Saturday, July 09, 2005


You need to have a degree these days just to be able to write properly

States spend nearly a quarter of a billion dollars a year on remedial writing instruction for their employees, according to a new report that says the indirect costs of sloppy writing probably hurt taxpayers even more. The National Commission on Writing, in a report to be released Tuesday, says that good writing skills are at least as important in the public sector as in private industry. Poor writing not only befuddles citizens but also slows down the government as bureaucrats struggle with unclear instructions or have to redo poorly written work. "It's impossible to calculate the ultimate cost of lost productivity because people have to read things two and three times," said Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, vice chairman of the National Governors Association, which conducted the survey for the commission.

The commission, established by the College Board, drew attention with its first report in 2003. That outlined problems with how writing is taught in American schools and proposed remedies. The group's second report, last year, tried to drum up support for writing education by highlighting the value that business and industry leaders place on writing skills. This year, the commission surveyed human resource directors who oversee nearly 2.7 million state government employees, and found writing skills even more important than in the private sector.

While two-thirds of companies surveyed in the 2004 report said writing was an important responsibility for workers, 100% of the 49 states responding to the anonymous survey said it was. More than 75% said they take writing skills into account when hiring. But while 70% of state managers said large majorities of their professional employees had adequate skills, just one-third said clerical and support staff did. The report estimates the states spend $221 million annually on remedial writing training, sometimes sending workers to $400-per-employee classes. "You have to be able to write, convert an idea and turn it into words," said Bob Kerrey, the former U.S. senator and governor from Nebraska, who is chairman of the commission. In public office, "I read things that were absolutely incomprehensible," Kerrey said. He shudders to think how Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence, published 229 years ago Monday, would have read in standard, government-worker bureaucrat-speak. "It would be 10 times as long, one-tenth as comprehensive, and would have lacked all inspiration," Kerrey said.



I think we know

The Assembly Education Committee on Wednesday voted to a eliminate a basic competency test for California public school teachers, arguing that the 23-year-old exam is obsolete due to tougher federal testing standards required under President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act. The committee action, which still must be ratified by the Assembly and Senate and signed by the governor, would essentially eliminate the California Basic Educational Skills Test - or CBEST - as a statewide requirement for credentialing teachers. However, the bill - which the committee passed without opposition - would allow local school districts to continue to require the exam, which tests teaching candidates for basic competency in reading, writing and mathematics.

In 2003, two years after the No Child Left Behind Act was signed into law by the president, state education officials created a new exam to comply with federal requirements that all teachers demonstrate competency in the specific subjects they teach. The federal law requires that teachers in core subjects such as math, history, science, chemistry or physics have a bachelor's degree or higher in their specialty fields or pass a competency test. Beginning this year, all elementary school teachers and junior high and high school teachers specializing in academic subjects will be required to pass the subject matter tests, called the California Subject Examinations for Teachers.

Because of the new requirements, state Sen. Jack Scott, D-Altadena, argued that the previous basic competency exam "has become redundant" and should be eliminated. Lori Eastering, a legislative advocate for the California Teachers Association, argued that the new tests require teachers not only to demonstrate competency in core subjects but also to show command of basic reading, writing and math. "We're not dumbing down requirements for testing teachers," Easterling said of eliminating the basic skills exam.

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, July 08, 2005

The Corrosion of Ethics in Higher Education

In its 1966 declaration on professional ethics, the American Association of University Professors, the professoriate's representation organization, states:

"Professors, guided by a deep conviction of the worth and dignity of the advancement of knowledge, recognize the special responsibilities placed upon them....They hold before them the best scholarly and ethical standards of their discipline.. They acknowledge significant academic or scholarly assistance from (their students)."

Notwithstanding such pronouncements, higher education recently has provided the public with a series of ethical solecisms, most spectacularly the University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill's recidivistic plagiarism and duplicitous claim of Native American ancestry along with his denunciations of 9/11 victims. While plagiarism and fraud presumably remain exceptional, accusations and complaints of such wrong doing increasingly come to light.

Some examples include Demas v. Levitsky at Cornell, where a doctoral student filed a legal complaint against her adviser's failure to acknowledge her contribution to a grant proposal; Professor C. William Kauffman's complaint against the University of Michigan for submitting a grant proposal without acknowledging his authorship; and charges of plagiarism against by Louis W. Roberts, the now-retired classics chair at the State University of New York at Albany. Additional plagiarism complaints have been made against Eugene M. Tobin, former president of Hamilton College, and Richard L. Judd, former president of Central Connecticut State University.

In his book Academic Ethics, Neil Hamilton observes that most doctoral programs fail to educate students about academic ethics so that knowledge of it is eroding. Lack of emphasis on ethics in graduate programs leads to skepticism about the necessity of learning about ethics and about how to teach it. Moreover, nihilist philosophies that have gained currency within the academy itself such as Stanley Fish's "antifoundationalism" contribute to the neglect of ethics education.

For these reasons academics generally do not seriously consider how ethics education might be creatively revived. In reaction to the Enron corporate scandal, for instance, some business schools have tacked an ethics course onto an otherwise ethically vacuous M.B.A. program. While a step in the right direction, a single course in a program otherwise uninformed by ethics will do little to change the program's culture, and may even engender cynicism among students.

Similarly, until recently, ethics education had been lacking throughout the American educational system. In response, ethicists such as Kevin Ryan and Karen Bohlin have advocated a radical renewal of ethics education in elementary schools. They claim that comprehensive ethics education can improve ethical standards. In Building Character in Schools, Ryan and Bohlin compare an elementary school to a polis, or Greek city state, and urge that ethics be fostered everywhere in the educational polis.

Teachers, they say, need to set standards and serve as ethical models for young students in a variety of ways and throughout the school. They find that manipulation and cheating tend to increase where academic achievement is prized but broader ethical values are not. They maintain that many aspects of school life, from the student cafeteria to the faculty lounge, ought to provide opportunities, among other things, to demonstrate concern for others. They also propose the use of vision statements that identify core virtues along with the implementation of this vision through appropriate involvement by staff and students.

