Saturday, March 17, 2007

Early Years Foundation Stage: UK Childhood Indoctrination

Post lifted from Random Observations. Melanie Phillips also has some scathing observations on this. Her summary: "This surely is the Nanny State gone stark staring mad"

It is just me, or is this UK precedent, reported in the Telegraph, distinctly creepy?

Babies will be given marks for crying, gurgling or babbling under the Government's new curriculum for 0-5 year olds which all nurseries must follow.

Playgroups and childminders will also need to show that they help babies make progress in 69 areas of education and development or risk losing funds.

The new Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum lays down how children are expected to develop from birth to the end of the first year of compulsory schooling, the year in which they turn five. The document, which has the force of law, was published yesterday alongside a book of guidance and cards containing the main requirements and underlying principles.

And of course:

By three years and four months, children will begin citizenship lessons so they understand that "people have different, needs, views, cultures and beliefs, that need to be treated with respect".

What does it mean to be a British citizen? It means recognizing others are different. Is that it? Different how? And what does "respect" actually entail?

This working document [pdf, as HTML] on the curriculum reveals there's a huge focus on indirectly instilling cultural relativism in 3-year-olds though their caregivers. In fact, it's apparently the first thing that pops into the authors' minds:

The first page of this document states that it is to be ’a single framework for care, learning and development for children in all early years settings from birth to the August after their fifth birthday’. This statement has huge implications for racial equality. It means those responsible for working with young children must:

* have an understanding and knowledge about how racism* is deeply embedded in our society and its implications for working with all children and their families

* ensure that every child is equally cared for. This means ensuring equality of treatment, being knowledgeable about the needs, family background, culture, religion (or none) ... of every child, being observant and watchful about their experiences within the setting and being aware and understanding of any potential racial prejudice or discrimination a child may experience or manifest and how to address them effectively...

* encourage every child equally to develop ... their ability to stand up for themselves about fairness and justice as well as standing up for others who are treated unfairly

How to break this down? First, let's note that little tiny asterisk next to the word "racism", where the footnote reveals "racism" doesn't simply mean actual racism -- which all good-minded people oppose -- but rather also includes "cultural racism", "enthnocentrism", "institutional racism", and "structural racism."

And what do these various terms mean? For example, here's what "cultural racism" denotes:

The culture of minority groups is seen as flawed in soem [sic] way, and thus as standing in the way of their progress. Unlike post-reflective gut racism, however, cultural racism does not involve belief in the existence of any biological incapacity to change. On the contrary, change is exactly what is sought. Minorities are encouraged to turn their back on their own culture and to become absorbed by the majority culture.

So it turns out these alleged "citizenship" lessons ultimately mean we convince children there is nothing better about British culture than, say, a society ruled by the Taliban. (But certainly not the reverse. Down with assimilation!)

And "institutional racism"?

... institutional racism generally refers to the way that the institutional arrangements and the distribution of resources in our society serve to reinforce the advantages of the white majority... [necessitating] the moral judgment that once the discriminatory consequences of the institutional practices are raised to consciousness, anyone seeking to perpetuated them is guilty of racism

Example: If some minority group is more often arrested for some category of crime, whether the police and lawmakers have racist motives or not, those involved are guilty of "institutional racism" -- and anyone who still insists due process should be racially blind "is guilty of racism", ironically.

So the goal here is, amazingly, neo-Marxist* structural analysis, where the caregiver (and thus, by influence, child) is taught to think in terms of membership groups, rather than as individuals; in terms of relative societal power of those groups rather than goodness or badness of an individual's behavior; and in term of outcomes rather than traditional standards of fairness -- by which I mean applying the same rules equally to all.

And thus the instruction to be "observant and watchful" for "discrimination a child may experience or manifest" means that we watch for traditional ethics and values instilled in children from "family background, culture, [or] religion" and counter it. Indeed, the document further admits the curriculum must "plan how to support children in learning positive attitudes and unlearning any negative attitudes to differences between people... helping children unlearn any prejudiced attitudes..."

Concerning the selection of caregivers, the document adds:

At present there are great differences in qualifications, knowledge and experience about racial equality among providers and practitioners. This means that this document must be explicit about such issues. It points to the considerable need for training for them about equality issues

And, they add, "recruitment practice" (hiring of new caregivers, presumably) must "ensure only those knowledgeable or committed to implement equality are selected." Note the exact phrasing: "those committed to implement equality", apparently in a revolutionary sense. The focus, again, is a desired societal outcome, not merely to prefer individuals who have a heart for small people, or those who will apply the same rules equally to all kids.

In fact, quite to the contrary:

... treating all children equally – this does not mean treating them all in the same way because every child is different from every other one

So the upshot here is that if you want to take care of a child in the UK, you will be gauged and even selected henceforth on your committment to these dogmas.

A nice, efficient way of taking control, it would seem, of "all nurseries" in the UK and turning them into state-run creches -- while halting the transmission of familial and majority moral, religious, and cultural values. (Under the guise of providing "uniform care", of course.) In fact, it seems this particular document addresses nothing else.

So why am I writing this? Not because I wish to defend racism, that's for sure. But what we see is the installation of an entirely different moral paradigm and value set -- one which is rampant in today's university -- into very young children, under the guise of fighting racism. That's why you see so many different words with "racism" appended, like "cultural racism" which is simply the charge of not buying into cultural relativism, framed so to make those who disagree "racists."

And ultimately, I believe this alternative morality create citizens who are conditioned to avoid critical thinking, and who are more malleable to the needs of a strong, centralized government. Dewey would have been proud.

Australian teachers criticize their own education

Graduate teachers say universities are failing to make the grade and want courses overhauled to give them the skills to teach. The 1351 state, Catholic and independent school teachers surveyed in all states in October last year said they needed better training in how to actually teach and manage students. All the teachers canvassed had less than three years' experience.

While 93 per cent said they "loved" or "liked" teaching, almost one in four, or 24 per cent, planned to leave the profession within five years because of the pressures they faced. Much of the pressure resulted from more than a quarter of the teachers, or 27 per cent, who were teaching subjects outside their areas of expertise. This occurs most often in English, maths and religion, but also in science, social studies, languages, the arts, technology and special needs. "At a time when literacy and numeracy are high on both the Commonwealth and State Government agendas, it is a concern that mathematics and English are the two subjects with the highest volume of beginning teachers working outside of their training," the survey report said. Uncertainty of employment was also a major concern, with 54 per cent of the surveyed teachers on contracts.

Among Queensland teachers, 60 per cent rated their practical teaching in schools as excellent or very good preparation to teach effectively. But only 30 per cent said their university pre-service was excellent or very good as teacher preparation. Comments from teachers included:

"The university is out of touch with real teaching."

"The Bachelor of Education was a whole lot of ----. I did not learn anything until I started teaching."

"I was disillusioned with my diploma of education training. I felt that the lecturers were out of touch with today's school environment. They were more concerned with the academic aspect of the degree than the practical hands-on experience that could have really made my transition into teaching so much easier."

"Not enough on behaviour management."

