Saturday, February 04, 2006

The Media's Ancien Regime: Columbia Journalism School tries to save the old order

Excerpt from a close-up look by Hugh Hewitt. He thinks that journalists are doomed by their bias and lack of specialized knowledge to permanent low status. He finds that Columbia is trying to deepen their knowledge-base but thinks that they are still going to be largely uncomprehending of most of the things they write about

To enter Columbia University's graduate school of journalism is to enter the highest temple of a religion in decline. A statue of Thomas Jefferson guards the plaza outside the doors, and the entry room is suitably grand. Two raised platforms proclaim the missions in bold gold letters: "To Uphold Standards of Excellence in Journalism" and "To Educate the Next Generation of Journalists." The marble floor tells you that the school was endowed by Joseph Pulitzer and erected in 1912 in memory of his daughter Lucille. A bronze quotation from Pulitzer's 1904 cri de coeur in the North American Review is on the wall:

Our republic and its press will rise or fall together. An able, disinterested, public-spirited press, with trained intelligence to know the right and courage to do it, can preserve the public virtue without which popular government is a sham and a mockery. A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will produce in time a people as base as itself. . . .

There is a new high priest in the dean's office on the seventh floor--Nicholas Lemann, veteran writer for the New Yorker, and before that the national correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly, where he spent 15 years after stints at the Texas Monthly, the Washington Post, and the Washington Monthly. Lemann began his scribbling for a New Orleans alternative weekly, the Vieux Carr, Courier, while still a high school student, covering everything from boxing to city hall to the private school network of the region. Upon entering Harvard in 1972, he immediately "comped" for the Crimson, only to be rejected in his application to join the editorial board of the greatest brand in undergraduate newspapers. "Harvard is filled with this sort of humiliation," Lemann told me in a conversation last fall that capped a two-day visit to the school. He reapplied for a position as a reporter, and the second time was successful, rising through the ranks to become the paper's president in the 1975-76 academic year. Now 51 and two years into a new career, Lemann will need the same persistence if his legacy as dean is to be something other than a footnote in the history of the decline of American media power.

On my first day at Columbia's graduate school of journalism (CSJ), the poster boy for all that has come to plague elite American media--former CBS anchor Dan Rather--took to the podium at Fordham Law School to denounce the "new journalism order." On day two, the New York Times Company announced a cut of 500 employees from its already pared down workforce of 12,300. (The company employed 13,750 as recently as 2001.) On that same day Knight-Ridder slashed its Philadelphia papers' editorial staff by 75 positions at the Inquirer and 25 at the Daily News. "I get 50 calls a day about the crisis in journalism," Lemann deadpanned when I posed the "crisis" question. "Only 50?" I thought.

The story of what is going on at CSJ cannot be separated from the collapse of credibility of the mainstream media, also known as "elite media" and "old media" among its detractors. The fortunes of the big five papers--the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, and the Wall Street Journal, as well as the old TV networks and big weekly newsmagazines--are visibly in decline. The upstart blogosphere is ever at the ready to "deconstruct" the work product of the old media's old guard. The very best investigative reporting is being done not by big names at the big papers, but by people like the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies' journalist in residence Claudia Rosett, who almost singlehandedly unraveled the U.N.-Saddam Oil-for-Food scandal, with much of her work published online. Dan Rather's CBS, eager to impugn George W. Bush's service in the Texas National Guard, got duped by fraudulent documents it took months to obtain and only hours for bloggers and readers to shred.

This story in its small way partakes of the seismic shift underway. Its origin is an email request from Lemann last spring: Would I be willing to be the subject of a New Yorker profile? I agreed, on the condition that I could have reciprocal access to Lemann and the Columbia Journalism School for this piece. Hedged with some qualifiers--he could not commit any of his faculty to talk to me or guarantee access to classrooms, though everyone proved to be very welcoming--Lemann agreed.

Reactions to his profile of me varied among family and friends, but I thought it complete and fair. Before I sat down with Lemann I had read everything he'd written for the New Yorker and was impressed with his profiles of Dick Cheney and Karl Rove. (The Cheney profile earned Lemann some animosity among colleagues, who thought him too gentle with the only man the left fears as much as Rove.) The scorn on the center-right for the "objectivity" and "professionalism" of the mainstream media is deep and sincere. I went to Columbia to see if Lemann was the exception that proves the rule, and to test the rule itself. What's the rule? That the elite media are hopelessly biased to the left and so blind to their own deficiencies, or so in denial, that they cannot save themselves from irrelevance. They're like the cheater in the clubhouse, whose every mention of a great round of golf is met with rolling eyes and knowing nods....

Soon Mike Hoyt, executive editor of the Columbia Journalism Review, arrives. With Michael Shapiro, Hoyt team-teaches the class "Advanced Reporting," into which Wallace and 15 other students are headed, and introduces me to Shapiro, who quickly welcomes me to observe the hour. Shapiro is a gifted teacher who, three weeks into the term, already knows all of his students' names and engages them with ease and good humor. The first half of this hour is given over to outlining a large assignment--a profile of some recently deceased person or the reconstruction of a crime. Shapiro is clearly hoping the students will go for the profile, and spends considerable time instructing his charges on how they might go about selecting their subject.

He fences his instructions with cautions about engaging the bereaved ("You need to know, but you can't be a vampire") and tips on tracing the details of the life to be profiled. Hoyt contributes key bits of experience, and the students are curious and attentive to these practical lessons. "You need to make your first phone call today," Shapiro insists. "Tomorrow becomes the next day, which becomes next week. Good reporters make the first call on the first day."

The 16 students are not evenly split--there are 14 women and just two men. Two-thirds of the M.S. class this year are women, a reflection of what Lemann calls the "feminization" of journalism programs across the country. Robert Mac Donald, the assistant dean for admissions and financial aid, ran down the demographics for me: The average age of an M.S. student is just shy of 28, the mean is 26, the youngest is 20, and the oldest is 63. Whites make up 69 percent of the new class; 11 percent are African American, 7 percent Hispanic, 6 percent Asian, 3 percent Middle Eastern, and 4 percent South Asian. The school doesn't yet keep stats on religious background, though Mac Donald believes there has been a significant increase in Muslim students post 9/11. A fifth of the students are from the New York area, and between 37 to 40 percent are from "the corridor"--from Boston to Washington. Another fifth are from the west coast, and 10 percent are foreign. It is a pretty "blue" student body, and willing to pay handsomely for the privilege of their credentials. A year at CSJ--tuition, living expenses, incidentals--comes to $59,404 according to Mac Donald, though 85 percent of the students receive some financial aid, with packages ranging from $1,000 to $50,000. The average scholarship is $5,200, which means that these students are putting a lot of money into the program.

The "blue" nature of the student body is further confirmed by my polling of the class I attended, done with the permission of Shapiro. Six of the 16 were English majors, two studied history, and the balance spread across the humanities. No one had a background in the physical sciences. No one owned a gun. All supported same-sex marriage. Three had been in a house of worship the previous week. Six read blogs. None of them recognized the phrase "Christmas Eve in Cambodia"--though Shapiro not only got the allusion but knew the date of the John Kerry Senate speech in which he made the false claim about his Vietnam war experience. Three quarters of them hope to make more than $100,000 as a journalist, 11 had voted for John Kerry, and one for George Bush (three are from abroad and not eligible, and one didn't vote for either candidate). I concluded by asking them if they "think George Bush is something of a dolt." There was unanimous agreement with this proposition, one of the widely shared views within elite media and elsewhere on the left. The president's Harvard MBA and four consecutive victories over Democrats judged "smarter" than him haven't made even a dent in that prejudice....

"Authority is a construct," Lemann tells me on my second day at the school. And the "authority" of journalism with the American public is clearly at a modern low point. Lemann intends to reconstruct journalism's shaky reputation via an infusion of specific and measurable skills--either you can or you can't do regression analysis; either you can or you can't follow a case citation sequence or decode an annual audit report--and thus ignite a demand among editors not for the bright young reporters from campus newspapers, but for really smart alums of graduate schools of all sorts who can be tempted into the field despite its pay and present status somewhere near the carnival barker's...

Every conversation with one of the old guard citing the old proof texts comes down to this point: There is too much expertise, all of it almost instantly available now, for the traditional idea of journalism to last much longer. In the past, almost every bit of information was difficult and expensive to acquire and was therefore mediated by journalists whom readers and viewers were usually in no position to second-guess. Authority has drained from journalism for a reason. Too many of its practitioners have been easily exposed as poseurs.

