Saturday, March 12, 2005


4th Grade skills not being acquired until MUCH later. None of that evil phonics is used to teach reading, no doubt

State Academic Performance Index school rankings to be released next week will, for the first time, incorporate the results of a fifth-grade science test and an eighth-grade history and social science test. But because schools focus so much in the early grades on reading and math - both because they are seen as essential gateways to other subjects and because the federal No Child Left Behind Act requires testing in those areas - many children taking the new tests haven't had time to learn much science or history.

At junior high schools in Sacramento's Grant Joint Union High School District, students who are more than two years behind in reading or math take only reading and math. Students, like those in Wu's class at Norwood Junior High, who are one to two years behind have time for a single "combo" class. For half the year they learn science; the other half history. Adam Berman, Grant's curriculum director, estimated that up to a quarter of junior high students were receiving no history or science instruction, and 30 percent to 40 percent were on the shortened schedule.

Debbie Jones teaches one of these half-year seventh-grade world history classes at Rio Tierra Junior High. She worries her children, some of whom had no history in sixth grade, are going to be ill-prepared for the eighth-grade exam, which tests the state history standards for sixth to eighth grade. "You can't go in less depth than we're going," she said.

Although teachers receive their students' scores on the tests, the scores have no impact on grades. Nor are the results used in the strict federal school accountability system. The tests were first broadly administered last spring. The rankings released next week will use those score results. Scores released in late summer will incorporate history and science testing from this spring....

Sacramento City Unified School District doesn't even have an elementary school science curriculum. Spokeswoman Maria Lopez said the district sent each school physical, earth and life science kits last year. She said the district made a decision seven years ago to focus nearly exclusively on math and reading in the lower grades. "It was felt a strong focus needed to be placed on reading and math, because our scores were not where we wanted them to be," Lopez said.

Generally, the students who are doing the worst in reading and math are the ones with the least time for science and history. Teachers worry that this dooms them to low achievement in those areas, both because they have less time and because history and science are less accessible to those with weak math and reading skills.

Teachers in Grant junior highs have been working with the History Project at the University of California, Davis, to develop skills at teaching literacy in history classes. So even in history classes, they're working on reading. But that can come at the expense of learning history. "Oftentimes the textbook is too difficult for them," Wu said. "I have to do a lot of reading instruction within the history content. You go slowly and can't cover every standard."

Still, most teachers accept that a school's first goal must be teaching reading and math. "If you have a leak in the roof, you have to spend time on that or you're going to get wet," said Tom Bothwell, a fifth-grade teacher at Aero Haven Elementary in North Highlands. A political science major in college, he said he'd rather teach more social studies.....

More here

Making learning uncool: A British teacher speaks

The establishment disses education as much as hip-hop `playas'

In recent years, there has been concern over the underachievement of black boys in UK schools. Compared to a national average of 59 per cent, only 34 per cent of African-Caribbean boys attain five or more GCSE passes. Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE), seems to think that black boys' cultural outlook is partly to blame. 'There is an anti-learning culture whereby learning isn't seen to be cool.' For Phillips, black kids just don't want to learn.

Phillips is right to blame 'an anti-learning culture'. But this has little to do with hip-hop 'playas' and everything to do with the government and the cultural elites. Blaming the gormless bravado of street culture for hostility to education suggests that Phillips is more in awe of 50 Cent and Eminem than the black kids I teach. Urban entertainers may loom large in the popular imagination, but they're hardly able to dictate the agenda on education, learning and culture. After all, it wasn't Jay-Z who grabbed headlines by declaring that 'learning history is a bit dodgy'. That was the former education secretary, Charles Clarke.

Yet this wasn't just a rash comment by Clarke. Instead, hostility to learning for learning's sake currently informs every aspect of the education system. For example, the government has long attempted to put vocational learning 'on a parity of esteem' with academic subjects. The drive to vocationalise education won't necessarily bolster the status of NVQ's in Hair & Beauty, but it has cast academic courses in a negative light. When Clarke suggests that academic subjects are dodgy, he really means that they are not 'accessible' enough. Middle managers in further education colleges are following suit. At one inner London college at which I have taught, the Sixth Form Centre was constantly threatened with closure by the management, which deemed teaching A-levels as elitist.

Such an anti-learning culture is also prevalent in today's classrooms. Teachers are discouraged from extended their students' vocabulary in case it 'alienates' them. And if students are having trouble participating in classroom discussion, teachers are recommended to introduce kindergarten-style games to pass the time. In the past, educationalists would seek to overcome the barriers to learning. Today learning is seen as a barrier to developing that all-important self-esteem. Indeed, the current teaching adverts suggest that learning is an alien concept for most schools. Classrooms are represented as similar to 'crazy' youth centres where teachers simply turn up, arrange the chairs and distribute soft drinks. The apparent upside is that adults 'get to hang out with Raj' and, in a spectacular reversal of roles, get to learn a 'new language'.