Queensland Teachers Union president Steve Ryan said the findings were no surprise and supported the union's research. "It is certainly a concern to us that good teachers are leaving the system too early," Mr Ryan said. "It is not simply lack of training but workload and stress are also major problems."

In the report, teachers said they valued schools with strong induction programs, saying it made them more likely to remain in the profession, rather than being left to their own devices, with little support. Many also said they were overwhelmed and dispirited because of high workloads and the bureaucratic requirements of state education departments. "I could cope if I could just teach," a teacher said.

Almost half of those surveyed had become teachers after previous careers. Leonie Trimper, the president of the Australian Primary Principals Association, said the wide range of experience of many new teachers was "a rich resource we cannot afford to lose". "We've had 25 reports into teacher training in the past 20 years and little has changed," she said. "It's just not good enough." Geoff Ryan, the chairman of the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia, said: "we need an improvement in the relationship between schools and teacher training institutions".



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"

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Friday, March 16, 2007

Britain: Islamic extremists 'infiltrate Oxbridge'

Leading universities including Oxford and Cambridge have been targeted by Islamic extremists who remain widely active on campuses, a prominent academic is warning. Up to 48 British universities have been infiltrated by fundamentalists and the threat posed by radical groups must be "urgently addressed", according to Prof Anthony Glees. The claim calls into question the Government's attempted crackdown on Islamic extremism in universities and casts doubt on claims by Bill Rammell, the Higher Education Minister, that the problem is not widespread.

Prof Glees will warn the Association of University Chief Security Officers (Aucso) next month that the disbanded extremist group, al-Muhajiroun, claims to have infiltrated "the main campuses such as Cambridge, Oxford, the London School of Economics and Imperial College". His speech on "radicalism in universities" also states that at its peak before the July 7 bombings in 2005, al-Muhajiroun had a presence at "more than 48 universities and faculties", and that Omar Bakri Mohammed, the group's founder, claims it is "still operational" in several campuses.

Prof Glees, the director of Brunel University's Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, said: "We must accept this problem is widespread and underestimated. Unless clear and decisive action against campus extremism is taken, the security situation in the UK can only deteriorate." Following a report from Prof Glees showing that 31 universities and colleges had hard-line Islamic groups within their campuses, the Department for Education and Skills last year issued guidelines on dealing with any extremism.

Student Islamic societies have faced growing scrutiny after it emerged that one of 12 men charged in connection with the alleged plot to blow up transatlantic airliners was president of the Islamic Society at London Metropolitan University. Last year, Aucso launched a "counter-terrorism" group to tackle the spread of Islamic fundamentalism on campuses.

Prof Glees called on the Government to provide extra investment in campus security and urged university officials to interview undergraduates to ensure that they were bona fide students.

A spokesman for Oxford University said: "We always take any extremism seriously and work closely with the police on any form of extremism that might affect our students or staff." A Cambridge University spokesman said he was not aware of any current extremist activity but that the university "remained vigilant". The Government's controversial guidance asked university staff to "monitor" student Islamic societies and report any "Asian-looking" students they suspected of extremism to the security services. Student groups attacked the move as "bearing on the side of McCarthyism". Other critics suggest that the guidelines are widely ignored. Chris Pope, an associate fellow of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies, said: "My understanding is that this problem is ongoing and expanding in some campuses."

A spokesman for Universities UK, the umbrella group for British vice-chancellors, said: "In the rare event of such problems, universities work very closely with the police and other authorities."

In a recent report from a London-based Arabic newspaper, Anjem Choudary, the former head of al-Muhajiroun in Britain, who joined the group as a student at the University of Surrey, confirmed that while the movement officially disbanded in 2005, "the students of Omar Bakri continue to preach on campuses".

Last year, Dhiren Barot, said to be al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's "UK general", was jailed for 40 years for planning terrorist attacks. Barot, 34, faked his identity in order to study at Brunel University. The London School of Ecomonics and Imperial College were unable to comment. Mr Rammell said: "Our assessment has not changed. Violent extremism in the name of Islam is a real, credible and sustained threat to the UK and there is evidence of a serious, but not widespread risk of violent extremism in the name of Islam on our university campuses."


British university is accused of censoring lecture on Islamic anti-Semititism

The University of Leeds was accused of infringing free speech last night when it cancelled a lecture on "Islamic anti-Semitism" by a German academic. Matthias Koentzel arrived at the university yesterday morning to begin a three-day programme of lectures and seminars, but was told that it had been called off on "security grounds".

Dr Koentzel, a political scientist who has lectured around the world on the antiSemitic ideology of Islamist groups, told The Times there were concerns that he would be attacked. He said that he was "outraged" that his meetings had been cancelled and had yet to receive an explanation. The university, which acted after complaints from Muslim students, denied that it was interfering with the academic freedom of Dr Koentzel, and said that proper arrangements for stewarding the meeting had not been made. The lecture, entitled "Hitler's Legacy: Islamic antiSemitism in the Middle East", was organised by the university's German department and publicised three weeks ago. A large attendance had been expected.

Dr Koentzel, a former adviser to the German Green Party, said: "I have been told that it has had to be cancelled for security reasons. It seems there were concerns that there could be violence against my person. "I have lectured in lots of countries on this subject. I gave the same talk at Yale University recently, and this is the first time I have been invited to lecture in the UK. Nothing like this has ever happened before - this is censorship. "It is a controversial area but I am accustomed to debate. I value the integrity of academic debate and I feel that it really is in danger here. This is a very important subject and if you cannot address it on university property, then what is a university for?"

Dr Koentzel, a research associate at the Vidal Sassoon International Centre for the Study of Antisemitism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said that he had been shown two e-mails that had been received, which objected to his lecture. One, apparently written by a student, said: "As a Muslim and an Arab this has come to me as a great shock. The only intention that you have for doing this is to increase hatred as I clearly regard it as an open racist attack."

Ahmed Sawalem, president of the university's student Islamic Society, confirmed that he had contacted the office of Professor Michael Arthur, the Vice-Chancellor, to register an official complaint. "The title of the talk is provocative and I have searched the internet to read his writings and they are not very pleasant," Mr Sawalem said. "We are not opposed to freedom of expression. We just sent a complaint, we did not ask for the talk to be cancelled."

The university authorities contacted the German department on Tuesday and asked for a change in the title. The department agreed to relabel the talk as "The Nazi Legacy: the export of antiSemitism to the Middle East". Yesterday morning, the head of the German department, Professor Stuart Taberner, was called to a meeting with the Vice-Chancellor's staff and the head of security. After the meeting, Dr Koentzel's lecture and workshops were cancelled.

Annette Seidel Arpaci, an academic in the German department, said: "This is an academic talk by a scholar, it is not a political rally. The sudden cancellation is a sell-out of academic freedom, especially freedom of speech, at the University of Leeds." A spokes-woman for the university said that it valued freedom of speech and added that the cancellation of the meeting had been a bureaucratic issue. "The decision to cancel the meeting has nothing to do with academic freedom, freedom of speech, antiSemitism or Islam-ophobia, and those claiming that is the case are making mischief," she said.

