Saturday, November 19, 2005


This year, an unprecedented number of Arizona K-12 students will take their classes online through virtual schools. It's part of a distance-learning tide that has rolled through higher education and corporate America and is spreading more rapidly into high schools and below. Statewide, one in 100 students, or 10,816, took at least one class through virtual schools last year, with more enrolling this year, state officials said. Hundreds attend all of their classes online.

Studies show that virtual schooling can work well, although experts say more research is needed. Arizona's schools generally report good results, especially for students who want flexible schedules..... Flexibility is what makes online classes a popular choice for students. They can choose when they study and, more importantly, when they don't. Every virtual school in Arizona has examples of students who chose the schools because of flexibility. There is the 9-year-old girl on the Navajo Reservation whose mother disliked the local school and discovered a virtual one, or the 9-year-old Phoenix boy who enrolls in virtual school so he can make trips to California for acting jobs....

For homebound students or rural kids with few school choices, online schools provide a much-needed service, said Mary Gifford, director of Arizona Virtual Academy, the largest virtual charter school in the state. But even school directors say they aren't for everyone. "Students have to be motivated. If they aren't motivated, they won't do well," said Doug Barnard, director of distance learning for Mesa's program, the state's largest run by a school district.....

The state has placed more restrictions on virtual schools in recent years. The number of schools allowed in the state is capped at 14. Afraid that virtual schools could steal many students from traditional ones, lawmakers this year prohibited a virtual school from growing more than 100 percent in enrollment each year. They also required the schools to report more information about academic performance, so parents can gauge whether students are making progress. The schools must now report to the state their students' scores on standardized tests such as AIMS compared with the state average.

Lawmakers also gave more regulatory power to the two state agencies that oversee virtual schools. The Arizona State Board of Education and the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools must review each school's effectiveness. Virtual schools must re-apply every five years to remain open.

Because virtual schools are new, little extensive research has been done on whether K-12 students do better or worse in them. A national analysis of 14 other studies found "no significant difference in performance" between online students and those in classrooms, said the 2004 report by Illinois-based Learning Point Associates. The study said online students show greater improvement than traditional students in critical thinking, problem-solving and creative thinking. But they were also more likely to feel isolated and show less improvement in speaking and listening skills.

More here

They Found Their Way in San Jose : A California charter school success story

Life really can imitate art. The art I have in mind is the kind of tear-jerker movie in which, say, a beleaguered small-town basketball team beats the odds and makes it to the state finals. Or in which someone--imagine Sally Field in a faded gingham dress--struggles to bring in the harvest and save a farm.

Joanne Jacobs's "Our School," a vivid account of the creation and first years of a charter high school in San Jose, Calif., has that kind of drama. It reads like a novel whose characters are both stereotypical and improbable. The founders of Downtown College Prep--as the school is called--are a Jewish guy from an affluent family educated at Princeton and Stanford and a woman who had been raised by a working-class single mother and had sleepwalked through her own high-school experience until a year in Spain as an exchange student persuaded her to become a teacher.

Many of the other characters are right out of central casting. The Rev. Mateo Sheedy is the patron saint of Downtown College Prep; while dying of cancer he helps to open doors to the philanthropic and business communities of San Jose and to a nearby university. Florina Gallegos, a local education activist and organizer, becomes the school's godmother, overseeing a thousand small details. There's also Florina's daughter, Alicia, who just happens to be earning a master's degree in education--at Harvard--and who reluctantly returns to San Jose to teach at the school "because Padre Mateo wanted me to be here." (Pass the tissues, please.)

But this isn't fiction. The challenges are real, the stakes high, the lessons important--and the achievements extraordinary. The entering ninth-grade class at Downtown College Prep was a challenge, to say the least. "Most students had earned D's and F's in middle school," writes Ms. Jacobs. "Some were repeating ninth grade. Some had been labeled learning disabled, hyperactive, or emotionally disordered." In addition, "most students read at the fourth- through sixth-grade level; some students had made it to high school with second- or third-grade reading skills."

One ninth-grader stumbled over the phrase "ride the carousel" on a language test, reading it as "ride the carrot salad." The school's informal motto thus became: "Downtown College Purgatory: Ride the Carrot Salad." A sense of humor was badly needed, for the first few years were grueling. Homework loads, required classes, teaching techniques--everything was a moving target, subject to adjustment or radical change. Eventually the basic verities of the school--discipline, hard work, an atmosphere of community, the involvement of parents--asserted themselves to good effect.

From scratch, teachers created innovative courses, such as College Readiness, in which kids were taught to take notes, organize their time and study for tests, as well as to formulate arguments and support them with facts. Classes were kept small, teachers and students worked long days, and more and more kids "crossed over," that is, metamorphosed from (barely) warm bodies to committed students. Grades on standardized tests and the number of students on the honor roll gradually crept up. Downtown College Prep has sent all the graduates from its first two classes to four-year colleges and now ranks among the top third of public high schools in California.

In "Our School," Ms. Jacobs brings to life the experience of particular kids and teachers but also, rightly, raises the big questions about charter schools: Do they work? Do they divert resources from conventional public schools?

Charter schools almost always take a few years to refine their efforts, and not all succeed at doing so. But Downtown College Prep and schools like it adapt more quickly than traditional schools--because they can. It's not merely a matter of their being free from various rules and regulations. The bigger difference is attitude. As Ms. Jacobs observes, principals and teachers at noncharter public schools have trouble learning from their mistakes because nobody is willing to admit to any--the inertia of the status quo is paralyzing. But at charter schools like Downtown College Prep admitting mistakes is part of the culture. What is more, the teachers who work there are young, open to new ideas and usually hostile to unions or anything else that gets in the way of a fresh approach to teaching. (That doesn't mean that they are all good teachers; charter schools are subject to the normal variations of human ability.)