We would argue that, like elementary schools, universities have an obligation to ethically nurture undergraduate and graduate students. Although the earliest years of life are most important for the formation of ethical habits, universities can influence ethics as well. Like the Greek polis, universities become ethical when they become communities of virtue that foster and demonstrate ethical excellence. Lack of commitment to teaching, lack of concern for student outcomes, false advertising about job opportunities open to graduates, and diploma-mill teaching practices are examples of institutional practices that corrode rather than nourish ethics on campuses.....

Many academics will probably resist integration of ethical competencies into their course curriculums, and in recent years it has become fashionable to blame economists for such resistance. For example, in his book Moral Dimension, Amitai Etzioni equates the neoclassical economic paradigm with disregard for ethics. Sumantra Ghoshal's article "Bad Management Theories are Destroying Good Management Practices," in Academy of Management Learning and Education Journal, blames ethical decay on the compensation and management practices that evolved from economic theory's emphasis on incentives.

We disagree that economics has been all that influential. Instead, the problem is much more fundamental to the humanities and social sciences and has its root in philosophy. True, economics can exhibit nihilism. For example, the efficient markets hypothesis, that has influenced finance, holds that human knowledge is impotent in the face of efficient markets. This would imply that moral choice is impotent because all choice is so. But the efficient markets hypothesis is itself a reflection of a deeper and broader philosophical positivism that is now pandemic to the entire academy.

Over the past two centuries the assaults on the rational basis for morals have created an atmosphere that stymies interest in ethical education. In the 18th century, the philosopher David Hume wrote that one cannot derive an "ought" from an "is," so that morals are emotional and cannot be proven true. Today's academic luminaries have thoroughly imbibed this "emotivist" perspective. For example, Stanley Fish holds that even though academics do exhibit morality by condemning "cheating, academic fraud and plagiarism," there is no universal morality beyond this kind of "local practice."

Whatever its outcome, the debate over the rational derivability of ethical laws from a set of clear and certain axioms that hold universally is of little significance in and of itself. It will not determine whether ethics is more or less important in our lives; nor will it provide a disproof of relativism - since defenders of relativism can still choose not to accept the validity of the derivation.

Yet ethics must still be lived - even though the knowledge, competency, skill or talent that is needed to lead a moral life, a life of virtue, may not be derived from any clear and certain axioms. There is no need for derivation of the need, for instance, for good interpersonal skills. Rather, civilization depends on competency, skill and talent as much as it depends on practical ethics. Ethical virtue does not require, nor is it sustained by, logical derivation; it becomes most manifest, perhaps, through its absence, as revealed in the anomie and social decline that ensue from its abandonment. Philosophy is beside the point.....

The academy's influence on behavior extends, of course, far beyond its walls, for students carry the habits they have learned into society at large. The Enron scandal, for instance, had more roots in the academy than many academics have realized or would care to acknowledge. Kenneth Lay, Enron's former chairman, holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Houston.Jeff Skilling, Enron's former CEO, is a Harvard M.B.A. who had been a partner at the McKinsey consulting firm, one of the chief employers of top-tier M.B.A. graduates. According to Malcolm Gladwell in The New Yorker, Enron had followed McKinsey's lead, habitually hiring the brightest M.B.A. graduates from leading business schools, most often from the Wharton School. Compared to most other firms, it had more aggressively placed these graduates in important decision-making posts. Thus, the crimes committed at Enron cannot be divorced from decision-making by the best and brightest of the newly minted M.B.A. graduates of the 1990s.

As we have seen, the 1966 AAUP statement implies the crucial importance of an ethical foundation to academic life. Yet ethics no longer occupies a central place in campus life, and universities are not always run ethically. With news of academic misdeeds (not to mention more spectacular academic scandals, such as the Churchill affair) continuing to unfold, the public rightly grows distrustful of universities. It is time for the academy to heed the AAUP's 1915 declaration, which warned that if the professoriate "should prove itself unwilling to purge its ranks of . the unworthy. it is certain that the task will be performed by others." Must universities learn the practical value of ethical virtue by having it imposed from without? Or is ethical revival possible from within?

More here


Almost everyone in politics claims some share of the power to dictate what happens in the classroom, and the list is expanding constantly. Just recently, the newly elected mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, suggested that he should be empowered to appoint the city's school board, rather than have its members elected. Starting with Pete Wilson in the 1990s, governors have been increasingly acquisitive of educational authority. Wilson created a schools adviser within his office and made no secret of his desire to wrest authority from the elected superintendent of public instruction. His two successors have more or less continued in that vein, using the budget to dictate how the billions of dollars in state aid would be spent.

Gubernatorial intrusion had the effect of downgrading the state schools superintendency, as did a court decision that made the state school board, appointed by the governor, independent of and perhaps superior to the superintendent in setting overall state pedagogic policy. Legislative committees also play a major role in setting school policy, as do powerful outside groups such as the California Teachers Association. At the local level, there are county superintendents of schools, county school boards, and local school districts and their appointed superintendents and other administrators. And the federal government, through "No Child Left Behind," has written its own prescription for classroom teaching. But as the number of overseers expands, all chanting the mantra of "accountability," real accountability has diminished and buck-passing has flourished.

When anything good happens in public education, which is rare, everyone clamors for credit, but when bad things happen, which is much more common, everyone points the finger of responsibility at someone else. And there's been a lot of finger-pointing lately, because the news has been mostly negative, especially when it comes to comparing outcomes, as measured by tests, of California kids to those of other states. As the deterioration of academic performance became a hot political topic in the 1990s, not only were fingers of blame pointed, but everyone involved weighed in with a fix-it scheme, and many of them were adopted - high school exit exams, charter schools, smaller class sizes and billions of dollars in targeted "categorical" aids. The proliferating decrees from Sacramento, however, totally ignored the ever-expanding diversity of culture, linguistic fluency, ethnicity, economic status and academic aptitude among students. "The system assumes a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach to teaching," says Scott Plotkin, who runs the California School Boards Association. Plotkin spoke at a recent hearing conducted by the state Little Hoover Commission, which is considering a formal study of school governance.

It is a fine mess. If we had deliberately set out to create a system that is utterly devoid of rationality, accountability, flexibility - and true concern for millions of California kids - we could not have done a worse job.

