Saturday, February 10, 2007

We do use books that call Jews 'apes' admits head of British Islamic school

A King Fart Fahd school at work, no less

The principal of an Islamic school has admitted that it uses textbooks which describe Jews as "apes" and Christians as "pigs" and has refused to withdraw them. Dr Sumaya Alyusuf confirmed that the offending books exist after former teacher Colin Cook, 57, alleged that children as young as five are taught from racist materials at the King Fahd Academy in Acton.

In an interview on BBC2's Newsnight, Dr Alyusuf was asked by Jeremy Paxman whether she recognised the books. She said: "Yes, I do recognise these books, of course. We have these books in our school. These books have good chapters that can be used by the teachers. It depends on the objectives the teacher wants to achieve." In another exchange, Dr Alyusuf insisted the books should not be scrapped, saying that allegedly racist sections had been "misinterpreted".

The school is owned, funded and run by the government of Saudi Arabia. Mr Paxman asked: "Will you now remove this nonsense from the Saudi Ministry of Education from your school?" Dr Alyusuf replied: "Just to reiterate what I said earlier, there are chapters from these books that are used and that will serve our objectives. But we don't teach hatred towards Judaism or Christianity - on the contrary."

During the programme Louise Ellman, MP for Liverpool Riverside and chairman of the Jewish Labour Movement, accused the school of inciting racial hatred and hit out at Ofsted inspectors for failing to discover the textbooks. She said: "This whole situation is unacceptable. It is incitement. It is part of a deliberate Saudi initiative to install Wahabbism extremism among Muslims and in the rest of society. If Ofsted has not drawn attention to this, that is a failing of Ofsted. "It is unacceptable and we should look to see if this is happening in other schools as well. This is about teaching children. I think the school should take immediate action and so should the regulatory authorities."

In his employment tribunal claim Mr Cook, who taught English at the school for 19 years, has accused it of poisoning pupils' minds with a curriculum of hate. Arabic translators have found that the books also describe Jews as "repugnant".

Dr Alyusuf initially claimed that the books were "not taught currently", saying: "We teach a different curriculum. We teach an international curriculum." Asked by Mr Paxman, "Would you discipline any teacher who has used these teaching materials?", she replied: "Of course I would." The principal, who has been in the post just under six months, also claimed: "I monitor what is taught in the classrooms. I have developed the curriculum myself."

Asked by Mr Paxman whether she agreed with the suggestion in teaching materials that non-believers in Islam are condemned to "hellfire", she said: "We don't teach that. We teach Islam and it is important for our students to assert their identity."

Mr Cook, of Feltham, was earning 35,000 pounds a year and is seeking 100,000 in compensation. In legal papers submitted to a Watford employment tribunal, he alleged that pupils as young as five are taught that religions including Christianity and Judaism are "worthless". He also alleges that when he questioned whether the curriculum complied with British laws, he was told: "This is not England. It is Saudi Arabia". Pupils have allegedly been heard saying they want to "kill Americans", praising 9/11 and idolising Osama bin Laden as their "hero".

Mr Cook claims he was dismissed last December after blowing the whistle on the school for covering up cheating by children in GCSE exams. He is bringing a tribunal claim for unfair dismissal, race discrimination and victimisation. The school is vigorously defending his claims


British Islamic school pledges to amend racist books

Cutting half a page out is unlikely to alter the overall intolerant tone of the books

A Saudi-funded Islamic school at the centre of a row over text-books that allegedly brand other faiths as "worthless" bowed to public pressure yesterday and pledged to remove the offensive pages from the books.

Although insisting that teachers did not use the extracts, in which an early Islamic scholar is quoted as saying "the monkeys are the Jews and the pigs are the Christian infidels at Jesus's table", Sumaya Alyusuf, the head teacher, said that the half-page of text would be cut from all 34 copies in the library of the King Fahd Academy in Acton, West London. She had said during an interview on Newsnight on BBC Two that the books were taught.

However, while King Fahd Academy sought to clear its reputation as a tolerant faith school yesterday, three people claiming to be former pupils accused it of being racist, on the website

One contributor, who said that she was a former pupil now aged 21, said that she was taught that Jews were "monkeys", while another, also 21, claimed that he was told that "people of other religions were not on a par as human beings with us".


"Streaming" returns to an Australian school system

Leftist State government forced to recognize that not all kids are equal

Students in Queensland's state secondary schools would be grouped according to their ability levels in subjects such as maths and science, Education Minister Rod Welford said yesterday. The plan was designed to boost classroom quality and student outcomes. Separating students (or "streaming") was common across schools a generation ago but has fallen out of favour in recent years as politically incorrect.

But Mr Welford said Queensland's shortage of maths and science graduates and the needs of all students meant it was time to try it again. "The concept is that high performing students need to be grouped together so teachers can motivate and challenge them," he said. "Struggling students who need more attention need teachers with different skills to accelerate their learning."

He said he was keen to generate debate about what was taught in schools, including a discussion of English course material. Mr Welford challenged Federal Education Minister Julie Bishop to "provide me with $50 million-a-year special funding for professional development for teachers for higher performance learning".

Education Queensland would trial maths and science streaming from next year. Students would be grouped by teachers and subject heads according to their classroom work and test results, with the potential for students to move between streams if they caught up or experienced difficulties. Queensland Teachers Union president Steve Ryan said senior students already were streamed according to whether they took Maths A, B or C for Years 11 and 12. "Provided it is discussed at local level and the community agrees on how it will happen it should not be a problem," Mr Ryan said. "I would rather a student learn some basic maths they can master than struggle with maths that was too hard."

Queensland Council of Parents and Citizens Association president Brett Devenish said the proposal had credibility, provided teachers were properly prepared. "You do get classes where some of the students are coasting and others need a lot of special help, and the hardest thing the teacher has to do is work out to allocate their time between the different groups," Mr Devenish 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.


Friday, February 09, 2007

Black Activist Takes Issue with School Choice Opposition

Project 21 Fellow Suggests Senator Kennedy's Antipathy to "No Child Left Behind" Voucher Provision Reveals Liberal Elitism and Allegiance to Big Labor

Senator Edward Kennedy's (D-MA) opposition to a proposed revision of the federal "No Child Left Behind" educational policy to allow school choice is evidence of an elitist attitude and a willingness to put the desires of the teachers' unions over the needs of students according to a fellow with the black leadership network Project 21. "When public schools are failing our children, parents should have accessible school choice options to meet their child's educational needs," said Project 21 fellow Deneen Borelli. "To deny children the opportunity they need in order to preserve the status quo is something Senator Kennedy and his colleagues should be ashamed of doing."

With No Child Left Behind up for congressional renewal this year, last week Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings outlined changes the Bush Administration would like to make to the policy. These changes include making schools accountable for science test scores, improved gathering of data on graduation rates, publication of school test results and a more vocational bent to some math and English curricula.

The key revisions would allow students at "chronically underperforming" schools - schools that fail to meet defined standards for a period of five years or more - to be given vouchers worth thousands of dollars that they could use to attend other public or private schools. Underperforming schools could be turned into charter schools and union contracts could be overruled to move teachers to other schools. In an interview with The Washington Times, Secretary Spelling said, "We've given [these schools] a chance, we've given them resources and it's time for us to say [the law] is a real promise and other options have to be brought to bear." A bill to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind policy is expected to be introduced in March or April.

In response to the school choice revision, Kennedy, who now chairs the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions that will conduct hearings on the reauthorization bill, said: "I am disappointed that the Administration has once again proposed siphoning crucial resources from our public schools - already reeling from increased requirements and budget cuts - for a private school voucher program. I'm also disappointed that the Administration has proposed circumventing state law with respect to worker protections and other issues. We need to focus on how to help public schools improve and not use this reauthorization to push an ideological agenda that detracts from this goal."

Reg Weaver, the president of the National Education Association teachers' union, similarly criticized the proposal for allegedly trying "to strip collective-bargaining agreements."

