Saturday, March 04, 2006


An Overland High School teacher who criticized President Bush, capitalism and U.S. foreign policy during his geography class was placed on administrative leave Wednesday afternoon after a student who recorded the session went public with the tape. In the 20-minute recording, made on an MP3 player, teacher Jay Bennish described capitalism as a system "at odds with human rights." He also said there were "eerie similarities" between what Bush said during his Jan. 28 State of the Union address and "things that Adolf Hitler used to say." The United States was "probably the single most violent nation on planet Earth," Bennish also said on the tape.

Bennish, who has been part of Overland's social studies faculty since 2000, did not return calls seeking comment Wednesday. Cherry Creek School District officials are investigating the incident, but no disciplinary action has been taken, district spokeswoman Tustin Amole said. Bennish was placed on leave "to take some of the pressure off of him" during the investigation, which could wrap up in a week, Amole said. Superintendent Monte Moses, who received a copy of the recording on Monday from 850 KOA-AM radio show host Mike Rosen, said it appears "a breach of district policy" occurred. "Our policy calls for both sides to be present ... in the interest of intellectual discourse," Moses said. Bennish's presentation appeared to be unbalanced, he said.

The district is looking into whether the incident was an isolated one and will ensure that a balanced viewpoint of the president's State of the Union address is provided to students, Moses said. Moses also said the district will be fair to Bennish. "People in life make mistakes occasionally," he said. "We address them. We learn from them."

The 20-minute recording of only a portion of the class was made by 16-year-old sophomore Sean Allen the day after the president's speech. The recording has raised questions about what level of academic freedom is acceptable for high school teachers. It also has generated discussions about Bennish on dozens of websites. Sean, who appeared on Rosen's show Wednesday morning, said in an interview he had been disturbed by the "political rants" he heard in Bennish's class. He added that he wanted to tape the session for his father, who later shared it with the media. Sean, who described himself as a political independent, said the comments seemed inappropriate for a geography class. "If he wants to give an opinion in class, I'm perfectly OK with that," he said. "But he has to give both sides of the story."

James McGrath Morris, an author who has written about academic freedom issues, said Bennish's comments are acceptable for an adult audience, but they are hard to defend in a high school classroom. In a number of legal cases, courts have ruled that "up until the age of majority, children are easily influenced ... in a way that they don't have the faculties to sort out rights from wrongs," Morris said.

Source. (HT Interested Participant).


Double masters graduate Meagan Phillipson claims university was the worst investment she has made. After eight years of study and accumulating a $20,000 HECS [tuition fee] debt, Meagan says she can't find a job. Universities should be clearer in their statistics on graduate employment, she says.

We asked readers if they thought university was a waste of time and money. We were flooded with responses, many from irate graduates or tradespeople who are raking it in. Many of you slammed Meagan for choosing an arts degree, saying she should have had more realistic expectations of her job prospects. Others said they valued their time at uni but wouldn't have had a hope in the real world if they hadn't kept a foot in the job market. Ed wrote: "My university degree would have been useless had I not complemented it with years of work experience".

Some questioned the value of going to university to raise job prospects - instead of for the learning experience. "I feel as if all of Generation Y has been brainwashed by the idea that if you don't go to uni you're a loser; quite the opposite actually," Leila wrote. "It's the tradesmen who left in Year 10 who are making six figures thanks to a critical shortage of skilled people."

Reader Nelly said unis had to give students more information about the job prospects in their chosen field, "so that they can make an informed decision whether to complete the course or not". But other readers, such as Yuan, said it was up to the individual to find job opportunities. "University is definitely worth it ... You need to stop expecting to be spoon fed and relying too much on info from the advisers."

While Louise raised a tough catch-22: "As a recent graduate with 2 degrees and a diploma and just into my 2nd year in an entry-level position, I will say that I have learnt more from being in the workforce for 12 months than I did my years of education, but without my education I would never have gotten this position."

Finally, readers such as LTJ brought a harsh dose of reality to the debate, : "Swallow your pride, get a job that you are overqualified for, do the leg work for a year or two - if you're cute, your ascension will be ever faster

More here

The Unhinged Kingdom again: "Tots as young as FIVE will help draw up school rules under Tony Blair's flagship education shake-up. Small groups of children must be consulted on measures to promote "good behaviour and discipline". The pupil-power plan is in the Government's overhaul unveiled this week. Mr Blair and Education Secretary Ruth Kelly want parents and kids to take a role in classroom decisions. But the move was branded "daft" by Shadow Education Secretary David Willetts. He said: "Is there no end to the Government's obsession with consultation? Now teachers must consult five-year-olds. The Sun revealed in October pupils of 11 will help hire teachers. MPs will vote on the Bill on March 15.


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, March 03, 2006


As an Australian, I live in a country that DOES have control over its borders and where both major political parties support that control. It is always a wonder to me that the USA does not have similar control. The excerpt below is from immigration campaigner Frosty Wooldridge

As a teacher, I sat dumbfounded last May 16, 2005, when the Rocky Mountain News inked a story, "What Happened?" to a stunned Denver, Colorado audience. In a five year study starting in 1999 in Denver Public Schools, 5,663 students started the eighth grade. Five years later, only 1,884 graduated from high school. That's a 65 percent drop out/flunk out rate! That's pathetic, if not frightening.

What was the cause? First of all, 30,000 illegal aliens, speaking 40 different languages, attended Denver schools. Our classrooms suffered thousands of kids functionally illiterate in English with parents functionally illiterate in English and Spanish. The classrooms featured so much incompatible diversity that it created horrific tension, stabbings and death. Thus, American kids suffered a profoundly dumbed-down educational process. One in five teachers quit or transferred out of those Denver classrooms every nine month cycle during those five years.

Last week, the Denver Post announced that 30 percent of teachers in Denver schools were not coming back next year. This is a nationwide travesty. Why? As a teacher, I taught in the inner city in the 1970s. It's exasperating beyond understanding to walk into a classroom where children suffer learning disabilities, broken homes, teen pregnancies at 14, 15, 16, multiple languages and violent confrontations with other ethnic groups. It's impossible to teach. I left my idealism in the ghetto and escaped to a suburban school. But, today, teachers can't escape because over 1.5 million illegal alien students with more than 100 languages attend our kids' schools nationwide. We witness a national breakdown in education. Last week, Superintendent Roy Romer of Los Angeles public schools resigned in frustration and defeat. California schools match the violence of a war zone.

Can you imagine such a failure rate across the country? Can you imagine the consequences of an illiterate generation leading this Republic into the 21st century? Folks, this country won't make it. Where is the outrage?

