Saturday, December 02, 2006

Mob Rule on College Campuses

America's college campuses, once thought to be bastions of free speech, have become increasingly intolerant toward the practice. Visiting speakers whose views do not conform to the prevailing left-leaning political mind-set on most campuses are at particular risk of having their free speech rights infringed upon. While academia has its own crimes to atone for, it's the students who have become the bullies as of late. A disturbing number seem to feel that theirs is an inviolate world to which no one of differing opinion need apply. As a result, everything from pie throwing to disrupting speeches to attacks on speakers has become commonplace.

Conservative speakers have long been the targets of such illiberal treatment. The violent reception given to Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman Project, an anti-illegal immigration group, at Columbia University in October is a recent example. Gilchrist had been invited to speak by the Columbia University College Republicans, but was prevented from doing so by an unruly mob of students. What could have been mere heckling descended into yelling, screaming, kicking and punching, culminating in the rushing of the stage and Gilchrist being shuttled off by security.

The fact that the rioting students could be heard yelling, "He has no right to speak!" was telling. Apparently, in their minds, neither Gilchrist nor anyone else with whom they disagree has a right to express their viewpoints. In any other setting this would be called exactly what it is -- totalitarianism. But in the untouchable Ivy League world of Columbia, it was chalked up to student activism gone awry. While condemning the incident, Columbia University President Lee Bollinger has yet to apologize to Gilchrist or to conclude the supposed investigation into the affair. In other words, mob rule won the day.

Bay Area PC Intolerance

Such behavior is certainly not limited to East Coast universities. Last February at San Francisco State University, former liberal activist-author turned conservative activist-author David Horowitz had his entire speech shouted down by a group of protesters. Composed primarily of students and other members of the Spartacus Youth Club, a Trotskyist organization, the group stood in the back of the room shouting slogans and comments at every turn. Even this was not enough to warrant their removal, so Horowitz and his audience, which included me, simply had to suffer through the experience. Horowitz, whose speech centered on his Academic Bill of Rights, took on his critics and attempted to engage them in dialogue, with varying degrees of success. But those who actually came to hear him speak, whether out of sympathy for his views or out of a desire to tackle them intellectually, were unable to do so fully because of the actions of a few bullies.

It is not only conservative speakers who are at risk of having their free speech rights trampled upon on American college campuses. Those who dare criticize radical Islam in any way, shape or form tend to suffer the same fate. In 2004, UC Berkeley became the locus for bullying behavior during a speech by Islam scholar Daniel Pipes. I was witness to the spectacle, one I'll never forget. Members of the Muslim Student Association and other protesters formed a disruptive group in the audience, shouting, jeering and chanting continually. They booed loudly throughout and called Pipes everything from "racist" and "Zionist" (which in their minds is an insult) to "racist Jew" -- all because Pipes had the audacity to propose that moderate Muslims distance themselves from extremist elements in their midst; that in tackling terrorism authorities take into account the preponderance of Muslim perpetrators and that Israel has a right to exist peacefully among its neighbors. This was hardly the first time that UC Berkeley students had espoused hostility toward speakers with "unpopular" views or those hailing from "unpopular" countries such as Israel. Nonetheless, it was a wake-up call for many in the audience who had not yet experienced first-hand the intimidation of the mob.

Muslim Reformers Silenced

Recently, reformers from within the Muslim world itself have been on the receiving end of such treatment. Whether it be the work of student groups or faculty, insurmountable security restrictions and last-minute cancellations have a strange way of arising whenever such figures are invited to speak on college campuses. Arab American activist and author Nonie Darwish was to speak at Brown University earlier this month, when the event was canceled because her views were deemed "too controversial" by members of the Muslim Students' Association. Given that Darwish is the author of the recently released book, "Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel and the War on Terror," such claims are hardly unpredictable. Like most Muslim reformers, Darwish must overcome the resistance within her own community, aided and abetted by misguided liberal sympathizers, in order to get her message across.

Darwish was born and raised a Muslim in Egypt and later lived in Gaza. It was during this time that she had several experiences that led her to reject the anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism with which she was indoctrinated as a child. She eventually emigrated to the United States and has since dedicated her life to exposing the ways that hatred and intolerance are crippling the Muslim world and leading to violence against non-Muslims. Her pro-Israel views led to an invitation from the campus Jewish group Hillel to speak at Brown University. Unfortunately, the very same organization later backed out, fearing that their relationship with the Muslim Students' Association would be harmed by the experience. But if such a relationship is based on mutually assured censorship, then it's hardly worth preserving. In the end, all of Brown's students missed out on what would undoubtedly have been a thought-provoking experience. Word has it that Brown University has re-invited Darwish to speak, no doubt in response to the furor, so perhaps students will have that opportunity after all.

Terrorists Recant

Walid Shoebat, a former PLO terrorist turned Christian convert and outspoken anti-jihadist, fared slightly better at Columbia University in October. Shoebat is the author of "Why I Left Jihad: The Root of Terrorism and the Return of Radical Islam." He was invited to speak by the Columbia College Republicans, along with former Lebanese terrorist Zachariah Anani and former Nazi Hitler Youth member and German soldier, Hilmar von Campe. All three have renounced their former anti-Semitic views and dedicated themselves to exposing radical Islam in a no-holds-barred fashion. They managed to give their presentation, but the turnout was greatly impacted by last-minute changes to security policies implemented in the wake of the Jim Gilchrist debacle. As a result, 75 to 120 people who had RSVP'd for the event were turned away at the door because only Columbia students and 20 guests were allowed to attend. An e-mail sent out 3 hours before the event was the only forewarning, and as one would expect, most of those planning to attend didn't receive it in time. The event had been widely advertised in the blogosphere, and those denied entry were not only greatly inconvenienced but also greatly disappointed. Members of student groups who had boycotted the event were much cheerier at the prospect of a low turnout. A post at the blog for the Blue and White, Columbia's undergraduate magazine, expressed eagerness for "pretty pictures of empty chairs." Unfortunately, they got their wish, to the detriment of open discourse at Columbia.

Illiberal Mob Rule

It's a sad state of affairs indeed when the figures of moderation and reform that many who call themselves liberal or progressive should in theory support are instead shunned in the name of political correctness. For how can one expect to promote progress while helping to stifle the voices at its heart? People such as Shoebat and Darwish, who literally risk their lives to call attention to a grave threat to all our rights, are the true freedom fighters of our day. But far too many accord that label to those who choose to effect political change by blowing themselves up in a crowd of civilians or by randomly lobbing rockets into homes and schools or by promoting hatred of other religions. By excusing such behavior and simultaneously helping to suppress reformers, liberal student groups are in fact aiding the very totalitarian forces they claim to oppose. They have in effect become part of the problem, not part of the solution.

