Saturday, March 18, 2006


An interesting email from a reader below. It may be worth noting that the actual origin of the whole language instructional theory goes back to an observation first made in Wilhelm Wundt's psychological laboratory in Germany around a century ago -- the observation that adults recognize whole words in their reading. The marvellous resultant theory that children should be taught that way would soon have been knocked on the head by its poor results if schools had been run as for-profit companies who were paid by results. Being protected by governmment, however, schools had no incentive to abandon what did not work. They just carried on in their love of their theory -- which seemed "obvious" to them. It is a pity that the obvious (such as the flatness of the earth) is sometimes wrong. So the Whole Language people are essentially flat-earthers.

Why did Whole Language methods persist? Why did the phonics versus Whole Language dispute divide along political lines? I have four tentative partial explanations.

1) Drill, past the point at which the student "gets it", is boring. Worksheets can be crutches for lazy teachers. Drill beyond the point of boredom may provoke an allergic reaction in students. I see this as a reasonable consideration, but it should not have been decisive. I use worksheets and drill in math instruction.

2) To academic theorists, it is more important to be original than correct. Tried-and-true is uninteresting to Professors of Education.

3) Ineffective methods of instruction enhance employment in the education industry, which has no incentive to be efficient.

4) The publisher of a the popular Hooked On Phonics program, Regnery/Gateway, was also a publisher of numerous anti-Clinton titles, which other publishers refused. The US government sued Regnery/Gateway over Hooked on Phonics and so reduced their revenues from this product. I suspect that this was retaliation for their Clinton criticism. Professors of Education provided ammunition to their ally.

One day someone will write a history of the Whole Language fraud. Too bad no one will read it. Over the entire population, this deliberate lobotomization probably reduced overall longevity as much as a minor disease like pancreatic cancer. It probably reduces productivity over an afflicted worker's lifetime as much as all the illnesses for which s/he takes sick leave, put together.

Student Debts, Stunted Lives

I have edited out the fanciful polemics of this article and left below just the case-studies but you can find the original here if you prefer speculation to facts. There is no doubt however that the student loan fiasco is a black mark on the record of the GOP. See here for the actual politics of the matter

The Democratic Party did not find her. The Hollywood liberals did not find her. The reactionaries are not looking for her. But the Chicago Tribune did find Margo Albert and did understand how significant her plight is. The paper wrote, "Margo Alpert is on the 30-year plan. Every month between $500 and $600 is automatically deducted from her salary to pay off college loans. By the time the 29-year-old Chicago public-interest lawyer is in her mid-50s and thinking seriously about retirement, she will finally be free of college debt."

The newspaper also found Carrie Gevirtz, a 28-year-old social worker with a degree from the University of Chicago, a $55,000 school debt and an annual salary of $33,000. She is quoted as saying, "I can't afford my lifestyle. I'm not in a position to buy a place. I can't buy a condo and don't know when I would, unless my income changed dramatically.... I was not prepared for this.... It really freaked me out." To make ends meet after deducting her $250 monthly payment on her student loan, Gevirtz has a second job at a health club and does baby-sitting.

Starting July 1 the interest on student loans taken out by students will rise to just less than 7 percent. Loans taken out by parents for students will shoot up to 8.5 percent.....

Whenever the subject of the high and ever mounting cost of tuitions and the student loans needed to pay for them comes up, the focus falls on individual financial hardship. We're invited to pity or empathize with Margo Alpert, and she certainly deserves it, but our attention is not drawn to the consequences of these arrangements.

The most important consequence of the financial hole the Margo Alperts are in, thanks to their education, is that many of them are going to be childless. Many others will have one child at most. How can a young couple, each with $40,000 or $50,000 of debt, think of having three or four kids? They will have to wait until they are in their late 30s to have a family and by then, when they think of college costs, they will feel compelled to limit themselves to one child.

How many young people turn away from low-paying but vital professions because they can't earn enough to pay back their loans? How many potential social workers, pro bono lawyers, journalists, environmentalists, teachers, artists, secondary medical professionals and community workers are we losing?

Strange homework in Australia: "Doing the dishes, aromatherapy and shopping with mum are all considered homework under a new policy adopted by some Victorian schools. Known as the Homework Grid, the policy has been tried in at least a dozen primary schools across the state. The grid defines homework as not just studying, but incorporates meditation, sport and housework. St Joseph's School in Chelsea is one school that has assigned it to grade 5 and 6 students. Principal Christine Ash said the school decided to use the grid after surveying parents on their expectations of homework. The school's grid recommended 10 minutes a night of reading and 20 minutes a night of other activities such as sport, housework and shopping. A weekly grid is given out on a Monday and parents are required to sign off on it. Ms Ash said there had been a positive response from parents, students and teachers".


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 17, 2006


Facing threats of litigation and pressure from Washington, colleges and universities nationwide are opening to white students hundreds of thousands of dollars in fellowships, scholarships and other programs previously created for minorities. Southern Illinois University reached a consent decree last month with the Justice Department to allow non-minorities and men access to graduate fellowships originally created for minorities and women. In January, the State University of New York made white students eligible for $6.8 million of aid in two scholarship programs also previously available just for minorities. Pepperdine University is negotiating with the Education Department over its use of race as a criterion in its programs.