It takes four aspects for a free and democratic society to maintain itself. It requires a highly educated population that can write, read, think and vote intelligently. It takes a similar moral code whereby everyone adheres to the common good. It requires a similar code of ethics whereby citizens adhere to honesty, doing what is right and maintaining those ethics throughout the social fabric. Finally, it takes a similar language that allows citizens to discuss, debate and resolve problems. We compromise all four with an invasion exceeding four million new people into the USA annually-20 million illegals to date and climbing. We allow the disintegration of our nation without a whimper. Where is the outrage?

Last Monday, February 20, 2006, the Rocky Mountain News reported, "Mile-High Drug Hub" making Denver the leading center for drug distribution in the United States. It's part of MS-13 Gang's dispersal of $128 billion in drugs crossing our border with Mexico every year. Ironically, Congress guards South Korea's border with 37,000 troops with our billions in tax dollars, pats down gray-haired ladies at our airports, spends $80 billion annually on the war on drugs, but leaves our border unguarded allowing that $128 billion in drugs to cross year after year. Additionally, terrorists from any country can walk over the Mexican border with a 99 percent chance of succeeding. Where is the outrage?

With a growing illegal alien population exceeding 300,000 in Colorado, the state House legislators on Wednesday of last week defeated six bills to stop illegal alien migration. One particular bill, HB 1134, would have given cops the ability to arrest, detain and deport illegals. It was soundly defeated after dozens of citizens, including this Coloradan, testified to support the bill's passage.

I demanded, "We are tired of being collateral damage for illegal aliens. We're tired of being raped, killed, robbed and our schools being trashed by multiple languages while our medical systems take better care of illegals than our own citizens."

Representative Francesca Natividad Coleman remarked that it was a Federal issue. I retorted, "We're the ones getting killed and raped here locally and we're tired of it." Last year, three Coloradans were killed by illegals; Greeley, Colorado suffered 270 hit and run car accidents alone; eight rapes by illegal aliens in Boulder and thousands of robberies. Where is the outrage?

To top off the crisis in our Denver schools, the Rocky Mountain News reported the next day, February 21, 2006, "Welfare Surges 45%" with an increase of 4,743 cases. They said it was tough job hunting, but neglected to mention that 300,000 illegal aliens in Colorado stole jobs from Coloradans in every sector: drywall, construction, landscaping, fast food, house painting, janitorial, paving and dozens of other jobs formerly worked by Coloradans. Where is the outrage?


With what the government leaves you of your money

There are ways of playing the system. All you have to do is put your social conscience on hold for a couple of decades, ignore every educational pledge made by prime ministers past, present and future, and be prepared to change jobs, houses, friends and quite possibly religion for the sake of the kids' schooling. If you are single-minded enough to do that, read on. If you aren't, read on anyway. It's always entertaining to know how the pushy middle classes live.

First, though, alarm bells are ringing. Your child is already born? Then you are leaving its education dangerously late! As the latest Good Schools Guide reports, some private schools now accept bookings from embryos - accompanied, of course, by a hefty deposit. As for a place at one of those coveted Catholic schools which in some cities are the only source of top-quality free education, even embryos are too old. If you aren't attending Mass at least a year before your child's conception, you won't get the necessary Good-Catholic accreditation. The Church of England is, as always, easier going - but not much. To be certain of a place at an oversubscribed C of E school, be sure that the vicar spots you dusting the pews at least a year before you want your child to join.

Why are such shameless shows of mock- piety necessary? Because amid the alleged sinking sands of British state education, "faith schools" are seen as rocks of stability. That's the respectable answer. The ruthless, calculating answer is that, if all your other plans go awry, it's vital to have the local church school as the least-worst fallback.

But suppose that you are thoroughly secular and too honest to pretend otherwise. Can you trust the state system to deliver your child to a decent university? That depends on where you live. The trouble with journalists who prattle about education in national papers is that most live in inner London. Wonderful for chic restaurants and trendy galleries. Terrible for state secondaries. So they project a lurid picture of state education across the country as a whole. That's a monstrous libel. There are now many pockets of excellence, even if the overall picture is patchy. Areas such as Suffolk, Hampshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, North Yorkshire, East Lothian and Gloucestershire now have genuine comprehensives that can rival the best private schools. And although other big cities have their underperforming schools, none has the problem of London - which, because of its size, can give parents the oppressive feeling of being trapped in a borough where no good secondary education is available.

It's quite likely, then, that the most effective investment you can make in your child's education is to move home. True, you will end up in a smaller house for twice the mortgage, because property prices in areas with good state schools are notoriously exorbitant. And you will have landed yourself with extra commuting expenses as well. But comfort yourself with this thought. If you stayed in the city, you would probably feel compelled to bail out your children into private schools. That could easily cost 100,000 pounds per child. Do the arithmetic . . . and then start house-hunting.

Of course, saving money isn't everything. Idealistic parents search for schools that share their values and seem capable of bringing out the best in their children. Which is fine - except that this assumes that it is parents who make the choice. I have bad news. It's not. Very few good schools, state or private, are short of pupils. The best are enormously oversubscribed. Some of the country's 200-odd selective grammars have ten pupils contesting each place. Unless you opt for the neighbourhood sink comprehensive, on the grounds that you are in love with the head teacher or certifiably mad, you will not be choosing your child's school. The school will be choosing you.

And to emerge triumphant in the scramble for coveted secondary places, you need to be making plans at least ten years earlier. Don't even think about relying on the local state primary to equip your child to pass either "Common Entrance" (the standard exam used by many private secondaries) or a selective grammar's entrance tests. It won't happen.

So you have two options: paying for extra coaching in the evenings, which has a whiff of the remedial about it, or paying for a prep school. In counties such as Kent and Buckinghamshire - which have fine selective grammars but not many acceptable comprehensives - large numbers of parents have realised that it makes sense to invest early. They pay for the prep-school education that will help their children sail through the entrance tests for the (free) state grammars.

But the best preps are also choosy. So the age at which children start being crammed gets earlier and earlier. There are actually private nurseries in London that specialise in training two-year-olds for the test that will admit them to the pre-prep that feeds the prep that feeds St Paul's. Madness. And I haven't even mentioned the coaching needed to make a favourable impression when the head teacher does selection interviews. No, not with your child. With you.

Nor does the agony stop once your child is safely in a good secondary. These days it's far from certain that kids will take their GCSEs and A-levels in the same establishment. Such is the fear of slipping down the league tables that some hotshot academic schools, particularly in the state sector, "encourage" pupils not heading for straight As to further their post-GCSE education elsewhere (though they will usually deny this vehemently in public). More worry for parents.

Does all this terrify you? It should. But permit me to end on a provocative personal note. Back in the Eighties we bred three children. We lived in London, but didn't move house. We didn't go private. We didn't even turn Catholic. They all went to nearby state schools. They mingled with rough kids. Yet they turned out fine. A fluke? Quite possibly. But it does raise an interesting question. Is all of this angst really necessary?