Do charter schools take money from the traditional public school system? Of course they do, because they take students. And school districts with a lot of infrastructure and rising costs will get hurt if their enrollments are static or declining. As it happens, Downtown College Prep siphons off many difficult, underperforming students. They are the least likely to attend public schools regularly or to graduate--and require expensive extra services from traditional schools. So the financial burden on the district, in this case and some others, is minimal.

Will charter schools force traditional schools to change? Let's hope so, if only by embarrassing them with success. Certainly if noncharter public schools are forced to compete for students, they will have to improve simply to survive. But Ms. Jacobs makes no grand claims. Her task is mainly one of fidelity to the case at hand--a success story worthy of Hollywood.



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, November 18, 2005


They upset that treasured but mythical "equality"

"Gifted children are missing out on a scheme to help them because of ideological opposition to selection, according to a shadow education minister. Some local authorities are denying valuable opportunities to young people because they are not putting them forward for membership of a national academy that serves the top five per cent of the ability range, says Nick Gibb, the Conservative shadow schools minister.

Figures from the Department for Education this week show that membership of the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth differs widely between local authorities. Islington in north London has no members while Reading in Berkshire has enrolled more than 15 per cent of the school population. Children who are considered to be in the top five per cent can be put forward by their schools and local authorities for membership of the academy. The academy requires proof that the children have reached the standard expected of the top five per cent in national curriculum tests or exams. Alternatively, pupils can use scores on recognised diagnostic tests or submit their work. "The wide variation in the take-up of this scheme demonstrates the ambivalence some local authorities have in striving for excellence and rigour in our education system," said Mr Gibb. "Denying valuable opportunities either out of indolence or ideology is unacceptable."

The academy, based at Warwick University, provides on-line activities and hosts regular lectures and seminars. It also runs residential weekend and holiday schools. It has 70,982 members aged 11 to 19, representing 1.78 per cent of secondary pupils.... Peter Corker, the senior manager of the academy's student section, said there was still some ideological opposition in schools to picking out the able students but not as much as in past years.

A spokesman for Islington council said it participated in other schemes for gifted and talented children based in London. "We have plenty of facilities here for them," she said".



Lean's "Collectanea," a 19th-century collection of Elizabethan proverbs, contains a maxim it ascribes to the Jesuits: "Give me a child for the first seven years, and you may do what you like with him afterwards." In like manner, Vladimir Lenin said: "Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted." All around the world, parents are stunned and dismayed by the actions of the educational bureaucracy. Germans are again fleeing from their government into France and Switzerland as officials announce they will take children away from parents who refuse to turn their children over to the state-mandated schools. California parents are reeling from the recent decision by the a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals which asserts that parents' have no right to control how the public schools educate their children. In Texas, parents are angrily protesting their children being medicated by school personnel against their wishes.

However, these despicable actions should come as a surprise only to the ignorant - who are clearly the great majority - since only an ignoramus or a fool would voluntarily pass his children through the pagan fires of the public schools.

The Association of California School Administrators is reported to have issued the following statement:

"Parent choice" proceeds from the belief that the purpose of education is to provide individual students with an education. In fact, educating the individual is but a means to the true end of education, which is to create a viable social order to which individuals contribute and by which they are sustained.

It is perhaps apocryphal - I could not find an original publication to cite here - but in it one hears a distinct echo of the man who established the first public kindergarten and was the U.S. Commissioner of Education from 1899 to 1906. In "The Philosophy of Education," William Torey Harris let the cat out of the bag by asserting that the entire point of public education is "the subsumption of the individual."

This is why Marx, Lenin and Hitler were all supporters of public schooling in their attempts to permanently secure the individual's services for the State. The standing in line, the bullying, the drudgery and boredom of the mind-numbing daily school routine is not incidental to the education of the schoolchild, it is the education. Contrary to what most parents believe, it is actually reading, writing and arithmetic that are entirely incidental to the true purpose of public school - subservience is the "socialization" of which educationists correctly complain that homeschooled children lack.

The homeschooling movement was inevitable, as it is only a symptom of the fundamental conflict between Christianity and the utilitarian collectivism that lies below the surface of the public-school system. The little girl who raises her hands to praise the Son of God who loved her enough to die for her will never buy into the lie that she is nothing more than an insignificant and eminently replaceable cog in the great machine of the collective. She is an immortal soul, a creature of eternity who cannot be subsumed.

The latest battle for the minds of the next generation's schoolchildren has barely begun, but the result is already certain. Nero failed. Lenin failed. Hitler failed, and so, too, will the American educationists and their evil school system. If the gates of Hell will not triumph against the Church, then what chance do the NEA minions infesting your local Molochian altar have?


How awful: Illegality finally penalized: "The high school teacher was appalled that so many of her bright students were not planning for college. They told her it was no use trying because they were here illegally. The teacher ended up literally walking a few students through the admissions process, proving that colleges didn't question someone's legal status. But after all that encouragement, the teacher is finding maybe her students were right after all. For someone unauthorized to be here, college is of little use. The teacher, Sonya Kim, watched one of her former students, Rosa Olivares, attend Scottsdale Community College and then earn her education degree at Arizona State University. Olivares now has her teaching certificate. But it's of no use without another document: a valid Social Security number, something they didn't hand to Olivares when she dashed across the border near Nogales as a child. 'It's like having a key to the door and still not being able to use it,' Kim said, after letting kids out of her class for the day."


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, November 17, 2005

Thomas C. Reeves on Failing Schools

And it's the poor who get hit hardest by an irresponsible and corrupt public school system

"Paul E. Peterson of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University recently wrote an important syndicated column about the failures of high school education in this country. In the course of analyzing data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress ( ), he has pinpointed two major weaknesses in our high schools that may be seen as well in the country's colleges and universities.

