Saturday, February 25, 2006


A small Canadian university has ruled out campus-wide wireless internet access because its president fears the system's electromagnetic forces could pose a risk to students' health. Lakehead University, in Thunder Bay, Ontario, has only a limited Wi-Fi connections at present, in places where there is no fibre-optic internet connection. According to president Fred Gilbert, that is just fine. "The jury is still out on the impact that electromagnetic forces have on human physiology," Mr Gilbert told a university meeting last month, insisting that university policy would not change while he remained president. "Some studies have indicated that there are links to carcinogenetic occurrences in animals, including humans, that are related to energy fields associated with wireless hotspots, whether those hotspots are transmissions lines, whether they're outlets, plasma screens, or microwave ovens that leak."

Lakehead University published a transcript of Mr Gilbert's remarks on its website. Spokeswoman Eleanor Abaya said the decision not to expand the university's few isolated wireless networks was a "personal decision" by Mr Gilbert. But the president's stance has prompted a backlash from students and from Canadian health authorities, who say his fears are overdone.

"If you look at the body of science, we're confident that there is no demonstrable health effect or effects from wireless technology," said Robert Bradley, director of consumer and clinical radiation protection at Canada's federal health department. He said there was no reason to believe that properly installed wireless networks pose a health hazard to computer users.

Adam Krupper, president of the Lakehead students' union, estimated about 1000 of the school's 7500 students have laptops that could pick up a wireless signal, and he said students "really, really" want Wi-Fi on campus. "Considering this is a university known for its great use of technology, it's kind of bad that we can't get Wi-Fi," he said.

Mr Gilbert is a former vice-provost of Colorado State University who holds degrees in biology and zoology. He was previously a zoology professor.


Harvard professors oust Larry Summers. Now they must face their students

The resignation of Lawrence Summers as president of Harvard turns the spotlight on the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), which has consecrated more time and energy to his ouster than to any other project of the past five years. Until now, all blame has been leveled at the president: "Fear and manipulation have been used to govern maliciously," charged one professor, who has since been awarded with a deanship. But now that these cowering professors have successfully unseated their president, scrutiny will quite rightly be leveled at them. What do they gain from their victory, and what does the rest of the university stand to lose?

The movement to unseat Mr. Summers remains a mystery to most people outside Harvard. In the early days of his presidency, he challenged several tenured professors to account for the direction of their research and teaching. After some faculty had signed a petition urging divestment from Israel, he warned against the recurrence of anti-Semitism in a new guise. At an academic conference on the under-representation of women in science, he speculated on the implications of the differences between male and female test scores. At convocation ceremonies he congratulated Harvard students who served in the ROTC, which had been banned from the campus since the days of the Vietnam War.

Each of these actions offended one faculty interest group or another, and jointly they signaled a bold style of leadership in a direction broadly perceived as "conservative"--though it was in the service of once-liberal ideals.

Since most Americans think it appropriate for a president to thus demonstrate his stewardship and leadership, they could not understand why such actions should have triggered faculty revolt. Even members of the media had trouble understanding what the fuss was about: incredulous, for example, that academics would protest against any expressed opinion. The governing body that appointed Mr. Summers and gave him a mandate for change, the Harvard Corporation, seemed for its part to welcome the energy he brought to the job. Several neglected campus units, such as the Law School and the School of Education, flourished as a result of his interventions. Mr. Summers strongly supported new investments in science and technology, areas where Harvard had been falling behind.

Harvard students frankly blossomed under the special attention he paid them. No university president in my experience had ever taken such a warm personal interest in undergraduate education. Not surprisingly, the students return his affection, polling three to one in favor of his staying on. The day he announced his resignation, they were out in force in Harvard Yard, chanting "Five More Years!"

The student newspaper, the Harvard Crimson, has been outspoken in its criticism of the faculty that demanded the president's ouster. "No Confidence in 'No Confidence' " ran the headline of an editorial demonstrating the spuriousness of the charges being brought against the president, and reminding faculty to stay focused on the educational process that ought to be its main concern.

Hence, supporters of the president are right to be dismayed by the corporation's decision to seek or to accept Mr. Summers's resignation. My colleague Alan Dershowitz calls it an "academic coup d'‚tat by . . . the die-hard left of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences." A second colleague, Steven Pinker, thinks that the president may have lost the fight himself a year ago when he apologized to antagonists for his political incorrectness instead of holding his intellectual ground. For the moment, the attackers have won the day, asserting their right to dictate to the rest of the university the accommodations they favor.

But student response to the ouster suggests another long-term outcome. Although the activists of yesteryear may have found a temporary stronghold in the universities, a new generation of students has had its fill of radicalism. Sobered by the heavy financial burdens most of their families have to bear for their schooling, they want an education solid enough to warrant the investment. Chastened by the fall-out of the sexual revolution and the breakdown of the family, they are wary of human experiments that destabilize society even further. Alert to the war that is being waged against America, they feel responsible for its defense even when they may not agree with the policies of the current administration. If the students I have come to know at Harvard are at all representative, a new moral seriousness prevails on campus, one that has yet to affect the faculty members because it does not yet know how to marshal its powers.

As long as FAS went about its business as usual, no one may have noticed its skewed priorities, but its political victory sets its actions and inaction in bolder relief. The same professors who fought so hard to oust their president did not once since the events of 9/11 consider whether they owed any responsibilities to a country at war.

FAS continued to ban ROTC from campus on the excuse that the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy discriminates against homosexuals. Many students realize that this is tantamount to letting others do the fighting while advertising their moral superiority. Several years ago, the Undergraduate Council voted to give ROTC its approval. Although the faculty ignored this vote and simply waited for that cohort to graduate, other students will sooner or later stand up for their contemporaries who want to serve their country.

"Harvard's greatness has always come from its ability to evolve as the world and its demands change--to educate and draw forth the energy of each successive generation in new and creative ways." These words by Mr. Summers as he announced his resignation may yet prove true, although he would not be the one to put them into effect. It is inconceivable that the currently entrenched culture of grievance should be allowed to continue to sour the university. Perhaps the corporation ought to have put FAS into receivership before giving up on its president. Since it has given in for the moment, we will have to wait a little longer for this new student generation to teach us courage.



Twenty years ago the American philosopher, Allan Bloom, published a book called The Closing of the American Mind, a devastating indictment of the nation’s universities and, more broadly, of its cultural elites. Its premise was that the spirit of openness, a willingness to consider ideas freely, the great virtue of American life and the guiding ethos of a university had been perverted into a cultural relativism. From the 1960s liberal philosophy had taken hold, defiantly asserting that truth was in the eye of the beholder, and that notions of absolute ideals or virtues were anachronistic. In this new world, liberal democracy was no better than totalitarian theocracy, Plato’s philosophy was no more valid than Marianne Faithfull’s and Mozart should be considered on the same terms as the Monkees.

The resignation of Larry Summers as President of Harvard University this week indicates that the closing of the American mind is a continuing process, remorselessly squeezing the light out of its academic enlightenment. Mr Summers, elected to the top job at America’s richest and most famous university five years ago, never fitted the mould of a modern academic chief. He is fiendishly clever, for a start, a brilliant economist. If he hadn’t jumped into policymaking in his 30s, first at the World Bank, then as a senior official in the Clinton Administration, finally becoming Treasury Secretary in 1999, he would almost certainly have won a Nobel prize by now, as two of his uncles did.

These days the values more often prized in university heads have less to do with intellectual candlepower, and more to do with smoothness, access to influence, and above all, a capacity to generate hundreds of millions of dollars. Smooth, Mr Summers was not. In his often awkward personal habits, overweening intellectual self-confidence and execrable management style, he variously appalled and terrified. Never properly socialised, this impatient young man behaved in the rarefied surroundings of government departments, diplomatic salons and academic common rooms like a semi-housetrained wildebeest....

But it was not his arrogance, or his table manners, or even his envy-inducing genius that did for him at Harvard. It was his determined and ultimately futile effort to open the closed minds of America’s proudest academic elite. Though a liberal Democrat, Summers had a traditional view of what a university should be doing, pursuing truth and excellence wherever it led.As he surveyed the vast ranks of well-paid academic celebrities at Harvard, puffing out their ideologies on women’s studies and black history, he wondered what it was all about. His first run-in was with Cornel West, the black professor, who had produced more rap music in recent years than he had books or papers. After a very public row, West left for the more forgiving pastures of Princeton.