More here

An internet browsing fee??? "[Australian] Schools have warned they will have to turn off the internet if a move by the nation's copyright collection society forces them to pay a fee every time a teacher instructs students to browse a website. Teachers said students in rural areas would bear the brunt of cuts if the Copyright Agency was successful in adding internet browsing charges to the $31 million in photocopying fees it rakes in from schools. The agency calculates the total due by randomly sampling schools each year for materials they copy, and extrapolating the results. The battle between the schools and the agency will go to the Federal Court over its attempts to make schools pay for asking students to use the web. Negotiations between the Ministerial Council on Education Employment, Training and Youth Affairs, representing the schools, and the agency have broken down over plans to change the scheme to include a question in the survey on whether teachers direct students to use the internet".


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, March 02, 2006

Students Document Abuse of Black History Month on US Campuses

Parents will be surprised -- at times shocked -- to learn that leading colleges and universities have used the February Black History Month to lash out angrily at whites, to spread socialist and Marxist ideas, and to honor the Black Panthers, according to a statement released by the Young America's Foundation. They claim that missing from many Black History Month campus activities were positive messages and discussions about the accomplishments that blacks have made in business, education, government, and science. They also complain that "too few black conservative speakers, such as Ward Connerly, Walter Williams, and Star Parker, were invited to provide a balanced and uplifting message of Black Americans." Fewer even mention such African-American luminaries as Secretary of State Condi Rice and General Colin Powell.

Young America's Foundation researched the Black History Month calendars of 83 leading colleges and universities in the United States. The 12 schools listed below highlight the most flagrant instances of left-wing activism's hijacking of an entire month. Instead of applauding the accomplishments of blacks in history, students were fed a steady diet of "victim politics" and anti-white sentiment. The list will shock some, but most conservatives and moderates have come to expect such politically-motivated shenanigans from the institutions of higher learning in America.

1. In what has to be the most egregiously biased commemoration of Black History Month, the University of New Mexico celebrated the Black Panthers' 40th Anniversary. Speakers included Elaine Brown, who clearly endorsed socialism when she intended to help "poor population[s] through redistribution of massive revenues." Another speaker, Mark Rudd, a white Marxist from the 1960s, was a member of Students for a Democratic Society, a group affiliated with the Weather Underground - -known for several bombings during the 1960's and 1970's. Rudd was president of the Columbia chapter of Students for a Democratic Society during the 1960's, which served as an umbrella organization for socialists, radical feminists, Maoists, communists, and Marxists

2. Tennessee State brought conspiracy theorist Dick Gregory, who claims that the CIA knowingly allowed minority neighborhoods in Los Angeles to be flooded with crack/cocaine. Gregory believes that "the major white media continue to ignore the possibility that the CIA knew the Nicaraguans were raising money by selling drugs in black communities."

3. University of Maryland's Protest and Revolution in the Black Community: Where Do We Go From Here? featured rapper M-1 of the group Dead Prez. M-1 refers to America as "Amerikkka" and believes in a "conscious world wide struggle with decisive victory won in the area of defeating capitalism and imperialism which is our main enemy." "Where I'm coming from," M-1 continues, "the critical part of revolutionary struggle is concerned with taking power out of the hands of people who stole it [whites] from us all these years and returning back those resources."

4. Brown landed Julian Bond, Chairman of the NAACP, to address the campus community. Bond has stated that conservatives' "idea of equal rights is the American flag and the Confederate swastika flying side by side." Bond doesn't believe that America has made progress abrogating racial barriers. "Everywhere we see racial fault lines which divide American society," he said, "as much now as at anytime [sic] in our past."

5. Filmmaker Keith Beauchamp led discussions at Notre Dame on the 1955 brutal murder of Emmitt Till, a 14-year-old black boy living in Mississippi. To Beauchamp, this brutal murder is not just about racism during segregation, but it's "going to help with reparations, it's going to help with affirmative action, [and] it's going to help with other civil rights cases that need to be reopened."

6. UCLA brought author Randall Robinson to campus. Robinson is famous for saying that "Whites don't give a sh-t what we [blacks] think. Never did. Never will" and that whites are "little more than upper primates." Robinson authored the book, The Debt, a slavery reparations manifesto.

7. Stanford brought the rapper and founder of the hip-hop label Public Enemy, Chuck D, to campus. In addition to serving as spokesman for organizations such as Rock the Vote and the National Urban League, Chuck's EnemeyBoard on the Public Enemy's website has called the Bush Administration a "wolf in sheeps [sic] clothing," posited that the Patriot Act "overrides our Constitution," contends that Jesus Christ came to violently overthrow capitalists, and refers to Justice Thomas as "Clarence 'Uncle' Thomas."

8. Columbia invited University of California at Santa Cruz professor Tricia Rose to address the student body. Rose's claim to fame came to life when she created an oral narrative discussing black women's sexuality in America. The story, entitled Longing to Tell: Black Women Talk About Sexuality and Intimacy, is supposedly the first oral history of black women's sexual testimonies. Rose is no stranger to racist commentary, stating on her website that "many whites do not see (some refuse to see) that whiteness carries multiple kinds of privileges" and that "white racial advantage and privilege" are alive today.

9. Northwestern brought Bell Hooks, a self-identified feminist, who told the Third World Viewpoint that she is "concerned that there are not more Black women deeply committed to anti-capitalist politics." She also admitted that Marxism "is very crucial to educating ourselves for political consciousness."

10. Smith College brought Tim Wise, another white Marxist to campus. Wise likes to rattle on about white privilege in the United States and serves as director of the Association for White Anti-Racist Education (AWARE). He wrote, White Like Me: Reflections of Race from a Privileged Son.

11. Cornell's keynote speaker was former New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial. Morial ran on the ticket as an unapologetic liberal saying that the left monopolizes the values of "equity, equality, and inclusiveness on which this nation was founded."

12. Georgetown University went the direction of a poetic racist. Sonia Sanchez discussed her vision of America. She's famous for penning "Right On: White America," a tear-jerker on America once being "a pioneer land" eliminated by the intolerance of all those that it saw different. Sanchez writes that "there ain't no mo indians, no mo real white all American bad guys." Sanchez believes that black people need to "check out," for the guns and shells are ready to destroy them.

Judging from this sample -- Young America's Foundation claims they documented 83 such programs -- one would be safe in assuming the topic of discussion was more about whites than about blacks.


Back to basics in Australian State?

Must be an election coming up!

Queensland state schools will put a new emphasis on reading, grammar and spelling from Prep to Year 9. Education Minister Rod Welford announced details of a new strategy to boost literacy levels in Queensland schools. Mr Welford said the plan, Literacy - the Key to Learning: Framework for Action 2006-2008, was a practical response to community concerns about literacy. The minister said that in his experience, literacy skills were "patchy".