It would be nice if we could look to our colleges and universities as the bearers of progress, but at this rate it seems an unlikely prospect. If we are to truly promote an atmosphere of intellectual openness, respectful political debate and the free flow of ideas on campus, then we must stem the tide of thuggery, bullying and intolerance that threatens to subsume future generations. Otherwise, we cede the day to mob rule.



A-level examinations will be made tougher with a return to more stretching, open-ended questions and the introduction of a new A* grade for the most able pupils, the Government said yesterday. The move is part of a radical reform of the examinations system at 16-plus designed to help universities and employers to identify the brightest students. The sweeping changes also mean that more state schools will offer the highly academic [and politically correct] International Baccalaureate (IB) and new specialised vocational diplomas.

Tony Blair said that the measures were designed to provide more choice to ensure that students could choose the courses that best met their individual abilities and needs. The Prime Minister said that, at the same time, he wanted to double the number of academies [charter schools] from 200 to 400 so that, there would be more variety in the types of school available. Mr Blair used a speech to the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust annual conference in Birmingham to highlight Labour’s reforms in education in the past ten years.

The reforms to A levels, to be introduced in 2008 for exams in 2010, have been prompted by widespread concerns that the exam has been devalued. A generation ago, one in ten entrants received an A-grade. Today, that is one in four. Many universities have introduced their own tests for popular subjects to identify the best applicants. Now questions will require greater thought and more detailed written answers.

Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, said that the changes would give pupils “the opportunity to shine and show their skills”. The new A* grade for students gaining the top marks is designed to introduce an element of discrimination between students who scrape through with an A at 80 per cent and those who sail through with 99 per cent. Students will also be required to produce a dissertation of about 4,000 words requiring independent research and the number of A-level modules will be reduced from six to four.

The Government has decided to increase the number of state schools offering the IB, a two-year curriculum in which students study six subjects and have to write a 4,000-word essay and complete community service. It is available in 46 state schools and 30 independent schools in England.

Mr Blair said he hoped that up to 100 additional institutions would offer it by 2010. About 26,000 pounds will be made available to each school applying to offer the IB to cover staff training, accreditation and other start-up costs. The reforms drew a mixed response. John Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said that the IB was not appropriate for students of all abilities. Steve Sinnott, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said that too many different types of exam were being taken in different schools, causing confusion.



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. My Home Pages are here or here or here.


Friday, December 01, 2006

Laurie David Curbs Her Enthusiasm for Balance, and for Science

Hollywood spouse and apparent climate expert Laurie David has a piece in today's WaPo, expressing outrage that corporate America is helping to support science education in the schools. As outrages go, this one is truly a head-scratcher. Her latest rant was triggered by the National Science Teachers Association's refusal to accept 50,000 free copies of Al Gore's one-sided propaganda film, "An Inconvenient Truth," a political film with a political message made by a once and likely future Presidential candidate.

David smells a rat since NSTA is the recipient of corporate largess supporting science education in the schools, presumably an otherwise-laudable goal. Seems that the nation's premiere organization of science teachers demurred because they didn't want to offer a "political" endorsement of the film. What?!? The nation's science teachers are concerned about politics masked as science? Go figure. A portion of Corporate America's contributions, says David, supports a program that brings "standards-based teaching and learning" into the school. Oh, the horror. Imagine if standards-based teaching caught on -- where would it end?

David, of course, has been widely critiqued for her hypocrisy, Gulfstreaming around the country and fouling up the wetlands in Martha's Vineyard, site of one of her many homes -- all energy-efficient, no doubt. Every one of them. As for the "Gulfstreaming" of liberals, said Greg Easterbrook, quoting Eric Alterman, "Conservation is what other people should do."

But the piece doesn't fall for hypocrisy alone, although it's an eyesore. She also is just flat wrong on the facts, referring twice to "shortfalls in education funding" and "tight education budgets." This when education budgets are at all-time highs, far outpacing student performance. No matter. This alleged shortfall is the gap through which corporate America is rushing, filling it all with so much propaganda in David's view. Like programs that support standards-based teaching and learning.

We saw a piece last week that critiqued Al Gore's dismissal of peer review. California Attorney General Bill Lockyer has hunted down those who disagree with him on climate change with unequaled zeal. This Star Chamber "off with their heads" approach to this debate by the left is a new low -- even for the left. This is a world where no dissent is entertained, where skeptics are harassed and intimidated. Whatever happened to open debate?

For our part, we applaud the move of the nation's science teachers, who teach the scientific method every day, who hopefully are instilling in young minds some degree of curiosity, inquisitiveness and yes, even skepticism. In the end, that's what science teachers are supposed to be teaching.


(In case you didn't know, Ms David's expertise is primarily in comedy: Before working full time on environmental and political issues, Ms. David had a distinguished career in entertainment spanning two coasts. She began her career in New York City as a talent coordinator for the David Letterman show. Four years later she left to start her own management company, representing many of today's top comedians as well as comedy writers. She also produced several comedy specials for HBO, Showtime, MTV, and Fox Television. Upon moving to Los Angeles, Ms. David became vice president of comedy development for a division of Fox Broadcasting and developed sitcoms for Twentieth Century Television. In the summer of 1998, Ms. David produced her first feature film, Sour Grapes)

The NSTA also has a comment on the lady's rant here


That an extraordinarily successful institution was in need of fundamental reform was always absurd

Oxford's reform plans were thrown into chaos last night when academics unexpectedly threw out proposals to hand strategic control of the university to outsiders. In what amounts to a crushing blow for John Hood, the Vice-Chancellor, the academics voted by a massive majority against his amended Governance White Paper.

The vote calls into question the future of Dr Hood, the first outsider Vice-Chancellor of the 900-year-old university, who had staked his name on pushing through the controversial reforms. Not since Congregation - the university's "parliament of dons" - voted overwhelmingly to reject a proposed honorary degree for Margaret Thatcher in 1985 has the university been so divided.

The 17th-century Sheldonian Theatre was again the scene of rancorous debate last night, as 28 academics sought to persuade colleagues that plans to switch to a modern corporate style of governance would change the university for better or worse. In the end, the opponents, led by Nicholas Bamforth, a law lecturer and Fellow of Queen's College, won the day when 730 dons voted against the proposals and 456 voted in favour.

