Saturday, June 11, 2005


They mightn't know how to read and write properly but they will learn that black is beautiful

City high school students will be required to take a class in African and African American history to graduate, a move that education experts believe is unique in the nation. The requirement in the 185,000-student district, which is about two-thirds black, begins with September's freshman class, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Thursday. The yearlong course covers subjects including classical African civilizations, civil rights and black nationalism, said Gregory Thornton, the district's chief academic officer. The other social studies requirements are American history, geography and world history.

Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, an advocacy group for big city school districts, said Philadelphia appeared to be in the forefront with such a requirement. "Courses on the subjects are offered as electives in other cities," he said.

Some parents opposed requiring the course, including Miriam Foltz, president of the Home and School Association at Baldi Middle School. "There are other races in this city," said Foltz, who is white. "There are other cultures that will be very offended by this. How can you just mandate a course like this?"

While acknowledging it would be better to have courses adequately reflecting all cultures, district officials said African and African American history had been neglected too long. "We have a whole continent that has been absent from most of our textbooks," said Paul Vallas, the district's chief executive officer.



Ramon Cortines had become chancellor only two months before Giuliani won office. He had come from San Francisco, where, as manager of the school system, he had earned a reputation as a low-key and competent, if administratively limited, leader. The system Cortines inherited in New York, however, would very likely have been ungovernable even if he was a great manager. The Bureau of Supplies, for example, was known as the Bureau of Surprise, and contract bid-rigging was a common practice. Local school boards operating with considerable autonomy had control over not only the hiring of everyone from principals to cafeteria workers but over millions of dollars in contracts as well. For the local boards, operating mini-political machines, education became secondary to the patronage and contract possibilities offered by the schools. Even principalships were offered for sale.

The schools chancellor didn't have to answer to the mayor, but rather to the Board of Education. The district superintendents put in place by local boards didn't have to answer to the chancellor. And the school principals, who were tenured, didn't have to answer to the superintendents. Teachers, who were largely tenured and protected by an extremely favorable contract, didn't have to answer to the principals.

Trouble between Giuliani and Cortines began early in the new administration, following an extended meeting between the two men focusing on the city's dire budget problems and the need to cut back the Board of Ed's Byzantine bureaucracy: When Cortines left the meeting, he savaged Giuliani before the waiting press.

Giuliani responded with a withering blast in his State of the City Address. He noted that, from 1980 to 1992, spending on administration grew twice as fast as overall schools spending, and asked to what end. "The Board of Education has countless — thousands of administrators — there are so many that the chancellor has formed a search committee to find and count them," he jibed to laughter and applause. Before the month was out, Giuliani seemed to have won a major victory when Cortines said he had "discovered" a lost continent of more than 3,500 Board of Education employees long hidden within the bureaucracy. It turned out the board had twice as many employees as Cortines had claimed. On the same day, the chairman of the City Council education committee revealed that in the midst of the fiscal crisis, the city's 32 local school boards had spent $2.2 million on conferences in Hawaii, Las Vegas and Puerto Rico.

Dissatisfied with the limited cuts Cortines had been willing to make, Giuliani appointed a political ally, former Rep. Herman Badillo, to investigate the Board of Ed's finances. Seeing that appointment as a vote of no-confidence, Cortines threatened to resign, saying, "My integrity is not for sale." The political establishment that had been shaken by Giuliani saw an opportunity to strike back by rallying around the chancellor's ire. In the words of one experienced Democrat, "Anyone with a hard-on for Giuliani got in their whacks." The mayor's "bullying style," his budget cuts, and even the way he looked, became objects of opprobrium. Parents' organizations and the press turned on Giuliani with a fury; he had few defenders.

His critics assumed they had Giuliani cornered: He could not, they reasoned, begin a politically harrowing search for a new chancellor so soon after the bitter fight required to select Cortines only a half a year earlier. But the mayor got some much-needed help: Gov. Mario Cuomo and City Council Speaker Peter Vallone stepped in and negotiated a compromise, under which Badillo would remain in place to oversee the Board of Ed's finances, and Cortines would rescind his resignation for the time being.

Ultimately, fiscal pressures on Giuliani would make his relationship with Cortines untenable; in September 1995 the chancellor would quit for good. A year earlier, though, he had come around to acknowledging that community school boards were "patronage mills" and that the system for repairing the schools was broken beyond repair. He took to wondering out loud why an $8 billion system was still using textbooks that described the Empire State Building as the tallest in the world.

At least one local politician admitted off the record that Giuliani had been proved right: Almost $2 billion had been cut from the school budget with no discernible effect on students' educational performance. But, he added, there was no way he would make that argument to his constituents, many of whom were convinced that the mayor was a racist who cut the budget to harm black and Latino children. And, in fact, when Cortines quit, polls showed the public backed him over the mayor by two to one.

While hardly helpful to his own cause, Giuliani's attacks on the Board of Education did benefit his successor, Michael Bloomberg, by setting the stage for the board's elimination and for direct mayoral control of the schools.

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.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

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


Friday, June 10, 2005


Principally a review of two books: "UNIVERSITY, INC: The Corporate Corruption of Higher Education" by Jennifer Washburn and "PRIVILEGE: Harvard and the Education of the Ruling Class" by Ross Gregory Douthat. The reviewer is Alan Ryan, Warden of New College, Oxford. He was professor of politics at Princeton University from 1988-96.

We take large, modern research universities so much for granted that it requires an effort to realise how easily we could do without them - even Berkeley, Harvard, and Oxford, to take the three that members of the academy themselves recently rated as the best in the world. Consider the higher education of the young. One of university's main functions in the field of tertiary education - pre-professional education - could be performed in schools of law, accountancy, medicine, teacher-training and the like where professional education itself is given. As for liberal education - introducing students to a wide range of disciplines to develop their minds while they are young - it is best provided in small colleges by people who take it seriously. It is not assisted, but threatened, by diversions of time, money, and managerial effort into the research activities of the modern university.

