Saturday, June 25, 2005


The theories underlying the school's methods are pretty wacky and mystical but that ensures heavy committment to the process by both parents and teachers. And teacher enthusiasm and committment will make almost any system work. So such schools are probably a good thing on balance. But it should be parents deciding that -- not the government

The Sacramento County Office of Education has challenged the "unique" approach to teaching by a Sacramento City Unified school, raising questions about whether unconventional educational methods can fit into a public school system increasingly shaped by state and federal testing programs. The Sacramento City Unified School District put Waldorf teaching methods in place at John Morse school in south Sacramento in 1998, and the district now has before it a plan to create a small high school dedicated to that same educational philosophy. Waldorf's approach is built on theories that say students should begin their education with play and imagination, and build into academic training in later grades. Waldorf schools incorporate music, art and movement into teaching. Students begin learning to read by listening to stories and acting them out - and don't actually start working with letters and sounds until the middle of first grade.

But in a scathing three-page letter to the Sacramento City Unified School District, county education officials say the "unique curriculum and educational philosophy" at John Morse have put it in direct conflict with state laws that dictate how, when and what public-school children learn. John Morse school "provides limited access to textbooks in the early grades and does not use the instructional materials otherwise adopted by the local governing board," county Superintendent David Gordon wrote after a team from his office audited the school. Textbooks required by law were lacking in almost every grade and almost every subject, Gordon said.

And the school teaches California's academic standards at a different pace than the state requires - more than half the state's English standards for kindergarten are not addressed at John Morse until first or second grade, Gordon found. Several standards for fourth grade are not taught until seventh grade. The pattern is evident at each grade.....

The school's principal argues that making John Morse more like most public schools - with a heavy focus on math and reading - would take away the reason parents choose it. "Nobody has ever questioned the issue of whether textbooks are the most effective method of instruction," Principal Cheryl Eining said. "Having spent 30 years in public education, I've seen a lot of children who had textbooks and were still not learning." ....

John Morse is not a charter school. But most public Waldorf schools in California are - about 17 Waldorf charters operate around the state. Maria Lopez, Sacramento City spokeswoman, said the district has not considered transforming John Morse into a charter because parents have not requested it. The district first embraced Waldorf 10 years ago by creating a program at Oak Ridge Elementary School. Some parents objected, saying it was too unorthodox and focused too much on myths and spirituality. It was moved to John Morse in 1998.

The question of whether Waldorf education contains a religious element has not gone away. Sacramento City Unified faces a September trial in federal court defending public funding of Waldorf schools against allegations that the program is religious.

Central to the educational approach formed in 1919 by Rudolf Steiner is the idea that students should not learn academic skills before they are neurologically ready, said Betty Staley, who taught in Waldorf schools for 25 years and now instructs teachers in the method at Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks. "We're interested in children being healthy and loving learning," she said. "How we determine which skills should be taught at which age is based on developmental psychology."

Staley said Waldorf students ease into academics in the early grades but face a rigorous program by the time they reach middle and high school. That pattern is clear in test scores at John Morse. In math and English, Morse students score below their peers in Sacramento City Unified and statewide in second and third grade. But by fifth grade, they outperform them in reading and by sixth grade are ahead of other students in math.

More here

Almost 10,000 pupils expelled as violence against teachers escalates in dysfunctional British schools

Expulsions from schools are running at their highest for five years, government figures showed yesterday. Violence and threats against pupils and teachers accounted for almost half of the 9,880 expulsions last year, the Department for Education and Skills reported. Assaults also resulted in 85,000 suspensions from school in 2003-04. In all, 200,000 pupils were issued with 344,510 suspensions, with a hard core of 1,500 youngsters receiving at least eight each.

Ministers asked schools for the first time this year to say why they had excluded children. Persistent disruptive behaviour was given as the biggest single reason, leading to 3,040 expulsions and almost 91,000 suspensions. Attacks on pupils led to 1,720 expulsions and 69,020 suspensions. Assaults on adults also caused heads to exclude pupils in 17,000 cases. Verbal abuse and threatening behaviour by pupils resulted in 1,500 expulsions and 89,000 suspensions. Bullying led to 150 children being expelled and 6,750 suspended. Drug and alcohol-related incidents led to 610 expulsions, 6 per cent of the total, and 12,250 suspensions. Schools expelled 140 children for sexual misconduct and issued 3,080 suspensions.

The 6 per cent increase in overall expulsions comes at a time of heightened concern among parents and teachers about unruly behaviour. A government task force set up by Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, to recommend ways of strengthening discipline met for the first time this week. Jacqui Smith, the School Standards Minister, said that there was no doubt that behaviour was causing concern in some schools. The Government was committed to a “zero-tolerance approach . . . on everything from backchat to bullying or violence”.

More here


The nation needs to "move toward another kind of affirmative action, one in which the emphasis is on opportunity and the goal is educational equity in the broadest possible sense," said Richard Atkinson, president emeritus of the University of California (UC) system, as he delivered the third annual Nancy Cantor Lecture on Intellectual Diversity May 18 in Rackham Auditorium...

Atkinson described ways in which UC responded to both the resolution by its board of regents in 1995 banning affirmative action in admissions, and Proposition 209 that outlawed its use in employment.

In its effort to maintain a diverse student community, UC reoriented outreach programs once targeted for underrepresented minorities to focus on low-performing high schools in order to qualify more African American, Latino and Native American students who are disproportionately represented in those schools; changed standardized admission test requirements to shift emphasis from aptitude tests to achievement tests; instituted comprehensive review of admissions applications; created a new path to admissions called Eligibility in Local Context, which made the top-performing 4 percent of each high school eligible for UC; and expanded transfer programs from community colleges.

There have been some positive results from these efforts, Atkinson reported. For instance, the percentage of underrepresented minorities in the UC system has begun to recover from a low point after the passage of Proposition 209.

"We have also increased the number and proportion of students from low-performing high schools, and the use of comprehensive review has created an admissions process that is fairer to students. Yet, if we look at enrollment overall, racial and ethnic diversity at the University of California is in great trouble," Atkinson said. "In 1995, UC Berkeley and UCLA enrolled 469 African Americans in a combined freshman class of 7,100. In 2004, the number was 218 out of 7,350.

"Despite enormous efforts, we have failed badly to achieve the goal of a student body that encompasses California's diverse population."