At times it sounded like a boardroom meeting, with references repeatedly made to the institution's 1.2 billion pounds value, and the vital role played by effective management structures. But the grand theatre was a far cry from any city conference room and the regal attire of the key participants bore little resemblance to the average business suit. Sitting on his gilded throne, flanked by purple-robed proctors and the silver staff-wielding bedels, Dr Hood sat passively, as fellow after fellow took up the attack.

Mr Bamforth called on Congregation to reject the proposals as they would not bring more sovereignty, but would "reduce the number of directly elected members on key decision-making bodies". He said: "There are plenty of things that are wrong with the university's present administrative processes. But these are best resolved by administrative reform, not by the wholesale ripping up of our present constitution," he said.

Dr Hood had recommended ending 900 years of self-rule by creating a board of directors with a majority of externally appointed members to approve the budget and oversee the running of the university. He had argued that his reforms would improve accountability and transparency and were crucial to Oxford retaining its international dominance. His opponents, however, feared that, ultimately, financial interests could outweigh Oxford's academic priorities, to the detriment of students, staff and the university. Facing an 8 million pound deficit this year, they believe the move could mean the end of one-to-one tutorials and pressurise them to take more wealthy overseas students.

Professor Iain McLean, Politics Fellow at Nuffield College, pointed out that Oxford had few supporters outside the university and as a regulated charity, it must have accountable trustees. However, after three hours of debate, Dr Hood and his reformers were defeated. Putting a brave face on the result, Dr Hood said it was part of "a lengthy and complex democratic process which has clearly reached an important stage". However, he hinted that the vote may be put again to all 3,700 members of Congregation in a postal vote next month, which would be decided by a majority and would be final. "That process permits a postal vote and a decision about that will have to be taken in the next few days," he said. "It is for council or 50 members of Congregation to take that decision, which is entirely in keeping with the university's democratic process." Privately, his supporters judged it unlikely that council would opt for a postal vote and risk another humiliation. Dr Hood had been backed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England and by Lord Patten of Barnes, the Oxford Chancellor.



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. My Home Pages are here or here or here.


Thursday, November 30, 2006


Australian education has been substantially destroyed by Leftist State governments and the Feds are trying to undo at least some of the damage. Five current articles below:

Moral compass returning in postmodern schools

Kevin Donnelly believes the Left is losing the argument about school values

Education has traditionally been an electoral plus for the ALP, but not any more. As a recent Newspoll survey reveals, the Coalition Government has orchestrated an eight percentage point turnaround and is running neck and neck with Labor in terms of positive voter perception. Jenny Macklin, the federal Opposition education spokeswoman, argues the Howard Government's improvement is the result of cheap populism. She is wrong. As outlined in my book Why Our Schools are Failing, Australian parents are worried about significant issues such as falling standards, schools not being held accountable, the curriculum being awash with political correctness and, with government schools in particular, education failing to inculcate proper values.

That the Left has been wrong-footed in the education debate is clear to see. Remember the electoral impact of Mark Latham's hit list of non-government schools? More recently, take the Prime Minister's decision to finance religious counsellors in schools. When announced, the decision met with the usual mock outrage associated with the cultural Left. Andrew Gohl, president of the South Australian branch of the Australian Education Union, says: "It is totally inappropriate for the federal Government to try to impose ideology in public schools."

The Independent Education Union of Australia, an organisation not normally associated with the Left, reveals it has also been captured by the PC brigade when it suggests the federal Government is being divisive. "Australia is a multicultural, plural society; the strength of its values lies in the richness of its diversity," it says. "But John Howard and his Government consistently undermine this diversity with policies and commentary that divide the community and engender distrust." Even Bob Carr, a former politician usually guaranteed to be balanced and perceptive in his public comments, cannot resist hyperbole when he argues: "What if a poorly attended parent meeting chose a jihadist imam from a small Muslim prayer hall?"

Reality check: far from pushing a so-called conservative agenda, the Government is providing a resource that individual schools, government and non-government, can choose to take up or not. Quite rightly, while counsellors will not be restricted to any one religion or denomination, there will also be restrictions on who can be employed. That the AEU argues against the Government's initiative by describing it as ideological is also a bit rich. Consider how the union's curriculum policies have forced a politically correct, cultural-left agenda on schools, redefining the three Rs as the republic, refugees and reconciliation.

An uncritical promotion of multiculturalism and diversity, advocated by the IEU, also ignores that the overwhelming majority of Australians describe themselves as Christian and that our history, political and legal institutions have arisen out of the Judeo-Christian tradition.

Instead of condemning the initiative to give students a clear and unambiguous moral compass to decide right from wrong and to identify a proper balance between rights and responsibilities, opponents of the scheme should be applauding it. For far too long, education has failed in its duty to address such issues. Beginning with the progressive education movement of the 1960s and '70s, the belief is that children should be left to their own devices and that adults should not impose a strong moral framework.

The self-esteem movement of the '80s and '90s, when education was reduced to therapy on the basis that nobody failed, compounded the problem as lessons focused on what was immediately entertaining and relevant to the world of the student. Classic myths, fables and legends such as The Arabian Nights, Aesop's Fables, The Iliad and The Odyssey gave way to popular magazines and social-realism stories about youth suicide and dysfunctional families. History as a subject disappeared, replaced by the study of the local community or figures such as Diana, princess of Wales.

Evident by debates about the nihilistic impact of theory, represented by postmodernism, the most recent example of our failure to give students a viable moral code is the belief that there is no right or wrong, as all values are relative and truth is simply a socio-cultural construct. As noted by John Paul II in his encyclical letter Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason): "A legitimate plurality of positions has yielded to an undifferentiated pluralism, based on the assumption that all positions are equally valid, which is one of today's most widespread symptoms of the lack of confidence in truth."

Historically, the education debate has focused on issues such as more money, smaller classes and more teachers, as shown by debates in these pages during the past 12 months. Equally important is the cultural significance of education, something the Prime Minister clearly understands.


War over school history

The Queensland Government is preparing for a stand-up brawl with Canberra over attempts to impose history as a compulsory subject for high school students. Queensland Education Minister Rod Welford will defy federal Education Minister Julie Bishop and refuse to mandate history as a compulsory, stand-alone subject for Years 9 and 10. "I am happy to mandate some essential knowledge of key components of Australian history into a subject," Mr Welford said. "But it simply does not make sense to mandate history as a stand-alone subject."

