Saturday, March 03, 2007

The Closing of the American Mind and Catholic education

The most recent number of The Intercollegiate Review, published by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, features a symposium marking the twentieth anniversary of the publication of Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind. Has it really been that long?

Bloom's book was a real sensation and a surprise bestseller. Looking back, I can see why. The Closing was more than a highbrow attack on contemporary academic careerism (a la Jacques Barzun), a middlebrow defense of great books (a la E. D. Hirsch), or a populist expos‚ of tenured radicals and puerile campus ideologues (a la David Horowitz). The gist of Bloom's polemic-and the book was nothing if not a long, erudite, and hyperbolic polemic-was a brief against the cultural revolution of the 1960s. He said out loud what liberal elite culture could only regard as heresy: The supposed idealism of the 1960s was, in fact, a new barbarism. Whatever moral and spiritual seriousness the long tradition of American pragmatism had left intact in university life, the anti-culture of the left destroyed.

The result? Higher education has become, argued Bloom, the professional training of clever and sybaritic animals, who drink, vomit, and fornicate in the dorms by night while they posture critically and ironically by day. Bloom identified moral relativism as dogma that blessed what he called "the civilized reanimalization of man." He saw a troubling, dangerous, and soulless apathy that pleasured itself prudently with passing satisfactions ("Always use condoms!" says the sign by the dispenser in the bathroom) but was moved by no desire to know good or evil, truth or falsehood, beauty or ugliness.

I remember reading Bloom in 1987, feeling as though he was describing what I was experiencing as a young graduate teaching assistant. Bright, energetic, ambitious Yale students could master material with amazing speed. They could discuss brilliantly. They could write effective, well-researched papers. But they possessed an amazing ability to understand without being moved, to experience without judging, to self-consciously put forward their own convictions as mere opinions. On the whole, they seemed to have interior lives of Jell-O.

I have since learned that students are often not as they appear. Quite a number have steely souls and passionate convictions, but they have learned that the proper posture of higher education is either soft diffidence or its counter-image, snarky critical superiority. At times, a cultivated moral passion is OK, even desirable, especially if it is sincerely felt, unconventional, and asserted as an imperative of personality. An urgent vegetarianism expressed with a vehemence bordering on taboo, for example, can be quite acceptable. What is positively discouraged, however, are reasoned, principled commitments. So students who have real and serious moral or religious convictions hide them and cordon them off from their educational experience.

The need to hide convictions, and the tendency to separate conviction from education is especially true for students who have traditional beliefs. Nearly all faculty stand at the ready to critique and correct. The guillotine of professorial intervention need fall only once or twice before students realize that all truths are relative, and some are more relative than others. Usually, this has already happened in secondary school, and students come to college wise to the logic of multicultural "inclusion."

Bloom helps us see that, whether students lack convictions or disguise them, the educational effect is pretty much the same. The most important question in peoples lives-that is to say, the question of how they should live-remains largely unconnected to the sophisticated intellectual training that continues to take place in the classroom. I can often get students to "share" their moral "opinions," and often with a certain warmth of conviction. I can also get students to analyze classical arguments for or against various accounts of the good life. But I find it difficult to induce students to take a passionate and rational interest in fundamental questions. Students are either soulless creatures, or they recuse their souls from any contact with reason and argument. This phenomenon was what troubled Allan Bloom, and this is why he wrote The Closing of the American Mind.

Leaders in Catholic education should revisit Bloom's spiritual diagnosis. To a large extent, a similar worry about passionless, commitment-free inquiry dominates John Paul II's teaching on education, philosophy, and the dignity of reason. In Fides et Ratio, the late pope expressed a great concern that contemporary intellectual culture has lost touch with "the search for ultimate truth," and as does Bloom, John Paul II evokes the danger of relativism. We should beware "an undifferentiated pluralism," he writes, for an easy celebration of "difference" undermines our desire for truth and reduces everything to mere opinion.

Over the years, I have observed that most Catholic deans, provosts, and presidents ignore or even contribute to the slide of higher education into soulless relativism. Most take the integrity of reason and the truth claims of the Catholic Church for granted, even as it slowly declines into the standard, amoral, post-cultural agenda of secular education. Some actively undermine the relationship of the university to the Church in order to deploy the university as part of the liberal Catholic resistance to the conservative trends in the larger Church. Others imagine that multicultural educational ideologies rightly express a Catholic commitment to social justice and the preferential option for the poor.

Every Catholic university has its own story. But the basic dynamic tends to be the same. For all their good intentions, most Catholic administrators are hopelessly confused and inconsistent when it comes to the goals of education. Just talk to a Catholic dean or college president. They do not want non-Catholic students to be "uncomfortable," and they want everyone to feel "included." Then, not a minute or two later, the conversation shifts, and the very same proponents of inclusion will insist that we need to challenge our students with critical thought and diverse perspectives. Hello! You can't have it both ways-making students comfortable and challenging them.

Of course, what most Catholic educators usually mean is that a professor should challenge the traditional beliefs of Catholic students and challenge any conservative political or economic beliefs that students are foolish enough to expose. This critical project, which is conveniently well-coordinated with the agenda of secular education, has the desired effect of making administrators and faculty feel good about their great vocation as critical educators while-miracle of miracles-making anybody who disagrees with the teachings of the Catholic Church feel comfortable and welcome.

The students are not stupid. Those with traditional and conservative convictions quickly realize that the deck is stacked against them, and they learn to separate their religious and moral and political convictions from the classroom. They remove their souls from the university. The non-Catholic students realize that few faculty create a pedagogical environment where Catholic teaching can make a claim on their intellects and lives. They relax, gratified that they can get an education without having to put any energy into arguing against and resisting. Their souls are left quiescent and unchallenged. What Bloom feared becomes the atmosphere of Catholic education: the question of how we should live fails to enter into the center of university life.

Maybe I'm simple-minded, but I don't think the solution is all that difficult to understand. Catholic universities should challenge students-with the full force of the Catholic tradition. A truth that presses us toward holiness is a far greater threat to naive credulities and bourgeois complacency than anodyne experiences of "difference" or easy moves of "critique," which bright students master and mimic very quickly.

I don't think that the lectern should be turned into a pulpit, but the soul of Catholic education requires classrooms haunted by the authority of the Church and the holiness of her saints. That was the actual, experienced effect of the old system, when large numbers of faculty were priests and nuns.

Every culture demands and prohibits, encourages and exhorts. The desire to have a university free from demands, a classroom sanitized and unhaunted, is nothing short of desiring an education free from culture. Many professors and administrators today desire this kind of education. For multiculturalism, "diversity," and disembodied "critical thinking" add up to an imaginary, spectral meta-culture that is, by definition, no culture at all. And as I have said, students are not stupid. They realize that an education free from the commanding truths of culture is an invitation to live as clever, well-trained, and socially productive animals; and like all good students, they live up to the expectations.

Today the single greatest goal of Catholic universities should be to withdraw this debasing invitation. All students are well served by an educational atmosphere shaped by the demands of Catholic culture, demands that bear down upon us with the frightening force of divine commandments. For the dangerous commitments of truth and not the cool dispassion of critique open minds.


California school revives segregation

With schools under increasing pressure to improve test scores, Mount Diablo High School has resorted to a new way to motivate students: by race. The Concord campus on Friday held separate assemblies for students of different ethnicities to talk about last year's test results and the upcoming slew of state exams this spring. Jazz music and pictures of Martin Luther King greeted African-American students, whereas Filipino, Asian and Pacific Islander students saw flags of their foreign homelands on the walls. Latinos and white students each attended their own events, too, complete with statistics showing results for all ethnicities and grade level.

"They started off by saying jokingly, 'What up, white people,'" said freshman Megan Wiley, 14. Teachers flashed last year's test scores and told the white crowd of students to do better for the sake of their people. "They got into, 'You should be proud of your race,'" Wiley said. "It was just weird."

Several parents later told the Times that the meetings smacked of segregation resurrected. "Why did they have to divide the students by race?" said Filipino parent Claddy Dennis, mother of freshman Schenlly Dennis. "In this country, everybody is supposed to be treated equally. It sounds like racism to me."

Principal Bev Hansen said she held the student assemblies by ethnicity this year and last year to avoid one group harassing another based on their test scores. The 1,600-student campus, one of the most ethnically diverse high schools in the Mt. Diablo school district, is roughly half Latino, 30 percent white and 15 percent black, with Asian nationalities rounding out the mix. Last year, the school improved its academic performance index score, largely based on test scores, to 613 out of 1,000. Among the races, Asians scored highest. Whites earned a 667. African-Americans scored a 580, whereas Latinos earned a 571. "I don't want students being teased," Hansen said.

Ultimately, however, Hansen said she did not know why parents seemed so concerned. The state has reported scores based on race for years. The school assemblies simply reflected those same categories in reporting the numbers to students, she said. "In this country, race is a very uncomfortable topic, and it's time we got over it," Hansen said.