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 24, 2005

California: Just Say No to Educational Failure

The teachers are better at thuggery than they are at teaching -- not that that's saying much

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently gave a fifteen minute commencement address to the graduates of Santa Monica College. He was forced to do so over the noise emanating from hundreds of protestors, an event which purportedly caused him to turn red and which has been amply covered by the news in recent days. Another protest against Schwarzenegger took place last March in San Jose; that one was attended primarily by students of East San Jose high schools. Organizers had to keep asking the students to step back. One woman irately screamed in response, "We've taken too many steps back!" Around the early part of June, one more near-riot against Schwarzenegger took place in the Silicon Valley. The union leaders who organized this particular event had to escort a limousine out of a crowd that was attempting to tip it over. (The crowd's hope was that the governor was inside; he was not).

The violence erupting in California today is reminiscent of the fascist squadrismo violence imposed on Italy during the early part of the 1920's. Led by local fascist leaders known as "ras" (after the Ethiopian word for chieftain), squadrismo sought to bring about political change through political violence and turmoil. In California, chieftains known as "teachers" and "union leaders" are attempting to mirror the Italians' highly effective methods of enacting "social justice."

The offending act of the governor is his backing of three ballot initiatives that call for imposing a cap on state spending, stripping lawmakers of the power to draw their own districts and increasing the time it takes teachers to gain tenure. Unfortunately, teachers in California are so incompetent that they can't get jobs in other fields or industries. They're forced to teach. Their livelihoods are dependent upon how much the government will pay them, and how quickly it will do so. Therefore, they see any proposal that limits their ability to quickly and effectively soak up tax dollars as an offense against humanity.

Currently, about half of California's budget, or $50 billion of $100 billion dollars, is consumed by education in the state. That's more than the entire operating budget of each of the forty-nine other states, including New York. Obviously, it's not enough. As Peter Schrag wrote for the Sacramento Bee, "Given California's substandard school funding, the Democrats' soak-the-rich tax increase proposal for education is amply justified and easily affordable for people who've just gotten the biggest federal tax cuts in history."

Another article, written by Raj Jayadev for AlterNet, reported on the actions of protesters at one demonstration: "First in Spanish, then in English to accommodate non-Hispanic union members, [protestors] stood shoulder to shoulder, chanting to the governor, `Nobody likes you!' It's a line usually aimed at the school bully; in this case, it was aimed at California's governor." Evidently, the union members and teachers who lead these demonstrations are no more mature than school-aged children who taunt each other. And it's a fact they tout with pride.

What are students getting out of all California's current funding, anyway? According to data from 2004, less than half of California students are proficient in English-language arts or math. Just 30% of third-graders were proficient in English, down 3 points from 2003. Only 35% of sixth-graders were proficient in math, up 1 point from 2003. Tenth-graders in 2004 also took the state's high school exit exam of English and math, a graduation requirement for the class of 2006. Seventy-five percent of them passed the English portion and 74% passed the math. (Why the astounding success, you may ask? It's because the test only covers up to 8th grade math and 10th grade English. Thankfully for the 26% who did not pass the exam, students who fail the first time have five more chances to pass between their sophomore and senior years.)

For the good job they're doing, teachers expect more. In St. Helena, for example, teachers are demanding a 6 percent salary increase in 2005-06. The district is only offering 2.5 percent, plus the possibility of another 2 percent.

California is proving what we already know; there is no correlation between funding and output. Paying teachers more "because they deserve it" is not an incentive to become more effective at their jobs.

Of course, incompetent teachers can't account for the entire problem. More than 1.3 million students had to take the annual administration of the California English Language Development Test (CELDT) in 2004. Only 47% of those who took it passed. That may not sound very good, but considering only 25% passed in 2001, it's a great success by the standards of California's educational bureaucracy. Foreigners who don't speak English and other such minor issues can be seen as complementing the educational dilemma.

California taxpayers have been markedly generous to their failed education establishment. Until someone gets around to actually making it work, it doesn't deserve more funding. One should never expect Californians to make good decisions regarding government, of course; but their schools will continue to serve as an example of socialist idealism at its worst.



If high per-pupil spending and widespread underachievement are two of the qualities that make a school system an ideal testing ground for vouchers, then Paterson, New Jersey and Baltimore, Maryland are two prime candidates, according to a pair of recently released studies. State Control of Schools Has Failed to Help Paterson, New Jersey Children: Why Not Choice Instead? by Don Soifer and Robert Holland of the Lexington Institute, and A School Voucher Program for Baltimore City by Dan Lips of the Maryland Public Policy Institute show how vouchers could help solve problems in the two towns.

In 1988, New Jersey became the first state to authorize its department of education to take control of failing local schools, Soifer and Holland note. Currently, the state is managing three school districts: Jersey City (since 1989), Paterson (since 1991), and Newark (since 1995). They are three districts that Derrell Bradford, deputy director of New Jersey's Excellent Education for Everyone (E3), describes as a collective "train wreck." "The people who run it know it's a business," Bradford said of the government schools. "It's a hugely unaccountable business that gets bigger and bigger and more powerful at the expense of the people who ultimately fund it and the kids."

In Paterson, the school district is 55 percent Hispanic, 37 percent African-American, 5 percent white, and 2 percent Asian. "Well over half of Hispanic students in many Paterson public schools are failing to reach proficiency in English and math, as shown by testing required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB)," the authors write. Being run by the state apparently hasn't helped Paterson's students. The authors note, "while the state standard as part of the No Child Left Behind Act is for 68 percent of students to test at or above proficiency, only a little more than one-third of black children [in Paterson] reached that mark."

High school graduation rates also were found to be lagging in Paterson. At East Side High School, the 2003 graduation rate was 58.5 percent--30 points below the state average. The graduation rate in Paterson, as well as in the other state-controlled school districts, is even worse than the study indicates, Bradford said, thanks to New Jersey's alternative diploma program, known as the Special Review Assessment (SRA). If a student fails the state high school proficiency exam three times, he or she can take the much-easier SRA exam to get a diploma, Bradford said. Forty-two percent of one Paterson high school's graduating class obtained their diplomas through the SRA. Soifer thought school choice would work particularly well in Paterson because per-pupil spending is already high ($12,603 in 2002-03, 10 percent above the state average) and because of its proximity to nearby public school districts as well as a diverse selection of nearby private schools.