What he wrote

" AntiSemitism based on the notion of a Jewish world conspiracy is not rooted in Islamic tradition but, rather, in European ideological models. The decisive transfer of this ideology to the Muslim world took place between 1937 and 1945 under the impact of Nazi propaganda . . . "Although Islamism is an independent, antiSemitic, antimodern mass movement, its main early promoters, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the Mufti and the Qassamites in Palestine, were supported financially and ideologically by agencies of the German National Socialist Government."



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"

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

A puny step forward

The Aspen Institute's Commission on No Child Left Behind recently released Beyond NCLB: Fulfilling the Promise to Our Nation's Children, a report it touts as offering gutsy proposals to solve the nation's educational problems. "It's time to take a bold step forward and commit to significantly improving NCLB," declares a statement on the report's back cover, with its striking American flag and blue-sky motif. "We must insist on high achievement for all students. Our nation's children deserve it."

So what sort of revolutionary changes to the status quo does the report propose? None, really. Sure, it calls for a few new-ish things, like voluntary national standards, focusing on teacher effectiveness instead of credentials, and tracking the performance of individual students, but nothing really bold. Indeed, most of the recommendations would add regulations to a law already larded with them, and none would do what's necessary to truly transform American education: Decentralize our hidebound, government-controlled education system and take power away from the teachers' unions, administrator associations, and other special interest groups that dominate it.

Of course, not all interest groups love everything the commission recommended. National Education Association President Reg Weaver, for instance, complained about the report's teacher effectiveness proposals. But small quibbles aside, the report has been praised by numerous establishment groups, such as the Public Education Network and the National Association of Elementary School Principals, and public officials ranging from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, a Democrat of Massachusetts, to U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings.

If boldness is what you're after, those are not good signs. But what reform would fit the bill? Something that doesn't just tweak our top-down, command-and-control educational system -- or make it worse, like federal standards -- that's what. Something that breaks the stranglehold of special interests and gives power to the parents the system is supposed to serve. Something that would enable parents to move their kids and tax dollars out of bad schools and into good ones, and would release parents and children from their present state of dependence on policymakers and bureaucrats. That something is school choice.

Unfortunately, no reform recommendation of that sort is ever likely to come from a national commission, because such bodies are almost always stacked with members of the very interest groups that would lose power were parents able to take their children and tax dollars out of unsatisfactory public schools. The Aspen commission, for instance, was dominated by insiders, including several former officials in the U.S. Department of Education and other federal entities, a one-time teachers' union president, and numerous other individuals whose livelihoods have come from public schooling. And Aspen isn't alone. Tough Choices or Tough Times, a recent report from the National Center on Education and the Economy, was also the work of a commission heavy on public education and political insiders, and while it advocated some new flexibility for schooling, it also called for expand-the-mold reforms, like vastly increasing teacher pay.

Thankfully, truly bold reform doesn't have to come from a national commission. Indeed, just two weeks ago it came from the state of Utah, where Governor Jon Huntsman signed the nation's first-ever universal school choice bill into law. Utah's new program is far from perfect -- it sets low voucher amounts and largely holds districts harmless when kids leave -- but by giving parents real power, it nonetheless begins to address the fundamental flaw in American public education.

Of course, the special interests aren't taking this lying down. Utah's School Boards Association, Association of School Superintendents, and PTA, among other groups, have joined forces and threatened to take the program to court, just as their cousins in other states have done whenever choice has been proposed or enacted. As revolting as these attempts to keep children captive in public schools are, though, they do have one silver lining: They make it very clear that school choice is a truly bold step forward.


Stalinists in South Australian education

Year 12 board wants to put parents in the Mushroom Club -- kept in the dark and fed bullsh*t. "The children of the light love the light and the children of the darkness love the darkness" -- to paraphrase Jesus (John 3: 19-20)

The state's examination board is attempting to suppress by law the Year 12 performances of individual schools. The Senior Secondary Assessment Board of South Australia has asked the State Government for new laws to prevent public comparisons between the performances of public and private schools. Under a legislative review to be in place by 2010, the Government is about to force the SSABSA to release these details to the Education Department and the Education Minister, but the board wants to keep this from being extended to public release.

Its existing policy is only to publish statewide results, which do not include variations between individual schools or between government, independent and Catholic systems. Individual schools are able to obtain their own results and compare them with statewide averages through a password-protected website administered by SSABSA.

The board, which sets and approves curriculums and assesses student achievement for Years 11 and 12, is a State Government authority, but is not directly answerable to the Education Minister. Under the Government's review, it will be replaced by a new body called the SACE Board, which will be answerable to the minister. SSABSA says its proposal to block the public release of school performance details would avoid the "damaging effects" of comparing these. [Quite a confession of public school failure!]

Chief executive Janet Keightley said the board was "very clear" that the school a child attended was a "small contributing factor" in academic achievement. "To rank schools on this basis is very, very misleading and very dangerous because it means people will make serious decisions on very, very poor quality information," she said. "Any kind of simplistic comparison is not advantageous."

Federal Education Minister Julie Bishop said yesterday that parents had a right to know the academic standards and overall performance of schools and poorly-performing schools would be shown up by the release of results. "If parents were provided with this information, state governments would have to answer to them for the failings of state education systems," she said.

A spokeswoman for SA Education Minister Jane Lomax-Smith said the State Government did not have a position on the issue. "The Government will develop a policy when in possession of all the facts and responses from the public consultation," she said. South Australian Institute for Education Research president Ted Sandercock said researchers needed the data. "Quite often, you want to see what are the differences and what are they due to," he said. Association of Independent Schools executive director Garry Le Duff said he wanted the same access to information as the Education Department. "It should be released to individual schools and all school sectors, not just to the government sector," he said.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A California comparison: Experimenting with school choice

Policymakers, unlike scientists, don't have the luxury of conducting controlled experiments to test competing solutions to social problems. But when it comes to reforming failing public schools, something close to that is occurring in two California school districts: Oakland and Compton. The districts, comparable in many respects, are opting for completely different approaches to fixing their schools. And so far, Oakland's policy of giving parents more choice is showing far more success than Compton's strategy of micromanaging classrooms.

Oakland and Compton are not identical, of course. Compton, located in the outskirts of Los Angeles, does not have the gorgeous San Francisco Bay scenery of Oakland. It has a quarter of Oakland's population and no wealthy neighbors. But they are both high-crime inner cities. Both have a large Hispanic and black population, and a small Asian and white population. Average family incomes are comparable-about $40,000 for Oakland and $33,000 for Compton. They both became targets of a state takeover and a large financial bailout in the last decade. And the federal No Child Left Behind Act for two years in a row has ranked them both among California's 162 districts "in need of improvement." In short, the two districts have similar student bodies, similar challenges, and-until now-a similar history of failure. But Oakland is beginning to break away from this history, and the reason is the weighted-student-formula program it embraced some years ago and fully implemented last year.

Under this program, kids are not required to attend their neighborhood school, especially if it is failing. Rather, they can pick any regular public or charter school in their district and take their education dollars with them; more students therefore means more revenues for schools. Furthermore, as the name suggests, the revenues are "weighted" based on the difficulty of educating each student, with low-income and special-needs kids commanding more money than smart, well-to-do ones. Schools have to compete for funding, but the upside is that they have total control over it.

