Saturday, August 20, 2005


The cartoon that goes with this story is pretty apt. Excerpts from "The Times" below:

A-Level pass rates will record their lowest rise for more than two decades when the results are released this morning, The Times has learnt. The pass rate in the examinations, taken by more than 265,000 students, will reach 96.2 per cent, up just 0.2 of a percentage point from 2004. Sources close to the Joint Council for Qualifications, the umbrella group representing exam boards, told The Times that the proportion of A grades had risen more sharply, by 0.4 of a percentage point to just under 22.8 per cent of entries - the lowest since 2000.

But ministers and exam boards will maintain that the academic "gold standard" is being maintained in the face of allegations of "dumbing down".... Lord Adonis of Camden Town, the Schools Minister, made a strong defence of A levels yesterday, insisting that better results were the product of improved teaching and increased government investment in education. He dismissed the "bogus argument" that exams were getting easier and said that students could have full confidence that standards were being maintained. "Continued progress in exam performance is real - it is not the result of dumbing down of standards - and the roots of this success lie in a fundamental shift in the quality of teaching in our schools," he said in a speech at a summer school for gifted children in Canterbury...

David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "I am absolutely certain that an increase in A grades and in the overall pass rate is a tremendous tribute to the work of students and their teachers. But at some stage - sooner rather than later - the Government has got to face the fact that the current system is creaking. "Universities and employers are finding it more and more difficult to make sense of the grades for university entrance and employment purposes."

Independent schools said that the A level was in "terminal decline" and hinted at establishing their own alternative qualification. Geoff Lucas, general secretary of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference of 314 leading schools, said: "It is not just that A level no longer discriminates between candidates. It no longer prepares them properly in key subjects because it has become such a mechanical exam."

The Institute of Directors said that there was little evidence that A-level standards had fallen. Miles Templeman, its Director-General, said that employers were more worried about low levels of literacy and numeracy among school-leavers. "There is no case for replacing GCSEs and A levels with a diploma. A revolution in the examination system would not in itself deliver the improvements that are so desperately needed," he said.

More here


This spring Professor William Bradford received a poor vote from the law faculty at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis both on a straw vote for his eventual tenure, and even on a vote simply to retain him as an untenured associate professor for the next three years. This occurred despite the fact that he has an outstanding teaching record (including a teaching award from the law students), an excellent record of service, and a stunning record of publication, including a book, a forthcoming book, and 21 articles in law reviews or in books-enough ordinarily to assure someone at Indy-Law not merely of tenure but of a full professorship. Indeed, one of his colleagues with a similar record of publication, a person who came to IU-Indy School of Law in the same semester as Bradford, has just received promotion not merely to tenure but to full professor. Bradford believes that he was denied tenure because he refused to sign a petition circulated in the law school this spring which supported Ward Churchill, the Professor of Ethnic Studies at Colorado who described the victims of 9/11 as "little Eichmanns" deserving what they got. The petition was circulated by Florence Roisman, who is a full professor holding a prestigious Chair in Law at the school. Bradford's position was that as far as he was concerned, someone who couldn't distinguish between commercial office workers and Nazis who engineered the Holocaust did not deserve to teach.

What makes the story even more interesting is that while Ward Churchill falsely claims to be an Indian, William Bradford really IS an Indian. He is a Chiricahua Apache. He is also a veteran, who served for 10 years in the armed forces, including at the Pentagon. He says Roisman's response to his refusal to sign the Ward Churchill petition was to say to him: "What kind of Native American ARE you?" Bradford sees this as an expectation that as an Indian, he is expected by leftist colleagues such as Florence Roisman to support any other Indian or even someone who just CLAIMS to be an Indian. Bradford calls such expectations racist.

When he refused to conform to Roisman's view of what an Indian's opinions should be, she engineered a vote in the law school in which one-third of the faculty voted against retaining Bradford for future tenure, and one-third voted against retaining him for three more years untenured. This is a bad sign concerning his eventual tenure; university administrations only rarely grant tenure to someone against whom one-third of the department has voted. The vote on Bradford HAD to be political in origin, because on the merits (teaching, service, publication) Bradford should obviously already be tenured. Indeed, he should probably be a full professor.

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, August 19, 2005


The poor b****s cannot even read properly -- and we're not talking about dropouts here. Leftists destroy anything they get control over and American education sure is a prime example of that

Only about half of this year's high school graduates have the reading skills they need to succeed in college, and even fewer are prepared for college-level science and math courses, according to a yearly report from ACT, which produces one of the nation's leading college admissions tests. The report, based on scores of the 2005 high school graduates who took the exam, some 1.2 million students in all, also found that fewer than one in four met the college-readiness benchmarks in all four subjects tested: reading comprehension, English, math and science. "It is very likely that hundreds of thousands of students will have a disconnect between their plans for college and the cold reality of their readiness for college," Richard L. Ferguson, chief executive of ACT, said in an online news conference yesterday.

ACT sets its college-readiness benchmarks - including the reading comprehension benchmark, which is new this year - by correlating earlier students' ACT scores with grades they actually received as college freshmen. Based on that data, the benchmarks indicate the skill level at which a student has a 70 percent likelihood of earning a C or better, and a 50 percent chance of earning a B or better. Among those who took the 2005 test, only 51 percent achieved the benchmark in reading, 26 percent in science, and 41 percent in math; the figure for English was 68 percent. Results from the new optional ACT writing test, which was not widely taken this year, were not included in the report.

About 40 percent of the nation's 2005 high school graduates took the ACT, and the average overall score, 20.9 of a possible 36, was unchanged from the year before. But Dr. Ferguson found it heartening that scores were holding even, given that the pool of test takers had become so much larger and more diverse, in part because both Illinois and Colorado now use the ACT to test all students, even those who do not see themselves as college-bound.

Minority students now make up 27 percent of all ACT test takers, up from 24 percent in the class of 2001. The number of Hispanic test takers has grown 40 percent in that period, and the number of African-American test takers 23 percent. Caucasians taking the test have increased by only 2 percent. "It's wonderful that more and more students who might not have considered college several years ago are now making plans for education beyond high school," Dr. Ferguson said.