"They're all trying to minimize their legal exposure," Susan Sturm, a law professor at Columbia University, said about colleges and universities. "The question is how are they doing that, and are they doing that in a way that's going to shut down any effort or any successful effort to diversify the student body?"

The institutions are reacting to two 2003 Supreme Court cases on using race in admissions at the University of Michigan. Although the cases did not ban using race in admissions to higher education, they did leave the state of the law unclear, and with the changing composition of the court, some university and college officials fear legal challenges. The affected areas include programs for high schools and graduate fellowships.

It is far too early to determine the effects of the changes on the presence of minorities in higher education and how far the pool of money for scholarships and similar programs will stretch. Firm data on how many institutions have modified their policies is elusive because colleges and institutions are not eager to trumpet the changes. At least a handful are seeking to put more money into the programs as they expand the possible pool of applicants.

Some white students are qualifying for the aid. Last year, in response to a legal threat from the Education Department, Washington University in St. Louis modified the standards for an undergraduate scholarship that had been open just to minorities and was named for the first African-American dean at the university. This year, the first since the change, 12 of the 42 first-year recipients are white.

Officials at conservative groups that are pushing for the changes see the shift as a sign of success in eliminating race as a factor in decision making in higher education. "Our concern is that the law be followed and that nobody be denied participation in a program on account of skin color or what country their ancestors came from," said Roger Clegg, president and general counsel of the Center for Equal Opportunity, which has been pressing institutions on the issue. "We're not looking at achieving a particular racial outcome," Mr. Clegg added. "And it's unfortunate that some organizations seem to view the success or failure of the program based simply on what percentage of students of this color or that color can participate."

Advocates of focused scholarships programs like Theodore M. Shaw, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc., challenge the notion that programs for minority students hurt whites. "How is it that they conclude that the great evil in this country is discrimination against white people?" Mr. Shaw asked. "Can I put that question any more pointedly? I struggle to find the words to do it because it's so stunning." Mr. Shaw said protecting scholarships and other programs for minorities was "at the top of our agenda."

More here


Diane Philipson is a former primary school teacher who spends her days at home in Newcastle coaching children who are struggling to read. This week she had phone calls from two desperate mothers who say their sons, one aged 12 and one aged eight, feel life isn't worth living. "The eight-year-old told his mother he'd rather be dead than have to struggle so much with reading," Philipson said yesterday. Philipson is one of a number of backyard operators across Australia to whom anxious parents have turned to teach their children to read when school has failed. They invariably use a method that involves direct, explicit, systematic phonics. This is the inexplicably politicised way of teaching children that letters in our alphabet are associated with sounds.

There is a pharmacist in a country town in NSW, for instance, dismayed by the number of parents coming to her to fill scripts for attention deficit disorder medication, when all that was wrong with their children was they couldn't read. With a little research, she discovered a phonics-based course which she is agitating for the local school to use to further train reading teachers.

In Newcastle, desperate parents found out about Philipson, 63, by word of mouth, or through informal referrals from a learning disorders clinic at the hospital, which, according to one mother, "doesn't want to be seen to be helping Diane's business but they know what she does works".

Philipson has devised her own system of teaching, a systematic phonics program in which children hear a sound, say it, then read it and sound it out. "I've never had a child I couldn't teach to read," she says. Some of the children she coaches have specific learning disorders. Others, mostly boys, just haven't been taught how to read in a way that suits the way their brain works. She has had 10-year-olds unable to read a word.

No one blames the teachers, most of whom do a tremendous job, and the best of whom are saints. But as the committee of the National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy (of which I was a member) pointed out last year, as many as 30 per cent of children are leaving school functionally illiterate. The report of the inquiry, released in December, finds that most teacher training institutions aren't giving graduate teachers the repertoire of skills they need to teach all children to read. Less than 10 per cent of course time in university teacher education departments is spent training teachers how to teach reading.

The former education minister, Brendan Nelson, set up the inquiry in response to an open letter from 26 of Australia's literacy researchers, cognitive scientists, psychologists and speech therapists warning of the crisis facing large numbers of children who were failing to learn to read. The scientific verdict was in, they said, and it was overwhelming: phonics was a necessary foundation of reading. But from the start the inquiry was bedevilled by the belief within education circles, and even among some on the committee, that there was no literacy problem, that phonics was already being taught and that our students were superior to those of every country except Finland.

Nelson's concern was dismissed as pandering to right-wing extremists who were committed to imposing "boring phonics" on children as a form of ideological control. One leading educationist even drew a link between the teaching of phonics and the Iraq war. Try as it did to base its findings on the best evidence-based research, the inquiry never managed to escape the whole-word-versus-phonics wars which have been raging for almost 40 years. The attack on its report was led by the popular children's author Mem Fox, a whole-word devotee who seems to think if parents read enough of her books aloud their children will automatically learn to read.

Some might, but at least 25 per cent of children won't, according to Kevin Wheldall, director of Macquarie University's Special Education Centre, and one of Australia's leading literacy experts. Anyone who thinks we do not have a literacy problem should visit Aboriginal students on Cape York. Or perhaps doubters could spend an hour in Wheldall's classroom at the Exodus Foundation in Ashfield, where underprivileged children in years 5 and 6 are given remedial reading instruction. There you will meet children who have spent five years going to school and haven't a clue what those black marks on the page mean.