Compton has stuck to a completely different approach that does not involve empowering parents-or decentralizing control to schools. Instead, it has tried to fix its failing schools by mandating "classroom inputs." To this end, all Compton schools over the last few years have been ordered to reduce class size by 12 percent, improve teachers' credentials, adopt a tougher curriculum, and even clean up bathrooms.

What are the results so far? Oakland schools have shown a remarkable flexibility in responding to student needs, while Compton has stagnated. In 2003-04, for instance, Oakland's high schools offered 17 Advanced Placement classes. Last year, they increased this total to 91, or about one AP class for every 143 students. By contrast, Compton's AP offerings went up by two that year, to one class for every 218 students. Oakland students also are taking high-level math and science courses more frequently. About 800 high school students studied first-year physics last year-nearly triple the number taking the course in the 2004 school year.

More to the point, of course, are student-performance measures. Oakland kids have shown major improvement on the California High School Exit Examination, which all students must pass in English and math before graduating from high school. Sixty-two percent of high school students passed the English-language-arts portion, compared with 57 percent in 2005-a 5-point gain-and 60 percent passed math, a 6-point jump from the year before. By contrast, Compton showed no gains in English-staying stuck at 58 percent-and posted a 2-percentage-point drop in math, from 50 percent to 48 percent.

Similarly, Oakland's score on the state's Academic Performance Index-a numeric grade that California assigns to its schools based on the performance of their students on standardized tests-went up by 19 points. Compton, in contrast, gained only 13 points. Yet even this overstates Compton's performance, because almost all of its gains came at the elementary level, where students are not so intractable. Compton's middle schools lost an average of 6 points, while Oakland's gained an average of 16 points. Meanwhile, half of Compton's high schools lost points on the API score-including Compton High, where now fewer than 6 percent of males are proficient in reading, and fewer than 1 percent in algebra. Conversely, Oakland high schools gained, on average, 30 points. Even Oakland's economically disadvantaged and limited-English students have shown major improvements. In 2006, its economically disadvantaged students gained 60 percent more on the performance index than Compton's, and its English-language learners gained 120 percent more.

Nor is Oakland's progress in any way anomalous. Oakland borrowed the weighted-student program from San Francisco, where the approach has already had six years of success. San Francisco kids in every grade level in every subject have consistently performed above the state average. Since 2001, its low-income students have posted gains of 83 points, 16 percent more than Los Angeles' and 25 percent more than Compton's. Last year alone, San Francisco students overall earned the highest API test scores of any urban district-97 points higher than Los Angeles and 150 points higher than Compton. Even San Francisco's minority, poor, and special education students have shown major improvements. English-language learners, a challenging group, gained 12 points in 2006, compared with zero points for Los Angeles'. Similarly, San Francisco's special education students gained 19 points that year, whereas Los Angeles' gained only 1 point.

What's more, a wide array of schools have cropped up in the city, catering to practically every student need and interest by offering dual-language programs, college-preparatory classes, performing-arts electives, and advanced math and science courses. In fact, every public school in San Francisco is fast developing its own unique blend of size, pedagogic style, and course offerings.

Meanwhile, Oakland hosted a daylong fair last month at which the district's 120-plus schools could vie with each other to entice parents, handing out information about course offerings, highlighting accomplishments, and answering questions. In short, schools are being forced to sell themselves to each and every parent. Compton and the majority of low-performing schools nationwide that can count on a captive audience have no such plans.

What's more remarkable is that Oakland's turnaround happened at a time when the state had initiated a hostile school takeover, triggering protests from the community and the school board. The state-appointed administrator for the Oakland schools was forced to hire a bodyguard because of threats to his life at community meetings. But because the weighted-student formula decentralized control to individual schools and effectively put parents in charge of enforcing accountability, principals were insulated from this ugly infighting, allowing them to focus on what matters: students. In essence, this mechanism proved stronger than district politics.

The success of the weighted-student-formula program has not gone unnoticed. The Washington-based Thomas B. Fordham Foundation last year touted the approach as an important tool for school reform. Former U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige has praised it in The New York Times. Although most teachers' unions resist handing control of school funds to principals, out of fear that this might dilute their ability to enforce such union work rules as seniority-based promotions, some unions have given cautious approval to the concept.

Nationwide, close to 10,000 schools are considered to be failing under the No Child Left Behind Act, hundreds for more than five years. Yet less than 1 percent of students in these schools manage to transfer to a higher-performing school, even though they have that right under the federal law. Political leaders can change this by building on Oakland and San Francisco's modest experiment in school choice. No student deserves anything less.


New Jersey Judge Orders Penal Charges Against Mother for Home-Schooling

Honorable Thomas Zampino of the Family Division of the New Jersey Superior Court has ordered penal charges against a home-schooling mother of seven. According to a report by Matt Bowman on the website, the mother's supposed infraction is home-schooling her children without supervision from the local school board - a right explicitly upheld in New Jersey law.

According to the court's opinion, Tara Hamilton is the defendant in a suit brought against her by her recently estranged husband, Stephen Hamilton. Stephen brought the suit in an attempt to force Tara to enroll their school-age children, aged 12 to 4 years, in parochial school because he believes that they are not receiving an adequate education while being home-schooled. All seven children currently reside with Tara.

According to the court document, Stephen claims that "continued home schooling is not in the children's best interest, they lack socialization skills and that it is too difficult for the mother to teach the children at five different grade levels. The father argues that the children are not receiving an education equivalent to a public or parochial school."

Prior to the marital discord that led to this suit, the Hamiltons had similarly home-schooled all of their school-age children.

In an effort to implement "certain basic requirements and safeguards", the judge ordered Tara to submit her home-schooling children to standardized tests supplied by the local school district despite NJ law which says, "A child educated elsewhere than at school is not required to sit for a state or district standardized test."

The judge also ordered the local school board to file a suit against Tara in order to be able to "evaluate the instruction in the home," a requirement only permissible if the local school board determines that there is credible evidence that the home education is below the standards of the public school.

Because of NJ's explicit laws protecting the parental right to educate their children at home, the judge had only limited options when it came to personally implementing his philosophies of "monitoring" and "registering" home-schoolers." The judge cautioned that, should the school board refuse to comply with his 'suggestions', the court would "consider, by formal opinion, a request to join those parties to action."

The New Jersey Department of Education website states, "The provision, "to receive equivalent instruction elsewhere than at school," in N.J.S.A. 18A:38-25 permits parent(s)/guardian(s) to educate the child at home." According to New Jersey law, parents desiring to home-school their children are not required to submit any type of communication of intent to a local school board. Parents are also not required to have their home-school curricula approved by a school board.

A NJ school board may only act against a home-schooling parent "If there is credible evidence that the parent, guardian or other person having custody and control of a school-age child is not causing the child either to attend school (public or nonpublic) or to receive equivalent instruction elsewhere than at school." Under those circumstances, the school board is permitted to request the parents/guardians of a school age child provide proof, such as a letter of intent, that the child is receiving "equivalent instruction."