Jack Jennings, president of the National Center on Education Policy, a leading education research group, called the racially divided meetings potentially illegal and dangerous. "It's segregation by race, whatever the motivation," Jennings said, noting that he had never heard before of a school or district doing such a thing. He described the assemblies as a unique byproduct of the intense focus on testing. Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, schools, school districts and states must report and are accountable for scores in reading and math for specific races, English learners, special-education students and economically disadvantaged students. All statistically significant groups must show continuous test score improvement. "It shows that there's so much pressure to raise test scores that teachers and administrators are trying to do anything they can," Jennings said. "Sometimes what they choose is not very wise."

Last spring, California High School in the San Ramon Valley pulled Latino and black students in for pretesting pep talks but not white students. The principal apologized after parents flooded the mayor's office with complaints.

Mount Diablo sophomore Hector Rivera, 15, said he enjoyed the speakers at his Latino student assembly. "The way they were speaking, it was intended to make people feel good," Rivera said. "I guess it was to inspire everybody, like you can do better." Hispanic students made a 50-point gain on the state's 1,000-point achievement scale. White students improved by 46 points, whereas English learners posted the greatest rise, more than 80 points.

"There's nothing negative about these assemblies," said school secretary Arnetta Jones, who is African-American and helped organize the assembly for African-American students. "It wasn't, in any way, to put people down." African-American students raised their score on the state academic performance index by 61 points. "We showed an incredible amount of improvement on our test scores," Jones said. The event also celebrated black culture, Jones said. Two students performed a dance with choreography by African-American dance visionary Alvin Ailey. A black pastor from Bay Point delivered a message. One student read a poem that is the mantra of a black fraternity from UC Berkeley. "That kind of set the tone," Jones said.

However, some African-American students interpreted the school's messages differently. Freshman Jason Lockett, 14, said he saw the pictures of Martin Luther King and the words, "Black Power" projected overhead. But the scores, despite being an increase over last year, still lag other races'. "It was to compare us and say how much dumber we were than everybody else," Lockett said.

Principal Hansen said although some students were upset, they deserve to know the truth about lower test scores. "We need help in closing the achievement gap," Hansen said. "This is one tiny step."


Teach the teachers

Comment from Australia

When a friend asked at a school meeting a few years ago what were the key concepts her child would be learning that year, the beginner teacher couldn't answer. In an age when at some schools you can take a course in text messaging it seems even teachers no longer know what our kids are meant to be learning.

Whole terms are wasted on themed units about the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics. After six years in primary school, my daughter could recite to you the entire history of the Olympics -- but she has only a very patchy knowledge about the history of her own country.

The push by both major parties to have a national curriculum is long overdue but it will only be welcomed by parents if it unites the states behind a higher standard rather than the lowest common denominator. And it will only work if the people delivering that new curriculum are well trained to deliver it.

A report out this week found the training and morale of the teaching profession is just as big a problem as the curriculum they teach. The House of Representatives inquiry Top of the Class found one in five beginner teachers leaves the profession within their first five years of teaching. More disturbing for parents is that the report highlighted the worrying fact that the people teaching our kids may often have no command themselves of maths and literacy. Only four of the 31 universities that carry out teacher training require their students to have Year 12 maths.

Melbourne University told the inquiry it would have to disqualify half its student teachers if it required them to have Year 12 maths. That's why the House of Representatives committee is calling for trainee teachers to have their literacy and numeracy skills tested when they start their degree.

Having a good grasp themselves of what they should be teaching our kids is one thing, but knowing how to get that message across is another. In my job I get to question prime ministers and I've performed in front of television cameras and on radio. However, none of these jobs has scared me as much as the time I had to give a talk to the 25 kids in my daughter's class. Trying to hold the attention of 25 nine-year-olds, keep them under control and try to get a message across is no easy feat.

That's why you'd think our teacher training courses would be chock full of practical teaching experiences for our teachers. But they're not. In NSW, a person who graduates with a one-year Diploma of Education will have spent just 20 days in front of a class. Someone who does a four-year teaching degree will get 80 days in front of a class during their university training. In the ACT, the requirement is just 30 days teaching practice.

The inquiry found that very often this very important practical component of a teacher's education is not supervised by universities or assessed because they don't have the staff or the money. All the educational and psychological theory lessons in the world won't help when you've got to control a class of 30 kids, one of whom tries to use the Bunsen burners to set the science lab alight or throws a chair through the window. That's the sort of behaviour my cousin had to deal with in her first year of teaching.

It's when they leave university that the teacher training system really cheats new teachers. The inquiry found very few of them got any help at all settling in or learning to apply the theory they'd learned at university in the classroom in their first year out. In fact, nearly three out of four of them don't even get a permanent job so the schools who take them on have no vested interest in building up their skills.

A Department of Education, Science and Training survey of recent graduates found 57 per cent were engaged on short-term contracts. Fifteen per cent were stuck with the graduate teacher's nightmare of relief teaching work and only 28 per cent were in permanent jobs. The inquiry warned the teaching profession was rapidly ageing and over the next seven years we would be facing a serious shortage of teachers. Just having a warm body in front of a class will be the priority. No parent will be satisfied with this sort of system. Every parent wants their kids to learn the basics.



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

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

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


Friday, March 02, 2007

College Students More Narcissistic Than Ever

The Leftist "self-esteem" gospel in action

Today's college students are more narcissistic and self-centered than their predecessors, according to a comprehensive new study by five psychologists who worry that the trend could be harmful to personal relationships and American society. "We need to stop endlessly repeating 'You're special' and having children repeat that back," said the study's lead author, Professor Jean Twenge of San Diego State University. "Kids are self-centered enough already."

Twenge and her colleagues, in findings to be presented at a workshop Tuesday in San Diego on the generation gap, examined the responses of 16,475 college students nationwide who completed an evaluation called the Narcissistic Personality Inventory between 1982 and 2006. The standardized inventory, known as the NPI, asks for responses to such statements as "If I ruled the world, it would be a better place," "I think I am a special person" and "I can live my life any way I want to." The researchers describe their study as the largest ever of its type and say students' NPI scores have risen steadily since the current test was introduced in 1982. By 2006, they said, two-thirds of the students had above-average scores, 30 percent more than in 1982.

Narcissism can have benefits, said study co-author W. Keith Campbell of the University of Georgia, suggesting it could be useful in meeting new people "or auditioning on 'American Idol.'" "Unfortunately, narcissism can also have very negative consequences for society, including the breakdown of close relationships with others," he said.

The study asserts that narcissists "are more likely to have romantic relationships that are short-lived, at risk for infidelity, lack emotional warmth, and to exhibit game-playing, dishonesty, and over-controlling and violent behaviors."

Twenge, the author of "Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled - and More Miserable Than Ever Before," said narcissists tend to lack empathy, react aggressively to criticism and favor self-promotion over helping others. The researchers traced the phenomenon back to what they called the "self-esteem movement" that emerged in the 1980s, asserting that the effort to build self-confidence had gone too far. As an example, Twenge cited a song commonly sung to the tune of "Frere Jacques" in preschool: "I am special, I am special. Look at me." "Current technology fuels the increase in narcissism," Twenge said. "By its very name, MySpace encourages attention-seeking, as does YouTube."

Some analysts have commended today's young people for increased commitment to volunteer work. But Twenge viewed even this phenomenon skeptically, noting that many high schools require community service and many youths feel pressure to list such endeavors on college applications. Campbell said the narcissism upsurge seemed so pronounced that he was unsure if there were obvious remedies. "Permissiveness seems to be a component," he said. "A potential antidote would be more authoritative parenting. Less indulgence might be called for."

The new report follows a study released by UCLA last month which found that nearly three-quarters of the freshmen it surveyed thought it was important to be "very well-off financially." That compared with 62.5 percent who said the same in 1980 and 42 percent in 1966.

Yet students, while acknowledging some legitimacy to such findings, don't necessarily accept negative generalizations about their generation. Hanady Kader, a University of Washington senior, said she worked unpaid last summer helping resettle refugees and considers many of her peers to be civic-minded. But she is dismayed by the competitiveness of some students who seem prematurely focused on career status. "We're encouraged a lot to be individuals and go out there and do what you want, and nobody should stand in your way," Kader said. "I can see goals and ambitions getting in the way of other things like relationships."

Kari Dalane, a University of Vermont sophomore, says most of her contemporaries are politically active and not overly self-centered. "People are worried about themselves - but in the sense of where are they're going to find a place in the world," she said. "People want to look their best, have a good time, but it doesn't mean they're not concerned about the rest of the world." Besides, some of the responses on the narcissism test might not be worrisome, Dalane said. "It would be more depressing if people answered, 'No, I'm not special.'" [Brainwashed]


Canadian homosexual Activists Consider Targeting Private Christian Schools for "Homophobia"

Ontario private schools are coming increasingly under the lens of homosexual activist groups for "homophobic" teaching stemming from the schools' primarily religious foundations, a report in Ottawa's homosexual news media indicated earlier this week.

In an article warning about the increasing trend toward private and religious schools in the province, Ottawa's Capital Xtra objected to religious schools that teach children "only their own values."