In March 1996, Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke called for "dramatic" reform in the Baltimore school system and formed a task force to study "widespread choice among public schools or offering vouchers for private schools." Eight months later, the task force issued its final report. While its recommendations fell short of calling for private school vouchers, it did call for public school choice and legislation to create charter schools that would operate independently of Baltimore's school board, according to Lips' study.

Almost nine years later, no action has been taken on the Schmoke task force recommendations. Parents still have "no real school choice" in Baltimore, Lips concludes. The study identified the Baltimore school system's student academic achievement as its "first and most acute" problem. "The sad reality is that by the time a student reaches the tenth grade, he or she is only half as likely to be proficient in reading on the [Maryland State Assessment] if he or she lives in Baltimore City versus Baltimore County or elsewhere in the state," Lips writes. Baltimore is the nation's 17th largest city overall and has the seventh largest black population, said Leon Tucker, director of communications at the Black Alliance for Educational Options. "I think it's a much different conversation when you look at some of the demographics of Baltimore, and when you talk about the level of crisis in the city, you can't have this discussion without looking at the fact that the Baltimore school system is overwhelmingly black," he said. "Baltimore never did a good job of educating black children," Tucker pointed out. "It was just never a priority." The study links Baltimore's low adult literacy rate, low workforce participation, large low-income population, and declining overall population to the inadequacies of its public school system.

"Policymakers considering implementing a school voucher program for Baltimore should look to the long-running programs in Cleveland and Milwaukee, and the pilot program that began in Washington, DC in 2004 as useful examples," Lips wrote. "A growing body of research also suggests that school choice programs have a positive impact on student achievement," Lips noted. "For example, a study conducted by researchers from Harvard and Georgetown universities and the University of Wisconsin released in 2001 found that African-American students receiving private scholarships in Ohio, New York, and Washington, DC scored significantly higher than their peers who remained in public schools."

Tucker agrees with Lips that vouchers could help turn life around for Baltimore students over the next decade. "School choice in Baltimore is a way to provide hope to not only the parents and students," Tucker said, "but also educators who don't have hope."



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 23, 2005


Imagine opening your newspaper one morning and reading a Supreme Court opinion that puts a startling new twist on an old civil rights tactic. The Court declares that some prominent university has violated equal opportunity laws by "engaging in a pattern of employment discrimination...against Republicans and Christian conservatives. Of the university's 1,828 professors, there are only eight Republicans and five Christian conservatives. Such statistical evidence of gross political and ideological imbalance has been taken as a telltale sign of purposeful discrimination in many previous civil rights cases. In this case as well it provides prima facie evidence that individual rights are being systematically violated on arbitrary grounds. Justice demands compensatory action to protect the rights of these groups."

Is this a right-wing pipe dream? It may not be as far-fetched as you think. The Supreme Court has already issued opinions using virtually those same words--only the opinions refer to "underrepresented" racial minorities rather than beleaguered Republicans and Christian conservatives. The simple legal logic underlying much of contemporary civil rights law applies equally to conservative Republicans, who appear to face clear practices of discrimination in American academia that are statistically even starker than previous blackballings by race.

For years, conservatives have complained that universities dominated by left-wing administrators and faculties consistently avoid hiring or tenuring academics with conservative views. Anecdotal evidence of such discrimination abounds. Take John Lott, author of More Guns, Less Crime, an influential and bestselling book published by the University of Chicago Press. At only 26, Lott received his Ph.D. from UCLA and five years later became chief economist at the United States Sentencing Commission. He has published over 70 scholarly articles, a number that even the most prolific professors rarely match in their entire careers.

Yet Lott has failed to receive a single offer for a tenure-track position from any American university, despite sending his résumé to literally hundreds of schools. He instead became an itinerant academic clinging to one-year research fellowships at various institutions. Last year, he found a home as a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Would Lott have been snubbed by the academic world had his research on guns yielded opposite, more politically correct results? Not a chance.

Peter Berkowitz, then an associate professor of political philosophy at Harvard, was denied tenure even though he had authored two critically acclaimed books. The five-member tenure committee, for instance, was suspiciously stacked with two child psychologists, who are presumably more familiar with Saint Nicholas than Saint Thomas Aquinas and other subjects within Berkowitz's expertise.

Despite many such examples--plus obvious evidence from campus culture, politics, and daily practice demonstrating that colleges can be hostile environments for people with conservative views--there was until recently no hard, empirical proof of pervasive left-wing bias in our academies. That has changed. As the data arrayed on the preceding pages illustrate, American universities are demonstrably monotone one-party states where only one set of views flourishes. At prominent colleges across the country, the vast majority of professors are committed liberals. Many humanities and social science departments at leading universities do not have so much as a single registered Republican among their ranks. These stark statistics do more than just confirm what conservatives have always suspected. They potentially may allow Republicans to pursue legal action against universities by using the logic and law of the civil rights movement.

Over the past few decades, studies that show statistical under-representation of minorities have become the cornerstone of civil rights litigation. Plaintiffs invariably cite statistical disparities in work forces, bank loans, arrest rates, application acceptances, housing ownership, and scores of other measures as proof of discrimination. Courts were not always receptive to such statistical claims. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 explicitly stated that it did not require the work force to mirror the general population. LBJ's Justice Department assured skeptics that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would be used only to combat intentional discrimination against individual members of minority groups, not ever to force numerical "racial balance." But as with so many other laws, administrative agencies and courts gradually transformed the plain language of the statute to mean something very different.

In two landmark decisions in the 1970s, the Supreme Court made it considerably easier for plaintiffs to prove discrimination with simple numbers. First, in International Brotherhood of Teamsters v. United States, it allowed plaintiffs to claim "disparate treatment"--that is, intentional discrimination--when statistics showed an under-representation of minorities. While cautioning against relying solely on statistics, the Supreme Court stressed that they are "in many cases the only available uncover clandestine and covert discrimination by the employer.... It is ordinarily expected that nondiscriminatory hiring practices will in time result in a work force more or less representative of the racial and ethnic composition of the population in the community from which employees are hired." Though commentators like Thomas Sowell pointed out that the Court's reasoning is questionable--many variables other than discrimination can account for representational disparities-- this thinking has become an established part of the civil rights legal firmament.

In addition to this "disparate treatment" theory of discrimination, the Supreme Court also accepted the novel notion of "disparate impact" in Griggs v. Duke Power Company. According to this theory, even a neutral hiring practice or procedure can be found discriminatory if it results in a disproportionate impact on minority groups. The plaintiff in a disparate impact case need not even allege that the employer has a biased bone in his body. Evidence that minorities are adversely affected by any policy may be sufficient to hold the employer liable for discrimination.