But it is a source of concern, he said, that too many students are not taking the kind of rigorous high school courses that will prepare them for college. In fact, only 56 percent of this year's graduates who took the ACT had completed the recommended core curriculum for college-bound students: four years of English and three years each of social studies, science and math at the level of algebra or higher. Those who do complete the core curriculum are far more likely to meet college readiness standards, Dr. Ferguson said, but the percentage who complete that core has been falling. "The message doesn't seem to be getting though," he said.

The ACT report highlighted other worrisome trends as well, including a continuing decline in the percentage of students planning to major in engineering, computer science and education. And at a time when more women than men go to college, Dr. Ferguson said, it is also a matter of concern that 56 percent of this year's graduates who took the ACT were female, and only 44 percent male. As in previous years, men had higher average math and science scores, and women higher averages scores in English and reading.



This story is from Australia but is certainly not unique to Australia

It's the moment all new teachers dread - standing in front of 30 bright-eyed students eager for a maths lesson, knowing they are only just ahead of the youngsters after swotting up on the textbook the night before. Up to 40 per cent of high school maths classes are taught by teachers with no training in the subject and, according to academics, many of them cannot add five one-digit numbers without a calculator.

That is hardly surprising as teachers spend little time at university actually learning maths. Instead, trainee teachers are being instructed - in the words of universities - in how to teach "the social, cultural and political contexts" of mathematics or to think mathematically "from socially inclusive and critical perspectives". This "psychobabble" has been highlighted as a problem for primary school teachers, who need a wide range of skills to cover the extensive curriculum and cater for the range of students' academic ability. The director of the International Centre of Excellence for Education in Mathematics, Garth Gaudry, says the average four-year primary bachelor of education degree devotes just 7 per cent of study time to "anything remotely to do with mathematics".

Only four of 31 Australian universities require trainee teachers to have studied mathematics to year 12 level. More than half do not require any senior school mathematics. "An extremely high proportion of the very small number of courses containing the words 'mathematics' or 'mathematics education' . don't delve into mathematics at all," Gaudry says. "They're about sociological theory, or pop psychology about theories of learning and the child as a learner."

Saddled with teachers with only a minimal grasp of mathematics, students were turning off the subject and often entered high school ill-prepared for secondary studies, he says. "The degree requirements in education faculties in universities are often cast so low . that the poor trainees are going out into primary schools utterly unprepared for the task of teaching mathematics," Gaudry says. His federally funded centre was set up this year to improve mathematics education, from kindergarten to postgraduate students.

The Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers, with 5000 members, said in a recent submission to a Federal Government inquiry that there was "strong anecdotal evidence" that mathematics instruction in teaching degrees "has been curtailed in many institutions". In high schools, the shortage of specialist teachers is being felt. A 2003 survey by the association found that two in five secondary classes were taught by teachers with no training in mathematics, with country schools most affected.

The teaching of maths has been changing. In modern mathematics, students are taught to add, subtract, multiply or estimate using mental computation. In other words, a return to mental arithmetic. The catchcry is "Do it in your head". Students are encouraged to understand concepts before they practise their number sense, perhaps by playing a card game. Then they memorise the basic facts - a variation on their parents' "drill and kill" chanting of times tables.

Ed Lewis, a mathematics education lecturer at the Australian Catholic University, says the emphasis on mental and oral work reflected "the prime mode of calculation used in society". "People do things in their heads; if they can't they will pick up a calculator," he says. "The research tells us that students need to understand the concepts first . Once they have a good handle on the concepts, then they can memorise."

The NSW primary syllabus was modernised in 2002 to reflect these changes, and introduced a new strand called "working mathematically". It underpins what primary school students do in patterns and algebra; data; measurement; space and geometry; and numbers, by stressing the skills of questioning, reasoning, applying strategies, reflecting and communicating. Lewis and colleague Jim Grant were consultants on the mathematics syllabus shake-up, the first since 1989. The syllabus now promotes mental computation, problem-solving, mathematics in a real-life context and more on technology. Grant says the changes were influenced by feedback from teachers that students could cope with more challenging problems. "Children were finding a lot of the syllabus too easy," he says.

There is greater precision in measurement, such as working out a swimming race time down to the parts of a second. Whole numbers, which previously only went up to 1 million, now soar into the trillions. But calculators, which have been available for 35 years and can be used from kindergarten, are still resisted by some teachers due to a fear they will "interfere with learning", Lewis says. "If teachers aren't using calculators they are missing the boat because kids are using them at home anyway."

Like many other subjects, maths is often linked to real-world examples but exactly what grabs students' attention is a $64,000 question. Steve Thornton, a lecturer in mathematics education at Canberra University, says a lesson for senior students on buying a house and getting a mortgage "doesn't interest kids at that age". "As teachers we try to find examples that we think will interest students but quite often what we think will motivate them actually doesn't," he says. Often a "purely mathematical" conundrum was the most exciting way to teach students.

And for the teachers, Lewis says the challenge is for universities to develop "better mathematicians" through teacher education courses. Gaudry believes universities need to set the bar as high for school teachers as it should be for the students they will teach. Standards all round must be improved before too much more damage is done. "Many of the people pressed into teaching [mathematics] in the junior years come from other subject areas and, therefore, have an inadequate training and mastery of mathematics," he says. "This is a very serious problem and it must be addressed. Time is rapidly running out."


Indian socialism at work: "Students of a school in India locked up their teachers for the day as punishment for not turning up egularly. Police officers led by a local magistrate rescued 12 teachers from a classroom at the Jambura high school, near Agartala. Magistrate Basir Ali told The Statesman: 'The students have genuine reasons to be angry, as some teachers invariably come late or never attend classes at all. There were charges of some teachers coming to the school drunk and some of them smoking inside classes.' The school authorities have now been asked to submit a report on the students' allegations."


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, August 18, 2005


Universities are coming under mounting pressure to adopt admissions tests to distinguish between the best candidates as record numbers of A-level students are forecast to gain top grades this week. With almost a quarter of girls predicted to achieve A grades, it has emerged that the Government is preparing to back nationwide trials of a generic university entrance test, as early as next month. The move indicates that Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, has understood universities' concerns that the examinations are no longer a sufficiently reliable gauge of pupils' intelligence.