"Blue skies" research could easily be done in publicly funded research institutes by professional researchers unencumbered by the pretence that they are engaged in teaching the young. And the function that increasingly dominates the life of the modern university - doing research and development for the benefit, and often under the control, of multinational pharmaceutical and telecommunications companies - could and perhaps should be done in commercial research parks. The new California Institutes for Science and Innovation described in Jennifer Washburn's University Inc. are to all intents and purposes just that, even though they are one-third funded by the State of California and two-thirds by private corporations, physically housed on the campuses of the University of California system, and staffed in part by academics.

What would be lost, if we disaggregated Berkeley, Harvard and Oxford? One slightly surprising fact is that there would be no problem recruiting the next generation of high-grade research workers; in the US, the best liberal arts colleges, such as Williams, Amherst or Swarthmore, where the focus is on undergraduate education, send a higher proportion of their graduates into research training than do Ivy League universities such as Harvard and Yale. It is less surprising on second thoughts. The idea that a student gets a deeper insight into Shakespeare by attending a university whose hospital is especially good at transplants is not very plausible; but one has to believe it to suppose that, say, Stanford's excellence in advanced surgical procedures automatically enhances the education in the humanities that it provides.

Since we can imagine a world without research universities, where the disparate things they do are spread among professional schools, community colleges, liberal arts colleges, research institutes and research parks, we might wonder whether there is any function that only a research university can perform - and whether it is one that is threatened by co-operation with industry. Those are the questions asked and answered in University Inc.

The book is somewhat sensationally sub-titled, "the corporate corruption of higher education". But it is actually a calm, balanced and careful look at a topic that has exercised many commentators, among them Derek Bok, a former president of Harvard. Bok's exploration of the damage that corporate ties can do was published last year. Universities in the Marketplace was no more reassuring than Washburn's book, but she has more to say than he did about the wider legal and political context in which universities work.

John Dewey provided the received view of the university's unique place in society 90 years ago. A century ago, it was common for trustees to demand the dismissal of professors whose political views they disliked - and to get their own way. Security of tenure was needed, said Dewey, because the university's unique role was to perform "the truth function" - to discover and disseminate the truth so far as it could be known, for its own sake and for no ulterior purpose. That is why "blue skies" research belongs inside a university rather than in a government-funded institute: only inside the university is there the necessary pressure to publish the truth, unvarnished, unadjusted, awkward and embarrassing as that truth may be.

At least, that's the theory. Performing the "truth function" is not easy. Nor is it threatened by only one danger. Ross Gregory Douthat's acerbic Privilege gives so many reasons for disliking Harvard that anyone who reads him alongside Jennifer Washburn may conclude that the damage done to universities by commercialisation is icing on the cake of their self-inflicted intellectual and social corruption. Still, we must not exaggerate; at the end of Privilege, readers will find Douthat succumbing, as everyone does, to the hope that higher education's better self can triumph over all. Nobody ever hoped to see Enron's better self.

University Inc. is built around three ideas that should animate thinking about university relations with commerce and industry. The first is that there is no gainsaying that where research can benefit everyone, it should - whether by making industry more efficient, finding more effective drugs, miniaturising electronic circuits or whatever. The idea that pure research is too pure to be sullied by exploitation is plain foolish.

The second is that whatever legal framework ensures that research can be exploited should not create conflicts of interest dangerous to the functioning of higher education. Many of these conflicts are familiar: too many professors draw a salary for teaching students while they have what amounts to a full-time job running a spinoff company or consulting on the side. Universities have rules limiting the amount of such work their faculty can do; but where someone brings in large sums of money to the university, rigorous enforcement of the rules too often goes by the board.

The third thought is that since the public spends a great deal of money on the research done in universities, the public ought to get a fair share of the benefit. Otherwise, the public pays for the research twice over, first through its taxes and then through the profits made by the companies that exploit the research. The question is what a fair return to the public actually is.

Might the public get a better bargain if the results of research remain available to anyone who wishes to use them, as part of the intellectual "commons"? And might the public have grounds for thinking that, if private sponsors fund research, the quality of what is produced should be more carefully policed than at present? When more than 90 per cent of papers reporting sponsored research into the effectiveness of drugs report positive findings, and only 60 per cent of non-sponsored research do so, anxiety about the corruption of the researcher's judgment - even inadvertent - is not misplaced.

The temptation is to denounce the wickedness of corporate capitalism, university administrators and the other "usual suspects". Washburn is too intelligent to succumb to that temptation. Universities have been starved of public funding over the past two decades and can hardly be expected to pass up the offer of private funds; and the pace of innovation in fields such as bio-technology is such that no company can pass up the chance to be involved in research. What is needed is not a retreat into an ivory tower but better regulation.

Universities Inc. induces two reactions in a British reader. The first is to envy the US its investigative reporters. The other is to wonder what a British version of Washburn might uncover. British universities have lately been encouraged to engage in aggressive patenting and licensing and it is hard to believe that they do not run the dangers she describes. If they do not, it is perhaps less because British universities are full of high-minded, strong-willed academics immune to the attractions of the dollar than because neither government nor business has been signing cheques as large as their American counterparts.

Ross Douthat's entertaining account of undergraduate alienation, on the other hand, induces the usual envy of the young for their fluency and vigour, and a little gratitude not to have been among the Harvard faculty and Douthat's undergraduate contemporaries who get their comeuppance in these pages. He does, however, make a serious argument worth chewing on. The whole point of Harvard, he thinks - and Harvard here stands for the Ivy League, its competitors such as Stanford or Duke, and its liberal arts cousins such as Amherst and Williams - is to reproduce the American ruling class. One might guess that he would have thought the argument over "social engineering" provoked by Steven Schwartz's report into university admissions in England and Wales last year was pretty naive. What else do elite universities engage in if not social engineering?

How indignant Douthat is about this fact is unclear. What he is certainly angry about is the basis on which the elite is selected. Forced to choose between an arbitrarily recruited elite whose rank is a matter of birth and accident - and whose arbitrariness might induce in the fortunate a certain sense of noblesse oblige - and the meritocracy that Harvard has put together on the basis of PSATs, SAT Is, SAT IIs, APs and the assorted extra-curriculars that American high school students engage in, he prefers the former.