The article quotes Tony Lovink, a homosexual Christian teacher in the Ottawa public school system, as saying, "All private schools tend to be at least implicitly homophobic. And I would say all religiously formed independent schools are definitely homophobic."

The Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights in Ontario said they were concerned the provincial ministry of education wasn't "exerting more control" over the curriculum used by private religious schools. Unless a school wants to grant students government-recognized Secondary School Diplomas, Ontario private schools are free to use their preferred curriculum. Even schools that do grant the government diplomas may teach any additional material they choose, so long as the required curriculum is covered.

As well, the CLGRO objected to provincial standards that permit private schools to hire teachers based on the school administration's own qualification requirements.

In October 2006 the Quebec government ordered private Christian schools in the province to begin teaching sex education and Darwinism in compliance with the provincial curriculum, threatening schools with closure if they failed to comply.

Dr. Janet Epp Buckingham, then-director of law and public policy with the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, told LifeSiteNews at the time that parents' right to educate their children in accordance with their religious beliefs is protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In 1986 the Supreme Court ruled that although an Alberta pastor who was running a school out of the basement of his church did have to license the school, the provincial government had to provide reasonable accommodation for religious belief.

The court ruled that the province must "`delicately and sensitively weigh the competing interests so as to respect as much as possible the religious convictions as guaranteed by the Charter,'" Dr. Epp Buckingham quoted.

In an ongoing battle over homosexual content in BC public school curriculums, parents are struggling to gain assurance from the school board that they may withdraw their children from pro-homosexual content in the classroom.

Homosexual activists Murray Corren and Peter Corren were granted an unprecedented say over the development of new pro-homosexual content in the provincial curriculum, as part of settlement in a human rights lawsuit against the province's Liberal government in June 2006. The agreement also introduced a policy that would prevent parents from withdrawing their children from the classroom when the material was being taught.

The Catholic Civil Rights League is continuing efforts to ensure all 60 BC school boards acknowledge parents' rights to oversee the education of their children.


Australian Federal Leftists get on school standards bandwagon

The cartoon above refers to the fact that the new Federal Labor party policy is very similar to the policy of Australia's Federal conservatives. The main difference apears to be that the Left will not put much backbone into it

Kevin Rudd has pledged to introduce a back-to-basics national curriculum in maths, science, English and history within three years of winning office. In a move aimed at seizing the initiative on the national curriculum debate after years of discussion, the Labor leader said it should be "concise, in plain English and understandable to both parents and teachers".

And in a challenge to teachers' unions, Mr Rudd said union leaders would not be offered a place on the National Curriculum Board that a Labor government would establish to develop consistent national curriculums from kindergarten to Year 12.

The new benchmarks would include a recommended reading list of Australian literature and classics, which the Opposition confirmed last night would include Shakespeare. Younger maths students would be required to understand multiplication and fractions, and senior history students would have to demonstrate a systematic understanding of Australian history.

"Australia has been talking for years about the need for a national curriculum," Mr Rudd said yesterday. "A national curriculum will mean that a student moving between Western Australia, Queensland, NSW and Victoria will not be disadvantaged." Labor predicted the plan could be achieved in consultation with the states. It immediately won qualified support from Queensland Premier Peter Beattie, but the NSW Government remained sceptical about the value of a national curriculum, even under a federal ALP government.

Labor's plan would also include a new discussion to boost languages in schools, echoing the elevation of "language other than English" program in the Queensland Goss government during the 1990s, when Mr Rudd was director-general of the Department of Premier and Cabinet. The program, introduced in 1991, had set an ambitious target to have all Queensland students studying a second language by 2000.

A veteran of battles with the teachers' union in Queensland during his years as a public servant and more recently during the debate over the state's controversial Studies of Society and the Environment, Mr Rudd said there was no place for unions on the curriculum board. "We will not have representation from the unions," he said. "This is a professional curriculum body with representation from the states and territories and curriculum experts from the non-government sector as well."

Mr Rudd's show of determination to resist union pressure on education came as the Government sought to paint him as weak on industrial relations. A succession of government ministers demanded Labor reveal whether it would keep small business exempt from unfair dismissal laws after Labor frontbencher Craig Emerson hinted on Tuesday night that Labor would give the sector special treatment. Dr Emerson's comments at a meeting of small business people caused jitters among some Labor MPs and unionists, who are demanding Labor give all workers the same treatment, regardless of the size of their employer.

In parliament, Education Minister Julie Bishop accused Mr Rudd of plagiarising the term "education revolution" from [disgraced] former Labor leader Mark Latham. "Naughty boy! You stole that idea, didn't you?" she said, later adding: "You will have to go to the naughty corner, won't you?"

Ms Bishop said the suggestion that a national system could be achieved through co-operation with the states was "politically naive" and signalled she would introduce her own plan for a national curriculum by using the threat of funding to force action.

Labor was also on the attack over early childhood education in parliament, seizing on secret cabinet submissions revealing the Prime Minister had recommended action in 2003 but failed to deliver.

Mr Beattie yesterday backed the plan to develop a national curriculum, but only if standards were lifted. "We don't want to lose the edge that we have, but if it means lifting the national standard up to Queensland standards then we would support that," he said.

NSW Education Minister Carmel Tebbutt welcomed the more consultative approach adopted by Mr Rudd and Opposition education spokesman Stephen Smith, but said NSW would not accept a national curriculum simply for the sake of uniformity. "I remain concerned that any move to a national curriculum could result in an undermining of our standards," she said.

The chairwoman of the Australian Council of Deans of Education, Sue Willis, said progress towards a national curriculum framework was continually being derailed by short-term policy bursts that failed to provide any consistency over the long term. Victorian Education Minister John Lenders said he was confident that Mr Rudd's proposal would "lift standards rather than dumbing down standards to the lowest common denominator". "Ms Bishop's approach has been aggressive and confrontational," Mr Lenders said.

NSW Teachers Federation president Maree O'Halloran said it was essential for teachers to be involved in any national curriculum. "The people who actually develop and deliver the curriculum and understand the needs of students and teachers are the people in our classrooms currently," Ms O'Halloran said.

The announcements build on Labor's policy to invest $450 million to provide four-year-olds with 15 hours a week of high-quality early childhood education and provide $111 million to encourage students to study maths and science at university.



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, March 01, 2007


But the Left have always been quick to imprison people -- often "for their own good", of course

School principal Robin Harris used to see the clock on her office wall as the enemy, its steady ticking a reminder that time was not on her side. But these days Harris smiles when the clock hits 1:55 p.m. There are still two more hours in the school day - two more hours to teach math and reading, art and drama. Harris runs Fletcher-Maynard Academy, a combined public elementary and middle school in Cambridge, Mass., that is experimenting with an extended, eight-hour school day. "It has sort of loosened up the pace," Harris said. "It's not as rushed and frenzied."

The school, which serves mostly poor, minority students, is one of 10 in the state experimenting with a longer day as part of a $6.5 million program. While Massachusetts is leading in putting in place the longer-day model, lawmakers in Minnesota, New Mexico, New York and Washington, D.C., also have debated whether to lengthen the school day or year. In addition, individual districts such as Miami-Dade in Florida are experimenting with added hours in some schools. On average, U.S. students go to school 6.5 hours a day, 180 days a year, fewer than in many other industrialized countries, according to a report by the Education Sector, a Washington-based think tank.

One model that traditional public schools are looking to is the Knowledge is Power Program, which oversees public charter schools nationwide. Those schools typically serve low-income middle-school students, and their test scores show success. Students generally go from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week and for a few hours every other Saturday. They also go to school for several weeks in the summer. That amounts to at least 50 percent more instructional time for students in such programs than in traditional public schools, according to the report. The extended-day schedule costs on average about $1,200 extra per student, program spokesman Stephen Mancini said. Massachusetts is spending about $1,300 per student extra on its extended-day effort.

Most of the extra cost goes into added pay for teachers. At Fletcher-Maynard, senior teachers can make up to $20,000 more per year for the extended hours, Harris said. Not all of the school's teachers have opted to work longer hours.

The National Education Association, the largest teacher's union, has no official opinion on extending the school day. But its president, Reg Weaver, said teachers probably would support the idea if, like in Massachusetts, they could choose whether to work the longer hours. He also said teachers must be adequately compensated and should have a say in setting the goals of any such effort.

An important impetus for the debate around extending school hours is the federal No Child Left Behind law. The five-year-old law requires annual testing in reading and math for grades three through eight, and again in high school. All students are expected to be working on grade level by 2014. Schools that fail to meet annual benchmarks are labeled as needing improvement and have to take steps to address the problem.

Up against such a tough requirement, extending the day makes sense, Harris said. "If you want kids to read, and you want to teach them how to read, they have to have time reading," she said. [Not nearly as helpful as realistic tuition methods, though. I have seen some phonics-educated kids able to write intelligible sentences by the end of Grade1!]

Kathy Christie, a policy analyst at the Denver-based Education Commission of the States, said that law "has put enough pressure on more people to realize that the traditional school day is not enough to catch kids up." Christie, whose Denver-based nonprofit focuses on school reform, added, "You can't keep taking away recess."