Mr Summers quickly challenged the other pillars of political correctness on which most American universities sit. He opposed an effort to block university investment in Israel and condemned attempts to ban the US Armed Forces from recruiting on campus. Note that these were not assertive steps designed to enforce a particular world view, but the opposite — attempts to keep minds open to the possibility that their accumulated prejudices might need to be re-examined. But his campaign was a challenge to the view that the approved answers of America’s academic elite to the great issues of our time and history were the whole truth, never to be reopened or re-examined.

Most famously, a year ago, he questioned whether that there were so few women professors at the top of their fields in mathematics and engineering might reflect not only sexual discrimination, but also gender-specific aptitudes in different disciplines. In the Index of Sins against modern academic political correctness, this is about as grave as it gets. Even to suggest the possibility that there might be innate differences between the sexes or races that could lead to different outcomes is to invite condemnation from the academic Church of the Closed Mind. Despite abject apologies for his errors (which he now regrets), the closed-mind crowd wanted his blood. And this week, after the threat of yet another vote of no-confidence from his faculty members, they got it.

Ironically, in the 20 years since Bloom’s book American universities have risen to even greater global pre-eminence. Floating ever-higher on a sea of cash from wealthy alumni, they are able to attract the brightest minds from around the world. In science and technology especially, this has yielded great strides in research. But in too many cases these great inflows of cash have done nothing to alleviate the poverty of philosophy that characterises intellectual life at so many universities.

More here


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

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

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


Friday, February 24, 2006

California education bureaucracy continues to segregate "English learners" and make them permanent second class citizens

"Let them speak Spanish" seems to be the idea

Almost half of Sacramento County students who are learning English have achieved proficiency in the language, according to test results released Wednesday by the state. But less than 10 percent have been reclassified by their schools as being fluent enough in English to keep up with the academic demands of learning science, history and other subjects in a language they were not born into. The local trend is mirrored statewide, creating a discrepancy that puts many of California's 1.3 million English learner students in a linguistic limbo - their English skills are good by one standard, but not by another. Consequently, observers worry, students who can get by in English may not be learning the same material as their native-English-speaking peers.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell called attention to the difference between the number of students passing the test and the number being reclassified as fluent when he announced the most recent results of the California English Language Development Test during a press conference in Sacramento. "We need to look at why this gap continues to occur," he said. California has the most diverse student population in the country, and a quarter of schoolchildren here are English learners, O'Connell said. He called on local school districts to review the procedures they use to reclassify students from their status as English learners - who are supposed to receive specialized instruction - to the category of fluency, when they are to be taught the same as native English speakers. "There's not a uniform policy from district to district," O'Connell said. He hinted that that may soon change, saying the state board of education will likely consider creating a statewide standard for determining when English learners should be reclassified as fluent.

Their scores on the California English Language Development Test (CELDT) are one of four factors districts are supposed to use to determine if students should be redesignated. Officials also are supposed to consider teacher evaluation, parent opinion and student performance on the standardized tests all students take in most academic subjects. "The standard for moving them into reclassification is quite high," said Ted Appel, principal of Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento. At his school, 79 percent of English learners tested at the proficient levels on the CELDT last year. But only 3 percent were re-classified as being fluent in English. That's because in order to be reclassified at his school, Appel said, students must also have at least a C in history or science as well as high scores on the standardized math and English tests that are given to all students. Those high standards assure that all students who are reclassified know more than conversational English - they will be prepared to succeed in science, literature and history classes, Appel said.

On the other hand, observers point out, students who are proficient in English but are not being reclassified could be harmed by being held in classes that are too easy. "If they get stuck there, that's really problematic because it means they're not accessing the academic content they need to," said Elisabeth Cutler, an analyst with Education Trust West, an Oakland group that advocates academic achievement for minority and low-income students. Because the state lacks a student identification number that follows students through all their years in school, much remains unknown about California's English learners, Cutler said. For example, the state can't track how many years students spend as English learners before they are reclassified, or how many new students replace them when they advance out of the category.

It is also unclear whether students are being held in the English learner status because they are not ready to advance to mainstream instruction or for other reasons, such as social pressure. Some students may not want to go to mainstream classes because they are embarrassed by their abilities in English, said Patricia Gandara, an education professor at UC Davis.

Appel, the Burbank principal, said his staff is determined that students stay in English learner status only for academic reasons. "We are philosophically working very hard to look at students who have been in the U.S. a number of years and ... move them into mainstream classes and make sure they're receiving appropriate instruction," he said.

It's a challenge schools up and down California must now confront, Gandara said. "Everybody is very concerned about the kids being stuck in a track that is not providing them real opportunities to learn, year after year after year," she said. "This is a real dilemma because the other side of the coin would be bouncing them into the mainstream with teachers who are not trained to give them support."



No freedom of speech, though. The only way to survive if your views are non-Leftist is to shut up about it

Revelations that a University of Delaware research assistant and physics instructor is a leader in the regional white supremacy movement did not change his standing at the university, an institution that values free speech.

Ironically, The News Journal's Feb. 12 article that Robert T. Huber was living a dual life -- one on campus, the other in the white power movement -- brought criticism from a former mentor and creator of the national "Skinhead Hall of Fame." "I've seen it before. There are many who try to keep a job and keep a low profile as far as their political activities are concerned," says Richard Barrett, founder and leader of the white supremacist Nationalist Movement. "It usually doesn't wash. It's very controversial. Maybe he felt he could go it on his own."

The News Journal detailed Huber's association with Final Stand Records, a Newark-based Web site that promotes skinhead concerts, sponsors racist Internet chat rooms and peddles neo-Nazi and racist skinhead music, including CDs by three of Huber's bands. Huber plays lead guitar for the white power metal band Teardown, which has a Web site -- currently under construction-- that can be traced to a Newark post office box shared by Huber, whose former bands include Blue Eyed Devils and Nordic Thunder. In Nordic Thunder's "Born To Hate," the band sings:

A working class man with a gun in my hand
Out on the streets, I'm an angry White man
Pissed at the world and sick of the state
Gotta take action, can't you relate

As long as Huber's music doesn't mix with his course work, his noncampus interests should not count against him, said UD President David P. Roselle and a handful of students interviewed by The News Journal. However, at least one student expressed concern about how minorities might be treated by Huber. "Our best choice is to tolerate him," said Dean Carter, a 19-year-old English major. "Ninety-nine percent of the students won't agree with him. His views are upsetting, and we should support his right to have his opinions. However, his freedom ends where my nose begins."

Huber, 32, has been active in the white power movement since his early teens, when he joined Barrett's skinhead movement. He's a member of the "Skinhead Hall of Fame," a distinction noted on the Web site, though he later broke from Barrett's group and struck out on his own. Huber did not respond to repeated phone and e-mail attempts to contact him during the week. Last month, Huber, along with a Pennsylvania-based racist group called the Keystone State Skinheads, held a rock concert in Middletown, Pa., that drew more than a hundred skinheads and neo-Nazis. It was one of a series of "hatecore" concerts promoted by Final Stand Records. Two days after the concert, Huber was back on UD's Newark campus teaching an introductory physics course to more than 100 students. The course final was held Feb. 4. A student in the class said Huber wore long-sleeves while teaching to conceal his tattoos and never talked about race or politics. Huber warned the class that he listened to "hardcore" music, so if they heard it during office hours they shouldn't be shocked.

Huber isn't teaching this semester, but he continues to study, has an office on campus and conducts research paid for by NASA.

Barrett has known Huber since Huber's early teens and once stayed at his Elkton, Md., home, where they organized a local chapter of Barrett's group. Barrett said Huber should have stayed active with the skinhead movement rather than going "underground" and concealing his beliefs. "He would have made an excellent national skinhead spokesman," Barrett said. "He would have been a compelling-looking, persuasive social reformer. Unfortunately, he has chosen a way that could cause him to be perceived as a cultist" -- which Barrett defined as someone more concerned about their image than white supremacist beliefs.

Barrett, a 63-year-old attorney, works out of his secured compound in Learned, Miss. According to the Anti-Defamation League, he has been successful in attracting violent skinheads to his group and is best known for staging public rallies where counter-demonstrators far outnumber the Klansmen and skinheads who are attracted to his cause. In a report released this month, the ADL outlined how the Internet and hatecore music have combined to increase the number of small racist skinhead groups, such as the Keystone State Skinheads, while national organizations have struggled to maintain membership.

After Sunday's News Journal stories on Huber and racist skinhead culture were published, the photo section of the Final Stand Records Web site, which contained pictures of Huber's concert performances, were restricted to the public. The site also restricted entry to its chat room. The catalog section of the Web site, which has more than 400 racist CDs for sale, remains operational. In interviews with white supremacist magazines, Huber says he started the Web site to have an outlet for his music. Huber answers e-mail sent to the site's contact address, but the site's owner is shielded by a proxy service.