This is not entirely irrational. Gordon Brown and Sir Peter Lampl are tremendous fans of the Harvard Admissions Office, but Douthat has done his homework. One hundred out of the 31,700 high schools in America provide more than a fifth of the students at Harvard, Yale and Princeton. These high schools are overwhelmingly private and heavily concentrated in the so-called "blue" states - those that vote Democrat. So Harvard is politically and geographically unrepresentative in the extreme. The university's attempt to create a "diverse" student body, meanwhile, amounts to recruiting a small number of black and Asian students who often take the first opportunity to self-segregate and frustrate the university's hope that their presence will do their white contemporaries some rather ill-defined educational good.

Although Harvard gives generous scholarship aid, the campus is no more economically diverse than it is politically diverse. The less well-off half of the American population provides less than 10 per cent of Ivy League students; 75 percent of students come from the top quarter of American families. The elite polished by Harvard is a narrowly recruited group; it may be cosmetically diverse - with enough black, Asian and ethnic minority students to match the American population in skin colour - but economically, ideologically, socially and culturally, it is nothing of the sort.....

More here

The Jihadist Prof at UC-Santa Barbara

The usual high standards of scholarship one expects from the UC

Lisa Hajjar has made an entire academic career out of bashing the United States and Israel for their supposed use of "torture" against Arabs. She spouts off these baseless accusations from her academic home at the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB), where she teaches in its "Law and Society" program. In fact she has no credentials at all in law. (She also teaches "Middle East Studies" at UCSB, with even fewer qualifications in that field.) Instead she holds a PhD in sociology from American University. The one in Washington, not Cairo.

Hajjar is among the shrillest voices in the United States trying to chant the accusations over American "abuses of the human rights" of the al-Qaeda terrorists in Guantanamo Bay. She served on the pretentious "world tribunal," the one that found Saddam's Iraq innocent and the US guilty of war crimes and human rights abuses. Among the "tribunal's" objective findings were that "the occupation of Palestine, Afghanistan and all other colonized areas is illegal and should be brought to an end immediately."

Lisa Hajjar has written:

"There is no reason to doubt that torture has been systemic and pervasive, or that authorization can be traced up the chain of command, or that this has seriously damaged not only the immediate victims but also our national institutions and America's image abroad. Yet top officials in the Bush Administration are still doing what torturing regimes do: denying the facts and blaming "rogue" officers. Despite the abundant evidence of torture, Congress refuses to challenge these denial tactics in any meaningful way, for example by refusing to confirm for high office those responsible. What we desperately need is public acknowledgment that torture is always and everywhere a crime, and an official policy that reflects this conviction."

Hajjar has tried to define herself academically as a scholar having some expertise on the use of torture. She defines her aim as the debunking the false "popular belief that Western history constitutes a progressive move from more to less torture." The fact that she publishes her "findings" on web sites of the communist party raises questions about her credibility and objectivity. Hajjar gets her kicks out of issuing "warnings" about human rights abuses. She has spent her energies bemoaning the "torture" of the Iraqi Ba'athists being held in the Abu Ghraib prison.

Lisa Hajjar is apparently the daughter of a Finnish mother and a father of Syrian descent. She teaches in the "Law and Society Program" at the University of California at Santa Barbara, but she is in fact nothing more than a third-rate leftist sociologist. She has no training in law or legal studies, is not qualified as a Middle East scholar or researcher, and his extraordinarily few bona fide publications even in sociology. None of this prevented UCSB from granting her tenure as well as its "Pious Award" for her "research". She was among the UCSB faculty members opposing the war against Iraq and defending Saddam as part of "Not in Our Name".

Before coming to Santa Barbara, Hajjar taught "military law" at Swarthmore. There she engaged in partisan one-sided indoctrination in her classroom, as is revealed by the syllabi of her courses there. Her required reading list was a who's who of far leftists, communists, and haters of American and Israel. Among her proclamations at Swarthmore, was: "While the United States voices outrage about Saddam Hussein, it goes on tolerating human rights violations and other misdeeds by regional allies." Her "research" at Swarthmore consisted of little more than serving as a cheerleader for politicized "cause lawyers."

Hajjar does not hide her support for Palestinian violence. She writes: "Because Palestinians are stateless and dispersed, their struggle for national rights has taken 'unconventional' forms, including guerilla warfare. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which emerged in the 1960s to lead this struggle, has been castigated by Israel, and to a lesser extent the US, as nothing but a terrorist organization. This typifies the use of the terrorist label to non-states in their struggles against states.. Since most Palestinians have identified politically with the PLO, it was easy for the Israeli state to relate the repression of Palestinians to the imperatives of Jewish/Israeli national security. Generally speaking, everything connected to Palestinian nationalist activities and especially to the PLO was considered a security threat which (sic) could justify limitations and restrictions of rights."

Those "unconventional" Palestinian forms of protest happen to include blowing up buses full of school children and pregnant mothers.

Hajjar is a radical feminist, but one with little real interest in the position of women in the Arab world and with no concern at all over Israeli women being murdered by her beloved Palestinian terrorists. She has mentioned that in Morocco things are less equitable than at Vassar. She seems to believe that the main cause for Arab feminists should be destroying Israel. She is highly praised by Neve Gordon, a fanatic anti-Israel lecturer in political science at Ben Gurion University in Israel, someone who was arrested for serving as a "human shield" for Palestinian murderers, and someone who wrote a sycophantic piece about Holocaust Denier Norman Finkelstein, comparing Finkelstein ethically to the Prophets in the Bible. Gordon and Hajjar like to cite one another as authoritative sources for the claim that Israel uses torture against Arab prisoners. This is a bit like Ward Churchill and Noam Chomsky citing one another's works to prove how that America is more oppressive than Nazi Germany.....

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.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

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


Thursday, June 09, 2005


Across China traffic has been diverted, building work halted and tens of thousands of extra police have been deployed - all to ensure that secondary school children get the peace and quiet they need for this year's university entrance exams. This week more than 8.6 million teenagers will take their seats in hot, stuffy and uncomfortable classrooms for their only chance to gain a degree that will put them on a path to government office or business riches.