And as many of the National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy committee discovered, the effect on little boys and girls of not being able to read is devastating. The Reverend Bill Crews set up the Exodus program because, he said, he was "sick of burying kids". Normal, bright children who weren't being taught to read soon grew into sullen pre-teens who felt worthless and preferred to get into trouble than go to school where their "stupidity" was on display.

Nelson, who often visited the Exodus classroom as a backbencher, said when he launched the inquiry's report: "I ask myself, as a layperson, how is it we can live in a country where a boy at the age of 12, with neither a physical nor intellectual disability, can seriously [say], 'I didn't realise it's the black stuff that you read. I didn't realise you start on the left hand side and work to the right.' "

Literacy was a pet project for Nelson and he warned he would withhold funding from states which resisted the recommendations of the inquiry's report, which included systematic phonics teaching, improving teacher education, and testing children regularly. But Nelson has moved on, as politicians do, and his replacement, Julie Bishop, has yet to prove herself. We will know, soon enough, when the federal budget is released in May, how much Nelson's fine words really meant.



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 16, 2006

Pity the Poor Students

By R. E. Smith Jr.

“You’ve got to wonder at what point it’s going to stop,” said the student body president at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, referring to tuition increases. Stop? When do cost increases of any service stop? Oh, sorry, that talk is about a government funded university. Of course, those taking advantage of public supported higher education expect it to be free—actually, they expect other people to pay for their education. The somebody-owes-us attitude is well stamped on immature minds by their elders.

The editorial editor of the Wilmington Star News, frequently calling to dump more money in the university, wrote “The Honorables keep dumping more of the cost onto students and their families….”—as opposed to dumping the cost on state taxpayers. This editor often reminds us that here in North Carolina the state constitution grants free education “as far as practicable….” He does not question cries from university beneficiaries for more money. But “free” is no longer feasible. Taxpayers have given more than their fair share to the bloated bureaucracies.

The prolific university system sprawled across the state uses up a large chunk of the state government budget. For many years new funding has poured into these campuses. In 2000, after intense lobbying by university officials (state employees) and supporters; and promises that bond legislation would not result in raising taxes, a $3.1 billion debt was voted by North Carolinians on themselves.

Jon Sanders, writing in the Carolina Journal in July 2004, described the university spending campaign: “all those chancellors, administrators, legislators, state dignitaries, self-promotional ‘investigative reports’ by WUNC-TV, crying students, UNC officials shamelessly applauding crying students, and student government flunkies speaking at football games….”

And, guess what? Within a year taxes began to increase every year thereafter and the UNC budget continued to increase with no apologies from those who lied to the citizens.

Sanders wrote that the “UNC system played a game of whine and dine.” Officials complained their funds were being “cut to the bone”—but there were no cuts. In 2004, another bond of $340,000 was passed by feckless legislators fearful of being labeled unfriendly to education, without voter or UNC Board of Governors approval. By 2005, the state General Assembly had increased the UNC budget to $1.87 billion.

Meanwhile the university went on a spending spree. New programs; additional buildings; an institute for higher education; operating an airport; buying houses for chancellors; tuition grants; and, of course, salary increases. In 2004, former Chancellor Marye Anne Fox received a $248,225 salary. In addition she was provided a house and car. A university Board member dubbed this generosity as “totally underpaid.”

What are we getting for the huge amounts of money flooding into higher education? Who knows? Academia is unaccountable for its spending habit. Money is dumped into the system with presumed “benefits,” but educational value is questionable. Tax money distributed to counties and cities with university facilities helps local businesses, but economic development is not the purpose of education.

Richard Vetter, an economics professor at Ohio University, in a “National Review” article October 11, 2004, says that there is no value added evaluation of university output. The only accounting is from private rankings which show: “The more the school spends, the higher the ranking.”

But spending does not equate with quantity or quality of education. A recent study by the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy revealed that schools with higher rankings—such as those published by U. S. News and World Report—may not offer instruction as good as that given at lower ranked institutions. Study authors wrote that subjective factors such as “academic reputation” and faculty compensation provide no direct correlation with student learning. Few people realize this, or seem to care.

The “watchdog” press has failed to investigate and report this information. Instead, the editorial attitude, expressed by the Star News, represents advocacy for unaccountability: “Of course, there’s no question that UNCW needs more money….” they say. No question? Based on what?

University chancellors and presidents serve as government lobbyists. Administrative officers (handsomely paid by the state) regularly and successfully plead with legislators and deep-pockets donors to give more money. But what do they do with it? Much of it goes to elaborate facilities, athletic subsidies, higher salaries and other things unrelated to the teaching/learning mission.

The name of the game is to admit more students, few of whom pay their fair share. Grants, deductions, discounts and tax credits subsidize most of the public university cost of tuition to students. Despite increases in the published price of tuition, tuition paid has gone down in recent years—about one-third less from 1998 to 2003, for example.

Instead of whining about perceived increases in tuition, students should be demonstrating against the inefficiencies of the university and demanding better education.

Poor teaching protected by tenure, low faculty teaching loads, top-loaded administrations, emphasis on sports and food services, fluff courses and politically motivated programs divert funds from the essentials of teaching and learning. Students could better spend protest time to correct these problems, and the press would better serve the public by reporting them

The Sad State of American Education

By Nathan Tabor

Each election year, you’ll find a candidate who says we desperately need to pour more money into our public schools. Ignoring the property tax burdens on senior citizens, the candidate will say that taxpayers need to be prepared to spend more on education—even if it entails incredible sacrifice.