This isn't merely the outcome of a daft advertising agency. In PGCE courses, student teachers are encouraged to incorporate as many hip-hop tracks and videos into lessons as possible. But such tricks are more likely to irritate students than bring them onside. Nothing is more grating for clued-up students than teachers getting down with 'the kids'. My authority would be seriously undermined if I scribbled 'blood, this is the shiznit!' on their work, or delivered sociology in a series of raps. Compared to Trevor Phillips, most of the black students I teach don't take hip-hop's ludicrous postures seriously.

The underachievement of black boys is a concern for educationalists and wider society. But the causes of the problem are varied and complex, and can't just be reduced to students' listening habits. Because there is an obsession with interpreting social groups purely in cultural terms, it is rarely acknowledged that African-Caribbean students are predominately from poorer working-class backgrounds. This isn't to suggest that social class is the only factor in determining their educational performance. But it is an important explanation for why a significant proportion of white and Bangladeshi boys also fall behind the national average.

Nevertheless, softening the education system can't compensate for the negative effects of social and racial inequalities. In fact, the government's measures are likely to make them worse. If learning appears alien and 'uncool' to some African-Caribbean students, Trevor Phillips should look less at 'the street' and a lot closer to home.


Public Schools: Past time to end that system and others: "All taxpayers should vote NO on all school levies because all public schools in America need to be closed. Our schools are teaching multiculturalism, globalism, conservation U.N.-style, and secularism, which means no God and no faith -- all of which are un-American and go against the beliefs and values of most American people. Can we please and finally say ENOUGH! Can we please stop funding the curriculum and people training our children to be globalist socialists and not Americans who value their liberties? Since when did American schools become blatant centers of Socialist re-engineering? ... America is being changed from a free country, where individuals and their human rights lead government, to global capitalist socialism, which is Global Fascism, plain and simple."


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


Friday, March 11, 2005


Gary North tells you how the university system works and how you can avoid being ripped off. You can get a fully recognized degree for a tiny fraction of the usual cost if you know the ropes. A small excerpt:

"If the degree-granting system were really honest -- if it were not run by a cartel -- then accredited college degrees would be offered to any person who could pass the same exams that the tuition-paying students also have to pass. If the student could learn the material on his own, but pass the standardized exams, then he would get the degree.

Accrediting associations don't allow this. Why not? Because it would bankrupt hundreds of colleges that are protected from true competition by the accrediting associations. It would wipe out the colleges' tuition system, real estate system, and low teaching load system.

In every system, there are loopholes. Accreditation has left intact at least seven of them. Hardly anyone knows about all seven. One of them is off-campus learning.

Off-Campus Learning

Off-campus learning is a huge threat to the economics of today's campus-based system of higher education. But a few colleges do offer it in the name of democracy. The accreditors dare not ban these programs altogether, for that would be undemocratic, but they monitor them carefully to make sure that the programs don't get too price- competitive.

Only about 10% of 4-year colleges and universities offer their students as many as half a dozen degree programs by distance learning, even if they offer a hundred majors to on-campus students. Most of these schools charge the same tuition to distance-learning students that they charge to on-campus students, even though off-campus students don't use the colleges' real estate. Nevertheless, some real bargains have slipped through the cracks. But you have to know about their existence and then go looking for them.

Colleges like to pretend that off-campus learning is substandard, second-best education. But is off-campus learning really substandard? The evidence says otherwise. The most recent evidence suggests that off-campus learning is superior to traditional classroom education, from high school through college.

Maybe you think I'm exaggerating. Maybe you think there is some tremendous educational benefit that students receive by attending classes on a college campus, compared to the education gained by students who learn at home. Let me prove to you that you're wrong.

Well, actually, I won't prove this to you. Thomas L. Russell will. He has been studying this question for a long time. He has gone back and looked at the published evidence of the comparative performance of students who have taken their courses on-campus vs. those who have taken their courses off-campus. These academic studies go back to 1928.

Russell's amazing discovery is this: there is no significant difference in student performance. This is what study after study has shown, decade after decade.


Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has tapped a local charter school advocate to head a statewide effort to revitalize low-performing schools. Margaret Fortune, who spearheaded the conversion of Sacramento High School into a charter school in 2003, was named Tuesday as the director of the Governor's Initiative to Turn Around Failing Schools. Fortune served for two years as the superintendent of St. HOPE Public Schools, overseeing two Sacramento charter schools serving about 2,000 students. She left that organization in November to become a consultant with the California Charter Schools Association, where she worked with communities around the state to convert traditional schools into charter schools. Fortune said she helped convert four low-performing San Diego schools into charters earlier this month.