Southern Guangdong province ordered traffic away from many exam sites and banned construction work and blaring radios from streets near schools. Similar quiet zones have been set up in towns and cities across China. One Beijing neighbourhood was draped with red banners reading: "Build a quiet testing community". In the capital, more than 1,000 extra police took to the streets to ensure a smooth flow of traffic around schools in a city where cars and buses move at a snail's pace and the hooting of horns is constant. Notices went out to drivers to give way to students dashing across the streets to reach exam rooms in time.

The pressure on children is intense. One 18-year-old student in the western province of Qinghai battered his mother to death with a stone during an argument after he refused to take the exam. In an eastern coastal town, a boy committed suicide by taking poison.

Parents were told not to pile too much pressure on students, most of whom are only children born under China's strict "one couple, one child" policy and carrying the hopes of an entire family.



A diversity plan that sparked a flap at the University of Oregon will get a new review by a panel of faculty members and others in an effort to ease concerns about its scope while still accomplishing its goals. UO President Dave Frohnmayer said he is in the process of appointing an executive working group of eight to 10 people to conduct the review this summer. They will be asked to more clearly define some key terms as well as consider ways to promote diversity that can win broader support. "The direction we're going to take is to work from the basic goals of the document but not regard particular details as set in concrete," Frohnmayer said.

The five-year diversity plan, developed over the past year by a 70-person work group, got a hot reception from some on campus who felt it went too far and offered too few opportunities for debate. Proposals that attracted the most heat were those relating to "cultural competency," a vaguely defined standard that would be considered in everything from hiring to tenure decisions. Some faculty members believed that the proposal threatened academic freedom, noting that it would require a "demonstrable commitment to cultural competency" in tenure and post-tenure reviews. But it said the document included no definition of the term. "We assume that a 'demonstrable commitment to cultural competency' would not be aimed at dictating to faculty what (they) must teach. But it is unclear from the draft what such a phrase means," said a letter from the UO chapter of the American Association of University Professors.

Frohnmayer said that while he wasn't disappointed by the reception the proposal received, he felt that some judged it too swiftly without understanding that the document was still a work in progress.... The UO president acknowledged that the plan was deliberately provocative but he said bold steps are needed to ensure that the university community at least reflects the racial makeup of the state and that it also be seen as a place where people of all types can learn and teach without fear.... Frohnmayer agreed on the need for clearer definitions, conceding that without a consensus on key meanings some terms will be seen by some to carry a hidden agenda. But he also said some people's reactions have been "excessively alarmist" because they assume the words are an attempt to force a particular ideology on the university community.

The dust-up over the diversity plan again made headlines around the country and particularly on conservative Web sites and blogs, where the UO has been dubbed the "Berkeley of the north." Conservative commentators cited the plan as further evidence that the school is controlled by liberals and goes too far in the name of political correctness. Frohnmayer brushed off the comments and said the "intensity of the reaction shows we're a community that's not afraid to be engaged." "People can engage in stereotypical thinking if they want, and that is one of the really ugly downsides of the blog-verse," he said, referring to the world of online Web logs. "I guess to that group of people I'd say, what is it you don't understand about the word 'draft?' "The minute you get in the business of censoring people who have serious ideas that want them discussed seriously even if you don't agree with them, the minute you can't do that at a university without someone engaging in character assassination and stereotyping, it's a pretty sad day."

More here. And Joanne Jacobs makes some good comments too. I guess that she is part of the "really ugly downside of the blog-verse" that Frohnmayer is trying to scapegoat.


Teacher pay levels in Scarsdale, and several other districts in the county, are now high enough to constitute an entry ticket to upper-middle-class income and status. In Scarsdale, 166 teachers - nearly half - have base salaries exceeding $100,000; for more than a dozen, base pay tops $120,000. A study of teacher salaries across New York State found that as administrators and affluent parents compete to give their children every possible advantage, thousands of teachers in the New York suburbs now make six-figure salaries - numbers strongly at variance with the popular stereotype of the poorly paid, altruistic mentor of the young.

The study indicates that only the most experienced teachers, with the most education, earn such salaries - which are the highest in the nation. But the money is arguably substantial enough to affect what it means to be a public school teacher. Consider this, for instance: A family whose parents both teach in Westchester schools can make enough to put it in the top 6 percent of earners in the county. Teachers say the salaries are justified, even necessary, in a place where the cost of living is high. "You can earn $100,000 and not afford to live here," said Susan Taylor, a longtime Scarsdale teacher who heads the district's teacher training institute.

And in fact the rising salaries have not really made waves in Westchester, because in many communities they have arrived in tandem with rising property values - which softens the effect of school district budget increases. The average home in Scarsdale, for instance, sold for $1.4 million in 2004, and the average income per pupil in the schools was more than $500,000 in 2002, five times that in the rest of the state. "Our taxes are high, but our education is superior," said Ellen Cohen, 53, who has a daughter at Scarsdale High School. "It doesn't bother me that teachers do so well."

She is one of many Scarsdale homeowners who, like those in other affluent communities around New York, based their choice of suburb on the reputation of the schools. For these parents, the relationship between good schools and good neighborhoods is symbiotic. "I would not have moved to Hartsdale or Eastchester, because of the reputation of the schools," Ms. Cohen said. "We live in Scarsdale for different reasons, but one of those is the education is excellent."

In Westchester, the study found 1,074 teachers - 1 of every 9 - who made more than $100,000 in the 2003-04 school year, the most recent for which data are available. (That total excludes Yonkers, whose teachers have worked without a contract for the last two years. The state does not collect salary data in districts where salary issues remain unresolved.)

The number of six-figure base salaries tripled between 2001 and 2003; among those in that earning bracket are 223 elementary teachers, 39 kindergarten teachers and 61 physical education teachers. Base salaries do not include stipends for extra duties like coaching and directing plays, which can add thousands.

With combined step and cost-of-living increases, the median salary of a Westchester teacher who had 10 years' experience and a master's degree in 2001 had advanced 5 percent a year by 2003, a time when other salaries in the Northeast went up about 3 percent a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.