"Our educational policy should be focused on the children, but it seems that Senator Kennedy wants to rename this policy 'No Union Member Left Behind,'" said Project 21's Borelli. "We must remember that Senator Kennedy is the son of privilege. In his formative years, he went to the Fessenden School - the alma mater of Howard Hughes and Senate colleague John Kerry. He also attended the Milton Academy, a school that today boasts a $150 million endowment and a 125-acre campus for less than 700 students. He effectively had school choice because his family could afford to enroll him in the best schools. Now, however, as a lawmaker, he wants to force less fortunate students to stay in underperforming government-run schools so that unionized teachers can maintain the status quo. It's a classic case of do as I say, not as I do."


Britain: `Test teaching ideas before imposing them on children'

So sad that this is not axiomatic everywhere

Children are missing out on the best possible education because teaching techniques have never been tested rigorously, one of Britain's most senior scientists has said. Education needs to learn from medicine and other scientific disciplines by using rigorous experiments to determine which approaches work best, according to Mark Walport, director of the Wellcome Trust, the country's largest independent funder of bio-medical research.

He told The Times that Labour and Tory governments had reformed the education system on the basis of political dogma without any reliable evidence that their policies would benefit children. Whereas the merits of drugs were assessed by randomised controlled trials before they were given to patients, children were taught according to the ideological hunches and opinions of politicians and educationists, who could not know whether their strategies would work.

Questions such as optimum class size, whether boys and girls were better taught separately, and how best to teach literacy and numeracy, had never been investigated by scientific experiment, he said. The best way to identify the best methods was to split similar children into study and control groups and teach them differently, emulating the way that drugs were tested against a placebo. "Many more matters of public policy are susceptible to experiment than is often assumed," Professor Walport said.

The notion of conducting controlled experiments in education is often criticised as unethical, as one set of children would miss out on the superior technique, but Professor Walport said that that was no worse than subjecting every child to untested policies. "It's not unethical to do experiments in education. It is unethical not to," he said. "Many of the educational policies that are put into action are experimental as it is. They are just experiments without controls. When I raised this in Whitehall, I got the response: `You don't possibly expect to compare educational outcomes like this, do you?' But that missed the point. The point is that you do this when you don't know."

Some policies are tried out in pilot studies, but these rarely feature control groups, and the initiatives are introduced nationally before the study's outcome has been evaluated. Research is often conceived to find evidence to support existing policies, rather than to decide what works before policy is decided. "The scientific method, which is to ask the question, is almost the antithesis of the political method, which is to say I'll tell you the solution," Professor Walport said.

The Department for Education and Skills's research budget, now about 4.5 million pounds, was far too low, he said, and the department needed to appoint a chief scientist responsible for ensuring its research meets rigorous scientific criteria.

His call was welcomed by Nick Gibb, the Shadow Schools Minister, who said that too many education policies had been introduced without evidence. He said: "The look-and-say method of teaching children to read is a prime example. Where were the pilot studies that showed it worked? When the first proper study was done in Clackmannanshire, it found that synthetic phonics was a much more effective strategy. It was so successful that children were withdrawn from the control group as it would have been immoral to continue."

Professor Alan Smithers, the director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at the University of Buckingham, said that it was not always simple to conduct controlled experiments into educational strategies. "There are so many factors that affect success, including the background and ability of pupils and the skill of teachers, that it can be hard to separate out the effect of any one factor," he said. "And the findings of research are rarely strong enough to overturn prior conceptions."

In the balance:

Reading: Whole-word approach to learning to read was introduced without evidence that it was more effective than phonics. Phonics is now making a comeback after research suggested it was more effective

Coeducation: There is little good evidence from properly controlled studies that shows whether boys and girls learn better when taught together or separately

Literacy and numeracy strategies: Introduced across the country after only minimal pilot studies into their likely effects

Specialist schools and city academies: Introduced across the country even though there was no research showing that either would have a beneficial effect

Class size: Little good research exists on the optimum size of the groups in which pupils are taught


Australia: More power to principals plan

Under-performing teachers could be sacked under a radical proposal to give school principals the power to "hire and fire" their staff

Setting up education as a key election battleground, Federal Education Minister Julie Bishop yesterday launched a full-frontal attack on what she dubbed the "all-powerful teachers' unions". Rejecting Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd's notion of an "education revolution", Ms Bishop said teaching appointments should be in the hands of individual principals and not state education departments.

She put forward higher standards as the issue on which the education agenda should be fought. The higher standards would be created by greater autonomy for principals, performance incentives for teachers and improved literacy and numeracy skills, she said. "Many school principals across Australia cite as their biggest frustration the fact that centralised education bureaucracies parachute teachers into schools or summarily remove valued teachers," Ms Bishop said. "Giving the power to principals will fix the problem of state governments, captive of the unions, unable to deal with under-performing teachers."

The proposal is expected to be formally raised with state governments at the next Ministerial Council on Education scheduled for April. Labor education spokesman Stephen Smith offered in-principle support, saying he believed principals should have a greater say in who was teaching in their classrooms. "I'm happy to have a conversation with my state ministers about it," he said. [A conversation! How radical! Will they talk about football too?]

State Education Minister Jane Lomax-Smith said South Australian schools already had the ability to choose the best teacher for the job. Ms Bishop said she would work co-operatively with the states but warned the Federal Government could use funding as a "leverage". "Education is a national priority and it is too important to be left at the mercy of state parochialism and union self-interest," she said.

Australian Education Union state president Andrew Gohl rejected Ms Bishop's assertions, saying her plan for principal autonomy was "out of touch". "If you extend Julie Bishop's plan to its logical conclusion, it would mean that the most highly experienced, highly skilled teachers end up in small clusters of already highly advantaged schools," he said. "An education system has a responsibility to all students, regardless of where they live, to provide access to quality teachers."

During her speech, Ms Bishop also said: SHE would be putting a proposal to the states to offer rewards and incentive payments to well-performing teachers; THE Government would explore alternative pathways for teacher registration; STATES should provide further details about individual schools' performance; INCREASES in public spending had to improve standards; REITERATED her criticism of literacy and numeracy standards around the nation.



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, February 08, 2007


Minority Scholarships Today: Who Gets the Money?

If you think about it, white guys are right now the least likely to get most of the college scholarships—many are earmarked for women or minorities. The other outstanding scholarship criterion is “financial need.” So white males from really poor backgrounds have the most advantage, and considering the terms of quite a number of scholarships—economics do constitute a “minority” category.

The Era of Over-Compensation

“Underrepresented” and “minority” – both descriptive adjectives for the majority of scholarships, do not include white males. A number of years ago, in sync with the national outcry over a disparity between white males in jobs related to engineering, math and the sciences, there was an immediate reaction on the part of government and corporate America to remedy the gap. Scholarships that targeted females and minorities reproduced like rabbits. Now, according to a wide array of statistics the number of white males in engineering is declining, while the numbers that are female and minority continue to climb. Goal achieved, right?

Revamped: Minority Scholarships Must Include White and Male

Suddenly it must have occurred to some that if you dug down into the nitty-gritty of Civil Rights and analyzed the ills of Affirmative Action, you could make a good legal argument contesting the Constitutional validity of most scholarships today, particularly those offered through federally-funded institutions. Over the last five or six years conservative watchdog groups like the Center for Equal Opportunity (CEO) have called universities like the University of Michigan, Southern Illinois University, and SUNY on the carpet for racial discrimination in their admissions practices. At question are the scholarships restricted to minorities. In response to the threat of legal action, all have revamped their “minority” and female-focused scholarships to include white students and males. And it’s not just the CEO speaking out; charges emanate from an increasingly disgruntled applicant pool frustrated with access to college programs.

A New York Times article in early 2006 underscored the current tide of minority scholarship controversy. The allegations have drawn deep concern from the Department of Education and put the public university system at large on legal alert, many with changes swiftly afoot.

The Center for Equal Opportunity continues to verbally spar with the University of Michigan over allegations of “racial discrimination.” The CEO’s mission is to make sure higher education becomes a more equal proving ground, inclusive to all. This includes the increasingly excluded white male, who may be the next most “underrepresented.”

