Saturday, September 10, 2005


Teenagers needed marks of only 47% to score a top A* grade in a GCSE paper this year, exam chiefs confirmed. Pupils taking one maths paper worth 25% of the total exam grade were required to get a mark of [only] 16% for a C grade.

The Times Educational Supplement reported that marks of only 45% or less were needed to get a grade C on more than 100 GCSE papers set by the AQA exam board. And a mark of 47% on an AQA business studies paper would get a student the top possible grade of A*.

But exam chiefs defended the standard of the papers. Exam board Edexcel confirmed that students needed 16% on one higher tier maths paper, which was worth a quarter of the overall marks, to get a grade C on that paper. But spokeswoman for the board insisted that standards were just as tough as in previous years. "Students have to perform consistently across all stages to gain the grade," she said. "Edexcel's chief examiners and accountable officer are confident that the grade boundaries set this year are commensurate with boundaries from past years. "To gain the maths GCSE students have to sit seven tests and submit one piece of coursework."



More socialist madness: You can help a kid get into a good universirty by predicting that he will do badly in his final High School examinations! Unbelievable but true

The top universities are being pressed to operate a new admission system that would favour poorer students from state schools. Youngsters at inner-city comprehensives who do better at A level than their teachers predict would have a second chance to impress admissions tutors.

The move forms part of proposals for an overhaul of the university applications system set out by the Government today. Bill Rammell, the Higher Education Minister, told The Times that it would make admissions fairer. “The research-intensive universities could hold back a proportion of their places if they want to get the best students,” he said. “The evidence is that there are some very good students from the poorest backgrounds that they currently don’t get because they overperform, based on their predicted grades.”

The proposal is certain to revive accusations that the Government is mounting a renewed attempt at social engineering to push elite universities to alter their intakes. Teenagers at independent and grammar schools predicted to get top grades in their exams would be competing for fewer places if admissions tutors held back a proportion of offers for youngsters who may not even have applied at that stage.

Rejected students would be eligible to reapply if they achieved their grades but universities would be far more likely at that stage to favour candidates from poorer backgrounds who had confounded their teachers’ predictions. Admissions tutors use application forms that contain predictions of candidates’ likely A-level grades. Mr Rammell said that just 45 per cent of grade predictions were accurate and the system was least fair to the poorest students. “It is clear that predicted grades are not giving the most accurate information on which to base university admissions,” Mr Rammell said. “The evidence is that it is the poorest students in terms of background whose performance is most at variance with their predicted grades.”

Oversubscribed universities in the Russell Group expect candidates to have very high grades, so students with lower predicted grades are usually rejected, if they apply at all. By the time youngsters discover their actual grades, the best universities are already full. Their schools also encourage them to play safe and apply to less prestigious universities to avoid having to seek places in clearing.

A consultation document by the Department for Education and Skills on proposed changes to university applications for 2008-09 highlights research by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. It concluded that schools accurately predicted grades for 51 per cent of pupils in the highest social class, but for only 39 per cent of the poorest youngsters. If accepted, the changes would pave the way either to a full or partial switch to a so-called post-qualification application system by 2010-11



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, September 09, 2005


No more of that fuddy-duddy nonsense about a father teaching his sons his trade

Talk with Jude Doty from Yakima, Washington for a few minutes and you know that he is a man passionate about teaching his children. He wants to teach them about work and about biblical values, both of which they won’t learn in the government school system. Did I mention that God has blessed him and his wife, Angela, with seven children? And they consider their children too valuable to turn over to a government teacher all day. In addition, Jude is an asset to his community in Washington, fulfilling the American dream of independent businessman: He made a living through Doty House Moving. He wanted to teach his children his trade by allowing them to work beside him. Thanks to the Washington Department of Labor and Industry (L&I), his teaching the value of work to his children has ended.

You can read a more detailed version of Jude and Angela’s story on his Web site, but the basic plot is that Jude and Angela want to teach their children to be responsible, independent thinkers and doers. You can already figure out that with this recipe, their children are going to have a hard time finding a job in the planned global economy, not a place for independent folks. The more immediate problem, according to the L&I, is that their desire to teach responsibility is not certified, and furthermore, they are not certified; the Dotys, wonderful as they may be, are not at all a part of the socialistic school-to-work agenda of the government schools. Washington has a real problem with this lack of certification, this lack of state approval for Doty as a teacher of his own children. As the government schools scream their “Parent as Teacher” programs to the gullible masses, parents do not qualify to teach their children. Doty’s Web site states:

“Our state law requires homeschoolers to teach occupational education, but if I have my son run after a hammer or help as a ‘spotter’ while moving a house down the road at 5-mph, with police, overhead linemen, flaggers and pilot cars diverting the traffic, and not in the presence of other children, but with his father supervising, they call that ‘employment’ and an ‘unreasonable risk,’ claiming homeschool vocational training is not “bona fide’.”

