Saturday, December 31, 2005


When UC Davis Vice Chancellor Celeste Rose resigned under pressure last summer, the university gave her a new job with a new title, a $20,000 a year raise -- and very little responsibility. In fact, Rose, 55, isn't required to do any work at all. As part of a secret legal settlement negotiated to avoid a potentially embarrassing lawsuit, UC Davis promised to keep Rose on the payroll as the "senior adviser to the chancellor" for two years at an annual salary of $205,000, plus all the benefits of a senior manager, including health care, severance pay and a growing pension. Yet her new job has no formal job description or regular duties. She gave up her office on campus. And UC promised not to fire her, no matter how little she does. If Rose quits, she is still entitled to receive the remainder of her two years' salary under the agreement. In addition, UC Davis agreed to give her a $50,000 "transition payment" to help her find a new job, a letter of recommendation and a promise to tell reporters that she voluntarily resigned from her old position.

But in apparent violation of university policy, members of the governing Board of Regents were not told of the settlement and were not asked to give their approval. In fact, the June 1 agreement was handled so quietly that UC Davis spokeswoman Lisa Lapin said only a few people on campus know about it. "It's another instance of high compensation not being disclosed," said UC Davis law Professor Daniel Simmons, chair of the UC Davis Academic Senate. "This is the kind of disclosure that harms the university, because these issues always become public at one point or another."

As The Chronicle reported last month, the University of California last fiscal year gave employees hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses, administrative stipends and other hidden compensation. In the wake of those stories, the Legislature has scheduled hearings into the issue next year, and UC President Robert Dynes formed a task force to look at revising the university's disclosure policies. Regent Joanne Kozberg, who was named co-chair of the task force, said she'll have the group look into why regents weren't told about the UC Davis agreement. "If there is a policy, it has got to be followed," Kozberg said. "If there is a violation, it needs to be looked into."

Rose's attorney, Melinda Guzman, said Rose received the settlement after threatening to sue the university for racial and gender discrimination. Rose is African American.

The dispute began in February when UC Davis Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef told Rose in a private meeting she needed to resign at the end of June. Guzman said Vanderhoef didn't offer a reason for the decision, which Guzman claims is part of a pattern of discrimination at the campus. "The facts were compelling," Guzman said. UC has had a "repeated failure to either recruit or retain minority executive managers at the UC Davis campus." UC Davis officials denied they discriminated against Rose or any other executives. But citing privacy rights surrounding personnel issues, they said they could not comment on Rose's claim that she was essentially fired without a reason. "If she and her attorney wish to say things, that's their right," said Dennis Shimek, associate vice chancellor of human resources at UC Davis. "But that doesn't make what they are saying accurate."

Regardless of the merits of her claims, UC Davis quickly agreed to settle......

More here


Maybe he thinks it shows up the inadequacy of his school

A nonprofit group that has tutored poor D.C. students for more than 15 years has been kicked out of its only school site because the school's new principal says no paperwork has been filed to allow the group to use the facility. Project Northstar, a D.C. tutoring program founded in 1989, has used the cafeteria of Lemon G. Hine Junior High School at Seventh Street and Pennsylvania Avenue Southeast for one of its weekly tutoring classes since 1994. But Willie Jackson, who became Hine's principal late last month, asked Northstar to leave Dec. 5, saying the program did not file a yearly building-use agreement, as required by the public school system.

"It just doesn't make sense," said Sylvia Davis, 52, whose three foster children attend the weekly program. "Why would a school want to shut down a program that's helping children? It's really hard to find tutoring, and if I had to pay for it, I wouldn't be able to afford it. There's a lot of children in this community that need help."

A building-use agreement between the school system and Northstar has been renewed yearly since the program began using the facility, program officials said. "Every year we have to renew our lease, and every year we do," said Brian Carome, Project Northstar's executive director. "We submitted the most-recent request in June 2005, and we were told that we had been approved."

Mr. Jackson said Northstar's use agreement was lost or never was filed. When Northstar refiled paperwork per his request last week, Mr. Jackson rejected the new deal. "There's a lack-of-agreement issue," he said. "I can't go into this environment and try to participate when the rules aren't followed." Mr. Jackson refused to say why he rejected the agreement. "I cannot say at this time," he said.

Mr. Carome has provided The Washington Times with a copy of the building-use agreement he submitted in June and of previous agreements that had been approved. Unlike earlier agreements, the June submission was not signed by a school administrator. However, Patricia Tucker, assistant superintendent of schools, said Northstar had never submitted an agreement in the 11 years it has operated at the junior high school.

"Project Northstar ... has not currently or in the past submitted a building use agreement. This is legally required by all organizations and community groups," Miss Tucker said in a written statement. "The circumstances that led to the illegal use of the facility by Project Northstar are currently under rigorous investigation and will be addressed in a forthright manner."

In a letter Friday to Peter Parham, chief of staff for the superintendent, Project Northstar President Robert D. Evans disputes Miss Tucker's statement, calling it "false" and "derogatory." Mr. Evans notes that the program is scheduled to restart next month and asks that the issue be resolved by Thursday. "As you note in your e-mail, given the long history of service by Project Northstar to the children of our city, this should not be difficult," he told Mr. Parham.

Officials for D.C. Public Schools Superintendent Clifford B. Janey did not return calls for comment. Project Northstar was founded in 1989 by members of the D.C. Chapters of the Coalition of 100 Black Women and Concerned Black Men and lawyers from three local law firms. It serves about 200 poverty-level students once a week at six D.C. sites. The program is funded by grants from local foundations and private and corporate donations. During the 2004-05 school year, a reading assessment of 165 Northstar students found that 67 percent improved by at least one level and 41 percent improved by at least two levels.



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, December 30, 2005


A rationing plan for enrolling students in more than 120 schools in Milwaukee's private school voucher program will be imposed for the 2006-'07 school year, the state Department of Public Instruction said Tuesday in a letter to administrators of those schools. Key advocates for the voucher program said if the rationing is imposed, hundreds, if not thousands, of students in voucher schools would be unable to continue in or to enroll in schools in the program, and substantial damage would be done to some of the schools.

The department's action will turn up the heat sharply on Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle and Republican legislative leaders to come to an agreement on the future of the voucher program and, perhaps, other Milwaukee school issues. All sides appear to agree that a decision on the number of voucher seats for next school year needs to come early in 2006 so families and schools, including many Milwaukee Public Schools, can make plans for the next school year. The main enrollment period for MPS begins Jan. 9. Private schools that want to be part of the voucher program have a Feb. 1 deadline to inform DPI of their plans.

The department's letter, even as it outlines a rationing plan, says the best resolution of the voucher cap issue is an agreement between the governor and the legislature. Tony Evers, deputy state superintendent of schools, said in an interview: "We're hoping people of goodwill will come together." Evers said DPI had to announce a plan at this point: "There's no question the clock is ticking. We have a cap, we have no legislative solution for it, and we have an obligation to implement the law as written."

