all students requires a large, agenda-setting district like SDUSD to take the lead.

More here


For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

Comments? Email me here. For times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site (viewable even in China!) here


Tuesday, October 26, 2004


Charters get penalized for being good with special ed students

According to a recent survey from the Los Angeles-based Reason Foundation, California's charter schools are reducing the number of students labeled as "special education" by using aggressive early intervention strategies such as "neverstreaming" to keep students performing at grade level. In addition, the charter schools are providing disabled students with a quality education in the "least restrictive environment" by including special education students in regular classrooms.

Remarkably, Reason notes, the charter schools achieve those outcomes despite being shortchanged of their share of special education funding by their sponsoring school districts, which decide how the funds are allocated. Up to 37 percent of the money can be withheld, according to the July 2004 study, "Special Education Accountability: Structural Reform to Help Charter Schools Make the Grade," by Reason Foundation Education Director Lisa Snell.

"There's really no excuse for such huge percentages of money being pilfered from charter schools," said Snell. "Charter and public schools face enough challenges in educating our kids, they shouldn't have to fight for resources obviously intended for their special education students." For example, Yvonne Chan, principal at Vaughn Next Century Learning Center in Pacoima, California, reports the Los Angeles Unified School District not only takes as much as 37 percent from her school, but provides "zero services in return."....

"Charter schools are taking innovative steps and using early intervention techniques to ensure children never leave the general education classroom," said Snell, pointing to a growing body of evidence that the percentage of students assigned to special education is artificially inflated by school officials who count students who simply haven't been taught to read. "Ironically, public schools and charter schools that offer services early on and actually reduce their special education population through neverstreaming or other early intervention strategies may be criticized as not properly serving special education students," she noted.

More here


The state Department of Education dismissed complaints of segregation and state Sunshine Law violations made by a Palatka man against the Putnam County School District. After thanking David Wade of Palatka for his correspondence of Sept. 20, the letter, dated Oct. 8, addressed Wade's concerns that racial imbalances in the district's schools indicate segregation by the school board.

Wade had said in March that because the racial makeup of River Breeze Elementary School was 68 percent minority students, his children felt uncomfortable in classrooms in which the majority of students are not white. Of Putnam's nearly 70,000 residents, 17 percent are black.

School Board Attorney Joe Pickens said the ethnic makeup of Palatka area schools, most of which have predominantly black school populations, reflects the local population and resulted from migration of residents. The Department of Education's letter said, "The constitutional requirement to desegregate schools does not mean that every school in a district must reflect the racial composition of the district as a whole." It continued that an imbalance in student populations can be because of independent demographic forces and therefore doesn't violate the Constitution.

More here

So having few blacks in predominantly white schools is a sign of "bias" or "discrimination" which must be fixed and equalized by busing or whatever it takes but having few whites in predominantly black schools is just "demographics" and can be ignored! Some minorities are obviously important and must be helped while others can be ignored


For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

Comments? Email me here. For times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site (viewable even in China!) here


Monday, October 25, 2004


In the Australian State of Tasmania

"Dramatic changes to the state's educational system will start from next year. But teachers fear they are not ready for the transition, which will use vastly different assessment criteria from kindergarten to Year 10. "This does require a big shift, it's quite groundbreaking," Ms Wriedt said yesterday. "I know some people are not comfortable with the change but equally there are many who are really excited about it......

From next year teachers will prepare report cards on how students do in whole new areas. Once phase-in is complete, report cards will not list traditional subjects like maths or english, with a grade for each. Instead teachers will collaborate on each student and mark their ability to communicate, think and deal with issues of social responsibility....

Ms Wriedt said she realised the assessment part of the change concerned teachers most, but there was still another six months before they had to report in the new way. A teacher who contacted The Mercury yesterday said many of her colleagues were sceptical and angry about the new system. She said it was over-theorised, jargonised and difficult for teachers, let alone parents, to understand. The secondary teacher said she would have to collaborate with every other teacher on her nearly 300 students.