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, July 07, 2005


How odd! NOT. I got first class results for the High School kids I taught and I have not had ONE SECOND of teacher training. Teaching degrees are horse dung, to put it politely. I didn't even have a degree in the subject-matter I taught. But I knew enough

This spring on many college campuses, something absolutely remarkable happened: Talented young people lined up by the scores to teach lower-income kids in urban and rural public schools. In years past, investment banks like Goldman Sachs were the recruiting powerhouses at top campuses; this year, they were joined by Teach for America, a program that expresses the fresh idealism and social values of this new generation.

At Yale, no fewer than 12 percent of the graduating seniors--nearly 1 out of every 8--applied. At Dartmouth and Amherst, some 11 percent did; at Harvard and Princeton, 8 percent. Hundreds more signed up at Northwestern, Boston College, the University of Texas, and the University of California-Los Angeles. Altogether, over 17,000 seniors applied for 2,100 openings.

A few words of background: Sixteen years ago, Teach for America was merely an idea in a thesis by a Princeton senior, Wendy Kopp. She thought the country needed an organization modeled after the Peace Corps that would attract top college graduates into classrooms with poor kids. With thesis in hand, she bravely ventured out to raise money, find recruits, and find school superintendents who would hire them. Kopp experienced the bumps and detours of every new start-up, but a year later, she had 500 recruits.

This summer, the newest class of teachers will enroll in a five-week training institute to prepare them for the classroom. In the fall, they will report for work at some of the toughest public schools in America, classified by the federal government as "high need." Some 95 percent of their students will be minorities. Each member of the program is committed to two years of teaching, paid by the local school systems at the same rate as other starting teachers; at the end of their service, they may qualify for a $9,500 scholarship for graduate study.

As you can imagine, skeptics have popped up all along the way: professors at schools of education scoffing that college graduates who haven't enrolled in formal teacher education will never succeed in the classroom; cynics who say that these are a just bunch of elitist kids punching their tickets to make it into law or business school who will then turn their backs on social reform. Well, the doubters just don't get this young generation.

A year ago, Mathematica Policy Research found that students of Teach for America recruits got better results in math and the same gains in reading as did those of other teachers, including veteran instructors. In math, the TFA students made a month more progress than other students.

More here


Excerpt from the comments thread on Joanne Jacobs's site

My 17 year old recently told me kids in her history class were not getting the point that communism was not Utopia. I contacted her teacher and asked if he would be willing to have a guest speaker talk about Communism from a person that lived through it first hand. I could write a book on what I heard in the four classes my friend spoke to. To spare some eye strain, I'll try to summarize his story:

Age 12: Lived through his first air-raid and described the horror of humans being blown to pieces and the sounds of exploding bombs and flying shrapnel and dying men. He could not hear again for three days.
Age 13: Stacked the bodies of dead Russians and Germans in his home town. It was too cold to dig graves.
Late Teens: After winning the Stalinist Workers Award, had to denounce his "class enemy" parents to go to college. His dad was a civil engineer -- that was too much for his Comrades.
Age 24: Watched the first shots fired in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. A Mother and child were gunned down by an overzealous secret police officer. He was only a few feet away.
Age 24: He was the sole survivor of machine gun fire that killed six of his friends and fellow freedom fighters. He was severely wounded in the right knee.
Age 24: Crawled, on his stomach, through the snow, between two Russian tanks to escape to Austria.

On December 31, 1956, at precisely midnight, his cattle boat dropped anchor in New York Harbor. He had tears in his eyes when he described how beautiful New York Harbor was all lit up with colored Christmas lights.

One girl's question brought a response that shut down every sound in the classroom. Even the teacher was stunned to silence. The question was simple and was not asked sarcastically. "What's the difference between Communism and what we have now?" I watched a 73 year old man, in obvious pain after standing for nearly four hours -- bad knee, hip-replacement and the wear and tear of war -- stand straight up and with a stern , heavy Hungarian accent say something that I think astounded everyone in the room "YOU were BORN with your freedom. I fought and nearly died for mine. You will NEVER understand the difference until you lose your freedom and have to fight for your life to regain it."

To break the silence the he jokingly added that Fascism and Communism were basically the same if she wanted a comparison, however, the Germans were more humane than the Russians.

On the way home from the event, with my daughter in the car, said his only regret was that he and his fellow freedom fighters chose not to be like the communists and shoot the secret police. They took prisoners and the prisoners were treated well. When the Russians brought in tanks and freed the captives, they immediately turned in names of everyone that was involved in their capture. Every one of the Hungarians named was executed on sight. My friend was on the hit list and had to run. He said it hurt leaving, but he knew, wounded, he could no longer help.

I could not help but think of Guantanamo Bay when my friend said one final thing: "We should have killed every one of those bastards."

My daughter will never have a better history teacher the rest of her life.

(HT to Marc Miyake)


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, July 06, 2005


David Horowitz isn’t mentioned by name in a two-page statement being released today by 26 higher education organizations. But the statement, on “academic rights and responsibilities,” is a response to Horowitz’s “Academic Bill of Rights,” which many professors view as an assault on their rights.

Organizers of the statement being issued today say that it was an effort to state publicly that academe is not monolithic ideologically and that colleges can — without the government — deal with professors (a distinct few, according to most academic leaders) who punish students for their views. Organizers hoped the statement would deflate the movement in state legislatures and Congress to enact the Academic Bill of Rights. Horowitz called the statement “a major victory” for his campaign and said that it opened up the possibility that he would work directly with colleges on remaining differences of opinion, rather than seeking legislation.

Congressional Republicans — some of whom had been expected to push the Horowitz legislation — also praised the statement. And the praise from Republicans and Horowitz pleased many college leaders, who have been frustrated by the way their institutions have been portrayed by Horowitz and some lawmakers as leftist and intolerant. The statement issued today focuses on “intellectual pluralism and academic freedom,” and offers five “overarching principles” for colleges:

* Diversity of institutions is a “central feature and strength” of American higher education, and the individual missions of colleges, defined by the colleges themselves, “should set the tone for the academic activities undertaken.”

* Colleges should welcome “intellectual pluralism” and promote an environment where the debates fostered by such pluralism take place with a spirit of “openness, tolerance and civility.”

* Grades should be based “solely on considerations that are intellectually relevant to the subject matter under consideration,” and students and faculty members should be free from being punished for their political views. Any who feel that they have been discriminated against in this regard should have a “clear institutional process” for a grievance.