Peterson began by clarifying some data. The correct figure for the dropout rate among blacks is running somewhere between 50% and 60%, "a sad fact that remains one of the best-kept secrets in American education." For reasons of political correctness, figures on black graduation rates are manipulated, both by schools districts and the U.S. Department of Education, to report only a 17% dropout rate. That half of the blacks in this country are leaving public school is surely among the nation's most acute and embarrassing problems, requiring immediate attention.

Peterson also noted that among those in the top 10% of high school test-takers, reading scores have dropped four points since 1971. Their math scores have not budged since they were first measured in 1978. Only 9% of all public high school students take the Advanced Placement test. So the system appears to be failing at both ends of the spectrum. Is it any wonder that we are searching desperately for foreign expertise in many fields? Here too we surely have at least a partial explanation for our plummeting cultural standards.

At the heart of the high school problem, Peterson argues, are two contradictory assumptions. First, that adolescents should be responsible for guiding their own curriculum. Second, that adolescents should not be held responsible for their performances.

If given the choice, of course, young people will normally take the easiest courses offered. Why work hard when there seems to be little or no reason to be truly educated, when graduation is almost automatic for those who can muster the energy to attend, and when most colleges will accept all applicants with a diploma? Most young people quite naturally relax, have fun, and devote a lot of time off campus making money. They don't seem to care if they know next to nothing upon graduation, and no one else does either. Peterson argues, "To graduate from high school, students should be expected to pass, at as high a level as they can, a challenging, substantive examination in a variety of subjects that allow them to demonstrate-to colleges and employers-just how accomplished they are." At present, that seems quite utopian.

The same pair of misguided assumptions reign in college and university policy as well. Students may choose from hundreds of courses to fulfill the extremely minimal graduation requirements on most campuses, and graduation depends merely upon the accumulation of enough of these credits to reach the necessary number. We cannot be entirely confident that most college graduates can even write a coherent, error-free paragraph let alone be committed to a life of study and thought. Internet chat rooms, newspaper book reviews, and "best seller" lists have a way of persuading one that literacy and serious inquiry have almost disappeared in America. The demise of intelligent television programming points in the same direction.

Until we as a nation get serious about our education, we will continue to lag behind other nations in test scores, suffer severe shortages in several occupational areas, and increasingly debase the nation's the cultural level. We need a demanding and required curriculum, a strong commitment to teach and to learn, discipline, and solid examinations that will open or close the doors to a diploma.

The wealthy elite, with their prep schools, tutors, and prestigious private colleges and universities, already enjoy a large measure of educational respectability. It's time to turn our attention to the public institutions at all levels and make sure that everyone has available an education that is worthy of a great people in a challenging time. There is nothing in a democracy that prohibits the presentation of a demanding and useful education. There is nothing written in the stars that prevents minorities from learning and earning degrees. Our great failing is the will to turn things around".



There would be a huge outcry if whites were doing it. But it will probably end up making a lot of Asians into confirmed GOP voters

Eighteen-year-old Chen Tsu was waiting on a Brooklyn subway platform after school when four high school classmates approached him and demanded cash. He showed them his empty pockets, but they attacked him anyway, taking turns pummeling his face. He was scared and injured - bruised and swollen for several days - but hardly surprised. At his school, Lafayette High in Brooklyn, Chinese immigrant students like him are harassed and bullied so routinely that school officials in June agreed to a Department of Justice consent decree to curb alleged "severe and pervasive harassment directed at Asian-American students by their classmates." Since then, the Justice Department credits Lafayette officials with addressing the problem - but the case is far from isolated.

Nationwide, Asian students say they're often beaten, threatened and called ethnic slurs by other young people, and school safety data suggest that the problem may be worsening. Youth advocates say these Asian teens, stereotyped as high-achieving students who rarely fight back, have for years borne the brunt of ethnic tension as Asian communities expand and neighborhoods become more racially diverse.

"We suspect that in areas that have rapidly growing populations of Asian-Americans, there often times is a sort of culture clashing," said Aimee Baldillo of the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium. Youth harassment is "something we see everywhere in different pockets of the U.S. where there's a large influx of (Asian) people."

In the last five years, Census data show, Asians - mostly Chinese - have grown from 5 percent to nearly 10 percent of Brooklyn residents. In the Bensonhurst neighborhood, historically home to Italian and Jewish families, more than 20 percent of residents now are Asian. Those changes have escalated ethnic tension on campuses such as Lafayette High, according to Khin Mai Aung, staff attorney at the Asian-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, which is advocating for Lafayette students. "The schools are the one place where everyone is forced to come together," Aung said.

Brooklyn's changes mirror Asian growth nationally. Between 1980 and 2000, the number of Asians and Pacific Islanders grew from 3.7 million to nearly 12 million. After Latinos, Asians are the nation's fastest-growing ethnic group.

Stories of Asian youth being bullied and worse are common. In recent years:

A Chinese middle schooler in San Francisco was mercilessly taunted until his teacher hid him in her classroom at lunchtime. Three Korean-American students were beaten so badly near their Queens high school that they skipped school for weeks and begged to be transferred. A 16-year-old from Vietnam was killed last year in a massive brawl in Boston.

Some lawmakers have responded. The New York City Council, after hearing hours of testimony from Asian youth, last year passed a bill to track bullying and train educators on prevention. Also last year, California Assemblywoman Judy Chu won passage of a new law to allow hate crimes victims more time - up to three years - to file civil suits; the bill was inspired by a 2003 San Francisco incident in which five Asian teens were attacked by a mob of youth.

In August, the Oakland-based Asian Pacific Islander Youth Violence Prevention Center organized a first-ever conference on the subject in Sacramento. Isami Arifuku, assistant director of the center, said she expected about 200 participants but nearly double that number attended....

Increasingly, some victims are fighting back. A 2003 California survey by the Services and Advocacy for Asian Youth Consortium found that 14 percent of Asian youth said they join gangs for protection. Department of Justice school crime data found the number of Asian youth carrying weapons nearly tripled from 1999 to 2001. "There are more Asian kids being brought to juvenile court for assault and battery," Arifuku said. "The thing we're finding in their history is that they had been picked on - called names and teased - and in some cases they lashed out and retaliated."