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.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

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


Wednesday, June 08, 2005


Recruiters for Colorado's state colleges are hustling to sign up current students and high school graduates as the nation's first market-oriented tuition-voucher system begins this fall. Colorado is the first state to abandon direct funding to its 13 community colleges, three state universities and six other public colleges — currently, $500 million a year — in favor of a $2,400 tuition voucher to each enrolled college student. "It's going to drive changes and force reform, which is what we want," said Richard F. O'Donnell, executive director of the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE). "Students have ownership over their tax dollars in an explicit way, which we think will motivate those changes."

About 140,000 students have already applied to the College Opportunity Fund for the $2,400 tuition vouchers for the 2005-06 academic year, Mr. O'Donnell said.
To make state colleges whole financially under the new funding system, "we need 180,000 [enrolled students]," he said. "High school seniors are now making their final decisions about college."

In the background is vibrant competition among the state's community colleges, attended by more than 117,000 students, and the state's elite four-year universities that also attract thousands of out-of-state undergraduate and graduate students. It's what locals call the "Colorado Paradox." The state ranks No. 1 nationally in the percentage of people over age 25 with college degrees — many having moved to the state to live, work and go to college. But Colorado also ranks 27th among states with just 39 percent of its own high school freshmen eventually going to college, and 41st among states for students of low-income and minority families making it to college.

The University of Colorado, with its main campus in Boulder and two other campuses in Denver and Colorado Springs, has 50,000-plus students. Colorado State University at Fort Collins and Pueblo has 25,000 students, and the Colorado School of Mines at Golden, a renowned engineering and science university, has 3,600 students.

State-directed funding to colleges and universities is "nameless, faceless," said Nancy McCallin, president of the Colorado Community College System. "Now you've got a face on all these dollars," and all colleges in the state "will increasingly have to put the focus on students, or they'll leave." Hank Brown, retired U.S. senator and the University of Colorado's incoming president, said the new financing scheme will benefit most of the state's current and potential college students "because it becomes much more apparent" that community colleges "are a more cost-effective alternative" for most Colorado residents to the larger state universities.
"Over time, bigger more prestigious universities will go with higher tuition increases" to make up funding shortfalls, Mr. Brown said. "So [the state college voucher legislation] injected some market forces that didn't exist in the past."

More here


Dan Rose, a businessman and philanthropist, recently visited China and became aware of the fact that the Chinese are now graduating 10 million high school students a year who cannot speak English, but who can read and write English. His question was, "I wonder how long it will take the Chinese, at this rate, to end up with more people who can read and write English than we have in the United States?"

Those sorts of education "miracles" are fairly easy within totalitarian systems because an unambiguous decision at the top can lead to successful practice if the necessary components are in place. Those who are not attracted to totalitarian methods in order to achieve success should take heed of what is now happening in the world of American public education, where reform is taking place against the will of the teachers union.

The United Federation of Teachers has said that No Child Left Behind is a measure that has been misapplied since it was enacted. But the recent spike in math and reading scores for states including Delaware, Ohio, Maryland, Illinois and yes, New York, says otherwise. The union is invaluable in terms of representing teachers as a labor group for collective bargaining. But the union also is the greatest enemy of public education. It has far more often than not fallen into the pit where unions can become menaces to society because quality work takes a backseat to keeping its membership employed and increasing its benefits.

What this proves, and what we must learn from the beginnings of success in this arena, is that the only way that ingrained social programs can be effectively handled is by city, state and federal government committing to measurable change. Beyond racism and class contempt, there is the ongoing problem of laziness, the presence of layabouts disguised as teachers who disgrace the profession and bring a bad name to those many serious educators whom they hide behind.

In capitalism, things change as often because of money as they do because of morality and deep thinking, so it is always smart to attach money to morality and vanguard conceptions. Then the choice of profit over deficit can bring about better results. Once the federal government made it clear that no funds would be forthcoming unless there were improvements in student performance - which meant improvements in teacher performance - things began to change.

We have now been freed from a debilitating illusion, which was that those children unfortunate enough to be born the wrong color or in the wrong class were just incapable of learning. When we get rid of that kind of hogwash, we get ever closer to realizing the potential of our richly diverse population and move closer to putting up a good fight for the world markets that places like China and India intend to take as many of as they can.

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.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

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


Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Conservatives see liberal bias in class - and mobilize

Complaints that teachers push liberal ideology are trickling down from college campuses to the K-12 level

Concerned that public schools are becoming sites of liberal indoctrination, activists have generated a wave of efforts to limit what teachers may discuss and to bring more conservative views into the classroom. After all, they say, if related campaigns can help rein in doctrinaire faculty on college campuses, why not in K-12 education as well?

Tyler Whitney, a junior at East Lansing High School in Michigan, says teachers and administrators let him circulate his newspaper, The Right Way, only after a public protest this spring and coverage of the standoff in the local news. Principal Paula Steele says the school permitted distribution of The Right Way as soon as editors deleted submissions by college students, because "we do not want to be a forum for outside speakers." Ideology, she says, was never a factor.

In class, Tyler says, he still keeps his views to himself. When a world history teacher last year characterized the Iraq war as an empire-building bid for oil, he says, "I just shook my head and went along with it because I didn't want to get a bad grade."

Students in primary and secondary schools tend to feel "intimidated," due to the "imbalance of power" in the classroom, says Gerard Balan, managing editor of "[Students] are not really going to want to rock the boat even if they disagree with what the teacher is saying." And when most of those teachers belong to unions that support Democrats, he and other activists say, the political compass tends to tilt left.

For some, the new assertiveness among parents and students is a response to restrictions at security-conscious schools. One example from the libertarian Rutherford Institute: the use of dogs in drug searches. The institute, based in Charlottesville, Va., also objects to the "uniformity and conformity" required by some schools, says president John Whitehead. It filed suit May 17 against Hudson (Mass.) High School for allegedly tearing down posters for the High School Conservative Clubs of America.

The posters, hung by senior Chris Bowler, were provocative. They touted the clubs' website, which links to footage of beheadings at the hands of Islamic extremists. The site says the images show "the true doctrines of Islam put into action." "Unfortunately, students are treated as semi-inmates in lots of schools," Mr. Whitehead says. "The problem is there aren't many people like Chris Bowler who will stand up and fight back." Hudson High School did not respond to requests for comment.