Tim Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce and a strong supporter of the voucher program, said: "I'm hopeful that this will awaken people to the fact that a cap on the choice program will be disastrous for broad education reform in Milwaukee. . . . I think this will affect the delivery of education to every kid in the city of Milwaukee, not just to those in the choice program."

But even with people on both sides of the deep divide on Milwaukee education policies saying the voucher cap should be lifted, prospects for a compromise are uncertain. Some key figures on both sides said they doubted whether the other side was willing to take a constructive approach - just as other leaders on both sides said they thought a compromise would be reached. Under the law, enrollment in the voucher program cannot exceed 15% of the enrollment in MPS. The voucher total has gone up every year but one since the program began in 1990-'91. DPI officials have not announced a final figure for this year but say enrollment is basically at the current cap of 14,751 and is sure to go over the cap of about 14,500 for next year unless rationing is imposed.

The voucher program - the oldest and arguably the most comprehensive such program in the country - allows students from low-income homes in Milwaukee to attend private schools, including religious schools. This year, state-funded vouchers pay up to $6,351 a student, and the voucher payments are expected to total $96 million.

In a nutshell, the rationing plan proposed by DPI would divide the cap figure for next school year (14,500) by the total of all the voucher seats schools say, as of Feb. 1, they have available. In the past, schools have submitted figures that were much above their enrollment in the end. For example, the number of potential seats for the current school year claimed by schools was almost 30,000. Dividing this year's cap into that total would leave a fraction to be used in a rationing of voucher seats so that schools could fill only that fraction with potential students. Under the DPI plan, if figures were about the same next school year, each school would be told it could enroll about 50% of its voucher capacity.

Voucher advocates say the plan could cause some schools to cut existing voucher seats, among other effects. "It really is one of the most draconian options that they could have taken," said Brother Bob Smith, president of Messmer Catholic Schools. "Which of the kids are we supposed to tell they can't come back to their schools next year, and what options are they presenting for those students and their families?"....

More here


Though Christopher Flickinger calls himself "dean" and poses in parodistic photos waving a small American flag and looking stern, he says he's never been more serious about eliminating what he claims is pervasive anti-conservatism on college campuses today. "When I was on campus, I had no help," the recent Ohio State University graduate told "I was harassed, intimidated, shouted down." Flickinger, schooled in broadcast journalism, said he wants to provide the support he never had as a lonely conservative in college. That's why in November he launched the Network of College Conservatives to act in part as "a link for these conservative students, to let them know they are not alone."

Running the Web site solo from his Pittsburgh, Pa., home, Flickinger said he wants the network to be much more than a shoulder to cry on. Conservative students are still easy targets of liberal intimidation, he claims, but more than ever, they have a growing body of legal and activist support groups to turn to — and he wants his organization to be top among those resources. Flickinger added that his group plans on "exposing and letting people know what is going on" on campuses by creating a clearinghouse on the Web site for students to pass along information about individual schools and professors. "By exposing left-wing educators, providing information on liberal and conservative activities on campus and educating students on conservative thoughts, views and opinions, the NCC will counter the liberal bias throughout America's institutions of higher learning," reads the network's mission statement.

But not everyone believes that conservative students are as harassed or marginalized as they say they are or might have been in the past. Megan Fitzgerald is director of the Center for Campus Free Speech , described on its Web site as an organization "dedicated to preserving the marketplace of ideas on college campuses across the country." Fitzgerald said her center defends speech by liberals and conservatives alike, and her own experience at the University of Wisconsin found that conservatives were vocal, organized and enjoyed the same platform as any other ideological movement on campus. "I would say, my senior year, the student government, probably a majority of the members would have identified themselves as conservative," said the 2003 graduate....

Several conservatives acknowledge that as the country has become more equally divided among conservatives and liberals, today's student bodies are more reflective of those ideological differences. "It used to be that some conservatives would concentrate on putting their heads down and just getting through," said David French, president of the legal group Foundation for Individual Freedom in Education, which recently supported the right of a University of Wisconsin resident assistant to hold Bible study sessions in his dorm. "Now they are more confrontational." French said when he was at Harvard Law School 11 years ago there "wasn't a lot of hope" about doing something to counter the anti-conservative bias on campus, but he has seen some positive signs at Harvard since then. "Now, there is a real sense that the cultural momentum in the [conservative] movement has actually made it to the academy," he said.

Sarah Armstrong, chairwoman of the Connecticut Union of College Republicans and a junior at Connecticut College, said her group has increased membership to 2,000 throughout the state and has even made inroads into Wesleyan University and other schools considered by many to be liberal bastions. "[We're] very aggressive," in terms of organizing, Armstrong said. Still, she said, the anti-conservative bias is alive and well and most of it comes from the professors, "the people who should know better."

Earlier this year, professors Robert Lichter of George Mason University, Stanley Rothman of Smith College and Neil Nevitte of the University of Toronto, released a surveywhich showed that 72 percent of college professors polled held liberal views on current topics such as abortion rights, the environment and homosexuality....

Wilson said conservative religious colleges across the country have much stricter policies regarding speech and behavior, and Web sites like NCC seek to work as "spy" sites that smack of fascist tactics to "out" liberal professors. Flickinger said he welcomes the criticism, and since launching NCC has received hate mail along with letters of encouragement. Meanwhile, the site has already registered conservative students from more than 60 colleges and universities in what he says he hopes will offer "camaraderie through numbers." "Hopefully, we'll bring this quiet revolution to a loud, boisterous battle," he said.

More here


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

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

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


Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Dirty Dozen

America's Most Bizarre and Politically Correct College Courses. Princeton University's "Prostitute, Cross Dressing, and Same-Sex Eroticism" Course ranked as the most bizarre Class

As tuition rates climb to an average of over $21,000 per year, today's college students study prostitution, teeth whitening, and Beavis and Butthead. The following Dirty Dozen highlights the most bizarre and troubling instances of leftist activism supplanting traditional scholarship in our nation's colleges and universities:

Princeton University's The Cultural Production of Early Modern Women examines "prostitutes," "cross-dressing," and "same-sex eroticism" in 16th - and 17th - century England, France, Italy and Spain

The Unbearable Whiteness of Barbie: Race and Popular Culture in the United States at Occidental College in California explores ways "which scientific racism has been put to use in the making of Barbie [and] to an interpretation of the film The Matrix as a Marxist critique of capitalism."

At The John Hopkins University, students in the Sex, Drugs, and Rock `n' Roll in Ancient Egypt class view slideshows of women in ancient Egypt "vomiting on each other," "having intercourse," and "fixing their hair."

Like something out of a Hugh Hefner film, Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania offers the class Lesbian Novels Since World War II.