Advocates and students say that, typically, large fights erupt after weeks or months of verbal taunting. That's what happened at Edison High School in Fresno, Calif., according to Malcolm Yeung of the Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco. For months starting late last year, Hmong students had been repeatedly called names and had food thrown at them. "There had been patterns of this happening over and over again," said Yeung, whose group investigated the case on behalf of Asian students. "But the school had overlooked the issue."

On Feb. 25, the lunchtime taunting escalated into fights involving at least 30 students, according to Susan Bedi, spokesman for Fresno Unified School District. Seven students were treated for injuries, 12 were suspended and two faced expulsion, she said. Eight were convicted of misdemeanor assault, said Fresno police Sgt. Anthony Martinez. This year, officials at Edison High added more security and started an on-campus human relations council to address ethnic tension, Bedi said.

At Lafayette High, tension has long been high on campus and in surrounding areas, said Steve Chung, president of the United Chinese Association of Brooklyn, whose group was founded in late 2002 after an earlier student beating. That incident "was like the ignition - it started a fire" in the community. The student, a straight-A senior, was thrashed to unconsciousness while anti-Chinese slurs were yelled at him. Some news reported dubbed the school "Horror High," and Chinese students began going public about the problem. "The more we dug into Lafayette High School, the more we found," Chung said.

Aung's probing revealed that school administrators seemed reluctant to intervene, translation services for parents and students was spotty and teachers who reported the problems may have been punished. School officials say some reports were exaggerated. But "the problems there went back many, many years," said Michael Best, general counsel for New York City schools. Since signing the consent decree in June, he said, "the situation at the school in our view is very, very different." A Justice Department spokesman agreed that the school has been "very responsive."

Teachers this year are getting training to curb harassment, translation services throughout the district have been beefed up, and race relations experts are working with students and staff on campus, deputy New York schools chancellor Carmen Farina said. Last year, Lafayette's longtime principal retired, and many are optimistic about the new principal, Jolanta Rohloff. In addition, new vice principal Iris Chiu is fluent in Chinese and working closely with parents and students. "We actively sought someone that we knew could handle the delicacy of the school," Farina said.

Still, she said, an incident already has been reported since school started: An Asian student was attacked by several classmates on his way to the subway. He suffered minor injuries.



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, November 16, 2005


Nicolas Thorwaldson loves his school, and he wants everyone to know it. "I feel like I wouldn't be the same person if I didn't go to New Tech," said Thorwaldson, the senior class president at the small charter high school in the Sacramento City Unified School District. He went to Kennedy High as a freshman but says he felt lost at the school of 2,600 students. Transferring to New Tech, with just 350 students, allowed him to thrive. "I want the district to be aware that small schools are very valuable," Thorwaldson said. "Not everybody can learn in a large environment."

It's a message that will ring through the halls of the Elks Lodge on Riverside Boulevard tonight, as supporters of small public high schools gather for what they're calling a "Small Schools Summit." Their purpose is twofold: They want to inform prospective students and parents about the programs offered at Sacramento's small high schools. And they want to rebuild support for creating more of the programs that once formed the centerpiece of Sacramento City's efforts to reinvent secondary education.

Three years into its high school reforms, the school district has changed significantly. Shifts in leadership, a drop in available construction money and a poor track record in securing permanent locations for two of the small schools are causing worry among some parents and students. "I'm afraid they're just going to abandon these small high schools," said Linda Stinghen, whose daughter is a junior at The Met, one of two schools lacking a permanent home. Though switching locations each year has been annoying, Stinghen said, her daughter loves the school of fewer than 120 students. "It's been good for her because there's no falling through the cracks," she said. "Everybody knows everyone else."

When the district crafted its reform plan in 2001, it pledged to create eight new high schools, each serving no more than 500 students. The small schools were supposed to create more options for families, reduce crowding at existing high schools and keep students from dropping out in large numbers. The effort was fueled in large part by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is funding new small high schools across the country. More money came from taxpayers, who voted for Measure I in 2002 to pay for $225 million in bonds to upgrade existing campuses and build new high schools. Sacramento City Unified opened four small high schools in 2003 and a fifth one this fall. Three have permanent homes. But two have jumped from one location to another every year.

And now - largely because of rising costs - the district does not have enough money to complete all the construction projects it has proposed. Officials figure it would cost $356 million to build the campuses called for in the high school reform plan, complete the projects voters approved in Measure I and do necessary safety upgrades at existing schools. But there is only $173 million left to do the work. Advocates for small schools are worried their programs could be cut.

More here


The Government is accused today of neglecting work-based training and failing to close down an "unacceptable" number of inadequate colleges in an official review of the future role of further education published today. Further education is the neglected middle child between universities and schools despite its importance to the economy, says the report by Sir Andrew Foster.

FE colleges have their history in technical schools but their role has become confused as they pick up the pieces of failure in the school system, he says.

"The education system needs to improve the ability output of secondary schools. This is a major task as currently 50 per cent of young people in England do not achieve level 2 (five A*-C grade GCSEs or equivalent) by age 16."

Sir Andrew, the deputy chairman of the Royal Bank of Canada and a former head of the Audit Commission, said the number of failing colleges had gone down from 10 to 14 per cent to four per cent, but remained too high. In the report, "Realising the Potential: a review of the future role of further education colleges", he suggests that private companies could take over failing further education colleges.



Up to 3000 schools have been targeted in a DVD blitz aimed at challenging Charles Darwin's theory of evolution in favour of an "intelligent designer". The right to teach intelligent design in science classes is being tested in US courts and a fiery debate has erupted in Australia that has pitted scientists against advocates for the "alternative theory" to evolution. Proponents of intelligent design say some forms of life are so complex they can be explained only by the action of an unspecified "intelligent designer", who some say is God. A commonly cited example of this complex life is the flagellum, a natural "outboard motor" that propels a bacterium along. The argument is that it could not have been produced by the incremental steps of evolution, because it would not function if it was missing any of its parts.