If you’ve read John Taylor Gatto’s The Underground History of American Education, you know that compulsory government schooling is all about dumbing down our citizens so that our children will fit easily into the giant planned economy puzzle. In case you still think that school exists to help your child succeed as an independent thinker, worker, and self-sufficient leader, take a look at these words from Gatto’s book, available free online: “[S]chool was engineered to serve a concealed command economy and a deliberately re-stratified social order. It wasn’t made for the benefit of kids and families as those individuals and institutions would define their own needs. School is the first impression children get of organized society; like most first impressions, it is the lasting one. Life according to school is dull and stupid, only consumption promises relief: Coke, Big Macs, fashion jeans, that’s where real meaning is found, that is the classroom’s lesson, however indirectly delivered.” .....

While the Dotys were trying to help their children to grow up with the thinking and working abilities of a George Washington or a Ben Franklin, both of whom were homeschooled, the Washington government had a different plan: “Governor Christine Gregoire, formerly as Attorney General, acknowledged that a parent could train a child in ‘work-place skills and experience’ like the schools, but unlike the schools and other nonprofit businesses such as Habitat for Humanities, her office claimed the parents cannot receive ‘an appreciable benefit from the student’s work,’ without it being ‘employment,’ and that running after a hammer was “an appreciable benefit.’ The [Attorney General’s] office will prosecute the parents if ‘the activities are more than just a learning experience or a parent teaching skills to a child, but a situation where the minor is contributing to the profit of the particular enterprise’.”

The Department of L&I defined crime in a strange and unusual way for the Doty family, stating that Jude failed to make his children full employees of his business, refusing to pay workers’ compensation and such for them. Never mind that Jude Doty took a stand and said that his children were his children, not his employees; when the department looked at the Doty family, they decided to change how they looked at family employment. Jude told me earlier this week that this new vision of the Department of L&I goes against previous decisions: “All the case and statutory law I have found defends the right of the parents to work with their children.”

If you own a business and think you’re immune from such treatment, think again. If your child brings in mail regarding that business from the mailbox to your office, you could be forced to stop that child from bringing in the mail or lose your child. If that sounds too strange to be true, take a look at the Doty family’s Web site; that scenario happened to a developer’s family in Yakima and the child had to stop bringing in mail and packages. There was an especially tragic ending to this developer’s family’s story—after being forced to stop work, his child began running with the wrong crowd and died. And if you think the Dotys’ case is some aberrance that would never happen to anyone else, Jude told me this week that he “recently heard of three other homeschooling pastors and contractors that got cited for working with their sons.” After realizing how easy it is for the government to punish families that work, it’s easy to agree with Jude that “the risk to youth that are denied work opportunities is far worse than any work.”

Throughout January of 2003, Doty was “watched around 30 hours a week by [Washington Department of Labor and Industry] inspectors.” One month later, he “received fines of $34,000 for ‘employing’ two of his children, then 11 and almost 14.” According to the state of Washington, this caring father subjected his children “to an ‘unreasonable risk,’ primarily working on [his] own property.” Things escalated from there, with Doty refusing to acquiesce to the bullying of the L&I and the L&I continuing to cite and fine him for allowing his children to work, including my personal favorite, one for $1,000 per day for “no parent/school authorization.” Say what?!? The Department of Labor and Industry deemed Jude Doty a “repeat offender” and “felon,” saying that his use of children as employees was unfair to other companies and promising to “level the playing field,” the department placed a lien on his properties and seized everything from his family van to his bank account. Mission accomplished: field leveled. But does anyone actually believe that these fines were about leveling the field?

And lest we forget, I must stress that this whole ordeal is in the best interest of the children. How else could you explain the wonderful appearance of one of my own personal favorite government agencies, Child Protective Services? Jude writes the following account on his site: “On January 31st, CPS agents, working with L & I, tried to abject my son, Zach, while he was with me in the L & I building. Next, L & I got a Court Order to keep my children off all work sites, off all equipment, and less than ten feet off the ground and it ‘directed . . . all persons in active concert . . . to remove’ my boys from any work site or equipment! Remember, I owned the work site! Can you imagine that a neighbor or police can now forcibly remove your children from your family business and private property because they worked with their dad?”