Over the past 22 years, the percentage of pupils achieving grade As at A level has risen from 8.9 per cent in 2002 to 22.4 per cent last year. At the same time, the pass rate has gone up from 68.2 per cent to 96 per cent. Alan Smithers, director of the University of Buckingham's Centre for Education and Employment Research, said yesterday: "The number of universities setting their own entrance exams is bound to increase. It looks like a quarter of girls will get A grades this year, so unless national exams have tougher questions, universities are going to have to introduce tests to discriminate fairly."

Since 2003, Oxford, Cambridge and other leading universities claim that they have been forced to set additional entrance exams for subjects such as medicine and law, history, because A levels alone no longer help them to identify the very best. Last year, Cambridge was forced to turn away 5,325 applicants who went on to achieve straight As.

The Government has ruled out any changes to A levels until 2008, but yesterday Tessa Stone, director of the Sutton Trust education charity, confirmed that preparations were under way for a national trial of the US-style admissions test, or Scholastic Aptitude Test, with 50,000 A-level students later in the year. She told The Times: "We're hoping the tests will come off in the autumn . . . Teams of researchers will approach schools this September, as soon as we get the government go-ahead."

The trial, which will cover a representative sample of A-level students around the country, will be conducted by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER). It will track students from the time that they sit the test, through university and afterwards, to measure the examination's effectiveness. Dr Stone added: "We think it's very important for widening participation in particular, and that admissions tutors have something alongside A levels to make an admission decision."

Last year, Steven Schwartz, the vice-chancellor of Brunel University, who chaired a task force on fairer university admissions, came out in support of the Scholastic Aptitude Test, which is widely used by American universities. Professor Schwartz cited research by the Sutton Trust charity which indicated that, of 30 British students achieving 1,200 points, enough to be considered by Harvard in a US-style test, only one had achieved three A grades at A level.

Critics claim that the test can be coached and that it does not measure a student's aptitude for an individual subject. Professor Smithers said that a previous trial in Britain in the 1960s was suspended because it did not add to the sum of knowledge provided by A levels.

However, at Oxford University, a spokeswoman said that admissions tutors might consider more selective tests if numbers increased for other popular subjects. She said: "Nothing can be ruled out . . . but one thing admissions tutors have felt is that subject-specific tests are a better way of finding an aptitude for a subject, than a general test."

As more than 260,000 students prepare to receive their A-level results on Thursday, an ICM poll revealed yesterday that almost half of Britain's adults believe that A levels have become easier. Ms Kelly was criticised this year when she rejected radical plans to replace A levels, GCSEs and vocational qualifications with a four-level diploma.

Yesterday, a spokeswoman for the Department for Education and Skills said that A levels were "here to stay" and it was premature to theorise about exam results before they had been published. She added, however, that the Qualifications Curriculum Authority, the examinations watchdog, was examining A levels to see how "we can increase the stretch of our brightest students by introducing tougher questions and the introduction of an extended project. We will provide more details on these proposals later in the year."


The teaching of reading goes back to phonics in Australian schools

The "whole language" fallacy goes back around a century but destructive know-all "educationists" seem to be themselves incapable of learning

Children are set to learn reading in the same way their parents did as part of a Federal Government push for back-to-basics teaching in classrooms. The head of a national literacy inquiry, Ken Rowe, said nearly one in three children were not learning to read properly because they lacked the building blocks provided by phonics, the system of sounding out letters and syllables. "There does seem to be a tail of underachievement, and the major concern is boys," Dr Rowe said. "You'll find roughly 30 per cent of year 9 students have functional literacy problems. The only way we can really address this is with a nationwide solution."

His report is due within weeks. The federal Minister for Education, Brendan Nelson, says he will withhold funding from states that resist the recommendations. In phonics teaching, emphasis is on the relationship between letters, or syllables, and their sounds. They are sounded one at a time (such as c-a-t) through repetitive exercises that begin with easy words and move on to more difficult ones. It was generally replaced in classrooms in the 1980s by the whole language method of immersing children in print and allowing them to absorb words. In recent years schools have adopted a blend of the two. But Dr Rowe, a research director with the Australian Council for Educational Research, said whole language teaching had acquired "too great an emphasis in some schools". He is expected to recommend a national scheme for the systematic teaching of phonics.

Dr Nelson, who commissioned the inquiry, said: "I suspect there's a lot of teachers who simply do not know how to teach phonics, or they're working in educational bureaucracies that frown on the use of phonics." He said he would "mandate" to ensure the states implemented Dr Rowe's proposals. And he would withhold funding if they resisted. "If they don't [agree], that then leaves us with the only language they seem to understand, and that's money."

Dr Rowe said: "The constructivist way [of whole language teaching], for 70 per cent of kids that may be appropriate, but then you have to take into account the 30 per cent for whom it doesn't work. They need direct instruction, or what you might call systematic phonics. "But there is no dichotomy . all evidence-based research shows both ways of teaching are valuable depending on the development learning needs of the child. We just need to be sure that one isn't downplayed."

The most recent Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development literacy review found 15-year-old students in NSW performed second only to those from Finland. Dr Rowe said Australia was among the top countries such as Finland, New Zealand and Canada, and performed better than Britain and the US. But the latest national literacy results show about one in 10 year 5 and year 7 students cannot meet their reading benchmarks.

Maureen Walsh, an education lecturer at the Australian Catholic University, said phonics was taught in schools among "a rich blend of principles". "It's silly to say we need more phonics," she said. "We give all our teaching students at ACU a lot of phonics instruction. And anyway, we moved on from the phonics and whole language debate 10 years ago - we now have a model that draws from both and also takes in social context and new technology."

Dr Rowe and his committee of academics, teachers and parents have read 400 submissions since October. And they have examined the findings of a British parliamentary committee that completed a similar inquiry into literacy four months ago. Its report noted the success of early phonics programs in some British schools and recommended a review of British teaching strategy, which treats phonics as just one of many learning tools. Dr Walsh suggested the push for "the explicit teaching of phonics is not a bad thing in itself but it would be very damaging if it is at the expense of losing many newer, excellent approaches".