Civil rights groups have challenged the use of standardized tests on these grounds, claiming that since minority students score lower on the SAT it is biased by definition. Laws and enforcement practices that lead to heavy minority arrests are similarly attacked. The legal logic of disparate impact has seeped right down into our everyday political parlance: Activists constantly use this civil rights language to force political changes. Fatimah Jackson, a professor of anthropology at the University of Maryland, recently complained that human genome research disproportionately and "opportunistically" benefits whites at the expense of minorities, because most of the genes in the study come from Caucasians.

By simple logic, both disparate treatment and disparate impact theories support a legal case against universities for discriminating against conservative Republicans. Republican academics might protest their lot using disparate impact logic that points to a particular hiring practice or procedure that adversely affects members of the GOP. If a school department relies heavily on the number of articles published in left-leaning journals in hiring professors, Republicans might argue that such a practice disproportionately hurts conservatives whose works are rarely accepted by the left-wing press.

The disparate treatment alternative is even more obvious. The gross under-representation of conservatives in university faculties lends credence to the view that schools have in plain fact discriminated against Republican academics. As the Supreme Court suggested in International Brotherhood, one would expect university faculties to reflect the political and ideological composition of the larger populace, and roughly as many Americans identify themselves as Republicans as Democrats.

Students at Harvard Law School sued the school in the early 1990s with the help of civil rights activists because it had only five black professors of 66 total faculty members. "For years, students have petitioned Harvard Law School to end its discriminatory practices and to make serious commitments toward creating a diverse faculty," one student member of the Harvard Law School Coalition for Civil Rights explained. "We have negotiated. We have protested. We have taken to the streets. Today, we take Harvard to court." If minority professors at Harvard Law School are under-represented in relation to the general population, then Republican professors at places like Harvard are a nearly extinct species.

While these potential legal actions may seem like a logical extension of civil rights precedents, there are several significant hurdles that would hamper such lawsuits. First, Republican academics could not pursue a discrimination lawsuit under federal law because the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not outline political affiliation as a protected status. Some states and localities, however, have extended civil rights protection to party membership. The District of Columbia, for instance, bars discrimination on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, or political affiliation.

Second, under both disparate treatment and disparate impact theories, the employer is at least in theory entitled to explain away the inference of discrimination, though the employee has an opportunity to rebut the employer's explanation as a mere pretext for discriminating. Third, political party affiliation is not always the most accurate proxy for ideology. Some Republicans, like New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, hold views to the left of many Democrats. Finally, courts in recent years have slowly swung the pendulum back against innovative extensions of civil rights law, making it more difficult for plaintiffs to pursue discrimination lawsuits.

Yet even if Republicans fail in courts of law, they can triumph in the court of public opinion by establishing the parallel between discrimination by ideology and bias directed toward race or sex. This reality is shrewdly grasped by operators like Jesse Jackson, who regularly bludgeons opponents with the specter of exorbitant legal fees, a potential lawsuit loss, and heaps of negative publicity unless they cave in to his demands, even if the lawsuit itself appears to have little merit. After MCI and WorldCom announced their merger some years ago, the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition filed objections to the merger with federal regulators, and Jackson accused the companies of displaying "distaste for black labor." Although Jackson's complaint was highly frivolous in substantive and legal terms, the companies appeased his demands rather than risk negative publicity.

When Jackson led a media charge against Coca-Cola, demanding that "Coke's board of directors must look like its consumer base," he publicly exhorted the company not to fight back legally. "The right thing is to reach an honorable and fair settlement. Those who choose to dance or deny a resolution of the lawsuit are not serving you well. Law bills going up, stock prices going down."

Republicans can learn a lesson or two from this. Armed with the alarming statistics on the preceding pages about the lack of ideological diversity on college campuses, Republicans can browbeat universities into making their faculties more diverse. Americans realize the extent to which liberals and leftists dominate faculties. Exposing universities to the glare of publicity might at least force them to concede that hiring employees from only one side of the political spectrum is a problem to be avoided whenever possible.

And as Jackson does with corporations, Republicans can target universities' pocketbooks. By informing state legislatures as well as fair-minded alumni about the lack of diversity of ideas on the American campus today, conservatives can tighten the cash spigot until schools take affirmative steps to remedy current imbalances. In fact, Republicans should appropriate the language and logic of liberals' most sacred shibboleth: affirmative action. Liberals have increasingly relied on the "diversity" rationale to defend racial preferences. "Lack of diversity harms every white or Asian-American student who is here because their education is without the benefit of the perspectives of those now absent students once brought to classroom discussions," stated UCLA professor Gary Blasi in a typical race-based plaint that could be effortlessly extended to the diversity of ideas and political views.

As a purely legal proposition, the diversity rationale for racial preferences remains questionable. The Supreme Court has never accepted diversity as a compelling reason to impose affirmative action on employers, and federal appellate courts are divided on whether it is permissible in educational contexts. Nevertheless, the diversity-über-alles mindset has gained popularity among policymakers, professors, pundits, and the general public. No one wants to appear opposed to "diversity." But if a mix of perspectives is as important as liberals claim, they should be rushing to recruit a more politically and ideologically diverse faculty.

Sadly, that's not something that will ever happen voluntarily. The American university, which likes to call itself a wide-open marketplace of ideas, is in fact a very narrow world with a near monopoly of viewpoints on central cultural and political questions. That's why college students in history classes are taught that anti-communism was nothing more than jingoistic paranoia, why political science professors lecture to students that Republicans, not Democrats, cynically rely on the race card to win elections, and why impressionable young minds all across the country are drilled to think of Presidents like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush as nothing more than amiable dunces, and their issues nothing more than benighted foolishness.

In the seminal case of Regents of University of California v. Bakke, Supreme Court Justice Powell noted that "it is the business of a university to provide that atmosphere which is most conducive to speculation, experiment, and creation." It is time we bring back that sort of openness to America's campuses--and stealing a few pages from the civil rights handbook would be a sensible place to start.



A Levels and GCSEs are likely to be swept away despite the Government’s insistence that they are here to stay, the head of Ofsted predicted yesterday. David Bell said that Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, would face growing pressure from schools and colleges to abolish the qualifications in favour of a new diploma. Many were already working together to establish courses that better reflected teenagers’ interests, in line with proposals set out by Sir Mike Tomlinson, the former head of Ofsted, the schools regulator.