More here

Other People's Money Poisons Higher Education

Supporters of the statist quo usually recoil in anguish from the idea of deregulation. They can be counted on to try to discredit it at almost every turn. A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education does just that. In "The Lessons of Deregulation" (January 20), Gordon Davies, director of the National Collaborative for Postsecondary Education Policy, argues that the United States should not copy the "deregulation" of higher education that has occurred in New Zealand, calling it "market experiment gone bad." That phrase caught my attention; in my view, true market experiments that go bad are rarer than alligators in the Yukon. So what was going on?

The "market experiment," Davies notes, was New Zealand's policy, beginning in 1989, of allowing a proliferation of postsecondary educational institutions, only some of which grant degrees, to tap into . . . state funding. The idea was to encourage greater consumer choice. The result, of course, was an explosion of sub-degree programs. In just a few years government grants to such programs went from half of what was provided to degree-granting institutions to parity.

As Davies points out, many if not all of the sub-degree (or certificate) programs are flimsy academically. Davies provides a number of excellent examples, including funding for "Maori singalong courses" and programs in "golf studies." One polytechnic institute scammed more than $9 million for a course that consisted of nothing more than sending students a CD for them to study at home. Davies concludes that this policy of "deregulation" has been enormously wasteful, writing, "[T]he money in New Zealand is now spread out over so many institutions and so many programs of questionable value that support for important but high-cost programs -- like those in medicine, computer science, and engineering -- is unrealistically low."

Undoubtedly, a lot of higher-education money is being wasted in New Zealand, but it's an abuse of English to call this policy a "market experiment." Yes, free markets maximize choice for consumers, but another condition is necessary: that consumers spend their own money. You don't really have a free market where the government puts money in people's pockets and then says, "You're free to spend it here, here, and here."

Davies worries that similar "market experiments" might spread to the United States. He notes that in several states, policymakers are asking for greater autonomy for public universities. "Colorado, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and others have been lured by the call of the open market," he says. Better not allow it, he cautions, at least not without making sure that the state keeps enough control to fulfill "a public agenda that meets the needs of [its] residents." Davies proceeds to praise Virginia because it ties "deregulation" of its institutions to commitments to "provide greater access regardless of student income, to improve retention and completion rates, to increase research support, to create partnerships with schools, and to be actively involved in economic development."

When politicians write legislation that aims at pleasant-sounding but vague objectives, they hardly ever accomplish anything. "Greater access" means trying to get a few more marginal students into college rather than into the job market on the assumption that more formal education is always better -- but it isn't. "Improving retention and completion" means efforts to keep weak students from dropping out -- on the same assumption. The result is primarily to increase the number of college graduates with poor skills who will end up taking "high school" jobs. (That trend is documented in Who's Not Working and Why by economists Frederick Pryor and David Schaffer, who lament the low standards of American higher education.) Putting more money into "research" sounds good, but a lot of the research that goes on in our universities is of negligible value. "Partnership" with schools (government schools, that is) won't do anything to overcome the inherent flaws in government-run education. And it is mission creep to call on universities to become involved in economic development, which, if needed, will happen spontaneously.

More to the point, though, even if some or all of those policy notions worked, they would not solve the problem of higher-education dollars being drained away into academically feeble programs and courses. That started happening long before anyone was talking about "deregulation." American colleges and universities have majors like golf-course and casino management -- perfectly useful fields in which on-the-job training has always been adequate. They also have had lots of "identity" programs -- Women's Studies, African-American Studies, "Latina/o Studies," and so on -- that don’t transmit a body of knowledge to students, but attempt to engender certain attitudes of resentment. And they have numerous vapid courses on pop culture. Just as in New Zealand great amounts of money are spent on the equivalent of educational junk food. Why?

As Milton Friedman says, 'No one spends other people's money as carefully as he spends his own." When it comes to education, students (and parents) are largely spending taxpayer money. Davies correctly observes that students are not wise decision-makers: "Too many naive young people will opt for the offer of a free cellphone or for a 'fun' program like surfing rather than select the education that they truly need." That's undoubtedly true, and all the more reason not to put young people in a position to squander other people's money.

The recent National Assessment of Adult Literacy shows that despite the prodigious sums lavished on education, we have a startling low level of literacy in this country, even among people with college degrees. If parents, students, and other interested parties were putting up their own money, they would take far more care than they do now to assure that it wasn’t being wasted on educational cotton candy. Because education is mostly paid for by government, however, many students drag out their years of formal schooling, often accomplishing less in 16 years than people a century ago did in eight.

If we are serious about the waste of education dollars, we ought to focus our attention on the real problem -- government funding. There is nothing wrong with greater consumer choice in higher education, as long as the people who make the choices are spending their own money.



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, February 03, 2006

What the Heck is Going on at DePaul University?

Post lifted from the Volokhs

Courtesy of FIRE: In the latest of several examples of intolerance by DePaul University's administration to non-left-wing ideas, the powers-that-be shut down an "affirmative action bake sale" and are now "investigating" the organizer for "discriminatory harassment."

DePaul, of course, is a private Catholic university, and has the general right to suppress speech, even for extremely stupid reasons. However, DePaul also has contractual obligations, and those obligations include following its own "discriminatory harassment" policy, which claimes that "DePaul University values the free and open exchange of ideas within a university community." And that "DePaul University is committed to the principles of academic freedom and inquiry." The caveat is that DePaul states that "discrimination and harassment" are not protected. So I ask, rhetorically, whom did the students involved in the bake sale "harass"; against whom did they "discriminate"? (yes, technically the white male students who had to pay more for cookies, but I'd like to see the DePaul Adminsitration make that the basis of their case with a straight face). Apparently, at DePaul expressing ideas contrary to the administration's views on affirmative action constitutes at least a prima facie case of "harassment," which I think a reasonable person would say is absolutely ridiculous.

FIRE is, of course, on the case, but I'm wondering if its strategy needs to be less reactive and more proactive when it comes to consistent offenders like DePaul. What if some DePaul students got together and sued the university for misreprentation, fraud, or whatever relevant causes of action state and city laws permit? I'm not generally inclined to use litigation for "political" purposes, but if I were a student at DePaul, and felt constrained to express my own views for fear of being the administration's next victim, I'd certainly be inclined to consider my legal options for making DePaul either fullfil its commitment to academic freedom, or acknowledge forthrightly in its policies that "at DePaul every student's and professor's right express his views is subject to the ideological whims of the university administration."

And click this link for some previous thoughts of mine on "affirmative action bakesales" and freedom of speech.


What is the best way to raise standards and to ensure that students are well educated? Forget about more money and smaller classes. Why not, as Newsweek has argued, close the schools of education? Those schools, instead of giving beginning teachers a mastery of their subject matter, especially in areas such as primary literacy and numeracy, are more concerned with inculcating politically correct values.

The late 1960s and '70s was not only about Woodstock, moratoriums and flower power: equally important was the Left's long march through the institutions and the way education was targeted as a key instrument in the culture wars. In the US, academics such as Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis argue that "inequalities in education are part of the web of capitalist society" and that "an equal and liberating school system requires a revolutionary transformation of economic life". In England, sociologists such as M.F.D. Young argue that there is nothing inherently superior or worthwhile about academic studies. What counts as knowledge is a socio-cultural construct used to marginalise so-called disadvantaged groups.

As Monash-based teacher educator Georgina Tsolidis notes in her summary of teacher training in Australia, education is redefined as a political process whereby students have to be empowered to challenge the status quo. "Many of us cut our teaching teeth in a climate of advocacy related to student-centred pedagogy, curriculum and assessment," she says. "Notions of empowerment [popularised by Paulo Freire] have been the bread and butter for those of us concerned with teaching, particularly teaching involving the 'other'. Our job was to produce young adults who would challenge the status quo through skills of critical inquiry. Within the classroom of the self-styled liberatory pedagogue there existed clear distinctions between the marginal and the mainstream."

Judged by teacher training at many Australian universities and the work of professional groups such as the Australian Council of Deans of Education and the Australian Curriculum Studies Association, little has changed. Future teachers at Deakin University are taught "a clear awareness of the sociopolitical role of education in society, an understanding of the impact of economic and ideological change on the practice of educators" and are urged to "work for social justice". Charles Sturt University also expects teachers to develop a "socially and politically responsive view of education", a "commitment to social justice" and to view schooling as "socially and historically constructed". Flinders University expects teachers to act as "agents for social change and justice". The Victorian University of Technology's school of education proclaims its "commitment to social justice and equity as the purpose and outcome of both school and teacher education".

Literacy was once about reading and writing. Not so at Griffith University, where literacy is taught within a "critical social-constructivist framework" and defined as "multi-modal mediated texts that are influenced by cultural and social factors".