Schools that are experimenting with longer days are adding more down time and enrichment courses, as well as reading and math. At Edwards Middle School, an extended-day school in Boston, students are staging musicals, designing book covers for favorite novels and coming up with new cheers to boost school spirit - an activity favored by 13-year-old Janice Tang. "This is a class where I can express myself, be active," Tang said one afternoon after she pumped her arms in the air during a girls-only class that incorporates cheering with topics such as sex education and discouraging smoking. "It's very cool, and I have fun a lot."

Massachusetts' education commissioner, David Driscoll, said the offbeat classes get kids excited about a longer day. "Once they're engaged, they'll learn other lessons," Driscoll said. "I think the big mistake that everybody makes is they think that education is all about the academics."

The No Child Left Behind law is due to be updated this year, and the lawmakers involved are eyeing the Massachusetts model. U.S. Rep. George Miller, the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, said he likes the way schools in Massachusetts have invited community organizations to help with some enrichment courses. "If you're just extending the day to bore the hell out of the child, why don't we all just all go home and save the overtime. You've got to rethink these models," said Miller, D-Calif.

U.S. Sen. Democrat Edward Kennedy, chairman of the Senate committee overseeing education, is considering allowing schools that fail to meet annual progress goals to extend their day as a possible solution. Kennedy, D-Mass., also is considering putting AmeriCorps volunteers - recent college graduates who can help teach - into schools that adopt a longer day.

Extending the day has not been tackled extensively in high schools where many students have afterschool jobs or play sports. The idea is not always applauded by parents, at least initially. Dawn Oliver was so apprehensive about a plan this year to expand the day at her daughter's middle school in Fall River, Mass., that she considered pulling 11-year-old Brittany out. "We all had the same thought in our head, which was, 'Oh my God, these kids are going to have their head in a book for the same amount of time as working a full-time job,'" Oliver said. She said her fears began to fade, however, when she saw the list of electives the kids could take in the afternoon, including cooking and forensics. Those reinforce core lessons, Oliver said. "They're making a magazine. She's an advice columnist," she said of Brittany. "The kids get so involved in these things because it's not all book work." [Probably not a lot of use, either, usually] Oliver said the real benefits showed up on Brittany's report card, which improved from straight C's to B's. "I did not foresee honor roll," Oliver said, brimming with pride.


High School dropout deluge alarms California officials

That the root cause of it might be their own stupid educational and social theories will not of course be considered. The no. 1 need is for able teachers and very few people with ability would take on teaching in California's indisciplined and dangerous schools

"Why are we allowing this to continue?" asks Sen. Darrell Steinberg. The Sacramento Democrat known for tackling complex social issues and building consensus among colleagues has turned his attention to high school. "Issues cry out to you as needing attention, and this is at the top of my list. It affects children, families, schools, communities and has major economic consequences for the state," Steinberg said. "We need to make a systemic commitment to eliminating this high school dropout rate." He convinced the state Senate to form a select committee devoted to exploring how California can keep students in school. It began a series of hearings last week that will continue March 14.

In addition to the Harvard researchers and school district administrators who testified at the first hearing was 17-year-old Ann Marie Reyes of Sacramento. She boasts a 3.29 grade-point-average and is looking forward to going to California State University, Sacramento. But during her first two years in high school, Reyes said, she teetered on the edge of dropping out. "My grades weren't good, and I just didn't believe in myself," she said. "A lot of things were going on." The oldest of nine children, she worked nights at a 24-hour child-care center and weekends setting up birthday parties at the zoo. Her report cards were covered with D's and F's. She had joined a gang. "Once I got into my junior year, I realized, 'I'm not going to be able to graduate,' " Reyes said. "It hurt me inside, it killed me. So I cut myself off from all my friends, and all I did was schoolwork."

She also found support at school. Reyes switched from River City to McClatchy High School, where she formed a close relationship with a teacher. She joined a program for at-risk students that stresses values such as courtesy, integrity and perseverance. Reyes told the select committee that lawmakers should fund similar efforts to stem the flow of dropouts. She also said they should consider more training for teachers in how to communicate with teenagers, more English-language support for immigrant students and more college-prep classes for everyone.

Increasing the availability of college-prep classes is one proposal among the five bills Steinberg is pushing as part of his dropout prevention agenda. Fewer than half of California high schools now offer enough college-prep classes to allow all students to participate in the curriculum, according to UCLA researchers. The other bills in his package would:

* Expand the number of high school students who simultaneously enroll in community college. More community colleges would be able to grant high school diplomas under Senate Bill 218.

* Change the way the state calculates the academic performance index, or API, with Senate Bill 219. In addition to reflecting student test scores, the API for each high school also would indicate how many students dropped out, the test scores of students re-assigned to alternative schools, the availability of college-prep courses and what kinds of jobs graduates hold.

* Offer more help to struggling middle schoolers. Schools would be required to provide interventions to students in sixth through ninth grades who fail a class or miss more than 10 days in one semester. (Bill number not yet assigned.)

* Limit which high school students could hold jobs. Students would have to maintain a C-average and an 80 percent attendance record to receive a work permit from their school. (Bill number not yet assigned.)

Many school districts -- including Elk Grove Unified -- already place such restrictions on granting work permits, said Mike Furtado, a work experience coordinator at Elk Grove High School. It's an effective way to keep students in check. "Working is a real carrot for kids. It's important for them to work to earn money, to be a little bit independent. I've found that by having this GPA requirement, it makes students do better," he said. "If it's not universal, perhaps the law does need to be in place."

It's too early for many groups to take official positions on Steinberg's bills. But upon early consideration, the Association of California School Administrators has identified some problems with the API legislation. It's unfair for a high school's API to reflect the test scores of students who are transferred into alternative schools, because the high school can't control the education at the alternative school, said Sherry Skelly Griffith, a lobbyist for the group. But Steinberg said the current system doesn't work because high schools, under pressure to keep their scores up, have an incentive to shove out the low-performing students. "There ought to be a link between a high school and a continuation school," he said. "Otherwise, too many kids are just falling through the cracks."


Australian school authorities say: 'Be happy your son is bullied'

A mother who sought Education Department help amid repeated assaults on her six-year-old son by a classmate was twice told "bullying builds character", a court has heard. Angela Cox yesterday said she was stunned by the comment which came after her son Ben was choked by a nine-year-old boy at Woodberry Public School, near Maitland, on the Central Coast. "I was really annoyed the school hadn't done anything," she said. "(Department officer) Ian Wilson told me bullying builds character and it was a good thing."

Mrs Cox and her son Ben are suing the state, claiming the department was liable for the treatment of her son in 1995 and 1996, which left him depressed, anxious and reluctant to leave the house. "I couldn't believe something like this could happen," she told the Supreme Court yesterday. "(After the violence) he wasn't the same boy he used to be."

Ben, now 18, spends his days watching TV or playing computer games. He has only completed schooling to Year 7. Attempts to have his education continued at other schools and by correspondence failed. Mrs Cox said, with the school doing little more than occasionally putting the nine-year-old on detention, she removed him from class. "I went to the principal, said, 'I'm taking Ben out of school' because they couldn't provide a safe place for (him)," she said. "(The principal) said, 'Sorry, but you keep some, you lose some'."

Needing departmental permission to move him to a school outside the immediate area, she spoke to Mr Wilson again. "He said he couldn't provide total safety for my son and bullying could happen (anywhere). He told me bullying builds character."

When Mrs Cox was asked what the alleged bullying had done to her son's mental health, she replied tearfully: "In his mind he always thinks he's that little boy, ready to be hurt again." Mrs Cox's own psychiatric history was raised in court yesterday and she admitted spending time in hospital due to chronic depression. She denied she had kept her son or her daughters Hannah and Rebekah home from school because she needed companionship when she was too ill to leave home.

Ben had played rugby league in his mid-teens but there were still problems like his fear of the change rooms, she said. Counsel for the state Robert Sheldon asked her if her son had ever been any good at school. "I don't think we ever got the chance to see," she said. Mrs Cox also denied she made any attempt to stop her son from going to school because she was "worried about losing him" as he headed into high school.



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 28, 2007


There are many parallels between the Australian and American education scenes but, under strong Federal government leadership, the ignorant and destructive Leftist stranglehold on Australian education is at last beginning to be unwound -- as we see in the four current articles below:

Teachers to be tested on literacy

Student teachers will sit a literacy and numeracy test when starting their university course and teachers will have to undertake continuing education to qualify for registration and higher rates of pay under proposals tabled in Federal Parliament yesterday. A two-year inquiry into teacher education calls for a national accreditation system of university teaching courses, with accreditation made a condition of receiving federal funds, and for national teacher registration, to be administered by the states.

The report, Top of the Class, also calls for an increase in funding for education students, both while at university and when undertaking their practical component, and a one-year induction program for beginning teachers. It recommends the practical component be funded separately and not wrapped into the larger university grant as at present, and that overall funding for teaching courses be increased by about $1800 a full-time student.