Some observers envision liberal and conservative families lining up in pursuit of separate educations. Because ideological policing of the classroom may prove impossible, support could grow for vouchers for values-driven education, says Michelle Easton, president of the conservative Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute in Herndon, Va. "Our primary approach is to promote school choice, because then parents can pick little right-wing schools, little left-wing schools, little traditional schools - whatever they want for their children," Mrs. Easton says. "Then you get the government out the business of, 'You can't do this, you can't do that.' "



There wasn't much money or structure in Faye Capers' home life while she was growing up in the projects of Texarkana, Texas in the 1950s. Both her parents were alcoholics, and they didn't have a high school education between them. But they did one thing right: They made sure Capers and her two sisters never missed a day of school. It was her teachers that made the difference in Faye Capers' life, caring not only for her education, but also for her. "That's where the light came from," she says today. "That's where my structure came from."

That light is now being shed through Capers to nearly 50 students in South Carolina. Two years ago, after a 25-year career teaching in public and private schools, she founded the academy that bears her name: the Capers Preparatory Christian Academy (CPCA) on Jones Island. The school opened its doors to just 12 students in grades 1 through 5; today, 43 first- through ninth-graders cram into a leased suite, while another 25 are on the waiting list. In founding CPCA, Capers knew she couldn't help every student. But like her own teachers, she was determined to help those who needed it. And if that meant a little extra something from her ... well, that was fine. That's what she does, because that's what her teachers did for her. It was Capers' teachers who inspired her to get out of bed when she was their student, and over the next three decades their inspiration helped her earn a bachelor's degree, two masters degrees, and an Ed.S. She will receive her Ph.D. in educational leadership this fall.

After high school, Capers' teachers helped her get a scholarship to a small college in Dallas. Four years later she had a B.A. in business and moved to South Carolina, where she worked in an accounting office. But Capers knew she wanted to instill the same light in children as her teachers had instilled in her. So she enrolled in an education program and began teaching at an elementary school in Charleston in 1979. For the past 25 years, she has taught in various elementary and middle schools throughout the Charleston area. The longer she has taught, Capers says now, the more she understands how individualized education needs to be. Classroom sizes fluctuate, with no concern for how that fluctuation might affect students. Because bureaucrats and elected officials dictate curriculum in public schools, she and her colleagues had little control over how long they could dwell on a given subject. With all this rigidity, she says, "a child could easily fall through the cracks." Having spent all that time in the classroom, both as a graduate student and as a schoolteacher, Capers was determined to prove that something could be done to end the academic failure that claims so many students.

When Capers opened CPCA, some of her students were failing in public schools; others struggled with behavior problems. One student had been suspended 27 times before coming to CPCA. To help identify their needs, each student takes diagnostic tests in reading, writing. and math. For Capers, the most important part of the admission process is the personal interview, where she watches the student's eyes and body language, to see whether he or she really wants to be at CPCA. "I can help them," she says. "I want someone that wants to be here. They have a choice. And when they come, they know this is where they are wanted. "And I know this is where they want to be."



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.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

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


Monday, June 06, 2005

Harvard’s Diversity Grovel

In earmarking $50 million for “diversity,” President Summers is throwing away more than money

Harvard University has just pledged $50 million for faculty “diversity” efforts, penance for President Lawrence Summers’s public mention of sex differences in cognition. The university would have been better off hiring a top-notch conjuror, since only magic could produce a trove of previously undiscovered female and minority academic stars suitable for tenuring.

Even Harvard’s bottomless resources cannot buy a miracle, however. So instead of a magician, the university has brought forth the next best thing: a report on “diversity” that, like all such products, possesses the power of shutting down every critical faculty in seemingly intelligent people. For connoisseurs of diversity claptrap, Harvard’s just released “Report of the Task Force on Women Faculty” is a thing of beauty, a peerless example of the destruction of higher learning by identity politics. Because the report will undoubtedly serve as the template for future diversity scams in colleges across the country, it’s worth studying....

Every such “diversity” initiative immediately faces two major obstacles. First, its purpose is to recommend the identical set of actions that the institution, whether academic or corporate, has already been doing. Every college in the country has been frantically pursing “diversity” in hiring and admissions for decades. The task force itself commends the diversity policies of 17 rival colleges—the mere tip of the iceberg—without drawing the obvious conclusion.

The second obstacle follows from the first: there is nothing more that can be done. If untapped pools of highly qualified female and minority candidates existed out there, schools would have snapped them up long ago—if not your college, then its dozens of competitors, just as desperate to placate the quota gods. (The one course of action that might, in the case of black and Hispanic faculty recruitment, bear long-term results is the one that elite college personnel are least likely to choose: intensive mentoring of young students and the jettisoning of all “progressive” pedagogy in the schools.)

Just how repetitive is Harvard’s latest “diversity” push? I asked Harvard spokesman Sarah Friedell if the university had not already been paying considerable attention to “diversity.” She happily trumpeted the school’s efforts. “I will tell you,” she said, “huge attention is paid to diversity in terms of recruiting students and faculty. It is enormously important.” A former top administrator seconded her claims. “The annual numbers of tenure offers to women are etched into my soul,” he said. “Everyone thought about it all the time.” Indeed, the task force report itself alludes to Harvard’s numerous existing efforts to recruit women faculty, from an affirmative action slush fund to a universal drive, at each of Harvard’s faculties and schools, to “retain and promote larger numbers of women faculty.”

By now, however, crafty diversocrats have developed a host of strategies to cover up the essential meaninglessness of their existence.... So your latest diversity effort mimics everything that your institution has been doing for years? No problem! Just play Let’s Pretend: “Let’s pretend that we’ve never had a diversity initiative at our college and that this current proposal to hire more women and minority faculty represents a radical new take on college governance.” Thus, President Summers greeted the report’s release with the sonorous tones that a proposal to end tenure, say, might elicit: “Because [these recommendations] address fundamental issues about the way we conduct our core academic business, they have the power to make Harvard not only more welcoming and diverse, but a stronger and more excellent university overall.” You would think that an economist would know something about diminishing returns....

