Saturday, May 05, 2007

Brown university goes Islamic green

Post below recycled from American Thinker -- which see for links

Brown University, with a Middle East studies department currently offering no courses and losing one of its few professors in the field, is hosting a workshop titled "The Study of the Middle East and Islam: Challenges After 9-11" on May 3-4. Sponsored by the Middle East/Islamic Studies Initiative, the Watson Institute for International Studies, and the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), the workshop purports to explore

"...some of the challenges facing American higher education as it seeks to... help foster a greater understanding in this country of the Middle East and Muslim world."

The only problem is that workshop presenters are almost uniformly composed of academics hostile to the U.S.-led war on terrorism, its ally, Israel, and any efforts via higher education to combat radical Islam on college campuses.

The conference will discuss "new national security regulations" and the "publishing environment faced by scholars writing about the region," as well as "pressures from concerned citizen groups," all of which are seen as impediments to "open discourse and academic freedom." Ironically, it is the very goal of open discourse and academic freedom that has led organizations such as Campus Watch (a "concerned citizen group" for which I work) to criticize the preponderance of politicized professors in Middle East studies. The Brown University workshop only reflects the one-sided approach to Middle East studies that exists in departments across the country.

The viewpoints represented at this event are far from excluded anywhere in academia. The spin that the dominant voices in the field face repression is positively Orwellian. It is normally pro-American and pro-Israel speakers who are left out of the equation. Proving the point, Blogger Omri Ceren of Mere Rhetoric quotes a member of a campus group at Brown on the workshop:

"There are no pro-Israel speakers, and neither Hillel nor Brown Students for Israel were even asked for input on a conference about the future of Middle East Studies."

The two workshop organizers hardly inspire confidence in a fair and impartial inquiry. Elliott Colla is associate professor of comparative literature and director of Middle East studies at Brown, and Marsha Pripstein Posusney is professor of political science at Bryant University and an adjunct professor of international relations at Brown. Colla was a signatory to a conspiracist open letter, penned in 2002 and signed by a number of academics, claiming that Israel would use the war in Iraq to commit "ethnic cleansing" against the Palestinians. Colla was one of the speakers at an event following an anti-war rally earlier this year in Rhode Island, where he maintained that Iran "doesn't pose a threat to the United States." He also took part in a 2004 panel discussion on "Censoring Campuses" at Columbia in which he made the predictable claim that academic freedom was "being attacked," no doubt in reference to the perceived threat of outside criticism.

Similarly, Posusney is a member of the MESA committee on academic freedom in the Middle East and North Africa and has signed letters to Columbia president Lee Bollinger defending the less than stellar work of Rashid Khalidi and Joseph Massad.

Conference speakers include a slew of academics with problematic backgrounds. Lisa Anderson, dean of international affairs at Columbia and past president of MESA, is one of them. Anderson has consistently used her position at Columbia to promote ideologues Rashid Khalidi and Joseph Massad, and has contributed to the books of Georgetown's John Esposito. Anderson also seems to have an affinity for Muslim strongmen, having invited Libyan dictator Muammar Gadhafi to speak at Columbia, as well as Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, a move that was later overruled by Columbia president Lee Bollinger.

In a blatant conflict of interest, Anderson was appointed to the committee that oversaw the accusations of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic bias and intimidation at Columbia brought to light by the David Project's film Columbia Unbecoming. Unsurprisingly, the committee dismissed almost all the charges. It's difficult to imagine that Anderson will bring any more objectivity to the Brown University workshop than she did the Columbia committee.

Also speaking at the Brown workshop is professor of international affairs at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, Stephen Walt, whose notorious article, co-authored with University of Chicago political science professor John Mearsheimer, in the London Review of Books last year, "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," has provided succor to anti-Semitic conspiracists across the globe.