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, August 17, 2005


You couldn't make this stuff up

A growing number of Labour councils are taking parents to court to try to prevent them from sending their children to the school of their choice. Alfie Sidford, 4, won the right to attend his popular local school in Haringey, North London, from an independent appeal panel. But the Labour local authority is spending thousands of pounds to take his parents to the High Court to send him to a more distant primary.

In Reading, Berkshire, a group of parents have spent 2,000 pounds each to hire a barrister to uphold an independent appeal decision to send their children to the popular local school. Labour-controlled Reading council is fighting them in court because there are empty desks to fill elsewhere in the borough. Both cases fly in the face of Tony Blair's commitment to parental choice and are driving the Government's urgent quest to make the expansion of popular schools a reality.

Anthony Sidford, Alfie's father, said that his son wanted to go to nearby Weston Park primary school to join his friends and still did not know that the council was battling to stop him. Mr Sidford, who is representing himself in the High Court case, added: "I never thought that making an application to go to the local primary school would end up in the High Court. When Labour came to power in 1997, one of the mantras was `education, education, education'. We are fighting for the right for our child to be provided with a good local convenient education and the independent appeal panel agreed with us. But it does not seem as if the local Labour council is actually giving substance to the rhetoric. "It seems strange that Haringey council can find money for lawyers but is apparently unable to provide enough places."

The council said that it regretted the distress to the Sidfords but it had a duty to all parents to treat every case consistently in line with the law. Reading council is battling 12 sets of parents in the High Court who won the right for their children to attend Caversham primary school at an independent appeal panel. Some even have siblings at the oversubscribed school.

Clare Cummings, who wants her daughter Chloe, 4, to attend the school next month along with her older sister, Gemma, said: "We won our appeal and then we were taken to the High Court and had our appeals quashed. We are going back to a second appeal later this month. Parental choice has just not worked for us. We have had a terrible time. "The parents hired a barrister and a lawyer and we have all got to pay around 2,000 pounds."

Reading council said that to admit the children would affect education at the school and cost 200,000 pounds for one extra teacher over six years.


Blair demands more school choice

Tony Blair has ordered officials to make it easier and quicker for popular schools to expand after the failure of measures to improve parent power in education. An Education White Paper this autumn will rewrite the rulebook on school choice after a 37 million pound school expansion programme that was begun in 2003 resulted in just seven popular schools adding extra classes.

Parents will be given new rights to demand sixth-form provision and schools may lose the ability to block the expansion of a successful neighbour even if it threatens their own viability, The Times understands.

A range of other measures is being considered including more direct financial incentives for popular schools and the reform of School Organisation Committees, the local bodies responsible for planning school places. Successful head teachers will be offered even greater incentives to "expand" their school by taking over a failing school nearby.

Mr Blair is said to be deeply frustrated that his continued pledges of a revolution in parental choice to enable hundreds more pupils to go to their first preference school have come to little. Speaking at the Labour Party conference in 2002, the Prime Minister said: "Why shouldn't there be a range of schools for parents to choose from . . . Why shouldn't good schools expand or take over failing schools or form federations?"

But figures from the Department for Education show that it has so far received just 20 applications for the popular schools expansion programme which came into force two summers ago. Seven have been approved, five rejected and eight are still being considered.

The White Paper expected in October will focus on Labour's manifesto promise to tailor schooling to the individual needs of every child. But Downing Street has been embarrassed by the actions of Labour councils taking parents to the High Court to stop them sending their children to the school of their choice. One source said: "School expansion is something we are looking at as we develop the White Paper proposals. "It is certainly the case that there has been a poor level of expansion over the past two years. "We need to do more to create the right incentives for a popular school to want to expand as well as making it easier or quicker."

Good schools will also be encouraged to expand using funding from Labour's 15-year Building Schools for the Future programme, which aims to refurbish every school. The ambitious proposals to expand popular schools hit problems not least because many head teachers do not want their schools to get bigger. They fear that this will change one of the qualities of the school that made it popular and successful in the first place.

John Dunford, the general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, said: "Schools see the next phase of development as getting better not getting larger because getting larger can put at risk the progress that you have already made. One of the major tensions in the Government education programme is the greater freedom for individual schools on the one hand and the thrust towards greater collaboration on the other. That will not be made easier by loosening restrictions on expansion



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, August 16, 2005

School Choice Knows No Color Lines

In the shadow of an old, prestigious, white-columned building, filled mostly with old, prestigious, white-collar politicians, stand thousands of black and Hispanic children who can only dream about growing up to pursue similar endeavors. These kids, our kids, are forced into some of the worst schools in the nation--where only 10 percent of students are proficient in reading and math and the idea of going to college is a joke. Or it was. The preceding scenario describes Washington, DC just over a year ago, when the city was on the verge of dramatic education reform that (sans more state meddling) will forever change the climate of learning in the nation's capital.

The 2004-2005 school year saw the first disbursements of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarships. For the first time ever, many families inside the Beltway had the chance to direct some of their own tax dollars by sending a student to a school of choice. The District's mayor, Anthony Williams, realized that after years of toil, several failed superintendents, and millions of dollars and rhetoric, the best opportunity for minority children to receive a quality education lay outside the halls of D.C. public schools.

Private schools answered the call and showed that fundamental skills like math and science know no color barriers. These independent and religious schools are truly examples of non-discrimination as they (unlike the District's conventional public schools) refuse to use race or income as an excuse for low achievement. Of course, the icing on the cake is that each Opportunity Scholarship is $3,000 less than the per-pupil expenditure in the public schools, an important fact that rarely makes the headlines.

The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship is just one example of how infusing sound market practices into the public education monopoly benefits kids. Nationally, more than 60,000 students receive similar scholarships to attend the elementary, middle, or high school of their parents' choice. There are many, however, who would choke the life out of this all-important movement. Like everything else in D.C., the battle over education policy has become partisan. Many have lined up in support of school choice (in the form of vouchers, tax credits, and charter schools) ... and just as many have voiced support for the status quo.