History is taught in Queensland public schools as part of Studies of Societies and Environment and is optional from Year 9. Canberra is also facing a showdown with South Australia, where history is available until Year 11 as part of SOSE. Western Australia, where history is called "Time, Continuity and Change" and mingled in a Society and Environment course, is believed to be considering Ms Bishop's proposal. NSW and Victoria offer history as a stand-alone subject. Other territories and states have not made their position clear.

Ms Bishop has refused to rule out withholding money from the next $40 billion education funding round from those states that resist her push for a stand-alone compulsory history subject. "In the last funding round the Government provided $33 billion to the states and territories to run their schools and I believe that the Australian taxpayers would expect us to make the states and territories accountable for that investment," she said last month. Yesterday Ms Bishop's office said: "The Minister hopes the state will agree with the proposal voluntarily."

The warning follows news that a report commissioned by federal and state education ministers found that more than three-quarters of Australian teenagers did not know the significance of Australia Day. Ms Bishop's push for compulsory history in schools has the strong backing of Prime Minister John Howard. On Australia Day, Mr Howard foreshadowed his desire to see history established as a compulsory subject on Australia Day. He has specifically attacked Mr Welford's proposal for blending history with other curriculums. "Too often, it is taught without any sense of structured narrative, replaced by a fragmented stew of themes and issues," Mr Howard said.

Mr Welford last night vowed to strongly support Queensland public schools which want to establish a separate history curriculum. But he believes the practicalities of many smaller Queensland high schools require history be incorporated into other areas such as social studies or environmental education. He warned Ms Bishop that Queensland would not be swayed by Canberra's "rigid inflexibility" on the issue


Teachers get a blast

Underperforming Australian teachers received a broadside yesterday from Prime Minister John Howard and Education Minister Julie Bishop. As the Federal Government presses on with plans to create a more centralised national curriculum, public school teachers are becoming fair game to a Government convinced they're on the nose in the electorate. In Parliament, Mr Howard used a Dorothy Dixer on claims that some Victorian teachers plan to join tomorrow's ACTU National Day of Action to launch a blistering attack on the profession.

"It is no secret to any member in this House that many Australian parents are voting with their feet against the government education system around the country," he said. "And they are not doing it because of funding. "It's this kind of behaviour by teachers that gives government schools a bad name." Instead of attending a "Jimmy Barnes concert" at the Melbourne Cricket Ground teachers should be in their classrooms, Mr Howard said. "As somebody who is rather proudly the product of a government education system, let me say that I worry about this kind of behaviour undermining the quality of government education in Victoria and around Australia," he said.

Ms Bishop told a gathering of National History Challenge finalists in Canberra that the teaching of Australian history had been denigrated in many of our schools. "And I believe that is a shame," she said. She found some comfort in the fact that finalists in the competition had produced sophisticated and intelligent work. But she reiterated her determination to make history a compulsory stand-alone subject for Years 9 to 10.


Teach the facts first: Without the basics, school history is just propaganda

An editorial from "The Australian" below

WHEN NSW Education Minister Carmel Tebbutt said on Monday Australia Day commemorated the founding of our federation, instead of the arrival of the First Fleet, she did more than look like a dill. She demonstrated how she was betrayed by the people who designed the curriculum she was taught at school. As a woman in her early 40s, Ms Tebbutt went to school in an era when history, the study of the past on its own terms, not as a version of the present in fancy dress, was being trashed. Instead of the foundations of history - the facts and dates of events, who did what and why, and what were the consequences - history began to be a collection of stories based on the belief that whatever past winners said was invariably unfair to everybody else. The result is that the woman charged with running the largest school system in the country cannot distinguish between the founding of settler society in Australia and the creation of our commonwealth. But it is a fair bet that while she may not have any idea of the detail of how or why Australia came to be one of the most successful and enduring democracies, Ms Tebbutt was told at school how the settlers, or the founding fathers, probably both, dispossessed the indigenous Australians.

And just as Ms Tebbutt was betrayed then, so are children today. For a generation, our state education systems have emphasised ideology over information in history and literature, assuming the task of the teacher is to create a questioning culture among students, but one where fashion and feelings stand in the way of fact. We have now reached a point where it appears important for students to understand what people felt, rather than to know the facts that shaped their circumstances. As The Australian reports this morning, a simulation exercise used in a Sydney school presented conflict in the Middle East from a militant Palestinian perspective. As a way of inciting ill-informed anger among young people against one side in an immensely complex conflict, this is a winner. But as an exercise in education, it is hard to imagine anything worse. Before students can argue about the Middle East they need to learn the 20th-century history of the region. They need to be aware the British ran much of the region between the wars. They need to know the basic facts and dates of the way the Israelis fought for independence, the way the surrounding states sought to destroy Israel and the way ordinary Palestinians are now caught between Islamic terrorists and the Israeli forces. And they need to grasp that the Palestinian cause is now divided between people who want to make the best deal they can with Israel and fanatics who believe they are divinely directed to kill Jews.

In this, as in every other area of study, it is the job of schools to teach the facts and interpretive skills students need to make up their own minds. It is not their job to indoctrinate young people in some sort of party line that suits the political style of the teacher union leaders, who still see the world through the prism of the counter-culture of the 1960s, which blamed the West for all that was wrong in the world. We are now at a stage where children are being taught an interpretation of the past as if it were fact - the very thing the education apparatchiks always argue they oppose. To portray the European settlers of Australia, or the Israelis for that matter, as invaders, as if the evidence was irrefutable, ensures school students will argue before they have all the evidence.


Hard-Left education chief self-destructs

West Australian Education Minister Ljiljanna Ravlich, close to tears yesterday as she battled an implication of lying from her former top bureaucrat, will today try to save her job before a state parliamentary inquiry. This follows damning evidence given to an upper house committee by former education director-general Paul Albert, who contradicted claims she made in parliament denying any knowledge of a Corruption and Crime Commission investigation into teacher sexual abuse of students.

Ms Ravlich, who has admitted seeking the help of disgraced former Labor premier Brian Burke to counter considerable media, community and teacher opposition to the controversial Outcomes Based Education (OBE), yesterday launched a scathing attack on her former top bureaucrat, claiming that Mr Albert had deliberately withheld information from her. Ms Ravlich has been clinging to her job after a series of blunders and scandals that have rocked the Carpenter Government, including the spectacular demise of police minister John D'Orazio and small business minister Norm Marlborough, who were both ensnared in CCC investigations.

Mr D'Orazio was kicked out of the Labor Party over an inappropriate and secretly taped meeting with a panel beater to discuss the minister's traffic infringements. Mr Marlborough may face criminal charges over evidence he gave to the CCC about his contact with Mr Burke, who was jailed twice in the 1990s and has since become a lobbyist.