Much more here

Self-Education: Lost Crown Jewel of Learning

As I taught myself for the last two years of High School, back in the 1960s, I identify strongly with the article excerpted below. I ended up with a Ph.D. and a list of academic publications as long as your arm so we are not only talking about the distant past here:

Who is this youngster?

He started school at age seven and returned home in tears after three months. His teacher had called him “addled.” His mother took over, reading with him. A science book was a favorite. At twelve he persuaded his mother to let him apply for the post of newsboy on the Port Huron-to-Detroit train (which left at 7 a.m. and returned at 9:30 p.m. with a five-hour layover in Detroit for library time). He sold fruits and produce from Port Huron in Detroit and evening papers on his return trip. At age fifteen he bought a printing press and started a train-oriented newspaper. His total formal classroom instruction was three or four months. His productivity as an adult: 1000 patents.

The boy’s name.......Thomas Edison (from my notes on Edison: The Man Who Made The Future by Ronald W. Clark, 1977, pp. 9-15.) Imagine young Edison’s fate had he – and his mother – tried something like that under today’s benevolent regime of child-labor sanctions and compulsory schooling.

American children are over-programmed. They spend radically more hours sitting in classrooms during their young lives than did children just two or three generations earlier. Their bodies and minds were not made for this. To what degree they are over-programmed – and to what effect – is suggested by considering two extremes in scheduling the young.

The Japanese are tops in programming the young: 240-day school year, hours of daily homework, juku (cram schools) after regular school two or three times per week, high stakes tests for admission to middle and high schools, "Examination Hell" for university admission.

What sort of young person emerges? Vapid. Wondrously immature. Washed-out. So contends professor Jane Barnes Mack-Cozzo, twelve-year veteran of Japanese university teaching ("If You Think We Have Problems..." The American Enterprise, September, 2002). Once admitted to university, "virtually all learning and study cease." Many students do not even attend class. Those that do "exhibit behavior befitting youngsters half their age...." Their "childishness...endemic in the society as a whole (Douglas MacArthur called Japan a 'nation of 12-year-olds') is reinforced perhaps because the rest of these students' lives is so asphyxiatingly programmed."

At the other extreme: Abraham Lincoln recalled attending "some schools, so called" but for less than a year altogether. "Still, somehow I could read, write, and cipher to the Rule of Three; but that was all." In an 1860 autobiography, writing in the third person, Lincoln declared: "He was never in a college or Academy [high school] as a student and never inside of a college or academy building till since he had a law- licence."

In 1997 Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and Lincoln biographer David Herbert Donald delivered an address to the Lincoln Fellowship of Pennsylvania, “Education Defective: Abraham Lincoln's Preparation for Greatness.” “Education Defective” is a remarkable 3,000-word account of what we know of Lincoln’s education. It deserves careful study. Selected excerpts:

We need to remind ourselves that in the 1820's and 1830's a school term usually ran only two or three months, especially in the Western states. Lincoln's ‘agregate’ of one year's total attendance, then, really meant five or six years of schooling, so that it is fair to say that he had the equivalent of a sixth-grade education--considerably above the national average at that time..... [This education] gave him a sufficient mastery of the basic tools of language. Dilworth's Spelling-Book...provided an introduction to grammar and spelling...the final sections included prose and verse selections....Other readers, like The Kentucky Preceptor, expanded and reinforced what he learned form Dilworth's.

These books encouraged young Lincoln's love for reading, and he read everything he could get his hands on. There were not many books on the Indiana frontier, and he pored over The Pilgrim's Progress and Aesop's Fables, until he virtually memorized them. Quotations from both showed up repeatedly in his presidential writings. He was fascinated by history, and learned lessons in patriotism from Parson Mason Weems's Life of George Washington.

From William Scott's Lessons in Elocution he gained basic rules for public speaking, and the selections in this book were probably his introduction to Shakespeare. He memorized from Scott's Elocution set pieces like King Claudius's soliloquy on his murder of Hamlet's father....