There is little doubt that education can be a sound investment. But I have to wonder what schools are using all that tax money for, given the results of a new study by the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum.

The survey showed many things, but here is the most startling fact of them all: Americans know more about the TV cartoon known as “The Simpsons” than they do about the First Amendment. I suppose that, in an age where trivia is king, this should not be all that surprising. However, it should provoke some serious soul-searching among public officials, teachers, and parents.

According to the study, only one in four Americans can name more than one of the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment. For those of you hazy on this point, the five freedoms are freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly, and petition for redress of grievances. Yet, more than half of those surveyed could name at least two members of the Simpson family.

And it gets worse. About one in five Americans can name all five members of the cartoon family, but only one in a thousand can name all the First Amendment freedoms. But this isn’t only about the Simpsons. There’s also the situation involving “American Idol.” More people know the three idol judges—Randy, Paula, and Simon—than know at least three First Amendment rights. In addition, Americans are more likely to remember popular advertising slogans than anything about the First Amendment.

Oh, but there is this gem: one in five people surveyed thought the right to own a pet was protected under the First Amendment. But the question we need to ask ourselves as Americans is not who’s minding the dog—but who’s looking out for our own basic rights as citizens.

But, let’s be clear here. There’s plenty of blame to go around. While it’s true that maybe we should have all paid more attention at school, how much of the school calendar was devoted to the First Amendment—one of the most precious rights the founding fathers could have given us?

Here’s why this is so important: there are numerous instances today of individuals trying to take away our freedoms. For instance, our freedom of speech is threatened by those who say that the only allowable speech on our college campuses should be politically correct speech. Our freedom of religion is routinely targeted by groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, who want to ban God from our schools, courthouses, and civic buildings. Freedom of assembly is challenged by those who believe the only legitimate protests are the left-wing kind.

Of course, the news media routinely trumpet freedom of the press—but it is only one segment of the press many of them are interested in. For instance, conservative columnist Ann Coulter is vilified for expressing her anti-left, anti-establishment views. Fox News is accused of pandering to the right—even though its mission is to provide fair and balanced coverage.

In an Associated Press article, Joe Madeira, director of exhibitions at the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum, said he was actually surprised by the results of his survey.

Madeira told the AP, “Part of the survey really shows there are misconceptions, and part of our mission is to clear up these misconceptions. It means we have our job cut out for us.”

It obvious money isn’t the solution to our education woes. We must return to teaching the basics.


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 15, 2006


Should individuals be forced to pay for something, to pay for anything, that they have no use for? Would you expect to receive a bill from say, the gas company, if you did not use natural gas in your home? Would you pay an invoice from an appliance store where you had never made a purchase in your life? Why would you pay a milkman who never delivered any milk? Would it help to be told that you are being charged for all these things because you must be forced to contribute “your fair share” for the benefit of everyone that does use those goods and services? Your fair share? What is fair about forcing people to pay for things they do not need and will never use?

There is nothing fair about forcing people to pay for things they do not use, of course. Hence is the problem with every universal social program that has ever been concocted by human beings, to which education is no exception. Any social program that is applied to all taxpayers, by design, forces some people to pay for some things they will not use. It does not take a genius to figure out, that is just plain wrong.

How do I know it doesn’t take a genius to come such a simple realization? Well, because some Canadian politicians have apparently come to realize that it is wrong to charge people for things they do not use, particularly public education. And, I am of the opinion that if politicians of any stripe can figure it out, surely anyone can. The good news is, if you are a senior citizen living in Ontario you get a reimbursement on your property taxes for the schools you are not using. I hope someone in the States is paying attention.

It all started in May of 2003 when Janet Ecker, Ontario’s Minister of Finance, introduced the “Ontario Home Property Tax Relief for Seniors Act.” It proposed a new program that provided senior homeowners and renters a refund for a portion of the property tax on their principal residences. The refund is expressly for the “education portion” of their tax bills. In other words, Ontario does not make its senior citizens pay for schools they are not using. It looks like Ontario’s government is at least trying to be fair with some of its taxpayers and I certainly applaud the effort.

Under Minister Ecker’s “Ontario Home Property Tax Relief for Seniors Act” it is estimated that seniors will see savings on their taxes of 450 million dollars annually. That works out to about $475 in annual savings for each of Ontario’s 945,000 senior households. It may not seem like very much, but I bet it means a lot to those almost one million taxpayers getting the tax break they desperately need and rightfully deserve.

Now, I can hear the critics screaming already about the government’s loss of 450 million dollars in revenue for education, and how it must surely adversely affect the quality of education the children are receiving. Well, it is not really such a big deal according to Ontario’s own Ministry of Finance website which had this to say about property-tax relief:

“Providing property tax relief for seniors in no way diminishes the government’s commitment to public education, which is based on a student-focussed (sic) funding model. With the enhancements announced in the 2003 Budget, education funding for the upcoming 2003-04 school year, including direct provincial transfers and education property taxes, stands at a record $15.3 billion — the highest level of education funding in Ontario’s history, which represents a $2.4 billion increase since 1995.”

So you see, the government, nor the children, are really hurting at all from doing the right thing for taxpayers that already carry way too much of the burden created by the beast Bureaucracy.