The only new hires that diversity initiatives generate are in college administrations, already overloaded with sinecures. The Harvard task force demands the creation of a most remarkable new position, a Senior Vice Provost for Diversity and Faculty Development. The provost’s office, mind you, is very high up in the administrative chain—directly beneath the president, in fact—and it is responsible for all aspects of Harvard’s academic life. Within that empyrean realm, the new Senior Vice Provost for Diversity and Faculty Development will occupy a “singular and permanent position,” dictates the task force. The Senior VP for D will sit with the president, the provost, and the deans of faculties on Harvard’s academic advisory group. And just in case the lesser functionaries in the provost’s office still don’t appreciate the exalted status of the new Senior VP for D, the task force provides that “she” (the report’s choice of words) “be given priority in terms of office space.” So much for non-hierarchical, anti-patriarchal collaborative sharing of collective resources. Naturally, the Senior VP for D will “also be supported by a group of dedicated staff.” .....

Diversocrats possess a primitive belief in the totemic power of words. If you can rename something, you have changed its essence. Harvard has already been obsessively compiling data on gender and race: the task force easily obtained faculty data from 1990 to 2005 by rank and gender—and within gender, by race. But the task force renames those data “metrics” and—poof!—it has proposed something new. Collect diversity data? That’s what Harvard did before May 16, 2005, when the task force released its report. After May 16, 2005, it will embark into the uncharted territory of compiling “metrics,” proving that now it’s really doing something about “diversity.”

The task force could have mentioned one more unintended consequence to affirmative action slush funds: peer resentment. A top Harvard science professor says that the preferences given to women and minority scientists in lab-space allocation and other perks do not always make for happy collegial relations. But any resentment that might emerge will just be more fuel for the diversity machine. Pursuant to the task force recommendations, Harvard is busily planning “climate surveys” of faculty to see whether women and minority professors feel “personally safe, listened to, valued.” Ordinarily, one could attribute the suggestion that there might be even a single professor in the warm, fuzzy cocoon of Harvard who does not feel “personally safe” to “diversity’s” solipsistic bathos. But just maybe, if your white male colleagues are grumbling behind your back about your unusual access to the Quadrupole Ion Trap Mass Spectrometer, your new computers, and your troop of lab assistants, you can begin to make out a case, however far-fetched, of not feeling “personally safe.”....

And what does $50 million buy you? This astounding sum, offered by Lawrence Summers as a down payment on his absolution for mentioning the science of sex differences, comes without any explanation as to how he arrived at it or what it will purchase. One would hope that the Senior VP for D, whatever her exalted position and her bevy of dedicated helpers in the provost’s office, doesn’t come near to costing that amount. Given that Harvard and its competitors across the country have already beaten the bushes for years for “diversity” candidates, even $500 million would seem unlikely to produce any major change in Harvard’s “diversity” profile.....

Hiring quotas (Harvard will call them “goals”) might also plausibly have a justification if widespread discrimination prevented qualified women from getting hired, just as construction unions kept out blacks in the 1960s. By imposing such “goals” on itself (enforced by the Senior VP for D’s “metrics”), Harvard is implicitly labeling itself a discriminator of this magnitude. And indeed, in a February 17, 2005, letter to the faculty, Summers took the sexist guilt of his university (and the world) onto his shoulders. “My January remarks,” he wrote, “substantially understated . . . discrimination [against women], including . . . patterns of thought to which all of us are unconsciously subject.” The paradox of an institution simultaneously dedicating $50 million to bringing in more women faculty while declaring itself resistant to women seems entirely lost on the task force. It would be interesting to know which science departments in particular Summers thinks suffer from unconscious bias—presumably, any department without parity of male to female professors.

And that leads to the final inconvenient question: Just how much are you willing to lower your standards to achieve “diversity?” If more women and minority faculty could be had who met Harvard’s standards for Caucasian and Asian males, the university would have hired them years ago. The only way it will achieve increased female and race “diversity” in the foreseeable future is to set a lower standard for female and minority hires. And this President Summers seems prepared to do.

The deconstruction of objective standards into race and gender politics is common throughout the humanities. If Summers acts on his embrace of deconstructive relativism—he called on February 15 for “rethinking our assumptions in [such] areas [as ‘excellence’]”—standards in science will be the next to go. Any department that claims that it cannot find qualified candidates to meet the Senior VP for D’s “metrics” could face the charge that it is using white male “concepts of excellence.” Thank you very much, but I think I’ll stick with those “concepts” in the interest of ensuring that my medicine works and the airplane I’m using stays in the air....

The aristocratic ease with which Harvard has just dumped $50 million down a bureaucratic sinkhole tells you all you need to know about why attending Harvard for eight months costs more than most families earn in a year. Eventually, students and parents may start asking why anyone would want to.

More here


It is graduation season again. Last month, my wife and I happily participated in this privilege by observing our last child graduate from one of California's state universities. Because our daughter is African American, we had the dubious honor of attending two ceremonies — one for African Americans only, and then the next day, one for the general population of graduates. This was our third child to graduate from college, and all three universities — two in California and one in Washington — had these twin exercises.

Personally, I no longer see the need for two graduation ceremonies for the same individuals. I am not so naive that I do not know the original purpose of these "extra" affairs, but I feel that their usefulness has expired. To some, it is questionable if they were ever necessary. During the civil rights era of the 1960s and early 1970s, many minority educators felt these special programs were needed for the morale and well-being of many minority students. Forty years ago, there was a belief in some minority communities that minorities were totally neglected and often not treated fairly in white-dominated colleges and universities. There was a strong belief that school administrators could not care less if these students passed, failed or graduated. Consequently, ethnic specific programs and activities were instituted to make college life more appealing to minority students.

These graduation ceremonies were generally smaller in size and designed to publicly recognize minority students for their academic achievements and to give these students an added sense of pride, importance and belonging — something that may have been absent from the general graduation exercise. In the black community, it was an extension of the "I'm black and I'm proud" theme. However, many changes have occurred in our universities. Minority students are not only represented in much higher numbers on campuses, they also are much more involved in college life and student activities.

Further, minority students are now publicly acknowledged for their accomplishments at graduations like other students. At the African American graduation ceremony I recently attended, the young man acknowledged as "Man of the Year" also received this award in the general graduation exercise.