University reaction:

After being told of Huber's activities by The News Journal, Roselle conducted an investigation and consulted with university attorneys and the American Civil Liberties Union. Roselle said Huber's status at the university will not change. "It's the same as before," Roselle said. "The advice is that that is the condition that needs to prevail." Roselle said he has not heard from any students who are worried about Huber's extracurricular activities, but several community members contacted him with concerns. Roselle would not discuss what they said. "It was nothing that would in any way be thought to be surprising," he said.

In a statement issued Thursday evening, Roselle said no complaints had been made against Huber and there was no evidence Huber discussed his beliefs in class. "It is a personal affront when persons with hateful beliefs espouse those beliefs, insist upon their right to make public displays of their beliefs or otherwise attempt to spread their venom," Roselle said in the press release. "But, a fundamental tenet of our nation is that my objection or, as in this case, the university's objection, is not sufficient reason to deny the right of free speech."........

Rabbi Eliezer Sneiderman, the university's on-campus rabbi, hasn't heard complaints from students, but community members have expressed interest and concerns. "He'll finish school. He can't get punished for his thoughts. " Sneiderman said. "He may not get a teaching position again, but if I was in Roselle's position, I would do the same thing -- unless there's a complaint."

More here


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

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

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


Thursday, February 23, 2006

Testing adult authority

The UK government wants to turn teachers into shock troops against kids' bad behaviour. Not surprisingly, teachers aren't too keen

The attempt to reinstate teachers' authority in the classroom and instil a culture of respect among young people by allowing teachers to remove children's iPods seems doomed to failure before it starts. Few teachers seem to want the powers that Tony Blair keeps foisting upon them. Of course, a few newspaper journalists will jump on the bandwagon, calling on the government to get tough on unruly kids, but somehow those with the responsibility for actually caring for young people don't seem very keen to do so.

Schools minister Jacqui Smith announced that the government's new legislation 'will allow schools to punish pupils for unacceptable behaviour on the way to and from school...and ensure pupils are positive ambassadors for schools'. But the prospect of teachers confronting pupils on trains and buses doesn't seem to have caught the public imagination. It certainly does not seem very popular in the staffroom. As one colleague of mine put it, 'I am not confronting anyone'. There seems to be a mismatch between the government's desire for a respectful society and the practicality of instilling authority.

Just stamping your feet and declaring that you should be heard only makes your words jar awkwardly. Smith's insistence that 'A culture of disrespect will not be tolerated' might be a reasonable demand, but it rings hollow in a society that doesn't seem to have the stomach for a fight to reassert adults' authority.

The unions, long champions of the fight against unruly pupils, have gone strangely quiet over the government's agenda. The National Association of Schoolmasters / Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) even suggested that behaviour had already improved on the basis that fewer of its members had declared strikes against teaching unruly pupils. That might just mean teachers are getting on with their job rather than running shy of naughty children.

Nevertheless, the reluctance to jump up and declare support for the government's 'respect' agenda was echoed in a feeble endorsement for the proposed new powers by the Association of School and College Leaders. A survey of its members revealed that only 13 out of 100 thought the measures would significantly improve behaviour. Teachers I have spoken to think the government is raving mad. Ministers seem to expect schools to pick up the pieces in a society that seems to be paralysed to act when it comes to children. The lack of enthusiasm among head teachers for random drugs testing introduced previously by the government seems to bear that sentiment out.

Even suggesting that teachers need a law to allow them to confiscate pupil's possessions in lessons belies the frailty of adults' authority. Surely any teacher worth their salt would just take the offending object and be done with it. Where is the need for the law to intervene? It can only be because teachers fear the consequences of taking action against a child that the government is pressurised into acting. As Steve Sinnott, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), put it, 'Teachers need to be absolutely confident about their authority'. Presumably Sinnott makes this point because teachers singularly lack confidence in their own authority. The problem is, passing a law like this will not shift the balance back in adults' favour.

Of course, if we invite police patrols into the corridors to enforce teachers' demands it might start to impact upon behaviour. But I don't think we have quite got to that stage yet, even in Tony Blair's mind. However, the amount of police patrolling the school gates at the end of the day might tell a different story. It seems that the journey home has become a major political battleground against unruly children. You might be forgiven for thinking it was best to stay indoors at 3.30pm, as hordes of teenagers wearing overly large knotted ties and garish uniforms menace the streets. In fact, you can see why the government is so keen to ban mobile phones and iPods in schools if you consider that the police claim that possessing such items invites street crime.

Of course it is unfortunate that some kids have their possessions nicked, especially when those possessions cost their parents hundreds of pounds. But children having a go at each other at the end of the day is a normal fact of life. Running the gauntlet of the older children is a ritual and part of school. The fact that this now mimics adult crime and that it happens only a stone's throw from the school gates just confirms that youngsters are pretty sure adults won't do anything to intervene. Banning mobile phones and iPods is at base an admission that adults can't do anything to protect young people from each other.

The idea that as a teacher you will patrol buses and tube trains in an attempt to enforce better behaviour on the way home strikes me as absurd. Adults have given up on mass from disciplining youngsters, so it is a bit much to expect teachers to do it for us. Only a week ago it was reported that a teacher claimed damages from Birmingham council after a stranger confronted her in her own classroom. She won the case out of court, with a 330,000 pound settlement. She had not set foot in her classroom for five years, claiming she was traumatised. The response of the council was to say that it would tighten up on risk assessment procedures to protect its staff. But if teachers are reluctant to face the relatives of their charges in the classroom then how on earth are they going to face up to youngsters in public?


The Sydney riots show that multicultural brainwashing in the schools has failed to lead to the "tolerance" that was preached

Cultural diversity is uncritically celebrated in the classroom, while our Anglo-Celtic heritage is thoroughly repudiated, writes Kevin Donnelly

If there is one positive thing to come out of the violence in Cronulla, it will be a long hard look at how schoolchildren are educated about Australian culture and what they are taught about their responsibilities as members of a civil society.

Judged by the age of many of those involved in abusing women, the mob violence at Cronulla beach and the subsequent destruction of personal property, many would have been of school age during the 1980s and '90s. While Al Grassby and Gough Whitlam sowed the seeds, this was a time when governments under the leadership of Malcolm Fraser, Bob Hawke and Paul Keating spent millions on the multicultural industry. With the support of left-liberal academics, teacher unions and curriculum writers, the prevailing orthodoxy uncritically promoted cultural diversity, denigrated or ignored Australia's mainstream Anglo-Celtic tradition and taught children that our society is riddled with racism, inequality and social injustice.

The national Studies of Society and Environment curriculum developed during the Keating years argued that children must be taught "an awareness of and pride in Australia's multicultural society" and "develop an understanding of Australia's cultural and linguistic diversity". The 1993 Australian Education Union's curriculum policy argued that children must be taught that they "are living in a multicultural and class-based society that is diverse and characterised by inequality and social conflict".

Not only was the then academically-based school curriculum, especially in subjects such as history and literature, condemned as Eurocentric, patriarchal and socially unjust, but examinations were seen as favouring rich, white kids and culturally biased against recent migrants. Fast forward to more recent years and little has changed. The 1999 Australian Education Union policy on combating racism argues that government polices "are founded upon a legal system which is inherently racist in so much as its prime purpose is to serve the needs of the dominant Anglo-Australian culture". The AEU also states that racism in Australia is both overt and covert and that "both forms of racism are still widely practised in Australian society", especially as a result of the school curriculum supposedly being based on "the knowledge and values of the Anglo-Australian culture".

Politically correct

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

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

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

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

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

Much of the way history and politics is now taught also centres on the rights of the individual. Instead of emphasising responsibilities and giving allegiance to what we hold in common, individuals are free to define themselves how they will and to act as they wish.

By defining Australian society as socially unjust and divisive there is also the danger of promoting a victim mentality. Whereas past generations felt part of a wider community and believed that hard work would be rewarded, recent generations see only inequality and their right to be supported.

Nobody should condone the violence in Cronulla perpetrated by those wearing the Australian flag or the actions of young Lebanese Muslims abusing women, destroying property and burning churches. But we also need to recognise that the PC approach to teaching multiculturalism in schools in part underpins the recent violence.