Under the induction program, based on a Scottish model, new teachers would spend 20 per cent less time in face-to-face teaching. They would be assigned a qualified mentor, observe classes and undertake professional development courses. The mentor would be trained, given time to properly perform the role, and be paid for the job. The scheme would be voluntary to start and funded by the Federal Government contributing 10 per cent of a starting salary, and by the employer.

It also calls on the Federal Government to ensure that it better allocates the funding of teacher education places to address shortages in the workforce. At present, Australia is training too many primary school teachers and insufficient maths and science teachers.

Tabling the report in the House of Representatives yesterday, the chair of the education and vocational training committee, Luke Hartsuyker, said teacher education was not in crisis but that improvements could be made. "If we invest $1 in teacher education, we're going to provide an increased return on investment in every other dollar in the system," he said.

The report dismisses the idea of setting a minimum tertiary entrance score, believing it would preclude too many applicants and particularly a diverse candidature including indigenous students and those from a non-English speaking or low socioeconomic background. It instead recommends a diagnostic test to identify student teachers' problems with literacy and numeracy and provide them with remedial teaching. "Attention should be focused on the capabilities graduates have at the end of their courses rather than at the beginning," it says.

The report says only four of the 31 Australian universities training teachers require students to have studied maths in Year 12 and that a further eight required students to have Year 11 maths.


It's the teachers who teach the teachers who are at fault

How effective is teacher training in Australia? The question is more than academic. After all, the quality and effectiveness of the classroom teacher is one of the most important determinants of successful learning. The commonwealth report on teacher training, Top of the Class, released yesterday, suggests that all is well and that there is no crisis.

Wrong. As University of Melbourne emeritus professor Brian Start points out, teacher training suffers from provider capture and there is little attempt to measure effectiveness. In 2005-06, Start contacted 38 teacher training institutions, asking whether there was any evidence of a link between teacher training - indicated by admission procedures and graduation scores for prospective teachers - and success, however defined, after teaching for three to six years. Not only did about half of the institutions fail to return the questionnaire but it appeared that none had undertaken any research investigating how effective their courses were in preparing teachers for the classroom.

According to Start in a paper given in Philadelphia last year: "Teacher education is a legal requirement for entering the teaching profession. Universities have a monopoly on this process (as) the providers. They select, train, qualify and certify graduates as competent to teach. Yet there does not appear to be any validity checks on the near billion-dollar enterprise."

Start argues that teacher training institutes are unaccountable. For evidence, consider a paper related to establishing the National Institute for Quality Teaching and School Leadership prepared by the Australian Council for Educational Research. "To our knowledge," the paper states, "no teacher education program or institution has ever been disaccredited, yet variation in quality is known to be considerable." It goes on: "Teacher education is arguably one of the least accountable and least examined areas of professional education in Australia."

It is easy to find evidence that beginning teachers are not being properly equipped to teach. Says one submission to the commonwealth parliamentary inquiry into teacher education, written by the Australian Secondary Principals Association and based on a questionnaire to 600 beginning teachers: "The respondents indicated that their colleagues at school had provided the most worthwhile support and advice with relatively little value being given to that provided by university personnel."

Not only does the ASPA submission argue that teacher training must better prepare teachers for the classroom but it concludes that teacher education "was at best satisfactory" as a preparation for teaching and in "several areas it is clear that they felt that they were significantly under-prepared".

A 2005 survey of beginning teachers, funded by the federal Government, identified literacy, especially the basics represented by spelling, grammar and phonics, as one area in which teachers lacked confidence and knowledge of effective teaching. Fifty-seven per cent of primary school teachers felt unprepared to teach phonics and 51 per cent of secondary teachers interviewed felt unprepared to teach reading.

Of course, it's not the teachers' fault that they struggle in the classroom. Blame rests with teacher education institutions that appear to be driven more by politically correct fads such as whole language - where children are taught to look and guess instead of sounding out syllables and words - and new age theories such as constructivism, where teachers no longer teach. Students, in the words of the commonwealth report Teaching Reading, are treated as "self-regulating learners who construct knowledge co-operatively with other learners in developmentally appropriate ways". And there's more: "Adoption of a constructivist approach in the classroom involves a shift from predominantly teacher-directed methods to student-centred, active discovery learning and immersion approaches via co-operative group work, discussion focused on investigations and problem solving."

During the past few years The Australian has detailed example after example of how the curriculum has been dumbed down and how standards have fallen. While some suggest teachers are at fault, the real culprits are those responsible for teacher education who fail to provide them with the right tools to do the job


Schools dump soft options

The number of subjects Queensland's senior students can study will be slashed to fewer than 20 in the latest phase of the most widespread education reforms since the 1970s. A two-year review has recommended non-mainstream subjects such as recreation, tourism, retail and marine studies be scrapped to enable children to gain a deeper and broader knowledge in their chosen areas of study. Education Minister Rod Welford said the aim of the review was to reduce the "curriculum clutter". "Subject options have been growing like Topsy," Mr Welford said.

But he claimed that while the new system would offer fewer subjects, students would receive a broader education because they would not be specialising so narrowly. "There has been a knowledge explosion and we have to adjust accordingly," Mr Welford said.

The latest changes come less than a week after the Queensland Studies Authority recommended students in Years 1 to 10 go back to learning plain English. Selective state school academies for gifted students have also been introduced, while last month the first intake of Prep Year students began school.

The reforms reverse the trend in recent decades towards "new age" teaching methods which have come under sustained attack from federal Education Minister Julie Bishop and conservative academics.

Mr Welford said the move to cut the current offering of about 80 senior school subjects to between 16 and 20 subjects would add depth and flexibility. It would give students new options to study core subjects at basic and advanced level as well as the option of specialising in their areas of expertise. The new system, likely to be in place by 2009, would result in current subjects such as tourism, recreation, retail, manufacturing and marine studies being subsumed into broader subjects to be known as fields of learning. Mr Welford said the "fields of learning" would include maths, science, English, humanities, technology and design and business. "It will allow for a broader inter-disciplinary approach to allow advance science students, for example, to study emerging fields like biotechnology and nanotechnology as well as the traditional physics and chemistry," he said.

Students opting for a business pathway, for example, would be able to include subjects like legal studies as well as accounting and economics. Mr Welford also hoped to give students the option to begin a foreign language at Year 11. At present that is possible under the international baccalaureate program but not the general Queensland public school system.

The senior syllabus review is being chaired by Griffith University Deputy-Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar. He said teachers, parents, Education Queensland, Catholic Education authorities, independent schools and TAFE were represented on the reference group. "We have had wide public consultation and we will be seeking more feedback when a proposal is finalised," Professor Dewar said.

Russell Pollock, principal of The Gap school in Brisbane's western suburbs, said his school had between 160 and 168 students in each year level and offered 30 to 40 senior subjects. "Sitting down with parents and a guidance officer at the end of Year 10 is essential for students selecting their subjects for Years 11 and 12," he said. Queensland Teachers Union President Steve Ryan said teachers were open-minded about the move but were generally satisfied with the current system. "It is important that students do not narrow down their options too early," he said.


Tot schools' dubious nurturing claims

Here's one for parents keen to get ahead of the pack, writes Bettina Arndt. They can enrol their children in early learning programs. Very early learning programs. The good Bettina blames the destructive move on career-minded parents but it should be added that the parents concerned -- mothers in particular -- are just doing what the feminist Left have always preached: put a career first and farm kids out to group "carers". And that was also of course the Communist system -- both in the Soviet orbit and in the Israeli kibbutzim

For years now, Melbourne's Methodist Ladies College has run a school kindy that takes babies of six weeks and older. That's far earlier than the Perth school, St Hilda's, which attracted headlines last week by allowing 2 1/2-year-olds into its new junior kindy. Newspaper photos featured the tiny tots, complete with school uniform, satchel on their backs. Across the country, private schools are now increasing school enrolments by attracting pupils very, very young. It's proving popular with busy, affluent parents keen on the idea of putting their infants and toddlers into "enriching learning environments."

MLC's program promises even the youngest students will discover the fun of learning a language, explore computing and engage in gymnastics. The Cathedral School in Townsville boasts it offers babies a stimulating environment for promoting fine and gross motor skills as well as sensory development. Most of these schools are willing to take youngsters from 7am to 6pm, with a solid five hours of schooling in the middle. And they offer all this enrichment for 50 weeks a year.

What a cynical exercise. Shame on these schools for conning parents into believing children of that age benefit from this crazy hot-housing. If these programs are indeed put together by trained early education teachers, they should know better. Basic knowledge of early child development shows infants and toddlers are unlikely to thrive when they are separated from their primary carers for such long hours. And surely they learned something about the slower pace of these tiny children who need time to explore their world.

Walk down the street with a two-year-old and watch as the child stops to pick up a leaf, or dawdles along looking over a shoulder to examine his shadow or decides to sit down and look at her feet. Time is slow, the world is fascinating. So what are parents doing cramming these little children into uniforms at daybreak, rushing them into cars and dumping them at so-called "schools"?