The judge criticized the NJ law and lamented the fact that it upholds the rights of parents to home-school their children without interference from the government. Implying that children being educated by their parents are unsupervised, the judge stated, "This is shocking to the court. In this day and age where we seek to protect children from harm and sexual predators, so many children are left unsupervised."

The judge continued, "In today's threatening world, where we seek to protect children from abuse, not just physical, but also educational abuse, how can we not monitor the educational welfare of all our children?" He then gave the case of a recently found starving child locked "in a putrid bedroom" as an example of what happens when home-schooled children are not "registered and supervised."

In what Bowman refers to as a "judicial temper tantrum" the judge opines, "This is not an attack against home schooling, but rather a statement that it is necessary to register those children for whom this alternative is chosen and to monitor that their educational needs are being adequately nurtured. Judicial interpretation of the statute requires such steps to measure 'equivalent instruction' when the alternative 'elsewhere than at school' is chosen by parents."

Bowman commented on the judge's circumvention of the law by requiring the school board to take the action that he could not, saying, "Well, state law does allow school districts to haul parents into court under state penal law if credible evidence exists that their children's education is improper. Presto! Order the local school district to charge the mom with violation of penal law! Never mind that the school district is not a party to this divorce proceeding. Never mind that "[t]he mere fact that a child has been withdrawn to be home-schooled is not, in itself, credible evidence of a legal violation.""

Bowman summed up the opinion saying, "The court's opinion seethes with contempt for parental primacy in education, for large religious families, and for the democratic process itself. Instead of legal reasoning, the court disgustingly showcases the prospect of children "found unfed and locked in a putrid bedroom."

Bowman concluded by drawing a scary comparison between the actions of this activist NJ judge and the recent human rights violations against a home-schooling family in Germany. "It can seem distant when we hear news of police raiding homes in Germany and abducting home-schooled children, but in our small world of judicial oligarchy and broken families, Germany is not so far away after all."

To respectfully contact Jon Corzine, governor of New Jersey:

Office of the Governor
PO Box 001
Trenton, NJ 08625



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"

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Detroit: Greedy bureaucrats and incompetent unionists combine to stand in the way of improved education for those who need it most

Ida Byrd-Hill hung out at gas stations and McDonald's, passing out fliers that looked like party invitations, to recruit Detroit's high school dropouts back to school. She hustled up funding and donations from Compuware Corp. and others, and opened a small program that caters to dropouts and supports them through graduation. In return for her missionary work to help the students that they failed, the Detroit Public Schools and the Detroit Federation of Teachers are threatening to close Byrd-Hill's school.

Byrd-Hill's story sounds like a morality tale of how not to act unless you want to bring ruin upon yourself -- as the teachers' union and school system continue to do. The school has become a hostage between the two players, while the school district tragically collapses. Byrd-Hill, a former businesswoman, good-naturedly named her program Hustle & TECHknow Preparatory School to lure students to her classrooms housed at Compuware's headquarters. As she puts it: "Corporate America is the ultimate hustle." The school, which opened last year, is a contract program with the Detroit school system and thus is covered by the DFT contract. To keep costs down and classes small, Hustle & TECHknow and other alternative schools like it do not offer the benefits package that unionized teachers have.

As an alternative school, Hustle & TECHknow receives 80 percent of the per-pupil state funding for its 86 students. The district keeps 20 percent, arguing it has to pay for administrative costs. That 20 percent is the issue at hand. Union officials say since the district is saving millions of dollars by contracting out to nonunion alternative schools, it should use those savings to give DFT teachers the raise they haven't had in four years. Unless its gets that raise, the teachers' union is threatening to shut down Hustle & TECHknow and other such schools. These "last chance" programs for dropouts need a waiver from the union to continue receiving their funding from the district.

Byrd-Hill worries her school will run out of funding by spring. "Personally, I have no problem giving teachers what they want," she says. "But then they have to perform. ... The reason why you're seeing a mass exodus from DPS is because of nonperforming teachers." Byrd-Hill is a die-hard loyalist to the union teachers at her children's school, Duke Ellington Conservatory of Music and Art on the east side because they are high-performing professionals. "We love our teachers," she says. "We'd do anything for them."

Her story illustrates the painful reality of today's Detroit schools: The union protects poor-performing teachers, undermining itself, while the district strives to protect its franchise rather than serve students. Hand-in-hand, the two are destroying the city's schools.

In a district that has one of the worst graduation rates of any urban school system in the country and is bleeding students, Detroit Public Schools desperately needs "recovery programs" like Byrd-Hill's to bring back dropouts to its schools.

New union President Virginia Cantrell says she wants her union to take a more practical, conciliatory approach to the district's crisis. In the DFT's recent newsletter, she writes: "We have already begun to build bridges between the DFT and the school district." Byrd-Hill hopes that includes her school. For the sake of her students and the district, we do, too


Australia: Standards for teachers coming

Are we REALLY going to get teachers who can spell and add up?

Teacher graduates will have to meet uniform standards of literacy and numeracy for the first time under a national system to accredit education courses. The draft framework, approved by state and territory teacher registration boards and obtained by The Australian, sets out mandatory requirements that education courses must meet for teachers to be registered in government, Catholic or independent schools across the nation.

The framework, developed by the Australasian Forum of Teacher Registration and Accreditation Authorities, will specify required levels of literacy and numeracy as well as content to be taught in teacher education courses - a minimum four years of full-time study and a minimum amount of practical classroom experience. Institutions will have to provide evidence of "a mix of professional studies, discipline studies and embedded professional experiences (and) ensure appropriate subject content studies," it says.

A spokesman for AFTRAA said the policy would, for example, specify the level of science a student must study to qualify as a science teacher. "At the moment, there aren't explicit requirements that are national and in some places there aren't explicit requirements at all," he said. Teaching courses that fail to meet the standards will not receive accreditation, and the qualifications of their graduates will not be recognised by schools.

The framework comes amid a national debate over the need to increase the standards and professionalism of teachers and moves toward a common school curriculum framework for all states and territories. The Federal Government and the Labor Opposition have both committed to introducing a core national curriculum as a way of improving standards and avoiding syllabuses being hijacked by educational fads. National accreditation of teacher courses is the first step toward national teacher registration and professional standards, which AFTRAA is expected to go on to develop. With a shortage of teachers, particularly in maths and science, national recognition of teacher qualifications is an important step in allowing teachers to move more easily across state borders.

The AFTRAA comprises all state and territory teacher registration boards and was charged by the council of the nation's education ministers to develop national recognition. At present, the accreditation for courses varies widely between the states and territories and this framework will provide mutual recognition, so that a course accredited in one state will be recognised in another. The move effectively sidesteps the federal Government's process for accreditation of teaching courses through Teaching Australia, which is intended to be voluntary. It is considering a model ranking courses using a star system instead of ensuring standards.

The Australian Council of Deans of Education welcomed the framework and its president, Sue Willis, said the deans were strongly committed to a national system for accrediting courses. "We have nothing to fear; teacher education can only benefit from high common standards of accreditation," she said.