* The validity of ideas should be judged by “the intellectual standards of relevant academic and professional disciplines,” without any presumption that all ideas have equal merit.

* Government must respect colleges’ “independence,” creating a special obligation for colleges to assure academic freedom for all.

There are similar themes in the statement and in the “Academic Bill of Rights,” which has been pushed by Horowitz, a one-time radical turned conservative, in numerous state legislatures and in Congress. Many professors, however, believe that the language in the bill would make professors vulnerable to student complaints any time controversial material was covered and would require colleges to seek ideological balance on topics where most professors think that such balance is absurd (did the Holocaust happen? is evolution real?). While Horowitz has repeatedly denied that is his goal, some of his legislative supporters have said that they see the bill as a step toward changing the way evolution is taught in higher education. In contrast, the statement from the academic groups stipulates that colleges, not the government, should decide on the curriculum and the extent to which departments should seek a diversity of thought.

David Ward, president of the American Council on Education, which led the efforts to draft the statement, said the idea was to embrace part of Horowitz’s message, but not all of it. “What was happening was that individuals who were critics of higher education were making, to my mind, perfectly reasonable statements that universities should be places of intellectual pluralism, civility and fairness,” Ward said. “I might quibble about details, but I found myself saying, ‘They have a point.’ Ward said that while there were “striking similarities” between the association’s statement and the Academic Bill of Rights, it was important to note the way the associations protected faculty and institutional rights. “These are principles, and the idea is that campus should refine them,” he said.

Issues of ideological bias, Ward said, are not rampant in American higher education. But he said that the debate over the Academic Bill of Rights did draw attention to the fact that many colleges haven’t outlined what a student should do if he or she feels that they are being discriminated against because of their political views. “Some of our institutions don’t have procedures in place, and they should,” he said.

The groups backing the statement includes those whose members are institutions, presidents, deans and professors. One of the college leaders who played a key role in developing the statement — and selling it to conservatives — was Robert C. Andringa, president of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. Andringa said he believed that problems with political intolerance are far fewer than Horowitz has charged. And he said that Horowitz’s legislation was wrong because “it is inappropriate for legislative bodies to get involved in academic freedom issues.” The statement is important, Andringa said, “in that it shows that the higher education community recognized the political and public interest in the issue.” He said that the debate had become a public relations problem that was hurting higher education. “This is the kind of thing that translates into lower appropriations in states, and less of a commitment by lawmakers to higher education, so we have to take it seriously,” Andringa said.

In an e-mail interview, Horowitz called the statement by the academic groups “a major victory” and said that it created “an opportunity to open a dialogue with educators that had not been possible before.” Horowitz suggested that the statement might make it possible for him and his supporters to stop pushing the Academic Bill of Rights. But he also made clear that was not yet a done deal. “Until the rights are codified by the universities themselves as student rights (professors have these rights written into their contracts) and the grievance machinery is set up,” he said, legislation might be needed. “That depends on the university systems. The door has now been opened for discussions. If the discussions lead to a situation in which the universities are dealing with these problems in a satisfactory manner, then there will be no further need for legislation. At the moment however all this remains to be seen.”

More here


A week ago, 28 higher education groups issued a statement on “academic rights and responsibilities” that was designed in part to prevent David Horowitz’s “Academic Bill of Rights” from gaining more support in Congress or state legislatures. The idea was to show that colleges — despite what Horowitz says — care about fairness and intellectual diversity. No one is coming out against fairness and intellectual diversity. But the American Federation of Teachers — which represents 130,000 faculty members — is not happy about the statement (even if it doesn’t object to the words in it). AFT leaders say that the statement will invite Congress and legislatures to weigh in on higher education in inappropriate ways. In addition, they worry that the joint statement gave legitimacy to Horowitz, whose views have offended many academics.

Lawrence Gold, director of program and policy development for the AFT, said that if the House of Representatives endorses the associations’ statement, as many expect it will, “it will involve the government describing how the academy should protect academic matters,” adding, “we don’t think the government has any business here.”

AFT officials met this week with leaders of the American Council on Education, which coordinated the efforts to release the statement, to discuss their concerns. (Officials of the National Education Association have also been involved in the discussions, but could not be reached for comment.) In addition, some rank and file members of the American Association of University Professors have been questioning why that group signed on to the statement. Privately, some faculty members have said that the AAUP and the other higher education groups “caved” to Horowitz, although other faculty leaders say that the statement was a shrewd political move.

The dispute is one of subtleties, albeit important ones. Much of the statement issued by the higher education groups and indeed parts of the Academic Bill of Rights don’t upset faculty members, who say that they have always followed principles of judging students on their academic merits, not political litmus tests. The Academic Bill of Rights, which was introduced in numerous state legislatures this year and is included, in resolution form, in the Higher Education Act legislation that Republicans on the House Education and the Workforce Committee introduced this spring, goes further. Many faculty members believe that its definitions of fairness would force them to avoid taking firm stands on anything, and would require them to present alternative views on such subjects as the Holocaust and evolution. The joint statement of the college groups, however, specifically said that government shouldn’t be deciding what should be taught, and that colleges and disciplines need to take the lead role in such decisions.

But Gold, of the AFT, said that tacitly endorsing the idea of the House or state legislatures adopting that statement runs directly counter to the statement’s ideal of keeping government out of academic decisions altogether. Gold said that the AFT and the NEA — which have worked together to oppose the Academic Bill of Rights — would continue to oppose any resolution on these issues being passed in Congress, even one based on the joint statement. Gold stressed that he saw the joint statement of college groups as much better than the Academic Bill of Rights, and that those who drafted the statement were “not the bad guys here.”

The problem for those who don’t like the statement is that they view Horowitz as a bad guy, believing that he has distorted what goes on in higher education and the records of some faculty members. For so many higher education groups to issue a statement responding to his movement, they say, gives him stature he doesn’t deserve. “That statement allows some of the people who have been most critical of higher education and most wrong about it to say that they bested us, even though that couldn’t have been anyone’s intention on the part of those who did it,” Gold said. “It’s being portrayed as, ‘Higher education realized the error of its ways and put this together.’ “ Mark Smith, director of government relations for the AAUP, said that he has heard such concerns from some members, although he said that the statement “speaks for itself” and shouldn’t be viewed as helping Horowitz.

Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president of the ACE, said that the statement was not written for Congress or Horowitz. “We have been hearing from college and university presidents that they felt exposed because there was not a statement that they could point to as what they work for,” and this statement provides them with a set of principles to use. Hartle said that while he wasn’t seeking to have Congress endorse the statement, it was likely that the House of Representatives was going to adopt some resolution this year, and that it was important for lawmakers to have an alternative to the Academic Bill of Rights. “If we have something that we wrote and that is broadly acceptable to the higher education community and something we didn’t write and that we have serious concerns about, I’m going to go with what we wrote,” he said.

As to whether Horowitz gained legitimacy from the associations’ statement, Hartle said that Horowitz’s influence in some circles made him a force already, regardless of what one thinks of his ideas. “David Horowitz is already legitimate,” Hartle said. “The notion that some people think he isn’t given great weight and attention by policy makers is just wrong.”

As for Horowitz, he said that the unions should be embracing his efforts, and those of the groups that issued the joint statement last week. In an e-mail interview, he said, “The American Council on Education statement merely recognizes the fact that in the present academic and political climates it is important to reiterate the university community’s commitment to intellectual diversity and pluralism and to nondiscrimination against anyone in the academy — student or professor, left or right.” Horowitz said that if he has more influence as a result of the debates over the Academic Bill of Rights, “it is only because I have called attention to these problems and to the need for academic organizations and institutions to recommit themselves to these principles and values. If the NEA and the AFT want to continue to oppose them and play an obstructionist role, that is unfortunate, but it is their decision.”

Some faculty leaders applaud the joint statement. Cary Nelson, a professor of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said that “progressive faculty members” face far more risks of their rights being violated than conservative faculty members, and that risk will increase should the United States suffer additional terrorist attacks. So Nelson said that the statement endorsed by the college groups would be good for those professors. Noting that such principles would have protected scholars who lost jobs during the McCarthy era or other periods, Nelson said that in the context of the history of American higher education, Horowitz should be viewed “as just a recent blip on the screen.”


David Horowitz Responds to the American Federation of Teachers

AFT raises objections to the American Council on Education statement on intellectual diversity and academic freedom

As I have said many times in the course of this campaign, our legislative effort is designed to get university administrations to live up to their own commitments to academic freedom. Many of them have provisions in place that would ensure that education rather than political indoctrination is taking place in their classrooms but are not enforcing them. If the AFT and the NEA would put their weight behind our efforts to get universities to enforce and enhance their academic freedom guidelines, the legislative effort would be redundant and disappear. Instead, both these organizations have chosen to conduct a campaign of malicious distortion of the bills and their intent and equally regrettable name-calling to demonize myself and the legislators who are sponsoring the bills. This is not constructive and does not help the cause of academic freedom.

The AFT's stated objections to the statement by the American Council on Education that this would invite government intrusion into academic affairs doesn't pass the smell test. When has the AFT objected to government guidelines on sexual harassment or racial diversity on college campuses? Why then object to a resolution on intellectual diversity, which is fundamental principle of American society?

As for the AFT's complaint that the ACE statement enhances my role as a "player" in higher education, the American Council on Education statement merely recognizes the fact that in the present academic and political climates it is important to reiterate the university community's commitment to intellectual diversity and pluralism and to non-discrimination against anyone in the academy -- student or professor, left or right. If I am a player, it is only because I have called attention to these problems and to the need for academic organizations and institutions to recommit themselves to these principles and values. If the NEA and the AFT want to continue to oppose them and play an obstructionist role, that is unfortunate, but it is their decision.



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, July 05, 2005


For using the "G" word 41 times in a term paper, Bethany Hauf was given an "F" by her Victor Valley Community College instructor. Hauf's teacher approved her term paper topic — Religion and its Place within the Government — on one condition: Don't use the word God. Instead of complying with VVCC adjunct instructor Michael Shefchik's condition Hauf wrote a 10-page report for her English 101 class entitled "In God We Trust." "He said it would offend others in class," Hauf, a 34-year-old mother of four, said. "I didn't realize God was taboo."

Hauf has received legal assistance from the American Center for Law and Justice. The ACLJ is a conservative Christian legal foundation founded by Dr. M.G. "Pat" Robertson, who is also the founder, chairman and face of the Christian Broadcasting Network. "I don't lose my First Amendment rights when I walk into that college," Hauf said. She is demanding an apology from the teacher and that the paper be re-graded.

The college says the issue over Hauf's paper, written during the spring semester, has been satisfactorily resolved. "We settled this matter during the course of this class," said Judy Solis, chair of VVC's English department. "She was treated fairly and she knew what the options were." Shefchik could not be reached for this report.

Hauf took her concerns about not being able to use "God" in her report to her teacher, then to the department chair. During a joint meeting between all three the options were laid out: Hand in the report with the "G" word or revise, edit or re-write the paper, Solis said. "She continued to write her paper," Solis said. "She knew what the consequences were."

Hauf acknowledges she knew her teacher's condition for writing the paper, but argued it would be impossible to write about the affect of Christianity on the development of the United States without using the word God. "He told me you might as well write about the Easter Bunny," Hauf said. "He wanted to censor the word God."

Hauf first approached her teacher about writing her paper in an April 12 e-mail, according to a 12-page ACLJ paper sent to the college offering legal opinions in favor of Hauf. Shefchik wrote her back an e-mail approving her topic choice, but at the same time cautioning her to be objective in her reporting. "I have one limiting factor," Shefchik wrote, according to the ACLJ. "No mention of big 'G' gods, i.e., one, true god argumentation."

The ACLJ said his actions are unconstitutional. "A student's constitutional free speech rights to express religious views are fully protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments," the ACLJ wrote. In addition to an apology and a re-grading of Hauf's paper, the ACLJ demands Shefchik "receive some kind of training to sensitize him to the constitutional dimensions of his employment in a public educational institution, including his duty to respect constitutional freedoms of expression."

Hauf's husband supports his wife's position. "She has to pursue this. Not only has her civil rights been violated this is an English class she took, not a political science course," Fritz Hauf said. "She should be graded on the composition not the 'G' word." Though getting an "F" on the research paper Hauf got a "C" for the class.