To make matters worse, teachers are generally given a left-wing view of such matters. As argued in Making the Difference, widely set for education courses during the 1980s, Australian society is "disfigured by class exploitation, sexual and racial oppression and in chronic danger of war and environmental destruction".

Education, instead of providing a ladder of opportunity or dealing with what Matthew Arnold termed the best that has been thought and said, is defined as "the process of liberation" and teachers are told "to decide whose side they are on". The ACSA also views education as a "social and historical construction" that "typically serves the interests of particular social groups at the expense of others". Based on the work of the French leftist Pierre Bourdieu, the association argues that teachers must acknowledge the "role of education in the reproduction and transformation of society".

The traditional academic curriculum, competition and a belief in merit and ability are attacked as socially unjust and instrumental in maintaining the power of dominant groups in society. In addition to promoting a left-wing view of education, of equal concern is that those responsible for teacher education uncritically promote a new-age, faddish view of curriculum. The University of Tasmania's faculty of education describes its agenda as embracing "radical curriculum change in Tasmanian schools by adopting the new Essential Learnings Framework". Ignored is that the framework is full of education jargon and has little academic merit. Melbourne's RMIT adopts all the cliches associated with a social-constructivist view of learning: so-called new learners have to think strategically, be risk takers, juggle multiple perspectives and become deep and lifelong learners.

As the ACDE has argued in New Learning: A Charter for Australian Education, old-fashioned ideas about right and wrong answers and teaching the three R's have to be jettisoned in favour of the new basics. The new basics are defined as developing "self-awareness, problem-solving and intercultural skills" so that learners are equipped with "multiple strategies for tackling a task and a flexible solutions-orientation to knowledge".

What's ignored is that high standards and higher order skills depend on rote learning and mastering the basics. Also ignored is that in the real world there are right and wrong answers and that generic skills such as problem solving are subject-specific.


MI: A big reason to graduate in Kalamazoo: "Talk about a future. Public schools in the western Michigan town of Kalamazoo are starting to bulge after a nameless local benefactor promised to fund the college education of any student who graduates from one of Kalamazoo's three public high schools. Beginning with the class of 2006, students who attend the city's public schools from kindergarten through grade 12 get a full ride, with a sliding scale down to 65 percent funding for those who complete four years of high school in the district. They must attend a university or college in Michigan. The cash outlay is expected to reach $10 million to $15 million a year."


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, February 02, 2006

Imam Teaches Propaganda at Diablo Valley College

(By Lee Kaplan)

Readers who follow academic infiltration by subversives on our college campuses are probably familiar with my previous article about my attendance in Imam Amer Araim's class, Politics of the Middle East 155B, during the last spring semester at Diablo Valley College (DVC), as well as my follow-up article after meeting with DVC's President Mark Edelstein, and Vice President for Academic Affairs Alice Murillo.

So what was the outcome of my investigative reports? Did Diablo Valley College decide to remove Araim from its list of part-time instructors for incompetence or for indoctrinating his students rather than educating them? Didadministrators take responsibility for course curriculum taught by the imam or make corrections like they should?

Nope. DVC's administration drew the wagons in a circle instead.

After meeting with college President Mark Edelstein and giving him time to "investigate" the matter, and not receiving a promised response as to the disposition of Araim's teaching courses, and repeatedly not having my phone calls returned, I called college Dean Lyn Krause to ask if Araim was still teaching Politics of the Middle East 155B. I was assured he was not. "The course catalog shows the course is not being offered this semester," I was told. I assumed that Araim, a temporary part-time faculty member, had been removed. But the student who tipped me off to Araim's teaching methods during a previous semester (which spurred me to attend Araim's course) did a little checking and found Araim still on the schedule for the Fall 2005 semester through Spring 2006, only now he was teaching three courses at DVC instead of just one. I called the dean back.

I then learned how things really operate at Diablo Valley College.

You have to hand it to the administrators at Diablo Valley College in Northern California, especially President Edelstein and VP for Academic Affairs Alice Murrillo, but also Sociology Department Dean Lyn Krause and Department Chair John Dravlin. When confronted with an imam who teaches blatant Middle Eastern fabrications against the United Statesand Israel in his classes, what do they do to take action? They increase his teaching load from one class the previous semester to three, including adding courses in Introduction to U.S. Government!

What's wrong with Araim, a Muslim imam, teaching Introduction to U.S. Government to lower level college students? Aside from the fact he may not even be a U.S. citizen (something the college district refused to reveal), the man has a track record of conveying to his students the impression that American foreign policy is only a matter of duplicity and opportunism against the Muslim world. He lauds democracy coming to the Middle East, but America gets no credit for it. What's more, Araim has no background in teaching or research on the U.S. government on his resume. A former diplomat for Saddam Hussein, his Ph.D. dissertation was on OPEC and the economics of oil.

When I attended his lecture, some of the juicier bits of knowledge imparted to students at DVC in Politics of the Middle East 155B included:

1) Israel is an "apartheid state" was taught repeatedly every session. (Israel is a pluralistic democracy with equal civil rights for all its citizens and does not practice apartheid like South Africa).

2) Women are not stoned in Iran. (Women are stoned in Iran for adultery and other offenses, including sometimes even for refusing to be raped).

3) Jews, Christians and women are not discriminated against in Middle Eastern Muslim countries. (Common knowledge, anyone who reads a newspaper knows this isn't the case).

4) Hamas and Hezbollah are "liberation" movements, not terrorist groups.

5) Jordan was not part of the Palestine Mandate of 1922 as promised in the Balfour Declaration and reneged by the British against the Jews.

6) Jewish Zionists prior to 1948 stole land from Arabs. (All land that was in fact legally purchased by the Jewish Agency).

7) Israel is a "colonial state" (It was set up by the United Nations much like the Arab states, colonies of Great Britain that were set up after World WarI and is not a colony)

8) U.N. Resolution 242 says that all land in the West Bank belongs to the Arabs (it does not say that per its author, Eugene Rostow).

9) Israel initiated all wars against the Arabs who were victims of Israeli aggression (the Arab League has refused to make peace with Israel for nearly 50 years).

10) The Sheba Farms region of Israel, an area Hezbollah uses as a reason to carry out terrorist attacks on Israel, belongs to Lebanon (the U.N. even signed off on the area as belonging to Israel when it withdrew from Lebanon in the 1980's).

11) According to the student who originally tipped me off to the class, Araim also stated that Saddam Hussein did not gas the Kurds, the Iranians did it.

12) The United States is "hypocritical" in its approach to democracy in Arab states such as Jordan and elsewhere.

13) Araim also provided reading material that claimed that reform Jews practice the Sabbath on Sunday (it's Saturday) and suggests that Jews are not the same as "Zionists."(This separation of Jews from Zionism is used by anti-Israel advocates to claim they are not really anti-Semitic).

14) Tiny Israel intends to conquer all the lands from the Nile River to the Euphrates in Iraq (we were given a one-hour lecture during the last class with this conclusion).

15) Sharia, or Islamic Law, as state law is compatible with democracy (despite its misogyny and denigration of religious minorities).

The Arab newsreel footage I screened in class was filmed in Iraq while Araim worked for Saddam Hussein in 1972 and showed Jews being hanged publicly in Baghdad was "propaganda" according to Araim, who denied the accuracy of the film while telling students that false history taught in a PLO propaganda film he presented earlier was based on actual facts. Araim had a habit in class of making personal attacks and calling me a "propagandist" when confronted with errors of fact or untruths, a highly unprofessional practice for a college instructor.

And Araim allowed information from Arab Internet websites to be presented in class as factual. But they were based more on totalitarian propaganda than facts. In lecturing on the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Araim stated that the organization, set up by Islamic countries to oppose Israel, was started after "Zionists set fire to the Al Aksa Mosque in Jerusalem." He got this information off the OIC website. In fact, a fire was set at the Al Aksa Mosque by a Christian tourist from Australia who had a history of mental illness and who was arrested by Israeli authorities and prosecuted. In another instance, Araim allowed a student during his presentation on Palestine to state the Palestinians were over 3,000 years old as a nationality and culture. This is untrue and something the student admitted he obtained from an Arab website without scholarly verification.

Araim's third class is titled International Relations Now, and may simply be a renaming of the course I exposed earlier, and possibly a place where Araim will again be free to teach students factually incorrect information about the Middle East.

It is possible that Araim knows no better, and was teaching from his "perspective" no matter how untruthful, as DVC President Mark Edelstein tried to claim in our meeting? If that was the case, he is at best--as an academic--incompetent. More likely, Araim's teaching is a way to indoctrinate students in his personal political goals against United States' foreign policy and against Israel in general. Claiming ignorance on Araim's part (as weak a defense as any) does not explain, however, his dissembling when confronted with the truth.