New Crop of Propositions

You’ve likely Heard of California’s Proposition 209, which in 1996 made it illegal for public colleges and universities in California to consider admissions on the basis of race, creed, sex or color. Michigan’s recent Proposition 2, a.k.a. Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, is cut from similar fabric. It was passed in early 2006 and makes the same educational admissions processes illegal as well.

Obviously the critics of such legal propositions argue that the educational process will only roll backwards, with scholastic and professional opportunities once again falling into the hands of a predominantly white male crowd, but for the moment, we’re hardly there. According to recent statistics 57% of the college crowd is female with a growing gender gap on American campuses. The problem is laced with a smorgasbord of potential reasons, say experts, only part of which is attached to scholarship money.

Political Fallout—the Satire of White Male Scholarships

All this hoopla over college scholarship dough draws a line in the sand between Republican and Democrat, liberal and conservative, college officials and student body. The Fall 2006 “Caucasian Achievement and Recognition Scholarship,” concocted by the Boston University College Republicans was intended to titillate the campus student body and open up communication on the issue of race in college admissions. Instead, it hit mainstream media like shotgun fire, where it fomented the controversy already in play. Eight students applied for the “satirical” $250 award that also required them to construct an essay on the meaning of being Caucasian.

White Male Looking for a Single Good-Looking Scholarship

Today’s white male college student may be suffering from the sins of the fathers. What were closely related outgrowths of equal rights, civil rights and affirmative action are now wreaking havoc on the ability for a white male to qualify for a scholarship of any kind unless he’s inordinately short, or can demonstrate some other idiosyncrasy that may be criterion for an oddball scholarship. Maybe white guys need to suffer a bit longer, eh? Maybe they need to have a history of oppression behind them first in order to feel privileged to gain some perks. Maybe they need to earn a lower station in life first.

Caucasian Scholarships at an HBCU-A Best Bet

Maybe one of the best places to shop for a “minority” scholarship aimed at white males is through one of the public Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The system of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) was established to provide African Americans with a viable place to secure a rightful college education, at a time when they were afforded the same legal rights to a higher education, but in many instances could find none. Now many HBCUs are scrambling to diversify—they have to, under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which clearly states that any institution that receives federal aid may not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed or sex. This means that public HBCUs must recruit students from all backgrounds.

If you read up on the minority and Affirmative Action issues, you might assume from various stats and editorial commentaries that white enrollment is on the increase at the HBCUs, but according to The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, this so-called trend is nothing more than hot air. HBCUs remain predominantly black. And even in cases where there are now scholarship incentives for whites, “white students usually opt to go elsewhere.”

A few state’s public HBCU systems have been involved in bitter and lengthy legal battles over the issue of segregation. Various decisions have forced quite a few predominantly black institutions to begin aggressively marketing “minority” scholarships to white students:

  • Tennessee State University is so down in its minority—white—population that the State is now funding “scholarships for Caucasian Tennessee residents.” These scholarships are rooted to the recent outcome of a lengthy court case known as the Geier case that has called over the last two decades for desegregation of Tennessee’s “dual educational” system of which TSU was a part. Long range plans for the desegregation have included assuring a balanced student body. During the mid-1980s the agreement put in motion a new system of other-race recruitment: black recruiters for white colleges and white recruiters for black. To those ends the Geier called for stepped up scholarships and financial aid to boost the process. In late 2006, the Geier case was finally dismissed on the grounds that the State had in fact effectively undone its dual system, thanks to the urgings of the Geier case over the years. The scholarships for whites cover room and board for eligible candidates.

  • Diversity Scholarships for both undergraduate and graduate white students are a special program of Alabama State University and Alabama A&M University. The goal is to boost enrollment of those underrepresented in the school: whites and Native Americans, specifically at ASU and “Caucasians” at Alabama A&M. In fact as the result of a discrimination case, a federal court judge in 1995 commanded both ASU and Alabama A&M University to vigorously diversify.1 The court case raised scrutiny over the fact that both schools had almost exclusive black student bodies and had been remiss in recruiting “other-race” students, especially whites. Since then large chunks of money have been earmarked each year to attract white students. Initially GPA requirements were set at 2.0, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, so low as to offend black students required to comply with a GPA minimum of 2.7. Since then, in response to threats of legal repercussions, the universities have raised GPA reqs for whites. Scholarships may cover full or partial tuition.

  • Jackson State University in Mississippi has a student body composition of over 6,000 African Americans and about 200 Caucasians.2 The university’s Diversity Scholarships are restricted to Caucasian applicants. Mississippi, like Alabama, has had to scramble to rollout diversity scholarships at its public HBCUs, following a landmark segregation case. Under terms of the settlement the state’s public HBCUs are required to bring levels of “non-black” students to 10 percent of their student body at which time they will receive critical funding to bring their programs up to speed with the other public universities in the state, the initial crux of the legal fight. In response JSU, along with Alcorn State and Mississippi Valley have all ramped up recruitment of their biggest minorities—whites. It’s not that they want to, but they now have a monetary carrot dangled before them.

  • Diversity Scholarships through Alcorn State University in Mississippi are given to “non-black” applicants. Full and partial scholarships are awarded and candidates must have at least a 3.0 GPA to qualify.

  • Mississippi Valley State University offers undergraduate and graduate Diversity Scholarships. Grad scholarships may cover a full tuition while the undergrad version awards $700. Applicants for both must be “non-black.”

Special Interest Private Colleges Not Offering Minority Scholarships for White Males

Good luck locating a minority scholarship exclusively for whites, much less white males, at any of the private HBCUs, including the prestigious Howard University, Morehouse College, and Tuskegee University (formerly Tuskegee Institute). This would likely be the one thing they would avoid at all costs.

Financially active and well-endowed alumni make sure their alma maters are able to remain true to their belief systems and core missions. You will find small, private HBCUs like Voorhees College in South Carolina that make every effort to promote themselves as non-discriminatory.

No, there are not any scholarships offered for “Caucasians” or “white males,” but Voorhees’ list of scholarships makes not one mention of race or gender. The school has a total enrollment of about 700, about 6 percent of which is white.

But without discriminating you also will not find scholarships for white males at any of the prestigious private women’s colleges, either. While some are now admitting males to graduate programs, they do not offer specific funding for any males--White, Hispanic, Black, Asian or purple. Legions of alumnae contribute annually to make sure they never have to. Like Blacks and other ethnic minorities, women as well have suffered under the weight of a traditionally white, male-centric university system.

You might think that even those traditionally women’s colleges with a recent history of coeducation might offer a minority scholarship for males. Hood College in Maryland turned to a coeducational platform in 2003, but still makes its “minority” scholarships exclusively available to applicants “traditionally underserved” in higher education.

Forget About Hispanic-Serving and Tribal Colleges

Tribal colleges not only offer a college, career-focused education to Native Americans, but they unabashedly consider everyone regardless of race, color, creed or sex. It’s just that your typical American college student has access to a wealth of other college options.

Most tribal colleges are rural, even remote, and can’t provide anything more than what a typical community or technical college may provide. White males won’t find minority scholarships to Tribal Colleges, but neither will anyone else due to a lack of funding. And unlike the public HBCUs, no one is offering scads of federal funding to ramp up scholarships for whites and/or males.

As for colleges that serve Hispanics, they are just that: Hispanic-serving. Sadly, this minority population doesn’t even have its own college system.

Scholarships Won’t Be Anymore Plentiful in the Future

Perhaps it’s associated with majorities, money, statistics and the who’s-getting-what of scholarships, but don’t expect White Male Scholarships to multiply like rabbits. There are too many objections, too many historical complexities and theologies of blame to give way aggressively on the issue.