As the American liberal historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr has argued: "The militants of ethnicity now contend that the main objective of public education should be the protection, strengthening, celebration and perpetuation of ethnic origins and identities. Separatism, however, nourishes prejudice, magnifies differences and stirs antagonisms."



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

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

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


Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Math is a killer. There's no way around it. If anything can torpedo the hopes of the 120 high school students in Ernest Davenport's 11-week ACT/SAT prep class, it's the math on those college entrance exams. It's hard, and it's nearly impossible without taking the classes in high school to prepare you. Yet most of the teens sitting in Davenport's free class, nearly all students of color from the Twin Cities, will take the exams in April without having finished advanced algebra or geometry. It's an incredible handicap, like putting a novice on skis, shoving him down a double-diamond run, and then wondering why he keeps falling.

Minnesota needs more students of color to succeed in college. Minority high school student numbers will jump in the next decade while the number of white graduates falls, so the state's future depends increasingly on their success. High-level math is key. National research shows a student who finishes a course beyond Algebra II more than doubles the odds she'll earn a bachelor's degree. But many high school students never get to Algebra II.

Davenport has a few weeks to try to prepare the students, but all that math can't be learned over a few Saturdays. The practice tests that students took on the first day of the prep class in mid-January reflect that. Davenport makes his tests a little harder than the real ACT. Still, most of the prep-class students could correctly answer only three of 15 questions during a timed exam.

Why didn't they take algebra sooner? Did they worry about doing poorly? Was it because their friends wouldn't be there or they didn't get a push from family or counselors? Were the classes available? The questions linger with no single answer. These are highly motivated, capable students who perhaps didn't get the right guidance about what courses to take or advice on how hard they needed to push.....

Preparation is a huge issue, one that students of color realize perhaps more than the public. Last week, the nonpartisan group Public Agenda released national surveys showing minority high school students were more likely than whites to call math and science "absolutely essential" for real-world success but also were more likely than white students (31 percent vs. 20 percent) to say that not being taught enough math and science is a "serious problem" at their school.

Minnesota's average ACT scores always look great. Yet the state ranks low in the total number of high school students who take any math, let alone advanced math. "If you were a kid in a college-bound program and you came from a family that had the means and wherewithal to have high expectations for you, you were probably going to come out OK," said Bill Linder-Scholer former director of SciMathMN, a public-private group that encourages more math and science in Minnesota schools. "If you weren't in that situation, there were lower education expectations. Whether that was family, schools, teachers, certainly the system had lower expectations. "All the college-bound kids took three, four years of math and science. If you didn't know what you wanted to do, the expectations were clearly much lower," he said. "It's difficult to talk about without getting into very difficult social issues and even race issues."

When the Minnesota Office of Higher Education analyzed data on those who took the ACT last year, it found only 16 percent of black students, 29 percent of American Indian teens, 35 percent of Latino and 40 percent of Asian students were ready for college algebra based on their math scores, compared with 55 percent for whites.

The reality is that the seeds of these differences are sown before high school. The 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the nation's report card, found some of the nation's worst test score gaps in Minnesota when it came to eighth-graders and math. Right now less than 5 percent of students of color earn a bachelor's degree from a Minnesota college within 10 years of their freshman year in high school, a recent Citizens League report noted. Many won't graduate from high school at all....

More here

The British Left has retained its remarkable powers of self-delusion

Mick Hume on the Left's hatred of selective schools

In normal circumstances I would agree that few politicians are more deserving of being booed to the rafters than Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary. However, the Labour activists who booed Ms Kelly during their spring party conference, in protest at the Government's refusal to abolish the last grammar schools, are the ones who need egging off. For many in the Labour Party, it seems, schools that still select using the 11-plus have become the new foxhunters. It is quite an achievement, but their crusade against the grammars makes even less sense than the one to ban hunting.

I am an ex-grammar school boy, yet still consider myself on the Left (not something I learnt at my 1970s Surrey boys' grammar). If we were designing an education system from scratch, I probably would not propose including 164 English grammar schools. But who is supposed to benefit from getting rid of these few academically successful schools now? How exactly is abolishing a relative handful of good schools supposed to improve the bad ones?

Forty years ago the drive to replace academic selection with comprehensive education was motivated by a genuine, if idealistic, belief that all children might experience the quality schooling then enjoyed by a few. By contrast, the grudge campaign against the remaining grammars seems infused with a mean spirit of levelling down. Neither the existence of these grammar schools nor their abolition will make the world more equal. We should stop investing our hopes in education as a panacea for society's ills. But we should want to make an updated version of the non-vocational, mind-broadening education some of us received at grammar school available to all children - not as a tool for social mobility or social inclusion, but as a desirable end in itself.

Instead, despite the boos, the Government supports the anti-grammar activists in spirit. Indeed, until recently it supported them in public, dangling the prospect of abolition before the disaffected Left just as it did with the hunting ban. The only difference now, as Tony Blair makes clear, is that new Labour does not want "a war" over grammars with parents who have voted against abolition at every opportunity. However, the Government's other reforms will continue the drift away from academic education towards using schools as instruments of social engineering and control.

Those last few grammars are talked about as symbols of educational malaise. For me, a more telling symbol is what happened to Woking County Grammar School for Boys after we left: they turned the old stone building into a shiny police fortress.

SO WHAT can it mean to be left wing now? The question occurred to this old libertarian Marxist more than once this week: when the petty, illiberal ban on smoking in public was hailed as a victory for progressive forces (Liberte, Egalite - defense de fumer?), and when Gordon Brown made his big pre-prime ministerial speech.

Whatever else it has lost over the years, the British Left has retained its unsurpassed powers of self-delusion. The last illusion it clung to was that, once in power, Mr Brown would throw off the mask and emerge as the true face of "Real Labour". Now the Chancellor has spelt out not only that he would govern with the penny-pinching mindset of a Presbyterian accountant, but also that when it came to ruling via the politics of fear and turning every government department into "a department of security" he would be - wait for it - worse than Mr Blair. If Labour's 1983 manifesto, written at the Left's peak, was "the longest suicide note in history", Mr Brown's address sounded like a 9,000-word living will for the terminally ill Labour Left.

Dumb university teachers

This example from Australia

A university graduate student abandoned the institution in frustration after a marking fiasco during which a lecturer told him to produce "more smarter writing". Former Queensland University of Technology Master of Business Marketing student Rohan Duggan, 38, said his nine-month ordeal included seven meetings and hundreds of pages of correspondence, some farcical. The original marking of a 2000-word paper included a comment from lecturer Edwina Luck advising Mr Duggan to present "more smarter writing".

After Ms Luck graded the paper at 65 per cent, Mr Duggan questioned the grade and Ms Luck passed it to another staffer, Dr Yunus Ali, who downgraded it to 35 per cent. In re-marking, Dr Ali questioned the use of the terms "Yin" and "Yang", a Chinese concept of balance, and said they should have been listed as references in the bibliography (a list of the books used as reference material). Yesterday, Dr Ali admitted he had "no idea" what the terms meant and thought they were references to people's names. "We don't go into the deeper meaning," he said.

In response to further queries, Ms Luck sent Mr Duggan a short e-mail which, because her "s" key was not functioning, read as: "I knew you would be di appointed, o what I have done i taken the middle ground. I am uppo ed to take the econd mark, but I did not want to kill you that much. I do hope that you have learned from thi . Not the point of a king for explanation, but that we a lecturer are not totally illy!! Academic writing i difficult. I hope all our comment can be helpful in the future. Edwina."

Mr Duggan then took his complaint to higher authorities and his original mark was restored. Mr Duggan said the restored mark helped him achieve a distinction in the subject, although when he learned that Dr Ali would have been teaching him in second year he decided to go elsewhere and has now completed a Master of Marketing Managing degree at Griffith University.

QUT registrar Dr Carol Dickenson and Business Dean Professor Peter Little said that both Ms Luck and Dr Ali had been reprimanded and made to attend a seminar on Learning and Teaching Issues. They agreed their conduct was "obviously unacceptable". Professor Little said if due process had been applied, Ms Luck would have given the assignment to her (Luck's) head of department who would have selected a staff member himself to do the re-marking. He insisted Dr Ali was "very well qualified academically". [No evidence to the contrary is allowed, obviously]



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, February 21, 2006


For those who believe that Rob Reiner's initiative to create a government-run preschool program for all four-year-olds is a slam-dunk for passage in June, think again. True, preschool seems like a warm and fuzzy issue. However, Reiner's proposed preschool program, which would be funded by a tax increase on high-income earners, is so replete with problems that it offers a vast array of targets for critics. And, it is important to point out, those critics are not just limited to limited-government conservatives.