According to Dean Krause, who has advised me that he considers me a "troublemaker," "Araim was retained because there is a shortage of teachers available, and his `evaluations were all good.'" These included evaluations by students and fellow faculty members. Most students' knowledge of Middle East history and even current events can be questionable when it comes to their being under the influence of an instructor with an agenda. I asked Dean Krause, "As for fellow faculty members, how would they evaluate Araim's course content when they did not attend the class?" It seems Araim is a popular fellow and rather charming. Araim is alleged to have obtained his position from contacts made through an interfaith group located in the DVC's college district. The validity of course material or balance is irrelevant if one is a popular instructor.

Department Chair John Dravlin explained Araim's retention is because he has a Ph.D. from the State University of New Yorkand because he used to work for the United Nations. "He's overqualified for what we have," Dravlin explained to me. "Most of our instructors are only required to have a master's degree." When I told Dravlin that I could produce an article by another Arab Ph.D. that said that Jews use the blood of Christian children to make matzoh and that the United Nationsis corrupt, half of it composed of dictatorships (like Araim's former country under Saddam Hussein) and that Mohammar Gaddafi is on the Human Rights Commission, he claimed he had to dash to a meeting.

I decided to do a little more research on Araim. It seems he earned his Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Binghampton. His dissertation was on the economics of oil and he is an expert on OPEC. He has no academic background in his resume on studies in U.S. government. In fact, as mentioned, the college administration refused to even tell me if he is a U.S. citizen.

Since he was teaching International Relations also, I checked what he did at the United Nations. He had worked as a diplomat for Saddam Hussein apparently (a good impartial educational background) but later left the dictator's diplomatic corps to work for the United Nationsas a "political affairs coordinator" dealing with "apartheid and colonialism" and had participated in the Durban Conference on Racism. "Political Affairs Coordinator" is a fancy title used by totalitarian groups for "propagandist." The United States was forced to withdraw from the Durban Conference because it was turned into an anti-Semitic diatribe against Israel's right to exist, which explains a lot about Araim's sentiments in the class room.

More -- much more -- here

A textbook case of making Australia's past a blame game

School's back. That means pressing uniforms, searching for the elusive school tie, scraping out last December's lunch from the bottom of the school bag and covering a new batch of textbooks. And, after last week's address by the Prime Minister, wondering what all the fuss is about when it comes to teaching our children about Australian history. So on Sunday I picked up a brand new history text book for first year high-school students. And, there, in chapter nine, under the heading of Australia 1788-1900: Colonisation and Contact are more than 30 pages devoted to the politics of shame. So this is what all the fuss is about.

Students learning about the colonisation of Australia are given a black and white portrait, so to speak. Black is good. White is bad. The textbook quotes a speech by Pat Dodson to describe the idyllic way Aboriginal Australians lived at the time "white invasion is just about to occur". "About three days in every week would be devoted to gathering your food," he says. "Hunting, collecting - a bit less in places of plenty, a bit more in the hard country. The rest of your time would be spent socialising, or in religious observances of different kinds." There is a "rich and complicated legal system" and the "children are more deeply loved than perhaps any children on earth".

Then, into this world comes the "white invader. Their first act is to say the land is terra nullius, that no one owns the land, that it is not used ... Thus begins the Australian Civil War." And that war continues to this day, Dodson says. The author of the text is on Dodson's side, complaining that "the myth of terra nullius" has been "left out of the history books". It is bad enough that this account is factually inaccurate. Terra nullius is not in the history books because, as Michael Connor has shown in his book, The Invention of Terra Nullius, it was a recent concoction. A bogus legal theory propounded to justify political objectives in securing Aboriginal land rights.

But even worse than the promotion of this legal mythology is the continued peddling of the romance of the noble savage. A pre-1788 utopia where much of the week is spent chatting among friends, bowing before spirits and loving children. Even for an alpha male such as Dodson, this is a stretch. One would have thought that, in between recounting the sense of community and sharing - and the bucolic pleasures that filled daily life before "the invasion" - students would also be told of the less sharing side to tribal life - the inter-tribal violence or the brutal treatment of women. But there is no rounding out of history here. Just a one-sided Disneyfication - more Fantasia than Mickey Mouse - of the noble savage. This is not just a dumbing down of history. This is ideology - inculcating a sense of shame in young students about Western civilisation.

There is no mention of British colonisation contributing anything much to Australia - no mention of civilised society or the rule of law. Instead, all the talk is of dark forces reaching Australian shores: forces that are individualistic and competitive and concerned with material gain. There are sneering references to Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Charles Darwin - as examples of Europeans who believed in the "superiority" of Western civilisation, over, say the hunter-gatherer existence of local indigenous people. Reading the text is like learning about Darwin's evolutionary theory in reverse gear. Progress is rather nasty and a source of embarrassment to the authors.

Last week, when John Howard criticised the way history is taught to Australian children, all he sought was some balance. Acknowledge the injustices to indigenous people, but also recognise the "great and enduring heritage of Western civilisation", he said. But the education commandos pounced. We've moved on from the PM's old-fashioned ideas of teaching, they complained. We're teaching children "more sophisticated historical skills, like using historical sources appropriately, questioning those sources, analysing and interpreting, looking at perspectives and interpretations", the NSW Board of Studies history inspector, Jennifer Lawless, said.

But if critical thinking is the aim, schoolchildren need critical information. They need to learn that historian Lyndall Ryan admitted that "historians are always making up figures" when she was challenged by Keith Windschuttle - author of The Fabrication of Aboriginal History - for inflating the number of Aborigines killed by white men. Instead, students are given a one-sided version that shuns critical analysis. This is history pressed into the service of progressive politics, imbuing students with political agendas, rather than encouraging genuine learning.

We know it is all about politics because the teachers unions have told us so. Last year Pat Byrne, the Australian teachers' union president crowed about the fact that progressive educators "had succeeded in influencing curriculum development in schools, education departments and universities". And she said those "conservatives" - presumably people such as Howard who are calling for a more balanced approach to teaching - "have a lot of work to undo the progressive curriculum". An audacious admission. And who can forget the less triumphant, but no less political, observation from Wayne Sawyer, a former chairman of the NSW Board of Studies English curriculum committee. He admonished teachers after the last federal election for failing to produce a more "questioning, critical generation" of students because they were now voting for Howard.

Brazen politicking is evident in how students are taught to read. In the politically charged nether world of academe sits Brian Cambourne, associate professor of education at the University of Wollongong. He is one of the driving forces behind the whole language approach to literacy where children are expected to learn to read by being immersed in literature rather than learning the sounds that make up the words. He has spoken openly about the whole language philosophy as "literacy for social equity and social justice". He regards literacy as innately political and language as simply a tool used by those interested in power and wealth. He says politicians criticise his philosophy because they "have become aware of just how threatening a school system which produced thousands of highly critically literate students might be to the current ways of power and wealth distributed in our society".

Indeed, Cambourne admits his educational philosophy is thick with his political views. "Most of the work I do is based on the political prejudices I have and these must of course impact on what I research, and how and why I teach the way I do," he says.

So, as you finish covering your child's school books, flick through them to see what all the fuss is about. There are many fine teachers trying to do their best with second-rate materials. But at least there is agreement on one point: there is much work to be done in undoing the progressive curriculum foisted on Australian schoolchildren.



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, February 01, 2006

Silencing the truth about UCLA

College students looking to score some extra dough to pay for textbooks at UCLA lost a potential source of income this week when the head of the Bruin Alumni Association, Andrew Jones, announced he was putting a halt to the group's offer of $100 for documentation of leftist bias by UCLA professors. Too bad, for Jones' actions galvanized international media scrutiny on an issue that needs addressing: the incessant advocacy of liberal dogma in the classroom by college professors. Jones and his Bruin Alumni Association figured it was about time that someone documented just how revolting the push for leftist political thought in America's taxpayer-funded universities had gotten.

And the Bruin Alumni Association wisely realized the best way to share their findings with the world was to publish them online. To stir the pot a bit more, Jones made the decision to offer up to $100 to students at UCLA for material proof of improper conduct by their professors. Bravo!

The motivation and motives of Jones and the Bruin Alumni Association is pure genius that should be celebrated by America's conservative leaders. Instead, some of my fellow travelers in the conservative movement have been less than kind to Mr. Jones, et. al because of the unfavorable coverage of this story from some of the more liberal bastions of the news media. Former Congressman Jim Rogan, a man who I count not just as a respected conservative, but also a personal friend, angrily resigned from the Advisery Board of the alumni association saying he was "uncomfortable to say the least with this tactic." Los Angeles-based radio talker, Al Rantel, who is another friend and fellow conservative working for the same radio network as I do, also resigned, saying that, "it looks like a bunch of crazies who were trying to go after innocent professors, which certainly wasn't what I supported."