But Professor Willis said the council was "totally underwhelmed" by the idea of voluntary accreditation as proposed by Teaching Australia and by using rankings instead of standards. In its reply to Teaching Australia, the ACDE argues that rankings would "significantly compromise the value of accreditation" and that such a system should be separate to accreditation. Professor Willis said the council had argued for national accreditation for the past 10 years and wanted a one-stop shop, so was concerned about how the AFTRAA process would work with Teaching Australia. "We want one accreditation framework, one set of accreditation rules, which everyone applies," she said.

ACDE is also concerned by the lack of representation of teacher educators on the AFTRAA boards, particularly given its intention to prescribe the content of teacher courses. A spokesman for federal Education Minister Julie Bishop welcomed the AFTRAA framework for moving to a national system of accreditation. "The more work that's done in this area, the more likely we are to see a positive change and higher standards in teacher education," he said. The AFTRAA spokesman said that the forum welcomed the involvement of Teaching Australia in the process and there was no reason it could not help co-ordinate the work.



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"

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Monday, March 12, 2007

Legalized irresponsibility

Suppose you sent your children to an organization that negligently caused them to be injured, incurring large medical bills. Would it seem unreasonable to expect that organization to admit their negligence and foot the medical costs? If they didn't do so willingly, you might well file a lawsuit to cover the damages. That sort of scenario plays out every day, and damages usually get paid if the organization is truly negligent.

Except... when the organization is the Minneapolis Public School system, the largest in Minnesota. Their response to such a situation? "We have immunity from such lawsuits". Take your children, their injuries, the medical costs, and just lump it.

How can they claim immunity? They discovered an obscure piece of legislation from 1969 that should have been updated or removed but wasn't. It allowed MPS to claim immunity from liability, which also left them free to not purchase liability insurance. How obscure was the law? Evidently MPS was the only district in the state that knew about it, and they carefully avoided telling anyone else. They knew that if the law came to the attention of other districts, they would use it too, causing an outcry that would result in rescinding it. So... they kept it quiet, until the inevitable happened, and the children of two families ran headlong into it.

The injuries happened during an exercise that, in retrospect, seems almost designed to cause problems; having children run around in a dark room, trying to avoid the flashlight beams from each other. Two girls rammed head-first into each other, a not-surprising outcome for running in the dark.

This, unfortunately, is a vivid and typical example of government in action. For most people, it is virtually impossible to avoid sending children to a "public" government school. We are forced to support those schools with our taxes, whether we like it or not, and whether we have children or not. To send our children to a private school, we must still pay for the public schools. Even if we choose to homeschool our children ourselves, as an ever-increasing number of people are doing, we are still paying the same taxes to support the schools our children don't attend. So most of us are forced to send our kids off to public schools.

"It's for the kids" is a mantra the school systems use frequently... especially when they want more tax money. As citizens and parents, we are expected to think about public schools as "our" schools, and of ourselves as part of the school's "community". Here's a quote from the Community section of the website of the Minneapolis Public School system

Our goal is to keep our community informed about various school matters, aware of news and happenings, and engaged in various events district-wide. We are determined to get these messages across through various communications channels, including the use of our very-own radio station KBEM 88.5 FM, as well as our TV station, Cable Channel 15.

Don't they make it all sound cozy and friendly? Keep our community informed? MPS sure used their resources to inform parents about their intent to avoid responsibility for negligent injuries, didn't they?

It isn't just the government schools to blame for this shameful position... the legislature fouled up repeatedly to make it possible. The 1969 legislation shouldn't have been there in the first place, but legislators did "sunset" the immunity after a year. That didn't work either, for when, 30 years later, they went back to delete obsolete laws, they deleted the sunset but not the immunity law, putting the original immunity back into force.

We all make mistakes, and, as private citizens, we have to pay for them. For example, we're required by law to carry liability insurance on our auto policies. If we negligently injure others, we can rightfully be sued for damages. Most of us would do so without laws or lawsuits, as part of our personal moral code.

Government plays by different rules. Many parts of government claim immunity for their actions, but we usually don't know about it until it hits us in the face personally. When you or I make a bad investment or choose a business path that doesn't work, we suffer the consequences. When government does the same, it usually just takes even more money from us to cover up their bad judgement. With no consequences to face, government makes the same stupid mistakes over and over.

Of course, even when the government action is not a mistake, but a deliberate, even immoral, act, the same results occur... no consequences and no change. Sometimes government's actions are obviously planned deceptions, such as the repeated financial bailouts of "public" arenas.

Government is but one of many organizations we deal with on a daily basis, but it is unique in that it holds itself immune from its own actions. For each of us, as individuals, it thus makes great sense to deal with private, responsible entities rather than with government. It is the only way we can be assured of being treated fairly and justly. Logical as that is, government has intruded into almost every aspect of our lives, driving away private options, often leaving us no choice but to deal with them, even when we know that we cannot count on being treated justly.


Leftist avoidance of the education issues

Kevin Donnelly responds to a critique of his new book, saying that Macintyre's review is penned with a "thumbnail dipped in bile". Kevin Donnelly is director of Melbourne-based Education Strategies and author of "Why Our Schools are Failing and Dumbing Down" (Hardie Grant Books). Stuart Macintyre's review of "Dumbing Down" appeared in "The Australian Literary Review" on March 7.

Stuart Macintyre's so-called review of my book Dumbing Down, about the parlous state of Australia's education system, in The Australian Literary Review this month unfortunately teaches the reader more about Macintyre's prejudices and idiosyncrasies than what the book is about.

Macintyre begins his critique by detailing the central role he played in civics projects under the Keating and Howard governments. In the first 880 or so words, we learn that then prime minister Paul Keating personally selected Macintyre to head a review of civics education; that Macintyre, given his unfamiliarity with school curriculum, travelled Australia at taxpayers' expense, researching how civics was taught in schools and how the Kennett government's "draconian policies", to use his words, destroyed Victoria's system of school education.

Readers are also told, notwithstanding an undergraduate degree in English and politics, 18 years teaching secondary school English and social studies and an MEd and PhD in curriculum, that my contribution to discussions about civics education in shared meetings was "restricted to generalities" and "sometimes naive and tendentious". After wading through additional irrelevant and gratuitous comments, such as Kennett government education bureaucrats supposedly describing me as Rasputin and the federal Government employing me as a consultant to the civics education program for a "substantial sum", never quantified but not as much, I would suggest, as some academics earn as a result of Australian Research Council grants, Macintyre finally realises that what he should be doing is reviewing Dumbing Down.

After pointing out some grammatical and other mistakes, Macintyre all too briefly summarises the book's central concerns about falling standards and the politically correct nature of the curriculum. Macintyre also provides a superficial summary of the book's argument that the culture wars of the 1960s and '70s help to explain educational experiments such as outcomes-based education. Macintyre's diatribe finishes with the claim that debates about falling standards and the politically correct nature of the curriculum represent a strategy to divert public attention from the fact that the federal Coalition Government supposedly fails to fund education properly.