Now, how about taking this exercise in fairness one-step further. As I said, I applaud Ontario’s government in realizing an unjust taxation when they see it; and, for moving in the right direction to address a flaw in the system. But, if government is showing this kind of understanding toward the elderly, how much harder would it be to recognize all the other unfortunate victims of an unfair tax? If Ontario’s government is to be criticized at all in its efforts to reform taxes for education, it is only that they haven’t gone far enough. Many individuals are unjustly taxed every year to help pay for public school systems they do not need or use, and they need to be recognized right along with the elderly.

Who are these forgotten individuals who are forced to pay for government schools they are not using, you ask? First and foremost are the single taxpayers that do not have dependent children. Some, of course, will meet other singles, marry and have children, but many of them will never have children and never need a public school system. It is simply unfair, as it is with the senior citizens, to force these individuals to pay for a service they never use. One cannot claim someone else has a fair share of anything in which they do not share.

Even individuals that do have children must be considered on an individual basis in order to continue our exercise in fairness. How about the parents that choose not to send their precious offspring to government-controlled schools, but instead choose to send them to private institutions? And what about the parents that have decided to educate their own children at home? We can’t forget any parent that has chosen alternatives to public schools because they just don’t use the system. Why should any of these people be forced to pay for services that are not being provided for them? Don’t they deserve a tax break too? Well, of course they do!

The answer is really quite simple. Individuals should not be forced to pay for anything they are not using, so only make people pay for what they use. If parents chose to take advantage of state-run schools, then they certainly should be expected to pay the government for the service. But, if individuals are not using a public education system, they should not be forced to pay for one.

Simple! Pay for what you use. Why should education be different from any other commodity on the free market? Only those that actually use a product should be expected to pay for it, even if the product happens to be education.


Audit: 40 felons work in UW System, four on academic staff

And you can bet that they would all still be sitting pretty except for media attention

The University of Wisconsin System, under fire for its employment practices, employed 40 felons as of this fall, four of them on the academic staff, according to an audit released Tuesday. The nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau reviewed the system's employment rolls after concerns were raised last year following media reports on three professors who kept their jobs despite felony convictions. One of the professors was fired earlier this year.

The audit noted state statutes prohibit job discrimination based on an employee's arrest or conviction record unless the conviction is substantially related to the person's job. The UW System took steps earlier this month to expedite the termination of faculty who are convicted of serious criminal misconduct.

The audit found: 27 of the 40 felons work at UW-Madison. Two of the workers were convicted of homicide during the 1970s and have been on parole since the early 1990s. Four employees were convicted of a total of five sexual assaults of a child. There were 54 felonies committed by the 40 employees. Nine of them were considered violent. The nonviolent offenses included fraud and forgery, operating a vehicle while intoxicated, theft, and drug possession. The report on felons is part of a larger review the Audit Bureau is conducting of UW System employment practices.


Some offbeat "Education" quotes

"In the first place God made idiots; that was for practice; then he made school boards." (Mark Twain)

"Dublin University contains the dream of Ireland - rich and thick." (Samuel Beckett)

"Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education." (Mark Twain)

"Don't let schooling interfere with your education." (Mark Twain)

"I won't say ours was a tough school, but we had our own coroner. We used to write essays like 'What I'm going to be if I grow up.'" (Lenny Bruce)

"In our school you were searched for guns and knifes on the way in and if you didn't have any, they gave you some." (Emo Philips)


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, March 14, 2006

Behind The Veneer Of Public Education

Americans who love their country and its heritage have been outraged as they learned of Aurora Colorado geography teacher Jay Bennish, who was recorded by a student last month as he spewed anti-American diatribe to his class. But should anyone really be surprised? By no means is this an isolated incident.

Students who have been immersed in similar venom are alarmingly easy to spot. They are the geography students who can fluently regurgitate the wisdom of Cindy Sheehan, but who cannot find Oklahoma on a map.

They are the math students who can elaborate on the “failures” of Reaganomics and the inherent superiority of Maoist fiscal policy, but who cannot make change when working behind a cash register. And they are the history students who can recite the lyrics of every Vietnam era protest song and believe World War II was only about the internment of Japanese Americans, but who have not a clue as to the historical significance of Washington or Lincoln.

Amazingly, the liberal education establishment has, over the past several decades, brilliantly turned this deplorable situation into an ongoing political and financial boon. As students’ academic scores continue to tumble, the inevitable result of being taught such claptrap in lieu of traditional education, educrats invariably respond with endless calls for increased funding, ostensibly to “fix” the problem.

Throughout the nation, the annual “fix” to the education crisis is enormous increases in budgetary allotments towards education, with no commensurate academic improvement.

Any responsible legislator who refuses to go along with this ruse is publicly excoriated as being “anti-education” and “anti-child.” Few possess the courage or principle to face such a firestorm. So, budgets continue to bloat, staffing is increased, facilities undergo costly upgrades, and in the end, the indoctrination continues unabated.

Why, in the midst of such a program that bestows incentives for failure, should the education establishment ever consider changing course? Indeed, on the day that schools begin turning out brighter students who score better on their SAT tests, the “education” lobby will lose its most powerful weapon for pressuring legislative bodies and the general public to allow it even greater access to the public trough.

It is beyond naive to hope that this abysmal cycle will somehow correct itself, especially as long as the current situation keeps providing such a reliable “win/win” for the left.