What kind of writer did this narrow, self-directed education produce? The Gettysburg Address


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, September 08, 2005


Parents' groups will receive public money to run their own schools under plans being drawn up by Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary. Ms Kelly told local government leaders yesterday that she intended to end their dominance of state education by inviting other groups to open and run schools. A White Paper this autumn will include radical proposals to replace failing schools with ones run by parents, companies or charities.

Ms Kelly also made clear that 1,000 schools considered to be "coasting" would face pressure to respond to demands for better standards.

Her proposals indicated an important extension of private sector involvement in state education, despite growing hostility from teachers' unions towards plans to open 200 academies by 2010. Academies are sponsored and controlled by businesses and other private organisations, but funded by the Government.

Ms Kelly told a Local Government Association conference in London that she planned to expand parental choice. "We need to harness all the energy and skill we can in the provision of state education so that we can raise standards for every pupil," she said. "I am interested in seeing how we can work with a variety of potential not-for-profit organisations - educational charities, faith and parents' groups, perhaps mutual organisations - in order to drive the next phase of reform."

The role of councils would be as "the commissioner rather than the provider" of education, supporting parents in relations with schools. "Councils don't add value through micro-managing heads, employing the teachers or owning the bricks and the land that schools sit on," she said. "But they can add significant value through the new commissioning role. This will see councils with a single-minded focus on listening and responding to the views of parents and pupils."

The proposals are in line with Labour's manifesto, which promised parents more power. It said: "Where new educational providers can help boost standards and opportunities in a locality, we will welcome them subject to parental demand, fair funding and fair admissions."

Ms Kelly said that coasting schools were doing too little to improve. She confirmed that she would halve the time for failing schools to improve to 12 months. Those judged to have made inadequate progress would be closed or replaced. "We cannot ask children to be patient while their school gets a second, third or fourth chance to improve," she said.

Ms Kelly's radical proposals indicate Tony Blair's determination to accelerate the pace of education reform in his final term and could end 60 years of local government control of education, which has seen the growth of town hall empires resistant to reform. The aim is to transfer power from bureaucrats to parents, to force schools to respond more rapidly, and to overturn the Labour orthodoxy that councils should control education.

David Bell, the head of Ofsted, backed the plan. But unions accused Ms Kelly of seeking to speed up school closures to meet the target for opening academies. Steve Sinnott, the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "The suspicion remains that there is a secret agenda to achieve the Government's target on academies."


Teaching of Creationism Is Endorsed in New Survey

An excellent argument for school choice, it seems to me

In a finding that is likely to intensify the debate over what to teach students about the origins of life, a poll released yesterday found that nearly two-thirds of Americans say that creationism should be taught alongside evolution in public schools. The poll found that 42 percent of respondents held strict creationist views, agreeing that "living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time."

In contrast, 48 percent said they believed that humans had evolved over time. But of those, 18 percent said that evolution was "guided by a supreme being," and 26 percent said that evolution occurred through natural selection. In all, 64 percent said they were open to the idea of teaching creationism in addition to evolution, while 38 percent favored replacing evolution with creationism.

The poll was conducted July 7-17 by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. The questions about evolution were asked of 2,000 people. The margin of error was 2.5 percentage points.

John C. Green, a senior fellow at the Pew Forum, said he was surprised to see that teaching both evolution and creationism was favored not only by conservative Christians, but also by majorities of secular respondents, liberal Democrats and those who accept the theory of natural selection. Mr. Green called it a reflection of "American pragmatism." "It's like they're saying, 'Some people see it this way, some see it that way, so just teach it all and let the kids figure it out.' It seems like a nice compromise, but it infuriates both the creationists and the scientists," said Mr. Green, who is also a professor at the University of Akron in Ohio.

Eugenie C. Scott, the director of the National Center for Science Education and a prominent defender of evolution, said the findings were not surprising because "Americans react very positively to the fairness or equal time kind of argument." "In fact, it's the strongest thing that creationists have got going for them because their science is dismal," Ms. Scott said. "But they do have American culture on their side."

This year, the National Center for Science Education has tracked 70 new controversies over evolution in 26 states, some in school districts, others in the state legislatures. President Bush joined the debate on Aug. 2, telling reporters that both evolution and the theory of intelligent design should be taught in schools "so people can understand what the debate is about." Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, the Republican leader, took the same position a few weeks later.

Intelligent design, a descendant of creationism, is the belief that life is so intricate that only a supreme being could have designed it.