Ignored is that state ALP governments have the primary responsibility for funding school education and that the reason federal government funding to non-government schools has increased is because increasing numbers of parents are deserting government schools; the reality, as it should be, is that the money follows the child.

Those who have read Macintyre's book The History Wars, in which he famously compares Prime Minister John Howard with Caligula and extols Keating's big-picture politics on issues such as reconciliation, multiculturalism and the republic, will know, notwithstanding his arguments in support of "academic honesty" and against resorting to "personal abuse", that Macintyre often fails to follow his own advice. When referring to my involvement in civics education, comments such as "He was retained to assist our work by offering specialist expertise but he didn't do much of that" and "Someone from the other side of the table muttered darkly that he was always invigilating the work of the department. Hence his nickname, Rasputin" demonstrate a decided lack of professional integrity.

In arguing that I fail to explain what is meant by outcomes-based education, Macintyre also shows he has either not read the book or, if he has, is guilty of misrepresentation. Not only does the book provide a definition of OBE in its glossary but it also gives a detailed analysis and description of Australia's adoption of OBE in recent years.

Macintyre writes: "The suggestion that outcomes-based education licensed an abandonment of education standards is false: on the contrary, it was an application of evidence-based methodology to the measurement of standards." Not only is such a sentence a prime example of the type of edu-babble that bedevils education, but the claim that Australia's adoption of outcomes-based education is based on evidence that it has been successful, here or overseas, also is wrong. As outlined in Dumbing Down, when outcomes-based education was introduced into Australia, it was experimental, it had been adopted by only a handful of countries and, according to NSW's Eltis report, there appeared little evidence that it had been successfully implemented elsewhere.

Macintyre is also incorrect when he states: "It had taken considerable negotiation for the states and territories to reach agreement in the late 1980s on a set of national statements and profiles that at least identified 'key learning areas'." The facts are that the development ofthe Keating government's national curriculum occurred during the early '90s and most education ministers at the July 1993 meeting inPerth refused to endorse the statements and profiles.

Macintyre states that I am wrong in suggesting Australian students do not perform well internationally, when he writes: "Nor do the standard international studies of student achievement support Donnelly's claims that Australia trails well behind other countries." An unbiased reading of Dumbing Down will show, in relation to achievement, that I never argue that Australia is "well behind other countries"; what I state is that we are in the "second eleven" and consistently outperformed by five to six other countries. I also acknowledge that Australian "students did very well" in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Program for International Student Assessments for 15-year-old students.

Of greater concern, if it were true, would be Macintyre's claim that there is a "paucity of evidence" for my claim, as a result of Australia's adoption of OBE, that standards are falling. Not only do I quote many examples demonstrating that standards have fallen, including a commonwealth study that reveals that almost half the academics interviewed agreed that standards had fallen over time, but I quote from the 1996 national literacy tests showing that 29 per cent of Year 5 children could not read at the minimum level and 33 per cent of Year 5 children did not meet the minimum standard in writing.

In suggesting that I restrict arguments about the curriculum being dumbed down to subjects such as English, history and mathematics, Macintyre conveniently ignores that a good deal of the book addresses broader, but no less important, issues such as the deleterious effect of non-competitive assessment and OBE-inspired approaches to learning such as constructivism and developmentalism.

On the concluding page of The History Wars, Macintyre admonishes those he describes as conservative history warriors for acting like bullies and for forsaking reasoned argument in favour of caricaturing opponents and impugning their motives. On reading what he has to say about Dumbing Down, it is clear he fails to follow his own advice and, to paraphrase Banjo Paterson, Macintyre's review, instead of being balanced, is penned with a thumbnail dipped in bile. [For the victims of a modern education, Donnelly is here alluding to a line in the famous A.B. Paterson poem "Clancy of the Overflow"]

It is also ironic, while Macintyre bewails my contribution to the education debate as "oversimplified, alarmist and opportunist", that the ALP, at both state and national levels, has recently and somewhat belatedly embraced what I have argued since the early '90s, often as a lone voice; that is, that curriculums should be teacher-friendly, concise, written in plain English and based on the academic disciplines.



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"

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Sunday, March 11, 2007


On February 15, the Iraqi Ambassador to the UN, Hamid Al Bayati, spoke at New York's Fordham University. During the course of his remarks, Bayati doubted the fact that the Holocaust had occurred. In his words, "I'm not aware of any dictator who used chemical weapons against his own people. Some academics or diplomats would say Hitler used chemical weapons, but I am sure he didn't use them against his own people - his German people." When pressed by law professor Avi Bell on the fact that several hundred thousand German citizens were gassed to death by Nazi Germany, Bayati still refused to take the point.

Fordham University is far from alone in providing a platform for Holocaust deniers. Last Thursday the Dean's office at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology co-sponsored an event on the Arab-Israel conflict called, "Foreign Policy and Social Justice: A Jewish View, a Muslim View." The man invited to provide the Jewish view was Dovid Weiss, a member of the crackpot Neturei Karta sect. Weiss rose to prominence when he traveled to Teheran last December to participate in Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial conference.

While MIT and Fordham were hosting Holocaust deniers in the name of intellectual freedom, their fellow universities were hosting "Israel Apartheid Week." As part of their efforts to criminalize the Jewish state, Arab and Jewish speakers at "Israel Apartheid Week" events refer to Israel as "1948 Palestine" and show propaganda films portraying IDF soldiers and Israeli civilians in Judea and Samaria as murderers.

The events are generally sponsored by the International Solidarity Movement. In addition to their campus outreach, the ISM sponsors the weekly riots against the security fence in Bil'in and in Hebron, where its protesters throw rocks at IDF soldiers. Given the violent content of their actions in Israel, it should come as no surprise that their events on US campuses also breed violence.

At an "Israel Apartheid Week" event at City University of New York, after watching a propaganda film, 19-year old Binyamin Rister rose and politely asked the ISM presenters if they supported terrorism. When he received no reply he politely repeated the question. Rather than wait for an answer, CUNY security guards dragged Rister from the room and then repeatedly banged his head against the wall of an elevator and threw him head first down the stairs. Rister's injuries from the assault by campus security required him to be evacuated by ambulance in a neck brace to the hospital.

In an almost identical case at Georgetown last year, Bill Maniaci a 65-year-old retired Jewish American police officer was brutalized by Georgetown security guards after he asked ISM spokesmen if they supported terrorism. He is currently suing Georgetown for $8 million in damages for the assault. According to Lee Kaplan's report of the CUNY event in Frontpage Magazine, there were seven witnesses to the unprovoked attack against Rister. He too has filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against CUNY.

EVEN THOSE propounding the view that jihadist murderers in the US and Britain are inspired to kill after being brought under the spell of the "sudden jihad syndrome" cannot deny that the root of the jihad is ideas. Similarly, it is self-evident that the key to beating the global jihad is victory in the battlefield of ideas. Unfortunately, as the pro-jihadist trend on US and Western campuses, and its impact on idea consumers in law enforcement, the media and policy circles throughout the free world shows, to the extent that those charged with engaging in the battle of ideas are engaged, they fight on the side of the enemy.


The Impact of Academic Bias

Professors do lean to the left -- but are students listening?