For instance, one of Reiner's toughest opponents has been the Los Angeles Times. Last year, when Reiner first proposed his initiative, a Times editorial skewered the initiative. The Times slammed the concept of taxing the rich to fund specific programs: [In November 2004], voters approved a poorly thought-out measure to tax million-dollar earners to fund mental health programs. The line of good causes calling out for tax on the rich will only get longer. Citing the continuing structural deficit in the state budget and the cost of Reiner's initiative, the Times observed, The last thing California needs right now is to raise another huge sum of money -- $2.3 billion a year to start that can't be used to close existing gaps. Warning against ballot-box budgeting, the Times thundered: Let's repeat: The voting booth isn't the place to draw up the state budget.

The Times attack on the Reiner initiative has continued. Earlier this month, Michael Hiltzik, the papers usually liberal business columnist, described the initiative as another attempt at ballot-box budgeting featuring misleading PR and misguided pied-piper appeal. Hiltzik then ripped the RAND Corporation study, which has become the bible of Reiner's campaign, that claims that for every $1 spent on preschool, society will get back $2.62 in long-term benefits such as better student performance and lower crime.

Hiltzik notes that RAND's calculations are based on a Chicago program aimed at black children in that city's poorest neighborhoods. Although the study's main author says that the Chicago program is the most relevant for comparison purposes with Reiner's envisioned California program, Hiltzik notes that the two programs are hardly identical. The Chicago program provides health screening, speech therapy services, meals, home visits and continual and intensive parental involvement efforts. None of these elements, observes Hiltzik, is specifically funded by the Reiner initiative.

Further, whereas the estimates of the benefits of the Chicago program are based on tracking students for decades, the estimates of the benefits of a California program are, in Hiltzik's words, an extrapolation applied to a program that doesn't yet exist. Thus, RAND's benefit claims should be seen as a projection, not a measurement.

The Times, however, is not the only unlikely home of Reiner skeptics. Academics at the University of California have issued studies that have undercut key arguments of the Reiner campaign. In January, UC Santa Barbara researchers found that whatever student achievement gains can be attributed to preschool attendance largely evaporates after a few years in elementary school. Because of this fade-out effect, the researchers question the long-term impact of preschool: Yet because the achievement impact of preschool appears to diminish during the first four years of school, while the achievement gap especially for Spanish-dominant language minority students increases, preschool alone may have limited use as a long-term strategy for improving the achievement gap without strengthening the schools these students attend or without additional support during the school years. In other words, unless California?s under-performing public K-12 system improves, don't expect preschool to produce all those long-term benefits that Reiner claims.

Reiner and his campaign try to dismiss such evidence by arguing that unlike many current preschool programs, their initiative will guarantee "high-quality preschool." Key to their definition of "high-quality" is the initiative's requirement that all preschool teachers must have a bachelor's degree and a post-bachelor's teaching credential in early childhood education. Yet, there is a great deal of data to suggest that a four-year degree and a special teaching credential have little, if any, effect on student achievement.

UC Berkeley professor Bruce Fuller, who has battled conservatives over school choice issues, and two fellow researchers issued a study last year that examined the research on teacher education and preschool. What they found was that many of the studies claiming to show a connection between teachers holding bachelor's degrees and better student performance were statistically and methodologically flawed. Thus, they concluded, Claims that a Bachelor's degree further advances child development simply cannot be substantiated by studies conducted to date. In addition, given the higher salaries that will have to be paid to preschool teachers under the Reiner initiative, To pay-out higher reimbursement rates based on the number of BA-credentialed teachers will be costly and may not yield significant benefits to children.

Finally, even Georgetown University professor William Gormley, who supports universal preschool and whose research on Oklahoma's universal preschool program is often cited by the Reiner campaign, admits that, A universal pre-K program may or may not be the best path to school readiness. This acknowledgement is probably due to the fact that in Gormley's own studies of the Oklahoma program, there is inconsistent evidence as to whether universal preschool helps improve the short-term performance of middle and upper-income children. And, indeed, there is no long-term evidence that preschool helps non-disadvantaged children a fact that undercuts the entire basis for a universal program.

Given the opposition of key elements of the major mainstream media and academia, plus the gaping holes in the evidence supporting a universal preschool program, Reiner's initiative is vulnerable. The recent Public Policy Institute of California poll that found 63 percent of Californians support the Reiner initiative may be flawed because poll respondents were read only a concept description of the initiative rather than the official title and summary. In other surveys, much lower levels of support were recorded when the official title and summary were read to respondents. Even if the 63 percent is accurate, however, it is a relatively low level of support given the warm fuzziness of the issue and the media ad campaign that has already started in support of preschool for all children.

Exposing the initiative's inherent problems will certainly cause a great deal of doubt, if not outright opposition, from many of those who now think the initiative sounds good. Thus, a determined, informed, substantive and adequately funded campaign against the initiative stands a good chance of succeeding.


Williams Does Diversity

A rather restrained post (in the circumstances) lifted from the NAS

K.C. Johnson, Brooklyn College—CUNY

On EphBlog, I've been following the debate at my former institution, Williams College, which is in the process of launching a new "diversity" initiative. This is "diversity" defined very narrowly: as college president Morton Shapiro explained, ideological or even religious diversity "are considered to be a characteristic that is acquired rather than intrinsic," so this initiative will focus exclusively on race. Among the initiative's chief recommendations: "Continue to allocate FTE to curricular areas in which we are likely to attract minority candidates." In other words, the skin color of the likely applicant pool will play as important, or even more important, a role as curricular or pedagogical need in allocating new lines. This is a disconcerting revelation.

For an outside perspective on faculty issues, the college turned to Professor Evelyn Hu-DeHart director of Brown's Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity. Hu-DeHart last published a scholarly monograph in 1984; since then, she seems to have devoted herself almost full-time to administrative tasks geared toward championing a peculiar vision of higher education. Hu-DeHart seems to believe that on issues associated with "diversity," people of good faith cannot disagree. Scholarly critics of the diversity agenda, she has contended "provided cover for white supremacists to oppose affirmative action," while subjecting African-American and Hispanic students to "oppressive public scrutiny" and "extremely harsh attacks." And what typified this "oppressive" activity? Publication of Stephan and Abigail Thernstrom's America in Black and White: One Nation, Indivisible. In Hu-DeHart's academy, apparently even scholars of the prestige and talent of the Thernstroms cannot explore issues related to race and ethnicity in America unless they affirm Hu-DeHart's conclusions.

While Hu-DeHart has absurdly labeled scholarship questioning some of the foundations for affirmative action as an "extremely harsh" attack on students of color, she herself has demonstrated a tendency to issue blanket statements based on race or ethnicity calling into question her ability to envision a campus in which all students can do their best. To provide one example: in fall 2005, talking with students at Wesleyan College, Professor Hu-DeHart wondered why more people didn't question the objectivity of "all these dominant white professors [who] are studying European history or the [history of] white Europe." Can a scholar's objectivity be questioned solely on the basis of the color of his or her skin? Imagine the (appropriate) outrage if a white professor leveled such a condemnation of "all these minority black professors who are studying African history or the history of black Africa."

On curricular matters, Hu-DeHart has championed the Curriculum Transformation Project -- an initiative that seems to have more to do with imposing a specific ideological perspective on all classes rather than on "diversity" as commonly understood. The CTP's "curriculumt [sic] transformation" website urges colleges to utilize "the classroom as democratic space in which students can dialogue about and practice new ways of relating across race, class, and gender." (An education in the traditional disciplines of the liberal arts, apparently, does not allow for a sufficiently "diverse" perspective.) The CTB's first "resource" is a guide to "teaching about Hurricane Katrina," developed by the New York Collective of Radical Educators. The site urges professors to focus on how Katrina illustrates "the criminalization of poor people of color"; "the capitalist interests that govern public policy"; "militarism"; and "consumerism and related environmental degradation." Such analysis was last fresh around 1969.

These curricular proposals all revolve around what Professor Hu-DeHart terms the "social action approach," in which courses identify "important social issues and take actions to help solve them." This concept, she maintains, is "central to the values of a liberal arts education." Literally and theoretically, though never in practice, Williams could define a number of causes as "important social issues," and "take actions to help solve them." Perhaps the diversity curriculum could champion Israel's right to self-defense, so as to defend innocent civilians against suicide murderers; or celebrate a Roman Catholic anti-abortion initiative, so as to promote justice by preventing the destruction of innocent life; or oppose affirmative action, so as to achieve a socially just, color-blind, legal code. We all know, of course, that Professor Hu-DeHart does not have such initiatives in mind.