Ohio to Launch Largest Voucher Program

Ohio is more than tripling the size of its school voucher program, making it the nation's largest since the practice of using public money for private school tuition was found constitutional three years ago. The tuition aid, which has been available only in Cleveland since 1996, will allow up to 14,000 additional students statewide to leave schools that persistently fail academic tests and move to private schools, beginning in the fall of 2006. "This is a commitment that needed to be made, providing Ohio parents and children with more choices in education," said Karen Tabor, spokeswoman for House Speaker Jon Husted.

The state's $51 billion budget that Republican Gov. Bob Taft signed Thursday includes funding for 14,000 children. The state will pay $4,250 for students in kindergarten through eighth grade and $5,000 for high schoolers. Husted's staff was unable to provide a total figure for the funding. Supporters of school choice have worked to set up and expand programs since 2002, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Cleveland's program -- which includes religious schools -- did not violate the separation of church and state.

Voucher measures in seven states failed this year. In Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada and Texas, lawmakers defeated startup voucher programs or left sessions with the bills stalled. An expansion in Wisconsin and a new program in Arizona were vetoed. In Ohio, however, lawmakers in the Republican-controlled House and Senate expanded Taft's original proposal that would have provided vouchers to 2,600 students. Cleveland's program will continue, bringing the total of possible voucher students to nearly 20,000.

Only Florida and Wisconsin offer voucher programs similar to Ohio's. Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle has vetoed three attempts to lift or raise the Milwaukee program's enrollment cap of 14,000 students. The Florida Supreme Court is considering whether the nation's first statewide voucher program is constitutional.

The issue of using taxpayer money to pay for private school tuition, particularly at religious institutions, is contentious. Backers say vouchers offer options to students at poorly performing schools. Opponents say the practice diverts funding from schools that need it most.

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


Monday, July 04, 2005

ROTC garners student support at Dartmount -- admin. split

While most Dartmouth students disagree with the United States Army's "don't ask don't tell" policy, they still overwhelmingly support the Reserve Officer Training Corps at Dartmouth, according to a recently published Student Assembly poll. The poll, which was primarily conducted by David Zubricki '07 and Welton Chang '05, was designed to gauge support among Dartmouth undergraduates for ROTC.

The issue behind the survey was the possibility of awarding a $128,000 full scholarship through the ROTC program. Currently, the Army allocates money to both the nearby Norwich Academy and Dartmouth, forcing the ROTC participants from the two colleges compete for the $20,000-a-year scholarship. Yet because Dartmouth's ROTC program lacks the full support of College President James Wright, the military has been unwilling to increase scholarships. At other schools including Harvard, Notre Dame, Cornell, Boston and Stanford Universities, ROTC participants currently receive full scholarships.

Chang said that he believes Wright is conflicted over the direction the president wishes to go with ROTC. "It's a big issue for President Wright. He's afraid of the faculty," Chang said. "He supports us in private, but doesn't want to offend them." Wright was unavailable to comment on this particular issue.

Zubricki said he believes the point of contention with some faculty members is the Army's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Students, contrarily, support the ROTC while being split on their views towards the policy, he added.

Noting sentiment against the organization, Zubricki cited faculty members in the Arabic language department who asked ROTC recruiters to leave when they came to solicit students. Following the faculty reaction, Zubricki was interested to see if the students who object to "don't ask, don't tell" still support ROTC at Dartmouth. "I think there are a lot of students out there that don't support 'don't ask don't tell' but still support their classmates in ROTC," Zubricki said.

The significant findings of the survey showed that a majority of the students thought the administration should do more to help students in ROTC, despite the fact that the majority does not support the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Wright recently met with Army Gen. Alan Thrasher, the national commander of ROTC. Despite the joint meeting, any scholarship changes are still entirely at Thrasher's discretion, who Chang said will only provide more funding if the College administration shows greater support for ROTC. "Those kind of guys can do whatever they want basically. I myself am not entirely optimistic about it," Chang said. "I hope [Thrasher] sees that it's worth the time and effort to build it up again."

Although apprehensive about students' responses, Chang was generally pleased with the results of the poll. "The results were very favorable. Despite the liberal campus -- and I'm a very liberal person myself -- its good to see people were able to discern between the war and the army," Chang said. Nearly a quarter of the students polled by the Assembly said that camouflage uniforms made them uncomfortable. Members of the ROTC are sometimes asked if they are patrolling or standing guard, according to Chang. "The camo uniforms make people somewhat uncomfortable. It makes people stand out. They ask why we're wearing the uniform. They want to know if there's some sort of threat."

With Chang's recent graduation, ROTC at Dartmouth is left with only five members. Nevertheless, the program is expected to continue into the foreseeable future. Chang's involvement with the Dartmouth ROTC program was most publicly demonstrated at the town hall meeting sponsored by the Student Assembly in February. At that meeting, Chang directed pointed questions to both Wright and Dean of the College James Larimore. He continued his crusade up until his graduation earlier this month.



The controversy surrounding the University's Five Year Diversity Plan shows no signs of dissipating, as professors threaten to leave the University if the current draft is approved, while the American Association of University Professors wrote a letter criticizing the administration for allegedly bypassing the standard set of faculty committees while drafting the plan. The AAUP letter came at approximately the same time that 25 faculty members drafted their own "Open Letter to President Frohnmayer," in which they called the Diversity Plan "Orwellian" and "frightening."

The AAUP letter, dated May 10 and addressed to former University of Oregon Senate President Andrew Marcus, states that the charter for the University places the governance in the hands of the faculty and that the AAUP principles emphasize faculty involvement for proposals relevant to professors. Jean Stockard, a Planning, Public Policy Management professor, said she shared the AAUP's concerns and was upset that faculty had "virtually no involvement" in drafting the plan. "Members of the committee listed at the front of the document were only shown the document after it was printed," said Stockard, referring to the 80 names listed as active participants. Some professors have threatened to leave if the current draft becomes a reality.

"As for faculty thinking of leaving: I am," said N. Chris Phillips, a math professor and co-signer of the open letter.

Mathematics Associate Professor Alexander Kleshchev said he has heard of other professors who might leave but says it is too early to tell. "I did consider leaving, and if anything like this plan will be implemented I will continue to think very hard about this," Kleshchev said. Kleshchev, a Russian immigrant, says the plan conjures up memories of his former homeland. "Look, I am personally not going to be interrogated about my thoughts, and I am not going to go to reeducation camps either," said Kleshchev, alluding to the Five Year Diversity Plan's requirement that faculty participate in a summer diversity seminar. "I've had enough of that in my previous life in the Soviet Union, and I just will not have this again. I tried freedom now; I liked it, and I am not about to give it up," Kleshchev said.