Alfred University's Nip, Tuck, Perm, Pierce, and Tattoo: Adventures with Embodied Culture, mostly made up of women, encourages students to think about the meaning behind "teeth whitening, tanning, shaving, and hair dyeing." Special projects include visiting a tattoo-and-piercing studio and watching Arnold Schwarzenegger's bodybuilding film, Pumping Iron.

Harvard University's Marxist Concepts of Racism examines "the role of capitalist development and expansion in creating racial inequality" (emphasis added). Although Karl Marx didn't say much on race, leftist professors in this course extrapolate information on "racial oppression" and "racial antagonism."

Occidental College-making the Dirty Dozen list twice-offers a course in Stupidity, which compares the American presidency to Beavis and Butthead.

Students at the University of California-Los Angeles need not wonder what it means to be a lesbian. The Psychology of the Lesbian Experience reviews "various aspects of lesbian experience" including the "impact of heterosexism/stigma, gender role socialization, minority status of women and lesbians, identity development within a multicultural society, changes in psychological theories about lesbians in sociohistorical context."

Duke University's American Dreams/American Realities course supposedly unearths "such myths as `rags to riches,' `beacon to the world,' and the `frontier,' in defining the American character" (emphasis added).

Amherst College in Massachusetts offers the class Taking Marx Seriously: "Should Marx be given another chance?" Students in this course are asked to question if Marxism still has any "credibility" remaining, while also inquiring if societies can gain new insights by "returning to [Marx's] texts." Coming to Marx's rescue, this course also states that Lenin, Stalin, and Pol Pot misapplied the concepts of Marxism.

Brown University's Black Lavender: A Study of Black Gay & Lesbian Plays "address[es] the identities and issues of Black gay men and lesbians, and offer[s] various points of view from within and without the Black gay and lesbian artistic communities."

Students enrolled in the University of Michigan's Topics in Literary Studies: Ancient Greek/Modern Gay Sexuality have the pleasure of reading a "wide selection of ancient Greek (and a few Roman) texts that deal with same-sex love, desire, gender dissidence, and sexual behavior."


Diversity of everything but ideas

Mark 2005 as the year that the dirty little secret of higher education became part of the public conversation. Most of us on college campuses have long known that there is little intellectual diversity in higher education, especially when it comes to political ideas. But we learned to live with it as part of the artificial bubble that characterizes much of campus life. Consider these recent challenges to the leftward lean of thinking on college campuses:

-- Moderate U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander -- a former university president and one-time Secretary of Education -- told the Commission on the Future of Higher Education that the greatest threat to broader public support and increased funding for higher education is a "growing political one-sidedness which has infected most campuses."

-- The American Council of Trustees and Alumni, in its recent report "Intellectual Diversity: Time for Action," said "the most serious challenge for higher education today is the lack of intellectual diversity."

-- Earlier this year, the broad-based American Council on Education issued a statement, supported by 30 higher education organizations, acknowledging the growing concern about "intellectual pluralism" and the "free exchange of ideas" on campuses.

Yes, people are now standing up to say that higher education, which has pioneered in every other kind of diversity -- ethnic, gender, same-sex benefits -- lacks diversity in the very heart of its mission: the development and transmission of ideas.

A liberal arts education has become politically liberal. The evidence of political one-sidedness on campus is strong, but not really new. Critics point to a survey by three scholars published earlier this year in The Forum showing that 72 percent of professors consider themselves liberal while only 15 percent say they are conservative. In the liberal arts, as opposed to hard sciences, the numbers are even more imbalanced. Studies of political party affiliations of Stanford and UC Berkeley faculty show registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by 8 or 10 to 1. While disturbing, this kind of data isn't really new.

What seems to be new is a perception by students that professorial political opinions are now very much a part of the classroom, even in a course on Chaucer or biology. Professors once took pride in disguising their own views and making the classroom an objective laboratory of ideas. Now, some argue, in a postmodern world where everything is political, how can politics not be engaged in the classroom? As a result, a survey of students at 50 top universities showed that nearly half the students feel faculty use the classroom to present their personal political views, and that political discussions seem "totally one-sided."

The academy should take such concerns seriously because a lack of intellectual diversity undercuts the fundamental purpose of liberal arts education: to stretch and grow students through exposure to a wide range of disciplines and ideas. Marketing one political ideology to students throughout their four years of study, as happens on many campuses, not only leads to less intellectual creativity and policy innovation, but it continues to isolate an academic class in its "ivory tower." No wonder, then, that Sen. Alexander warns that Congress will be less and less interested in supporting a venture that leads to greater political divisiveness in the name of higher education.

So what is to be done to promote greater intellectual diversity on campuses? It won't be easy, given that tenure protects professors' jobs and academic freedom is used to defend almost whatever they choose to say. Still, there is plenty that can be done to broaden the range of ideas on campus.

Trustees and administrators should undertake a study of the diversity of thought on their own campuses. One way to balance what is presented in the classroom is to invite a greater diversity of outside speakers, or part-time adjunct faculty. Deans should look at the syllabus for courses to see if a range of ideas is presented in the readings and engage faculty on the issue. It doesn't violate academic freedom to have a conversation about a professor's reading list. As one of my bosses correctly said to me, "You have academic freedom to write what you want and I have freedom to say what I want about what you write." Intellectual diversity should be part of student course evaluations, and should be reviewed at the highest levels.

On the seal of my alma mater are the words, "Let the winds of freedom blow." We should remember that the winds of freedom blow right and center, as well as left, and that, in the academic world of ideas, diversity of thought may be the most important kind of diversity of all.



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, December 28, 2005


Below is part of a book review written in Marxist educational jargon which actually seems to come to surprisingly humble conclusions -- recognizing the value of traditional approaches and questioning the arrogance of theorists etc. I have inserted a few translations into plain English

Carlson and Apple are the editors of a collection of essays on democratic [Leftist] themes in education. According to the editors, these themes are "emergent, contested, and consequently always in the process of being constructed and reconstructed as a historical production" (p. 1). The book explores these themes, which concern democratic [Leftist] renewal of culture and education, by construing them as various types of [modified Marxist] critical theory. Ultimately, the aim of the book is to relate these theories to policy and practice. This theoretical discourse, which is positioned historically to address a transformational time of crisis in education and society, is part of The Edge: Critical Studies in Educational Theory. The series examines progressive educational theory by offering a variety of discussions about theory and practice during an era of perceived radical paradigm shifts in education.

Carlson and Apple introduce their text as a discussion partially of the stress that exists within and among neo- Marxist/neo-Gramscian and postmodern/poststructural theories. The authors believe that the discussion must be set in the cultural and historical context of present day conflicts between neo-liberals desiring privatization of public education and neo-conservatives desiring more traditional curricula that ignore multicultural issues. Carlson and Apple view this frame as appropriate since two of the major crises of the time are the neo-liberal call for privatization of public education resulting ostensibly from the failure of urban schools to serve inner-city children and the attempt by neo-conservatives to wage a "cultural war" against multicultural and student-centered approaches to education (p. 2).