These ideas, while extreme even among "diversity" advocates, might not distinguish Hu-DeHart from the roster of consultants from which a college might choose when seeking to embrace the "diversity" approach. But Hu-DeHart also has an administrative record of translating her ideas into action. Before coming to Brown, she chaired Colorado's ethnic studies department for more than a decade. Her highest-profile hire was none other than Ward Churchill. Indeed, in April 2005, Hu-DeHart described Churchill as "her hire." Most observers consider the hiring, early tenuring, and finally promotion of Churchill, who lacked a Ph.D. and has faced credible charges of massive plagiarism, weak scholarship, and lying about his ethnic heritage, as an example of exactly how institutions of higher education ought not to function.

Moreover, Hu-DeHart has been less than candid about the relationship between her "diversity" ideas and Churchill's career. To a reporter at Brown, she claimed that no special considerations relating to "diversity" helped Churchill get his job. But this assertion that was directly contradicted by internal documents recently released by Colorado, which showed that the then-chair of the Communications Department, which originally hired Churchill, listed two reasons for doing so: Hu-DeHart's request, and how Churchill's claim that he was a "Native American" would improve the department's diversity. Ironically, one of Hu-DeHart's final acts before leaving her department chairmanship at Colorado in 2002 was to put in motion the first of four merit-pay raises that Churchill received between 2001 and 2005.

I would think that a figure who played the key role in rewarding Churchill with a lifetime position would not be in a position to supply guidance on academic policy to other institutions.


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, February 20, 2006


From a teacher with an academic psychology background:

"I would like to enumerate a few observations I have made as this stealth social anthropologist, teaching in the science classrooms of a ****** middle school:

1- The black child (largely referring to males here) is highly driven by "rules of the 'gangsta' (read: black gangster) culture". A 'gangsta' is a label a white such as a teacher like me cannot apply to any black child, because it is almost a devilish notoriety that the child considers to be an insult. However, at the same time, they tacitly attempt to reach a kind of 'gangsta stature' among peers. Such a stature means you are viewed as exceedingly tough.

2- Toughness is the ultimate attainment. At the same time, I have heard no informal accolades bestowed upon others in the peer group to reflect this high status. At the same time, those determined to be weak or vulnerable are labeled "soft". Another title deserves mention. A friend among peers is called "my niggah". A black female student who apparently has some degree of admiration for me saw me in the halls one day and gave me the ultimate compliment by saying "Hi, my niggah." Sociologically, I would imagine that "my niggah" is the bond between those who perceive themselves to be oppressed or those who seem to acknowledge empathy/sympathy, some alignment with them. However, as you might imagine, it is absolutely taboo for a white teacher to call any black student "niggah" or "my niggah". In fact, the students often cite in the middle of verbal attacks on one another the prohibition for any teacher to say "damn, hell, you stupid, you jerk" or other such relatively benign name calling. A few times, I have let words slip out that warrant immediate red flags by students often in the middle of calling each other four letter words, or more often simply calling one another bitch, "ho", garbage or stupid "niggah".

3- The toughness battle is waged via verbal wars and physical encounters. This is often between the sexes, although a black girl is in my view quietly understood to be popular or in some way successful by being a frequent target of abuse and attacking back in some way physically or verbally. Most common content of attacks from males to females include: 1) You are "a ho", 2) Your "momma is a ho" 3) You're "very poor and I'm not" and 4) Brief sexual grabbings or whispered sexual insults only from boy to girl, not the other way around.. I'm usually not able to see the grabbing or hear the insults, but what I do see is a young black girl running after a black boy in the class slapping him.

4- I have seen a few real punches thrown between boy and girl, and a few between girls, but the most common physical encounter one sees is between boys, that is, in the vast majority of times a kind of rough-housing involving head locks, wrestling and punching in the mid- section. Usually there is mock anger. Rarely there is squaring off in serious sparring. This kind of fighting is extremely common and involves 90% of the boys in any one classroom, particularly in the low end of the IQ spectrum. There is also a Hollywood Western kind of simulation to the jousting, with make believe landed punches, but no shortage of real tackling and then stomping on the tackled one by several at once, as hunters over a nearly killed fallen deer. This is classroom behavior mind you. When I have tried to break up fights by simply pulling on a child's clothing, I am immediately cited for doing a proscribed act by the child. The child may be in the throes of being beaten up, in one case being thrown by several into a large garbage can, but when I made an attempt to intervene by trying to lift the child out of the can, he yelled at me "Don't touch me. Don't touch me. You can't touch me."

5- Aspersions boy to boy over each other's sexual prowess are very common. This kind of ranking is coupled with a frequent attempt to self-aggrandize one's status vis a vis the girls in the class. However, when I enter the fray with "I would agree, Wally here is no real object of any girl's affection", I am ignored by the same girls who had just laughed their head off at him. Wally, I might add, is a class clown and rabble rouser who actually enjoys some degree of begrudged popularity. Again, this is by way of simply being involved in many interactions with many different children in the class, rather than ever hearing any one boy or girl say anything nice about him.

6- I have seen many different white, hispanic and black children in various secondary school settings where I have taught here in *****, often as a substitute teacher. Since November, I have been a regular science teacher at the middle school I refer to in the above comments. It is 95% black, with the rest a smattering of white, Asian and Hispanic. What is very overwhelming to me is the racial difference in the degree of fighting, particularly physical fighting noted compared to non-black classroom settings. (In other schools dominated by blacks, in the case of my experience poor blacks such as my present location, there is again a culture of heavy physical fighting.) What is very intriguing to me is the answer to the question you have pondered through a great body of research, "To what degree is this physicality purely genetic?""


My correspondent adds further:

"I can use no legal physical force to stop fighting, a problem complicated by savvy students who cry the equivalent of "white brutality" or "racism" should I lay a finger on them.

I wish I could legally have a hidden camera in the room to show the magnitude of the fighting, and the associated sexual themes so dominant in the classroom. The male bear hugging of one another is almost homosexual in appearance. But there are few if any outwardly homosexual children. Such hugging of females if usually transient, then broken up by me verbally- usually the girl will follow orders; students are much less inclined to give intimate holds to the opposite sex in the classroom.(it's initiated only by boys). And female to female fighting is far less common than the most common interaction-male to male, with male to female holding solidly in second place.

The other day, I brought in a whistle to try and stem the incessant talking and yelling to one another. One student accused me of using it as if to quiet animals. I had no comment.

There are often other "tribal activities"- spontaneous singing of rap songs from artists heard on the radio and hair grooming- usually by girls to other girls but at times girls work on the hair of boys. There are also frequent bursts of group hip hop type dance and at other times spontaneous "drop a beat" sessions, during which one student will drum on a desk, while another raps improvisationally as others gather round nodding or saying the equivalent of periodic "amens"."

California bureaucrat puts unions ahead of schools

One example of where all California's "education" money goes. Cheaper construction costs not allowed. And the unions are now trying to get via a legal interpretation what they could not get via direct legislation

Attorney General Bill Lockyer is forbidding one school district from piggybacking on a second district's contract to buy modular classrooms and install them without seeking separate public bids. Lockyer's recent legal opinion may impose 90-day delays and up to $25 million in extra costs on cash-strapped school districts, said Mike Henning, a board member with the School Facility Manufacturers' Association, a Sacramento-based group that represents a dozen modular building makers. Districts aren't happy, said Thomas G. Duffy, legislative director and lobbyist for the California Coalition for Adequate School Housing. "They'll have to change what they're doing."

California school district administrators have used contract piggybacking for years to skip costly and time-consuming state rules that require them to seek competitive bids. One district uses another's competitive bid contract to quickly add classroom space - perhaps at a volume discount - and ease overcrowding amid enrollment surges. Modular facility builders often win such contracts, angering unionized construction firms and their workers who complain modular structures deny them a chance to bid on school projects.

Lockyer's opinion affects projects where several modular building components (wall and floor systems) are transported to a school and installed on a permanent foundation, not factory-built portable or relocatable classrooms delivered in two pieces and placed on temporary foundations. The opinion does not define what is meant by permanent foundation.

Kirtus Doupnik, co-owner of Gary Doupnik Manufacturing Inc., a Loomis-based family business that makes modular school buildings and other structures, said the opinion appears to favor conventional construction companies. "This could hurt 50 percent of my business, depending on how it plays out," said Doupnik, adding that lawyers are arguing what "permanent foundation" means. Doupnik is concerned the opinion might affect a deal he is discussing with Gilroy Unified School District in Monterey County for the purchase of two modular buildings and the lease of three more.