For the most part, criticism of the diversity plan has come from professors in the sciences. Twenty of the 25 co-signers of the open letter are in the sciences; 14 of those are math professors. Phillips said the Five Year Diversity Plan is a "terrible idea" because it "calls for us to judge new faculty hires first and foremost by the color of their skin." More than that, Phillips believes the Diversity Plan would create a bureaucracy the University cannot afford. The Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity already costs approximately $1.5 million per year. "This plan calls for millions per year in extra spending. What will happen to faculty salaries then?" said Phillips.

Of primary concern for the AAUP and some faculty members is the plan's use of the term "cultural competency," which is not defined within the plan's text. John Shuford, the interim associate director for the Center on Diversity and Community (CoDaC) said that cultural competency was not defined for two reasons: It would not be appropriate for the drafters of the blueprint to impose a definition because that might have led to adverse responses by some. Secondly, the working definition would have become the focal point of debate, preventing a deeper discussion of the ideas presented. As such, the diversity work group, led by former Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity Greg Vincent, decided not to include a definition. Shuford said that various definitions of cultural competency could be found because it is a popular concept.

Byron Kunisawa, a lecturer and academic who specializes in analyzing the relationship between people and institutions, helped popularize the term cultural competency. He first used it in his seminal work "Designs of Omission," in which he concluded that "bias and discrimination are endemic to the structure and methodology of every system and institution in America." Although he had no direct role in the drafting of the Five Year Diversity Plan, he said he was thrilled that another institution was taking steps to rectify racial biases. "I'm glad the University is trying to do something measurable," said Kunisawa. Kunisawa said cultural competency is a generic term that describes the importance of utilizing the elements of culture to assess and interact with diverse populations. He said it has been most helpful in the medical field. "Bottom line, it forces one to acknowledge that culture is an important factor to consider whenever a multicultural situation presents itself," Kunisawa said.

Currently, President Frohnmayer said he is taking the AAUP's suggestion and creating an executive council of faculty members to review the Five Year Diversity Plan in order to define key terms, assuage faculty concerns and iron out the wrinkles.



Another excerpt about the far-Left Brooklyn College. For another article on the same, see here (excerpted previously on this blog on 3nd June)

Traditionally, prospective teachers needed to demonstrate knowledge of their subject field and mastery of essential educational skills. In recent years, however, an amorphous third criterion called "dispositions" has emerged. As one conference devoted to the concept explained, using this standard would produce "teachers who possess knowledge and discernment of what is good or virtuous." Advocates leave ideologically one-sided education departments to determine "what is good or virtuous" in the world.

In 2002, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education explicitly linked dispositions theory to ensuring ideological conformity among education students. Rather than asking why teachers' political beliefs are in any way relevant to their ability to perform well in the classroom, NCATE issued new guidelines requiring education departments that listed social justice as a goal to "include some measure of a candidate's commitment to social justice" when evaluating the "dispositions" of their students. As neither traditional morality nor social justice commitment in any way guarantee high-quality teachers, this strategy only deflects attention away from the all-important goal of training educators who have command of content and the ability to instruct.

The program at my own institution, Brooklyn College, exemplifies how application of NCATE's new approach can easily be used to screen out potential public school teachers who hold undesirable political beliefs. Brooklyn's education faculty, which assumes as fact that "an education centered on social justice prepares the highest quality of future teachers," recently launched a pilot initiative to assess all education students on whether they are "knowledgeable about, sensitive to and responsive to issues of diversity and social justice as these influence curriculum and pedagogy, school culture, relationships with colleagues and members of the school community, and candidates' analysis of student work and behavior."

At the undergraduate level, these high-sounding principles have been translated into practice through a required class called "Language and Literacy Development in Secondary Education." According to numerous students, the course's instructor demanded that they recognize "white English" as the "oppressors' language." Without explanation, the class spent its session before Election Day screening Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11. When several students complained to the professor about the course's politicized content, they were informed that their previous education had left them "brainwashed" on matters relating to race and social justice.

Troubled by this response, at least five students filed written complaints with the department chair last December. They received no formal reply, but soon discovered that their coming forward had negative consequences. One senior was told to leave Brooklyn and take an equivalent course at a community college. Two other students were accused of violating the college's "academic integrity" policy and refused permission to bring a witness, a tape recorder, or an attorney to a meeting with the dean of undergraduate studies to discuss the allegation. Despite the unseemly nature of retaliating against student whistleblowers, Brooklyn's overall manner of assessing commitment to "social justice" conforms to NCATE's recommendations, previewing what we can expect as other education programs more aggressively scrutinize their students' "dispositions" on the matter.

Must prospective public school teachers accept a professor's argument that "white English" is the "oppressors' language" in order to enter the profession? In our ideologically imbalanced academic climate, the combination of dispositions theory and the new NCATE guidelines risk producing a new generation of educators certified not because they mastered their subject but because they expressed fealty to the professoriate's conception of "social justice."


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, July 03, 2005


'Just pretend to be some environmental freak and post random rants'

Summertime, and the learnin' is easy... or so one would think if one encountered North Carolina State students discussing their distance-learning "Multidisciplinary Studies" course in "Environmental Ethics":

MDS 201: Environmental Ethics
Interdisciplinary consideration of ways in which field of study coupled with personal/cultural values contribute towards either solving or compounding environmental problems; provides framework for process of making ethical decisions.

Recently, a student turned to her peers on the "Study Hall" forum of the "Wolf Web" (not affiliated with NCSU) seeking reassurance about the class. Her concern was that "the reading is killer," so she wanted to know if anyone had either taken the course and could offer some advice "or have printed out their quizzes w/the answers??!!" (All quotations, sic.)

Reassurance was swift. The first respondent, also in the class, noted that "Google helps." This would be a recurring theme. Other respondent starts discussing the merits of taking the class through Distance Education. For example, one stated:

if any of you are taking it distance ed, DO NOT DO THE READINGS. trust me, i failed EVERY QUIZ during the 10 week class and still got an A+ . If you post 5-6 times a week in the discussions, you will automatically receive an A+, no questions asked. Just pretend to be some environmental freak and post random rants (even if they dont make sense) and respond to other people's questions.