With all due respect to my good friends and fellow conservatives, they've missed the boat on this one and done a great disservice to the Bruin Alumni Association. For decades, conservatives have mashed their hands together in never-ending frustration over the fact that such a liberal faculty dominated America's publicly funded colleges and universities. We've whined and moaned about the fact that it was an offense to the taxpayers of America that they were forced to pay the bill for what has essentially become the recruiting campus of the Democrat National Committee and liberal political action groups like And yet, despite all of our complaining, there hasn't been much "the Right" has done about it.

While parents took the initiative to start the homeschool movement to counter liberalism in K-12 education, the best rebuttal we've offered at the university level was Hillsdale College in Michigan. While a great school, Hillsdale alone isn't enough to educate all of America's undergrads. And so that takes us back to Andrew Jones and the Bruin Alumni Association.

Their website has collected a treasure trove of information that ought to be made public, so parents know what kind of professors are employed at the schools they contemplate sending their children to. Like UCLA, "Philosophy of Education" professor, Douglas Kellner, who as a member of the "University of Texas Progressive Faculty" group, co-hosted a cable access program that made allegations of wrongdoing by President George Bush. They included warped fantasies involving subversive activities with the CIA and the Mafia, and up-until-now secret ties between the Bush family and the Nazi party of Germany. That must make for one interesting family reunion at the Bush residence given Michael Moore's assertion that the Bush family is secretly in cahoots with Osama bin Laden's clan as well.

The website also includes a profile on Chicano Studies Professor Juan Gomez-Quinones, who co-wrote a thesis on the proper role of Hispanics in America today. According to Gomez-Quinones, a Hispanic living in the United States who assimilates as an American instead of identifying with their Mexican heritage "is a person who lacks self-respect and pride in one's ethnic and cultural background." He insists that, "students must constantly remind the Chicano administrators and faculty where their loyalty and allegiance lie." Apparently, that loyalty and allegiance is not to the United States of America.

The list of offensive professors and their history of egregious behavior goes on and on, and its all documented at the UCLAProfs website - and it should be. Parents have a right to know what they are paying for - and so does the American taxpayer. If these college professors are so uncomfortable with the light of public scrutiny, then this should serve as a signal to them that they know deep down inside that their attempts to use public universities as political recruiting tools for the American Left is shameful, improper and inappropriate.

The focal point of this entire episode should be on the shameful conduct and actions of a large segment of academia today. Blaming the college students who document such behavior is simply shooting the messenger. And unfortunately that is what conservatives like Congressman Rogan and talk-show host Al Rantel have done. They've helped the liberal media to silence the few people who had the nerve to step up and speak out and take the heat for doing something to correct a problem. And that's a horrible message to send to a group that is finally taking action to raise debate over an issue that the conservative movement has not satisfactorily addressed despite decades of abuse.


The Dumbing-Down and Neutering of America Continues

Post lifted from The Autonomist

About one month ago, I attended a speech by David Horowitz that was held at the University of Rhode Island. At the end of his talk, Horowitz held a question and answer session with the audience.

The students who participated in the Q&A session were mostly antagonistic towards Horowitz, and they asked him a variety of questions on topics ranging from reparations for slavery to the War on Islamist Terror.

I was amazed at, and depressed by, the level of deep ignorance exhibited by almost every student who rose to ask Horowitz a question. The lack of rhetorical skills displayed by most of the students, coupled with what appeared to be their near-total inability to think critically and logically, was embarrassing to behold.

What the students excelled at though, was the spouting of leftwing claptrap that had evidently been poured into their brains by some of their quasi-Marxist professors. Click the picture below to view a good example of the muddled type of "thinking" that leftwing indoctrination in America's high schools and colleges results in.

URI student fires a mindless tirade at David Horowitz

Now, an editorial in the Waterbury Republican-American succinctly describes how incompetent and uneducated millions of incipient American college graduates actually are:

"More than half of college students nearing graduation lack the capacity to perform complex but common tasks, such as computing the cost per ounce of food, grasping the arguments of newspaper editorials, summarizing results of surveys and understanding credit-card offers.

'It is kind of disturbing that a lot of folks are graduating with a degree and they're not going to be able to do those things,' said Stephane Baldi, who directed a study for the American Institutes for Research. Kind of disturbing? That millions of soon-to-be graduates lack the capacity to perform basic real-world functions is the product of a cruel scam perpetrated by the higher-education elite.

This study adds credence to what Derek Bok, a former Harvard University president, found while researching his new book, 'Our Underachieving Colleges.' Summarizing his work for The Boston Globe, Mr. Bok said undergraduates increasingly are intellectually underdeveloped when it comes to 'critical thinking, moral reasoning, quantitative literacy and other vital skills.' But fewer than 10 percent of professors pay even passing attention to research critical of their teaching methods and performance, he said, and instead spend hours in intramural debates on curricular minutiae.'

Consequently, colleges don't help students improve their competence in writing or quantitative methods. Most leave college "still inclined to approach unstructured 'real life' problems with a form of primitive relativism, believing that there are no firm grounds for preferring one conclusion over another.' " (Emphasis added)

An accurate statement, to be sure, and one that dovetails nicely into a recent observation made by blogger, "Vanderleun," at The American Digest.

While listening to Hugh Hewitt's recent evisceration of anti-troop, LA Times columnist Joel Stein, Vanderleun heard something strange, but familiar, in Stein's voice: "... Above all, it is a sexless voice. Not, I hasten to add, a "gay" voice. Not that at all. It is neither that gentle nor that musical. Nor is it that old shabby lisping stereotype best consigned to the dustbin of popular culture. No, this is a new old voice of a generation of ostensible men and women who have been educated and acculturated out of, or say rather, to the far side of any gender at all. It is, as I have indicated above, the voice of the neutered. And in this I mean that of the transitive verb: To castrate or spay. The voice and the kids that carry it is the triumphant achievement of our halls of secondary and higher education. These children did not speak this way naturally, they were taught. And like good children seeking only to please their teachers and then their employers, they learned.' "(Emphasis added)

I've heard this odd manner of speech many times, usually from the young people who attend the expensive universities that dot my surroundings. I view it as subtle evidence of the success that the postmodern Left has had in affecting the "de-balling" of America - the men speak in a faux-gentle, effete, halting sort of way - there's little "manliness" in their voices. The women possess a lilting syntax with a slight rise at the end of almost every sentence. The prominent qualities present in the speech patterns of both the males and the females I describe are: near absence of conviction, a subtle malaise and an ever-present whiff of arrogance.

Vanderleun has a name for this vocal flaccidity: "the voice of the neuter"


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, January 31, 2006


Everybody wants more money in the classroom. No one wants a tax increase. The solution? Distribute education dollars differently, pouring money into classrooms without raising taxes. The idea is the basis of the 65 Percent Solution, a proposal that would require school districts to spend at least 65 percent of their budgets on classroom expenses. Proponents want to see all 50 states and the District of Columbia impose the requirement by 2008.

The notion has at least one deep-pocketed backer: Patrick Byrne, the president of, Inc., who has pledged $1 million to the cause. At least 12 states are considering the idea, with one - Texas - already implementing it. California voters may see the idea on a ballot as early as 2008. Proponents of the plan say it will make school districts spend money more efficiently. They say it also will improve student achievement by funneling dollars - $14 billion nationally and $1.5 billion in California - away from administration and toward student learning.

Districts nationwide spent an average of 61.3 percent of their budgets on in-class expenses in 2002-2003, the last year for which figures are available from the National Center for Education Statistics. California spent 60.8 percent. Only two states - New York and Maine - exceeded the 65 percent mark. "Before every dollar is spent outside the classroom, we want asked, could this dollar be spent inside the classroom?" Republican political consultant Tim Mooney said. Mooney runs First Class Education, the nonprofit group dedicated to advancing the proposal. "Right now, it seems like the default is outside the classroom," he said.

Lawmakers in Kansas and Louisiana already have set the 65 percent mark as a goal. Proponents plan to propose legislation - or have already done so - in Minnesota, Illinois, Georgia, Missouri and Florida. Mooney's group hopes to carry voter referendums in Ohio, Oregon, Colorado, Washington and Arizona this year.