She said her appointment to the governor's initiative reflects Schwarzenegger's long-standing interest in charter schools. "When I was a local school superintendent at Sacramento High School, the governor reached out to me in my effort to turn around that failing school," Fortune said.

The initiative stems from Schwarzenegger's budget proposal this year in which he called for intervention by teams of educators and charter school conversions for the state's lowest-performing campuses, said Rose Garcia, spokeswoman for Secretary of Education Richard Riordan. Both of those options already exist under current law, but Fortune said her job will be to encourage communities to take advantage of them. That includes helping convert some schools to charter schools and working with teams of educators to create changes at other schools. Fortune said she will work with parents, students and teachers to reform the state's lowest-performing schools.

The process of turning Sacramento High School into a charter school sparked years of acrimony between Fortune and the local teachers union. Now that she is in a statewide education position, leaders of the California Teachers Association are questioning her role. "If they're sincere about trying to turn around low-performing schools, converting them to charter schools has not proven to be the answer," said spokeswoman Sandra Jackson. "How is converting into a charter school supposed to ensure these students get the resources they need or the support they need?"

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.

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Thursday, March 10, 2005


But it's not the lying Ward Churchill. It's a real scholar! And they sacked him for "racism" -- a man who has black adopted children! Way to go!

Mitchell isn't as alluring as Churchill. He doesn't hold tenure - or a plastic AK-47. Only bachelor's and master's degrees in education, as well as a doctorate in American social history from CU. He began teaching history in 1984, and in 1998, Mitchell won the prestigious SOAR Award for teacher of the year.

Recently, William Wei, director of the Sewall Academic Program, let Mitchell know that CU would not be renewing his contract after this year because "his teaching was not up to the department standards." (While Wei confirmed this to me, Joyce Nielsen, associate dean for Social Sciences, denies she gave that reasoning for Mitchell's deal.)

As a conservative, and even worse, a ghastly evangelical Christian, Mitchell wondered how he lasted this long. "I've had enough. I am clearly being closed out for political or religious reasons," Mitchell says. "I am one of the top-rated professors in the history of the department."

Wei, hardly a conservative, says that in his perspective, "Phil is a great person, a good teacher and highly regarded by his students." Faculty course questionnaires confirm what students think of him. You'll be hard-pressed to find anything but an A+.

But it's never been easy. Mitchell taught at the Hallett Diversity Program for 24 straight semesters. That is, until he made the colossal error of actually presenting a (gasp!) diverse opinion, quoting respected conservative black intellectual Thomas Sowell in a discussion about affirmative action.

Sitting 5 feet from a pink triangle that read "Hate-Free Zone," the progressive head of the department berated Mitchell, calling him a racist. "That would have come as a surprise to my black children," explains Mitchell, who has nine kids, as of last count, two of them adopted African-Americans.

Then, Mitchell had the audacity to use a book on liberal Protestantism in the late 19th century. So repulsed by the word "god" was one student, she complained, and the department chair fired him without a meeting, he said. Was there a protest for academic freedom? Bullhorns? Power to the people? Conceivably, if Mitchell would have used a less-offensive book - say the Churchill classic "Perversions of Justice" (Ward's hobby?) - he could have rallied the Kool-Aid brigade lickety split.

In time, Mitchell was reinstated but was never able to teach in the history department again. "People say liberals run the university. I wish they did," Mitchell says. "Most liberals understand the need for intellectual diversity. It's the radical left that kills you."

More here. (Via Betsy Newmark)


Students of Hudson High School in Massachusetts are not allowed to form a conservative political club because the school administration believes the ideas involved are objectionable.

As, what the schools believes is a balanced response, "Over the next year," said school principal John Stapelfeld, "the entire Hudson High School community will implement a governance model based on democratic town meetings." Democracy is a wonderful model, but only if, in the process, you make effort to allow for the free exchange of ideas and do not squash ideas that conflict with yours. Some how I do not see that happening in this case.

To take this a step further, the administration also blocked access to the HSCCA website. HSCCA stands for High School Conservative Clubs of America. In the right context, I can agree with the administrator, but only if there is no hypocrisy. Of course that is not the case here either.

Even though the administrator has banned the formation of the conservative group, he still allowed a poster in the classroom of Social Studies teacher Beth Ferns to remain. This poster is filled with quotes that negatively portray President George W. Bush. Ferns encourages her students to bring in other political posters and says that the poster is "basically to spark discussion." Ms. Ferns obviously did not take a neutral stance. How likely is it that her students might bring in pro-Bush posters?