A new approach to research on educational issues is vetted as well. The recognition that qualitative research narratives are partial at best and may be contradicted by other and subsequent narratives [the facts] is presented as a reason why researchers ought to adopt a modest stance, which acknowledges the democratic culture in education.

Interestingly, Carlson and Apple state that it is important to blur the lines between modern and post-modern theory. This blurring of the lines allows the theoretical discussion to revisit older practices in light of new theories. Carlson and Apple believe that post-modern theory dismisses "older practices" too quickly because many of the post-modern concepts are derived from existing culture and are therefore linked to existing practices. Further Carlson and Apple believe the language of postmodernism needs to become more inclusive and tied to the real world structures of every day life.

Another concern of the authors is the behavior of some "post-" theorists who appear to negate the possibility that more traditional approaches have value. The arrogance implied by such theorists' self-presentation of having the "right answers" to educational crises worries Carlson and Apple.

More here

Staff 'surplus to requirements' at corrupt Australian public university

I always thought that the people in charge were a pretty slimy lot when I taught at the University of NSW but I think they have got worse since. Note this previous case involving the same university

Further allegations are emerging ahead of a report due soon from the NSW Ombudsman's office into the handling of internal complaints by a top university. Senior management at the University of NSW hired a former doctor, who had been deregistered for having sex with his patient, for a sensitive and important education post, running the university's Educational Testing Centre, which contracts out services to schools, governments and business, according to complainants. The man, Alan Bowen-James, was previously found to have lied to the Medical Tribunal and the NSW Supreme Court.

But some university staff who questioned the wisdom of the appointment have run into trouble. The outspoken former ETC services manager, Peter Curtin, was found to be "surplus to requirements" after a review of the agency's structure and is now working in a country town. A staff representative on the governing university council, medical academic John Carmody, who also questioned Bowen-James's appointment, faced disciplinary charges for being disrespectful to another senior staff member over the affair. The internal charge was not proceeded with and Carmody has retired from UNSW.

The ETC, which runs the lucrative skills-based tests for primary schools throughout Australia and, increasingly, many international clients, has had a troubled recent history. After complaints from staff, in 2001 the NSW Audit Office found the ETC was poorly administered and was characterised by "cronyism and nepotism" under then director James Tognolini, who later left. The NSW Ombudsman's office found that about 25 per cent of the ITC staff were related to other staff. The woman who made these early allegations, under the Protected Disclosures Act, also lost her position, a trend that was soon to be established.

After this controversy the ETC, which was sliced from the mainstream university to a UNSW company called NewSouth Global (but whose officers were all appointed by the university), advertised for a new general manager and Bowen-James was appointed on a temporary basis. However, after he took over, some ETC staff who checked on him learned of his background. Bowen-James, a GP who was trained in psychotherapy by psychiatrist Wynne Childs (herself deregistered for having sex with her patients), was found guilty of sexual misconduct by the NSW Medical Tribunal in 1991. He admitted to the tribunal that many of the therapy sessions he had with a woman patient, identified under the pseudonym of M, were conducted at restaurants and coffee bars rather than in his waiting rooms.

Patient M said Bowen-James then invited her to his home (while his wife was overseas) and they had sex on a number of occasions. Bowen-James denied this, claiming M was suffering from borderline personality disorder and "was fantasising" about him. But in the majority decision, tribunal members believed M's version of events over Bowen-James's, after they determined that Bowen-James had made false statements in various job applications and to investigators during the Health Complaints Unit investigation. Bowen-James appealed the decision, which had been made on the tribunal chairman's deciding vote, to the NSW Supreme Court in July 1992. The Supreme Court upheld the tribunal's decision that he be deregistered and, in its judgment on reviewing the case, also found that Bowen-James had lied.

However, the decision did not stop Bowen-James from acting as a counsellor and he advised people such as Brendan Moran, the son of healthcare tycoon Doug Moran, who later committed suicide. After this background came out at UNSW, it was suggested to the then university vice-chancellor, Rory Hume, and his deputy John Ingleson by Curtin and Carmody that the university should not confirm Bowen-James's appointment. Curtin says: "I did not think it was appropriate that a deregistered doctor and someone who had perjured themselves should be appointed to such an important post at the university and I let my superiors know." A UNSW spokeswoman yesterday declined to comment.

Others at the ETC also questioned Bowen-James's curriculum vitae, which boasted 14 university degrees from a plethora of institutions, including degrees in law as well as medicine, business administration (masters), education, philosophy and information technology. But the university went ahead with Bowen-James's appointment anyway. However, Curtin says he soon had other reasons for concerns after some staff began complaining to him about alleged misconduct by Bowen-James.

Bowen-James, whose recent employment history had been in information technology, soon expanded the ETC's information technology section, hiring new staff, upgrading equipment and introducing new software systems, including one that was finally abandoned last year as a complete failure. It cost the university millions of dollars. In September 2003, Curtin wrote a letter "in confidence" to the NSG board and the university council expressing his disquiet. Eventually, after concerns were also raised at the council, especially by Carmody, the ETC let Bowen-James go. But after a review of the ETC in November 2003, Bowen-James's main accuser, Curtin, was made "surplus to requirements".

The Ombudsman's Office will also report on the treatment of complainants in the Bruce Hall case involving alleged research misconduct.


UK: New plan sounds reasonable: "Ministers yesterday set out plans to encourage more teenagers to stay on at school or college after the age of 16 by introducing a range of new vocational qualifications. The government wants Britain's national staying-on rate of 70%, one of the lowest in OECD countries, to rise to 90% by 2015 as part of a 10-year timetable during which 14 new diplomas, covering vocational subjects such as engineering, plumbing and healthcare, will be phased in. The established A-level qualification, which ministers have pledged to retain, will be strengthened from 2008 , starting with trials next year of a harder paper and an "extended project" to stretch the brightest pupils. Announcing the implementation plan for new qualifications for the 14-19 age group, schools minister Jacqui Smith rejected criticism by Ofsted that secondary schools were failing to do enough to help pupils starting secondary school with below-average maths and English results."


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, December 27, 2005

Arming Our Students with Knowledge

By teacher Nancy Salvato

When I was in Junior High School, I remember my mother complaining to me that the athletes at school received all the attention but if you were smart the only public accolades were having your name listed in a paragraph of very small print letting the community know you received Honor Roll or that you were a National Merit Scholar. She thought the priorities of our school system were all wrong. Apparently she wasn’t alone in her beliefs back then because I recently had the opportunity to read an article, “The Adolescent Society” in the winter 2006 edition of Education Next, in which James Coleman (“The Coleman Report”) essentially said the same thing. Interestingly he wrote his piece in 1961, a year before I was born and about 15 years before my mother made her personal observations in our kitchen during a conversation in which she was referring to my brother’s unheralded academic accomplishments. It was Coleman’s suggestion that in order to generate social pressure to excel academically, there needs to be intellectual games; group competitions to change the norms and values to encourage academics. Well, its 2005 and I can honestly say there is at least one program doing this, and I might add, doing this very well.