The poll showed 41 percent of respondents wanted parents to have the primary say over how evolution is taught, compared with 28 percent who said teachers and scientists should decide and 21 percent who said school boards should. Asked whether they believed creationism should be taught instead of evolution, 38 percent were in favor, and 49 percent were opposed. More of those who believe in creationism said they were "very certain" of their views (63 percent), compared with those who believe in evolution (32 percent).

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


Wednesday, September 07, 2005


A leading university has scrapped a maths test that it set new undergraduates for more than 15 years because scores fell so low that it became meaningless. First-year electronics students at York University have taken the 50-question multiple-choice exam since the 1980s to assess their ability.

But the results have proved illuminating in other ways. Over the years performance in the maths test has fallen as the number with top A-level grades has soared. Analysis of the results found that between 1991 and 1998 the average score in the York University maths test of a student with an A grade fell from 70 to 60 per cent, while B-grade students' scores slipped from 62 to 40 per cent.

In the past few years average marks have plummeted so far - to an all time low of 21 out of 50 - that Prof Ken Todd, the head of electronics, abandoned the test. "The scores were so bad we had to discontinue it," he said. "They were not really telling us anything, except that today's students could not do what first-years could do 20 years ago - particularly in algebra and the manipulation of powers and logarithms."

His findings mirror general concerns about the maths curriculum and teaching in secondary schools. David Cameron, the shadow education secretary, said: "This illustrates yet another example of how the Government has failed to get it right." Ministers acknowledged a problem in 2002 and ordered an inquiry, led by Prof Adrian Smith, the principal of Queen Mary College, in London. In his report, published last year, Prof Smith said there was a "crisis-level" shortfall of 3,400 maths teachers in secondary schools. The highest maths qualification of more than a third of those teaching the subject was A-level. Perhaps as a consequence, maths has gone from the largest A-level subject entry to third place, with 49,000 now taking it compared with 80,000 in 1989.

Prof Smith also identified worrying problems within the curriculum, saying: "Employers and higher education say that people come to university with a grade A at A-level and can't do the basic maths that you expect them to do at the beginning of the course." He condemned the government's reforms, which split A-levels into AS-levels and A2s, as a "complete disaster for mathematics". Pupils dropped maths, perceived as a hard subject, for courses in which it was easier to gain good grades. Some of those who stuck with the subject avoided tougher maths units, which meant that students started university with different levels of expertise.

Prof Todd, who has introduced a computerised test based on the A-level curriculum, said: "We need 3,000 specialist maths teachers in schools but I don't know how that is going to happen when university departments struggle to fill places."



Or more precisely, gutless authorities letting the problems get out of hand. Post lifted from Mark Richardson

Ten years ago Moreland City College in the Melbourne suburb of Coburg had an enrolment of over 1000 students. Last year numbers had fallen to 270 and the school was closed.

Why? It seems that multiculturalism didn't work in this Coburg school. A group of highly disruptive students gave the school a bad reputation from which it never recovered. And there is now evidence that these disruptive students were Lebanese Muslims who hated Australia and wanted to replace it with an Islamic state.

A former teacher, Chris Doig, tried to raise the alarm when some of his students danced with joy after the September 11 attacks. His concerns were ignored by authorities. Mr Doig said of these Lebanese students that "Some of the disruptive ones would say that Australia was degenerate and our legal system would be replaced by Shariah law in the not too distant future."

He also said of the disgruntled students that "Some of these were so disruptive and even violent that staff and other students abandoned the school when they could."

Nor is Mr Doig a lone voice. Two other teachers have supported his claims. One of these says that the disruptive students used to boast that Australia would become a majority Islamic country in 50 years. "They would do this by converting the infidel and by out-breeding the rest of the community."


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, September 06, 2005


And a down-to-earth government is encouraging kids to consider high-paying trades rather than university

A shrinking proportion Year 12 students is heading to the nation's universities and TAFE colleges, despite warnings of a looming skills crisis. New figures provided by the Department of Education and Training reveal that the percentage of young Australians who complete Year 12 and go straight to university has fallen 20 per cent since the Howard Government was elected.

And while more university and TAFE places are available to students, the proportion of Year 12 leavers going to TAFE has also dropped by 11 per cent since 1996. Opposition education spokeswoman Jenny Macklin seized on the figures yesterday as new evidence that the Howard Government was "driving Australia down the low-skill, low-growth road". "If we want higher living standards and increased productivity, the proportion of young Australians finishing school and going on to university or TAFE should be increasing - not dropping," Ms Macklin said.