Yesterday, Ms Ravlich flatly denied Mr Albert's evidence on Monday that he told her about the CCC investigation on three separate occasions. At times looking close to tears, Ms Ravlich said she had no recollection of the discussions outlined by Mr Albert, apart from a "passing" reference on one occasion. She described his actions as incomprehensible.

The discrepancy renewed the pressure on Premier Alan Carpenter, who yesterday came under fire in parliament as the Opposition demanded to know whom he believed: Ms Ravlich, or Mr Albert, whom the Premier appointed as director-general in 2001 when he was education minister. Giving very careful responses, Mr Carpenter suggested it was not unreasonable for people to have different recollections about passing comments, but he refused to answer questions on Ms Ravlich's immediate future.

The CCC spent almost a year investigating the Education Department's handling of allegations of sexual misconduct by teachers against children before releasing a damning report last month that accused the department of being more concerned with protecting staff than students. Mr Albert said that while he did not go into any detail with Ms Ravlich, he had raised the issue in general terms at meetings in May, July and August. He said that on one occasion in July he recalled telling the minister a draft report had been received from the CCC and it looked bad. Mr Albert was forced to resign over the issue last month.

Ms Ravlich said she was never told the CCC was looking into alleged sexual misconduct by teachers and that Mr Albert's failure to inform her was "totally unacceptable". "I met with the director-general every fortnight, on occasion on a weekly basis, and we would go through a whole range of issues. I would have called Mr Albert virtually on a daily basis," she said. "To be dropping breadcrumbs over the place for a minister to pick up and to, by way of passing, put forward any information in that manner, it's totally unacceptable."

Liberal leader Paul Omodei said the Premier had no option but to immediately remove Ms Ravlich from the education portfolio.



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. My Home Pages are here or here or here.


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Alabama: School funding by the numbers

It is difficult to read a newspaper, listen to the radio, or watch TV news without hearing somebody tell us that our schools are badly under-funded. For the moment, the State will be satisfied with a $160 million tax increase, but indications are that they will soon pursue a $1.4 billion tax increase in order to "make schools adequate." School systems around the state are also seeking local tax increases to bolster their budgets.

We are told that schools need the money because buildings are in disrepair, students don't have textbooks, teachers are underpaid, and some schools have to request donations so that students will have toilet paper to use. Their focus is on educating kids, they claim, and that's where most of the money is spent, but they need more to do a decent job.

Critics claim that much of the money is being mishandled. Reducing waste and streamlining the bureaucracy, they insist, will allow schools to spend more money on actually educating students, and hopefully enable them to do a better job of actually teaching children how to read and write. Maybe public schools can even pull the average ACT scores of graduating seniors above 19.1, they hope.

Let's begin by crunching the numbers for the public schools, as provided by the State Board of Education. The Montgomery County school system spends an average of $5,398 per student each year, while the State education system spends an average of $5,657 per student. If we add the proposed $1.4 billion (or 30%) funding increase, that would increase county and state spending to $7,040 and $7,378 per pupil, respectively.

In order to compare public schools with private schools, I selected three private schools from the yellow pages and started asking questions. Specifically, I was curious as to how much it costs parents to put their kids in private schools, and how well those schools educate their students.

School Per Pupil
State Public Schools $5,657 ($7,378 after $1.4 billion increase)
Mgm County Schools $5,398 ($7,040 after $1.4 billion increase)
St. Bede $3,850
Mgm Academy $6,597
Trinity Presbyterian $5,299

As you can see from this chart, two of the three private schools spent less per pupil than did the public schools, and all spent less then what the per pupil spending would be after the proposed $1.4 billion tax increase. All of the private schools obtained better SAT scores than did the public schools, but tuition ranged from $1,500 less than that enjoyed by the taxpayer-funded schools to $1,200 more. Once the proposed $1.4 billion increase is added in, the private schools will cost between $3,190 and $443 less per pupil than will taxpayer funded public schools. By examining this data, a few things become crystal clear.

1) If most private schools can get better results than public schools for less money per student, then the amount of funding for public education isn't the problem.

2) A significant portion of the funding for public schools must be wasted or spent on items that do not help the schools achieve their overall goal: teaching children.

3) A dramatic increase in school funding will not help the students to learn more or to achieve higher scores. Only a fundamental change in how public schools are run and how public school teachers teach will accomplish that.

Over the past five years, per-pupil spending in Montgomery County schools has increased by 22%, while student performance has either dropped or remained the same. Parents of private school students have the option of removing their children to another school, and thus removing that money from the disappointing or overpriced school. Taxpaying citizens should have the same rights, to remove both student and funding from an education system that has failed them.

As education officials and politicians, led by Governor Seigelman, demand more tax dollars for public schools, taxpayers should be able to demand that the money is spent responsibly, on the actual process of educating students. By examining the performance of private schools, it is evident that children can be educated with less money than the public school system is currently spending, and we should demand that student performance rise with the funding level.

Don't force us to pay more taxes for an education system that doesn't educate our children. Until public schools start doing what their lesser-funded private brethren have shown themselves fully capable of doing, taxpayers should refuse even the barest suggestion of a tax increase.


Australia: Students dumbed down and left out

No wonder our school students are culturally illiterate. If NSW Education Minister Carmel Tebbutt can't tell the difference between Australia Day - which marks the arrival of the First Fleet on January 26, 1788 - and Federation, which marks the federation of Australia as a nation on January 1, 1901, then it is hardly surprising three-quarters of Australian teenagers don't understand the significance of Australia Day, the responsibilities of the governor-general or the symbolism of the Union Jack in our flag.

Ms Tebbutt's embarrassing gaffe aside, the results of the civics and citizenship test, reported in The Australian yesterday, reveal extensive gaps in the knowledge of national history in our schoolchildren. Worse, the news is simply the most recent in a long line of incidents and stories demonstrating the parlous state of our education system. While state and territory education ministers describe their schools as "world's best" and argue that standards are on the rise, the opposite is the case.

Why has this been allowed to happen? The first thing to realise is that those responsible for our education system argue that there is no crisis. At two forums organised this year by the Australian Curriculum Studies Association, concerns about falling standards and the politically correct nature of the curriculum were dismissed as a conservative backlash and a media beat-up.

Alan Reid, an Adelaide-based academic in favour of the much-condemned outcomes-based education model, argues: "We have a conservative backlash in the media which is really pushing us back to fixed syllabuses and a more didactic curriculum which conservative government forces are helping to promote."