I recently had the opportunity to judge at the Illinois Hearings for the Center for Civic Education’s “We the People: the Citizen and the Constitution” which took place on the campus of McDonalds Corporation’s Hamburger University in Oak Brook, Illinois. Teams from 6 area high schools competed against each other for the opportunity to represent our state at Nationals. I must say that I was extremely impressed by the apparent time and effort put in by each group of students in preparation for the unit questions which they would have to answer with a prepared statement and for the follow up questions they would have to answer, without referring to notes or discussing their answers with teammates.

I listened to the various statements put together by 6 sets of students, explaining our system of federalism and what differentiated it from other forms of government. They then answered questions posed by us judges about such things as how federalism enters into NCLB and Hurricane Katrina. In their statements and answers were references to historical cases illustrating precedent for the more current situations we’re facing today, as well as pertinent quotes from the founders and framers of our country.

I was so very proud of each student because from what I could tell, they had put hours and hours into learning about the federal system of government in such depth that they made it look easy to have an informed discussion about what was happening in our country today. I could only imagine how nervous they had to be drawing on that reserve of knowledge to pull out the most compelling facts to convince us of the correctness of their opinions and illustrate that they were brilliant enough to earn the coveted spot at Nationals.

Although only one team, Maine South High School, won the Illinois competition, all the students were truly prepared to take on the responsibilities of citizenship and leadership which the framers believed are necessary to maintain the rights and privileges guaranteed under our Constitutional form of government. As for Maine South High School, their team will represent Illinois at the We the People: National Finals, a three day academic competition in Washington, D.C. April 29-May 1, 2006. More than 1200 students will demonstrate their knowledge of constitutional principles and their relevance to contemporary issues in a simulated congressional hearing before panels of judges composed of constitutional scholars, lawyers, journalists, and government leaders from across the nation. The ten finalists with the highest scores, based on the first two days of hearings, will compete for the title of national winner on the final day in congressional hearing rooms on Capitol Hill.”

I left the hearings with hope for our future; hope in the knowledge that future generations understand the importance of arming themselves with the information necessary to take care of this country which we inherited from our forebears so long ago.


Freedom of Education: A Civil Liberty

One of the most amazing things about the many organizations and individuals who designate themselves “civil libertarians” (with the ACLU, naturally, being the most emblematic) is the utter absence of educational liberty from their shared agenda. It’s not even a blip on their screen. Why? Because it’s not explicitly mentioned in the Bill of Rights? These activists have no problem defending as civil liberties such phenomena as sexuality and abortion, neither of which is explicitly enumerated. So why not defend educational liberty with the same commitment given to, say, religious liberty?

There’s an even better question: Why defend religious liberty? No one asks it nowadays because we consider it a settled matter: “It’s in the Constitution!” But that’s not the way it was at the beginning, when people wanted to hear reasons—independently valid principles—that would explain why involvement with religion was not among “the rightful purposes of civil government” (Jefferson). And our Founding Fathers, notably Jefferson and Madison, provided those reasons—a good many. We should never forget what these reasons are, nor fail to consider their implications for (and thus application to) matters other than religion—such as, indeed, education.

First, however, we must consider what the Founders meant by religious “liberty.” The First Amendment reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. . . .” Religious liberty includes both the freedom and the non-establishment of religion. Thus educational liberty would include not only the right of parents to determine the education of their children, but also the absence of any “public” (government) school system and its apparatus of compulsory attendance and taxation. Or as many describe it: the separation of school and state, on par with the separation of church and state.

Now, with that said . . .

Competition Improves Performance

In his “Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom” (1777), one of the three achievements (with the Declaration of Independence and the University of Virginia) of which he was most proud, Jefferson argued that by forcing a man to support (via taxation) “this or that teacher” (of religion), he is denied “the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions” to one of his own choosing. This guaranteed funding in turn eliminates the incentive (“rewards”) for such teachers to earn their wages through “earnest and unremitting labours for the instruction of mankind.” Furthermore, such government funding constitutes the “bribing, with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments,” of these teachers, which tends “to corrupt the principles” of their profession—with the government itself corrupted by its part in this bribery. Here is a critique of state cartelization equally applicable to all teachers—theological, academic, and otherwise.

In his “Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments” (1785), written in response to a proposed bill for a tax to fund Christian denominations in Virginia, Madison echoed Jefferson on this point (as he did on many others). He invites us (Point 7) to observe that establishment, “instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy” of religion, has had the opposite effect: “pride and indolence” and “ignorance and servility.” He wryly notes that if one asks people when Christianity “appeared in its greatest lustre,” they will invariably “point to the ages prior to its incorporation with Civil policy.” Yet if one then suggests a return of the church to its status in that earlier epoch, “many of them predict its downfall.” Similarly, while no one could seriously fault the supply and quality of private education in late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century America,* many today believe that privatization would destroy education for all but the wealthy.

Government Support Not Necessary

In his “Memorial,” Madison noted (Point 6) that Christianity had “both existed and flourished, not only without the support of human [that is, political] laws, but in spite of every opposition from them. . . . Nay, it is a contradiction in terms; for a Religion not invented by human policy, must have pre-existed and been supported, before it was established [socialized] by human policy.”

The state did not invent the church. It did not invent the school. Education, in a myriad of forms, existed before government and often in opposition to it. A recent example of the latter (in addition to private schools) would be parents who, at odds with the look-say, or “whole language,” reading methods used in the socialized schools, purchase the many commercial teach-your-child-phonics programs. Madison also warned that establishment would “foster in those who still reject [Christianity], a suspicion that its friends are too conscious of its fallacies to trust it to its own merits.” We ourselves might wonder why the advocates of “whole language” (or any other pedagogical approach) are afraid “to trust it to its own merits” in a free market of education.

At this point we should probably address the many who from the beginning have been thinking, “But Madison and Jefferson supported public education!” True. However, Madison’s concerns about the future of education proved to be unfounded for a reason that he himself (in a March 19, 1823, letter to Edward Everett) understood in its relation to religion: “[T]here are causes in the human breast, which ensure the perpetuity of religion without the aid of the law.” The same “human breast” that provided its children with churches and bibles, provided them with schoolhouses and primers. The point is, just because the Founders didn’t connect every dot in their political philosophy, doesn’t mean we can’t. Not many of the civil libertarians who fairly worship Thomas “Wall of Separation” Jefferson would care to recall his views on “sodomy.”

Much more here


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

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

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


Monday, December 26, 2005


For millions of Americans, the first big financial decision in life is whether to take on a student loan. Student loans are debt, of course, but they represent something different than credit card debt or a car loan: They are part of a quest for a better future. And they can have lifelong consequences, both good and bad, because for the unwise or the plain unlucky, a student loan can become an inescapable burden. It can almost never be expunged in bankruptcy, and the Supreme Court just ruled that even Social Security income can be garnisheed to pay for defaulted student debt.