The Minister for Education, Carmel Tebbutt, said intelligent design "can't be taught as part of the NSW school science curriculum" because it was not scientific or based on evidence.

More than 100 schools are already teaching intelligent design as science, alongside the mandatory curriculum requirement to study evolution. These schools include Christian community, Seventh Day Adventist, and a small number of Anglican schools. Many more may follow once the $21.95 DVD Unlocking the Mystery of Life: Intelligent Design is sent free to every school by Campus Crusade for Christ. The DVD promises to reveal "the unmistakeable hallmarks of design - and the Creator's skill - within our very cells".

Campus Crusade for Christ's national director, Bill Hodgson, said the DVD would be sent to all 3000 public and private schools by the end of the year. "We're making available to schools a copy of the DVD as a resource," he said. "There is no prescription on what people do with it." Schools that refused to "re-examine the basis of evolution" were engaging in "reactionary censorship".

The president of the NSW Teachers Federation, Maree O'Halloran, said the unsolicited DVD was a religious marketing exercise and "should be rejected" by schools.

More here


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

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

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


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Ethnic Studies Echo Chamber

Comment from Jim Paine

If one thing has become abundantly clear to me as I've delved deeper into Ward Churchill's writings and the general field of Ethnic Studies, it is that Ethnic Studies is little more than an academic echo chamber dominated by a few loud voices, Churchill's being among the loudest. Now, most fields of study are similarly repetitious, but what makes the Ethnic Studies echo chamber particularly troublesome is that many of the academics within the field are not academics at all, but rather, they are political activists with teaching jobs.

Why is this so? I won't go into the emergence of professorial activism, since that subject has been covered thoroughly here. Suffice it to say that since the '60s, the Humanities in general and Ethnic Studies in particular (requiring as it does so little real scholarship) have attracted vast numbers of otherwise unemployable activists. The short hours, the long breaks, the ample salaries, and the endless opportunities to inculcate gullible students with one's beliefs make this a near-perfect safe-house from which to conduct one's real business of political activism.

Ward Churchill's entire career has been both a mirror and a prototype of this merging of academia and activism. And now that career, as well as his body of work, has been called into question. Of course he will defend himself. But the real threat of the investigation of Churchill's work is not merely to Churchill's continued employment at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Most onlookers understand, at least on a visceral level, that this battle represents much more than that.

Most telling of the true scope of this battle is that Churchill's academic peers are so vociferous, so strident in defending him. The simple fact of the matter is that they must defend him. Their own sinecures are threatened when Churchill is threatened. Much of their work would be eviscerated should the vast array of Churchill citations suddenly be rendered worthless. The work of Vine Deloria, of Bruce Johansen, of Winona LaDuke, of Robert A. Williams, Jr.-activists all, Churchill supporters all-the work of all of these is hopelessly intertwined and interdependent, each providing rationale for the others' theses.

Churchill cites Deloria, who cites Johansen, who cites Williams, who cites Churchill. But what happens when just one of those sources is shown to be irrelevant, or worse, false? How much of what presently constitutes the field of Ethnic Studies will have to be reconstructed from the ground up? What happens when a single joker is removed from this house of cards?

Nothing of import, save perhaps the restoration of a subfield of study to its rightful parents, History and Anthropology departments. And, of course, a vast lamentation from activists suddenly deprived of audience, income, and succor.


Jim Paine has subsequently corrected and revised parts of this essay so refer back to the original for the latest version

Colleges Welcome Texas Homeschoolers

While Texas homeschools often field inquiries from public school officials, social service workers, law enforcement officials, and employers who question their legitimacy, graduates are finding most colleges and universities eagerly accept them, and some are actively recruiting them.

The colleges' newfound appreciation of homeschooled students is due in part to the efforts of a grassroots organization founded in 1986. The Texas Home School Coalition (THSC) was formed to advocate for homeschooled students' rights after the Texas Education Agency (TEA) began seeking criminal prosecution for truancy against 100 homeschooling families statewide in 1985.

Homeschool parents responded with a class-action lawsuit against every school district in Texas--all 1,060 of them. The case progressed all the way to the Texas Supreme Court, where justices ruled in 1994 that Texas homeschools legally could operate as private schools, which have no compulsory attendance requirements, as long as they were "conducted in a bona fide manner using a written curriculum consisting of reading, spelling, grammar, math and a course in good citizenship." But state-supported colleges and universities continued to discriminate against homeschooled applicants until 2003, when the Texas legislature passed a law forcing them to stop. Now, a new generation of homeschooled graduates is reaping the benefits.

THSC serves as a liaison between colleges and universities and the homeschooling community. Homeschooled students receive guidance in developing transcripts and meeting the admissions requirements for Texas colleges and universities, while admissions offices are informed of legal requirements regarding admission of homeschooled students.

Obtaining federal financial aid was overly cumbersome for homeschooled students until recently. In 1998, Congress clarified the law regarding federal financial aid, stating homeschool graduates were eligible for aid without having to take an additional test other applicants were not required to take.

Prior to 2003, the college admissions process was likewise difficult for homeschooled students. Many colleges required homeschooled students to achieve higher SAT or ACT scores than public high school graduates. Others required homeschooled students to write essays not required of other applicants, THSC President Tim Lambert said. "We worked for six years through three legislative sessions just to amend the code to stop colleges from discriminating against homeschool students in the admissions process," Lambert said.

Though Stephen Swanson was homeschooled from kindergarten through 12th grade, he recalled no great difficulties in being admitted to Oklahoma Christian University, where he is a sophomore. His college routine, he said, is similar to what he experienced in homeschooling. Over the past few years, he has studied on his own, using a self-guided approach that has served him well in college.