So even though clearly something’s up, white guys still have the burden of proving themselves a minority, a claim that remains a topic to be rolled around a bit more, poked at by pundits, accounted for by accountants and otherwise analyzed until its day has come. In the meantime, if you are one of the “white guys” you might consider going for a former minority-driven scholarship at one of the larger public universities especially where there’s been a legal shake-up in Affirmative Action. Or grab up a fleeting “Caucasian” scholarship from one of the public Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Somewhere down the line we can hope college admissions, like everything else, will no longer have eyes for color or gender.



But lots of other bumf as well

Teenagers will be taught to speak properly, and recognise how to use standard English in formal settings, under an overhaul of the school curriculum for 11-14 year-olds. The proposals will place strict emphasis on teaching children to banish expressions such as "they was", "I done", "them books" and "I ain't" from use in debates and presentations and to use colloquial language such as "anyway" and "okay" only where appropriate.

Sue Horner, head of development at the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), said that since this part of the curriculum was revised in 1995, demands from employers for schools to emphasise skills in spoken English had increased. According to research by the QCA, young people in their first jobs said that one of the biggest challenges they faced was speaking confidently on the telephone to a stranger. "They were very clear that they didn't really know how to do it. They were crying out for help," Ms Horner said.

Under the new proposals, students will continue to study Shakespeare and Jane Austen, but will also be taught to correct their English using spell-check programs and to use an online thesaurus to expand their vocabulary.

Learning about the British Empire and key dates in history, as well as how to draw up a spreadsheet and speak Mandarin, are also proposed in the new curriculum for secondary schools in England. The new focus on broadening knowledge and communicating it effectively is part of a wider attempt by the Government to drive up the basic skills of school-leavers.

The changes are intended to give teachers greater flexibility while retaining core elements of learning. But critics gave warning that far from allowing greater freedom, the proposals were packed with advice for teachers to cover everything from social diversity in the Middle Ages to the Holocaust and "political and cultural achievements of the Islamic states from 600 to 1600".

In history, the 21st century focus is away from a thematic treatment and back to learning dates and facts in chronological order. There will also be emphasis on promoting cultural and ethnic diversity through the study of the slave trade and the British Empire. "Pupils should learn that people and societies involved in the same historical event may have different experiences and views and develop a variety of stories, versions, opinions and interpretations of that event," the review states.

There will also be a new emphasis on life skills, such as healthy living, cookery and financial literacy. In modern languages, the watchdog suggests that students should learn Urdu and Mandarin as well as European languages. In science, the review suggests "a shift away from content towards the scientific process or how science works". Students will study drug abuse, psychology and the implications of developments such as in-vitro fertilisation. The new curriculum will also introduce a new system of peer assessment.

Susan Anderson, director of human resources at the CBI, welcomed the emphasis on mastery of basic skills. Employers are crying out for numerate, literate and IT-savvy youngsters who can work as part of a team, make decisions and take on responsibility." Teaching primary school children philosophy and the thinking skills of Socrates brings a lasting gain in intelligence, according to follow-up research, published yesterday, into pioneering teaching techniques in schools in Clackmannanshire, Central Scotland.


BRAVE NEW SCHOOLS: Police take home-taught student to psych ward

German government agencies objected to her parent-led courses in math, Latin

A nation whose education officials already have warned that they will, when necessary, "bring the religious convictions of the family into line" with state requirements, now has removed a 16-year-old girl from her family and placed her in a child psychiatry unit after she turned in below-expected grades in math and Latin. The news of nearly two dozen officials and uniformed police officers physically taking the teen from her home in front of her shocked family is just the latest horror story to come out of Germany, where homeschooling was placed under a ban by Adolf Hitler and der Fuehrer's law still is enforced.

The stories are concerning to homeschoolers in the rest of the world, including the United States, because of the real potential that international law eventually could be used to ban such activities in places where it now is legal.

The newest German case was reported in a statement delivered to WND by Netzwerk-Bildungsfreiheit (Net-Education Freedom), an organization that works for homeschoolers' rights in Germany even though it is illegal there. A spokesman for that group had contacted WND after the news website broke the story that a German government official had warned that families' religious beliefs will have to be brought into alignment with required school attendance laws.

The government at that time had responded to a parent concerned about children being forcibly placed in custody by police officers and then delivered to the mandatory public school system: "In order to avoid this in future, the education authority is in conversation with the affected family in order to look for possibilities to bring the religious convictions of the family into line with the unalterable school attendance requirement," the government said.

The student in the newest case was identified by the German organization as Melissa Busekros. She has been removed from her parents' custody, and placed in the Child Psychiatry Unit of the Nuremberg clinic, her father, Hubert Busekros, told the homeschool group. "What is being done to a sensitive and musical young girl, just because the bureaucrats want to set an example? In their zealous drive to enforce compulsory schooling (which by Melissa's age is only part-time) at all costs, they readily accept the trauma caused to the unassuming and lovable Melissa," the German homeschooler said. "The Netzwerk Bildungsfreiheit condemns this inconsiderate and totally incommensurate behaviour on the part of the officials involved and demands that they give Melissa her freedom and return her to her family immediately."

The case began developing in the summer of 2005, when Melissa, then 15, was told she'd have to repeat the 7th grade at the Ernst High Gymnasium, a public school, due to her grades in math and Latin. "The situation in the class played no small part in creating this state of affairs - the high noise levels and cancelled classes prevented her from receiving the educational assistance she needed during school hours," the German organization said. Since she had good grades in all the other classes, she and her parents decided she would be tutored individually at home to meet her needs. She still took part in music and sang in her school's choir.

But school officials were unhappy, and expelled her, so the Busekros family continued educating her at home. At the end of the 2005-2006 school year she was no longer subject to full-time attendance requirements, but the Jugendamt, or Youth Welfare Office still created a case in Family Court and ordered the family to appear at a hearing.

Then this week social workers accompanied by police officers appeared at the home one morning, demanding that Melissa be handed over to them immediately, providing as authorization a ruling by the Erlangen Court dated Jan. 29. It said, "The relevant Youth Welfare Office is hereby instructed and authorized to bring the child, if necessary by force, to a hearing and may obtain police support for this purpose."

The teen was taken to the Child Psychiatry Unit and interrogated for nearly four hours, after which she was returned home, the Netzwerk said. However, the worst was still to come. On Thursday, the Family Court judge, staff members of the Youth Welfare Office, and 15 police officers "marched up to the Busekros home, to haul Melissa off to the Child Psychiatry Unit." "This treatment was justified by the psychiatrist's finding, two days previously, that she was supposedly developmentally delayed by one year and that she suffered from school phobia," the Netzwerk said. "It is not known when Melissa's parents and siblings will be able to see her again, as the official approach in cases of 'school phobia' is to completely prevent the 'patient' from having any contact with those closest to him or her, as such contact supposedly enables the phobia," the Netzwerk said.

Such issues are alarming U.S. homeschool leaders. Michael Farris, cofounder of the Home School Legal Defense Association, has called for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to protect the right of parents to educate their children at home, in light of such developments in Europe. One of his major concerns is that if the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a plan already accepted as law by many nations around the globe, were ratified by the Senate or adopted by the federal courts as enforceable international law, American homeschooling could be banned.

A homeschool advocate in Germany earlier wrote to WND that, "We are not far away from an intolerant dictatorship in our country. Parental rights are more and more abolished. If you do not the way the state wants, to so-called Jugendamt (youth welfare office) is quickly to check out if they can take away the custody of your children." He was not being identified because of his position in Germany. "As long as you practice your faith in a church building you have no problems, but as soon as you act in accordance to your faith, for example, in the education of your children, the freedom ends rapidly," he said. He likened the situation to that of families under the Nazi regime, or "like in the former Soviet Union under the Communists."

The HSLDA also has pleaded for help for the German community. "The situation, unfortunately, is not getting any better, and they need your prayers and support," the organization said recently. "Most recently, a decision was handed down by the European Court of Human rights (which) . completely turned the European Union Constitution's Article 14, the section on parent's rights to control the education of their children, completely upside down."