Defenders of the conventional public school system, with its rigid school districts based largely on socio-economic status, apparently discount the ability of everyday Americans to make sound decisions about their children's education. So many have bought into the teacher unions' lie: "Let us, the education experts, decide where your kids should go to school." That might not sound too ridiculous at first. But can you imagine what would happen if the United Auto Workers of America started mandating precisely what type of car you were allowed to drive? You can believe even the most anti-voucher member of Congress would cry foul if he were told what to drive to work. Why, then, won't state and federal legislators extend the same courtesy to every family in the country with respect to education?

Perhaps the solution is one of semantics. Whereas many Red-state-ers love the word "voucher," the term doesn't resonate with the people who need them most. I doubt many working-class Latin American families think of "vouchers" when searching for ways out of persistently poor-performing schools. For that reason, calling "vouchers" opportunity "scholarships" makes far more sense. Anyone who has ever contemplated paying for college understands the value of a scholarship. That is an important concept for school choice-minded leaders of black and Hispanic communities to consider. Once we can raise enough support for publicly funded scholarships (and scholarships generally), ever-responsive, vote-seeking politicians will have to listen. Representatives of minority communities across the country must themselves be taught that school choice is neither Red nor Blue. Most of all, it has the potential to help those who are shades of black and brown.

Complicated tax credit schemes and notions of non-compulsory education all miss an important point. While these plans are nice to chat about over dinner with economists and libertarians, the vast majority of minority families believe in the value of publicly funded education, and many remember the fight to get into schools in the first place. The best service to them is to ensure publicly funded entrance into the schools that are best for them. It is a dream a long time coming, and one that should be embraced on both sides of the political aisle.

At a reception in the spring I heard Rod Paige, former secretary of education, say the following: "The Declaration of Independence says that `all men are created equal.' Well, without a proper education he won't stay that way for long." Dr. Paige is right. The fight for meaningful education options is a fight as important as any that has been waged. Then, we fought against proponents of the status quo who wanted to keep people "separate but equal." Now, we fight against a system that seeks to keep people equally ignorant.


Australian Prime Minister warns Islamic schools to stick to official curricula

John Howard has warned private Islamic colleges not to stray too far from government-approved curriculums, saying there "could be cause for concern" about what they teach their students. The Prime Minister said Muslim colleges, like all schools, should be required to teach Australian values such as democracy, and warned that those that failed to do so faced having their government funding cut. "We have become too apologetic about our identity," Mr Howard said. "I'm in the process of satisfying myself as to whether there are any things that are being taught that shouldn't be."

Kim Beazley [Opposition leader] urged Mr Howard to put education on the agenda at a planned summit with Muslim leaders. "If we are serious about fighting terrorism in Australia, we must use education as part of a strategy to combat extremism," the Opposition Leader said. "We know that the mainstream Australian Muslim community does not support extremist teachings in schools or condone terrorist activities in any form," Mr Beazley said. "But we also must ensure that individual classrooms do not deviate from the mainstream and present opportunities for extremism."

But the comments perplexed Silma Ihram, principal of one of Australia's oldest Muslim colleges, Noor Al Houda, at Strathfield in Sydney's inner west, who said most Islamic colleges were committed to fighting extremism. Two years ago, Ms Ihram helped develop the Muslim Schools Charter, which has been signed by 18 of Australia's 23 Islamic colleges. It condemns all forms of terrorism, including in the name of Islam. "We acknowledge there are some people outside this school who might feel some sympathy for extremists," Ms Ihram said. "But I can say for certain that at this school we are teaching that terrorism is wrong. We are making sure our students know it is wrong."

Mohammad Hassan, a founding member of the Australian Council of Islamic Education and director of the Minaret College at Springvale, in Melbourne's outer east, said his school proudly flew the Australian flag every day. "Our students know very well they are Australian," he said. "We share the same values as other Australians."

President of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils Ameer Ali said: "Why pick on Muslim schools? Of course it's appropriate that all children mix with each other and learn these values, but why target only Muslims?"

Islamic colleges are growing faster - both in size and number - than any other schools in Australia. Most have been established in poor areas, meaning they qualify for millions of dollars in federal funding. In total, the schools get about $40million from the commonwealth, and a smaller amount from state governments.

Geoff Newcombe, executive director of the Association of Independent Schools in NSW, said all independent schools taught Australian values. "All schools are accountable to government for what they teach and how they teach it," Dr Newcombe said.



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, August 15, 2005


Congress is taking the first steps toward pressuring colleges to maintain ideological balance in the classroom, a move that supporters insist is needed to protect conservative students from being graded down by liberal professors. A resolution attached to the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, which has passed the House Education and the Workforce Committee and is expected to be taken up by the full House in September, tells colleges to grade students on the basis of their mastery of subject matter rather than on their political views.

The provision makes no mention of specific political leanings, but represents a victory for conservative student groups who have been arguing for years that American universities are bastions of liberalism seeking to impose their liberal orthodoxy on dissenters.

The measure is not binding, but some higher education analysts caution that it is not to be taken lightly. Colleges and universities, they say, should consider this a warning shot from a Republican-controlled Congress fed up with the liberal academy. ''If the universities don't move, all that's going to happen is this will build," said David Horowitz, a conservative author and a driving force in the free speech movement that inspired the resolution. ''They're sitting on a tinderbox. Now we have resolutions. I guarantee you, if they thumb their noses at this, there will be statutory legislation."

The resolution, which also tells institutions not to take political orientation into account when allocating money for programs and declares that campus speakers should reflect a range of viewpoints, was made following several recent controversies involving politics in the academy.

Last year, Columbia University launched an investigation of its Middle East studies department after a student documentary accused professors of intimidating Jewish students when they tried to express views supporting Israel. Earlier this year, Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y., reneged on a speaking invitation to University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill because he had published an article blaming America for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and comparing the victims to Nazis. The University of Colorado fired Churchill for his comments.