"The hardest thing for me was exercising the discipline I learned through homeschooling to meet the challenge of a heavier workload at college," Swanson said. "I seek to 'just say no' to outside activities when they conflict with my studies. My drive to excel away from home at college is due to my parents' emphasis on character development. My faith-based homeschool education gives me incentive to use wisely the abilities and opportunities God has given me."

Lubbock Christian University freshman Thomas Kennedy was homeschooled for nine years. He said his professors are all aware he is a homeschool graduate, and they have received him well so far. "One of my professors told me that he looks to homeschool students in his classroom to pave the way and set the pace for the classroom," he said, adding that being homeschooled has made him a lifelong learner. "I have chosen to continue my education after undergraduate school because I like school."

Isaac Garcia, homeschooled throughout his K-12 years in Texas, is a senior at Lubbock Christian University majoring in computer information systems. Garcia said the hardships other homeschoolers faced before him made the way easier for him. "Because of the efforts of those before me to ease the process for homeschoolers to be admitted to college, I had no extra requirements to be accepted other than to demonstrate competence on the ACT or SAT," he said. "I have an inner desire instilled in me by my homeschool teachers, in this case my parents, to work hard in college and to aim high, and with God's help I will accomplish anything I set my mind to."

Craig Barnes, a Tarrant County Community College sophomore, was homeschooled in Texas from 7th through 12th grade. He said he has been tested in keeping up with the much faster pace required by his college instructors, but he noted the admissions process was simple. He merely mailed his application along with copies of his transcripts and SAT scores, just as his peers from public schools must do.

Most colleges and universities have realized homeschooled students in general are an asset to the campus, THSC President Lambert said. Texas homeschool graduates as a group score significantly higher than the state average on SAT and ACT tests.



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, November 14, 2005


During his combined 17 years as superintendent of schools for the towns of Branford and Hadley, Massachusetts, Armand A. Fusco, Ed.D. began to question what he felt was a “legacy of corruption” in the operation of public school systems. Five years ago, the Guilford resident, who also has 35 years experience in the education field, began compiling hard evidence to back up his suspicion that many forms of what he labels corruption exist within nearly all public school systems in the nation, cheating taxpayers out of money and children out of a better quality of education.

This September, Armand published his findings in School Corruption: Betrayal of Children and the Public Trust. (2005, iUniverse). Armand's book exposes corruption in public schools and related agencies like PTA/PTOs by compiling overwhelming evidence of cheating, deceit, waste, mismanagement, fraud, and stealing occurring in the public school realm. “Nobody will believe what's happening. This book is just the tip of the iceberg; what's hidden is what I couldn't find,” says Armand.

Armand delves into tough questions including, “why corruption and political correctness leads to poor student achievement, disgraceful school outcomes, and failing schools.” He also sheds light on inept school government, which he says is allowing corruption to “flourish.” Armand adds he did not write School Corruption to stir up controversy. By including his idea for a “remedy,” applicable within any school district, people can begin to change the system for the better, he says. “I want to see positive change, not stir up a lot of controversy. This has to get out now, so it's discussed as a hot topic, or like the Catholic Church [priest sex scandal], it will explode and cost us dearly—all because they wanted to hide the facts instead of protect the children.”

Armand was writing an education column for local newspapers between 1999 and 2003 when he began a six-part series touching on ways corruption surfaces in public school districts. His research continued after the series ended. It developed into the idea for School Corruption, when Armand realized such a book did not yet exist. As he uncovered story after story, Armand shared them with his wife, Constance. An experienced educator and education administrator, Constance M. Fusco, Ed.D. recently retired after 30 years in education. Constance served her last four years in the field as assistant superintendent of Madison Public Schools. “My wife, as I was writing this book, would say 'That can't be,' because she doesn't think that way,” says Armand, who dedicated his book to her.

From the Long Island school superintendent who somehow stole $11 million of public school money to an administrator who took candy money from a school fundraising drive, Armand can back up each example of greed and corruption with corresponding news stories painstakingly culled from national news archives. “It covers a 20-year span, but a lot of it is recent,” he points out.

His book offers page after page of examples, state by state, including a Connecticut test-tampering scandal at Stratfield Elementary School in Fairfield. The school, one of nine in the town, scored 40 percent higher than other schools and tested highest in the state. “In fact, it was the envy of other schools and even captivated educators from India and Japan, who visited the school seeking the secret for its success. The community and parents revered the principal,” writes Armand. The acclaim continued until an analysis of the school's standardized test scores showed five times the number of erasures than on tests by other schools; 89 percent of the answers were changed from wrong to right. As a result, a probe by the Connecticut Department of Education also found evidence of tampering in state tests taken at the school between 1993-95. An investigation, which cost taxpayers $200,000, followed. The state Department of Education resolved the principal couldn't be excluded from suspicion, as he had access to test materials. However, the principal denied the charge and even passed a lie detector test. Then, he made what Armand found to be a “secret” deal with the school board, and retired. When the students were re-tested under strict security, scores dropped below other schools.

In School Corruption, Armand calls such examples of cheating and deceit “CheDe” (cheaty). Armand also identifies waste and mismanagement as a form of corruption, calling it “WaMi” (whammy). WaMi typically follows CheDe's decay of value and ethics, opening the door to complacency, which allows school resources to become mismanaged. While it doesn't typically involve personal financial gain, personal gains come in the form of less work, less effort, empire building, and more.