Speaking on the same panel is professor of the modern Middle East and South Asian history at the University of Michigan and past president of MESA, Juan Cole. Cole is perhaps best known for being turned down last year for an appointment by Yale University, a rejection he chalked up to a "concerted press campaign by neoconservatives" Yale's decision was based on his scholarly work, or rather lack thereof. (Read more about Cole's self-styled martyrdom, including links to articles on the Yale controversy, in this recent Campus Watch blog item).

Mere criticism or, heaven forbid, competition from scholars putting forth more balanced offerings, has the Middle East studies establishment whining about repression. Perhaps what's really at play is an awareness that when put to the test in the marketplace of ideas, their work cannot stand up to scrutiny.

The fear of accountability on display across the board at the Brown University workshop speaks to the latent power of public scrutiny over the once insulated world of academia and in particular, Middle East studies. It was in fact the attacks of 9-11 that galvanized opposition to the intellectual bullying characteristic of the field. The resulting hysteria may be an indication that such professors are at last feeling the pressure. One can only hope.

Georgia Schools Cautious on Bible Classes

Georgia's public schools walk a delicate line as they decide whether to offer the nation's first state-funded Bible classes _ measuring the difference between preaching and teaching with the likelihood of costly lawsuits looming for those that miss the mark. The state school board approved curriculum in March for teaching the Bible in Georgia's high schools, but there hasn't been a rush of schools to start up the classes. Only a handful of the state's 180 school districts have agreed to offer the elective classes so far. "It has been a very thoughtful, healthy process," said Robin Pennock, deputy schools superintendent of Muscogee County, where the school board decided to offer the Old Testament and New Testament classes next fall. "Most people do realize that this is an area that many people can feel very passionate about."

It's difficult to confirm how many school boards have adopted or are considering the classes. However, Muscogee _ which borders Alabama and includes the city of Columbus and the Army's Fort Benning _ is one of the state's largest districts to have done so. "It's important to understand religion; it's something we've gotten too far away from," said Jan Pease, whose 15-year-old daughter attends Northside High School in Columbus. The Bible already is incorporated into comparative religion and other public school classes in many states, but those classes are funded by the local districts, not with money from state government.

The Georgia law allowing the state-funded Bible classes won overwhelming approval last year from both Democrat and Republican lawmakers. The classes must be taught "in an objective and nondevotional manner with no attempt made to indoctrinate students."

Lawmakers in Alabama, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas have considered similar plans this year, although none has received final approval. One proposal in Texas would require all high school students to take a Bible class. Supporters say fully understanding history, literature and political science _ from the writings of Martin Luther King Jr. to the war in Iraq _ requires knowledge of the Bible. "I don't think you can understand Shakespeare, that you can understand a great deal of literary allusions or that you can understand a great deal of Western civilization without understanding the role of the Bible," said Pennock, a former Western civilization teacher.

The Rev. Charles Hasty, of First Presbyterian Church in Columbus, said he hopes exposure to the Bible's teachings may lead some students to seek out a more spiritual approach in their lives. "It's going to challenge the faith of some students and it may foster the faith of others," Hasty said.

Critics fear the classes could easily turn into endorsements of Christianity. "Georgia has set teachers up for failure," said Charles Haynes, of the First Amendment Center, a Washington D.C.-based civil liberties group. "The chances of it being unconstitutional are pretty big and the pitfalls are huge." His group supports religious discussions and study of the Bible in public schools, but Haynes says Georgia's law fails to give enough guidance to teachers on the difference between academic study and spiritual teaching.

No additional training for teachers is required, although Barrow and Muscogee counties, which both will offer the classes, plan to give teachers an online course and other special preparation.

Haynes said the lack of direction in state law makes schools vulnerable to lawsuits if students feel religion is being endorsed. "People are going to sue," he said. "That's why the Legislature should have been more responsible about putting school boards in situations where they might have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, split their communities and end up in a courtroom."