She said her subject which now had about 10 criteria students were measured against under the TCE would soon be measured in only one area, and the changes would leave new graduate teachers floundering.

More here


It sounds like something dreamed up in a drug high. Maybe it was!

Traditional subject divisions have been replaced with topics of thinking, communicating and social responsibility [a.k.a. "political correctness"]. But in a survey of 1334 teachers across the state by the Australian Education Union, 92 per cent said they did not have good knowledge of the marking system. More than half of primary teachers and three-quarters of secondary ones surveyed said they had little or no knowledge of the new system.

The Essential Learnings Framework must start in all schools next year, partly because the Tasmanian Certificate of Education has been abolished. Opposition education spokesman Peter Gutwein released the survey yesterday. "If teachers are struggling with this new, obviously bureaucrat-driven reporting system, how does Ms (Education Minister Paula) Wriedt expect parents to make head or tail of their child's report cards?" Mr Gutwein said.

From next year, government schools must assess four key areas - inquiry, numeracy, literacy and well-being [and just how are they going to either teach or assess that? Very subjectively, no doubt]. More will follow in 2006. They fall into five "essentials" - thinking, communicating (eg, literacy and numeracy), personal futures [meaning, perhaps, "how to work a crystal ball"?] (ethics and well-being), social responsibility and world futures [They're really going to be overworking that crystal ball!]. The new learning replaces conventional division of subjects into mathematics, English or science - and nothing is compulsory [Maybe they should all just go home]. Instead, "cross-curricular units" will be studied by drawing on various disciplines. For example, learning about water could draw on maths, science and geography [Wow! Who would have thought it?]. "Some have dropped the traditional subjects altogether, instead they have cross-curricular units," Mrs Walker said. "Some have small amounts of basic subjects and others are retaining separate subjects, they're all different. The biggest change is in assessment."

More here


For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

Comments? Email me here. For times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site (viewable even in China!) here


Sunday, October 24, 2004


Given the Leftist domination of education in Britain, this report from last year is not surprising:

"History lessons for secondary pupils are now dominated by the study of Adolf Hitler and the Second World War, the Government's school inspectors have found. A report by Ofsted, the school inspection body, warned that the "Hitlerisation" of courses threatened to damage understanding of history, and could result in pupils leaving school ignorant of key events. Of all the history lessons monitored during the last school year, more lessons focussed on Hitler's Germany than on any other topic.

Although the study of Hitler was "properly treated" in secondary school lessons for the youngest pupils, the danger for older children was that they are forced to repeat the topic at latter stages of their education. The inspectors' warning echoes the concerns of eminent historians and the Prince of Wales who recently called for the "narrow and fragmented" school syllabus to be abandoned.

The Ofsted analysis, History in Secondary Schools, concluded that although Hitler's Germany dominated GCSE and A-level courses schools had many other options to choose from. While many schools choose wisely and constructed "rich courses", others opted for "more of the same" and constantly repeated the study of Hitler. "If course programmes are constructed with narrow objectives, with 'more of the same' being seen as a route to success, students' experience of history is likely to suffer as a consequence, as is the preparedness of those wanting to continue with the study of history at a higher level," the inspectors' report warned.....

Chris McGovern, director of the History Curriculum Association and a former curriculum adviser, yesterday agreed that too much emphasis was given to Hitler and argued that history lessons should cover the "landmarks of British history" with a renewed focus "on military and political events". "Too few children could tell you which British monarch united the thrones of England and Scotland and who Nelson was", he added....."

More here

Leftists obviously feel that Hitler gives them an ideal "prop" or dramatic example to use in preaching their two great gospels of the desirability of equality and the evils of racism -- so Hitler seems to have become the only bit of history that they want to talk about.