John Howard has urged students to consider leaving school before Year 12 if they can get a job or apprenticeship. Federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson has warned that the high drop-out rate among university students suggests many should think twice before choosing higher education over vocational training. A spokesman for Dr Nelson said the number of university places had gone up, despite a reduction in the number of Year 12 students going straight from school to university. "Labor's selective quoting of statistics leaves them blind to the simple fact that a surging employment market has provided young Australians with opportunities they couldn't get when Labor was last in government," he said.

"Youth unemployment is at a 15-year low, there's been a 166 per cent increase in the number of people in training, and university participation among 20-year-olds continues to climb, now almost 30 per cent compared to 23 per cent in 1996."

More here


If this were a business, they would be sued out of existence. Though I wouldn't mind betting that lots of "Moms 'n Dads" would be better teachers than the products of today's "postmodernist" teacher-training colleges

They were once described as the "Mums' Army", helping out in schools, having few qualifications beyond GCSEs, and paid less than check-out girls. From this week, however, thousands of classroom assistants will be standing in for qualified teachers in a move that has caused a furious row in the profession. Under legislation that came in to force this month, teachers in the 22,000 primary and secondary schools in England and Wales are guaranteed 10 per cent of their time away from pupils to plan lessons.

But head teachers say that they have not been given enough money to employ more teachers to fill the gaps in the timetable left by this "non-contact" time. Instead, an ever-expanding workforce of classroom assistants, which has grown by 80,000 since 1997 to 153,000, will provide cover and give pre-prepared lessons. Those with relevant experience and GCSE mathematics and English can apply to be "high-level teaching assistants", increasing their salary from between £8,000 and £12,000 a year to £19,000. The qualification can be earned in only three days and equips assistants to take whole classes, rather than help only individual pupils or small groups.

Chris Keates, the general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters, Union of Women Teachers, said: "The legal entitlement to non-contact time is a very important development. Even in secondary schools where teachers have had some time away from pupils, it was never guaranteed and was often eroded."

But the National Union of Teachers says that assistants are not adequate substitutes for teachers. And the National Association of Head Teachers, which initially signed up to the deal, now says that it will erode academic and behavioural standards. Neil Foden, the headmaster of Friars School in Bangor, has spent £40,000 employing two supply teachers to provide cover rather than use unqualified assistants. "Under the new entitlement, pupils could be spending a marked percentage of their timetable not being properly taught and effectively being baby-sat," he said. "A supply teacher might not be as effective as a subject specialist but they are a hell of a lot better than a classroom assistant. The consequences of not having qualified teachers in front of classrooms is the drip, drip of pupils missing lessons here and there. It all adds up and has an effect on behaviour."

Even some classroom assistants fear that standards will suffer. Theresa McGuinness, 41, a high-level teaching assistant, said some schools were trying to provide cover "on the cheap". She said: "Some teaching assistants will be asked to do things that they don't want to do and are not qualified to do. Rather than having high-level teaching assistants, local authorities are splitting contracts and employing classroom assistants for 25 hours' normal work and 10 hours' whole-class work." Mrs McGuinness, who works in a school in North Yorkshire, said that parents had been kept in the dark about the changes. She said: "The Government has been neglectful in explaining to parents what will happen in case you have them asking 'How can she take a whole class, she only usually sticks things on walls?' There are lots of areas where people who have not got the qualifications will be thrown in at the deep end. "I have heard that in one local authority in the South, dinner ladies are being told they will have to look after kids for an extra half an hour. If this is done on the cheap it will not be me, or the dinner lady, who suffers the most, it will be the children."

Rather than attempt to stick to the normal timetable, some schools have opted to run "enrichment" activities, drafting in sports coaches, artists and even members of the Women's Institute to supervise children. In other schools, classes will be amalgamated or pupils will be looked after by "cover supervisors". At Holy Trinity Church of England Primary, in Halifax, West Yorkshire, 400 pupils will have an hourly music session in the hall every Friday with just one teacher.

Maureen Skevington, a deputy head at Harton Junior School, in South Shields, Tyne and Wear, said: "In many schools the budget restraints are such that there will be doubling up of classes and people brought in for activities like PE who are not properly qualified to assess what level the children are at. It is not a development that parents have asked for or would wish for."