The First Amendment Center and Georgia's branch of the American Civil Liberties Union both say they plan to monitor how the classes are taught. Concern about violating the separation of church and state is a reason why some of Georgia's largest districts have steered clear of the classes so far. "We have to be very careful with that," said Joe Buck, chairman of the Savannah-Chatham County Board of Education. His school system has made no move yet to consider the classes.

Pease, a Christian, said she'd support schools teaching comparative religion classes, including those that studied the holy books of other major faiths like Islam's Quran. "I don't think any particular religion needs to be pushed on anyone," she said. "But I do think it's important to teach about them."


Britain: Exodus from government schools

A very similar situation to Australia -- except that the proportion of teens going to private schools is much higher in Australia -- around 40%. Note that parents choose schools which offer HARDER (more difficult) subjects

Nearly 40,000 more children are now being educated privately than when Tony Blair came to power, new figures reveal today. Despite increasing government spending by two thirds, in real terms, since 1997, record numbers of parents are turning their backs on state education and paying up to 25,000 pounds a year for private education. Average private day-school fees have more than doubled in this period, according to a report from the Independent Schools Council.

Almost a quarter of sixth-formers now attend a private school while, in London, one in seven pupils is privately educated; in Edinburgh it is one in four. Overall 509,093 children attend Independent Schools Council (ISC) member schools, where the average pupil:staff ratio is the lowest ever, and there is one teacher for every 9.7 pupils. This compares with a ratio of 17:1 pupils to staff in state schools.

Despite average fees of 8,790 pounds and a drop in the number of British children of school age, there has been no let-up in the number of parents opting for private education. Head teachers say that this is not only because society is getting richer and families are having fewer children, but because parents are also better informed and more concerned about education. Pat Langham, president of the Girls' Schools Association, said: "A lot of parents cannot find a school that matches their requirements in the state system. That awareness is what is making more people prepared to pay for independent education. They know what they are getting and they know it's good."

Mounting pressures of commuting and long working hours have also persuaded more parents to turn to independent schools to give their children the care and attention they cannot always provide at home. At the same time, low teacher turnover provides stability and smaller class sizes mean pupils receive more attention and are better disciplined, Nigel Richardson, chairman of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference of elite schools, said. "A lot of parents are both working very long hours and they increasingly value knowing that they will meet the same teachers three or four years running who will know their children."

Jonathan Shepherd, general secretary of the ISC, said that public schools had also bucked the demographic trend because they offered a broader education and wider range of subjects, including modern languages, classics and the sciences at A level. "The Government did make one quite major mistake in making languages optional after Key Stage 3," he added. "That has led to a huge decline in language teaching in the maintained sector. Parents talk to parents. They are the best recruiting agents for any school."

In 2004, the Government made languages optional for pupils over 14. As a result, only 51 per cent of teenagers now take a GCSE in a foreign language, compared with 80 per cent in 2000. Languages are now compulsory in only 17 per cent of state schools at this level. Critics suggest that schools are being motivated by their place in the league tables and tend to guide pupils away from studying languages towards easier subjects. As a result, independent school pupils account for more than half the A grades at A level in French, German, Spanish and other foreign languages. In chemistry, they make up 46 per cent of A grades at A level, 44 per cent in physics and 54 per cent of A level further maths A grades.

The Independent Schools Council covers 1,276 schools from nursery to sixth-form level, including Britain's most elite, of a total of 2,500 independent schools. Fourteen schools now charge more than 25,000 a year and the average boarding school fee at secondary level is 20,000. Of the half a million pupils, just 67,335 are boarders.

The annual census also reveals that 20,852 overseas pupils attend public school in Britain, the majority from Hong Kong and China. Although the number of boarders has dropped slightly, Britain's military commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq may account for a surge in the number of Armed Forces families sending children to private schools.



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

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

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, May 04, 2007


With the governor visiting, Montgomery County school officials might have been tempted to throw up some slides showing rising test scores or burgeoning Advanced Placement participation. Instead, school leaders spoke candidly yesterday about the seemingly insoluble problem of getting students from some minority groups to succeed in advanced math courses.

Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) and County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) listened as school officials gave a PowerPoint presentation showing three schools, one each from affluent, middle-class and low-income neighborhoods, all with moribund math achievement among blacks and Hispanics. "Trying to keep the pace and move the kids along has been very difficult," one school's principal said. He sat at a table of administrators at the school system's headquarters, in Rockville. School officials asked that none of the schools be identified as a condition of opening the session to visitors.

Montgomery school officials were showing off M-Stat, their version of a celebrated initiative that uses statistics and computers to identify and analyze problems. The school system is among the first in the nation to adopt a variant of CompStat, the New York City police program that analyzes crime trends. The "Stat" concept has drawn notice not only for its success but also for encouraging lively -- and occasionally sharp -- exchanges among top brass.

Baltimore's school system was the first to adapt the program to public education, in 2001, shortly after O'Malley, the city's mayor at the time, launched CitiStat in the city government. CitiStat tracked such things as how long it took city workers to fill potholes, how much overtime pay was going to sanitation workers and agencies' use of minority contractors. SchoolStat analyzes student and teacher attendance, discipline and other school-system concerns....

Ideally, the meetings stir revelations. Yesterday's session, for example, left participants with the disquieting fact that black and Hispanic students aren't reaping the benefits of attending high-performing schools in affluent communities. One principal, representing a middle-class neighborhood, predicted that her minority math data would "flat-line" this year because the school is focusing on other reforms. In the often sugarcoated world of public education, that was a bold admission.


"Diversity" Chickens Come Home To Roost

Post below lifted from Discriminations -- which see for links

I've written a number of times about how "diversity," as I put it here, has become increasingly "un-American," about "the awkward fact that a significantly high number of the beneficiaries of racial preference are foreigners." (See, in addition, here, here, here, and here.)

Shirley Wilcher, an early 1970s graduate of Mount Holyoke, looked around at a reunion and became concerned, the Boston Herald reports.

"My suspicions were confirmed," said Wilcher, now the executive director of the American Association for Affirmative Action. She found a rise in the number of black students from Africa and the Caribbean, and a downturn in admissions of native blacks like her.

A study released this year put numbers on the trend. Among students at 28 top U.S. universities, the representation of black students of first- and second-generation immigrant origin (27 percent) was about twice their representation in the national population of blacks their age (13 percent). Within the Ivy League, immigrant-origin students made up 41 percent of black freshmen.

"Whoa, wait a minute!" the diversiphiles now seem to be saying. "When we demanded that everyone `consider race' or `take race into account,' etc., we didn't really mean, you know, race; we meant us." Thus:

Last month, a Harvard Black Students Association message board asked, "When we use the term 'black community,' who is included in this description?" A lively debate ensued, with some posters complaining that African students were getting an admissions boost without having faced the historical suffering of U.S. blacks.

Someone seems to have neglected to tell the Harvard students that, at the insistence of the diversiphiles, for the past decade or so the justification for racial preference has emphatically not been compensation for or correction of "the historical suffering of U.S. blacks."

Indeed, even affirmative action apparatchiks like Shirley Wilcher don't seem to know what arguments they've been making. Looking out at the sea of foreign faces who have benefited from "her" cause,

Wilcher would like to know why. She asks if her cause has lost its way on U.S. campuses, with the goal of correcting American racial injustices replaced by a softer ideal of diversity - as if any black student will do.

The answer, of course, is yes. "Her cause" lost its way, but not when she thinks. It lost its way even before its clever lawyers decided to exploit the "diversity" loophole Justice Powell carved for them in Bakke, back when it abandoned its historical dedication to equal treatment and took off after the pied piper of racial preference.