The resolution does not specify how colleges and universities should achieve political balance, only that schools should encourage expression of diverse views. But many college administrators fear that it could lead to congressional interference if students seek to explain low grades by saying they disagreed with their professor's political views. Also, the provision's biggest backers in Congress make no secret of their intent to make colleges more welcoming to conservative students

More here


It could teach a lot of American schools a thing or two

The school gates once marked a clear division of responsibility: on one side parents ruled and on the other teachers taught. Not any more. Conditioned to a highly competitive world, parents are challenging teachers to justify the trust that has always been extended to them - teachers can get with the program or get out of the way. "When your child goes to school you've got no idea what they're supposed to be learning and how they are being taught," says company manager Piers Morgan. "Parents often get mixed messages about what's happening in the school."

But at Cammeray Public School, where Hamish Morgan is in year 2, the lines of communication are clear. The classrooms are open to parental scrutiny, and mothers and fathers attend evening mathematics seminars to learn about syllabus developments. Teachers answer emails about homework from parents who have signed an agreement with the school about how the lessons will be taught. Each child has a "personalised learning" plan to fit the curriculum to individual needs. Hamish is a whiz with numbers so he does maths at year 3 level. "Parents want to know things like how much homework their kids are doing, is it too much, what should they be reading, and at what level," says Morgan, the president of the school council. The school's principal, Christine Taylor, says the team approach makes parents feel confident about what their children are learning and enables them to help more at home.

But for many other parents, what children are being taught at school is of paramount concern. Educated in the 1970s and '80s, when grammar went the way of the dodo, parents are demanding back-to-basics school lessons for their children. They want times tables drilled and poetry memorised stanza by stanza. At dinner parties, there is hand-wringing that children can't spell, do fractions, conjugate a verb and don't read "real" literature.

Social researcher Hugh Mackay says it's part of "a broader picture of parental concern about the well-being of their kids" and is heavily influenced by Australia's falling birth rate, now down to 1.7 babies per woman. With fewer children, parents are more protective and aspirational, and they want "the best education" for their brood.

On most indicators, school education in the 21st century is better than in the 20th century. Students score highly on international tests, are taking harder subjects for the HSC and 75 per cent finish year 12, compared with 35 per cent in the 1980s. But there are flashpoints in almost every subject - from alleged postmodernism in senior English to how maths is being taught in primary schools. In the past decade, subjects have been increasingly linked to the "real world" to be relevant to students. At the same time, conservative politicians and parents have called for a return to the three Rs, and there is evidence that education authorities are responding.

Parents are placing more value on their children's education "as seen in the growth of private education and demands for greater accountability", says Peter Knapp, the director of Educational Assessment Australia, a centre at the University of NSW. They are pushing for "more testing and rigorously teaching fundamentals like grammar early on. You can see that with the way grammar was brought back into the K-6 [kindergarten to year 6] syllabus," he says. This year about 200,000 students will sign up for his centre's tests. These academic inquisitions are on top of the 10 statewide exams they sit at school, starting with the Basic Skills Test in year 3 and finishing with the HSC in year 12. "Teachers are saying, 'We've got too many tests for kids' ... but parents are saying, 'There aren't enough tests, we want more'," Knapp says. "We now give our tests to one-third of all NSW schoolchildren, between about year 3 and year 10, in English, writing, computer skills, science and mathematics." He explains the return to fundamentals as a parental "backlash" against the education fads of the 1980s and '90s. "You got kids leaving school who couldn't write. Parents have become much more hard-nosed. They're paying for their kids' education and they want results. You see it in the trend away from state schools," he says.

When the federal Minister for Education, Brendan Nelson, launched his crusade last year for "plain language" student report cards, he was armed with the results of a $60,000 survey of 3000 parents. "Parents want to be told in plain language exactly how their kids are performing," he says. "They want to know how they are performing in relation to the rest of the class and they want to know how they're going against the rest of the country." From next year, 10,000 schools will be forced - through Government legislation - to give students an A, B, C, D or E grade and rank them into performance quartiles within the class. "The only people that I've had opposing our agenda for publishing school performance ... are teachers, principals and educational bureaucrats ... It's like having a dialogue with the deaf," Nelson says.

Mathematician Garth Gaudry, head of the federally funded International Centre of Excellence for Education in Mathematics, is a harsh critic of the lack of rigour in the curriculum. "If you ask the average parent they would say 'there are two subjects I really want my kid to master: English and mathematics'," he says. "They're absolutely right for the simple reason that if you know those two subjects you can learn lots of other things by yourself. They are foundation subjects."

The NSW Board of Studies is about to set guidelines on how much time should be allocated to each subject. Literacy and numeracy - which can be taught across subjects other than English and maths - should comprise 45 per cent to 55 per cent of the school week. It will be the first time in a generation that these "indicative" times have been used in schools, and they will be combined with a streamlined list of what is "mandatory" subject matter. There are only 24 teaching hours in a primary school week, yet the curriculum has grown like topsy, jamming in non-essential studies like road safety and recycling. The president of the Board of Studies, Professor Gordon Stanley, says the 316 "mandatory outcomes" that teachers have to teach will be replaced by new statements that spell out what students should be able to do at each stage of their schooling. These statements will list "the essential learning that we expect all schools to be delivering as part of the minimum curriculum". "From a parents' perspective I think the stage statements are more intelligible than some of the detail we have currently," he says.

The board's inspector of primary education, Margaret Malone, said the guidelines would cover 80 per cent of the school day and include times for English, maths, science, technology, creative arts, history, geography and personal development. The remaining 20 per cent of time gives schools flexibility to teach extra reading, religious instruction or use it for school sport.

Ironically, it is the "overcrowded curriculum" that has sent parents fleeing to coaching colleges for more tuition for their children. Mohan Dhall, public officer for the Australian Tutoring Association, said many parents feared that "the basic skills will be overlooked" because there was so much to cover in the curriculum. At Sydney's prestigious Ascham school, a mother this week told the Herald that "everybody I know has coaches, many have three". So what makes these parents, who are paying $18,000 a year in fees, seek more help? "We have coaching because we feel she is missing some of the basics," the mother said. Her daughter, doing her HSC, needs a high mark to get a place in her preferred university course.