Mr Welford said literacy skills would no longer be just the responsibility of English teachers. All teachers, regardless of subject, would receive ongoing professional development in teaching literacy skills because science, mathematics, technology and other teachers had to share the task of instilling good communication skills. "It is essential we give every student from Prep to Year 12 the best chance to master literacy so they can meet the challenges of 21st century life," Mr Welford said. "The plan recognises that quality teaching can make the single-biggest difference to students' literacy outcomes. "It will ensure every classroom teacher from Prep to Year 9 has intensive training in the teaching of literacy, including the teaching of reading, grammar and spelling."

Asked if this meant that students would no longer come home from school with written work corrected by teachers that ignored significant and repeated spelling and grammatical errors, the minister said: "It does."

Mr Welford said he also liked the idea of age-appropriate booklists being made available to families through schools so parents knew what to buy or borrow to help their children enjoy a wide range of quality books to boost their reading skills. Mr Welford said the plan recognised that many children attending state schools were from diverse backgrounds and may need tailored assistance. He said the plan was part of a wider strategy to improve student learning. "We've had the Queensland Studies Authority looking at the 'essentials' that all students should be learning in Years 1 to 10," he said. "This initiative will address concerns by parents and teachers about the crowded curriculum by focusing on the work that is most important to student learning."

A new student reporting system, currently being finalised, would be trialled in schools later this year and would be implemented in all schools in 2008. Mr Welford said this would set out standards in different subjects for different age groups - for example, Year 5 maths students should be able to divide and multiply numbers up to 12 - and let parents know precisely what their students were achieving.



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, March 01, 2006


Post lifted from Michelle Malkin

Ex-Washington Post columnist Colman McCarthy, "veteran peace activist, animal advocate and educator who founded and directs the Center for Teaching Peace in Washington," teaches a "Peace Studies class" in the Montgomery County, Md., public school system. It has been unchallenged for two decades. But now, two outspoken students are raising questions about McCarthy's unabashed propaganda. Via yesterday's Washington Post:

For months, 17-year-old Andrew Saraf had been troubled by stories he was hearing about a Peace Studies course offered at his Bethesda high school. He wasn't enrolled in the class but had several friends and classmates who were.

Last Saturday, he decided to act. He sat down at his computer and typed out his thoughts on why the course -- offered for almost two decades as an elective to seniors at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School -- should be banned from the school.

"I know I'm not the first to bring this up but why has there been no concerted effort to remove Peace Studies from among the B-CC courses?" he wrote in his post to the school's group e-mail list. "The 'class' is headed by an individual with a political agenda, who wants to teach students the 'right' way of thinking by giving them facts that are skewed in one direction."

He hit send.

Within a few hours, the normally staid e-mail list BCCnet -- a site for announcements, job postings and other housekeeping details in the life of a school -- was ablaze with chatter. By the time Principal Sean Bulson checked his BlackBerry on Sunday evening, there were more than 150 postings from parents and students -- some ardently in support, some ardently against the course.

Since its launch at the school in 1988, Peace Studies has provoked lively debate, but the attempt to have the course removed from the curriculum is a first, Bulson said. The challenge by two students comes as universities and even some high schools across the country are under close scrutiny by a growing number of critics who believe that the U.S. education system is being hijacked by liberal activists.

At Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Peace Studies is taught by Colman McCarthy, a former Washington Post reporter and founder and president of the Center for Teaching Peace. Though the course is taught at seven other Montgomery County high schools, some say B-CC's is perhaps the most personal and ideological of the offerings because McCarthy makes no effort to disguise his opposition to war, violence and animal testing.

Saraf and Avishek Panth, also 17, acknowledge that with the exception of one lecture they sat in on this month, most of what they know about the course has come from friends and acquaintances who have taken the class. But, they said, those discussions, coupled with research they have done on McCarthy's background, have convinced them that their school should not continue to offer Peace Studies unless significant changes are made. This is not an ideological debate, they said. Rather, what bothers them the most is that McCarthy offers students only one perspective.

"I do recognize that it is a fairly popular class," Saraf said. "But it's clear that the teacher is only giving one side of the story. He's only offering facts that fit his point of view."

McCarthy is "puzzled" by the students' objections, even as the Post describes his mission in overtly political terms:

For McCarthy, it seems Peace Studies is not just a cause; it is a crusade.

"Unless we teach them peace, someone else will teach them violence," he said.

Here's a description of McCarthy's textbooks.

Here's a column from McCarthy on one of his classes in 1991:

I had just finished meeting with my class, 40 juniors and seniors in a class called "Alternatives to Violence." On the eastern edge of the school's front lawn about 150 students had gathered around a wide stump of an oak tree. Atop it was a young woman giving a speech. When I moved closer, I recognized her s a student from my class. She was speaking to a rapt audience about the war in the Gulf and the need to give nonviolent sanctions a chance.

The evening before, as U.S. bomber pilots began attacking Iraq, George Bush had announced that the world could "wait no longer." He was wrong. This part of the world could wait, as small and peripheral as it seemed on the lawn fronting the school. All semester, while reading and discussing essays on pacifism by Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, Tolstoy, and a long list of other practitioners of nonviolence, the Pentagon's preparation for war hovered over the collective consciousness of the class.

Now that the bombing and killing had begun, as more than three-fourths of the class had predicted it would by a show of hands one morning in October, the time had come for action. I looked among the students at the rally. I knew about 20. Some I would have figured to be there, because I had listened to their anti-war views throughout the semester. Others surprised me - reserved ones who had not said much in class one way or the other about the Gulf.

The senior girl who had been speaking when I came over was in the group. I listened in amazement. Where did all that passion come from? And what inner fires had been burning in the next speaker, a senior boy who spoke knowledgeably about draft resistance. Be aware of your rights, he said, and went on to tell about the national groups that provide counseling on conscientious objection. When the rally dispersed, four students took a large sign - "Honk for Peace" and stood behind it on the highway in front of the school. A clamor of honks began. The group, joined by others, decided to cut classes and go be educated in democracy by visiting the anti-war protest in front of the White House.

They learned there that they were not alone, that resistance to the Gulf war was spreading daily in their country and in Europe. Mr. Bush has vowed that "this will not be another Vietnam." Wrong again. It took less than a week for America's streets, from San Diego to Boston, to be filled with citizens expressing their opposition and contempt for the same kind of war ethic that dragged the United States into Vietnam.

It's about time someone questioned authority, to use the Left's favorite phrase, and challenged McCarthy's proselytizing in the Montgomery County, Md., school system.

Real learning essentials missing in Australia

Tasmania's curriculum promotes the worst of outcomes-based education. ("Outcomes-based" is code for no grading, among other things). Article below by the redoubtable Kevin Donnelly

Late last year, after business groups criticised Tasmania's radical approach to curriculum, Essential Learnings, the teachers union, students, authors Don Watson and Richard Flanagan, as well as Education Minister Paula Wriedt leapt to its defence. Wriedt accepted the new curriculum hadn't been effectively communicated but argued: "I have confidence in the Essential Learnings curriculum ... to produce the type of students we need and want in our community." This week it appears the minister's confidence has been shaken. Wriedt admits there are flaws in Essential Learnings: "We have never said this was set in concrete. I have always said never say never and am open to change on this."