Nevertheless, it is primarily the parents of school-aged children who bear ultimate responsibility for this dismal state of affairs. As is evident from the public outrage and surprise over the Colorado episode, most Americans remain unaware of the degree to which government schools have mutated into something grotesquely distorted from their original purpose.

To this day, far too many parents staunchly believe that such abominable events are not happening in their own communities, and that their own children’s declining test scores will indeed be fixable if school budgets are expanded during the next legislative session. This situation cannot ever be expected to change until the public becomes thoroughly aware of the extent of the problem and commits to the difficult task of true educational reform.

Unfortunately, from federal to local levels, the political system is presently stacked against any such fix. Among the “highlights” of President Bush’s first term was a multi-billion dollar education bill, passed with the collaboration of Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy.

Doggedly opposing true reform, Kennedy was nonetheless able to funnel unfathomable sums of money into the hands of a political lobby that will ensure much of it returns to the campaign coffers of liberal Democrats. Meanwhile, he can cast himself as a patron saint of “education” and an advocate of children, all with the public blessing of a Republican President.

Only when conservative office holders muster the courage to face the inevitable political fallout, will America have any hope of changing the status quo. Until then, the Colorado situation will predictably recur on an endless basis, its victims moving henceforth into society to conduct their lives, and perhaps participate in government, philosophically undergirded by such criminally fraudulent information.

And liberal educrats will not stop there. Look for them to pursue an ever-expanding reach. The Colorado student who secretly recorded his ranting teacher on an MP3 player had obviously not been properly indoctrinated.

Thus can be explained the seeming disparity between the education establishment’s inability to fulfill its traditional responsibilities, in contrast to its craven aspirations for an ever greater role in rearing the next generation.


Airy-Fairy education in Australia

Universities and TAFE colleges are turning out graduates who are not "job-ready" and have skills better suited to academic pursuits, warn leading Australian business groups. The Business Council of Australia accuses universities of stifling the "culture of entrepreneurship", producing graduates without adequate problem-solving skills. The group, which represents the nation's 100 biggest companies, says this failure is choking creativity and limiting Australia's competitiveness in the global market. In a major report backed by companies across many industries, the BCA will urge academics to put greater emphasis on communication skills and to ensure that students are given a solid grounding in the basic skills required in the workplace.

The BCA report, due for release today, comes as federal Education Minister Julie Bishop considers proposals to introduce a "job-ready" rating into Year 12 certificates. "Employers are concerned about the lack of skills regarding creativity, initiative, oral business communication and problem-solving among graduates," the report says. "Research still shows a significant lack of entrepreneurial skills among Australians. "There is increasing recognition of the importance of delivering 'employability skills' associated with communication, teamwork and problem-solving for innovative business. "Courses and programs needed to be practice-based, relevant and appropriate for business innovation needs -- rather than suiting particular academic interests and pursuits."

The report also says that red tape, infrastructure gaps and Australia's tax system all work against innovation. Companies warned that the tax system requires reform to encourage business innovation and the personal taxation system was a "major constraint" in attracting talented workers from overseas. The BCA argues for a broader definition of innovation that includes business strategy and training. "Many companies also raised various concerns about the ability of the education and training system to deliver the skills that were essential for business innovation success," the report warns. "Many companies noted that the education and training systems were not providing graduates with the technical skills appropriate to industry innovation needs. For example, a number of companies noted that university engineering graduates were not skilled in simulation techniques that were being increasingly used throughout business."

The claims prompted an angry response last night from one of the nation's most respected university chiefs, Melbourne University vice-chancellor Glyn Davis, who urged business to "produce the evidence" that graduate quality was in decline. The chairman of the Group of 8 "sandstone universities", Professor Davis said the opinions of the BCA did not constitute evidence. "The fact is that 95per cent of graduates are snapped up within three months of leaving university," he said. "I don't know if there's much graduate-bashing around but I do know we track performance. "I do know our graduates get jobs and they are highly skilled. "One of the big issues for Australia is the big number of graduates who head overseas and have no trouble getting jobs in the UK, China and India."

In a separate report also due for release today by the BCA, Changing Paradigms, one of Australia's biggest car manufacturers, Holden, says engineering graduates are a particular concern. "Holden Innovation considers that universities have fallen behind in the ability to meet industry needs," the report says. Australia's biggest independent oil and gas exploration company, Woodside, also notes that the education system is "not turning out enough skilled people". Insurance Australia Group also raises concerns about the shortage of workers in the panel-beating and motor vehicle repair trades.



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, March 13, 2006


Post lifted from the Adam Smith blog

Many state school teachers might be prepared to defend comprehensive schools and oppose selection in principle, but not when it comes to their own children. Geraldine Hackett, Sunday Times education correspondent reports that many of them who contribute to an education website run by the Times Educational Supplement (TES) admit either to playing the system to get their children into preferred schools, or to going independent. Some teachers have admitted to lying about their religious commitment in order to get their children into high quality faith schools, or to using false addresses within the catchment areas of good schools.