The California State Building & Construction Trades Council, which represents labor unions engaged in more conventional school construction, has endorsed Lockyer's campaign for state treasurer. Lockyer spokesman Tom Dresslar said Justice Department lawyers research and write opinions and are not influenced by campaign endorsements.

Last fall, Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a Senate bill that tried to resolve the dispute between advocates of modular and traditional school construction, saying restrictions on contract piggybacking would cause delays and cost overruns.


Union rhetoric drives Australian parents from public schools

The community wants its own values taught to children, not necessarily those of teachers, writes Kevin Donnelly

Much of the education debate focuses on issues such as resources, standards and accountability and the respective quality and standing of government and non-government schools. Equally important, evidenced by the way politically correct teacher unions, professional associations and teacher academics define education as a key instrument in reshaping society, is the way the education system is used to promote a one-sided view of society. While it is wrong to say that education should be values-neutral, the traditional approach is one that sees education as impartial and balanced. Education is not indoctrination, and social engineering should not be confused with critical inquiry and searching for the truth.

On reading the 2005 and 2006 Australian Education Union annual general meeting speeches by the union's federal president Pat Byrne, it is clear she is in no doubt on the need to promote certain values and the union's right to shape the social debate and the work of schools. Byrne's 2006 speech attacks what she sees as a federally inspired, backward-looking education agenda, the Government's industrial relations policy and human rights record, the Prime Minister's response to the Cronulla riots, the Government's anti-terrorism legislation and what she sees as its conservative response to the availability of the abortion pill RU-486. Byrne describes 2006 as "the greatest period of social and political change since Australia's federation" and believes the AEU has a special role in influencing Australia's education system and how we define ourselves as a nation. She states: "The Australian union movement has a track record of over 100 years of shaping the very values that we regard as quintessentially Australian" and argues teacher unionists "need to continue to speak out, to fill the growing vacuum in thoughtful public discourse on issues of social justice and human rights".

Byrne's 2005 speech also places the union centre stage in the battle of ideas, when she states: "Through well articulated policies, courage, commitment and campaigning over more than a century, we have significantly influenced the way our society functions." In addition to arguing that unions best reflect Australian values, Byrne also contends, as a result of upholding values such as "empathy, responsibility, protection, fairness, fulfilment, freedom, honesty, trust, co-operation, strength, community", the AEU is the true guardian of the public education system.

Wrong on both accounts. Instead of reflecting mainstream opinions, the AEU, according to Byrne's own admission, champions a left-wing view of the world enmeshed in the culture wars against conservative values. In bemoaning the re-election of the Howard, Bush and Blair governments, the AEU president admits: "This is not a good time to be progressive in Australia; or for that matter anywhere else in the world." Anyone familiar with AEU policies will know the teacher union, along with other cultural elite groups such as the ABC, teacher academics and assorted artists and intellectuals, consistently attacks Australian society as socially unjust and champions a range of left-wing causes.

The union also argues that Australian society is riven with "inequality and social conflict" and that education, instead of representing a ladder of opportunity, reinforces privilege and meritocracy. The result? Given the union's commitment to overthrowing the status quo, the school curriculum is no longer impartial or balanced since teachers are asked to embrace a politically correct approach in areas such as gender, ethnicity and class.

Traditional academic studies, a belief in competition and the right of parents to choose non-government schools are all attacked by the AEU as simply ways by which the more privileged in society are able to maintain power and prestige. Equally as facile as the AEU's argument that it best represents mainstream values is Byrne's argument that the union is the guardian of the public education system. Instead of strengthening the government system, the union has been instrumental in causing the move to non-government schools.

By imposing a politically correct curriculum, in opposition to one with a strong academic focus, by adopting feel-good student reports where all are winners and by failing to hold teachers accountable for performance, the AEU undermines confidence in government schools. By becoming politically active in its support for the ALP, by aligning itself with the trade union movement and by refusing to free government schools from provider capture, the AEU also shows that it cares more about politics than it does about education.

Evidence that the AEU's approach to education is counterproductive is found in a survey carried out by Irving Saulwick and Associates. On being asked why they chose non-government schools, "respondents talked about the reduction, as they saw it, in educational standards -- a lack of rigour in teaching the 'three Rs', a lack of discipline and respect in schools, and poor teaching. "They did not think that all state-employed teachers were poor teachers. Far from it. But many did think that they were teaching under difficult conditions, and that some, who were poor teachers, could not be dismissed."

After reviewing NSW government schools, Tony Vinson, a defender of the public system, reaches a similar conclusion: "Some parents expressed doubts about the environment of such schools, the handling of unsatisfactory teachers, and whether sufficient emphasis is placed upon students' acquisition of good values." If Byrne and the AEU were serious about strengthening government schools, the way forward, as in the US and England, is with innovations such as charter schools and vouchers. Empowering local communities by allowing parents to establish charter schools improves standards and builds the types of values embedded in social capital.



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, February 19, 2006

Higher Learning, a Tutorial

Quick quiz: Is the cost of a college education worth it? (No.) Is there an alternative? (Yes.)

Let's say that you're the parent of a high-school senior who has finally sent off all her college applications. (Feb. 1 is about the last deadline.) The fog of stress has lifted, and a sense of normalcy has returned to family dinners. Now it's time to check your savings account. If your daughter or son is accepted at one of the 10 most expensive schools in the country--George Washington University, say, or Kenyon College--then your tuition bill will be more than $33,000, a figure that doesn't include room, board, books and fees, which can total about $12,000 more a year. If little Madison is bound for the University of Wisconsin at Madison, you'll fare better, but even state-college tuition can be rough: The University of Massachusetts, for example, costs about $14,000 a year, including room and board, if you're a state resident and much more if you're not.

There are federal loans and grants, of course. And private schools often provide financial aid to half of their students, a kind of capitalism/socialism hybrid according to which the families with money subsidize those without (the Swedes like this sort of thing). But even so, higher education has to be considered one of America's greatest market failures: absurdly expensive, with little price competition, tuitions increasing ahead of inflation and no good gauge to measure quality. After all, Cornell might be worth $30,000 a year, but is La Verne University, in La Verne, Calif., worth $22,800, not counting room and board?

If any industry is crying out for new models--for a little Yankee ingenuity--it's higher ed. Other models do, of course, exist. They are cheaper, more efficient, lower-frills, but none of them seems likely to work in the U.S. A brief survey of these competing versions suggests that Brown, Vanderbilt and Ohio State have little to worry about. Take the "Wikiversity" (please). It's a movement spun off Wikipedia, the open-source online encyclopedia whose software allows users to build, maintain and edit new entries. There are now Wikipedia entries for everything from Luke Skywalker to the Gospel According to Luke--over 950,000 entries in English, according to the site, with more than one million more in languages like French and German. True to the open-source movement, the Wikiversity is a never-ending, user-generated online compendium of syllabi, primary sources and even courses taught by volunteer faculty.

The Wikiversity will sound familiar to anyone who remembers the "open university" movement of the 1960s, which emphasized open admissions and distance learning, just as the Wikiversity does. But whereas Britain's Open University, for example, has no admission requirements, it does seek out talented, well-trained faculty, which it hires and pays. Very few courses have been posted so far at Wikiversity, but the early signs are not encouraging: The "head" of creative writing is a 23-year-old whose own poems contain lines like: "Desire is an acid soaked wand."

At first glance, the Wikiversity looks similar to the online universities that already exist, like the University of Phoenix. Founded in 1976, Phoenix bills itself as "the largest private university in the United States." Phoenix, which is for-profit, has dozens of campuses, but the majority of its 315,000 students learn by computer. There is something to be said for this model. It's cheap: The Philadelphia campus charges $10,800 for a full-year online course load. The many campuses and online options do serve working men and women, parents and others who can't carve out time to go back to school in the traditional sense. And the online student is not distracted by fraternity initiates wearing silly beanies, freshman sex ed, sensitivity training or weekend kegstands.

But for such an education to be worth the money, the professors have to be good, and with a faculty of many thousands, most of whom never meet each other, quality control must be quite the challenge. I might hire a secretary with an online degree, but I don't want my nurse to have received her master's over the Internet.

So if you conclude that the best learning is done face-to-face, and that some subjects--foreign languages, laboratory science, physical therapy--can't be taught without human contact, then are we condemned to $30,000 tuitions? Not necessarily; you have a few other options. If you're willing to forgo intercollegiate sports, fancy dorms and the senior class dance, you could attend any number of European state-funded universities that rival ours in intellectual quality and cost far less. And hey, if you're really willing to scale down on certain frills of college social life, remember that the Roman Catholic Church will happily pay for the education of seminary students headed for the priesthood.