Critics here recognize the plan's strength is its simplicity. That's also its weakness, they say. "It's a terrible idea," said Bob Wells, executive director of the Association of California School Administrators. "There is no free money out there where this would magically get more money into classrooms. ... The one-size-fits-all solution doesn't work for a state this size." Part of the problem, critics say, is the plan's definition of classroom expenses. The 65 percent includes teacher salaries and benefits, supplies, classroom aides, and sports and arts programs. But it doesn't include key items such as transportation, food service, maintenance, librarians, and teacher training. "It's an arbitrary standard," said Rick Pratt, executive director of the California School Boards Association. "Schools are expected to feed kids, provide after-school programs, provide transportation. ... Will we have to scale back on these things? These are decisions you don't make with formulas."

There's little evidence to support a direct link between student achievement and the percentage of funds that districts spend on classroom instruction. A recent study by Standard & Poor's found no significant relationship between the two.

Mooney pointed out that the five states that scored highest on the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress, or the "nation's report card," spent a bigger percentage of funds on instruction, on average, than did lower-ranking states. The five lowest-scoring states (including California) spent the least on instruction.

But critics say measuring student achievement isn't a simple thing. The top-scoring states also spent more per pupil overall - $3,000 more, on average - than did the bottom-scoring states that year. They also had significantly fewer racial minorities and lower poverty rates. The five states testing in the 20th percentile spent more in the classroom, on average, than did the five states testing in the 90th percentile.

The Austin-American Statesman reported in August that it had obtained a First Class Education memo that listed the 65 Percent Solution's "political benefits," including sowing dissent within education unions and helping build Republican credibility on education issues - thereby creating a base of support for charter schools and vouchers, which education unions say detract from public school systems. Mooney said this week that he penned that memo. "I'll stand by everything said in it," he said. The 65 percent plan would probably divide unions, he said. "That's not our goal. Our goal is simply to pass this policy." He added "good policy makes good politics, and whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, backing an issue this popular makes sense."

Pratt, of the state School Boards Association, said states should increase the flow of money to education, rather than forcing districts to shift existing dollars around. But Mooney said districts need to streamline spending before they ask for more funding. "Voters are saying, 'Show us you're spending your current dollars wisely,' " he said. "Then we'll talk to you about more dollars."



It shouldn't be long now before abnormal psychology experts begin camping out at the University of California's 10 campuses for some field research. The constantly emerging stories over the last few months about UC leaders spending vast amounts on bonuses, perks and other compensation for top administrators without proper authorization initially seemed to be just an extreme version of institutional arrogance. But given the report this week about a UC Berkeley administrator receiving a $237,000 parting gift, this hauteur seems to have morphed into institutional derangement.

Remember, these sorts of outrages were supposed to be a thing of the past. In the wake of the worst of the revelations - a San Francisco Chronicle report in November detailing how UC doled out $871 million in hidden cash compensation - UC's leaders vowed they had learned their lesson. While they would continue to push to stay competitive on compensation with the nation's other top universities, they would do so in much more open fashion - and they would follow state rules.

Unfortunately, the taxpayer abuse reflected in the case of former UC Berkeley Chancellor Rogert Berdahl shows those promises were worthless. Berdahl resigned in 2004 under an agreement in which he took a 131/2-month leave while continuing to receive his chancellor's salary. In return, per UC policy, he promised to return to teaching for at least 131/2 months. If he didn't stay all 131/2 months, Berdahl agreed to pay back a prorated share of the $355,000 he was paid while on leave.

But during his leave, Berdahl lined up a new job - starting in May 2006 - as president of the Association of American Universities. It paid even more than his old UC gig. He notified UC officials that he would only teach for one semester, not the three he had promised. So Berdahl was required to pay back two-thirds of the $355,000, right? Wrong. That's what would be done in an ethical, honest government agency - but not the University of California.

Instead, according to reports this week, current UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgenau decreed on Jan. 4 that Berdahl didn't have to pay the money back because he would be of help to UC in his new job. Birgenau's lavish gift came 14 days after UC President Robert Dynes announced the hiring of an auditor to study UC's compensation practices and vowed a campaign to "gain total public confidence." Who does Dynes think he's kidding?

It gets worse: UC Santa Cruz officials confirmed this week that $30,282 in taxpayer money had been spent to build an "enclosure" for Chancellor Diane Denton's "two large and very active dogs." Does every UC campus act as if it is spending Monopoly money, not public funds? Enough is enough. Heads must roll. If UC's Board of Regents won't end this gross malfeasance, then the governor and the Legislature must step in - because there is no reason in the world to think UC will reform without a boot on its neck.


The boring Left

Leftist professors are not enthusing the young. Post lifted from No Left Turns

Sam Graham-Felsen writes a long and boring article in The Nation titled, "The New Face of the Campus Left." Kind of a rah-rah-rah, we're finally getting organized, by something called Campusprogress, from the living-wage campaign (cleverly renamed the 1 John 3 Campaign when it wasn't getting anywhere; it still isn't), to anti-war, to guilt-free caffeine. It's all kind of pathetic, really. This sentence near the start of the story amused me -- they really want to pretend that university campuses are not overwhelmingly liberal:

"The assumption that America's campuses are impenetrable bastions of liberalism--where left-leaning faculty predominate, progressive student activism flourishes and conservatism is fiercely marginalized--still rules the day. But in reality, since the 1970s the conservative movement has become the dominant political force on many American campuses."

Since the 1970's? Are you kidding? I could help figure out their meaning with the following example. The day we went into Iraq a dozen or so Ashland faculty (all my age, have been on the Left their whole life, I am betting) picketed against the war on the corner of Claremont and College. The next day a dozen or so students were picketing in favor of the war. Still no students on the anti-war side.

What is most irritating to the Left professors--the ones that dominate the humanities and social sciences--and The Nation mag, is that they are not persuading the youth. They are there, but they can't reproduce themselves. Frustration sets in and the result is a focus on guilt-free coffee and other such serious causes.


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, January 30, 2006


When you look past fudged exam results to actual tests of what kids can do, the evidence is stark

It has become an annual rite of summer. Out come the Sats/GCSE/A -level results - take your pick - and up pops a government minister to say that grades are higher than ever, teachers and schools have done a fantastic job, but there's still room for improvement. Not everyone takes this at face value and there are a few grumbles about exams becoming easier. But even if there are suspicions that standards have dropped, no one has ever seriously suggested that children's cognitive abilities have deteriorated. Until now. New research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and conducted by Michael Shayer, professor of applied psychology at King's College, University of London, concludes that 11- and 12-year-old children in year 7 are "now on average between two and three years behind where they were 15 years ago", in terms of cognitive and conceptual development.

"It's a staggering result," admits Shayer, whose findings will be published next year in the British Journal of Educational Psychology. "Before the project started, I rather expected to find that children had improved developmentally. This would have been in line with the Flynn effect on intelligence tests, which shows that children's IQ levels improve at such a steady rate that the norm of 100 has to be recalibrated every 15 years or so. But the figures just don't lie. We had a sample of over 10,000 children and the results have been checked, rechecked and peer reviewed."

To understand both the science and its implications, we need to step back 30 years, to when Shayer was part of a six-strong team of academics - including Margaret Brown, Geoffrey Matthews and Philip Adey - engaged in research at Chelsea College on concepts in secondary science and mathematics. "We realised that no one had actually bothered to investigate how children learned maths and science, or where the difficulties lay," he says. "So the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) funded a five-year project - the longest ever research programme of its kind - to find out."

As the time frame suggests, it was a slow process and Shayer has clear memories of a young, blue-suited academic - one Ted Wragg - being sent round after two years had elapsed to check up that the SSRC's money was being well spent. Wragg gave the Chelsea College team the thumbs up and in 1979 the research was published.

One of Shayer's main difficulties had been to establish a benchmark of ability. The psychometric tradition had obvious disadvantages. For one thing, the Flynn effect implied that an absolute scale of mental age was impossible, but there were other problems. A score of 105 might tell you that a child is slightly above average, but it does not tell you what maths he or she can or can't understand. For this reason, Shayer decided that using the developmental model of the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget was a better bet. "Although controversial, Piaget's descriptions do provide an underlying, logic-based, theoretical model to differentiate different levels of complexity," he says. "It describes the same behaviours - for example, the ability to control variables in experimenting - whether the subject is nine or 16." Crucially, the model met the statistical demands of being criterion-referenced and could be given equal interval properties.

According to Piaget's model, children go through four main stages of development - sensorimotor (infancy), pre-concrete (up to age 5), concrete (5-11) and formal (11-16) - each of which are divided into several sub-groups. Shayer's first task was to check this model against a broad cohort of 14,000 schoolchildren. "We conducted a wide range of tests on all the secondary-age year groups over the course of a year," says Shayer. "These were designed to assess a child's exact ability on the Piagetian scale."