Amazing how an election focuses the mind and how policy seen to be a liability can be so quickly changed. This is especially the case when the Liberal Opposition has as its policy a review of Essential Learnings in order to raise standards and to address teacher and parents' concerns.

Wriedt has reason to reconsider Essential Learnings. As Flanagan has since noted: "It is not possible to defend Essential Learnings, which is damaging our state education system, eroding public confidence, imposing humiliating difficulties on our fine teachers, and, worst of all, is destructive of our children's education." Even though teachers have been gagged and warned against publicly criticising the curriculum, as reported in the Hobart Mercury, such is the level of frustration and complaint, that many are prepared to voice their opposition.

Teachers' complaints are justified. Essential Learnings, given that it adopts the worst aspects of Australia's outcomes-based approach to education, is full of confusing jargon and edubabble. Worse still, it fails to provide a clear and succinct road map on what should be taught and imposes an overly bureaucratic, vague and new age assessment system. In part, the problem is that learning is considered developmental on the basis that, "the rate of individual development and learning can vary enormously and students may achieve a particular standard at different age levels". As a result many students float through school without learning the basics or being told that they have failed.

Further evidence of the flawed nature of Essential Learnings is evidenced by results of the federally funded report, Benchmarking Australian Primary School Curricula, released last year. The report evaluated all Australian state and territory mathematics, science and English primary school curriculum documents and ranked Tasmania's Essential Learnings as the weakest in terms of academic rigour, being detailed and unambiguous and measurable.

The academic responsible for the mathematics evaluation concluded that Essential Learnings failed to "assist schools at the more detailed level of planning programs for each year level and making sure that there was a clear progression of content throughout the school". In relation to science, the analysis concluded that Essential Learnings provided teachers with "little guidance as to the science concepts being developed or clarity or purpose that would help them understand what students are meant to achieve".

Traditionally, English is a discrete subject with a strong focus on literature. Not so in the Tasmanian curriculum. English as a subject disappears into the learning area Communicating Being Arts Literate and there is little attempt to teach phonics or classic literature in a rigorous and substantial way.

In her defence of Essential Learnings, Wriedt argues that the Tasmanian curriculum has much in common with approaches across the rest of Australia. To the extent that all systems have adopted various versions of outcomes-based education, the minister is correct. What she fails to realise or admit is that the tide has turned and the type of curriculum represented by Essential Learnings is increasingly seen as flawed and substandard. The ex-chief executive of Australia's Curriculum Corporation, Bruce Wilson, now admits that outcomes-based education typified by Essential Learnings represents an "unsatisfactory political and intellectual exercise".

Last year, the president of the NSW Board of Studies, Gordon Stanley, agreed that teachers needed a succinct road map on what should be taught. And a union official agreed that the existing outcomes-based education system was overly detailed, jargonistic and cumbersome. In Western Australia, there are so many concerns about extending outcomes-based education to years 11 and 12 that a parliamentary inquiry has been established. No wonder concerned classroom teachers have funded a website,, to air their grievances.


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 28, 2006


If they can get it past the Left

Moves to cherry-pick the brightest children in England's state schools from the age of 11 for places at top universities are set to begin within weeks, The Times has learnt. The controversial plan, which will spark fears among Labour MPs of a new system of "super-selection", is hailed by academics as a way of opening up university admissions without lowering standards. But critics fear that students who develop later will be left out because the process hinges on tests in the final year of primary school.

Universities will be encouraged to select the brightest children by establishing early links with them. In coming weeks, secondary heads will be told the names of the cleverest pupils and that they will be held accountable if their students fail to get three A grades at A level. Leading universities will be asked to contact the children's families, uring them to join holiday courses or summer schools, with a view to applying later. The move, which turns the final-year primary school exam in effect into a university entrance test, is expected to be welcomed by the top universities anxious that wider access does not lower academic standards.

Critics will ask whether the national curriculum test is the best measure of a child's potential and point to the impact it will have on pupils who fail to make the grade. The revelation will also fuel fears of academic selection as Tony Blair prepares to publish the education Bill and makes a last-ditch case today for his reforms at a seminar in Downing Street. Labour rebels and unions fear that it could mean back-door selection at the expense of the worst off. One backbencher said last night that it was impossible to track a child's potential from such an early age.

The Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, which is coordinating the register, is set to tell heads how many of England's top 5 per cent are in their schools and what they are expected to do to support them. The talent search has identified 180,000 children aged 11-17 from their Key Stage 2 exams, taken by all pupils attending state primary schools. Sir Cyril Taylor, chairman of the trust, is determined that no child should be overlooked as a result of a poor secondary school education. In the letter, he will tell heads: "We'd be grateful if you'd ensure they're given the necessary support to realise their potential and we're going to track these children independently at KS3, GCSE and A levels. And if these children don't get 3 As at A level we want to know the reason why. Because they should but the facts are that only about a third of them are."

Schools will be held accountable after studies showed that the top 5 per cent of 11-year-olds who go on to state school are half as likely to get three As as those who enter private schools. Heads will be urged to register the names with the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth (Nagty) at Warwick University, which will act as a pool to coordinate support programmes. "What they don't want to be told is to lower their admission standards to meet some strange quota of comprehensive school intakes. I passionately believe you should only get into Oxford and Cambridge if you've qualified," said Sir Cyril. "But what is an outrage is that we have 20,000 very able children in comprehensives who don't get the three As at A level that they should do." If parents give the academy permission, pupils' details will be passed on to universities. Data protection rules will be amended to enable this.

The colleges at Cambridge have divided up England's regions between them and will contact the academy for the names of children in their area. Dr Geoff Parks, the admissions tutor, says that this will be fairer. "At the moment, it's a bit hit and miss . . . we're targeting some schools in given areas, but it could be more effective. Anecdotally, there are concerns that some schools are offering us the best behaved and not putting forward the most talented who can often be the most difficult," he said. Dr Parks, who is a member of the Nagty Friends Group, conceded that the Key Stage 2 test was "not perfect". Many private schools opt out of the final-year tests, leading to fears that pupils could be frozen out of the best universities.


Top Australian boys' school accepts goods in lieu of fees

Anything to escape far-Left government schools

Private schools are allowing financially stretched parents to pay fees with cows, valuable art collections and even the embryos of livestock in lieu of cash payments. And with the ongoing drought having a major impact on the ability of many rural families to pay their children's fees, some schools now allow parents to pay when a crop comes in or a herd of cattle is sold at the market, education experts say.

The Council of Catholic School Parents executive director Danielle Cronin said the barter of goods for fees is one of several flexible payment options available. "Country families can often pay according to their crops or when they sell their cattle," Ms Cronin said. "There is even payment in kind being made to schools. If the school has an outdoor education centre, the family may give them cattle."