The educational hook provides a convenient excuse to allow parents to justify their choice of minimalist parenting. For five years I lived in New York, where minimalist parenting was an art form. There was a childcare centre opposite where I lived and I'd watch sleepy toddlers dropped off well before sunrise and picked up long after dark, often not even by their parents but night shift nannies. Sports clubs were available to take older children off your hands not only afternoons but all weekend, delivered to your door late Sunday evening.

That would never happen in family friendly Australia - or so I thought. Last year, Queensland newspapers reported childcare services in seaside resorts were under pressure to open on Christmas Day - sometimes to help parents forced to work, but often because parents wanted to have a good time without the children.

So let's not kid ourselves that parents are putting babies or toddlers for long hours into this new school care because they have no choice. The high fees demand high earners - often affluent, two-income professionals who don't want children putting a brake on their careers. The real choice we should question is why they have children if neither parent is willing or able to cut back for a few years to provide some slack in the system.

The hot-housing may well misfire. We know spending long hours in even the most stimulating group care does not set children up for a brilliant school career. Solid international research shows these children are at risk of developing problem behaviours -- aggression, disobedience, conflicted relations with teachers, poorer work habits and social skills. Here are children who start off with one of life's great bonuses - educated, successful parents. How sad they hardly ever get to see them.



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

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

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


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Preschool for all? No thanks

Both in Australia and California there is a strong political push in that direction. Well-researched comment below from an Australian homeschooler

Politicians are calling for compulsory preschool and there is a lot of rhetoric around about ensuring all children have the benefits of a preschool education so they are not left behind when they begin school. But is compulsory preschool something we really want? Education Minister, Julie Bishop's argument in favour of compulsory preschool is: "many studies and research and analysis show that investment in high quality, large scale, early childhood programs find that early learning experiences, including pre-literacy and numeracy skills make the transition to school easier for children, and it increases the chances of school success."

University studies are often quoted to support the perceived academic benefits of preschool. What is not often mentioned is that, while these studies demonstrate preschool in a favourable light when compared with an impoverished home environment, preschool does not compare favourably with the average home environment.

Even Professor Edward Zigler, credited as "the father of Headstart" a widespread American preschool program admits "there is a large body of evidence that there is little to be gained by exposing middle class children to early education . (and) evidence that indicates early schooling is inappropriate for many four-year-olds, and that it may be harmful to their development".

If preschool were truly beneficial in terms of giving children a head start, those places with some form of compulsory preschool should do demonstrably better academically. The evidence does not bear this out. For example, the two states of America which have compulsory preschool, Georgia and Oklahoma, have the lowest results for fourth grade reading tests in the country.

In 2000, the Program for International Study Assessment (PISA) compared the academic scores of children from 32 industrialised nations in reading literacy, maths and science. The results showed that in countries where schooling starts at a young age they do not consistently outperform those who start later. Finland, which has a compulsory schooling age of seven, held the top ranking in all test subjects of the Third International Mathematics and Science (TIMS) results in 1999. Singapore, which also scored highly in the PISA and TIMS assessments, has no publicly funded early education programs.

By contrast, Sweden, which has one of the most comprehensive early child-care programs in Europe, was one of the lowest scoring nations. Hungary and Czechoslovakia, cut their day-care programs significantly in the 1990s after studies determined that institutional care damages preschool-aged children.

Perhaps most tellingly of all, the longitudinal studies often quoted to argue an academic advantage provided by preschool for lower socio-economic groups, actually also show that this "advantage" disappears by grade three.

But what about the much-touted social benefits of preschool programs? Here again, there is research to refute this. A 2005 Stanford University study reported: "We find that attendance in preschool centers, even for short periods of time each week, hinder the rate at which young children develop social skills and display the motivation to engage in classroom tasks, as reported by their [prep] teachers."

In 1986, Tizzard and Hughes compared the language environments at home and in preschools in the UK. Their method involved tape-recording the conversations of four-year-old girls at preschool in the morning and again at home with their mothers in the afternoon. They reported:

We became increasingly aware of how rich this [home] environment was for all the children (working-class and middle-class). The conversations between the children and their mothers ranged freely over a variety of topics. The idea that children's interests were restricted to play and TV was clearly untenable.

At home the children discussed topics like work, the family, birth, growing up, and death; they talked with their mothers about things they had done together in the past, and their plans for the future; they puzzled over such diverse topics as the shape of roofs and chairs, the nature of Father Christmas, and whether the Queen wears curlers in bed.

Many of these conversations took place during recognisably educational contexts - such as during play or while reading books - but many did not. A large number of the more fruitful conversations simply cropped up as the children and their mothers went about their afternoon's business at home - having lunch, planning shopping expeditions, feeding the baby and so on.

When we came to analyse the conversations between these same children and their [preschool] teachers, we could not avoid being disappointed. The children were certainly happy at school, for much of the time absorbed in play. However, their conversations with their teachers made a sharp contrast to those with their mothers.

The richness, depth and variety which characterised the home conversations were sadly missing. So too was the sense of intellectual struggle, and of the real attempts to communicate being made by both sides.

The questioning, puzzling child which we were so taken with at home was gone: in her place was a child who, when talking to staff, seemed subdued, and whose conversations with adults were mainly restricted to answering questions rather than asking them, or taking part in minimal exchanges about the whereabouts of other children and play materials.

In all this research, it is difficult to sort out to what extent there is a difference between compulsory preschool programs and optional preschool but it seems that there is enough evidence both to question the push towards compulsory preschool and to throw doubt on the theory that preschool is beneficial for all. Children at home with their families are not disadvantaged. Indeed they are very likely better off. So if your child does not wish to go to kindergarten, or you do not wish to send them, rest assured that you are not depriving them.

Relationships are the most important part of life. For small children especially, the time spent in the secure home environment is invaluable. Contrary to popular opinion, forcing children to separate from their parents before they are ready to is not necessary.

Preschool should remain optional so that parents are in control of the amount of time their children spend there. For some families this will be full time, for others, no time at all, but as a society we should stop pressuring families into thinking that a decision not to preschool their child is somehow irresponsible and will disadvantage the child. The evidence just does not support this view.

Throughout history small children have always been nurtured by their parents. Parents talk, read and sing to their preschoolers; they answer questions; they play games; they provide stimulating experiences and the security of cuddles and they accompany their children out into the world as mentor guides who interpret and explain new sights and experiences. Some families wish to supplement this rich rewarding education with a preschool experience. By all means make preschool freely available to all who wish to use it but why make it compulsory?


CAIR Reacts To Dose Of KIMO

Post lifted from Riehl World

CAIR has filed a complaint which will likely get a school teacher disciplined, if not fired, for allowing Kamil International Ministries Organization (KIMO) to address some NC high school students on the potential dangers of Islam.

The AP defines KIMO as a Christian organization, which it is, but a little elaboration can't hurt. We wouldn't want people to think KIMO is a bunch of Southern rednecks, now would we?

Kamil Solomon, from Bany Ady town in Assiout Province, Egypt, became a Christian at the age of five in this intensely Islamic nation when his mother shared Jesus with him. Kamil became an apologist for the faith as he got older. Persecution in the Middle East became worse after Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979. He preached in numerous churches in Cairo and throughout Egypt teaching the truth about Islam. The state police followed him, and after hearing his remarks about Islam, they arrested him in 1993. They confiscated all his belongings including his library and Ph.D. dissertation on "Church History in Arabia Prior to Islam." His dissertation was basically an argument against Islam and was later destroyed. He was tortured in numerous ways for Christ, which included being blindfolded, beaten, and enduring electric shock.

Kamil endured by God's power, and eventually, American Christian agencies worked together to get him released in 1994. His ministry was banned, and he was placed under house arrest. The American Embassy in Cairo granted him an asylum. In February 1996, he came to the United States and formed Kamil International Ministries Organization, through which he travels the country to teach the truth about Islam, including their desire for jihad on American soil. "Muslims are converting black men, white women, students and prisoners," says Kamil.

Kamil came to Providence because he was attracted to the college and international ministry here. "There are many Muslims coming to the area, and we should share Jesus with them while they are here as students." He also hopes to help plant desperately needed churches in Egypt.

Humbly, Kamil pleads for Providence members to put Jesus first and urges us to be ready to sacrifice what it may cost to evangelize. He encourages us to use money judiciously and spend it on people overseas or on the poor among us. Kamil's ministry also offers various tracts on Islam and Christianity. If you would like to receive this free literature, e-mail him at

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- A high school teacher allowed a group whose declared mission is to "raise an awareness of the danger of Islam" to distribute literature in his class, including a handout titled "Do Not Marry a Muslim Man," according to an advocacy group.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations says a representative from the Kamil International Ministries Organization, based in Raleigh, spoke to a ninth-grade world history class at Enloe High School and distributed the literature, which also discussed Jesus.

The father of a Muslim student reported the incident, said CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper. The council wrote to Wake County schools Superintendent Del Burns asking that the incident be investigated and that the teacher be disciplined.

Burns had not received the letter, but an investigation is under way and officials will take appropriate disciplinary action, district spokeswoman Kristin Flenniken said.