The giant of the student loan industry is the Student Loan Marketing Association, better known by its friendly-sounding nickname, Sallie Mae. Many people think that Sallie Mae, like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is sponsored by the U.S. government. And until recently it was. But at the end of 2004, Sallie became an independent, publicly traded company, completing a process begun in 1996. It is now radically different than it was even five years ago-an aggressive, highly profitable lender and a stock market superstar. Since 1995 its stock has returned over 1,900%, trouncing the S&P 500's 228% gain. Today Sallie's stock sells for 22 times earnings and almost ten times tangible book value, "an almost unheard-of valuation for a financial institution," as a Criterion Research report noted.

One reason for Sallie's growth is that during the past decade student loans have been among the fastest-growing areas of financial services because of the rapidly escalating cost of a college education. In addition, Sallie has expanded its business to encompass the whole spectrum of student lending, buying companies that make loans, running guaranty agencies, and purchasing debt-collection firms. (Fee-based revenue now accounts for roughly 30% of Sallie's business.) And while Sallie was always a large owner of student loans, today it is gargantuan-it owns about four times the amount of FFELP loans as its nearest competitor. Sallie has $81.6 billion of student loans on its balance sheet and another $39 billion in trusts off its balance sheet. (Sallie has sold the off-balance-sheet loans to third-party investors via securitizations, but it still manages and services the loans.) "We do not view the company as having a serious competitive threat," wrote Wachovia analyst Joel Houck in a recent report.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of privatization for Sallie Mae has been the freedom to make its own loans. It has eclipsed many of the nation's banks to become one of the top originators of new student loans-both FFELP loans and something known as "private credit" loans. Those are loans not backed by government guarantees that students use as supplements to or substitutes for FFELP loans-if, for example, they are maxed out on government-backed loans or if they attend a school that isn't eligible for the loans. Such loans have "skyrocketed" in the past few years, according to the College Board, as the cost of college has soared and the availability of FFELP loans hasn't kept pace. And because the government is not involved, they have no interest rate cap....

In meeting the competitive threat of direct lending, Sallie has been no less adept at wielding its clout on Capitol Hill. This year Sallie has had to face a major legislative challenge that could have altered the structure of student lending: the pending reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, which comes at a time when there is a congressional mandate to trim billions from student-loan budgets. A bipartisan effort would have reinvigorated direct lending by awarding extra grant money to schools that choose the program that is cheapest for taxpayers. It failed. In late November the House passed an HEA reauthorization bill that does cut the subsidies to lenders but gets much of its savings by raising the costs of loans to students. That bill still needs to be reconciled with a Senate version, but John Boehner (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Education Committee, told lenders in December that he thought they would be happy with the final results. "Know that I have all of you in my two trusted hands," he said.

Sallie, a creature of Washington, is of course no stranger to its ways. At a 2004 dinner that a company lobbyist threw for Boehner, 34 Sallie executives wrote checks for his political action committee, most for $1,000, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported. "There is no question that members of Congress and their staffs listen carefully to Sallie Mae, probably too carefully," says Michael Dannenberg, director of education policy at the nonpartisan New America Foundation.

Alan Collinge took out $38,000 in loans, which he later consolidated with Sallie Mae, for his undergraduate and graduate degrees in aerospace engineering. He got a job as an associate scientist in aeronautics at Caltech and paid off $7,000 of his loans. But after leaving that job he was unable to find another one, and eventually he stopped making payments. He says he asked Sallie for a grace period, but the company refused. With compound interest, he now owes more than $100,000 and is unable to find work in his field because of his bad credit record. Instead he works in tech support for a nonprofit group in Tacoma. Collinge says he has offered to repay the $38,000 he borrowed, but he says the collection agency will not accept a compromise and is attempting to garnishee his wages.

So Collinge has become an activist. He has started a website called, where former students share their stories of how their loans have wrecked their lives, and he has put together a presentation called "The Bully in the Schoolyard: Why Sallie Mae Must Be Stopped," which he is trying to get heard in Washington.

Collinge's loan, like others, has tripled not only because of compounding interest but also because of the fees-as much as 18.5% of the outstanding value-that get tacked on as a student loan passes from a lender to a guaranty agency to a collection agency. You can see how a defaulted loan could actually be quite profitable for a lender that also runs the guarantor and owns the collection agency. Collinge points to Lord's 2003 letter to shareholders, in which the CEO attributes Sallie's record earnings per share in part to the fees it made by collecting on defaulted student loans. Debt collecting, which can be an ugly business, now accounts for 18% of Sallie's revenues. (The company says that a loan that is being repaid is far more profitable than one that has gone into default.)

That is hardly the only way Sallie plays rough with students who have signed up for its loans. Right now there is a storm of controversy surrounding its business with for-profit schools, which are accused in multiple lawsuits in several states of using hard-sell tactics to recruit students, promising them high-paying jobs that don't materialize and leaving them with mountains of debt that they can't pay off.

Consider a complaint that was filed with the Pennsylvania Department of Education in 2004 against a school called Katharine Gibbs, owned by a for-profit chain called Career Education. Documents examined by FORTUNE, obtained by a source through a Freedom of Information request, indicate that a student took out a $6,500 loan from Sallie Mae. The student, who isn't identified, alleges that he was never told that the interest rate would be 14% annually. In fact, a copy of the loan document reveals that after Sallie tacked on a "supplemental fee" of 9% of the loan balance, the annual cost of the credit while the student was in school was actually over 28%. Today the student owes $18,000. (Sallie says its average private loan rate nationally is about 8%.)

The most recent furor of bad publicity for Sallie involves another Pennsylvania school, Lehigh Valley College, which is also owned by Career Education. LVC charges around $30,000 for degrees in subjects like massage therapy; in recent years Sallie has provided many of the loans. (A small bank in Oklahoma called Stillwater makes the initial loans, which Sallie then purchases.) Last spring a local newspaper, the Morning Call, published a string of stories recounting the experiences of students who found themselves paying double-digit interest rates and discovering that they owed as much as $100,000-roughly 22 times what they'd borrowed-because of compounding interest. At an informational meeting called by the Pennsylvania House Consumer Affairs Committee, Sallie admitted that it charges LVC students an average annual interest rate of 13% on their private loans, and that it sends the loans through Stillwater because the legal interest rate limit is 21% in Oklahoma, compared with 18% in Pennsylvania. House members were outraged. "Are you really doing a real service here by getting people into astronomical interest rate situations?" asked representative Reichley.

A lawsuit filed by former LVC students against the school alleges that LVC "led plaintiffs to believe that the loans ... were low-interest, government-guaranteed, or student loans, when in reality the loans were not government-backed loans and included interest rates in excess of 15%," and that LVC "intentionally hurried Plaintiffs through the financial aid process using aggressive sales tactics." Sallie, which isn't named in the suit, says it needs to charge high interest because students can be bad credit risks.