Adding insult the the conservative students, the Stapelfeld sponsored a "Blue Day" to celebrate homosexuals. He allowed students to distribute copies of Fahrenheit 911. This further amplifies the lack of balance in the leadership of the administration.

More here. See also here


A historian and former Sandinista leader who helped overthrow Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza is no longer scheduled to teach classes at Harvard Divinity School this spring after she said she was denied a visa because of her role in alleged "terrorist activity."

Dora Maria Tellez applied for a student visa to study English last year at the University of San Diego.

She then planned to teach in Cambridge this spring as a visiting professor, although she had not yet applied for the required teaching visa. But once the student visa was denied, Tellez told Harvard of- ficials that she would not be teaching classes on religion and society because she expected her teaching visa would also be rejected.

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


Wednesday, March 09, 2005


First Canada, now Britain

Black boys may have to be taught apart from other children in some subjects to improve their grades, according to Trevor Phillips, the chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality.

A row over whether black boys should be segregated at school erupted last night after Mr Phillips said that separate lessons may be needed to overcome years of failure. Mr Phillips also called for tougher action on black fathers who do not take parenting responsibilities seriously, including the denial of access to their children if they fail to turn up to school parent meetings.

Teachers reacted with concern to the proposals, which come after the publication of figures last month showing black male teenagers continuing to lag far behind their white peers in GCSEs. Martin Ward, the deputy general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association gave warning that the suggestions could fall foul of racial equality laws. He said: "Clearly there is scope for schools to help all children who are doing badly. But to single out black children for special treatment could be counter-productive and even illegal."

But Mr Phillips is no stranger to controversy, having called last year for a redefintion of multiculturalism. He explained that this was to ensure community cohesion rather than the promotion of separate cultural identities. Mr Phillips told Inside Out, the BBC One programme due to be broadcast at 7.30pm today, that many black boys were suffering from a culture where it was not cool to be clever, and they lacked self-esteem and good role models. "If the only way to break through the wall of attitude that surrounds black boys is to teach them separately for some subjects, then we should be ready for that," he said.

A spokeswoman for Mr Phillips said last night that he did not believe that separate lessons were right for all black boys but he was reacting in the BBC programme to a successful experiment in a US school. The spokeswoman said: "The BBC asked him to see the work of Professor Stan Mimms, who took black boys out of the class in a school in St Louis and they were taught separately in a different classroom. Trevor saw that it seemed to be working there and believes we should not close our minds to it and should look into it. "He is not saying that all black boys should be taught separately. He is saying it seems to have worked in America and we should look into it."

Mr Phillips told the programme: "A tough new strategy would compel black fathers to be responsible fathers. If they can't be bothered to turn up for parents' evening, should they expect automatic access to their sons?"

Another prominent black figure said that educating black boys separately in mixed schools might actually cause them to be demonised. Simon Woolley, co-ordinator of Operation Black Vote, gave warning that the controversy went deeper than Mr Phillips's comments suggested. Mr Woolley, who has invited the Rev Jesse Jackson to Britain this week to encourage the black community to vote, said: "The issue about poor results with some black children is complex. Run-down housing estates, broken families and low teacher expectation are all factors. I would prefer to focus on these things first before we start blaming the victims - and demonise them for their failure. However, it is true that the bling-bling and gangster rap culture does not help."

Although results improved marginally last year, just 35.7 per cent of black Caribbean pupils in England and 43.3 per cent of black African pupils scored at least five C grades at GCSE, compared with a national average of 52.3 per cent. Those figures masked the fact that black Caribbean girls achieved far better results than boys, with 43.8 per cent achieving five A*-C GCSEs compared with 27.3 per cent boys. The difference of 15.5 percentage points compares with a national gender gap of 10.2 per cent.

More here


Richard Rorty is a philosophy professor at the University of Virginia. He's also editor of an unabashedly socialist magazine, Dissent, and a hero of the academic left. Here's his political assessment of academe: "The power base of the Left in America is now in the universities, since the trade unions have largely been killed off. The universities have done a lot of good work by setting up, for example, African-American studies programs, Women's Studies programs, and Gay and Lesbian Studies programs. They have created power bases for these movements."

Movements? If you had any illusions that these programs were simply "studying" these areas, now you know better. Like Churchill's Ethnic Studies program, they're all "movements." And American universities have become "the power base of the Left."

The debate stimulated by the Churchill affair has escalated into a long overdue exploration into the politics and processes of higher education. The sacred cow of tenure is under review, along with the limits of academic freedom and the shameful lack of ideological balance within college faculties. It's like peeling off the outer layers of an artichoke to get to the heart of the issue. And this is it:

1). Ideology and politics. As Rorty proudly proclaims, the Left has taken over academe. We want it back.