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, September 05, 2005


A basic element of the problem is the "schooling" that has passed for education in the decades since the mid '60s that has resulted in a lack of thinking and reasoning ability. A problem that parallels the infamous "Great society" of the "Johnsonomics" era that created the growing dependence on government for everything. It is analogous to succeeding generations of farm cats, as I know from experience growing up on a farm in Minnesota; when table scraps are thrown out the back door, that is seens as sustenance to the point that cats would become dependent on it to the extent of losing their natural proclivity for hunting as a means of independently providing for themselves. If the table scraps are not forthcoming, and the cats become hungry, they began howling at the door and many would not know what to do if mice were scurrying around.

As part of my education reform efforts, I have developed the following phrase that illustrates my point regarding the lack of thinking and reasoning ability and an academic data base required:

The mind cannot function with out a strong academic base. The human mind is basically an organic computer of potentially infinite capacity. Unless it is loaded with quality academic "software" to create an "operating system" for thinking and reasoning ability, and establish an academic data base of facts and knowledge on which to draw when arriving at a conclusion based on data input from the senses, it cannot function any better than an electronic computer lacking proper software. If academic information is not downloaded, and installed via drilling in the facts and knowledge, it cannot be effectively applied. The computer industry axiom GIGO (garbage in=garbage out) applies. This is true whether the individual is attending college, a vocational school, technical school, entering the workforce, or just getting along in life after high school graduation.

As a former high school Industrial Education teacher ('66-'72), I tried to teach the concepts of industry as a prevocational and exploration program rather than a "shop" class to placate the malconents and "dummies" in a high school daycare situation. The objective was the introduction of students to potential career options other than college that required the identical academic high school education regarded as needed only by students in college preparation programs. A vocational and technical education to gain the requisite skills and knowledge, applied in the workforce, has always required an academic high school education. That was true of becoming a machinist in the manually operated machine tool days of manufacturing, and is of even greater importance since the early '70s when computer "high tech" was applied to operate machine tools via a computer operating electronic devices replacing manual controls of the past.


Report Cards that no Longer Mean Anything

This report is from New Zealand but it could be from lots of places. Schools now often try not to tell parents how well their kids are doing at school because it will hurt the self-esteem of those who don't do well, or some such. So end of term and end of year reports tell parents that every kid is "satisfactory" or some such. That lazy kids need their self-esteem hurt a bit is not admitted. It has got to the point where parents have no idea what a report card means any more. But the conservatives in New Zealand have had enough. They are pledging to bring back report cards that mean something. Excerpt:

"National Party Leader Don Brash today announced that National will introduce 'Plain English Reporting' in schools so that parents know how well their children are doing in the classroom and can get help if necessary. ''Parents have the right to know if their child is reading, writing and using numbers at the expected standard or if they are falling behind. But too often they are served up with politically correct reports that give them no clear idea of their child's progress," says Dr Brash.



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, September 04, 2005

Why aren't U.S. public schools more like universities?

There is widespread agreement that America has the best universities in the world. Foreign students enroll by the hundreds of thousands, and American college professors dominate the Nobel Prize lists. But virtually no one says we have the best K-12 education in the world. To the contrary, many lament the poor showing of American students on international tests. What makes American universities so much better than our primary and secondary schools?

While many factors are at work, much of the explanation can be summarized in two words: "privatization" and "markets." About a third of four-year college students attend private institutions, and the proportion is growing. By contrast, only one-eighth of K-12 kids attend private schools.

Moreover, even public universities are far more independent of the political process than K-12 schools. Public universities have greater ability to hire and fire staff, pay people on the basis of merit, change curricula, and face far less interference from obstructionist labor unions.

These organizational differences are important. Countless academic studies show that kids learn better in private schools or in public schools that manage to remain independent of central bureaucracies. While there are exceptions, universities are more decentralized, more innovative, and less constrained by mindless rules and regulations like teacher certification requirements and class-size restrictions.

More important, however, is the fact that universities are far more subject to the discipline of the market, meaning they face financial consequences for displeasing students or parents. Nearly every American college student has to pay tuition covering a significant percentage of the cost. If colleges fail to serve the students well, they may lose tuition revenues or fall in rankings issued by organizations. Top spots in the US News & World Report list are particularly coveted.

By contrast, very few public schools charge anything for attendance. Because parents "pay" for schools only indirectly through property taxes, they demand expensive but inefficient features like small classes. While classes of over 30 are rare for high school seniors, many college kids learn quite well a year later as college freshman in lectures of 200 -- and the parents rarely complain because they are now paying the bill.