What shines through these contributions is a complete rejection of the allocation of their own children to local, low quality schools, and to unconcealed contempt and derision for some of those schools. Other parents might have to accept places in bottom-of-the-league schools, but these teachers are not, no matter what it takes to escape them.
Alan Smithers, professor of education at Buckingham University, said he was concerned by the entries on the TES website, which is mainly used by state school teachers. "Teachers know the school system best," said Smithers. "If they are thinking it is not good enough for their children, that is an indication that something must be seriously wrong."
It is an indication of something else, too. Bear in mind that a place dishonestly obtained at a good state school is a good place denied to another child. Some state school teachers, it seems, are quite prepared to let other children suffer, provided their own are preferred. State school teachers who choose private schools for their children are at least not harming the chances of other state schoolchildren.


And parents are allowed no say over how their own children are treated

We all have different tastes, likes and dislikes and this is America after all, the world's greatest Democracy where individuals ALWAYS have freedom of choice! At least we're supposed to, unless you happen to be a parent of multiple birth children (twins, triplets, quads etc) entering the school system. Then you probably won't have any choice, unless you move to Europe.

Under the Constitution, parental rights to "direct the education and upbringing of ones children", have long been protected in addition to other specific freedoms under the Bill of Rights. Yet parents of multiple birth children are being denied the freedom to decide whether or not their children would benefit more from being placed together or if they would be better off being placed separately within the classroom. Although cousins and best friends are often placed together without concern, our education system allows some school districts and principles to impose "across the board" separation policies of twins, based solely upon their "multiplicity" in the hopes of promoting "individuality".

A contradiction perhaps? Children who are not being judged on their OWN individual merits are being treated as a "GROUP" in order to promote "individuality", based of a trait determined prior to their birth? Discriminatory even? I believe it's both. But on the other hand, maybe you think it does seem logical to separate children born and are raised together in order to promote their "individuality", so why all the fuss? Well imagine you're a coffee drinker again, but Starbucks gives you indigestion. You would want another choice, wouldn't you? Well, some twins and even their parents end up with indigestion-theoretically that is.

Internationally renown Twin Researchers and Authors, Dr. Nancy Segal and Dr. John Mascazine, as well as the International Society of Twin Studies and National Multiple Birth Advocates, have all called for forced separation policies to end and for a flexible placement policy to be instituted. In their studies, they have found that separating some 'twins' before they are emotionally ready, can cause psychological and academic repercussions which in some instances can last for years. Although some children do well when separated, others seem to benefit both academically and socially when they are allowed to remain within the same classroom as their sibling. You guessed it, research shows, what we all could have surmised just from a trip to the supermarket, choice is good and what's good for one is NOT always good for all!

So why, with all this information available to educators, do many schools still NOT allow parents to have a choice? The answer is simple. They have ALWAYS done things this way and like most discriminatory practices which have eventually been outlawed in this country, they most often apply to a minority of the population. Multiples, though there are more twins than ever being born every year, still remain a minority. That is why, twin parents like myself, have joined together and begun a campaign to see that Legislation of a "Twin Bill" becomes sponsored and enacted into law. The Bill would allow parents of twins, triplets and higher order multiples to have a "voice" in the placement decision's of their multiple birth children either separately or together within the classroom. Minnesota's Senator Dennis Frederickson sponsored the first "Twin Bill" which was signed into law on May 5th 2005 and I am determined to see that New York follows suit. After all, I live in the Big Apple, the world's melting pot, where anything can happen and everything is possible.

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


Sunday, March 12, 2006


Failure in the classroom is often tied to lack of funding, poor teachers or other ills. Here's a thought: Maybe it's the failed work ethic of today's kids. That's what I'm seeing in my school. Until reformers see this reality, little will change.

Last month, as I averaged the second-quarter grades for my senior English classes at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va., the same familiar pattern leapt out at me. Kids who had emigrated from foreign countries - such as Shewit Giovanni from Ethiopia, Farah Ali from Guyana and Edgar Awumey from Ghana - often aced every test, while many of their U.S.-born classmates from upper-class homes with highly educated parents had a string of C's and D's.

As one would expect, the middle-class American kids usually had higher SAT verbal scores than did their immigrant classmates, many of whom had only been speaking English for a few years. What many of the American kids I taught did not have was the motivation, self-discipline or work ethic of the foreign-born kids.

Politicians and education bureaucrats can talk all they want about reform, but until the work ethic of U.S. students changes, until they are willing to put in the time and effort to master their subjects, little will change. A study released in December by University of Pennsylvania researchers Angela Duckworth and Martin Seligman suggests that the reason so many U.S. students are "falling short of their intellectual potential" is not "inadequate teachers, boring textbooks and large class sizes" and the rest of the usual litany cited by the so-called reformers - but "their failure to exercise self-discipline."

The sad fact is that in the USA, hard work on the part of students is no longer seen as a key factor in academic success. The groundbreaking work of Harold Stevenson and a multinational team at the University of Michigan comparing attitudes of Asian and American students sounded the alarm more than a decade ago. When asked to identify the most important factors in their performance in math, the percentage of Japanese and Taiwanese students who answered "studying hard" was twice that of American students.

American students named native intelligence, and some said the home environment. But a clear majority of U.S. students put the responsibility on their teachers. A good teacher, they said, was the determining factor in how well they did in math. "Kids have convinced parents that it is the teacher or the system that is the problem, not their own lack of effort," says Dave Roscher, a chemistry teacher at T.C. Williams in this Washington suburb. "In my day, parents didn't listen when kids complained about teachers. We are supposed to miraculously make kids learn even though they are not working." As my colleague Ed Cannon puts it: "Today, the teacher is supposed to be responsible for motivating the kid. If they don't learn it is supposed to be our problem, not theirs." And, of course, busy parents guilt-ridden over the little time they spend with their kids are big subscribers to this theory.