2). Accountability. Self-important academics believe themselves to be beyond reproach, sitting as philosopher-kings, dispensing their wisdom to the ignorant masses. Nonsense. They're ordinary people, government employees dependent on their customers and the taxpayers for their income, and ultimately accountable to their bosses and the citizens who elect the Board of Regents. Academic freedom is not absolute.

One hundred ninety-nine CU faculty members, in an ad in the Boulder Daily Camera, have "demanded" that the investigation of Churchill be "stopped immediately." They argue that inquiries into his alleged plagiarism, misrepresentation of sources cited in his "scholarly" writings, false claims of Indian status in his affirmative action job application, and incitements to commit violence should be inadmissible because he had originally been criticized only for his ideas. Please. This is like saying a fugitive serial killer should be released because he was originally stopped by the police for making an illegal left turn. Churchill's potty mouth is what got him noticed.

Some of his apologists have resorted to playing the "McCarthyism" card. Nonsense. This implies that Churchill is being unjustly hounded for things he has not done or things that cause no harm. On the contrary, Churchill's misdeeds appear to be quite tangible, deadly serious and extremely harmful. That's why there's an investigation. Let's see what it concludes. Professor Charles Braider, director of the Center for Humanities and Arts, says the Churchill investigation has caused a "chilling effect" on curriculum and is "affecting the very life of the university." Good. It's about time. I'd prefer to call it a remedial, correcting effect.

Whatever the outcome for Churchill, the battle lines have formed and are hardening. Here's what many of us, I hope most, would like to see: substantive change, a revolution even, at the University of Colorado. It must start with electing regents who have a commitment to restoring real, intellectual diversity and an evenhanded exchange of ideas. That means hiring conservative professors to balance the now left-lopsided scales.....

We're told that applications from out-of-state students - who subsidize Colorado students by paying six times the resident tuition - have fallen off sharply. Here's the perfect remedy: Convert CU into a bastion of conservative thought, making it the only big-time state university in the country of that kind. The pent-up demand for such a school is overwhelming. Multitudes of students would beat a path to our door

More here


But who listens to Britain's Tories?

Michael Howard pledged that Chris Woodhead would rewrite the school timetable under the Tories as head teachers effectively tore up the Government's education White Paper yesterday. The Conservative leader said that the former head of Ofsted would slim down the curriculum and rid it of political correctness, as well as bringing rigour back to exams.

Mr Howard is seeking to move the pre-election agenda on to education after successfully diverting attention away from Labour's school plans last week with his attack on the NHS. This will continue today with plans for special-needs children that challenge the drive for inclusion in mainstream schools. Conversely, Labour wants to talk about health this week with its "mini-manifesto" for the NHS tomorrow.

Mr Woodhead told The Times that he would want all primary children to be taught to read using phonics and all secondary children to be given a good grasp of the classics of English literature. The former Ofsted chief, regarded as a scourge of the teaching profession, said: "This would herald a return to curriculum subjects which focus upon the knowledge that most people want their children to be taught. In geography, for example, they want children to learn where capital cities are and spend less time on ecological issues like global warming."

The Tories are seeking to capitalise on a tough start for Ruth Kelly as Education Secretary after she was jeered by the Secondary Heads' Association last week. Mr Howard was helped further by head teachers yesterday, who said they would advise students to study for A levels instead of vocational qualifications if they wanted to go to university. Speaking less than a fortnight after the Government published its 14-19 proposals, Martin Ward, deputy general secretary of the Secondary Heads' Association (SHA), said that the plans had delivered no change and simply affirmed the second-class status of vocational qualifications. "If universities continue to ask only for A-level grades, we will focus our efforts on getting our students the grades they need. Schools that want breadth for the brighter students will adopt the IB (international baccalaureate) - if they can afford it," he told the annual conference of SHA members in Brighton yesterday. "Every child matters, we are told, but we now know that those who take A levels matter more than others."

Mr Ward's assessment came as an astonishing blow to Ms Kelly, who last month rejected plans for a radical reform of secondary examinations and favoured, instead, a vocational diploma system alongside GCSEs and A levels.

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, March 08, 2005


Excerpt from an article by FRED HINK:

A 15-year-old girl decided to die. She took three bottles of prescription medication and proceeded to school. Later that day, her mother received a phone call from a school administrator causing her to rush to the emergency room not knowing whether her daughter was dead or alive. Upon entering the hospital, the mother was met, not by a doctor, but by a school administrator. There were no condolences, just an administrator informing the mother that, because of school policy, her daughter would be suspended and then remanded to the district's disciplinary alternative school for a mandatory 60 days. She served her suspension in a hospital bed.