Rising tuition charges at colleges and universities have increased opportunities for profit-making private schools like the University of Phoenix that have great promise both as educational institutions and as businesses. This competition forces traditional not-for-profit schools to improve quality, reduce costs, or implement other innovations to attract students. By contrast, for-profit K-12 schools tend to be financially weak since they face a huge price disadvantage relative to "free" public schools.

Can K-12 reformers learn something from the universities? Yes, with caveats. As costs for public schools rise, cash-strapped governments should consider freezing subsidies to the public schools and allow them to charge tuition. To avert arguments that we are denying access to the poor, "progressive vouchers" like those once advocated by Robert Reich might be used. As tuition charges rise beyond 10-20 percent of revenues, public schools could take on a more private dimension, perhaps by putting some parents on the school governing boards, and lowering government regulations and centralized control as private funding increases.

Yet there are limits to this approach. America's universities themselves face only limited market discipline owing to huge payments by federal and state government, not to mention private loan and scholarship programs. University tuition charges have gone up even faster than health care charges, largely because the customer has become insensitive to price changes as others pick up the tab.

A move toward the college model for K-12 schools should avoid the morass of government student loan programs that have contributed to the tuition rise. Moreover, accountability at many colleges is limited, allowing administrators to waste resources on pet projects that would not be approved by customers if spending were more transparent.

We must be careful to avoid the pitfalls that have caused universities to become more costly, less efficient, and disconnected from their consumers. But by adopting some of the strengths of American colleges we might be able to close the quality gap between basic and higher education which threatens American students.



An English learner is faced with multiple challenges when entering the public school system in the United States. The student needs to achieve fluency in the English language while at the same time master the content required of all students assigned to the same grade level. Unfortunately, the instruction offered to English learners doesn't always reflect these dual goals and sometimes serves to undermine both of them.

As of July 1, 1976 Illinois school districts have been required by Public Act 78-727 to offer bilingual education programs (English and one other language) whenever 20 or more students of limited-English fluency were enrolled in one school. However, John Hood of the John Locke Foundation ascertained almost ten years ago that, "A review of 300 "studies" of bilingual education by federal researchers found only 72 that were methodologically sound. Of those studies, 83 percent comparing bilingual education to immersion found that kids learned to read better through immersion. Not a single study found the reverse." (Immersion vs. bilingual education)

NCLB, by requiring schools to disaggregate data derived from test scores to give a more accurate picture of who is learning what, has created a much greater public awareness about the problems faced by English learners and has brought to our attention that many of them fall under the category of "left behind" at the end of the educational process. NCLB is meant to force the education system to remedy these types of problems so that every student is given equal opportunity to succeed in our society.

How is Illinois addressing the situation? In some ways Illinois is going backwards. According to a new study by Christine Rossell of the Lexington Institute, the, "Illinois Board of Education lowered the score one must obtain on the IMAGE to be “proficient” which would apply to 2004-2005 results, as well as future results. In addition, the state board voted to increase the minimum size of a sub-group from 40 to 50 before it can be held accountable." This gives schools some relief in making AYP (adequate yearly progress) goals.

In Illinois, individual school districts like Elgin U46 will be required to use the ACCESS test to determine English proficiency of LEP students. "Having one uniform statewide English proficiency exam is an improvement, but it does not solve the essential flaw in English proficiency tests – they frequently cannot distinguish the difference between a student who does not know the answer and a student who does not know English." (Rossell)

Recommendations such as more professional development for EL teachers and standardization of EL curriculum will help improve the situation. But even more needs to be done.

"Standards will improve the education of LEP children by giving all teachers in a state the same benchmarks and skills they should be looking for at different grades and different English proficiency levels." (Rossell) However, implementing standards will not ensure that LEP students get to the state’s proficient level unless there is a road map designed to get them there.

As Robert Linquanti suggests in The Redesignation Dilemma, specific procedures must be put into place that will assure annual monitoring of students' academic progress and appropriate remediation for those who most assuredly will be left behind under the current system. There needs to be clear performance expectations and progress indicators for English Learners in English Language Development and English Language Arts.......

Statistics show ELs likelier to drop out than graduate. To prevent this from happening, families must be guaranteed that their children will receive academic instruction from qualified teachers, fluent in English, and who will provide "best practice" in their methods of instruction. Anything less pays lip service to the crisis which spurred the attachment of accountability measures to federal education funding in the first place.

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