As the Hadley superintendent of schools (1972-80), Armand encountered WaMi first-hand, when the district hired a speech therapist. “The first year, we had her as a part-time speech therapist. At the end of the year, she asked for full-time status, because of her caseload. She had the numbers [to show need] and she was made full-time. Beginning in the third year, she said she needed an assistant,” he recalls. Armand felt the numbers weren't making sense. “When you are working with students in speech therapy, you should have turn-over, not an increase; and I told her so,” he says. Armand called in an independent speech therapy consulting group from neighboring UMass, and asked for a review of the needs of students in his district's speech therapy program. Meanwhile, the speech therapist went to parents and the press, until “they were ready the hang me at tenure time,” he says. But Armand was able to prove the expense of adding an assistant to the speech therapy program was unnecessary. “The [UMass therapists'] report came back saying two-thirds of the kids didn't need therapy. She was building an empire,” says Armand of the therapist.

WaMi violates what Armand feels is an “...implied sacred covenant between the taxpayers and the schools,” to spend money effectively and efficiently. As Branford superintendent of schools (1985–92), Armand says one instance of coming up against WaMi occurred during an attempt to save money by consolidating teacher hiring. “While I was there, we consolidated five elementary schools to three schools. The principals of each school wanted an art teacher. I said, 'What do you want covered?' They told me, and I worked out a schedule where two teachers could cover the three schools. Each principal then went to the school board to say they weren't getting an art teacher; and the board gave them three art teachers.” Astounded, Armand recalls asking the principals, “What will you do with the extra time those teachers will have? They said, 'We'll think of something,' and the board agreed to that!”

The final fitting acronym for the third form of corruption covered in Armand's book is “FraSte” (frosty); fraud and stealing. “It should 'frost' all taxpayers because it's their dollars that are being stolen in some way,” he says. Just one FraSte example in School Corruption describes a middle school secretary who regularly stole money from student accounts set aside for activities such as field trips. By the time auditors uncovered the theft, she'd already left town, having embezzled an estimated $483,000. No matter what you call it, Armand says, “Where ever you find money, you're going to find corruption...they've even stolen grand pianos. It's not just little stuff; it's anything that moves.” Corruptions also comes in less tangible forms, such as stealing time or tweaking work loads to justify jobs and programs.

In addition to exposing the many types of corruption in public school systems, and its resulting diminished quality of education for students, Armand notes he wrote School Corruption to challenge school boards to re-tool and create a new beginning. He even provides what he calls “...a simple remedy,” to make the challenge a reality.....

More here

Political correctness trumps free speech

What do the Bible and "The Vagina Monologues" have in common? Not much. But surely we can all agree that both are covered by the First Amendment, guaranteeing freedom of religion and freedom of expression. Well, that's not so at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. At UWEC you can live in a dorm and watch a performance of "The Vagina Monologues," but you can't join a Bible studies group. Any resident assistant, or RA, as the live-in student counselors are called, can put on a performance of the play, and one has, but leading a Bible studies class in his or her own room and on his or her own time, is forbidden. Many students want such a class, but they're out of luck.

The director of university housing says the ban is necessary to enable the RAs to "share" the perspectives of the students, to make RAs "approachable." Vagina perspective trumps the perspectives of Moses and Matthew in behalf of "approachability." That certainly sounds postmodern enough.

Where have we found such empty-headed university administrators? This destructive silliness goes to the root of politically correct attitudes: feminist ideology, good; the Bible, bad. Reaching for moral equivalence, the housing director reassures critics that the Koran and the Torah are banned, too. The university is now considering an extension of the bans to forbid political and ideological discussions.

Such flouting of the traditions of free speech -- and good sense -- is typical of the disease of political correctness that in various forms infects many campuses, denying students a fundamental understanding of the meaning of free speech. "The First Amendment doesn't end with Bible study or with 'The Vagina Monologues' -- it guarantees a student's right to perform both," says David French, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a six-year-old watchdog organization and clearinghouse for the bad news of campus offenses against free speech.

This latest offense follows another objection at UWEC where the student senate barred funding to any campus organization that promotes a "particular ideological, religious or partisan viewpoint." That covers just about anything a curious student could talk to anyone about.

Not so long ago -- within the memory of Americans still alive -- universities set rules to inhibit sensual temptation, to protect young people at an age when they were particularly vulnerable to sexual promiscuity. Now sexual promiscuity is barely an elective, and Big Brother and Sister Nanny shield everyone from the temptation of intellectual debate of secular and religious philosophies. By banning free speech, the universities impose indoctrination in lieu of learning. The Founding Fathers are spinning, but they're only dead white men, after all.

FIRE's Web site ( includes maps with ratings of colleges that routinely punish students and faculty for saying things that hurt feelings and threaten "self-esteem." Although some college administrators retreat in the face of challenges of these speech codes, a casual survey turns up a catalog of taboos on language and dumb jokes. Bowdoin College, for example, bans jokes and stories "experienced by others as harassing." Brown University prohibits "verbal behavior" that produces "feelings of impotence, anger or disenfranchisement," whether "intentional or unintentional." Colby College in Maine outlaws speech that causes "a vague sense of danger" or a loss of "self-esteem." The University of Connecticut prohibits "inappropriately directed laughter." Syracuse University nixes "offensive remarks . . . sexually suggestive staring . . . and sexual, sexist or heterosexist remarks or jokes."

West Virginia University tells freshmen to use language that is not "gender specific." So "girlfriend" and "boyfriend" are out; "lover" or "partner" is in. The University of North Dakota defines harassment as anything that intentionally produces "psychological discomfort, embarrassment or ridicule." If a "person" comes out of the ladies room trailing toilet paper from the bottom of her foot, a la Gilda Radner in a memorable "Saturday Night Live" skit, make sure you don't tell her about it.

These speech codes would be laughable if they weren't so serious. But there's a larger lesson here. "If students on our nation's campuses learn that jokes, remarks and visual displays that 'offend' someone may rightly be banned, they will not find it odd or dangerous when the government itself seeks to censor and to demand moral conformity in the expression of its citizens," warns FIRE. "A nation that does not educate in freedom will not survive in freedom, and will not even know when it has lost." We need those FIRE alarms.