Ms Kelly controversially rejected Sir Mike’s report, which had virtually unanimous support in the teaching profession. It recommended a single diploma for students aged 14 to 19 in place of GCSEs, A levels and vocational qualifications.

Schools and further education colleges in many areas are forming partnerships to offer disaffected youngsters a more suitable mix of practical and academic study. But they complain that the qualifications system does not properly reflect students’ achievements in these programmes. Growing numbers of schools are also expressing interest in the International Baccalaureate as a more challenging alternative to A level for bright students. Nearly one in four A levels was awarded an A grade last year.

Ms Kelly reiterated her determination to keep A levels yesterday, telling political journalists at a Westminster lunch that “the education world can sometimes cloud the debate and give the wrong impression”. She added: “A levels and GCSEs are here to stay. But the barrier between academic and vocational qualifications needs to come down. We need to find a way to get more teenagers to stay on past the age of 16 or 17.” Ms Kelly had insisted that GCSEs and A levels would remain, while setting out plans in a White Paper in February to establish 14 vocational diplomas linked with business. She promised a review in 2008, but said that it would only examine “what, if anything ” could improve A levels.

Mr Bell, who backed the Tomlinson reforms, told The Times that the Education Secretary’s view could be overtaken by events on the ground by then. He said: “I just wonder if this is a good example of where practice might outstrip policy. If you go to schools and colleges, they are beginning to do more of the things that were envisaged. “The Secretary of State has quite categorically said GCSE and A level are there, but three years down the line how does the qualifications structure fit with the practice?” He added: “Schools and colleges are getting on with the job. There will come a point where we [ask], ‘Does the qualifications infrastructure now reflect the emerging practice from the ground up?’.”

Sir Mike’s two-year inquiry, which was established by the Government, argued that the present examination system led to disaffection among many teenagers. They saw GCSEs as irrelevant but knew that employers regarded vocational courses as second-class. Huge amounts of money and time were devoted to GCSEs at 16, sending a message that it was acceptable to leave school at that age and giving the UK one of the highest dropout rates at 17 of any large industrialised country. Meanwhile, A levels no longer stretched the most able students, leaving top universities unable to distinguish the best from the rest.

The Tomlinson report said that a single diploma, at four levels of difficulty, would create a greater challenge for bright students, allow all youngsters to study at their own pace and erase the historic divide between academic and vocational qualifications.

Mr Bell, the Chief Inspector of Schools in England, said that it had been “the prerogative of the Secretary of State” to concentrate on improving vocational education. He said: “I thought the Tomlinson proposals were more likely to secure that end, but we are looking towards the same end of making sure we do more for all young people.” Mr Bell added: “Those people, myself included, who were arguing for the Tomlinson approach to the diploma were not arguing that none of the content that makes up a GCSE or A level would survive. Much of the content would be encompassed. As that content evolves, which it will, and practice evolves, and schools and colleges are looking to validate performance, then you do have to revisit the question: ‘Are the A level, GCSE and vocational diploma as laid out in the White Paper fit for purpose?’ I think it is worth keeping that under review for 2008 and beyond.”

Mr Bell’s comments come as one million teenagers are sitting examinations in schools and colleges. He acknowledged that uncertainty over their future could dent confidence in the examinations, but said that students could only “do what they have to do”.

Miss Kelly said only last week that "A levels and GCSEs will stay as free-standing qualifications". But she is now being openly contradicted by many of her own officials. Ken Boston, chief executive of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, the government exams watchdog, said this month that A levels “will be out the door and the diploma will take over” within a decade



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 22, 2005


Conventional wisdom can be fickle. Something is "conventional wisdom" until it is shown to be inaccurate and a new conventional wisdom takes its place. The world is full of examples of assumptions people have made that have turned out to be wrong. Perhaps the most famous is that the Earth is flat. Outdated conventional wisdom also affects the home-school community. Despite decades of proven success and rapidly expanding numbers, many people maintain an outdated view of home-schooling. In other words, they still hold the conventional view that home-school families isolate themselves and do not wish to interact with society. People who hold this view also tend to make the seemingly logical leap that home-schoolers must be poorly socialized.

To address home-school socialization, there must be a starting point: determining the characteristics and behaviors a socialized person would exhibit. Many researchers have viewed socialization through the lens of a person's self-concept; the higher a person's self-concept, the better. When measuring for self-concept, the available research has shown that home-schoolers are comparable to their public school counterparts. However, just because someone has a positive feeling about himself or herself does not mean other people will view that person as being well-socialized.

Another way to measure socialization is to see whether home-schoolers are interacting with the community at large. The National Home Education Research Institute published a study in 2004 titled "Homeschooling Grows Up," which surveyed more than 7,000 home-school students to determine how active they were in society. The study showed that home-schoolers were finding employment in all areas. Home-schoolers also were found to be active in their communities and to be participating in the political process at greater rates than their public school counterparts.

Perhaps the best way to evaluate socialization, however, is to focus on social skills. The accusation that home-schoolers lack "social skills" is perhaps the sharpest attack from home-school critics. Examples of social skills would be behaviors such as sharing, helping, giving compliments and having good manners. If someone does well in these areas, most people would agree that he or she is well-socialized because interactions between people are the real test of effective socialization.

Little research has been completed in this area, but two researchers have produced a comparative study on it. David J. Francis, school psychologist with the Saranac Lake Central School District in New York, and Timothy Z. Keith, professor of educational psychology at the University of Texas, presented their socialization study in the 2004 edition of the Homeschool Researcher.

The study compared 34 home-schooled children to 34 public school students. The researchers adopted all the normal procedures to ensure that a minimal amount of bias affected the results. For example, home-school parents were not allowed to select which of their children would be part of the study. In addition, the children all came from the western part of New York state and were matched for demographics and family background to limit the determining factor in the socialization results to home-schooling.

Parents were considered to be the best observers of the behaviors of their children. Therefore, the study relied on the parents' observations. The method used was the Social Skills Rating System (SSRS). Parents of both home-schooled and public school children provided information on the socialization of their children in the areas of self-control, assertiveness, responsibility and cooperation. The SSRS also records problem behaviors such as externalizing, including aggressive acts and poor impulse control; internalizing, which can result in sadness and anxiety; and hyperactivity.