Censoring students at Oxford? That is so gay

Welcome to the Oxford college where students can use the word gay to refer to a homosexual man but not to describe a rubbish pool shot.

In the quad at Merton College, Oxford, scruffily-clad students scurry to their lectures. But behind this everyday student scene, there lurks a rather bizarre controversy. The trendy college is renowned for its LGBT-friendly ethos (that’s LGBT as in ‘Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender’), yet it has become a rather unlikely setting for a university-wide controversy over homophobic remarks. Recently, fourth-year Merton student Andrew Godfrey complained about some of the language being used by his fellow students. This led to official action by the executive of the Junior Common Room (JCR) warning the student body to refrain from ‘unacceptable and extremely offensive’ behaviour ‘even if you are not being intentionally malicious’. Students were reprimanded for contributing to ‘an uncomfortable atmosphere in college’.

What was the ‘unacceptable and extremely offensive’ behaviour? It consisted of limp-wristed impressions and the use of phrases such as ‘Oh don’t be such a poof!’ and ‘You missed that shot, you big gay!’ during a heated game of pool in Merton’s swanky Games Room.

In response to Godfrey’s complaint about this behaviour, the college’s JCR president, Laura Davies, sent out the following email to students (drafted by Godfrey in collaboration with student welfare and LGBT representatives): ‘JCR members have raised concerns after groups have been overheard in the Games Room and other communal areas of college using terms like “gay” and “poof” as joking insults. Please be aware that using language like this is unacceptable and extremely offensive, even if you are not being intentionally malicious and think you are being ironic or witty in some way. It creates an uncomfortable atmosphere in the college.’

Can students not take a joke anymore? Can they not handle the use of words such as ‘gay’ or ‘poof’ in a slang context, in a setting as informal as a Games Room? Both Davies and Godfrey admit that the students probably were not expressing anti-gay prejudice when they made these comments while making their wrists go all limp. As Godfrey himself says: ‘I never maintained that this was deliberately malicious homophobia because I didn’t feel like I had been harassed; otherwise I would have turned to the college authorities. They were basically acting the way guys do.’

And yet guys ‘acting the way guys do’ has now been redefined as ‘unacceptable and extremely offensive’ behaviour that apparently warrants a stern official warning. Davies tells me she had no qualms about sending an official admonishment to the entire student body in response to behaviour that she admits was not purposefully malicious or offensive. ‘One of the JCR members raised the fact that he was quite unhappy with someone using the word “gay” and that he personally found that very offensive’, she says. This is a world away from John Stuart Mill’s argument that opinions ought only to ‘lose their immunity’ when ‘the circumstances in which they are expressed are such as to constitute their expression a positive instigation to some mischievous act’ (1). His point, made in On Liberty in 1859, was that only in instances where words and actions might directly lead to violence could one make a case for curtailing freedom of speech. Fast forward 150 years and we have the new Merton rule – where JCR officials recognise that students saying ‘gay’ to mean rubbish and swinging their wrists around was not intended maliciously, much less was it likely to lead to violence; and yet because these antics offended the sensibilities of a single student they took it upon themselves to chastise all students in a hectoring missive about what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.

This points to a worrying level of sensitivity among today’s students, and a lackadaisical attitude towards words, arguments and freedom of speech. The JCR’s aim seemed to be, not to protect students from harm, but to protect the college’s reputation for being caring and accepting from the ‘unmannered’ behaviour of some students playing a game of pool.

Apparently the term ‘gay’ is now in common usage among young people to mean ‘lame’ or ‘rubbish’. This has caused some controversy, especially among gay rights groups who don’t like the idea that being called ‘gay’ is now seen as something negative. Last year Radio 1 presenter Chris Moyles was the subject of an internal BBC inquiry after he described a ringtone on air as ‘gay’. Leaving aside the question of why there has to be an inquiry every time a broadcaster says something un-PC, it is reasonable to ask: where could young people have got the idea that ‘gay = rubbish’?

How about from another term, very closely associated with gay culture: ‘camp’. ‘Camp’, as Stephen Bayley argued in his scratch-their-eyes-out book on New Labour, Labour Camp, is just a synonym for rubbish. Or, as Susan Sontag observed in Notes on Camp, first published in 1964, ‘The ultimate Camp statement [is] it’s good because it’s awful...’ Sontag noted that Camp culture tends to emphasise ‘texture, sensuous surface, and style at the expense of content’; and that ‘homosexuals, by and large, constitute the vanguard - and the most articulate audience - of Camp’.

It doesn’t take a huge leap of the imagination to re-work ‘camp’ as ‘gay’, especially when so many gay celebrities tend to wallow in kitsch. If you, like many people both straight and gay, think Graham Norton and Will and Grace and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (now there’s a show that emphasises ‘style at the expense of content’) are pretty dreadful, then surely no one could blame you for associating ‘gay’, at least in its cultural sense, with ‘rubbish’.

The self-censoring attitude of Merton’s JCR reflects a broader view taken by many today: that free speech is something that can be easily sacrificed in the name of protecting people from utterances they might find offensive. The idea that students should behave according to some predetermined college ethos stands in stark contrast to the old idea of universities as places where young people should be free to experiment, to think, to argue, to learn, to say what they please in a student common room…. Enforcing an official dogma about words, phrases and actions betrays an elitist view of what sort of behaviour is appropriate, and what is not.

Worse, it treats students as children who either must be reprimanded for saying naughty words or who must be protected from the jokey words of big ‘bully boys’ by student officials posing as social workers. This infantilises students – which is hardly conducive to creating an atmosphere where students can grow, both educationally and personally.

Some students have reacted against the JCR’s illiberal telling-off. Merton student Ben Holroyd created an online group called The Gay Appreciation Society, which argued that: ‘The word “gay” has several definitions, only one of which is “homosexual”. Others include merry, licentious and wanton. When I miss a pot at the pool table, I sometimes refer to said shot as “gay”. Obviously, I do not consider the shot in question to be homosexual. Having said that, I rarely miss, so I seldom offend the minority of pedantic, over-sensitive fools at Merton.’

Perhaps the most pernicious thing about the Merton ruling on when it’s okay to say gay is that it represents almost an attempt at thought control. According to the JCR officials, it is okay to say ‘gay’ to refer to a homosexual man but not to describe a ‘rubbish’ pool shot. What is being monitored here is not just the use of language, but thought itself, the meaning behind one’s use of the word gay. We are presented with a two-tiered attitude to the word gay, where it’s okay to use it responsibly to mean homosexual but not irresponsibly to mean rubbish. It seems the JCR wants to get into Merton students’ minds to see what is really going on when they speak.

Even if some students had been expressing anti-gay prejudice in their use of words such as ‘gay’ and ‘poof’, then censure would be no solution. The idea that monitoring student language can have an impact on certain people’s prejudicial views, or on discrimination in the real world, is ridiculous. It merely brushes issues under the carpet, seeking to silence certain arguments rather than challenging them. Prejudice – which is a more serious matter than banter around a pool table – can only be effectively challenged in open debate, through reasoned argument.

University should be a place where we are free to experiment and to express ourselves in whatever way we deem fit. Disagreements can and should be settled between students themselves. Official sanctions telling us how we should behave only thwart the advance of genuine tolerance, which is based, not on intolerant censorship of uncomfortable views, but rather on establishing through open discussion which ideas are good, valuable and useful, and which are not.

The campus thought-police have no right to tell us how to think, speak or behave, and certainly not when we are just hanging out with friends and playing pool. They should bugger off and stop being so gay.



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 26, 2007


More parents appear to be turning away from school in favour of teaching their children at home because they are unhappy with state education. A government-commissioned study into home tutoring indicated that about 16,000 children in England were now being educated at home, which researchers said implied a threefold increase since 1999.

Home tutoring has become increasingly popular since evidence emerged that home-educated children frequently perform better in national tests, GCSEs and A levels. In 2002 a study of home-educated children found that 64 per cent scored more than 75 per cent on the performance indicators of primary schools assessment, compared with 5.1 per cent of children nationally.

All parents have the right to teach their children at home. Unless a child has been removed from school, parents in England are not obliged to tell the local education authority. While the authority may monitor the children who have been deregistered from school, parents also have a right to refuse access to the child.

The study of nine local authorities found that home-educating parents had removed their children from the state system because they were worried about bullying, poor behaviour and quality of provision. Others thought that the special-needs education on offer for their children was not up to scratch or that they were required to start formal schooling too young, the study by York Consulting, for the Department for Education and Skills, said. “Some of the parents interviewed felt that standards of education had declined,” the report said. “This, coupled with a view that the current education system is overly bureaucratic, inflexible and assessment-driven, prompted some parents to home-educate.”

Most parents who took their children out of school were white British, but religious and cultural reasons had also prompted Muslim, Christian, Gypsy and traveller families to teach youngsters at home. Overall, 65 per cent of those being home-educated were of secondary age, compared with 35 per cent who were of primary age. The study found that some parents used formal and highly structured methods, including following the national curriculum, using online tutors and hiring professionals. Others were less conventional.