Career Education says its "intent is to address any issues that arise thoroughly, thoughtfully, and promptly." Sallie says that the controversy in Pennsylvania is the result of its attempt last year to acquire a not-for-profit state agency called the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Authority, or PHEEA, which is a major lender in the state. PHEEA flatly refused Sallie's bid; spokesperson Keith New claims that selling to Sallie "would have been a very bad outcome for students." But Sallie says that the politically connected PHEEA is protecting its own lucrative business and that the uproar over LVC is simply a "political exercise" ginned up by PHEEA.

In coming years Sallie will be facing a headwind, regardless of how the HEA legislation plays out. That's because of the breakup between Sallie and one of its major business partners, J.P. Morgan Chase. In early 2005, J.P. Morgan Chase sued Sallie to escape from a joint venture under which J.P. Morgan Chase sold Sallie all the student loans that were originated under its brands. J.P. Morgan Chase alleged that Sallie was pushing its own brands at the expense of the joint venture, and the two dissolved their partnership in March. This was big business-these brands accounted for some 60% of FFELP originations over the past few years-and the breakup is part of the reason that analyst Ken Posner at Morgan Stanley rates Sallie's stock underweight. In fact, Posner predicts in a report that the dissolution of the deal will cost Sallie $26 billion in cumulative lost volume by 2010. Many investors are sanguine because Sallie's growth has remained strong this year, thanks partly to its private credits. But in the future there may be more and more pressure on those loans to deliver profits.

And that leads to the larger question: Sallie's reputational risk. Student loans aren't just another business like software or laundry detergent. If the ugly headlines escalate, causing colleges, students, and politicians to think twice about Sallie Mae loans, its business will suffer. In the end, Sallie may find that if it doesn't do well by students, it won't do well by investors either.

More here

Campus Conscience Police?

"Over one's inner mind, and self, no one has coercive power." So write attorneys Jordan Lorence and Harvey A. Silverglate, authors of the just-published Guide to First-Year Orientation and Thought Reform on Campus from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). The Guide is yet another indication that political correctness is faltering on campuses across North America. To those who value the right of individuals to a conscience -- that is, to judge right and wrong for themselves -- this is welcome news.

Political correctness is the belief that certain ideas and attitudes are improper and, so, should be discouraged or prohibited by punishing those who advance them. Conversely, ideas and attitudes that are proper should be encouraged by being enforced. An example of a politically incorrect idea: inherent biological differences between the two sexes explain why there are more male than female scientists. The correct version: discrimination against women explains the 'gender imbalance' in science, and the discrimination must be remedied. Both preceding explanations may have merit but PC is not interested in weighing evidence. It acts to quash the ideologically incorrect idea and to champion the correct one.

Last January, when Harvard University President Lawrence Summers raised the mere possibility of biological differences as an explanation for the 'gender imbalance' in science, a vicious PC backlash forced him to apologize publicly no less than three times. After what some called his "Soviet-show-trial-style apologies," Summers made an act of contrition by pledging "to spend $50 million over the next decade to improve the climate for women on campus."

The most important aspect of the sad episode is not whether the explanation of biological differences is correct. It is that the idea cannot be so much as suggested without the 'offender' paying a terrible price in public humiliation and in his career. The cost to society is high; creativity and intellectual progress wither. The cost to individuals is higher; without competing ideas, people cannot adequately judge for themselves what is true and false, right or wrong, moral and immoral. For me, that private judgment is what constitutes a conscience, to which every human being has an indispensable and inalienable right.

The Summers debacle was a high-profile example of a PC process that has proceeded more quietly across North American campuses for decades. The ability of students to judge for themselves is restricted by limiting the ideas upon which those judgments would be passed. In turn, this impoverishes the quality of conscience.

FIRE's new Guide -- the fifth in a series of ideological survival manuals for college students -- describes both the manner in which the right of conscience is being attacked on campus and how the tide is turning toward individual rights. Three common ways in which universities limit a student's access to ideas are speech codes, mandatory 'diversity' tests or training, and 'non-discrimination' policies.

Speech codes prohibit expression that could give offense on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, race or other 'historical disadvantage.' The codes are used primarily to protect women, minorities and gays from words or ideas that they might experience as insulting. The guidelines are often so vague as to prohibit the open discussion of issues like affirmative action or religious objections to homosexuality. Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania offers an example. In April 2003, the university defined harassment as any "unwanted conduct which annoys, threatens, or alarms a person or group." "[E]very member of the community" was required to adopt the administration's guidelines not only in his or her behaviors but also "in their attitudes." In 2004, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania issued a preliminary injunction against the university's codes as unconstitutional and they were repealed.

Mandatory diversity tests and training attempt to correct the unacceptable political views of students. The experience of Ed Swan, a self-described conservative Christian at Washington State's College of Education, offers an example. Swan expressed the belief that white privilege and male privilege do not currently exist in our society. In 2004 he was given low scores on a "dispositions criteria" by which some universities rank the "social commitment" of students. The university threatened to disenroll Swan if he did not sign a contract that committed him to further political screening and re-orientation. Due to a letter from FIRE and a high-profile protest, the contract requirement was dropped.

Non-discrimination policies, which are ostensibly inclusive, have been used to ban "dissenting" groups from campus and from receiving the student funds to which their members are required to contribute. Christian groups seem particularly vulnerable. For example, in April 2005, the group Princeton Faith and Action sought official student status. Its application was denied because FPA is connected to an outside organization (the Christian Union) that was not yet established at Princeton University. Other groups were not required to meet a similar standard. On May 13, the student newspaper the Daily Princetonian reported, "Nassau Hall has reversed its policy on the recognition of religious student groups after being contacted by an outside civil liberties organization that protested the treatment of one such group as an 'ongoing injustice'."

The right to judge for yourself what is true and false, what is right and wrong is a prerequisite for both freedom of speech and freedom of religion. The right of conscience is the bottom line of personal liberty itself. And it is being reasserted.



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, December 25, 2005


Paid hecklers!

It shouldn’t have taken a threatened law suit and being held up to nationwide public scorn but Washington State University officials have stopped paying student hecklers who shout down speakers with whom they disagree. Unfortunately, the stench remains strong at Washington State University of a Stalinist suppression of political views that deviate from the politically correct academic liberal orthodoxy.

Regular readers of this space will recall from this July column that the controversy began when it was learned university administrators were paying students to heckle the production of a controversial play by a student author. Student playwright Chris Lee warned attendees before his production was staged on campus that it would likely “offend everybody” and indeed some Mormon students who paid their own way to see the play silently protested its content.