Not only are these "special" ceremonies obsolete, they are divisive. They promote further separatism and segregation. Should white students have their own private graduation exercise? I don't think most people would appreciate that. Minorities would be the first to label it racist. Would we like to terminate the general graduation programs and let every group have a private ceremony? I don't think that we want this either.

In the general public graduation exercise my wife and I attended, the black and Latino students wore special sashes, which they had received at "their" ceremonies. Could we handle whites having their own "sashes"? The days of "white only" have ended. Great! However, shouldn't the same be true for "black only," "Latino only," "Asian only," etc.?

When we speak of a nation striving for "integration" and "diversity," what does this mean? Are these terms only to apply to some groups and not to others? As we seek freedom and become freer, we segregate more and become more exclusive.

At the African American-only graduation exercise, one of the speakers, after charging the students to be successful in life, concluded by saying, "After all, we are not the racists; they are." I would like to know who "they" are and who "we" are. I think "we" have become "they."



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.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

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


Sunday, June 05, 2005


Ten school districts statewide and three nonprofit organizations filed a lawsuit against the state Wednesday for allegedly testing non-English-speaking students in English and then labeling them and their schools as "failing" under the state's implementation of the federal No Child Left Behind law. The lawsuit, filed in federal Superior Court in San Francisco, demands that the state test its 1.6 million non-English-speaking students in a "language and form" they understand, as mandated in the federal education reform law.

The lawsuit is asking the state to change the way it tests students who do not yet understand English, said Mary Hernandez, an attorney with the Southern California-based law firm Burke, Williams & Sorensen, lawyers for the plaintiffs. "We are asking that the state comply with federal law by testing students in the language and the form that will most likely yield accurate results on what they know and what they've learned," Hernandez said during a telephone press conference out of Los Angeles on Wednesday.

No North County school districts are listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, although Hernandez said the lawsuit represents students statewide and that the outcome of the lawsuit could affect how all school districts gauge skills among thousands of beginner-English students. Several local officials said they had not reviewed the lawsuit and declined to comment. Several others could not be reached.

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 requires schools to show improvement in test scores in all subcategories of students or be labeled as "failing" and subject to sanctions that include forced student transfers, tutoring, and, in extreme cases, government takeovers.

Officials with the four firms involved with the lawsuit said the federal mandate also allows states to test English learners in their primary languages for three to five years after they enroll in schools in the United States, they said.

Spanish is the primary language for 85 percent of California¡s English-learner students. Even so, California requires that all students be tested in English only and has steadfastly refused to reword the tests for English learners to make them easier to understand.

In North County, some school districts, such as Oceanside Unified and Escondido Union, have roughly half of their students enrolled in beginner-English courses.

Currently, those students who do not fully understand English are handed standardized tests in English. Some schools and districts are facing costly federal sanctions because too many students are "falling behind" in academic standards," advocates said. "As a result, thousands of (non-native English-speaking) children are left behind because they cannot demonstrate what they know (on English tests)," Hernandez said.

California's English-only testing system is different from practices in place in 14 states, including Texas, New Mexico and New York, which test students in a language they understand, according to a press statement from four law firms involved in the lawsuit.

The state's take on No Child Left Behind is a violation of both the law and the civil rights for non-English-speaking students, the lawsuit states. The state is also charged with wasting taxpayer money by testing students in a language they do not yet understand, the suit also states.

More here


Faced with the difficult task of reviving California's ailing education system, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has turned to perhaps the most controversial reformer in the state - a prosecutor-turned-schools-superintendent whose battles with parents and teachers have divided this city. Critics say that Alan Bersin, one of several outsiders appointed to superintendent positions nationwide in the late 1990s, sapped morale by ignoring his employees and making teacher education a top priority. But supporters, including the local business community, applauded his efforts to bring radical change to one of the nation's largest school districts.

Now Mr. Bersin is heading to a much larger stage. As Mr. Schwarzenegger's education secretary, the Brooklyn native and former Harvard University football player will take on a bully pulpit in a capital roiled by the governor's new brand of politics. Bersin "is probably going to make things even more lively than they have been," says Julian Betts, a professor of economics at the University of California at San Diego who specializes in education issues. "He will not be a wallflower in Sacramento."

The new job will certainly test Bersin's diplomatic skills. He will be taking over an education reform agenda for the governor that is both ambitious and controversial. In San Diego, Bersin didn't have a record of building harmony. Opposing sides warred over his reforms from the moment he took over the school district of more than 140,000 students in 1998. At the outset, teachers complained about the appointment of a noneducator to the superintendent position. Bersin had been serving as US attorney for California's Southern District, a post he was appointed to in 1993 by Bill Clinton, an old Yale Law School buddy. Both Mr. Clinton and Bersin were Rhodes Scholars and attended Oxford University in Britain.

As Bersin's tenure began, union officials balked when he began hiring consultants to educate teachers about better ways to teach subjects like reading. "He blamed teachers for any failure in student achievement and in the school," says Terry Pesta, president of the San Diego teachers union. "He came in and pretty much said that everything had to change, no one was doing it right. It was his way or the highway." Bersin gained a reputation as a staunch advocate of change, unwilling to back down even as the local school board dissolved into acrimony over his reforms. Still, he was hardly without support. Some observers agree that teachers need to be more willing to adopt new approaches to education. "Professional development and teacher learning are absolutely crucial to the success of schools," says Paula Cordeiro, an education dean at the University of San Diego. "There's hardly a week goes by that I'm not reading a study about how to do a better job of teaching a kid from Korea how to speak English. But this is not an idea that's found in the majority of districts in the United States. They have a notion that once a person is prepared, they go into a district, they teach, that's the end."

She thinks his blunt style was a key reason teachers rebelled at his calls for more professional development. "But I honestly believe that no matter how carefully it had been packaged, there would have been great resistance," she adds. "It's a sea change for some people in my profession." The merits of Bersin's reforms draw just as much debate as the way they were implemented. Mr. Pesta, the union chief, says that while some test scores rose during his tenure, others remain "abysmal." Mr. Betts, the economics professor, has a brighter view. "The growing consensus is that his reforms really did boost reading achievement in elementary schools. But it's less clear that there were similar gains elsewhere."

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.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

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