The debate over bias in the academy usually follows a predictable pattern. Conservatives tout a survey or study that says American college campuses are teeming with pinkos. Liberals assail the report as conservative propaganda. Conservatives mock liberals for denying the obvious. The most recent skirmish in this cycle involves a report released in January, "The Faculty Bias Studies: Science or Propaganda?" Prepared by the education consultant John Lee and published by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the paper concludes that eight studies frequently cited by conservatives are rife with methodological flaws, errors, and biases of their own.

Some of the report's targets were quick to respond with countercharges. Anne Neal, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), told Inside Higher Ed that "AFT's report is not science-it's propaganda." Neal's group had produced two of the studies criticized by Lee. The AFT report identifies some genuine problems with some widely publicized studies of campus bias. For instance, a major 2005 survey on faculty political leanings by Stanley Rothman, S. Robert Lichter, and Neil Nevitte cannot be properly peer-reviewed because the survey instrument has never been made public.

That said, some of Lee's nitpicks make little sense. Take ACTA's 2006 report "How Many Ward Churchills?," which focused on cultural and political radicalism in college curricula. The report can certainly be faulted for inflammatory rhetoric-the title refers to the University of Colorado professor who derided the victims of the 9/11 attack as "little Eichmanns"-but it doesn't make sense for Lee to attack it for a lack of scientific sampling, since it never claimed to be a scientific survey.

More broadly, Lee's attempt to challenge findings that most college professors are politically left of center seems pointless. The studies may be flawed, but their conclusion falls into the realm of the obvious. Even if you were to dismiss the Rothman-Lichter-Nevitte study, which found that 72 percent of full-time faculty identified as liberal while 15 percent considered themselves conservative and the rest middle of the road, there still remains the 2001 survey-never mentioned by Lee-by the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at UCLA. It found that about 5 percent of faculty members called themselves far left, 42 percent were liberal, 34 percent considered themselves middle of the road, less than 18 percent were conservative, and 0.3 percent placed themselves on the far right. (One likely reason for the difference between the two surveys is that the HERI study included two-year colleges in its sample.) In 2005, when Penn State's Michael Berube wrote a long, snarky blog post assailing the Rothman-Lichter-Nevitte study and its right-wing sponsors, he went on to cite the HERI study and conceded, "Yes, we're a pretty liberal bunch."

The more interesting question, usually neglected in the wash-rinse-repeat cycle of the bias debate, is what danger, precisely, all this liberal dominance on campus poses to the nation. Are tenured radicals really brainwashing the young? For answers, you should look to the voting behavior and party identification of students and recent graduates, not their professors.

A recent poll by the Pew Research Center found that today's 18-to-25-year-olds are "the least Republican generation." In 2006, 48 percent of people in this age group identified themselves as Democrats or leaning Democratic; 35 percent were Republicans-the lowest result recorded since Pew started tracking the data in 1987. Meanwhile, Democrats carried the under-26 vote in the 2006 midterm elections by 58 percent to 37 percent.

So are the conservatives right? Is any of that attributable to the influence of college? Not necessarily: In the early 1990s, when college attendance was just as high and faculty ideologies skewed equally leftward, Republican identification in the same age group spiked to a record 55 percent.

While the HERI does an annual survey of incoming college freshmen that includes questions about political beliefs, no one has tried tracking changes in student political beliefs over the college years. One interesting glimpse is provided by HERI's 2004 report on political attitudes among freshmen and college graduates. In 1994, 82 percent of students in the class of 1998 agreed that "the federal government should do more to control the sale of handguns" and 61 percent agreed that abortion should be legal. In 1998, these opinions were held by, respectively, 83 percent and 65 percent of college graduates in that cohort.

Thus, while college-educated Americans appear to be much more liberal than the general population-at least on certain issues-they also seem to hold those views before they first enter a college classroom.

Other evidence that college students aren't necessarily dancing to the professors' political tune comes from post-9/11 data on opinions about U.S. military action. While opposition to U.S. strikes in Afghanistan was common among college faculty (as ACTA documented in its November 2001 report "Defending Western Civilization"), an overwhelming 79 percent of students supported the war in the fall of 2001. Granted, support in the general population was even higher: 92 percent.

The December 2005 ACTA study "Intellectual Diversity: Time for Action," another paper critiqued by Lee, attempted to measure political bias in the classroom with a survey of students at 50 top colleges and universities. Only 7 percent of the students strongly agreed with the statement, "On my campus, there are courses in which students feel they have to agree with the professor's political or social views in order to get a good grade." Then again, another 22 percent agreed "somewhat." Forty-six percent strongly disagreed. The results suggest that there is, at least, a perception of a problem.

Interestingly, only 21 percent of the students surveyed agreed either strongly or somewhat that some professors on their campus are "intolerant of certain political and social viewpoints." It should be noted that among the students who were surveyed, self-identified liberals outnumbered conservatives by 46 percent to 13 percent, and it is usually harder to notice bias against viewpoints to which you are unsympathetic.

What is difficult either to deny or to quantify is that, especially at the more prestigious colleges and universities, the social climate fosters a strong presumption of liberal like-mindedness and a marginalization of dissent. Being left of center is the norm, and it is freely assumed that other people around you, be they students or faculty members, will share in your joy at the Democratic victories in Congress or your dismay at the passage of a ballot initiative prohibiting racial preferences in college admissions. This can translate into not only a chilly climate for conservatives but in some cases outright hostility.

If a student doesn't subscribe to the campus orthodoxy, the likely effect is not to convert her but to alienate her from intellectual life. Others learn only about a narrow range of ideas. One woman, a Ph.D. student in the social sciences at a Midwestern university, told me recently that when she started reading conservative, libertarian, or otherwise heretical blogs, "it was a whole perspective I had never been exposed to before in anything other than caricature." When that's the norm, the harm is less to dissenters than to the life of the mind. It's not good for any group of people to spend a lot of time listening only to like-minded others. It is especially bad for a profession whose lifeblood is the exchange of ideas.



Excerpt from Boortz

OK .. some of you thought that I was perhaps pulling your legs yesterday when I told you about the  Hillside Children's Center in Seattle, Washington, a private school, that banned Legos.  The teachers didn't particularly like the Lego city the children were building because the
young'uns seemed to have incorporated some concept of private property rights in their little fantasy community.  So ... the Lego community was mysteriously
destroyed, and only allowed to be rebuilt when the children agreed with the teachers that the idea of private property was a bad one.  Yup .. you didn't believe me.  So I thought I would help you out with a few links today.

First, here is a link to the magazine cover containing the original story that appeared in  "Rethinking Schools."  Here is the article and here is a link to a critique of the Lego ban that appeared in an online magazine.

The message here is that anti-individualist, anti-private property socialist dogma is not only being taught in many government schools and most universities and colleges; you can also find it in private schools ... especially in hard-left communities like Seattle. 

I hope that some of you parents out there followed my suggestion yesterday:  That being that when you sit down with your child at dinner one evening, why not ask them a simple question like:  "Tell me, Joseph.  What are you learning in school about private property rights?"  You might be shocked at the answer.


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"

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.