But 40 other students repeatedly shouted “I am offended” and did everything in their power to shut down the production, including threatening performers on stage with physical harm. These protesting students were all Black, as is Lee. It was not merely that the Black students insisted on disrupting the production that set them apart from others like the Mormons in the audience who found Lee’s play disturbing. Guess who paid for the hecklers’ tickets? Washington State University’s very own Office of Campus Involvement, headed by Raul Sanchez. The same office helped organize the heckling. Lane Rawlins, the school’s president, even praised and defended the hecklers.

When university administrators not only refused to stop funding and otherwise aiding the hecklers, but also tried to censor Lee’s future productions, he appealed for help to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a Philadelphia-based non-profit that defends the First Amendment rights of students and others on campus. FIRE wasted no time in reminding school officials that the First Amendment guarantees every person’s right to speak their mind, but it gives no one the right to shout down those with whom they disagree. Using a public university’s tax dollars to support hecklers and the school’s campus cops to protect them is state-sponsored mob censorship.

Unfortunately, mob censorship by groups of hecklers shouting down a speaker is not an uncommon occurrence on many American university campuses these days, as conservatives like Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin can readily attest. David French, FIRE’s president, explains why there was no question about the importance of stopping Washington State University. The school’s “defense of this vigilante censorship will encourage students to unlawfully silence others whenever they feel offended,” he said.

There ensued months of tense negotiations between university officials, student playwright Lee and FIRE’s First Amendment experts, as well as extensive coverage in the national media, much of it critical of the school. As a result, when Lee produced a second controversial play a few weeks ago, university officials warned the audience before each performance: “Please be aware that disruption to this performance, or any program will not be tolerated and will be dealt with accordingly, up to and including participants being escorted from the venue.” No disruptions have been reported since the notice was posted.

Future teachers subjected to brainwashing

But elsewhere at WSU the bitter scent of official suppression remains strong, especially in the Education Department where 42-year-old student Ed Swan was recently threatened with failure after allegedly violating two vague “disposition” standards. He was also forced to undergo “diversity training” after expressing his conservative political beliefs.

Not familiar with “disposition standards” on campus? Essentially, that’s a purposely vague name for grading standards used by a growing number of university education departments across America to make liberal definitions of diversity and social justice the norms against which aspiring primary and secondary school teachers are graded. Students who don’t measure up are failed or re-educated. “By using such vague and politically charged criteria for evaluating future teachers, colleges all but guarantee that students will be punished for their opinions rather than evaluated on the basis of their abilities,” said French.

It’s like the old Soviet trick of declaring as mentally ill anybody who dissented from official communist ideology and putting them in psychiatric hospitals for diversity training, er, excuse me, “treatment.” Often those treatments involved electric shocks and mind-altering drugs.

After FIRE protested on Swan’s behalf, WSU’s College of Education Dean Judy Mitchell pledged not to judge his political beliefs, but added ominously “he may not display prejudice in the classroom setting and expect to successfully complete this program.” How much you want to bet Mitchell finds a way to define professing conservative values such as respect for proper grammar and spelling to be a display of prejudice in the classroom?


Perils of multicultural education

If there is one positive thing to come out of the violence in Cronulla, it will be a long hard look at how schoolchildren are educated about Australian culture and what they are taught about their responsibilities as members of a civil society. Judged by the age of many of those involved in abusing women, the mob violence at Cronulla beach and the subsequent destruction of personal property, many would have been of school age during the 1980s and '90s. While Al Grassby and Gough Whitlam sowed the seeds, this was a time when governments under the leadership of Malcolm Fraser, Bob Hawke and Paul Keating spent millions on the multicultural industry. With the support of left-liberal academics, teacher unions and curriculum writers, the prevailing orthodoxy uncritically promoted cultural diversity, denigrated or ignored Australia's mainstream Anglo-Celtic tradition and taught children that our society is riddled with racism, inequality and social injustice.

The national Studies of Society and Environment curriculum developed during the Keating years argued that children must be taught "an awareness of and pride in Australia's multicultural society" and "develop an understanding of Australia's cultural and linguistic diversity". The 1993 Australian Education Union's curriculum policy argued that children must be taught that they "are living in a multicultural and class-based society that is diverse and characterised by inequality and social conflict". Not only was the then academically based school curriculum, especially in subjects such as history and literature, condemned as Eurocentric, patriarchal and socially unjust, but examinations were seen as favouring rich, white kids and culturally biased against recent migrants.

Fast forward to more recent years and little has changed. The 1999 Australian Education Union policy on combating racism argues that government polices "are founded upon a legal system which is inherently racist in so much as its prime purpose is to serve the needs of the dominant Anglo-Australian culture". The AEU also states that racism in Australia is both overt and covert and that "both forms of racism are still widely practised in Australian society", especially as a result of the school curriculum supposedly being based on "the knowledge and values of the Anglo-Australian culture".

On reading curriculum documents developed during the '90s, once again, it becomes obvious that all adopt a politically correct approach to issues such as multiculturalism and how we define ourselves as a nation. Cultural diversity is uncritically celebrated and students are taught, in the words of the Queensland curriculum, to "deconstruct dominant views of society" on the basis that the Australian community is riven with "privilege and marginalisation".

In Western Australia, as evidenced by the Curriculum Framework document, students are told they must value "the perspective of different cultures" and "recognise the cultural mores that underpin groups and appreciate why these are valued and important".

The curriculum policy of the South Australian branch of the AEU is underpinned by "five core values". One of the underlying values is that there should be respect for diversity and "no discrimination on any grounds".

The contradictions and weaknesses evident in the way multiculturalism has been taught in schools are manifold. Tolerance, the rule of law and a commitment to the common good are the very values needed if people are to live peacefully together. Cultural relativism and an uncritical acceptance of diversity denies such values and leads to what Robert Hughes terms, in his book The Culture of Complaint, the balkanisation of society.

It's also the case that Australia's legal and political system, while imperfect, best safeguards such values. Instead of denigrating Australian society, students should be taught the benefits of our Anglo-Celtic culture: a culture strongly influenced by the Judeo-Christian tradition and from which our laws and morality have grown.

Much of the way history and politics is now taught also centres on the rights of the individual. Instead of emphasising responsibilities and giving allegiance to what we hold in common, individuals are free to define themselves how they will and to act as they wish. By defining Australian society as socially unjust and divisive there is also the danger of promoting a victim mentality. Whereas past generations felt part of a wider community and believed that hard work would be rewarded, recent generations see only inequality and their right to be supported.

Nobody should condone the violence in Cronulla perpetrated by those wearing the Australian flag or the actions of young Lebanese Muslims abusing women, destroying property and burning churches. But we also need to recognise that the PC approach to teaching multiculturalism in schools in part underpins the recent violence. As the American liberal historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr has argued: "The militants of ethnicity now contend that the main objective of public education should be the protection, strengthening, celebration and perpetuation of ethnic origins and identities. Separatism, however, nourishes prejudice, magnifies differences and stirs antagonisms."



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