Just in case his main point was buried in all that mangled syntax, he repeated: "EVERYONE GETS AN A+."

Another student affirmed that narrative, adding "I never read, and just used Google on all the quizzes to get B-Cs. Discussed like crazy, bam, A+."

The originating student was encouraged, but she still sounded incredulous: "yeah the quizes are killing me so i was thinking about droping it but i do post like crazy. so those of you who yook it did not make 90's and up on all your quizes and still got a A+?? and yeah the reading is killer." Nevertheless, she reported feeling "MUCH BETTER" - especially because she does take the online course.

Another offered his take on the course message boards:

I feel those message boards are full of bs and people must write just to get the A+ because most of the stuff doesn't make sense and is the same thing over and over again. Geez if you get an A+ for posting, I better start now!

That reaction was followed by a student confessing, "man i just scan the reading while taking the quiz, get decent enuf grades."

One student, however, was rather rude in his comments about the class and the overarching "Multidisciplinary Studies" discipline. In a profanity-laden response, he said it was "A [profanity] MDS CLASS. THE ENTIRE [profanity] THING IS BASED ON PERSONAL OPINION HOW SIMPLER DO YOU WANT IT TO BE?"

Another student volunteered that she took the once-a-week session of the class, which was the "easiest A ever." One who took the distance-ed version reported that he "used google for finding the answers," "got at least a B on all my quizzes" (except one, which he was "allowed to submit again"), "gave up on the reading after a few weaks," "did only 2 posts a week (some late too)," "didn't do any of the extra credit papers," and "still got an A- in the class."

Finally, someone summed it all up for the concerned topic-starter:

Yes, there were a lot of readings, but all you really have to do is read the first and last sentence in each paragraph and take notes on the general ideas of each reading. Then...before a test, study for, say, about an hour and bam, A+! I took me 15 min to do the mid term and 20 min to the do final. It was the easiest class I ever took in college.

As this student pointed out, however, it's not just students' GPAs that benefit from this course. Mama Earth does, too: "hey, you get to learn a little bit about major environmental events in recent history, so yay for Earth."

Post lifted from here


"How often does your 6th-grade daughter have oral sex?" If the question offends you, then talk to the school officials at Shrewsbury, Mass. But don't expect a sympathetic response. When Mark Fisher protested quizzing his 12-year-old daughter about oral sex (among other topics), the school authorities asserted their right to gather such information without his consent.

The questionnaire is not limited to Massachusetts; it is nationwide. And the 'problem' is not the gathering of information but the denial of parental rights and reasonable concerns. The Shrewsbury questionnaire is part of The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) that was established in 1990 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to monitor youth behaviors that influence health. The CDC website offers a 22-page version of the YRBS, which consists of 87 questions. Seven questions address sexual behavior. For example, the posted questionnaire asks, "How old were you when you had sexual intercourse for the first time?" And, was a condom used?

Past this point, the facts become confused. For one thing, there is no mention of oral sex on the CDC site. Nevertheless, each school district selected to participate in the YRBS is able to add or subtract questions. Given that Shrewsbury has refused to release its version of the questionnaire, parents quite reasonably suspect the worst. Without disclosure of the survey to parents or the public, Fisher's claim that students are asked to identify themselves as heterosexual, gay or bisexual stands.

For another thing, the national YRBS claims to report upon student in the 9th through 12th grades. Fisher's daughter is in the 6th grade, where students are typically 11 or 12-years-old. However, other reports -- from Planned Parenthood, for example -- to confirm that 6th graders are being surveyed. In Shrewsbury students in grades 6, 8, 9 and 11 took part. Without parental oversight and with school authorities unwilling to disclose questionnaires, no one really knows what information is being gathered. Or rather, from the posted form, some things are clear. School authorities wish to know if parents have committed an illegal action.

Question 10: "During the past 30 days, how many times did you ride in a car or other vehicle driven by someone who had been drinking alcohol?"

Authorities also wish to know if your child has committed an illegal act.

Question 45: "How old were you when you tried marijuana for the first time?"

The posted form admonishes, "DO NOT write your name on this survey. The answers you give will be kept private." But government information is notoriously non-private and teachers are easily able to identify respondents. Moreover, confidentiality tends to erode easily when issues of child endangerment and criminal conduct are raised. (Does anyone believe that a child who circles "6 or more times" for Question 14 -- "During the past 30 days, on how many days did you carry a weapon such as a gun, knife, or club on school property?" -- will not have his or her file tagged?)

Nevertheless, the crux of the matter is not whether information on 11-year-olds will be kept private. It is: Does the government have a right to side-step parental consent and collect such information about children of any age without parental permission? (By "such information" I mean highly personal data and/or data that could possibly lead to criminal prosecution.) That is what Fisher is demanding of the Massachusetts' Department of Education: active parental involvement. At this point, state law requires parents to explicitly exempt their children from programs involving sexuality. Fisher is fighting for a bill that requires parental permission before children are included. Explicit permission is particularly important in situations where parents seem to be -- in Fisher's words -- "kept in the dark."

School committee President Deborah Peeples reportedly explained that parents are permitted to view the survey but they are not allowed to take a copy home. Why? "It might be misinterpreted or misunderstood or they could use it to direct their children's responses," Peeples said. In short, parents might discuss the sexual (and other) topics with their children. Clearly, the school does not think such discussion is appropriate; conversation about the sexual survey is not appropriate between parent and children but should remain between government and child.

More here

Public schools failing to combat predatory employees: "Julia Haich had been misled by the school she trusted to protect her, and now another girl was suffering. On March 20, Steven Ostrin, a 51-year-old history teacher at New York's prestigious Brooklyn Tech, was arrested for allegedly groping and kissing a 15-year-old student. It was not his first offense. Haich, now 19, said Ostrin molested her in 2002 -- but when she reported the assaults to school officials, they persuaded her not to press charges, promising Ostrin would retire at the end of the academic year. Haich believed them. 'I thought if I spoke up about what happened, it would never happen again,' she told the New York Daily News for a March 29 story. 'I was wrong.'"


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