This monomania, however, has of course greatly limited what their pupils know when they leave school. And we see one effect of that recently:

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer has accused the British of perpetuating an outdated image of Germany, which is still represented in the British media by goose-stepping Nazis. Speaking during a visit to London, Mr Fischer complained that young Germans, including his own children, did not recognise their country as it was portrayed on British television. "If you want to learn how the traditional Prussian goose-step goes you have to watch British television, because in Germany in the younger generation -- even my generation - nobody knows how to do it," he said.

More here

British ignorance about the modern world is however far from limited to ignorance about modern Germany. The ignorance is pervasive. The British learn little about even such a closely related country as Australia -- where something like 10% of the population was actually born in Britain. It is amusing to Australians that the British in Britain almost universally labour under the delusion that Australians address one-another as "cobber". I have lived in Australia for 61 years and I have yet to hear one Australian address another Australian in that way. I believe it may have been a usage that had some currency on the battlefields of World War I but that was also the end of it, if so. In fact, of course, working-class Australians address one-another in exactly the same way that working-class Londoners (Cockneys) do: As "mate". The American equivalent, of course, is "bud" or "buddy".


Credentialism crushed -- but only around the edges

On 13th I noted the case of Tristram Jones-Parry, Headmaster of the prestigious Westminster School, who has been told he is "unqualified" to teach in British State schools because he lacks some worthless bit of paper that the British government issues to people who have nothing better to do than waste several years undergoing pretend-education in teaching methods. There has recently been an even more ludicrous case of the same bone-headedness:

"A former professor of physics who has contributed experiments to the international space programme has been told he is not suitably qualified to teach the subject in a state school. David Wolfe, who ran the physics department of a large American University, must go back to school to take a maths GCSE or leave the school where he has taught for three years.

Sixth-formers at the Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe, Bucks, voted Mr Wolfe the most inspirational teacher last year and his subject is so popular that nearly a third of the 450-strong sixth form are studying it at A-level. But the American professor who has retired to England has been told that his qualification - a PhD in physics from the University of Pennsylvania, one of the eight Ivy League schools - is not sufficient. Mr Wolfe does not want to take exams and submit himself to assessment at the age of 65 and says he teaches because he loves the job and wants to give something back to society.

He is making a stand against the red tape and inflexible rules which also prevent the headmaster of Westminster, one of the leading independent schools, from teaching maths in the state system on his retirement from a distinguished career in education. Tristam Jones-Parry, 57, has complained that he will either have to retrain or work as an unqualified teacher at a reduced salary before he can "give a bit back in a state school".

Boys at the Royal Grammar School have drawn up a petition which was sent to David Miliband, the school standards minister, complaining at the way Mr Wolfe was being treated. Tim Dingle, the headmaster, says that if the rules are not changed he will be prepared to break them by continuing to employ Mr Wolfe. "David Wolfe is the most inspirational and highly qualified teacher of physics I have ever seen," said Mr Dingle, who has taught in both independent and state schools. "The country is desperately short of physics teachers and schools can't get them despite all the incentives handed out by the Government... I am incensed by the inflexibility of the rules and by the fact that David Miliband has refused to even consider making an exception for this extremely talented physicist and teacher."

More here

But all the publicity of their idiocy was in the end too much for even British bureaucrats. They suddenly "discovered" that there was a way, after all, for Prof. Wolfe to gain their seal of approval:

"After the flurry of media exposure last week Wolfe was summoned to the phone. On the other end was "a very nice man" at the Department for Education and Skills. He told him that an assessor from the University of Gloucester would soon come to the school to observe one of his lessons. If it was fine, hey presto, he would be a qualified teacher.

"It's a complete volte face by the government," says Dingle. "No other head has heard of this 'fast-track' route. Heads up and down the country are saying, 'I beg your pardon?'" Nonetheless, he adds, "This time next week I earnestly hope David Wolfe will be a qualified teacher. Hurrah!"

More here

I guess Tristram Jones-Parry will be expecting a call from a "nice man" soon too.


For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

Comments? Email me here. For times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site (viewable even in China!) here