At the second ACSA invitational conference, held in August and made up of the usual suspects, one of the educrats reportedly said: "It is all about politics and the influence of parents, lobby groups and media hype that sells papers."

Not only do state and territory curriculum bureaucrats argue there is no problem, the overwhelming majority also believe that process is more important than content and that teaching subjects such as history andliterature is secondary to developing generic competencies and skills, such as being futures oriented and valuing diversity.

While evidence of content-free education could be found at this year's history summit, where the argument was put that "you learn from doing history, not by being taught it" and the intention was to design a curriculum in terms of open-ended questions, it's important to understand that the curriculum has been under attack for years.

In 1975, the Whitlam government's Commonwealth Schools Commission sought to radically change the way teachers taught by arguing: "There is no reason to assume that the traditional subject fields, or high culture, are the only avenues through which thought might be developed or basic skills learned."

In opposition to the belief, as argued by US academic Jerome Bruner, that students must be taught the "structure of the discipline", the schools commission argued: "The skills of assembling evidence in logical argument may be developed through any content about which people care enough, or might be brought to care enough, to exert themselves to use them."

Never mind that skills and competencies do not arise intuitively or by accident and that they are best taught within the context of established disciplines such as English and mathematics. It is also true that not all content has the same value or complexity: Henry Lawson's The Drover's Wife is different from a mobile phone text message.

Since the early 1970s, the new age approach to teaching also has become embedded in teacher training. Georgina Tsolidis, an academic at Monash University, describes the role of teachers: "We were to go into classrooms to teach students, not subjects. We were to instil in our students feelings of self-worth premised on the value of what these students already knew and the value of what they wanted to learn, rather than the intrinsic worth of what we wanted to teach."

The most recent manifestation of education lite - in which, as argued in Shelley Gare's recent book The Triumph of the Airheads and the Retreat from Commonsense, "two generations of experimented-upon young Australians have emerged unable to read, write and think" - is Australia's adoption of outcomes-based education and the vague, generalised way the curriculum is written.

Instead of being given a clear, concise road map of what is to be taught, teachers are told that students, in the words of the West Australian curriculum, must be able to "describe and explain lasting and changing aspects of Australian society and environments", "construct a sequence of some major periods and events" and "categorise different types of historical change".

Memorising important facts, dates, events and the names of significant figures is also attacked as "drill and kill" and the argument is put that the curriculum must be open-ended, as teachers must be free to teach what their students are most interested in.

The flaws in such an approach are manifest. Not only are students disempowered as a result of leaving school culturally illiterate, thus disenfranchised in terms of the public debate, but the common ground on which democracy depends is left untilled.



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. My Home Pages are here or here or here.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Business to save British schools?

Business executives should be drafted into schools to help to raise standards, the new chief inspector of England's schools said yesterday as figures revealed that more than half of secondary schools were under-performing. Christine Gilbert, the head of the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted), blamed poor leadership and management in schools for persistent poor standards. "We should certainly look at drawing in heads from business and industry," she said. "If you have teaching experience, it may get you to first base quicker, but I do think that schools could benefit from the leadership expertise of people from outside, particularly those who have taken early retirement in their 50s. They could come in as consultants or heads."

Ms Gilbert's comments came after the publication of Ofsted's annual report, which showed that 51 per cent of England's secondary schools were failing to provide a good education for their pupils. With one in eight secondaries and one in 12 schools overall judged inadequate, she said that the proportion of failing schools in England was too high. "The report card for English education has been increasingly encouraging over the past ten years, but it is still not good enough," she said. Of the 6,129 schools inspected last year, twice the proportion of secondaries (13 per cent) were judged inadequate, compared with primaries (7 per cent).

The key to raising standards was good school leadership and early intervention with primary school children, Ms Gilbert, a former history teacher, said. She acknowledged that academies were one possible response to raising standards, but said that only three of the nine inspected were judged effective. There were 46 academies operating and the Government hoped to have 200 by 2010.

Progress had been made, but inexperienced staff and problems recruiting and retaining teachers remained a significant problem. Secondaries without sixth forms suffered the greatest difficulties in raising the achievement among pupils, with more than half (52 per cent) failing to make good progress. At the same time, poor behaviour was disrupting one third of classes in secondaries, the inspectors said.

Those schools that had focused on the underlying causes of poor discipline, such as poor reading and writing skills and emotional problems, found that behaviour often improved.

More than half (58 per cent) of primaries were judged good or outstanding, but inspectors expressed serious concerns about primary teachers' "weak subject knowledge" in science, history, geography, music, art and design and technology.

Ms Gilbert's idea of appointing head teachers from outside the sector drew a mixed reaction. Liz Sidwell, chief executive of the Haberdashers' Aske's federation of schools in South London, said: "As long as the chief executive of a school has people on the management team who understand the curriculum and standards, it could work. The business skills you need to run a school are not the skills that teachers necessarily have."

John Dunford, of the Association of School and College Leaders, agreed that outsiders may make good heads, but added: "You could not recruit straight from business. School leadership is very different from business leadership and business leaders would be the first to spot that." Dr Dunford was very critial of the inspectors' report overall and accused them of setting schools up for failure. "Reports such as these will cause a crisis of confidence among the leaders of the profession unless we start to accentuate the positive aspects of schools' performance," he said. "Of the schools cited as `inadequate', many have good value-added scores for very weak intakes."


Australian students ignorant of Australian history

More than three-quarters of Australian teenagers do not know that Australia Day commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet and the beginning of British settlement. A report commissioned by Federal, state and territory education ministers shows an overwhelming majority of schoolchildren are also ignorant of the reason for Anzac Day, or for the inclusion of the Union Jack on the Australian flag. About 77 per cent of Year 10 students and 93 per cent of Year 6 students across the nation cannot nominate the official responsibilities of the governor-general, and the great majority do not know the Queen is Australia's head of state.

The report, which is yet to be released but has been obtained by The Australian, reveals surprisingly high levels of ignorance about basic historical facts and Australia's system of government, and questions the effectiveness of the teaching of civics and citizenship. "The widespread ignorance of key information about national events and nationally representative symbols, which, it had generally been assumed, had been taught to death in Australian schools, was a surprise," the report says. "More targeted teaching is required if students are to learn about these things. Formal, consistent instruction has not been the experience of Australian students in civics and citizenship." The report says only high-performing students "demonstrated any precision in describing the symbolism of the Union Jack in the Australian flag".