Parents nostalgic for the "good old days" - when they were made to chant times tables until they were blue in the face - need a reality check, long-serving education bureaucrat Paul Brock politely suggests. "You would never, ever have done King Lear for the Leaving Certificate. You didn't even have to study poetry ... You could opt out of it. I have read chief examiners' reports in the '40s complaining bitterly that their students couldn't write or spell properly," says Brock, the director of learning and development research in the NSW Department of Education and Training. "The good old days? The HSC English curriculum now is immeasurably more challenging than the old Leaving Certificate English curriculum." In nearly two decades on the English syllabus committee, from the late 1960s into the 1980s, Brock watched the course content become more difficult. He is adamant that HSC English is now harder than ever before. "And despite all the fuss, the vast majority of texts on the syllabus are still classics by any definition of the word."

Poet Les Murray shudders when he recalls his school days in the 1950s. Poetry, which was seen as "an effeminate thing for girls", was rarely taught to boys and it was only by accident that he discovered the joy of verse. "I had one teacher, luckily, who showed me how exciting it was," he says. "Education in schools has always been pretty crap. I can't imagine it would be much worse now."

The results of two international assessments, released late last year, summed up the curriculum conflict for governments, educators, parents and employers. Our students know enough to get by in everyday life but they don't always do it by the book. The 12,500 Australian 15-year-olds tested for the OECD Program for International Student Assessment rated in the world's elite for how they could apply reading, mathematical and scientific skills to real-life problems. They had the mathematical skills to perform currency conversions and to read graphs in newspapers. But a quarter - and more boys than girls - were at or below the lowest international reading benchmark.

Geoff Masters, the chief executive of the Australian Council for Educational Research, says the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study - which examined 10,000 Australian year 4 and year 8 students - painted "a less positive picture" of how much they absorbed from maths and science textbooks. This test showed a disturbing 35 per cent of Australian year 8 students were at or under the lowest international maths benchmark. Both tests are run in more than 40 countries every three or four years, so it is possible to track each country's improvement, or lack thereof. The study has rung alarm bells because Australian students in the nine years to 2003 did not improve at the same rate as students from other countries and were significantly outperformed by England, Belgium, The Netherlands, Estonia and Hungary. This gave the appearance that "Australia has been standing still while other countries have been moving forward", Masters wrote last month in his centre's journal, Research Developments. "If Australia is to lift its performance in mathematics and science over the next decade, then greater attention will need to be given to the teaching of basic factual and procedural knowledge."

Anne Baker jokes that she and her husband, Chris, have laboured over enough homework to qualify for honorary Dip Eds. The couple send their son Simon, in year 11, and daughter Kim, in year 9, to the "parent-controlled" Covenant Christian School in Belrose. An association of parents at the school meets to determine the way the curriculum is taught, and runs the selection process for new teachers. Parents sit in on classes as helpers, organise reading groups for younger students, volunteer in the library and supervise exams. One conundrum the parents faced was whether to allow students to read the popular Harry Potter books when "they don't really reflect the Christian message". "Some parents didn't mind their kids reading it, but other parents did," says Baker. "We allowed the first two books to stay in the primary school, and the other books were only allowed in the senior school." At home she proofreads assignment drafts and tracks the children's workload. When Kim struggled, as a younger student, her mother spent "a year doing extra work with her at home". "Now that they're a bit older, it's not quite so hands-on," says Baker. "It's mainly making sure they're on schedule with their work, that they're sticking to a timetable. I help them break work down into chunks and time-manage. "I suppose we're like the new teachers, but outside school," she says.



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, August 14, 2005


There was a time when your locally elected school board members had the last word on what and how your child was taught, how the district's money was spent, who graduated from high school, how teachers were trained, and who was hired or fired. Not any more.

Arizona built its education system on "local control." Once powerful and independent governing boards firmly directed each of the state's more than 220 districts and were answerable mainly to district voters. But new federal and state laws swept in a massive reform movement and swept away much of that power and independence. It has left district school board members feeling the pressure of dividing up limited money, while caught between new mandates to push basic reading and math skills and their voters, many of whom are upset about changes board members are powerless to stop. The result: parents are further from the decisions makers for their neighborhood schools, classroom lesson plans are becoming more uniform, and fewer people will become school board members. "Do I feel local control is being stepped on? In lots of ways I think I do," said Vicki Johnson, Glendale Union High School district board president. "There are times we're feeling helpless and the pressure put on us. Can I say that we like it? No."

Like it or not, this education reform movement is rolling on without, and sometimes over, locally elected school boards with unhappy results for some members. Take, for example, the drama in Phoenix's Kyrene Elementary District. Right now, some parents are collecting signatures to recall Kyrene board president Rae Waters. They are upset over what they view as Waters' vote against daily arts and music classes in favor of more reading, writing and math classes so all students will excel on state tests and district schools can continue to be ranked as top performers. "With stakes that high, school boards are put in a position of making difficult decisions," Waters said. "It's taken our choices away and in many ways, our ability to respond to community desires." Waters added: "It drives me crazy."

Newly elected Kyrene board member Mitzi Epstein already said board members and teachers tell her the district must focus on state test scores, while parents tell her they want more foreign language, art and music. "But the law said we're going to look at math, English and, soon, science and that's all," Epstein said. "Here I am stuck in the middle."

Things began to change for education in the mid 1990s when Arizona voters, as well as those across the country, appeared to lose faith in public schools and politicians began to use those doubts to gain votes. These new politicians joined state lawmakers and state business leaders in backing a reform movement. The state received the go-ahead to create grade-by-grade learning goals, known as Arizona Academic Standards, and a statewide testing system to ensure those standards were being taught in every classroom from Yuma to Chinle.

Schools where too many children fail Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards tests are shamed by being publicly ranked as "underperforming" or "failing" and face a state takeover. The state can replace a failing school's principal, take charge of its budget, reconfigure the grades on its campus; even turn over the school's management to a private company. Starting this year, students not passing the high school AIMS test will not get a diploma. "It restricts what is taught," Glendale Union board president Johnson said. "We've been accused of teaching to the test. What do you expect us to do? Kids will pay if we don't keep up. We are boxed in. I do feel boxed in as far as the mandates coming down, yes I do. It is so confining."