If you argue that the most important thing about yourself is your race, that you should be given special treatment because of your race, you hardly have grounds to complain (and you certainly should not be surprised) when people are given preferential treatment because of their race, especially if they can be seen to add a dollop of the "diversity" that you have been using lately to justify your special treatment. When racial identity trumps individual identity, then it is sad but true that "any black student will do."


As I've mentioned a number of times (such as here), in practice racial preference inexorably results in a form of race-norming (selecting the best candidates from separate racial pools), even though that practice was prohibited in the Civil Rights Act of 1991. Although the Boston Herald article discussed above does not say, could it not be possible that in attempting to fill their non-quota of black students admissions officers simply select those with the best grades and test scores, many of whom happen to be foreign?

Voting with their feet: Australian parents show what they think of government schools

Many suffer considerable hardships to escape such schools

With private school fees soaring towards $20,000 a year, how much more sacrifice can struggling parents bear? A new breed of parent is emerging in the school communities of Melbourne's most established independent schools. These aspirational parents can't, strictly speaking, afford to send their kids to a secondary school where the average annual fee for a senior student is charging towards $20,000, or $400 a week. But if both parents work, or if grandparents help, or if the mortgage can bear it, they believe they can pull it off. Even, it seems, if it means being stressed and exhausted for years.

Adolescent psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg has noticed the number of families stretching themselves to pay for such schools, and puts it down to guilt. He says parents want to be seen to be doing the best they can for their children, and for some this means getting on a "spend and earn hamster wheel" for years.

Across Australia, more parents are enrolling their children in independent schools - rising from almost 10 per cent in 1996 to 13 per cent in 2005, according to Association of Independent Schools of Victoria figures. They are doing so at a time when the Consumer Price Index for secondary school education is rising ahead of inflation, with a hike of about 6 per cent a year for the past six years, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The result is that some of Melbourne's most established private schools - unless they decide to absorb costs - will break through the $20,000 a year barrier for fees next year. Many schools already charge about $18,000 a year for year 12, with some, such as Scotch College, Haileybury and St Catherine's School, charging more than $19,000 a year. Such a sum may soon not seem so high. With the secondary-education CPI forecast to continue to rise at about 6 per cent a year, the parents of today's prep students could be paying more than $35,000 a year in school fees for established private secondary schools by the time their children reach year 12.

Sounds improbable? If you ask parents of today's year 12 students, most will recall senior high school fees at independent schools being about $10,000 when their child was in primary school. And many are still getting their heads - and wallets - used to the idea that the fees have almost doubled. Most independent schools contacted by The Age acknowledged that $20,000 was a "psychological barrier", but did not think parents would baulk at paying more, because education was a priority. Even in households struggling to pay.

Some would say this obsession with obtaining an elite private school education - no matter what the financial or personal cost to some families - defies logic. A number of principals said some parents were under great strain, but refused to consider sending their children to state and Catholic schools or the cheaper independent schools springing up in the outer suburbs.

St Michael's Grammar School principal Simon Gipson says people are more "acquisitive" these days, with education seen as a key investment. Other principals agreed that some parents view an expensive education for their children as a valued possession, even a status symbol, that they are prepared to work hard for - and go into debt to obtain.

Certainly, private education is now on the wish list of many households, so much so that parents start debating how to pay the fees when the children are in kindergarten, says Jo Silver, the executive officer of Parents Victoria. She says many parents decide whether to increase the mortgage, apply for scholarships, set up trusts or join tax-effective education plans.

Many women work part-time when the children are at primary school, but go full-time once they go to secondary school. "They also realise they need to find a higher-paying job." But she says parents can forget to factor in annual fee increases. Recent publicity about an annual average of $5000 per student in government funding for independent schools has led some parents to expect fees to plateau. "At some point the fee rises have to stop," Ms Silver says. "It's quite concerning that it is going up to such an extent . . . and yet people are quite willing to put a lot of money into this."