Regarding the students' lack of understanding of the role of the governor-general, the report says: "One can only infer that students are not being taught about the role of the governor-general. "Many of the Year 10 students clearly did not have the knowledge outlined... as being designated for Year 6," the report says. "This was especially the case in relation to information about the constitutional structure of Australian democracy in Year 10."

The report was prepared for the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs by the Australian Council for Educational Research. It tested about 10,000 Year 10 students and 10,000 Year 6 students in every state and territory.

Federal Education Minister Julie Bishop said the ignorance of Australian students about their own country revealed in the report underlined the need for the Federal Government's push for Australian history to be taught as a compulsory, stand-alone subject in years 9 and 10. "It is disappointing that so few Australian students know the basic facts about our national events and icons such as Anzac Day and the Australian Flag," she said. "I am concerned that only a small minority of Year 10 students know the reason for the national public holiday on Australia Day. "Young Australians have the right to vote at 18 years of age and should have knowledge about our nation's history and traditions."

The Howard Government introduced a Discovering Democracy program in 1997, producing and placing curriculum materials on civics and citizenship in all primary and secondary schools in 1998. The program aimed to promote students' participation in democratic processes "by equipping them with the knowledge, skills, values and dispositions of active and informed citizenship". According to the Federal Education Department, "it entails knowledge and understanding of Australia's democratic heritage and traditions, its political and legal institutions and the shared values of freedom, tolerance, respect, responsibility and inclusion". In August, education ministers approved national Statements of Learning for Civics and Citizenship, setting out common knowledge all students should possess in years 3, 5, 7 and 9, ahead of national assessment tests from 2008.

The report says half of Year 6 students achieved a proficient standard in the test, while 39 per cent of Year 10 students reached the proficient standard. It says the level of ignorance will restrict students' involvement in democratic processes. "Ignorance of such fundamental information indicates a lack of knowledge of the history of our democratic tradition, and this ignorance will permeate and restrict the capacity of students to make sense of many other aspects of Australian democratic forms and processes," it says. "Without the basic understandings, they will be unable to engage in a meaningful way in many other levels of action or discourse."

The report identifies two main concepts with which students struggle the most: "iconic knowledge" of Australia's heritage and the idea of the common good. Students had difficulty grasping the idea of a common good or strategies that refer to how individuals can influence systems for the benefit of society. "It is unclear whether students do not have such a concept at all, don't believe in the common good or do not see how individuals can act for the common good," the report says.



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. My Home Pages are here or here or here.


Monday, November 27, 2006

Black students at Indiana University/Purdue University at Indianapolis want more spent on them than on all other groups combined

Black students who have accused IUPUI of discrimination rejected the university's efforts to address their concerns, including a pledge to form a new black student affairs office. The student leaders have scheduled a forum Sunday to discuss the issue and whether they will sue the university, which they had vowed to do if administrators did no meet their demands.

The university hoped to meet with students about the requests and possible solutions, school spokesman Rich Schneider said. "We're just waiting for more information from the students about what they would like to see done differently," he said.

The IUPUI Black Student Union marched last week in protest of what they say is the school's false sense of commitment to diversity. They allege, among other things, that school officials declined to set aside money for a black student group's trip while approving money for other student clubs. The group had said it would file a lawsuit Monday unless officials agreed to provide a new black cultural center, more black faculty and $78,000 for black student groups - about $10,000 more than IUPUI student government's budget for all campus clubs. The group also requested sensitivity training for administrators and an undergraduate degree program in African-American studies.

IUPUI officials have made racial diversity a top goal, aiming to boost the school's minority student enrollment from 15 percent to about 18 percent. Officials also want to boost minority graduation rates at the 30,000-student campus.



Odd that such exams were not too hard for British kids in the past!

An exam modelled on the old O-level is too difficult to be offered in state schools, a report has revealed. Watchdogs concluded that International GCSEs in key subjects are "more demanding" than the standard exam, effectively ruling out their introduction in state secondaries. Hundreds of private schools have already adopted IGCSEs in some subjects, mainly maths and science, because they consider them to be better preparation for A-levels.

Now a report from the Government's exams watchdog has confirmed that popular IGCSE syllabuses contain tougher questions and challenge pupils on topics that GCSE pupils only encounter at AS-level. But it means that, without substantial changes, they cannot be added to the list of qualifications approved for use in state schools since they are not directly comparable to GCSEs. The exams may need to be dumbed down if they are to fit strict official criteria laid down for teenagers' studies.

Opposition politicians warned of a widening gulf between the state and independent sectors as fee-paying schools increasingly turn to tougher qualifications. Ministers admitted yesterday there were "significant obstacles" to the introduction of IGCSEs in secondary schools. But they agreed to launch a public consultation on whether they should "explore further" with exam boards "how to overcome these obstacles".

IGCSEs were developed primarily for schools overseas but are attracting increasing interest from British private schools dissatisfied with the standard GCSE. They are similar to the old O-level - scrapped in 1987 - as pupils are tested in a series of final exams at the end of a two-year course. There is a coursework option but most schools do not use it. Teachers also consider questions to be more "traditional" and open-ended.

The report from the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority exposes the apparently low demands placed on GCSE candidates in crucial subjects compared with counterparts abroad who are following IGCSE syllabuses. It reveals that English GCSEs have too many "formulaic questions" while pupils taking double science GCSE are even awarded marks for giving the wrong answers. They can be given credit if an answer is written in "appropriately scientic" language - even if "the science is incorrect".

But there were sharp variations across the two exam boards offering IGCSEs. IGCSEs set by Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) is taken in 200 independent schools, in at least one subject, while Edexcel's are used in 170. But only CIE's papers were found to be more demanding than standard GCSEs. And out of four subjects studied, CIE papers in just two - maths and science - were judged to be tougher. The report said: "The content of the CIE IGCSE coordinated syllabus is broad and deep compared with the other syllabuses reviewed. A number of the areas included are currently part of AS syllabuses. "CIE IGCSE was judged to be more demanding for the higher tier candidates and very demanding for foundation tier candidates." In contrast, standard GCSEs were "less demanding than they should be" for brighter candidates

Meanwhile a CIE maths paper was "by a long way" more difficult than others reviewed by a panel of assessors. Candidates were only allowed scientific calculators and no formula sheets. There were also "extensive structured questions" which "require organisation and a systematic approach from candidates". The report concluded there were "major differences" between GCSEs and IGCSEs across all four subjects studied - maths, science, English and French. "In almost every case, these differences meant that the IGCSE examinations did not meet the GCSE subject criteria in significant ways" it said.