Maybe every generation of kids has wanted to take it easy, but until the past few decades students were not allowed to get away with it. "Nowadays, it's the kids who have the power. When they don't do the work and get lower grades, they scream and yell. Parents side with the kids who pressure teachers to lower standards," says Joel Kaplan, another chemistry teacher at T.C. Williams. Every year, I have had parents come in to argue about the grades I have given in my AP English classes. To me, my grades are far too generous; to middle-class parents, they are often an affront to their sense of entitlement. If their kids do a modicum of work, many parents expect them to get at least a B. When I have given C's or D's to bright middle-class kids who have done poor or mediocre work, some parents have accused me of destroying their children's futures.

It is not only parents, however, who are siding with students in their attempts to get out of hard work. "Schools play into it," says psychiatrist Lawrence Brain, who counsels affluent teenagers throughout the Washington metropolitan area. "I've been amazed to see how easy it is for kids in public schools to manipulate guidance counselors to get them out of classes they don't like. They have been sent a message that they don't have to struggle to achieve if things are not perfect."

Neither the high-stakes state exams, such as Virginia's Standards of Learning, nor the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act have succeeded in changing that message; both have turned into minimum-competency requirements aimed at the lowest in our school. Colleges keep complaining that students are coming to them unprepared. Instead of raising admissions standards, however, they keep accepting mediocre students lest cuts have to be made in faculty and administration.

As a teacher, I don't object to the heightened standards required of educators in the No Child Left Behind law. Who among us would say we couldn't do a little better? Nonetheless, teachers have no control over student motivation and ambition, which have to come from the home - and from within each student. Perhaps the best lesson I can pass along to my upper- and middle-class students is to merely point them in the direction of their foreign-born classmates, who can remind us all that education in America is still more a privilege than a right.



The all-night student who parties until dawn and lives off stale pizzas and black coffee in university digs is, it seems, a myth. Undergraduates are indeed sipping Starbucks, but they are eating healthily, drinking less and living at home to save money. They are also socialising away from university, as more than half hold down a job for up to 20 hours a week and a fifth are teetotallers.

Unions and academics caution, however, that the new lifestyle undermines the purpose of higher education and that students are in danger of missing the opportunities it offers.

Faced with looming debts, nearly half a million or 449,488 of the 2,247,440 students in Britain are now choosing to live with their parents while studying at university, according to a survey of 2,200 undergraduates commissioned by Sodexho, an institutional catering company. Of those, four fifths pay nothing towards their rent and little towards their upkeep. While the cushioned home life might have its attractions, researchers point out that two thirds never join in campus life, they are five times more likely to work part time and commute up to four hours a day.

The most common rent for those who do pay is between 61 and 70 pounds per week, spent by 17 per cent of students. Nearly a quarter, 24 per cent of students, live on a weekly budget of between 41 and 50 pounds after paying rent. Professor Stuart Sanderson, associate dean at Bradford University School of Management, said: "They live at home, commute long-distances, work in term-time and pursue their social life almost entirely off campus." He said that these students "are missing out on the wider aspects of a university education while better-off undergraduates can spread their wings and whoop it up a little with their peers".

The findings, which come before the 3,000 pounds deferred tuition fees this autumn, worry student leaders. Veronica King, Vice-President of the National Union of Students, said that with more students living at home and undertaking part-time work, universities' "central ethos" risked being undermined as well as causing concern among business leaders. "Students are choosing to work part time, which means they are less likely to get involved in the student union and if they live at home, they have another barrier to joining societies and getting involved in fundraising activities," she said.

Universities UK said yesterday that the survey confirmed many of their own findings, particularly that students now spend a fifth less on alcohol than they did in 2001. He also pointed out that, although higher tuition fees would be introduced from September, no one would have to pay them back until after they were earning more than 15,000 pounds per year



Most high school students eagerly await the day they pass driver's education class. But 16-year-old Mayra Ramirez is indifferent about it. Ramirez is blind, yet she and dozens of other visually impaired sophomores in Chicago schools are required to pass a written rules-of-the-road exam in order to graduate _ a rule they say takes time away from subjects they might actually use. "In other classes, you don't really feel different because you can do the work other people do," Ramirez said. "But in driver's ed, it does give us the feeling we're different. In a way, it brought me down, because it reminds me of something I can't do."

Hundreds of school districts in Illinois require students to pass driver's ed, although the state only requires that districts offer the courses. A state education official says districts that require it should exempt disabled students. "It defies logic to require blind students to take this course," Meta Minton, spokeswoman for the state Board of Education, told the Chicago Tribune in a Friday story.

About 30 students at two Chicago high schools with programs for the visually impaired recently formed an advocacy group in part to change the policy.

A Chicago Public Schools official said the district would be open to waiving the requirement. "I can't explain why up to this point no one has raised the issue and suggested a better way for visually impaired students to opt out of driver's ed," said Chicago schools spokesman Michael Vaughn. Vaughn said parents of disabled students can, by law, request a change in their child's individual education plan, which could include a driver's ed exemption. But teachers and students said that is a little-known option, and that they have been told driver's ed is required to graduate.



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