A 15-year-old boy, goofing around with a friend at a lunch table, uttered a curse word. A district policeman overhead the word, asked those around the table if the word had offended them and when one student raised his hand, the boy was issued a Class C misdemeanor for disorderly conduct and received three days of in-school suspension.

Alienation from peers and authority figures caused the demonic actions of the two children in Columbine. When the current system overly punishes children, whether guilty or not, they are being alienated from their peers and teachers. How, then, does zero tolerance protect our children?

My group, Katy Zero Tolerance, supports restoring sanity to a system that is creating criminals and not protecting children. Formed by parents in the Katy Independent School District to promote a common sense approach in dealing with non-threatening discipline problems, and to protect children who are falsely accused, our organization now believes that the Texas Legislature must mandate common sense to the school districts, which most superintendents claim was not provided by legislation - as if it must become legal to practice common sense.

Earlier this year, a sixth grader walked into art class and accidentally discharged his father's gun. Fortunately, the boy was only slightly injured and no other child was hurt. How did zero tolerance help in this instance? It did not. If malicious intent were the intention, how many of our children would be dead before the gun was out of ammunition?

Arresting a child who accidentally left a fishing knife in his pickup does not mean another Columbine was averted. It means that a child, who by nature and definition is forgetful and just plain dumb at times, was caught being a child.


A 6-year-old boy who often talked too much in class was suspended from 1st grade at Schaumburg Christian School last week after his mother refused to spank him. Chandler Scott Fallaw, a rambunctious boy, had been piling up disciplinary notes for talking, chewing gum, bringing toys to class and not finishing classwork, said his mother, Michelle Fallaw-Gabrielson. "By no means is my child perfect," she acknowledged. But she never anticipated the ultimatum delivered at school Wednesday. When she arrived to pick up Chandler, she said, assistant administrator Linda Moreau told her the school needed assurances that the boy would be disciplined. "She said, `Either he gets a spanking before he leaves today, or I'm suspending him,'" Fallaw-Gabrielson recalled.

She said she refused to spank her son and left with the assistant administrator calling after her: "You know he's suspended, and that's a very serious matter on his record." Fallaw-Gabrielson withdrew Chandler from the school the next day. "I was so shocked that they were putting me in this situation," she said. As a Christian, Fallaw-Gabrielson knows well the old saying "spare the rod and spoil the child." But she can't bring herself to spank Chandler and uses alternative disciplinary measures instead, such as time-outs and taking away toys.

The American Civil Liberties Union in Illinois and other groups that follow the corporal punishment issue say what happened to Chandler and his mother appears to be legal, though highly unusual. Private schools have wide discretion in discipline matters, they said, and parents agree to school policies when they enroll their children.

Thaxton said: "Our policies are reasonable. They are legal; they are in writing." He stressed that he could not discuss any student disciplinary case specifically, but said the school, as a last resort, does give parents the option of spanking their children or accepting a one-day suspension. "When it gets to the point where the teacher can't solve the problem in the classroom, and the administration can't solve the problem, we ask parents to fix the problem," he said.

Thaxton said the school has never been sued in the 11 years he's been in charge and that enrollment has more than doubled from 600 students--proof that parents want an academically challenging and disciplined environment. The school started in 1971 as a preschool and grew to 12 grades by 1980. Parents agree to rules that include no physical contact between male and female students before, during or after school, and no rock music for junior and senior high students.

Around the school Friday, a diverse group of students quietly and diligently worked in cheerfully decorated classrooms. Elementary class sizes average 22 or 23 students; high school classes are even smaller. A group of kindergarten students was reading, and 1st graders were reading text that included words such as carpenter, scientists and missionary.

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


Monday, March 07, 2005


A Sacramento home-schooled student will proceed to the next niveau after his successful spelling of that word -- meaning "level" -- helped crown him champion of the 22nd annual California Central Valley Spelling Bee. Sixty-two students in grades 4 through 8 competed in Wednesday's event at the Scottish Rite Masonic Center in Sacramento. Jason Loucks' victory marked the first time a home-schooled student has won the regional nine-county contest and sends the sixth-grader to Washington, D.C., where he'll compete for the national crown from May 29 to June 4.

Loucks, 12, held off Shelby Smith of Leroy F. Greene Middle School from her bid to repeat as the regional champion. Smith, a South Natomas resident, finished second after the two struggled to string two correct word spellings together in the final round. Some of the missed words included: hartebeest, verdolaga, pterography and mignonette. "A lot of times I just totally guessed," Jason said of the final gut-wrenching words that were not in the list of words the 62 competitors prepared from.

While home-schooled students had prior success at the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee, officials with the regional contest said this might be the leading edge of things to come. Jennifer Loucks, who helped quiz her son, said the family wasn't out to prove anything. "Maybe it validates home schooling as a viable option to traditional schooling," Loucks said. "We didn't come here with anything to prove. We chose home school because that is what God wanted for our family."