The results showed that home-schoolers were no different from their counterparts in cooperation, assertiveness and responsibility. Both groups scored higher than the national average. Home-schoolers, however, scored above their peers in the area of self-control.

It also should be noted that the authors are not home-schoolers. Mr. Francis is a public school teacher, and Mr. Keith is a public university professor. Neither is a home-school advocate or a fundamentalist Christian, which is a common characteristic in home-schoolers. The fact that the study was conducted by truly independent researchers gives it extra weight because it is impossible to make the accusation that the researchers were biased.

Despite all the evidence to the contrary, a lingering question remains in many people's minds on home-school socialization. The "conventional wisdom" remains largely intact. However, in time, the conventional wisdom will be overturned as more and more people come into contact with the burgeoning numbers of home-school graduates. It will be impossible to ignore a new generation of graduates who will be interacting with society with such ease that it may become possible to recognize a home-school graduate because he or she is so well-socialized.



You can now finish High School without being able to read and write properly. Soon you won't be able to add up either. Did I say "soon"? I guess I meant "now"

It seems our math educators no longer believe in the beauty and power of the principles of mathematics. They are continually in search of a fix that will make it easy, relevant, fun, and even politically relevant. In the early 1990s, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics issued standards that disparaged basic skills like addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, since all of these could be easily performed on a calculator. The council preferred real life problem solving, using everyday situations. Attempts to solve problems without basic skills caused some critics, especially professional mathematicians, to deride the "new, new math" as "rainforest algebra."

In a comparison of a 1973 algebra textbook and a 1998 "contemporary mathematics" textbook, Williamson Evers and Paul Clopton found a dramatic change in topics. In the 1973 book, for example, the index for the letter "F" included "factors, factoring, fallacies, finite decimal, finite set, formulas, fractions, and functions." In the 1998 book, the index listed "families (in poverty data), fast food nutrition data, fat in fast food, feasibility study, feeding tours, ferris wheel, fish, fishing, flags, flight, floor plan, flower beds, food, football, Ford Mustang, franchises, and fund-raising carnival."

Those were the days of innocent dumbing-down. Now mathematics is being nudged into a specifically political direction by educators who call themselves "critical theorists." They advocate using mathematics as a tool to advance social justice. Social justice math relies on political and cultural relevance to guide math instruction. One of its precepts is "ethnomathematics," that is, the belief that different cultures have evolved different ways of using mathematics, and that students will learn best if taught... mathematics... is inexorably linked with the values of the oppressors and conquerors. The culturally attuned teacher will learn about the counting system of the ancient Mayans, ancient Africans, Papua New Guineans....



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 21, 2005


Outsourcing hasn't gone far enough: the U.S. should start using Indian-based teachers. Smart, inexpensive, English-speaking Indians already help Americans with software design, computer support and tax preparation. Through satellites and the Internet workers in India can be connected, with mere millisecond delays, to Americans in need. Outsourcing jobs to India has saved Americans billions while actually increasing the quality and competitiveness of many of our industries. We should now apply outsourcing to education, the American industry most in need of improvement.

Like most teachers, I find grading to be the least interesting aspect of my job. I would gladly teach extra classes if I could in return be freed from the drudgery of grading. My employer, Smith College, should hire a few score smart Indians to grade for their faculty and in return Smith should expect its professors to spend more time in the classroom. High schools should similarly outsource their grading to Indians. Because U.S. teachers find grading so mind-numbingly boring, outsourcing grading would make teaching a far more attractive profession, thereby allowing high schools to recruit better teachers without necessarily having to increase salaries.

I suspect that Indians would do a far better job grading than U.S. teachers currently do. Because of their much lower average standard of living, earning a few dollars an hour grading American school assignments would be a fantastic job for many talented Indians. Indians would therefore bring an enthusiasm to grading that most American teachers, including myself, lack.

Indians, moreover, could do more than just grade papers. They could run entire classes. Online college courses such as those offered by the University of Phoenix show the possibility of teaching via the Internet, and teenagers' love of video games proves that students are capable of long-term thoughtful interactions with their computer. High schools and colleges should use the Internet to have some of their classes remotely taught. The teachers would have audio and video connections with their American students. It would be prohibitively expensive to hire one American teacher for every five students. But because wages in India are so much lower than in the U.S., schools could afford, say, 5:1 student: teacher ratios if they outsourced education.

Of course, teachers in India wouldn't be able to discipline their American students, so the outsourcing would only work for well-behaved students. But students with Indian teachers could benefit from large amounts of individual "face" time with their instructors. Low student / teacher ratios would also allow schools to offer a diversity of classes that they couldn't afford without using outsourcing.

High school math and science programs would greatly benefit from outsourcing. Because American adults with strong math and science skills have very good job prospects, it's difficult for high schools to attract strong teachers in these fields. But for wages far below what even high school food service workers make, very talented and technically proficient Indians would love to become teachers.

If Indians weren't permitted to teach entire classes, they could at least act as tutors or teaching assistants. Every high school math teacher, for example, could be given an Indian helper who would be available from 5-10 pm each night to help students with their homework. To prevent any child from being left behind, schools could give students in danger of failing two hours of individual tutoring time with an Indian teacher each weeknight. And at the other end of achievement gifted students could be assigned tutors who would facilitate their exploration of advanced topics.

Outsourcing wouldn't have to be limited to hiring Indians, and indeed foreign language classes could greatly benefit from outsourcing teaching to non-English speaking countries. For example, given the large number of poor people in the world who speak and write Spanish, there is no reason every American taking Spanish shouldn't have his own private instructor. Even earning just $2 an hour would be a fantastic life-changing wage for many Spanish speakers, yet at this low wage schools could afford to hire private teachers for each of their students.

Ironically, outsourcing education would make it easier for parents to home school their children. While staying at home, children could use the Internet to connect with teachers across the world. Parents, furthermore, would have many possible classes and teachers to choose from and so could insure that their children's education reflected their parental values.

Having U.S. students taught by foreigners would increase Americans' knowledge of other cultures. Rather than merely reading about other peoples, our students would get to talk with people throughout the world. Similarly, outsourcing education would allow many foreigners to interact directly with Americans and not base their judgments of us on how Americans are depicted in Hollywood movies.