Melbourne Grammar headmaster Paul Sheahan says the annual fee rises are driven by parents' expectations that schools will not stint on resources. "We are all trying to keep ahead of the game and offer bigger and better," he says. "Competition certainly comes into it." The expectations come from parents who, ironically, are having to work harder to pay for those multimillion-dollar technology suites. Korowa Anglican Girls School principal Christine Jenkins has altered the timing of parent functions to take account of working parents. She attributes annual fee rises partly to teacher salaries but also to technology costs. Both parents work in 80 per cent of St Michael's students' families. Mr Gipson describes his parent body as diverse, ranging from "taxi drivers to captains of industry and everything in between".

This is not the stereotype of the inner city private school parent. The Australian Education Union's Victorian president, Mary Bluett, echoes popular sentiment by saying: "Only 8 per cent of the school population go to these elite private schools - and a very large proportion can afford those fees in a blink." Yet increasingly parents do seem to be blinking when the bills arrive. Melbourne Girls Grammar principal Christine Briggs says only a handful of parents would not find the fees an issue. "Most parents are working very hard to pay them. But once parents decide that education is a priority, they do not falter," she says. "They will have more modest housing, cars and holidays." She worries that some families put education ahead of family wellbeing. "If it does seem a very big stretch, then my advice is to look at the government school system," she says. "The most devastating thing is for debt to crush the spirit of a family."

The notion that private school parents are by definition wealthy is incorrect, says Melbourne Grammar's Paul Sheahan. "We have a very wide spread of economic financial background, and there are families who extend themselves significantly to pay the fees," he says. "People subject themselves to huge hardship to keep children in our school." He says if fees continue to rise there will be a point of resistance. "We haven't reached that yet. As long as the product we provide is seen as significantly superior, people will dig deep."

This may sound provocative, but the Education Union's Mary Bluett partly agrees. She says state schools cannot compete with the "old school tie, fantastic facilities and small class sizes" of the elite private schools. But she says many state schools offer a good-quality education, and parents should visit local schools before making a decision. "There is a lot on offer in the state system, but until we get a state government that makes funding a priority there is no competition." Ms Bluett accepts that not all private school parents are wealthy, but says such schools highlight struggling parents to get more government funding.

This claim riles Michelle Green, chief executive of the Association of Independent Schools of Victoria, who argues that there are more parents earning more than $1500 a week with children in government schools than independent schools. However, Daniel Edwards, a research fellow at Monash University's Centre for Population and Urban Research, says his analysis of 2001 ABS data found that 23.5 per cent of independent secondary school students came from families with parents earning more than $2000 a week, compared with only 6.5 per cent of students in the government sector.

Just as the wealth of private school parents is contentious, so is the appropriate amount of government funding. Michelle Green's view is that private schools are entitled to funding because parents pay taxes, and also save the state money by paying hefty fees. Are such high fees worth it? Clearly this is hard to measure. Paying $18,000 a year provides no guarantee of a child's happiness or academic success. But Jo Silver of Parents Victoria says most parents believe they get value. Her concern is with how hard many parents, particularly mums, are working to pay fees. "We (mums) are running a very tight race and have limited time to spend with our families," she says. "The expectations of helping with homework, taking them to after-school activities and weekend sport are very high. You have to be well-organised and respond (well) to stress."

Psychologist Dr Carr-Gregg says parents need to re-prioritise. "The catchcry of parents in 2007 is: 'Do you have any idea how much it costs us to have you here?"' he says. "Parents do the maths and will say things like, 'It's costing 56 cents a minute'. What are they thinking? Nobody has put a gun to their head." Parents in Melbourne and Sydney, in particular, send their children to private schools when they can't afford to, he says, out of guilt, an obsession with VCE scores and in the hope of joining networks of "doctors, lawyers and socialites".

He says when parents make such a big financial investment in a child's education, the kids can believe life is not worth living if they don't perform. "Mum and dad being away from home for long times goes against everything we know about the healthy development of children," Dr Carr-Gregg says. "Parents work their butts off to pay $18,000 a year, and the kids come home to an empty house where they disappear behind the emotional firewall of MSN."