One of the most important lessons anyone can learn about politics is that when government sets out to accomplish some objective, it often winds up doing the opposite. Rent control, for example, is supposed to help the nonwealthy who want urban housing, but the effect is to diminish both the quantity and quality of rental housing available for them.

With that in mind, let's consider federal student-aid. Congress has established a variety of grant and loan programs (budgeted this year at some $73 billion) that were supposed to help make college more affordable to millions of nonwealthy families. As the cost of attending college has risen, politicians have increased the amount of aid available. The trouble is that by doing so, the government gives colleges an incentive to further increase tuition.

That is the conclusion of many economists who have studied the financing of higher education, including Hillsdale College professor Gary Wolfram, in a newly released Policy Analysis published by Cato Institute. His study, "Making College More Expensive: The Unintended Consequences of Federal Tuition Aid," argues for phasing out all federal financial aid in favor of increased reliance on voluntary approaches.

"Basic economic theory," Wolfram writes, "suggests that the increased demand for higher education generated by the Higher Education Act will have the effect of increasing tuitions. The empirical evidence is consistent with that-federal loans, Pell grants, and other assistance programs result in higher tuition for students at our nation's colleges and universities."

But wait-isn't federal financial aid supposed to enable students to catch up to the rising cost of college? That may be what parents and politicians think; but to college administrators, more money for students means more money to be captured for their never-ending plans. There is no point at which their desire to spend more is satiated, so there is no point at which the paying parties can ever catch up. Thus ever more aid is needed.

While government financial aid makes going to college more affordable in the short run for students who qualify for it, those programs have also helped to make college less affordable in the long-run for everyone. They especially harm middle-class students who don't qualify for government aid and who must therefore borrow more heavily than they might have had to otherwise. (I say "helped" because college costs would certainly have risen anyway, as more private wealth becomes available to pay the escalating tuition and fee charges. The existence of government aid has pushed them higher than otherwise.) Gushers of federal aid encourages colleges and universities to add more degree programs (often of questionable academic or employment value), to hire more faculty and administrators whose services were not previously needed, and to expand into fields having at best a tangential relationship with education. The spending spiral naturally leads to demands for still more financial aid because college is becoming "too expensive," but more aid just leads to still higher college costs. It's classic political deception. Voters think that a government program is helping to bring about a supposedly desirable outcome ("making college affordable") while it actually benefits only a small interest group - those who run and work for institutions of higher education.

More (much 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.

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Sunday, March 06, 2005

The Lockstep Leftists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

No to Western civilzation:

More than 70 faculty members at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are demanding that administrators stop negotiations with a foundation that wants to create a Western cultures program at the school. Chancellor James Moeser said he believes many faculty members are wary of the proposal simply because of the John William Pope Foundation's conservative values. "It will be a major enhancement of our offerings in Western civilizations," he said Wednesday. "And it won't be done at the expense of any other program."

The proposed program would include an academic minor in Western cultures, new honors courses, freshman seminars, undergraduate research awards and study abroad scholarships. The foundation gave the university $25,000 to study the proposal and has said it could donate up to $700,000 a year to fund it initially.

Faculty members complained in a letter to administrators that they have not been adequately involved in the discussions. Sue Estroff, professor of social medicine and former faculty chairwoman, said a recent curriculum revision revealed no need for more emphasis in Western studies. "Are we for sale, and if so, what for, and if not, what are the guidelines?" she asked.

Foundation President Art Pope has said the proposal is not an attempt to influence the university's curriculum. "We're not going to let a handful of left-wing faculty stop the students from benefiting from the program," he said.


No to Christianity:

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill must recognize a Christian fraternity that has waged a legal fight challenging the school's nondiscrimination policy. The preliminary injunction issued by U.S. District Court Judge Frank W. Bullock Jr. will remain in place until the case is resolved, possibly by trial.

Alpha Iota Omega was stripped of its status as an official campus group because the fraternity wont accept nonbelievers or gay students. The university revoked the recognition after fraternity members refused to sign the school's nondiscrimination policy. The three-member fraternity sued last year, saying UNC-CH had violated their constitutional rights to free speech, free assembly and free exercise of religion. Recognition gives the fraternity access to student funds and university facilities.

The preliminary injunction put the Christian fraternity "on the same footing as nonreligious organizations which select their members on the basis of commitment ... ," Bullock wrote in an order issued Wednesday. The merits of the case probably favor the fraternity, but the order is consistent with the university attorneys "current unofficial interpretation of their nondiscrimination policy," Bullock wrote. The university's policy "raises significant constitutional concerns and could be violative of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution," he also wrote.