Some of the best minds on the planet are trapped in poor countries, currently doomed to a miserable standard of living. But through educational outsourcing U.S. schools could directly tap these minds employing them to teach our children. Such outsourcing would not only lift many third world people out of poverty but also help the U.S. grow her 21st century knowledge economy.



High-stakes achievement tests that determine if a child is promoted to the next grade or held back a year are becoming more commonplace, and a growing number of school systems have learned that the threat of retention can be a strong incentive. However, the practice's effect on kids who are held back is still in dispute.

For New York City fifth graders who took a key citywide test in April, it was the first time that their scores counted, and even better students felt the pressure. "There were points when he was not sleeping very well," Kathleen Gomez said of her fifth grade son, Diego, who spent months on test preparation even though he was in no danger of failing. "He had such a sense that every test they take is going to stay with them forever."

For New York kids who did not make the grade, letters will arrive over the next few days inviting them to summer school. The number of fifth graders who tested proficient in reading soared 19.5 percent on this year's citywide exam - the first in which members of their class had to pass to advance a grade. The number proficient in math climbed 15.2 percent, the school district said this month. A year earlier, 14,695 fifth graders failed one or both of the tests, but with promotion on the line that number dropped to 5,636.

Chicago also saw achievement test scores rise in the late 1990s after it began requiring children in the third, sixth and eighth grades to pass in order to advance. Scores also rose in Florida after it began requiring third graders to pass a reading test to advance a grade, and in Texas after it implemented a similar requirement for third and fifth graders. "When you have a tough retention policy, at every grade level, the children get better," said Paul Vallas, who was the schools chief in Chicago when it adopted high-stakes testing and who now leads the public schools in Philadelphia.

What remains in dispute is the long-term effect on the students who are held back. A report by the Consortium on Chicago School Research said that while Chicago's promotion rules led to better overall academic performance in some grades, they hurt the kids who were held back. Many of the children forced to repeat a grade fell further behind, dropped out or languished in special education classes, said University of Chicago researcher Melissa Roderick. Part of the problem, she said, was a lack of remedial help. "These kids were really, really, really far behind," Roderick said. "For the kids who are being left back, retention does not work."

New York City's third graders faced a promotion-retention exam for the first time last year, and of the 2,702 who failed and were held back for a full year, nearly 38 percent failed the test again this spring. "It's heartbreaking to look these kids who have been held back two times," said Jill Chaifetz, executive director of the nonprofit group Advocates for Children of New York. "They are older than everyone else. They are taller than everyone else. They feel like failures."

New York Schools Chancellor Joel Klein said school officials are still looking for the best ways to help those children. Klein said the answer isn't returning to automatic promotions but devoting more attention to children before they fail. "The level of our intervention is much more sophisticated now than it has ever been," he said.

In the past two years, the city has boosted aid to struggling students, including holding extra classes on Saturdays. The most recent tests showed that pass rates were higher among students who attended that extra day. Other help has come from "intervention" experts like Patrick Kutschke, a reading teacher at Public School 101 in East Harlem, who spends his time working with groups of five or six children who have trouble mastering basic skills. High stakes testing, Kutschke said, has certainly grabbed students' attention. "Some of them come in nauseated," he said. "They say, 'Mr. K, I really didn't sleep at all last night.' They know the test matters."

But, he said, he believes it will be classroom work, not testing pressure, that will raise their scores. "A lot of these kids were getting to third grade without the skills they needed to do well," he said. "Those are the kids we need to work on."



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 20, 2005


Debates about how to reform American education seldom consider the experiences of other nations. In the United States, the federal government is trying to force reform on schools through the No Child Left Behind Act. States and teachers unions are in open revolt against the act's requirements. Utah recently passed a law that would place state law above federal guidelines. Meanwhile, many countries have moved ahead of the United States by rejecting the top-down approach to education. Quite a few of these nations are producing promising results.

In the Netherlands, nearly 76 percent of school-age children attend private schools with state money going to the chosen school. Sweden and Denmark also have liberal school choice policies with school funding following children whose parents choose private schools. In all three countries, student performance is higher than in the United States, where 15-year-olds scored twenty-first on mathematics literacy and twelfth in science, according to international performance audits.

School choice also exists in Chile, where 46 percent of students enroll in private schools. Even some former communist countries such as Hungary and the Czech Republic allow parents to pay for private schools with public funds.

Whenever school choice programs are proposed in the United States, they face fierce opposition from critics who claim that school choice benefits mostly wealthy parents, drains money from the public system, and segregates students into racial or economic groups. But the experiences of countries that have experimented with school choice indicate that these claims are unfounded. In most cases, the main beneficiaries have been poor families living in inner cities. In Hungary, where vouchers were introduced after the fall of communism, most new private schools have emerged in poor inner-city or rural areas, where access to good public schools is most limited. Although private schools receive public funds on a per-child basis, they typically cost less than what the government pays to educate children in the public system. When more children choose private schools, public schools actually have more money to spend on students.

In Alberta, Canada, where children can attend either a private or public school, public schools have improved the quality and diversity of their programs. They have also focused more attention on parental satisfaction and academic outcomes. As a result, Alberta public schools continue to attract the bulk of local students.

Rather than segregate students into racial, educational, or economic groups, school choice seems to do just the opposite. In Sweden, the share of immigrant students from poor families has increased in the popular inner-city schools that were once predominately upper class. In addition, students with special needs take advantage of school choice on an equal basis with regular students. Many regular independent schools in Sweden educate special needs children, and surveys show that parents like the private schools better. The Swedish system of school choice has led to an impressive expansion of independent schools, resulting in a wider variety of school types and educational programs than had existed previously.

Scholars who have studied the various types of educational systems in Europe conclude that students seem to perform better in countries where more schools are privately managed and where a larger share of the enrollment is in such schools. Americans should learn from these examples and study the evidence before accepting claims that school choice doesn't help poor families, creates segregation, or harms public schools. The experiences of other countries show that choice has beneficial effects all around, especially if public schools are given increased autonomy and flexibility.


Texas Parents call for armed officers on campus

Parents fear violence will run rampant at school now that the Weslaco school district has no police force. One parent started a petition this week, and said she won't send her daughter back to school without armed officers on campus.

This comes after reports that the Weslaco ISD police department was disbanded. The district opted instead for unarmed security guards after funds for the force ran dry. "Because if someone comes into our school district armed with a gun, who's going to take them down?" asked parent Amanda Garza. District superintendent Richard Rivera said a grant that funded the force expired. "The money's gone," Rivera said. "There's no new money." Rivera said the schools are still safe. Now Weslaco city police will respond to on-campus emergencies. "Our schools were safe before the police department," Rivera said. "They were safe with the police department. And they'll be safe without the police department."