Nick Gibb, Tory schools spokesman, said: "If the Government and the QCA refuse to allow state schools the same options as independent schools, an even greater divide between the two sectors will emerge as schools in the private sector increasingly adopt what the QCA has termed the 'demanding' IGCSE exam."



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. My Home Pages are here or here or here.


Sunday, November 26, 2006


A University of Michigan student has kindly forwarded the following message from university president Mary Sue Coleman and university provost Teresa Sullivan. It shows that the Left only advocate equality when it suits them

Diversity Blueprints: Your ideas wanted

We know we have a great deal of work to do at the University of Michigan to live up to our ideals of a broadly diverse learning community. This would be true regardless of whether Proposal 2 were approved by Michigan voters. But the passage of the amendment makes this work more urgent, particularly with respect to race, ethnicity, gender and national origin.

Our University thrives on finding solutions to vexing societal issues. This is an historic moment, and an opportunity to apply our collective creative, energetic thinking to discover the most effective ways to support diversity. We will succeed only if we have thoughtful input from everyone in our community.

Today we are announcing the creation of a university-wide task force that will encourage innovative thinking among all segments of the University community and identify the best ideas developed through this process. The task force, called "Diversity Blueprints," will be co-chaired by Teresa Sullivan, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, and Lester P. Monts, senior vice provost and special counsel to the president, and will include students, staff, faculty, alumni and administrators.

The group will begin its work immediately. Its first task will be to engage the U-M community in developing fresh, innovative approaches to sustain and enhance diversity. Through e-mail, a website, brainstorming sessions and other means we will encourage alumni, faculty, staff, students, and others to consider the question, "How can we maintain and enhance diversity at U-M in the years ahead?" Areas for specific input include recruiting, precollege/K-12 outreach, admissions, financial aid, mentoring/student success, climate, curriculum/classroom discussions, diversity research and assessment, and external funding opportunities.

The ideas submitted may range from general insights to detailed plans. In the true spirit of brainstorming, all ideas will be considered regardless of how ambitious or unconventional they may seem. We will commit significant resources to some of the best and most promising recommendations that the Diversity Blueprints task force brings forward. You may share your ideas by writing to More details will be coming soon about members of the task force and other ways you can get involved in this work, such as by attending a campus forum.

Many individuals in our community also have questions about how Proposal 2 affects specific aspects of our work. We have created a central e-mail address,, that will assist you in getting answers to your questions. Questions submitted to this address will go to the Office of Institutional Equity and will be routed to the appropriate areas for response.

We are asking the Diversity Blueprints task force, and our entire community, to leave no stone unturned as we explore ways to encourage diversity within the boundaries of the law. We look forward to your ideas and your energy. Together, we must continue to make this world-class university one that reflects the richness of the world.


Prestigious British private schools exported

In what is believed to be the first venture of its kind, Brighton College, a leading independent school, is planning to export British public school education to Russia. Boarding schools in England have attracted interest from growing numbers of wealthy Russians in the past decade who are keen to give their children a high-quality education in a secure, friendly environment. Brighton College is seeking to build on these links by building its own public school, 50 miles south of Moscow.

Several elite schools, such as Dulwich College, Harrow and Shrewsbury, have set up in the Far East to feed a growing appetite for British public school education, but none has so far attempted such an undertaking on Russian soil. Four hundred boys and girls will be offered Mandarin, polo and cricket, and taught a European-style curriculum, in English, in the grounds of a school near Borovsk, south of Moscow. Estimated to cost 18 million pounds, it could open as early as 2009. The school is the brainchild of Mikhail Orloff, a Russian businessman and the grandson of King Farouk, and it hopes to blend the best of English education with Russia's culture and history. It would operate mostly as a weekly boarding school.

Richard Cairns, the headmaster of Brighton College, said that Russian parents were attracted to the school because they would no longer have to send their children abroad for a top-class education. "Parents have been sending their children to Europe, but they don't like it because when they come over, they stay," he said. "They believe that Russia is losing her children. But this way, they hope to keep the same value system and the children."

The cleverest pupils would be able to spend their last couple of years studying A levels at Brighton College, which also has partnerships with schools in China and Australia. Mr Orloff approached the college after it became the first private school in England to make Mandarin compulsory for all new pupils. Brighton College is developing a three-year plan with Lord Skidelsky, an economist of Russian origin and chairman of its board of governors, to raise the money. Richard Niblett, the director of music, is overseeing the project. He has been living in Moscow since September to undertake feasibility studies and raise to funds for the school. "The concept is to draw on the best of both education systems - the logic of science and maths, which the Russians excel at, and the house-style system and arts of British public schools," he said. "Teaching in Russia is quite dogmatic, whereas we tend to help them think outside the box more."

There would certainly seem to be a market for it. According to the Independent Schools Council, which includes 1,288 of the Britain's 2,500 private schools, 343 Russian students were attending its schools in 2005-6. These parents were paying more than 5.5 million pounds for one year's school fees. Brighton College charges about 16,000 a year for weekly boarders, but their Russian affiliate would charge just 10,350 a year.

While Russia already has a handful of good Western-style private day schools, such as the Anglo-American School, the English International School and the British International School, they are not linked to any leading independent schools in Britain. The advantage of its model, Brighton College argues, is not only that it will follow a tried and tested method of schooling, which has worked well for centuries in Britain, but will also take children out of the pollution of Moscow during the week



When two students walked into their lecturer's study to mount a challenge about the mark one of them had received in a multiple choice exam, the academic smiled. The first student had scored 90 per cent; the second 10 per cent. All three people knew the real reason for the gripe was that the second student had copied the first. So why the discrepancies in the marks? Unruffled, the academic compared the disgruntled student's answers to the master copy, demonstrating that the fail mark was justified.

They had just been foiled by a well-worn sting within the biochemistry department at the University of Sydney. Frustrated by suspicions that students were cheating, the department creates four variations to each multiple choice exam it prepares. If students copy the letters circled by their neighbours, they will arrive at different results. The more they copy, the worse they will do.

"What our solution enables us to do is say natural justice has occurred," said Associate Professor Gareth Denyer, a senior lecturer. "This student has ended up with an incredibly low mark as a result of their cheating . There's a wonderfully sweet feeling . It's evil of me, I know. But they're trying to get one over you and you end up getting one over them."

The department has been improving the system over seven years, but despite its success being published within the university and externally, other academics have resisted adopting it. Some regard it as a form of entrapment. Others have their own systems. But Professor Denyer believes that many do not want to know if their students are cheating. "There's a very strong head-in-the-sand culture," he said.



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. My Home Pages are here or here or here.