Attorneys for the fraternity were happy with the judges preliminary injunction. "This is the first battle in the lawsuit, and we are victorious in that sense," said Joshua Carden, a staff attorney at the Alliance Defense Fund, the Arizona-based organization representing the fraternity.

The State Attorney Generals Office, which represents UNC-CH, said it continues to support the university's policy. "We continue to believe in the merits of the university's position and the value of the nondiscrimination policy," the statement said. "The university's goal remains the proper and careful balancing of students First Amendment rights with the rights guaranteed by the U.S. and North Carolina Constitutions to equal protection of the laws and freedom from discrimination."

The fraternity's attorneys say they hope to force the university to rewrite its policy for recognizing student groups. "We want to see some permanent change that will keep this from happening to other groups," Carden said.


No to freedom of speech about homosexuality

For those who doubt the degree of malice against conservative students, the story of a beleaguered Christian at UNC-Chapel Hill provides some disturbing evidence. Engaged in classroom discussion, the student merely responded to his professor's lecture. The topic: why heterosexual men are intimidated by gays. The Christian interjected that he was not intimidated and believed that homosexuality is immoral. His professor rebuked him in a class-wide e-mail, labeling the young UNC-goer as a sexist bigot. Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) heard about the incident over the radio and came to the hapless student's defense. However, even congressional lobbying only went so far. The offending professor retained her post with minimal consequences.

More here

Yes to Marxism

Once again UNC has selected a controversial book for its incoming freshman to read, according to a report in the July 11, 2003 edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education (CHE): The book is Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, penned by radical leftist Barbara Ehrenreich. Ironically, UNC administrators thought, as interim Vice Chancellor Dean L. Bresciani said, "it would be a relatively tame selection." However, the move is being criticized by some legislators in North Carolina, who (rightly) describe her work as liberal propaganda infused with religious bigotry.

One critic of Ehrenreich's book is North Carolina State Senator Austin Allran. The Chronicle quoted him as saying, "I don't like the disparaging remarks made about Jesus." Those references are of the liberation theology model; to Ehrenreich, Jesus is a Marxist revolutionary. Allran said the university's reading list should come from the classics. Bresciani explained that the university does not assign classics because students are expected to read those on their own. (Does he really expect students to thumb through The Iliad on the beach during Spring Break in Miami?)

Ehrenreich's book, which is purportedly about the plight of the working poor, is replete with references to race, class, religion, and Communism. Ehrenreich bona fides in the field of Marxism are evinced throughout her illustrious career as possibly the most respected female "intellectual" in modern academia. When not writing for Harper's, Time, The Nation and New York Time Magazine, she is the Vice-Chair of the Democratic Socialists of America.Her theoretical Marxism is mentioned in the text itself; she mentions reading Mao before going to sleep. If that's the case, Nickel and Dimed could be her dream journal.

According to an interview of Ehrenreich in the August 5, 2001, edition of Socialist Worker Online, "Ehrenreich researched her book by taking a series of low-wage jobs." Eherenreich's interview with the newspaper of the International Socialist Organization, a group that believes that capitalism produces poverty, racism, famine, environmental catastrophe and war,[1][1] is just another indication of her communist ideological bias.

More here

Yes to the Koran

Incoming freshmen at the University of North Carolina will participate in discussion groups on Islam's holy text after a judge ruled that having them read a book about the Quran did not threaten religious freedoms. U.S. District Judge Carlton Tilley Jr. refused yesterday to grant a temporary restraining order requested by two taxpayers, one of them an official of the conservative Virginia-based Family Policy Network, and three unidentified freshmen.

Attorneys for the network said they filed an appeal minutes after the judge recessed court. The appeal is to be considered by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va. Both sides claimed a victory after the ruling. Network President Joe Glover said the lawsuit forced the university to change its program from a required reading and discussion to a voluntary program.

University Chancellor James Moeser said the program was never required in the first place, and was intended to stimulate critical thinking in freshmen. He said opponents of the program "consistently missed the point." "There's absolutely no penalty," the chancellor said. "We have no way of knowing which students show up, we don't take roll, there's no grade. There never was."

The plaintiffs sued last month to overturn an assignment for 4,200 transfer students and freshmen at the Chapel Hill campus to read and discuss "Approaching the Qur'an: The Early Revelations", by Michael Sells. Lawyers for the network argued that the program ignored violent passages in the Quran and sought to indoctrinate students with the idea that the religion embraced only peace. They also said the university's announcements on post cards sent to students appeared to be requiring the reading. "The university initially required everyone to read the book and write a paper," said James Yacovelli of Youngsville, the center's state director and one of the individual plaintiffs. "Now you don't have to do anything."....

More here. (This post also posted at Blogger News)


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