That decision will allow any nation in the EU, should it choose, to outlaw homeschooling. "Meanwhile, the German homeschoolers continue to be unmercifully persecuted. In our last report, we explained that there were approximately 40 families in court at one stage or the other. Families are fleeing regularly to other foreign countries in order to continue homeschooling."



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, February 07, 2007

Utahns win a hard-fought victory for school choice

The late Milton Friedman, who was the nation's foremost advocate for school choice, would be more than pleased with the news coming out of Utah. By a vote of 38-37, the Utah House last Thursday approved the first-ever statewide universal school choice plan. Despite the close vote, the program now faces relatively smooth sailing. The bill now goes to the state Senate, which twice before has voted for a similar program. Gov. Jon Huntsman, a Republican, won election in 2004 in part by campaigning for school choice, and he has said he will likely sign the final bill.

Until now, school choice has been an idea that works but has only been spottily implemented, in part due to the fierce opposition of teacher unions and the rest of the educational-industrial complex. Maine and Vermont have allowed students in rural districts without their own high school to attend private schools for over a century. Struggling inner-city school districts in Milwaukee, Cleveland and Washington allow low-income parents to obtain vouchers. My colleague Jason Riley has noted the extensive academic research finding that where choice is allowed, parents are much more satisfied with their children's education, and local public schools have improved their performance.

Utah's plan is modest, and at the same time revolutionary. It would reimburse parents sending their children to private schools between $500 and $3,000 a year based on their family income. Parents whose kids currently attend private school would not be eligible unless their income was low enough. But all new kindergartners would qualify, so that by 2020 all private school students would be eligible for vouchers.

State Rep. Steve Urquhart, the bill's chief sponsor, says the breakthrough in winning House approval was the realization that it wouldn't harm public education. The bill stipulated that for five years after a voucher student left the public system, the district would get to keep much of the money the state had paid for his education. Given that the average district gets $3,500 from the state and the average voucher is expected to be $2,000, a typical school district would gain some $1,500 every time a student left its system.

Mr. Urquhart was so confident of his math that he started an interactive Web site modeled after the interactive encyclopedia Wikipedia. He posted his bill on it and invited comments. Thousands of people logged on to and participated. "If anyone can show evidence (not just alarmist rhetoric) that public education does not come out financially ahead with this bill, post your arguments and data in the comment section," Mr. Urquhart challenged his readers. No one was able to effectively rebut him.

By the time the bill came up for a floor vote, the debate was more philosophical and substantive than demagogic. "The debate was of the highest caliber that I've seen in my 13 years here," said Speaker Greg Curtis. "I find it fascinating that not a single person spread the myth that [choice] would be harmful to public education."

There are other reasons that school choice supporters were able to surmount the political odds and win in Utah. It's worth pondering them as the battle to offer parents alternatives to the one-size-fits-all public-school model moves to other states.

* School choice supporters were persistent and relentless. Doug Holmes, chairman of Parents for Choice in Education, and Patrick Byrne, chairman of, are both passionate believers that every child deserves a quality education. Although Utah is known for its large Mormon population (62% as of 2004), Mr. Holmes points out that the biggest beneficiaries from the enhanced options parents will have in Utah will be the state's surging Hispanic population, now about one-ninth of Utah's 2.6 million people.

Mr. Byrne gave $500,000 last year to fund private scholarships for low-income children. He also gave money to a political action committee that leveled the playing field in education politics by ensuring that school choice supporters wouldn't be steamrollered out of office by the powerful Utah Education Association. "It's no longer a question of legislators asking if they should vote their conscience or vote with the union," says Elisa Peterson, the director of Parents for Choice in Education. "Legislators who vote for school choice know we will be there to defend them--and if they vote against choice, they know there will be consequences. The teachers union isn't the only game in town anymore."

* A profile in courage. The choice bill would have gone down to defeat had Rep. Brad Last not changed his vote. Just last month, Mr. Last, himself a former public-school official, voted against the bill as a member of the Education Committee. Last Thursday, he voted "yes," prompting gasps from the visitor's gallery. "I believe history will demonstrate to supporters and detractors that this is a good choice," he told a hushed chamber. "To those of you in public education who want to kill me right now, I'm really sorry. I understand your pain. I would ask you, go read this bill, and don't say a word to me until you read this bill."

Another surprise supporter of the bill was freshman Rep. Keith Grover, a vice principal at a junior high school, who said during the floor debate that "everyone knows how I make a living" and that he had wrestled with his conscience on how to vote. He said he believed public education needed the innovation that choice could bring.

* Public opinion matters. Over several years, school choice supporters were able to shift the debate in their direction. A poll taken last month for Salt Lake City's Deseret News and KSL-TV found that 48% of Utah residents favored a government voucher or tax-credit for private school tuition and 46% opposed the concept. A year earlier, the same poll gave choice opponents had the advantage by 54% to 40%.

Groups such as the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation were tireless promoters of the benefits of choice. They helped sponsor trips by public officials and civic leaders to Milwaukee, where they could see a functioning education alternative in action. "Public-school officials in Milwaukee told them that the city had redefined the concept of public education," says Robert Enlow, executive director of the Friedman Foundation. "It had become education that truly served the public, whether it be more flexible public schools, charter schools or private schools."

Gradually, the message sank in that choice was all about making public education work, rather than dismantling it. "I come from a family of eight children," says Ted Gardiner, a student from Taylorsville, Utah. "Each one of my siblings is a very unique individual. My mother has often said she wanted to sent me to a private school. However, eight children is a lot of mouths to feed, and it was never feasible for us." When school choice becomes law, it will be.

Rep. Urquhart said the public also responded to the argument that no school district would be docked money if students left for private schools, and indeed that such districts would actually gain income. He said it was a necessary political concession. "It doesn't make a lot of sense, if [districts] lose a student, to be financially rewarded," he told the Deseret News. But he said it was essential to communicate that the bill was about enhancing opportunity and not taking money from public education.

* Leadership counts. Rep. Curtis made it clear after he became House speaker in 2004 that school choice was a major priority for him. He steered a choice bill to within a few votes of victory in 2005 and vowed to try again. "We do not reward excellence in education," he told State Legislatures magazine. "We don't fund it, we don't demand it, and don't encourage it. If we did we would have every ability to compete at the global level in math and science."

Unions representing teachers and other government employees took notice of his apostasy and vowed to punish it. Last year, they mounted a concerted effort to defeat him. They came close; Mr. Curtis won re-election last November by only 20 votes. But far from being intimidated, the speaker realized that the best way he could survive politically was if he passed choice and made people realize it worked.

Rob Bishop is a former speaker of the Utah House who also worked as a high school teacher for 28 years before being elected to Congress as a Republican in 2002. He told me Mr. Curtis is demonstrating all the qualities of leadership voters say they want but don't always demand. "He understood he was on the right side of history," he says. After all, Mr. Bishop notes, that "choice in education is already all around us."

He's right. Kids under 5 now get federal day-care vouchers. College students get Pell grants. Even at the elementary and secondary levels, many kids with special educational or behavioral challenges are sent to private schools at state expense. Mr. Bishop says, "It makes sense to expand the existing choices we offer to every child in K-12, and that is what Utah is now leading the way in doing."


Another brainstorm from Britain

The traditional school timetable should be abandoned and replaced by a radical approach in which subjects are taught together and entire weeks or days are turned over to single topics, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority will say today.

The authority is to propose the changes as part of its plans to reform the Key Stage 3 curriculum for 11 to 14-year-olds. Mick Waters, its director, told The Times that schools needed to find better ways of managing time to ensure that children were not turned off learning in the crucial first few years at secondary school.

Teachers will be encouraged to engage in joint subject teaching across a range of subjects and lessons will be divided into different lengths, some lasting no more than a few minutes. The proposals have been prompted by concerns about pupil disaffection; a dip in performance among pupils in their first years of secondary school; and the high dropout rates at 16. Britain has one of the worst rates among industrialised countries for dropping out of school at 16.