What Are Education Markets, and Why Do They Matter?

Broadly speaking, a free education market is a system in which parents decide what, where, by whom, and for how long their children will be taught. It is a system in which educators have complete control over the curricula they offer, the teaching methods t hey employ, the prices they charge, and the hours they work; in which anyone who wants to open a school has the right to do so; and in which the profit motive drives the innovation and expansion of some substantial share of the education sector. . It is also a system in which consumers are the primary payers and in which government schools do not enjoy a subsidy advantage over private schools–that is, if the government runs "free" schools, it must make a comparable level of financial assistance available to families who prefer independent schools.

Contrary to common assumptions, education markets are not a recent, untested idea. The first education system in the world in which schooling reached beyond a tiny ruling elite was the market that arose in classical Athens during the 5th century BC. Today, education markets thrive everywhere from impoverished slums and villages of the developing world to the multi-billion-dollar after-school tutoring sector in Asia. Conversely, though fee-charging, nongovernment schooling does exist to a limited extent in many Western nations, it would be a mistake to say that those schools currently constitute a free market in education, given that virtually all are nonprofit and must compete with a high-spending (and yet tuition-free) government monopoly.

Why does it matter whether or not education is organized along free-market lines? It matters because a substantial body of international and historical research finds that education markets are a superior way to meet the public's educational goals, in terms of both individual needs and broader social effects. According to that research, market schools are typically more efficient, academically effective, well maintained, and responsive to the demand of families. In addition, students in independent schools in the United States have been found to exhibit levels of civic engagement and tolerance that are comparable to or better than those of their peers in public-sector schools. Systems in which parents can easily pick schools of their choice, and in which most education funding comes directly from parents, also reduce the cultural conflicts that arise over government-run, government-funded schooling. The less people are pressured to patronize or pay for school they disapprove of, the less social tension is created. Finally, in the industries in which markets have been allowed to flourish, they have driven dramatic improvement in quality and efficiency, spurred relentless innovation, and pressured producers into being responsive to the preferences of consumers.



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 25, 2007

U.S. Test Scores at Odds With Rising High School Grades

High school seniors are performing worse overall on some national tests than they did in the previous decade, even though they are receiving significantly higher grades and taking what seem to be more rigorous courses, according to government data released yesterday.

The mismatch between stronger transcripts and weak test scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, often called the nation's report card, resonated in the Washington area and elsewhere. Some seized upon the findings as evidence of grade inflation and the dumbing-down of courses. The findings also prompted renewed calls for tough national standards and the expansion of the federal No Child Left Behind law. "We have our work cut out for us," Education Secretary Margaret Spellings said in a statement. "If, in fact, our high school students are taking more challenging courses and earning higher grades, we should be seeing greater gains in test scores."

About 35 percent of 12th-graders tested in 2005 scored proficient or better in reading -- the lowest percentage since the test was launched in 1992, the new data showed. And less than a quarter of seniors scored at least proficient on a new version of the math test; officials called those results disappointing but said they could not be compared to past scores. In addition, a previous report found that 18 percent of seniors in 2005 scored at least proficient in science, down from 21 percent in 1996.

At the same time, the average high school grade-point average rose from 2.68 in 1990 (about a B-minus) to 2.98 in 2005 (about a B), according to a study of transcripts from graduating seniors. The study also found that the percentage of graduating seniors who completed a standard or mid-level course of study rose from 35 to 58 percent in that time; meanwhile, the percentage who took the highest-level curriculum doubled, to 10 percent. "The core problem is that course titles don't really signal what is taught in the course and grades don't signal what a kid has learned," said Kati Haycock, president of the Education Trust, a D.C.-based nonprofit group that supports No Child Left Behind. She added hyperbolically, "What we're going to end up with is the high school valedictorian who can't write three paragraphs."

Some experts say these educational mirages, which obscure low student achievement with inflated grades and tough-sounding class titles, disproportionately harm poor and minority students......

The potential for grade and course-title inflation is not confined to low-performing schools. Julie Greenberg, a math teacher at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, said she was under such pressure to raise grades that she used to keep two sets of books in her statistics class: one for the grades students deserved and one for the grades that appeared on report cards. "If a teacher were to really grade students on their true level of mastery, there would be such extraordinary levels of failure that it would not be tolerated, so most teachers don't do that," she said.

At a news conference yesterday near Capitol Hill, education experts expressed concern that white and Asian students continue to score consistently higher than black and Hispanic students in all subjects. They also said the overall discrepancy between the test scores and transcripts deserves close examination. Darvin M. Winick, chairman of the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversaw the exams and the transcript study, called the gap "very suspicious."

"For all of our talk of the achievement gap amongst subgroups of students, a larger problem may be an instructional gap or a rigor gap," said David W. Gordon, superintendent of Sacramento County schools in California. "There's a disconnect between what we want and expect our 12th-grade students to know and do and what our schools are actually delivering through instruction in the classroom."

Lawmakers said the low test scores would reinvigorate the debate over high school reform as Congress considers the renewal of No Child Left Behind. Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, said "disappointing" results underscore the need to recruit first-rate teachers to low-performing schools.


California Teacher Upsets Muslims

Post lifted from Interested Participant. See original for links

As reported last week, a sixth-grade teacher at Riverview Elementary School, Randy Ingram, made comments in class about Muslims and Iranians which have produced a firesquall of controversy. The situation is quite troubling since I've seen statements made by Iranian President Ahmadinejad that were similar to, and more strident than, Ingram's remarks. If anything, Ingram was merely being candid in his discussion.

From Fresno Bee:

Kamal Abu-Shamsieh, director of the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno, said that the teacher, during a lesson about the ancient Israelites, said Iranians are America's enemy because they want to destroy Israel. He also said that extreme Muslims and Iranians want to take over the United States, kill the teachers and hire their own teachers, Abu-Shamsieh said.

Students from Ingram's class were questioned by school officials with one recalling, "He said you don't have to be afraid of Muslims. It's the super-extreme Muslims who would want to hurt the United States."

However, one sixth-grade student's parents, Mashalah Boroujerdi and Rezvan Jamshidy, both Muslims from Iran, were upset by Ingram's comments, saying that their child was treated differently and distracted by the anti-Islamic remarks.

As a result, Boroujerdi called for the teacher to be disciplined, "... so this won't happen again." Also, Seyed Ali Ghazvini, a leader at the Islamic Cultural Center, weighed in and called for the installation of a discrimination hotline to allow families and students to report bigotry. Ingram faces possible reprimand as the investigation continues.

Extensive special treatment demanded for British Muslim pupils

Schools in Britain should allow girls to wear the headscarf in all lessons, including PE, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has recommended. Its guidance aims to ensure state schools meet Muslim pupils' needs. The 72-page document covers such topics as sex education, Ramadan and halal meals. It says schools should respect the decision of boys to grow a beard.

But head teachers warned that meeting any list of "demands" would pose major practical difficulties for schools. It says schools have an important part to play in fostering social cohesion. "Schools can play a vital role in facilitating the positive integration of Muslim pupils within the wider community and thereby preventing or at least beginning the process of tackling some of the problems of marginalisation."

In its examples of good practice, the MCB says the concept of "haya" or modesty must be respected by teachers and school staff. "In principle the dress for both boys and girls should be modest and neither tight-fitting nor transparent and not accentuate the body shape." Schools should allow girls to wear full-length skirts and boys and girls should be able to wear tracksuits in PE lessons.

The guidance criticises the "vast majority" of primary schools for asking boys and girls to change in mixed groups. "Muslim children are likely to exhibit resistance to this sort of compromising and immodest exposure, but are often pressurised to conform to institutional norms which do not take account of their own or their parents' beliefs and values," it says. Communal showering involves "profound indignity".

Muslim pupils should be allowed to sit out dance lessons, which are on the national curriculum for PE. "Muslims consider that most dance activities, as practised in the curriculum, are not consistent with the Islamic requirements for modesty as they may involve sexual connotations and messages." Headscarves for girls should be allowed, but the MCB guidelines stop short of endorsing the niqab or full-face veil.

Schools are urged to be particularly aware of the needs of Muslim pupils during Ramadan, the month of fasting. They should avoid scheduling exams during Ramadan and should refrain from sex education, as Muslims should avoid sexual thoughts and discourse at this time. Swimming lessons may also be problematic for some Muslim pupils, as there is a risk of swallowing water which they may believe breaks the fast.

MCB secretary general Muhammad Abdul Bari said: "Many of our schools have a cherished tradition of fostering an inclusive ethos which values and addresses the differences and needs of the communities they serve. "We are convinced that with a reasonable degree of mutual understanding and goodwill, even more progress can be made."

But the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, Mick Brookes, said: "Schools are trying to create societies within their walls which are tolerant and celebratory. "I just worry that if the list of demands - if it is a list of demands - is too much, that it will simply create a backlash.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: "This is not official guidance and is not endorsed by the government, nor does it have any binding power whatsoever on schools as some hysterical headlines claim today. "The Department for Education and Skills has no involvement with the document produced by the MCB."



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.