As well, rising school fees have caused an increasing number of people to dip into their home mortgages. "They might get a second job, they might dip into savings they have put aside for things other than education, and they may also consider dipping into the equity in their home," Ms Cronin said. "Fees can be a major cause of stress and concern for parents, particularly when there's a degree of uncertainty around how much they will increase each year."

Among the Sydney schools to consider the alternative and often creative payment options is The King's School at North Parramatta. "Any Christian and compassionate school has to be open to reasonable suggestions," headmaster Tim Hawkes said. "With the best will in the world people's financial situations change often for reasons that are out of their control, like drought. This time last year 120 families were seriously affected by drought. They asked the school to show creativity and compassion in handling the situation. "Some parents are cash poor but asset rich. So sometimes payment in kind is seen as an option. We have agricultural studies and the school has its own farm. We can introduce cattle there. There has even been an incident in the past where the school was offered cattle embryos." Dr Hawkes said any alternative payment arrangement had to be conducted carefully. "We can't have a wholesale defection to payment of school fees in kind," he said.

It is not unusual for schools to accept other items of value. Victorian school St Leonards College had accepted part of a valuable art collection from a family in lieu of a student's fees, Dr Hawkes said. He stressed that the most common outcome when a family was struggling financially was to waive part of the fees. "We also have a range of scholarships and bursaries available and we have increased those over the past few years." A fee deferment system may also be put in place to continue after the student has graduated.

NSW Parents Council executive officer Duncan McInnes said many top private schools would once not have considered such flexible fee options. "Schools are becoming more accommodating to family situations," Mr McInnes said. "I think it's healthy. Rather than being embarrassed or ashamed of their situation parents should be opening up to schools." Cranbrook School headmaster Jeremy Madin said: "The school dispenses about $1 million in financial aid a year. Schools are very human places; we have to be understanding."



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 27, 2006

California: High school, low expectations

Arturo Gonzalez is a formidable attorney. The son of unschooled immigrants, he graduated from the UC Davis, then Harvard Law School. Today, he is a partner at Morrison & Foerster. Last week, he told The Chronicle editorial board, "If (state superintendent of public instruction Jack) O'Connell had been my superintendent," when he was going to high school, "I would not have gotten a diploma." Gonzalez represents parents and students who are suing the state of California to put off -- once again -- the year when California students must pass an exit exam in order to receive a high-school diploma -- as mandated by a 1999 law. The lawyer's argument is that it is not fair to not grant a diploma to a student who has completed 13 years of school and repeatedly received passing grades in math, English and other classes, because the student cannot pass "one test."

The problem is that it is really not fair to graduate a high-school senior who can't handle basic math and English. The whole point of the exit exam was to make sure that students who go to low-performing schools get, at the very least, a basic education. If Gonzalez wins, ignorance scores a victory. A few other points: The exit exam is not a one-time sink-or-swim test. Students begin taking the exit exams' two tests -- a 9th-grade-level-math test and 10th-grade-level-English test -- in the sophomore year. Students need to score at least 55 percent in math -- which is multiple choice, so students only have to figure out which one of four answers is correct -- and at least 60 percent in English language arts. Once students have passed a test, they never have to take it again. If they fail, they can retake one or both tests twice in the junior year, then three times in the senior year. As Superintendent O'Connell sees it -- and he wrote the exit-exam bill -- if you fail the test, "It simply means your education is not complete." You don't have the minimum skills to succeed in this economy.

O'Connell noted that failing doesn't end a student's options. Those who fail can take a summer-school course or attend an extra year of school, or take the test without going to class for an "unlimited" number of tries. But wait -- as tacky commercials exhort -- there's more. School districts can elect to grant certificates of completion for students who pass other school requirements, but fail the test. Students who flunk the test also can go for a GED or earn a high-school diploma through an adult-education program.

Gonzalez argued that some students know the material, but fail because of "test anxiety." To the extent that is true, these kids don't stand a chance in real life. How can they survive a job interview? Or athletic competition? Gonzalez says one of his students wants to be a firefighter. That student will have to pass tests to become a firefighter -- or should cities dump firefighter tests too, in the hope that recruits won't be to anxious when a fire alarm sounds?

A plaintiff in his suit is Liliana Valenzuela, who has a 3.84 grade-point average and is 12th in her senior class of 413 students. She passed the math test the first time, but has failed the English test, Gonzalez said, because she came here from Mexico four years ago. "I want to go to college and become a registered nurse," Liliana wrote in a statement. "But this exam is unfair. I really want to wear my cap and gown, and I don't know what to do to make my dream a reality." I know what she can do: Study harder. Getting a legal loophole around the exit exam will not make this young lady educated or help make her dream to be a nurse come true. If she cannot pass the exit exam, how can she survive college?

It is harsh to not grant a full diploma to students who completed their coursework. It also is harsh to allow students to enter adulthood unable to read instructions on appliances or without understanding what it means when a sale price is 25 percent off.

On a personal note, Gonzalez told The Chronicle about his high-school career. He knew from a young age, he said, that he wanted to be a trial lawyer. But he was not good at math, and he needed to take algebra to get into UC. Guess what? Gonzalez took algebra and passed. Actually, Gonzalez would have had a diploma under O'Connell. Yet now he wants California schools to demand less than they demanded of him. He believes he is protecting minority students and immigrants, but he is protecting their right to graduate without 9th-grade-math skills or the ability to read what a sophomore should be able to read. It may well be that if Arturo Gonzÿlez had a lawyer like him when he was a student, he would not be the lawyer he is today.



How a once venerable organization became a front for teacher unions

The hand-lettered sign outside the door to P.S. 166 on Manhattan's Upper West Side said "PTA Meeting Thursday." To be exact, it was a parent group that would be meeting, not the PTA.

The sign was proof of the extent to which "PTA" has become a generic term, like "Kleenex" or "Xerox." Many parents are unaware of just how far the century-old National Congress of Parents and Teachers (known since 1924 as the PTA) has strayed from its origins in social uplift or from the classic 1950s-era image we may still have of it--an organization devoted to school service, fund-raising (think of those bake sales) and wholesome parent-teacher relations.

In fact, the PTA has been losing members steadily for almost a half-century now, from a high point of more than 12 million in the early 1960s to a current membership of about half that. Today only about a quarter of K-12 schools in the U.S. have a PTA chapter. The reasons for this decline are familiar ones: money and politics.

The PTA had its beginnings in an era of women's clubs and settlement houses, when affluent, idealistic women went to work bettering the conditions of the urban poor. Although women still couldn't vote, they could exercise influence through thousands of civic organizations and social clubs around the country. Soon enough, they cast a critical eye on the conditions of children in the public schools. They sought to address such matters as nutrition and hygiene and to help Americanize the offspring of immigrants arriving in waves from southern and eastern Europe.