Shayer's work naturally focused on the different sub-groups of the concrete and the formal. The concrete stage, in regard to maths, meant testing a child's ability to put things in order, use descriptive models and plot simple graphs. The formal stage involved testing more abstract concepts and the ability to predict. His results showed that Piaget had only described the top 20% of the population. "Like many scientists, Piaget picked the best specimens, so his results were weighted in favour of the most able children," says Shayer. "We took a broad section of the population and found that, far from being at the early formal level (3A) as Piaget had predicted, the average 11-year old was firmly back in the centre of the middle concrete level (2B)."

Not everyone was overjoyed by these findings. Many educationists found it hard to accept that children were less able than previously thought, and were reluctant to admit that there were huge differences in development that weren't purely attributable to environmental factors. To Shayer, though, it was no great surprise. "You would expect children of bright parents to be brighter than average," he says. "Similarly, you would expect children whose parents played with them regularly in a creatively challenging way to do better on developmental tests."

The main objection to Shayer's research came from those who argued that the Piagetian tests described only a child's ability to perform those particular functions and were of no predictive value with regard to general level of performance. "Shayer disproved this with his subsequent work in the 1980s," says Paul Black, emeritus professor of education at King's College and chair of the 1988 National Curriculum Task Group on Assessment and Testing (TGAT), whose report formed the basis for the implementation of Sats. "He helped to develop two-year intervention programmes for those children who had been identified by the Piagetian model as being below average in year 7. Science and maths were the contexts through which the programmes were taught, but the prime focus was on general developmental skills. "These programmes [Cognitive Acceleration through Science Education and Cognitive Acceleration through Maths Education] both significantly increased the children's Piagetian scores and markedly improved their maths and science GCSE grades from those predicted at entry level testing. More important, these children also showed an improvement on predicted grades in other subjects, such as English and history. This showed the programmes had a generic impact, rather than just a specific effect."

Shayer's work was subsequently validated by similar research in Greece, Pakistan and Australia. It also managed to free itself of its purely Piagetian approach by assimilating some of the properties of psychometric testing into a unified developmental test. It became one of the criteria by which age-related attainment targets were benchmarked when the national curriculum was introduced in 1988. And there the story would have ended were it not for the fact that Shayer's wife, scientist Denise Ginsburg, was regularly employed by schools to run their Year 7 maths and science developmental testing to see which children needed the Case or Came programmes. "She reported to me that she had begun to notice a significant falling off in children's abilities," Shayer says, "and, because of this, I decided to investigate further." His research project was undertaken last year and involved the assessment of 10,000 year 7 children's performance on developmental volume and heaviness (VH) tests.

VH, which concerns the conservation of liquid and solid materials, internal volume and intuitive density, was chosen partly because it has substantial predictive validity for both science and mathematics achievement and is an effective way of alerting teachers to their students' range of abilities, but also because it is recognised as a test that measures abilities that are not directly teachable. As such, it was an objective research method, free from any process of adaptation to changing circumstance. "Similar tests conducted in the 70s showed a big difference between boys and girls," says Shayer, "with boys scoring noticeably better than girls. The new research reveals that the gender gap has disappeared, with both sexes deteriorating significantly. Boys have fallen by more than one Piagetian sub group - from the middle of 2B [mature concrete] to below the middle of 2A/2B [middle concrete]. By any standards, this is a huge and significant statistical change."

For the same reasons that he stood by Shayer's original research, Black believes no one should dismiss these current findings. "There are bound to be those who would prefer to ignore these results," he says, "because they find them politically unacceptable or inconvenient. But Shayer has a proven track record and you have to respect his science."

More here

Why Australia's greatest story is just not being told

The nation's heritage is being forgotten in history lessons, writes Kevin Donnelly

Was John Howard correct this week? Has the teaching of history fallen victim to a politically correct, New Age approach to curriculum, and are students receiving a fragmented understanding of the past? The evidence suggests "yes". Since the 1970s and '80s, as outlined in Why Our Schools Are Failing, left-wing academics, education bureaucracies and professional associations have embarked on the long march through the institutions to overthrow more conservative approaches to education.

The so-called traditional academic curriculum, with its emphasis on initiating students into established disciplines such as history and literature, and the belief that education can be impartial, have been attacked as misguided, Eurocentric and socially unjust. One of the first examples of the new history was the Keating government-inspired national studies of society and environment (SOSE) course outline published in 1993. History as a discrete subject disappeared and early drafts of the document were described as "a subject for satire" and "a case of political correctness gone wild". European settlement is described as an invasion, Australia's Anglo-Celtic heritage is either marginalised or ignored, indigenous culture is portrayed as beyond reproach and teachers are told they must give priority to perspectives of gender, multiculturalism and global future.

The 1999 Queensland SOSE curriculum, for one, was also decidedly New Age and one-sided. The values associated with the subject mirror the usual PC suspects, such as social justice, peace and ecological sustainability. In line with postmodernism, students are also taught that "knowledge is always tentative", that they should "deconstruct dominant views of society", "critique the socially constructed element of text" and examine "how privilege and marginalisation are created and sustained in society". Forget the ideal of seeking truth and developing a disinterested understanding of the world. Students are now told that everything is tentative and shifting and the purpose of education is to criticise mainstream society in terms of gender, ethnicity and class.

As a result of adopting an outcomes-based education model, all Australian history education documents adopt a constructivist view of learning. The student is placed centre-stage while the learning of important dates, events and the significance of great historical figures gives way to studying the local community or the life of such worthies as princess Di. As noted in Stuart Macintyre's The History Wars, detailing how history is taught in schools: "The traditional discipline came under increasing criticism from curriculum reformers for being old, stale and simply unrelated to students' needs. 'Relevance' became an educational ethos." Current approaches to history ask students to uncritically celebrate multiculturalism and cultural diversity without recognising that much of Australia's economic, political and legal stability relies on a Eurocentric tradition steeped in the Judeo/Christian ethic. A commitment to human rights, the rule of law and tolerance does not arise by accident.

The reality is that Australian society has proven to be such a successful social experiment because of those very values grounded in Western civilisation that can be traced back thousands of years via England and Europe to early Rome, Greece and biblical Israel.

Australian teachers are also told that how one interprets history is subjective and relative to one's culture and place. As argued by the History Teachers' Association of Victoria in the early '90s: "One of the great developments in history teaching has been the emphasis on the nature of representations, or versions, of history. There is no single version of history which can be presented to students. "History is a version of the past which varies according to the person and the times ... So not only is there no single version of history, but each generation re-interprets the past in the light of its own values and attitudes."

Taken to its logical conclusion, such a view allows Japanese textbooks to ignore the rape of Nanking and for British author David Irving to deny that millions were killed in the Holocaust. The belief that different versions of the past are of equal value and that each generation has the right to re-interpret history in terms of current values also allows revisionist historians to judge past actions in terms of what is now considered politically correct. As a result, today's historians describe the First Fleet as an invasion even though the Admiralty had given Governor Phillip express orders to co-exist with the indigenous population and Phillip, after being speared, did not punish those responsible.

As noted by the Monash University historian Mark Peel, of greater concern is that generations of students no longer understand or appreciate the grand narrative associated with the rise of Western civilisation and Australia's development as a nation. Peel states: "Students seem anxious about the absence of a story by which to comprehend change, or to understand how the nation and world they are about to inherit came to be. Indeed, their sense of the world's history is often based upon intense moments and fragments that have no real momentum or connection


Puffed-up and self-righteous school officials can't bear being laughed at

Being laughed at is probably what they need most

A high school senior who was transferred to an alternative school as punishment for parodying his principal on the Internet is suing the district, arguing it violated his freedom of speech. Justin Layshock had used his grandmother's computer and the Web site to create a phony profile under the principal's name and photo. The site asks questions, and Justin filled in answers peppered with vulgarities, fat jokes and, to the question "what did you do on your last birthday?" the response: "too drunk to remember," according to the lawsuit filed on Justin's behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union.

School officials weren't amused. They questioned the teenager about the site on Dec. 21, and he apologized to the principal, the ACLU said. Then, on Jan. 6, the district suspended Justin for 10 days and transferred him to an alternative program typically reserved for students with behavior or attendance problems, according to the lawsuit. He also was banned from school events, including tutoring and graduation ceremonies. "The school's punishment affects his education," said Witold Walczak, Pennsylvania Legal Director of the ACLU. "In this critical last semester, Justin's opportunities to gain admission to college may be irreparably damaged."

According to the lawsuit, Pennsylvania State University notified Justin that his application had been put on "a registration hold" and asked for more information about the suspension. "It is unknown how or why the university had received this information, since it is supposed to be confidential under federal-student-privacy laws," the lawsuit says. Officials with the Hermitage School District declined to comment. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh, seeks Justin's immediate reinstatement to his regular school. A hearing for a temporary order is set for Monday. "Not to excuse it, but school officials need to understand that they're not parents," Walczak said. "School officials can't reach into parents' homes and tell them how to raise their kids."