Resolving this problem has to go farther than merely changing the subject matter that pupils are taught. It also needs to focus on the ways they learn, Mr Waters told The Times. "We have to show students the link between the subjects so that learning makes better sense to them," he said. "If we can make them see the relevance of what they learn in school to life outside school, they may want to stay on in education."

Science lessons on anatomy, for example, could be taught jointly by science and PE teachers, helping pupils to see the practical application and relevance, say, of theoretical learning about how muscles or ball-and-socket joints work.

Other combinations could work just as well: languages and music (learning a song in French) or languages and financial literacy (learning how to convert different currencies); history and geography (studying patterns of local settlements); or maths and PE (collecting and charting scores and fastest times). "Wouldn't it be lovely if the PE teacher turned up in the history lesson to show examples of how great sportsmen through the ages had exercised leadership and control?" Mr Waters said. He added, however, that some subjects would need to be taught separately and in depth so that youngsters could build up a solid body of knowledge and facts in core areas.

He likened the new approach to the preparation of a mixed salad: "Imagine the programme of study in a school as the ingredients in a salad. The way you put them together to create the salad is the crucial bit in making it appetising. There is nothing to say that a school has to offer 40 minutes of tomatoes, followed by 40 minutes of lettuce, followed by double onions. "The challenge for schools is to work out which ingredients need to be taught separately, so that children quarry learning in real depth; which ingredients need to be taught by the drip-feed method for a few minutes every day; and which can be taught jointly."

Under guidance accompanying today's Key Stage 3 document, schools may also decide to adopt a total immersion approach to a subject, such as ICT, and to spend an entire week studying it, with teachers in every subject area focusing uniquely on the use of ICT in their own field for that week. Schools may also decide that some subjects, such as modern languages or maths, are best learnt by the drip-feed method, with constant repetition several times during the day. "They might be timetabled for a few minutes two or three times a day," Mr Waters said.

Timetables could also be adapted for different groups of children. Those who arrive at secondary school unable to swim, for example, could do only swimming in games and PE until they can swim. Those who can already swim could experiment with a range of new sports. Mr Waters said that schools also needed to adopt a new approach to skills. Pupils are currently taught research skills in each of their separate subjects, when equally these could be taught separately in a dedicated class to avoid repetition.


The "dance of the lemons" in Australia too

A familiar "dance" to California and NYC -- where incompetent teachers are sent from school to school rather than being fired

Incompetent teachers are being shuffled between schools rather than being sacked while many new graduates are being put in charge of the most difficult students. And principals have little say in fixing the problem because they have little control over who they can hire and fire, according to Teachers and the Waiting Game, a new paper that argues for deregulation of teacher appointments in the public system. "Principals in NSW and other states have no say over who is dismissed from the school. They're not the person who decides whether a teacher is incompetent or whether they are guilty of misconduct," said the report's author, Jennifer Buckingham, from the Centre for Independent Studies.

Teachers who failed to prepare lessons or did not understand a syllabus were difficult to discipline or dismiss because a principal's "hands were often tied" by state education departments that were in the grip of teacher unions, Ms Buckingham said. "The process of examining a teacher's performance can take up to 12 months and it can happen in a couple of schools before eventually the teacher is dismissed."

Apart from Victoria, state and territory education departments often decide by whom and where teachers are recruited, often based on length of service at a school or seniority. Unlike Victoria, where principals can immediately advertise jobs, other state principals must choose from a department list of eligible teachers before advertising externally. "For example (in NSW) if a school needs a maths teacher, rather than advertising or selecting candidates from an employment list, the school will contact the department and they are sent a teacher, most of the time with no consultation," Ms Buckingham said.

The result had been a trend to send new graduate teachers to the most disadvantaged schools. "In order to work your way up to the top of the (school transfer) queue to be offered other jobs throughout the state, you have to put in time in a school that is hard to staff - and the reason those schools are hard to staff are because the kids are hard to teach," Ms Buckingham said.

In NSW, 30 per cent of graduate teachers were concentrated in 3 per cent of schools that were difficult to staff either because a high proportion of students had behavioural problems or were from non-English speaking backgrounds, she said.

NSW Education Minister Carmel Tebbutt rejected Ms Buckingham's thesis. "In 2005 we reformed staffing procedures to give local school communities more opportunities to choose their principals and, for the first time, their classroom teachers. In 2006, we introduced legislation to streamline the process of identifying, assisting, and if necessary, removing poor performing teachers."

Australian Education Union president Pat Byrne said the teacher shortage was not related to centralised recruitment processes. "The issue is not whether the school has the say or the selection, the issue is whether or not people perceive the position to be worthwhile in terms of the salary, conditions and accommodation," Ms Byrne 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.


Tuesday, February 06, 2007


The Libertarian Alliance, the radical free market and civil liberties policy institute, today denounces the new policy of the British Government to indoctrinate all schoolchildren with the lies of the global warming lobby. According to The Independent newspaper on Friday 2nd February 2006, "The plans, to be published on Monday, will ensure that, for the first time, issues such as climate change and global warming are at the heart of the school timetable. Pupils will also be taught to understand their responsibilities as consumers - and weigh up whether they should avoid travel by air to reduce CO2 emissions and shun food produce imported from the other side of the world because of its impact on pollution."

Libertarian Alliance Director, Dr Sean Gabb, says: "This is political indoctrination lifted in all but its content from Soviet Russia. Children are to be taught the at best highly questionable claims of the global warming lobby as if they were facts. They are then to be marked up or down in their examinations according to how well they can parrot these alleged facts. "To environmentalism is to be added propaganda about racism and sexism, and every other politically correct obsession.

Ten years into the creeping totalitarianism of New Labour, the final link is to be severed between state schooling and education of children in the values of their parents. From now on, the function of schooling will be to produce a new nation, created in the image of George Monbiot and Yasmin Alibhai Brown. "Our ruling class has taken to heart the old Jesuit maxim: 'Give me the child until he is seven and I will give you the man'. The only difference is that raising the school leaving age will give them the child till he is eighteen. "The Libertarian Alliance calls on all parents to resist the brainwashing of their children."


$34.06 an Hour: That's how much the average public school teachers makes. Is that "underpaid"?

Who, on average, is better paid--public school teachers or architects? How about teachers or economists? You might be surprised to learn that public school teachers are better paid than these and many other professionals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, public school teachers earned $34.06 per hour in 2005, 36% more than the hourly wage of the average white-collar worker and 11% more than the average professional specialty or technical worker.

In the popular imagination, however, public school teachers are underpaid. "Salaries are too low. We all know that," noted First Lady Laura Bush, expressing the consensus view. "We need to figure out a way to pay teachers more." Indeed, our efforts to hire more teachers and raise their salaries account for the bulk of public school spending increases over the last four decades. During that time per-pupil spending, adjusted for inflation, has more than doubled; overall we now annually spend more than $500 billion on public education.

The perception that we underpay teachers is likely to play a significant role in the debate to reauthorize No Child Left Behind. The new Democratic majority intends to push for greater education funding, much of which would likely to go toward increasing teacher compensation. It would be beneficial if the debate focused on the actual salaries teachers are already paid.

It would also be beneficial if the debate touched on the correlation between teacher pay and actual results. To wit, higher teacher pay seems to have no effect on raising student achievement. Metropolitan areas with higher teacher pay do not graduate a higher percentage of their students than areas with lower teacher pay.

In fact, the urban areas with the highest teacher pay are famous for their abysmal outcomes. Metro Detroit leads the nation, paying its public school teachers, on average, $47.28 per hour. That's 61% more than the average white-collar worker in the Detroit area and 36% more than the average professional worker. In metro New York, public school teachers make $45.79 per hour, 20% more than the average professional worker in that area. And in Los Angeles teachers earn $44.03 per hour, 23% higher than other professionals in the area.

Evidence suggests that the way we pay teachers is more important than simply what they take home. Currently salaries are determined almost entirely by seniority--the number of years in the classroom--and the number of advanced degrees accumulated. Neither has much to do with student improvement.