In 1897, the members of the first National Congress of Mothers--the name of the group that would eventually become the PTA--saw their mission as fostering "a love of humanity and of country . . .and the advantages to follow from a closer relation between the influence of the home and that of the school." The president of the national PTA declared at a recent convention: "We simply must change the country." What happened?

In "The Politics of the PTA" (2002), Charlene Haar explains that the PTA shifted its focus mainly because of its longstanding alliance with the National Education Association. Formed in 1857, the NEA once shared the parent group's concern for schoolchildren in such matters as school curriculum and the qualifications of public-school teachers. Indeed, in 1920, the National Congress felt so much in line with the NEA that it moved into the association's impressive Washington headquarters. Already allied with the teachers group on support for a "progressive" curriculum that would emphasize "life skills," the PTA would from then on curb its more general social programs and limit itself to matters directly affecting education.

Ms. Haar chronicles the major policies on which the two groups cooperated throughout the 20th century. Having begun as equals, the PTA gradually became the subservient partner. Both organizations refused to support the National Defense Education Act--passed in 1958 in the wake of the Soviet's launch of Sputnik--because, as Ms. Haar explains, it "provided funds for mathematics, science and other defense-related curricula but could not be used for teacher salaries."

By the 1960s, the PTA was known as "a coffee-and-cookies organization"--unquestioningly offering its seal of approval to the newly unionized NEA. It was the issue of teacher strikes, though, that dealt the reputation of the PTA its final blow. In 1961 the AFT, representing New York City's teachers, staged the nation's first citywide strike, and in 1968 Florida teachers followed with the first statewide strike. To avoid conflict, the PTA abandoned any pretense of independence and supported the walkouts.

A few years later, the PTA tagged along with the NEA, lobbying for a cabinet-level federal department of education. What followed were a series of legislative victories for the teachers unions. Among their outstanding lobbying successes, backed by the PTA, was the defeat of a bill co-sponsored by Sen. Patrick Moynihan in 1978 proposing a tax credit for as much as half of private-school tuition. In the aftermath, many parents began their exodus from the PTA, including a large number of Catholics whose tuition fees for parochial schools would have become less burdensome under the plan.

Today the PTA supports all of the union's positions, including increased federal funding for education and opposition to independent charter schools, to vouchers and to tuition tax credits for private and religious schools. This "parent" group lobbies for teachers to spend less time in the classroom and to have fewer supervisory responsibilities like lunchroom duty. Moreover, they want a pay scale for teachers that is based on seniority, not merit. In November, the PTA even helped to defeat California's Proposition 74, which called for limiting teacher tenure by extending the probation period for new teachers from two to five years, a proposal designed to give administrators more time to weed out bad instructors.

With polls indicating that the union label is a liability with the public, an arrangement has developed whereby the NEA provides needed financial support for the PTA, which in turn bolsters union positions at the grass-roots level. As one union official put it: "[T]he PTA has credibility . . . we always use the PTA as a front."

Not only does the PTA support the NEA on issues that protect the public-school teachers' monopoly, the parent group also speaks up in favor of the NEA's more radical curriculum ideas, like sex-education programs that replace "don't" with "how to" and that propose the inclusion of a gay/lesbian unit starting as early as kindergarten.

Many parents have decided that they no longer want to fund this kind of nonsense: They feel that their dues money would be better spent close to home, on after-school programs, computers and school supplies. As the PTA becomes increasingly irrelevant to the lives of children in public schools and parents become less willing to pay its dues, it is gradually being replaced by alternative, mostly home-grown, organizations that may call themselves guilds or councils or associations but are generally known as Parent Teacher Organizations--PTOs. These groups collect no dues and follow no political line.

Tim Sullivan, a Massachusetts entrepreneur and former New York City public-school teacher, saw the need among the independent groups forming around the country for the kind of information and services once provided by the PTA. In 1999 he founded a company for independent parent-teacher groups. PTO Today publishes a magazine and maintains a Web site that provides opportunities for parent networking on its message boards. Both in print and online, PTO Today answers the kind of questions that parents of public-school children ask--how to organize a family night, how to raise money for extras like arts-and-crafts supplies and what kind of insurance is necessary for field trips. With any luck, the PTOs will put the PTA out of business entirely.



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 26, 2006


If Harvard University President Lawrence H. Summers was worried about how the undergraduates would greet him Wednesday night at his first scheduled event since announcing his resignation, those fears quickly were put to rest. He got a standing ovation after he walked in. He got a standing ovation before he left. A row of students with red letters painted on their chests spelled out "Larry."

Sarah Bahan, 22, was wistful as she left the meeting. She had kind words to say about Summers' emphasis on hard sciences. Mark Hoadley, 21, said Summers' monotone speaking style was balanced by a "dynamic mind." Troy Kollmer, 21, said "a lot of students feel bad for him and think he got a raw deal."

The show of student loyalty has come as a surprise to many faculty members and administrators at Harvard, who grew to loathe Summers during a five-year tenure that brought a raw blast of politics to the 370-year-old institution.

In the past, it had been Harvard's students who forced change. In the spring of 1969, amid unrest over the Vietnam War, students angered by a campus ROTC program raided University Hall and threatened to burn the card catalog at Widener Library. The turmoil hastened the resignation of then-president Nathan Pusey, a classics scholar who had little patience for such activism.

This time, students held back while the faculty fumed. Undergraduates were well-insulated from the tempestuous management issues between Summers and top administrators; and Summers had endeared himself to students by showing up at early morning rugby matches and by gamely boogieing at school dances.

But somewhere in the controversy surrounding Summers is evidence of a change in campus politics, one professor said: These days, it is not unusual for students to be to the political right of their professors. "This is a sort of 'I'm-not-a-feminist-but' generation," said J. Lorand Matory, a professor of anthropology and of African and African American studies. "I don't know if the word is 'conservative' as much as 'careerist.' "

The move to oust Summers began in earnest last year after he gave a speech that questioned whether "issues of intrinsic aptitude" explained the shortage of female professors in Harvard's math and science departments..... Many students, meanwhile, thought the "intrinsic aptitude" flap of last spring had been resolved. "Our complaints ended when there was a reasonable dialogue," said Jonathan Blazek, 21.....

Since Summers announced his resignation Tuesday, his most vocal defenders have been students. On a blog called "Summersville," students have placed memorial posters of their soon-to-be-departed president and floated plans for a protest at an upcoming faculty meeting. "I don't think everybody on campus loves him, but there is sort of a general sense the situation was handled poorly," Harry Ritter, 21, said. Ritter worries, he said, that the initiatives Summers began — the expansion of Harvard's campus, study-abroad programs and beefing up of the life sciences, among others — will founder. "If the faculty now feels it has the power to kick a president out … what precedent does this set for the university? How well will the next president deal with the climate?" Ritter said. "There are students really angry about what has happened."