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, January 29, 2006

Schoolboy's bias suit: Argues system is favoring girls

So, using good politically correct logic, he asks for affirmative action for boys

It's not that girls are smarter than boys, said Doug Anglin, a 17-year-old senior at the high school. Girls are outperforming boys because the school system favors them, said Anglin, who has filed a federal civil rights complaint contending that his school discriminates against boys. Among Anglin's allegations: Girls face fewer restrictions from teachers, like being able to wander the hallways without passes, and girls are rewarded for abiding by the rules, while boys' more rebellious ways are punished.

Grading on homework, which sometimes includes points for decorating a notebook, also favor girls, according to Anglin's complaint, filed last month with the US Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights. ''The system is designed to the disadvantage of males," Anglin said. ''From the elementary level, they establish a philosophy that if you sit down, follow orders, and listen to what they say, you'll do well and get good grades. Men naturally rebel against this."

An international group that examines equity in education called the complaint of discrimination against boys rare. And Milton school officials denied that girls get better treatment than boys. But the female student body president, Kelli Little, voiced support for Anglin's views. Anglin, a soccer and baseball player who wants to go to the College of the Holy Cross, said he brought the complaint in hope that the Education Department would issue national guidelines on how to boost boys' academic achievement.

Research has found that boys nationwide are increasingly falling behind girls, especially in reading and writing, and that they are more likely to be suspended, according to a 2005 report by the Educational Equity Center of the Academy for Educational Development, an international nonprofit group with headquarters in Washington, D.C.

While school officials said their goal is to help all students improve, the Milton High principal, John Drottar, , suggested in an interview that there may be ways to reach out to underachieving boys. Drottar said the high school plans to reinstitute a mentoring program that will pair low-achieving students with teachers. While it will not specifically recruit male students, boys are likely to make up a large portion of the students served, he said. ''We're aware of it," Drottar said. ''We're looking into it. On a school basis, does that mean we should look at each classroom and see if we have to encourage boys a little more than girls now? Yeah, it probably does."

Anglin -- whose complaint was written by his father, who is a lawyer in Boston -- is looking for broader changes. He says that teachers must change their attitudes toward boys and look past boys' poor work habits or rule-breaking to find ways to encourage them academically. Without such changes, many boys now give up, he said. The school should also recruit more male teachers to better motivate boys, Anglin said. At the high school, 64 percent of the teachers are women, and 36 percent are men, according to the school system.

Anglin's complaint has set off a buzz among the 1,000 students at the school. Little, the student body president, said she disagrees with students who think Anglin is chauvinistic. Of the 22 students in her honors Spanish class, only one is a boy, said Little, a senior. She also said that teachers rarely ask her for a hall pass if she is not in class, while they routinely question boys walking behind her. As for assignments, she said, one teacher expects students to type up class notes and decorate their notebooks with glitter and feathers. ''You can't expect a boy to buy pink paper and frills to decorate their notebooks," Little said.

Larry O'Connor, another Milton High senior who supports Anglin, said teachers should do more to encourage freshmen boys to do well in school, because many lack motivation. O'Connor, who is taking two honors classes and one Advanced Placement class, said he is surrounded by a sea of girls in his classes. He said he ended up taking high-level courses because an English teacher had pulled him aside in his freshman year and had told him that he had the potential to succeed, and that the school needed more male scholars.

While some of Anglin's concerns appear to be supported by school statistics and anecdotal evidence, school officials say some of the solutions that he offers are far-fetched. For example, he proposes that the high school give students credit for playing sports, not just for art and drama courses. He also urges that students be allowed to take classes on a pass/fail basis to encourage more boys to enroll in advanced classes without risking their grade point average. He also wants the school to abolish its community service requirement, saying it's another burden that will just set off resistance from boys, who may skip it and fail to graduate as a result.

School official said they cannot give credit for sports [Why not? Why is sport less admirable than art?] and are unlikely to allow students to take courses without grades. Superintendent Magdalene Giffune said the school system will not consider changing the community-service requirement. ''It's an important part of teaching students to be responsible citizens," she said.

The US Department of Education is evaluating whether Anglin's complaint warrants investigation, said a spokesman, Jim Bradshaw. Anglin, who has a 2.88 grade point average, acknowledged that discrimination complaints are not often filed by white, middle-class males like himself. But he said: ''I'm not here to try to lower the rights of women or interfere with the rights of minorities. We just want to fix this one problem that we think is a big deal."

Gerry Anglin, Doug Anglin's father, said the school system should compensate boys for the discrimination by boosting their grades retroactively. ''If you are a victim of discrimination in the workplace, what do they do? They give you more money or they give you a promotion," Gerry Anglin said. ''Most of these kids want to go to college, so these records are important to them."


The facts come first: All Australia's history must be taught in our schools

An editorial from "The Australian" newspaper below:

Many young Australians celebrated Australia Day in ignorance of what their ancestors accomplished and why. They will do the same come April 25th. Thanks to the way a generation has been taught, or rather not taught, history at school, young Australians are growing up completely clueless about how their country came to be the prosperous democracy they are proud of. As the Prime Minister warned yesterday, less than a quarter of senior school students study any history at all, and far fewer learn anything about their own country's past. The situation is equally awful in junior school years around the country. Certainly the previous premier of NSW, Bob Carr, recognised his responsibility to ensure students understand the importance of the great narrative of Australia's past, but too often our national story is little more than an optional educational extra.

To those who believe the primacy of the present means the past is irrelevant and that schools should exclusively prepare young people for further study or the workforce, this ignorance may not matter. For black-armed bedecked curriculum planners, out of sympathy with popular patriotism, it is a good thing because the national story they believe matters most is the story of the dispossession of indigenous Australians by white men, who also oppressed women and migrants. And because these are the people who have mainly held the heights in the state education departments it is their version of our past that has prevailed. In Victoria the fate of Aborigines, the evils of colonialism, and so forth and so on, are on the agenda. And because acting is an easy way of conducting a class in Queensland, students can be encouraged to learn history by role-playing oppressed people. So, instead of an overall narrative of our nation, and information on political events in European cultures that made us who we are, kids are taught bits and pieces of the past, as if history is an ideological grab bag, from which we can take whatever issues, ideas and events suit political agendas in our own age. This is a history that assumes young people need to learn our ancestors' failings first. Even more alarming, it bases what is taught on contested ideologies, that confuse patriotism with imperialism and judges people in the past by the standards of today. And it is all done independent of any narrative that explains the key events in our past and how they are connected to each other.

Advocates of the orthodox approach say an emphasis on facts and dates will always fail, boring students into ignoring irrelevant detail. Not if the epochal events of our national story are taught well it won't. And the idea that selectively sampling aspects of the past and using political ideas from the present to explain them ensures that students end up thinking the past is much like the present, only in fancy dress. It need not be like this. The task for history teachers in the junior school years is to give students a sense of the events and ideas that made us who we are. Inevitably that means an emphasis on the long march to democracy in Great Britain, Europe and North America. And it must include the story of Federation and the fight for women's suffrage at home. It probably does not matter much if 15-year-olds do not know the details of the deaths of Burke and Wills. But it is vital they understand how Australians developed universal suffrage. Selectively teaching what is wrong in Australia's past before young people are given the incontestable facts and dates they need to assess all the interpretations on offer is an affront to Australia's civil religion of an egalitarian democracy. It is time for all schools to give their students the facts about our past. And if crowded curriculums mean there is less time for political role play, that will be no bad thing.

A colony again: "There's this thing called the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, which just came out and said that Americans not only can't read but are vigorously getting worse. Here it is, from the Washington ever-loving Post, December 25 in the Year of Our Decline 2005:"Only 41 percent of graduate students tested in 2003 could be classified as `proficient' in prose-reading and understanding information in short texts-down 10 percentage points since 1992. Of college graduates, only 31 percent were classified as proficient-compared with 40 percent in 1992." That's college graduates, brethren and sistern! They can't read simple stuff. "See Spot run. Run, Spot.." What you think them other scoundrels can't do that ain't graduates? Halleluja, dearly beloved, idiots are us. Am us, I mean. Now, sure, you can make excuses, and say, well, this dismal revelation counts all the Permanently Disadvantaged Minorities and affirmative-action nonstudents and all the other people who shouldn't be anyway in what ought to be colleges but mostly aren't. But you're supposed to be able to read when you get out of freaking high school, aren't you? If they can't read, how did they into college, much less out the other end?"


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