But the district's former police chief Ron Cooper disagreed. "No, I don't think the schools will be as safe. Our presence prevents a lot of criminal activity," Cooper said. "I'm not stupid," Cooper continued. "I know what it's all about. I know what just happened." Cooper said his force was eliminated because the superintendent wants to hide the truth about what is happening on campus. "He likes to keep a lot of things `hush-hush,'" Cooper said.....

In the meantime, Amanda Garza is hoping parents will sign her petition to bring the officers back.
She said her children's safety depends on it.

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


Sunday, June 19, 2005


I think that is what the lady is getting at. And she seems to be talking from experience. But I am also sure that discipline cannot be neglected

One of the country's most successful head teachers is calling for the Government to stop talk of a "zero- tolerance" approach to school discipline. Lady Marie Stubbs, who came out of retirement to turn around St George's School in Westminster - where the head teacher Philip Lawrence was murdered - will argue in a public lecture tonight that the country's best teachers should be lured to work in its toughest schools with higher salaries instead. Lady Stubbs told The Independent yesterday that "zero-tolerance" was "a tired old term", adding: "I'd rather see it tucked away." The best alternative approaches would be better pay in tough schools, better pupil/teacher ratios and the paying of more respect to the views of children. "You need the best teachers in the state and the independent sector, she said, with "a nice staff room and decent food".

Lady Stubbs said she was sceptical about the Government's decision to set up a task force to tackle school discipline. "I think we know enough about what makes a good school work," she said. "Ninety per cent know about discipline. "What we need for the other 10 per cent is to pay teachers more to work in them and give them better staffing levels. Staffing levels should be different in schools with discipline problems. "At St George's we had plenty of advisers and counsellors to help the teachers."

However, Lady Stubbs will advise tonight's audience at a a public lecture on urban education at the University of East Anglia that "head teachers must be their own gurus". "It is no use them trying to be me," she said. "They must be confident in themselves about what they are trying to do."


Missing: Males on College Campuses

I suspect that this mainly shows that boys are more resistant to the crap that passes for education these days.

Some researchers call them the "Lost Boys." They are the students you don't see on college campuses. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) tracks the enrollment in all degree-granting institutions by sex. From 1992 to 2000, the ratio of enrolled males to females fell from 82 to 78 boys for every 100 girls. The NCES projects that in 2007 the ratio will be 75 males for every 100 females; in 2012, 74 per 100. In short, your son is statistically more likely than your daughter to work a blue collar job.

Thomas Mortenson, senior scholar at the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, argues that leaving a generation of boys behind hurts women as well. In a Business Week cover story, Mortenson observed, "My belief is that until women decide that the education of boys is a serious issue, nothing is going to happen."

He believes some women feel threatened by even admitting the problem because "it will take away from the progress of women...What everyone needs to realize is that if boys continue to slide, women will lose too." That realization still seems distant among educational experts, who continue to downplay the NCES statistic as well as other data that indicate schools are hurting boys.

Jacqueline King -- author of the influential study "Gender Equity in Higher Education: Are Male Students at a Disadvantage?" -- is an example. She found that 68 percent of college enrollees from low-income families were female; only 31 percent were male. Yet King insists there is no "boy crisis" in education despite the fact that data from Upward Bound and Talent Search show a comparable gender gap. (These college-preparation programs operate in high schools and received $312.6 million $144.9 million in tax funding, respectively, in 2005.) Of the students who receive benefits from those college-preparation programs, approximately 61 percent are girls; 39 percent are boys.

King's quoted explanation of the gender gaps: "women make up a disproportionate share of low-income students" who go on to college. Since low-income families presumably give birth to boys in the same ratio as the general population-- worldwide the ratio is between 103 to 107 boys for every 100 girls -- why are so few boys applying for assistance? A higher drop-out rate might be partly responsible, or boys may have no interest in higher education. King comments on the latter explanation: "male low-income students have some ability in this strong economy to make a decent living with just a high-school diploma." In particular, she points to the construction industry.

King may be correct. The fact that low-income boys gravitate toward manual labor may account for some of the educational gender disparity. What is striking, however, is her apparent dismissal of that disparity as important. She seems to accept the reality that far fewer men than women enroll in college and that poor boys enter "the trades" while poor girls become professionals. Imagine the gender ratio being reversed, with 78 girls for every 100 boys entering college. Imagine a generation of poor girls being relegated to low social status labor while tax funding assists poor boys. It is difficult to believe King would be similarly unconcerned.

Nevertheless, merely by acknowledging the situation, King shows far more balance than prominent voices, like the American Association of University Women, which still maintains there is a "girl crisis."

Fortunately, researchers like Judith Kleinfeld of the University of Alaska see that boys are in distress. Kleinfeld -- author of "The Myth That Schools Shortchange Girls" -- states, "In my own college classes, I see a sea change in the behavior of young men. In the 1980s, the young men talked in my classes about the same as young women. I know because each semester I measured male and female talk. Now so many young men are disengaged that the more articulate, ambitious women dominate the classroom ....and my office hours." Kleinfeld tried to trace the problem backward by interviewing high school students on plans for their future. She states, "The young women almost always have a clear, realistic plan---go to college, have a career, often directed toward an idealistic goals about improving the environment." This clarity of vision and was generally absent in young men.

Among those who acknowledge the "boy crisis," explanations are vary and may all be true. Some point to the "feminization" of education over the last decade, which occurred largely in response to a perceived need to encourage girls. But, if boys and girls learn differently, then the changes may be placing boys at a disadvantage. Others point to explicitly anti-male attitudes -- that is, political correctness -- within education. The website Illinois Loop lists "22 School Practices That May Harm Boys." One of them: "'Modern' textbooks and recommended literature often go to extremes to remove male role models as lead characters and examples."

Kleinfeld points speculatively to the impact of increased divorce and fatherless homes on the self-image of boys who lack a positive male role-model. Approximately 40 percent of American children now live in homes without their own biological father.

Ultimately, explanations of and solutions to the "boy crisis" will come from exploring a combination of factors. My solution: privatize education and place it under the control of parents or adult students. The first step to any solution, however, is to acknowledge there is a problem. We are not quite there yet.



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