Michael Broukhim, 21, an editorial chair for the Harvard Crimson, said some students grew to admire the same qualities in Summers that alienated professors — such as his clear enthusiasm for subjects with real-world applications, like stem cell research and globalization. "The fact that Summers worked in politics [as Treasury secretary] is indicative — he wants the university to be oriented, very practically, toward the public good," Broukhim said.

More here


Three reports:

Militant Islam invades NSW school curriculum

A radical Muslim thinker who inspired al-Qa'ida is being served up as subject matter for high school students in NSW. Sayyid Qutb, an Egyptian militant hanged in 1966 but still a powerful influence on violent Islamists, and the Pakistani fundamentalist Sayyid Maududi are the only two modern Muslim thinkers on a revised syllabus for studies of religion.

Experts this week condemned the prominence of political Islam in the new syllabus, and especially the inclusion of Qutb. "I am surprised and dismayed that the NSW religion syllabus narrows modern Islamic thinkers to its totalitarians," said Daniel Pipes, whose US-based Middle East Forum agitates against Islamic extremism. "Islam has a rich intellectual tradition. To pick these two writers is like representing modern German culture with Marx and Hitler."

Under the revised Higher School Certificate syllabus, students can choose to examine the "contribution to Islam" of Qutb and Maududi. Others they can study include two wives of the prophet Mohammed, legal scholars and Sufi mystics. Qutb figured as a "teacher and interpreter" in the old syllabus.

NSW Board of Studies president Gordon Stanley said experts and community leaders had had plenty of opportunity to comment on the syllabus. He was surprised to hear of criticism and offered a parallel: "If you study the Holocaust you've got to know something about Hitler, but that doesn't mean people are concerned about students becoming Nazis."

Catholic educationist John McGrath defended the syllabus, which he helped write: "Qutb was a significant figure in 20th-century Islam. "(His writings are) one expression of Islamic revival. We're not suggesting that he's representative of all Muslims."

But Ahmad Shboul, chair of Arabic and Islamic studies at Sydney University, said political Islamists did not fit easily within the study of religion. "Qutb has contributed to modern commentary on the Koran, but the influence of (Qutb and Maududi) has turned out to be more on the political side," he said, adding that Qutb was simply too controversial and complex a figure for study at school.

Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, commentators have pointed to Qutb as the intellectual inspiration for violent campaigns against the West and Muslim states seen as corrupted by modern values. Among those influenced by Qutb's writings is Ayman al-Zawahiri, seen as the intellectual force of al-Qa'ida. But Professor Shboul doubted Qutb would have approved of al-Qa'ida's violence.

In Pakistan, Maududi founded an Islamic political party, Jamaat-e-Islami, with the aim of making society and state wholly subject to Islamic law. His critics say he left a legacy of extremism; his followers say he opposed violence. Abdullah Saeed, director of the centre for the study of contemporary Islam at Melbourne University, said Muhammad Abduh, an Egyptian reformer, would have been a safer choice for the syllabus than Qutb. "Especially in the current political climate and context, the inclusion of Qutb presents more problems than it solves," Professor Saeed said. "When this becomes public I guess there would be various groups - Muslim and non-Muslim - who would feel very strongly about this."


NSW report card ban challenged

Far-Left teachers resist the requirement to identify differences in achievement. All kids are equal, don't you know?

A ban by teachers on new report cards which grade students from A to E will be challenged by the Government in the courts on Monday. Premier Morris Iemma yesterday pledged to take public school teachers to the industrial relations commission. He accused teachers of "holding parents to ransom" over the issue, saying every family was entitled to performance data on their children. He also claimed that the NSW Teachers Federation was putting $3.7billion in Commonwealth funding at risk by breaching the National Schools Funding Agreement, which includes the new reports.

About 430,000 primary school students should have received an A to E grade for academic performance this year. But the Teachers Federation has advised its 50,000 school-based members to "continue to use their own reporting system". General secretary Barry Johnson [Stalin was a General Secretary too] said in a memo to members: "Many of the reporting requirements being foisted on schools are professionally and educationally unacceptable."

But Mr Iemma said the Government would protect the right of parents to receive clear and concise information. "The NSW Government will take the issue to the Industrial Relations Commission to have it resolved as a matter of urgency," he said. "I absolutely reject the position put by the federation. "It is the right of every parent to have this information and we will not allow this to be compromised by a blinkered and politically correct over-reaction. "We will not allow NSW parents to be held to ransom."

In August last year, the Government released the format of the new reports which provide detail on:

* A CHILD'S overall achievement rated in bands from A to E;

* MORE detail on how they are performing in English and Maths; and

* SIMPLER information identifying strengths and weaknesses and details of their social skills and development.

"The reports make it easier to track the progress of students and provide greater consistency," Mr Iemma said. "Every parent has a right to information that tells them in plain English whether their child is progressing well or falling behind and in need of help."

The federation said it had grave concerns about the philosophical underpinnings of the new report cards. Mr Johnson said it opposed the Federal Government's imposition of "simplistic and regressive" student reporting requirements as a pre-condition for continued federal funding. Mr Johnson said the new reports also had potential to greatly increase teachers' workload.


Australian private school student numbers soaring

Australia's private schools have recorded record enrolments with an exodus of 200,000 students from the public education system in the past decade. The trend is strongest in Year 11 and 12, where 41 per cent of teenagers now attend private schools. Despite rising fees of up to $20,000 a year, new figures confirm a shift towards private schools since the election of the Howard Government in 1996. The Australian Bureau of Statistics' School Census yesterday revealed the number of children enrolled in private schools has jumped by 22 per cent in the past decade. The growth continued last year, with enrolments at independent and Catholic schools jumping by a further 20,000 students, to 1.1 million students.

John Howard, who once blamed the exodus from the nation's public schools on the "politically correct" attitude of the public system, last night welcomed the figures. Despite challenging the "university or bust" culture in Australia and urging teenagers who are offered a job or an apprenticeship to consider taking up the opportunity, he also welcomed an increase in retention rates. The census data also show the proportion of 17-year-olds enrolled as full-time students increased and the number of indigenous students enrolled increased from 87,200 to 135,100. "The figures show a strong increase in retention rates," the Prime Minister said. "I am particularly pleased with the very significant increase in the number of indigenous students. That is something to be very warmly welcomed."

Since 1996, the Howard Government has doubled spending on private schools, from $2.3 billion to $4.7 billion last year. Private schools now secure more taxpayer-funded grants than Australia's publicly funded universities. However, the proportion of male schoolteachers has continued to decline over the past decade. Almost 80 per cent of teachers in primary schools are now women. [I am surprised that ANY male teachers risk it] Despite recent data suggesting a surge in enrolments in public high schools in NSW, the figures confirm the 10-year trend away from public schools.



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