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, November 13, 2005


The Klein fiasco mill is never on hiatus. Today's focus will be on the satellite issue of "special education." During one of Klein's momentous and scripted tours of a local school set up for a spontaneous VIP visit, the chancellor attended a virtual classroom lesson. His head swivelled once around the room of bug-eyed kids. One quick pivot and he pursed his lips to a microphone, declaiming, " I was asked to pick out which kids were special education and which ones weren't and I couldn't do it." Based on this immersion, he ordered that special education children, desperately deserving personalized care, be shoe-horned into already bulging classes. This is the dirty little secret called "mainstreaming."

Klein releases periodic odes to himself, sort of a monogrammed "triumph of the will." He calls them his "School Reform Report Card." In them he luxuriates over the strides made in special education during his stewardship. No sooner did it resonate among his support staff ( including authors of such staff development mags as "Frogs and Toadies", "Guide for Lap-dogs", and "No Show Digest") and the NYC tabloids, that federal judge Charles Sifton certified a class action suit alleging that Klein's school system denied special education students a full year of learning opportunity.

There is more than mere suspicion that Klein withheld services owed to these most vulnerable kids. Perhaps the chancellor doesn't agree that by ejecting them from school they were being denied services. Perhaps his rigorous training as an attorney enables him to make that case. According to Advocates for Children, parents were kept blind to their rights of due process and their children's civil right to an education thereby compromised.

Prior to making it as New York City's schools chancellor, Joel Klein's crowning achievement was as a Justice Department legal beagle, when he expeditiously busted Microsoft. After his victory was reversed on appeal, Klein was drafted as the first schools chancellor with no expertise in education. He seemed to start on the right foot when he proved to be the first chancellor, competent in the profession or not, who knew how many buildings were administered by his own bureaucracy. Now there was a foundation on which to build!

The bereaved public, bemoaning a lost but once glorious educational institution, clamored for its revival and clung to any blowing straw of hope. The need to believe is deep-rooted. For a citizenry steeped in "business as usual" shell games, Klein's zealous vows, combined with his crisp and military-sounding press releases, delivered the formidable zing of an adult beverage.

Klein knew that the school system was a gravely sick though not doomed patient. But he got the diagnosis all wrong. And instead of allowing capable professionals to apply their skilled hands to the prone patient, he rushed the patient to a morgue to be stabilized by no-bid consultants in ice-packing. Klein's revolutionary fiats are all fizzling because not only are they not antidotes to the poisonous truths reposing in the system, but they are compounding the catastrophe with new and unforeseen venoms.

The Aztec and Mayan civilizations have passed on their legacy of human sacrifice to an unlikely beneficiary: Joel Klein and his Department of Education. The difference is that this time, children's hearts and minds are on an agenda, not a menu. He is hitting them hard and all who serve them hard. That is no way to be hard-hitting.

Education is a thoroughbred that cannot be ridden by an army of 400 pound jockeys. Its magic cannot be scripted, like the chancellor's press conferences, to the beat of a metronome and the drone of an hourglass. The relationship between each teacher and every student is inviolable as between doctor and patient. Klein hijacks style and sabotages substance. He has made a mere job of a noble calling. When learning works it is despite, not because of his policies. And he has littered the road to progress with martyrs. Klein's leadership is an embarrassment of myths and fallacies. As he subdues the waves of the educational seas , we know we are on the "Good Ship Lollipop" because he told us so. The truth is that his occupation of what was once the pride and rock of New York, its public school system, is a cruel and furious adventure in failure.



Every child in Australia will be tested for literacy when they start school and then regularly over the next three years under a national action plan to help struggling students. A national inquiry has also suggested that children's reading results be available to teachers if the child moves interstate or to a different school. Parents would be given regular updates on their child's performance, with a report twice a year for the first three years of schooling.

The report, Teaching Reading, was commissioned by Education Minister Brendan Nelson amid fears that current teaching methods were failing Australia's children. It contains an explicit warning that Australia's schools should embrace "systematic, direct phonics instruction so that children master the essential alphabetic codebreaking skill required for foundational reading proficiency". The warning follows a controversial, worldwide debate on which of two approaches is better - the phonics instruction method, or the "whole language" method, a "holistic" approach in which children are immersed in language and words, instead of learning first to break down words.

While acknowledging that this year's OECD indicators report Education at a Glance shows Australian school students compare well against overseas students, the report finds "a significant minority of children in Australian schools continue to face difficulties in acquiring acceptable levels of literacy and numeracy". While both phonics and whole-language methods can help some children, the report recommends that phonics be the starting point. "Systematic phonics instruction is critical if children are to be taught to read well, whether or not they experience reading difficulties," it finds. "The inquiry found strong evidence that a whole-language approach to the teaching of reading on its own is not in the best interests of children, particularly those experiencing reading difficulties. "Moreover, where there is unsystematic or no phonics instruction, children's literacy progress is significantly impeded, inhibiting their initial and subsequent growth in reading accuracy, fluency, writing, spelling and comprehension."

The report recommends that the current assessment of students' literacy results against national benchmarks be extended so results of individual children are available for diagnostic and intervention purposes. "To assist the transfer of achievement information as students move from school to school and from state to state, mechanisms are also proposed to make this process a long overdue reality," it states. "The committee recommends ... nationally consistent assessments on entry to school be undertaken for every child, and these link to future assessments. A confidential mechanism such as a unique student identifier should be established to enable information on an individual child's performance to follow the child regardless of location, and to monitor a child's progress throughout schooling."

Earlier this week, Dr Nelson backed national testing on basic literacy skills for trainee teachers when they enter university and when they graduate.


The education of our children should not be left to the state: "By placing your child in the care of a government-run indoctrination center, you are saying that you trust the government to raise your child, essentially giving up your due process and privacy rights. You are admitting that the government is able to give your child something you cannot provide. When you consider how poorly the government manages everything else, why would any reasonable person think things would be different when it comes to education?"


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