There is evidence that providing bonuses to teachers who improve the performance of their students does raise academic proficiency. With our colleagues at the University of Arkansas we found that a Little Rock program providing bonuses to teachers based on student gains on standardized tests substantially increased math proficiency. Researchers at the University of Florida recently found similar results in a nationwide evaluation.

Of course, public school teacher earnings look less impressive when viewed on an annual basis than on an hourly basis. This is because teachers tend to work fewer hours per year, with breaks during the summer, winter and spring. But comparing earnings on an annual basis would be inappropriate when teachers work significantly fewer hours than do other workers. Teachers can use that time to be with family, to engage in activities that they enjoy, or to earn additional money from other employment. That time off is worth money and cannot simply be ignored when comparing earnings. The appropriate way to compare earnings in this circumstance is to focus on hourly rates.

Moreover, the earnings data reported here, which are taken directly from the National Compensation Survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, do not include retirement and health benefits, which tend to be quite generous for public school teachers relative to other workers. Nor do they include the nonmonetary benefit of greater job security due to the tenure that most public school teachers enjoy.

Educators sometimes object that hourly earnings calculations do not capture the additional hours they work outside of school, but this objection is not very compelling. First, the National Compensation Survey is designed to capture all hours actually worked. And teachers are hardly the only wage earners who take work home with them.

The fact is that teachers are better paid than most other professionals. What matters is the way that we pay public school teachers, not the amount. The next time politicians call for tax increases to address the problem of terribly underpaid public school teachers, they might be reminded of these facts.


Australia: Teacher trainees not being trained

Typical government management of supply and demand

A leaked report by a State Government working party says West Australian schools are increasingly reluctant to allow undergraduates into classrooms for the work experience they need to get a teaching degree. As the Carpenter Government battles to fill a record shortfall of more than 200 teachers this year, the report warns that some student teachers may not be able to graduate due to a lack of work experience places in the state's schools. The trend has universities worried about the next generation of teachers.

In 2005, some Victorian student teachers were unable to graduate because of a lack of work experience placements, the report says. The report, Teacher Supply and Demand and Student Placements in Western Australia, was completed late last year. It includes claims by Murdoch University that it struggled to place student teachers in schools despite using small gifts to try to entice teachers to take them. "Murdoch tries to do PR and gives small gifts and certificates, but it is stressful having to go to the same teachers time and again and fewer want to be involved," the report stated.

The severe teacher shortage facing government schools in Western Australia - the shortfall had dropped yesterday to 166 full-time and 44 part-time teachers following an urgent recruitment drive - has reached some independent schools.

Independent schools told the authors of the report that it was increasingly difficult to fill positions in rural Western Australia. And it was extremely difficult to place teachers in Aboriginal communities. Those who went rarely stayed more than a year. [I wonder why?] "This staff turnover compounds the disadvantage experienced by the schools," 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, February 05, 2007

Greenie propaganda to be part of the British geography syllabus

Teenagers will learn about the threat to the environment from climate change and what they can do about it, under reforms to geography teaching. They will be encouraged to recycle consumer goods and to question whether they really need another imported pair of trainers. Other topics to be studied include the Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina.

Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, said: “With rising sea temperatures, melting ice-caps and frequent reminders about our carbon footprints, we should all be thinking about what we can do to preserve the planet. Children are the key to changing society’s attitudes to the environment. Not only are they passionate about saving the planet but children also have a big influence over their own families’ lifestyles.”

In a parallel move, the Department for Education announced that it would send a copy of Al Gore’s film on climate change, An Inconvenient Truth, to every secondary school.

The reforms, to be published next week by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, follow criticism by scientists of the way schools have addressed issues such as climate change. Last month the Royal Society of Chemistry said that textbooks were out of date and that lessons had “omissions, simplifications and misrepresentations”. The changes, part of a review of the curriculum for pupils aged 11 to 14, were welcomed by Rita Gardner, director of the Royal Geographical Society.


A government school system at work

Nobody cares. If it was their own money they would

A recent audit of cash-strapped Camden, N.J. school district's finances found it was paying an employee $130,000 annually - and he's been dead for more than three decades. City officials were shocked by the discovery.

The independent audit of Camden schools found fiscal mismanagement and lax controls for payroll, purchasing, and accounts payable, reported WPVI-TV in Philadelphia. Camden has been plagued with scandal and is known as the nation's poorest city.

The audit also found outside vendors have been overpaid more than $17 million. In one case the district forked over $953,000 for copy equipment even though the purchase order was for only $55,000. "It's just totally unbelievable and absolutely incredible that we can have such a dysfunctional system in place," said school board president Philip Freeman. [I've got news for you, Phil]


Is this some black history that SHOULD be taught?

At least this story is factual

A 25-year-old student angry that his technical school wasn't teaching about black history walked into his business class Friday and stabbed three school officials with a screwdriver, police said.

Kevin Mair of Plantation walked into his classroom at Atlantic Technical Center using a cane and sound-blocking headphones similar to those used in a gun range, said Officer Anthony Avello of the Coconut Creek Police Department. Mair became agitated and "expressed his displeasure about the lack of black history being taught at the school," Avello said. February is Black History Month. The teacher asked Mair to leave and called for staff assistance, he said.

Mair then attacked the three victims with a screwdriver he took to school, officials said. An assistant director of the school was stabbed in the back and two security specialists in the arms. The three were later released from the hospital.

Mair fled in his car, was involved in a car crash and tried to run from officers but was apprehended. He will be charged with multiple counts of aggravated battery, authorities said.


Australia: Government schools in expensive suburbs can't cope with enrollments

Matching supply to demand is too hard for governments

Public schools are turning away students because they have run out of classroom space and do not want to fill their playgrounds with demountables. Changing demographics, a flow of students back into public schools and the State Government's $710 million class-size reduction policy are all placing an extra strain on resources. Most affected are schools in the high-density eastern- and inner-city suburbs, where there is limited space to expand.

Bronte Public School has had to turn away pupils from outside its local area. "Demand is growing," principal Pam Crawley said. "We are limited to [taking students from] within the area and siblings simply because we don't have any more space," Ms Crawley said. She said an increasing number of people were eager to send their children to local public schools. "People value the fact their children are starting in their local school and getting a sense of community," she said.

Kensington Public School principal and Public School Principals Forum spokeswoman Annie Jones has had to turn away up to 50 children from kindergarten each year - and between 20 and 40 from years 1 to 6 - because of a lack of space. She does not want to take in any demountable classrooms which she said would encroach on the playground area.

NSW Teachers Federation eastern suburbs and inner city representative Michelle Rosicky said the schools experiencing a lack of room tended to be older and had limited land. "The problem is, in the eastern suburbs, if those parents can't get their kids into Coogee, Clovelly and Bronte [public schools] they will send them to private schools."



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

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

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


Sunday, February 04, 2007


Comment by Stanley Kurtz

Russell Jacoby, a U.C.L.A. historian, has penned a bizarre review of the forthcoming anthology, Why I Turned Right: Leading Baby Boom Conservatives Chronicle Their Political Journeys. This is a Mary Eberstadt edited collection, to which I am a contributor.  (The review is in the current Chronicle of Higher Education, and is subscriber restricted.)  I kid you not: Jacoby’s main complaint is that the book is well written, which supposedly proves that conservatives are superficial.

"Almost without exception", Jacoby begins, "each essay is lucid and articulate". "Would it be possible to assemble a countercollection by leftists that would be equally limpid?" "Unlikely," Jacoby answers. The leftist professorate, he admits, “distrusts clear prose as superficial.  Oddly, English and literature professors led the way....they became convinced that incomprehensibility equals profundity....Compared to that, much conservative writing has a deft, light touch.”  The villain here?  “...conservative think tanks, which encourage readable prose for a reading public.”  Yes, Jacoby admits, “these conservatives are best at puncturing liberal, especially academic, balderdash.”  “On the basis of this volume, conservatives are excellent writers–and facile thinkers.  Perhaps the two go together.”