The state's reform movement could have been yet another of Arizona's political whims, but then the Bush Administration and Congress enacted a similar national reform program, called the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Now, federal education money is tied to every state's willingness to follow a similar path to reform. "Accountability" became an education buzzword, micromanaging schools became a national and state obsession, and Arizona school districts had few options but to conform. As federal and state laws strip away the power of locally elected district boards, some board members said parents and kids lose.

* Classroom curriculum becomes more uniform.

* Power is concentrated at the state capital and removed from the neighborhood, making it more difficult for parents to influence changes.

* The state could be forced to pay board members, as fewer and fewer people are willing to run for what has become a 30-hour-a-week volunteer job.

* There is no sign state or federal education officials will pull back on their mandates. Just the opposite, they continue to make proposals that would weaken the power of local school boards.

New federal and state mandates show no signs of softening. This year alone, some Arizona lawmakers tried to create a uniform set of text books to be used in all state schools and others wanted to require school districts to put 65 percent of their budgets into classroom spending and less into administration.

Maricopa County Schools Superintendent Sandra Dowling is responsible for replacing board members who quit and encouraging candidates to run. It's getting tougher and tougher and Dowling is convinced the state or districts will have to offer some sort of pay to entice qualified people to sit on local school boards. To make matters worse, state law requires districts with several schools ranked "failing" two years in a row to print that information on the election ballot. "Nobody understands how the pendulum has shifted toward state and federal control," Dowling said. "When you say 'accountability' that means turning in just the opposite direction of 'local control'."


Home Schoolers Are Challenging the Education Monopoly

The fact that so many parents feel obliged to homeschool is in fact a crashing indictment of the government system. When something is so bad that people won't even have it for free, what does that tell you?

It is a fundamental tenet of capitalism that free market competition is good for the people and the country. That's why Congress wisely enacted anti-trust legislation a century or so ago - to prevent big, powerful monopolies from eliminating their competition by stifling the little guy.

But today Americans are threatened by a government-sponsored and taxpayer-funded monopoly, one that is potentially more powerful and dangerous than the old Standard Oil and Carnegie Steel operations. Like a giant octopus with long, deadly tentacles, the socialistic "Official Public Education Trust" has established a virtual stranglehold on the impressionable minds of our nation's youth.

The Public Education Establishment in America is controlled by the Federal government through the unconstitutional Department of Education and is supported by the Left-leaning teachers' union, the National Education Association. These power-hungry academic oligarchs desperately want their 3-Rs racket to become the only game in town. Compulsory attendance requirements and anti-truancy regulations allow the long enforcement arm of the law to stretch into homes and classrooms all over America.

The problem for these frustrated educrats, though, is the fact their failed system doesn't work as well as the competition. The private sector has always been able to out-produce the government system. Rich folks with enough money could always buy their children a top-notch education in the pricier private schools, and that's still true today.

But the real threat to the public school monopoly comes from the rapidly growing Home School movement in America. Why? Because the numbers prove that average Moms and Dads who take the time to teach their children themselves are able to get much better results for a fraction of the cost. The statistics compiled by both the Department of Education's own Educational Resource Information Center (ERIC) and private researchers bear witness to this truth.

On nationally normed standardized achievement tests, the average score for all public school students is 50 in all areas. For all home schooled students taking the same tests, the average score for the complete battery of tests was 87, a whopping difference of 37 percentile points. For example: Total Reading, 87; Total Math, 82; Social Studies, 85. In every category, the home-schooled kids out-performed their public school peers.

According to Bryan D. Ray, Ph.D., president of the National Home Education Research Institute, the number of home-schoolers has been growing for the past two decades at a rate of between 7 and 15 percent per year, making this the fastest growing form of education. Close to two million American children in grades K-12 were being educated at home in the 2002-2003 school year, with similar overall success.

The education monopoly can't dispute these figures, let alone duplicate them, although they spend approximately ten times as much per student only to get dismal results. So they try to discredit home schooling in other ways. One way is to set up a straw man called (aptly enough) "Socialization," and then knock it down.

"The isolation implicit in home teaching is anathema to socialization and citizenship. It is a rejection of community and makes the home-schooler the captive of the orthodoxies of the parents," charges Dr. Dennis Evans, who directs the doctoral programs in education leadership at the University of California, Irvine.

"Schools, particularly public schools, are the one place where 'all of the children of all of the people come together,'" explained Dr. Evans in his 2003 "USA Today" op-ed piece entitled "Home is no place for school." Kids taught by parents and inculcated with their values might miss out on "an openness to diversity and new ideas," he warned.

Yes, and they might also miss out on dangerous drugs, gang violence, sacrilegious and degrading music, peer pressure to try sex before marriage, teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, to mention just a few of the more prominent aspects of "socialization" being democratically spread through the public school system daily.

Some parents might actually prefer that their children would continue to address them respectfully as "sir" and "ma'am" rather than "dude." Or that they might spend their free time doing something more constructive than swapping pills at Pharming parties.

Frankly, the whole socialization argument is bogus, too. Fully 98 percent of home-schooled kids are involved in two or more extracurricular activities with other kids outside the home. These just happen to be of a more wholesome type, like field trips (84 percent), Sunday School classes (77 percent), group sports (48 percent), music classes (47 percent), and volunteer work (33 percent). (To read some of the many inspiring home school success stories, visit or, for academic statistics, see

Some states tightly regulate home schools to make sure that they toe the curricular line. Others do little or nothing to monitor home-schoolers. Either way, the academic results are statistically the same. Home-schooled kids excel across the board, whether they are scrutinized or ignored by the State.

In my own state of North Carolina, an abortive effort to bring home-schoolers under the control of the Department of Public Education was derailed by the protests of outraged parents last Spring. I was glad to see that happen because I know that parents - and not bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., or Raleigh, NC - should make the final decisions about their children's education. Elected officials should actively fight for the rights of home school parents and their children to live free from intrusive government regulations.

If liberals truly believe in tolerance then give home-schooling families a tax credit. Our children are our greatest natural resource. If parents are willing to invest the time and effort to train their children to be critical thinkers, law-abiding citizens and productive adults, then I think that we as a nation need to invest in them, too.



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

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