But I have a better solution, one that's even more radical but allows you to stay in your American suburb, work within the old-fashioned American free market and avoid religious vows. How about banding together with some other students to hire tutors? There are thousands of under-employed Ph.D.s in America who could be paid to offer college-level courses in your living room. If 10 students banded together and put up $10,000 each--students who, say, couldn't care less about football, don't need a Women's Center and have no urge to join Delta Delta Delta--they could hire two high-end intellectuals, pay them $50,000 each and get personal instruction.

The learning might well be more intense than the usual lazy college classroom, the demands more concentrated, the instruction more neatly tailored to the abilities and needs of each student. Many a doctorate-owner has overlapping areas of expertise. Tutor A could teach, for instance, religion, history and politics in the mornings, while Tutor B could teach law, literature and grammar in the afternoons. Actual essay tests would be possible with such a small group; papers too: No longer would the teacher feel the need to avoid writing requirements lest he be stuck, for hours on end, having to read the bad student prose of, say, a huge survey course.

For research, students could use the public library or buy short-term passes to university research libraries. For fun, the class could read novels, play pickup basketball at the public park or, on snowy days, watch cable TV--the Learning Channel, of course. Speaking of which, my cable costs $40 a month, a lot cheaper than what most colleges charge their captive dorm residents--yet another reason to abjure the overpriced American university.

Americans like their churches big, their servings of Coke big, their universities big. But in schooling, big has become unbearably expensive. We may as well try returning to the small: a teacher, some students, some books. Such an arrangement used to be reserved for the wealthy aristocracy in ancient Greece or Enlightenment France, but now it would actually result in a much lower tuition bill for the middle-class American family. As a postmodern Marxist tutor might be the first to tell you, you have nothing to lose but your debt, and you have a world to win.



(AB 606 is a draft law presently before the California legislature)

It's no surprise that liberals in the California legislature are continuing their efforts this year to convert our public schools into indoctrination camps where young, impressionable minds are manipulated to fit nicely into the liberal mold. Our schools have ceased to teach children HOW to think and instead teach them WHAT to think.

It is becoming increasingly more difficult for parents, especially conservative, religious parents, to safeguard the hearts and minds of their children enrolled in the public school system. Young children are being told that they should embrace thoughts and ideas that directly conflict with what they are taught in the home. Public schools are no longer partnering with parents in the goal of teaching children concrete academics. Instead, they are becoming institutions that generally consider parents as the adversary. Conservative parents stand in the way of children becoming leftist soldiers, a new generation of activists who can carry the banner of ultra-liberal causes.

AB 606 (D-Levine, Van Nuys) is the most recent and most outrageous example of the liberal agenda for our public school children. AB 606 was amended in late January to require broad-sweeping changes to indoctrinate school children concerning homosexual, bisexuality and transsexuality. As amended, it would require California school districts to take specified actions to increase awareness and prevent incidences of discrimination and harassment based on actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender. It would also encourage curriculum read by young school children to contain information on accepting and embracing these various forms of sexuality. If a school district fails to comply with the provisions in AB 606, the state superintendent has carte blanche discretion to withhold state-funding from that school district. Although the stated goal of AB 606 is to prevent "violence," the real goal is to teach children to accept and celebrate different versions of sexuality.

In order for you to understand exactly how disastrous AB 606 really is, you need to know a little background information. AB 606 builds on AB 537, the California Student Safety and Violence Prevention Act of 2000 (SSVPA). AB 537 added two new forms of discrimination (actual or perceived sexual orientation and actual or perceived gender) to the list of discrimination prohibited in California's public schools. In the spring of 2000, Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin established the AB 537 Advisory Task Force to identify, research, and recommend guidelines for implementing the SSVPA. The goal was to ensure that "AB 537 did not become another law that sat on a bookshelf."

AB 606 is an effort to codify (make mandatory) some of the more outrageous AB 537 Task Force recommendations. The AB 537 Task Force recommended that "exemplary educational resources" be used to "eliminate discrimination, harassment, and hate-motivated violence based on actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity." The AB 537 Task Force recommended that resources be used to "create positive, grade-appropriate visual images that include all sexual orientations and gender identities for use in school common areas throughout the school year."

The Task Force also recommended that public schools "acknowledge lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender historical figures and related events, concepts, and issues in the revisions of content standards and curriculum frameworks, when appropriate." Additionally, it recommended that public schools "identify and expand the available lesbian, gay, bisesxual, and transgender resources for school library materials."

These specific goals are satisfied by AB 606. AB 606 would repeal current provisions in the law that keep curriculum from being forced on school districts in order to advance SSVPA objectives. In other words, AB 606 would mandate that curriculum and classroom time be used to teach children to embrace homosexuality, bisexuality and transsexuality. While AB 606 does not spell-out that pro-homosexual curriculum will be forced on young school children (and supporters of AB 606 would never acknowledge this), because AB 606 removes the protections against pro-homosexual content in curriculum, this will be the result.

Before we can fully understand what is intended by AB 606, it is necessary to look at the AB 537 Advisory Task Force recommendations. Because the task force recommends "positive," pro-homosexual "visual images" and recommends that pro-homosexual "concepts and issues" be included in curriculum for young school children, that is exactly what will happen if AB 606 passes. And don't forget - the state superintendent can withhold money from a school district if he determines they are violating the provisions in AB 606. One of the recommendations that could be made by the superintendent for a school district to be compliant is for them to integrate pro-homosexual curricula.

AB 606 doesn't seem that extreme until you read the task force recommendations. When taken by itself, it is difficult to understand the full extent of AB 606's goals. But the task force recommendations are loud and clear. AB 606 would likely lead to all public schools being required to do what San Leandro High School has done. At San Leandro High School, a rainbow-flag poster, with pink triangles and other symbols of homosexual pride, and containing a pro-homosexual message, has been ordered to be posted in all classrooms. Five teachers have protested, based on their religious convictions. This has resulted in a standoff between these teachers and the school administration.

Pushing homosexual indoctrination on young children is being packaged and sold in the name of "preventing violence." No one wants incidences of violence to occur on school campus. Violence is never acceptable on public school grounds. AB 606, however, goes beyond addressing violence on school campus. If the goal were simply to prevent violence, legislation could be enacted to ensure that public school administrators promptly address all incidences of violence when they occur, regardless of what they are about. AB 606 is not about safe schools, it's about molding and shaping the minds of young children to accept various forms of sexuality regardless of what their parents or religious beliefs tell them.

Far-left activists want to push parents out of the equation and seize classroom time so that they have unrestrained access to young children. If AB 606 becomes law, it's only a matter of time before it violates parental rights and infringes upon both parents' and students' religious convictions.


'Pappy' Shot Down by Campus Ignoramuses

It's well known that college students today aren't as educated in our nation's history as they should be, but it's still hard to grasp the mind-bending political correctness just displayed by the University of Washington's student senate at its campus in Seattle. The issue before the Senate this month was a proposed memorial to World War II combat pilot Gregory "Pappy" Boyington, a 1933 engineering graduate of the university, who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his service commanding the famed "Black Sheep" squadron in the Pacific.

The student senate rejected the memorial because "a Marine" is not "an example of the sort of person UW wants to produce." Digging themselves in deeper, the student opponents of the memorial indicated: "We don't need to honor any more rich white males." Other opponents compared Boyington's actions during World War II with murder.

"I am absolutely bewildered that the Student Senate voted down the resolution," Brent Ludeman, the president of the UW College Republicans, told me. He noted that despite the deficiencies of the UW History Department, the complete ignorance of Boyington's history and reputation by the student body was hard to fathom. After all, "Black Sheep Squadron," a 1970s television show portraying Colonel Boyington's heroism as a pilot and Japanese prisoner of war, still airs frequently on the History Channel. Apparently, though, it's an unusual UW student who'd be willing to learn any U.S. history even if it's spoon-fed to him by TV.

As for the sin of honoring a rich white male, Mr. Ludeman points out that Boyington (who died in 1988) was neither rich nor white. He happened to be a Sioux Indian, who wound up raising his three children as a single parent. "Colonel Boyington is luckily not around to see how ignorant students at his alma mater can be today," says Kirby Wilbur, a morning talk show host at Seattle's KVI Radio. Perhaps the trustees and alumni of the school will now help educate them.



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