Jacoby’s review betrays no profundity, lucid or otherwise.  It’s merely an angry litany of what struck Jacoby as the most odious conservative views affirmed by the various authors of Why I Turned Right.  Anyway, snaps Jacoby, today’s conservatives are merely reacting to campus culture, not to the sort of truly serious oppression we found in the old Soviet Union.  (Somehow Jacoby missed the account of my trip to the old Soviet Union.)  And Jacoby complains that the authors of Why I Turned Right have nothing to say about a variety of important issues–like civil rights.  (Guess my discussion of the betrayal of liberal civil rights ideals by the movement for race and gender preferences doesn’t count.)

Panning Why I Turned Right as well written but superficial is a risible excuse for a critique.  These pieces are personal statements, not detailed policy documents or philosophical disquisitions.  If you want something intellectually meatier, take a look at, say, The Future of History. (I admit that even this is easier to understand than the nonsense penned by many postmodern English professors.)  But liberal academics don’t bother engaging conservative policy analysis, no matter how serious it is.  Instead, they bridle at the thought that a book by conservatives might actually be read and enjoyed by the general public.

Anyway, what do you say about a review that confirms every stereotype of the crotchety, jealous, humorless, politically correct zealots who run our academy.  Get real, professor Jacoby.  Good writing is not a disqualification.  Has the other side really been reduced to this?  You might have tried graciously conceding that the essays read well, and then moved on to some thoughtful criticism.  This sort of silliness merely shows how completely removed from public discourse our academics actually are.  Remember, these folks are supposed to be teaching America’s children.

So I give you Why I Turned Right: in the words of its bitterest critics, “lucid, articulate...limpid...written with a deft, light touch, [penned by] excellent writers...readable prose for the reading public.”  Note to publisher: first blurb for paperback now available.


N.J. Schools Test Students' Urine for Weekend Drinking

An extraordinary invasion of privacy. What kids do on the weekend in their own homes is no business of the school

Teens who drink alcohol could be caught three days later under a high school's new testing policy for students. The test, which will be given randomly to students at Pequannock Township High School, can detect whether alcohol was consumed up to 80 hours earlier. The legal drinking age in the United States is 21.

Other districts already use the test. Middletown began using it last spring for students suspected of using drugs and alcohol. This month, the district expanded it to include a random pool of about 1,800 students.

Pequannock Superintendent Larrie Reynolds said the policy approved last week should be a deterrent to students who feel peer pressure to drink. Under the program, students who test positive will not be kicked off teams or barred from extracurricular activities, Reynolds said. Instead, they will receive counseling - and their parents will be notified. "Most kids who think they can get away with it might be tempted to stop and think about it," he said. The test costs will be paid with federal grants, Reynolds said.

Urine screenings look for ethyl glucuronide, produced by the body after it metabolizes alcohol. School officials acknowledge the test is sensitive, and false positive readings can be the result of using products containing ethanol, including mouthwash and Balsamic vinegar. But Reynolds said in order for students to test positive, they would generally have had to consume the equivalent of one or two drinks.

Critics have said the testing does not work and invades students' privacy. "Medical care and treatment are issues between parents and children," said Deborah Jacobs, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey.


A core curriculum for all Australians: Why should schooling change at every state border?

Following is an editorial from "The Australian"

The politics of Australian education are pathetically predictable, with sensible ideas that will disturb the status quo in schools always exciting ire among state ministers. Yesterday, they responded to a proposal from their federal counterpart, Julie Bishop, for common school subjects across the country as if she wanted to put cannibalism on the curriculum. But Ms Bishop's proposal that all schools across the country adopt a common curriculum makes a great deal of sense. Australia is a big country, but Australians are one people and the idea that students in Bunbury and Bundaberg need to learn entirely different things in radically different ways makes no sense. And no sense in some of the areas that matter most is what we have now.

As a new report from the Australian Council of Educational Research makes clear, a great many of our school syllabuses have all the consistency of 19th-century rail gauges, particularly in areas especially important to education union ideologues and curriculum commissars - English and history. There are 18 university entry high school English courses in Australia, but no novels, poems or plays are on all of them. And less than half the topics taught in Australian history are common across the country. The existence of nine state and territory systems ensures ample opportunities for fads and fashions to be imposed on children. From the social engineering exercises of the Victorian curriculum introduced at the end of the 1980s to the utterly discredited Outcomes Based Education plan that crippled the credibility of the Carpenter Government in Western Australia last year, the absence of a single set of national standards and subjects means education planners get away with curriculum crimes at a state level that would never be allowed if all the whole country were involved.

There is no need for it to be like this. The laws of physics do not change in the middle of the Murray. Nor does the Nullarbor transform the rules of grammar. And curriculum experts in maths and science around the country know it. According to the ACER, course content in advanced mathematics, physics and chemistry is almost identical all over Australia. But not in the humanities, the subjects that shape what students understand Australia to be about. There the education establishment pushes barrows piled high with their different political values. It beggars belief that what students need to know about our national achievements, and failings, differs in Darwin or Devenport. And it makes no sense for students who share a common culture to be taught different novels in different ways.

The tide is running against states' rights education orthodoxies. The Howard Government has long pushed for basic skills to be taught in schools and for pupil progress to be reported in ways parents understand. And it looks like Labor under Kevin Rudd is not interested in backing state governments that impose education fads such as OBE. But nobody should expect an outbreak of common sense on the subject of a national curriculum. State ministers are responding to Ms Bishop's suggestion just as they always do when anybody advances an idea that involves change. Canberra should butt out because everything is under control, some say. Others will add that schools are a state responsibility, before demanding more money from the federal government. The especially brazen will bluster that a common curriculum will dumb down standards in their state.

There is nothing new in any of this. When the last Labor government was in power in Canberra, the Liberal states used these lines. And while the roles are now reversed, the arguments remain the same. But Ms Bishop should persevere. The idea of a common curriculum is one whose time must come. It does not mean that across the continent every school should teach exactly the same thing in exactly the same way at exactly the same time every day. It does not mean there is no room for regional diversity. But it does mean that just as knowledge and core Australian values do not change at state lines, neither should the way they are taught.


Australia: Wherefore art the classics?

Senior Queensland English students can choose to organise a rock concert or learn about workplace rights rather than hunkering down to study classical English texts. The Federal Government yesterday used the Queensland Studies Authority's own website to hit back at claims by State Education Minister Rod Welford that English communications courses were not a soft option. Mr Welford said the courses focused on good writing, grammar and spelling - and were designed for students proceeding to vocational education, training courses and jobs.

But Federal Education Minister Julie Bishop said it was difficult to imagine how organising a concert met community expectations of what students should study in an English class. "Parents expect their children to learn the skills that will support further learning or their ability to find and hold down a job," Ms Bishop said. "Mr Welford's defence of these types of courses explain why he is so dismissive of the concerns of parents about standards of literacy and numeracy, which he recently described as a "tired old cliche".

Ms Bishop, who released a report this week which showed a lack of national consistency in classroom curricula, urged Mr Welford to read it as it made "a compelling case for higher standards and greater national consistency in schools". Ms Bishop said Australia had nine different senior secondary certificates with a bewildering array of variations. The Minister is devising a plan to standardise the core subjects - English, maths, physics, chemistry and Australian history - at Australian schools.

Prime Minister John Howard said that standardising core school subjects in states and territories across Australia was common sense and fair. "I can't understand how anybody could object to having a sufficiently common curricula around the nation to ensure that children who in any given school year go from one state to another are not disadvantaged," Mr Howard told ABC Radio. He said 70,000 Australian children travelled between states each year and he wanted to ensure their education did not suffer. "It is very disruptive and very damaging that you still don't have a situation where a child can go from Western Australia to Queensland without suffering a very significant disadvantage," he said. But he said a national education system would not mean every school's curriculum would be identical. "That doesn't mean that every classroom in every state should be teaching the same thing at the same time every day. It plainly doesn't mean that," he said.

Ms Bishop will present the plan to state and territory education ministers at a meeting in April.



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"

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