Latchkey kid syndrome is one side effect. Marriage breakdown is another. Karen Weiss, the regional manager of Relationships Australia (Victoria), says many parents feel inadequate if they can't afford a private education. "It puts huge pressure on families," she says. Yet she has noticed that one of the few things divorcing parents agree on is keeping the children at the expensive private school.

To achieve this can be tricky. Mark Lowe, a financial adviser with Tandem Financial Advice, says the amount of money required these days is staggering. "You do hear of marriages breaking up because of it," he says. "When you have to pay such big money out of after-tax income, it is very hard for people." Some people feel pressured to take on debt. "If the local schools are perceived as substandard, there is a feeling of guilt about it," Mr Lowe says. "Sometimes you have to speak harshly to people and say, 'you can't afford it'."

More members than previous years of the Australian Scholarships Group, a company offering education savings plans, are defaulting on payments this year, says ASG general manager, communities, Warwick James. He says families at the most expensive schools are increasing their mortgages and postponing holidays to deal with rising fees. And the pressure won't let up. ASG estimates that from now on, annual private school fees will rise by about 8 per cent, which Mr James says is conservative.

Dr Carr-Gregg reminds parents that they have options, such as moving to an area where they are happy with the local school, rather than killing themselves to pay fees. "I wonder if the joy of being a parent is being lost."



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, May 03, 2007

Even distinguished conservatives kept out of academe

Mark Moyar doesn't exactly fit the stereotype of a disappointed job seeker. He is an Eagle Scout who earned a summa cum laude degree from Harvard, graduating first in the history department before earning a doctorate at the University of Cambridge in England. Before he had even begun graduate school, he had published his first book and landed a contract for his second book. Distinguished professors at Harvard and Cambridge wrote stellar letters of recommendation for him.

Yet over five years, this conservative military and diplomatic historian applied for more than 150 tenure-track academic jobs, and most declined him a preliminary interview. During a search at University of Texas at El Paso in 2005, Mr. Moyar did not receive an interview for a job in American diplomatic history, but one scholar who did wrote her dissertation on "The American Film Industry and the Spanish-Speaking Market During the Transition to Sound, 1929-1936." At Rochester Institute of Technology in 2004, Mr. Moyar lost out to a candidate who had given a presentation on "promiscuous bathing" and "attire, hygiene and discourses of civilization in Early American-Japanese Relations."

It's an example, some say, of the difficulties faced by academics who are seen as bucking the liberal ethos on campus and perhaps the reason that history departments at places like Duke had 32 Democrats and zero Republicans, according to statistics published by the Duke Conservative Union around the time Mr. Moyar tried to get an interview there.

Issues relating to hiring and promotion are "a constant complaint from those on the conservative spectrum in academe," the president of the National Association of Scholars, Stephen Balch, said.

Mr. Moyar is used to opposition. A contrarian among most Vietnam scholars, he does not believe it was a mistake for America to have gone into Vietnam. In carefully argued prose using previously unexamined sources, he marshals support for the "domino theory." His scholarship and books have received great reviews and marked him as a rising star. In saying Vietnam was winnable, Mr. Moyar is "profaning one of the holy of holies," Mr. Balch said. Senator Webb, a Democratic opponent of the Iraq war, and scholar William Stueck, a liberal, have endorsed Mr. Moyar's book, "Triumph Forsaken" ( Cambridge), which was the subject of a conference at Williams College. A conference is a signal honor for a young scholar.

Mr. Moyar says he was the object of political discrimination at Texas Tech in 2005. The chairman of the history department there, Jorge Iber, said he "disagreed wholeheartedly" with Mr. Moyar's assertion. Mr. Iber, who is a conservative Republican, said the department makes its decisions on the basis of individual merit.

A history professor at Texas Tech, John Reckner, declined to speak about specifics of Mr. Moyar's job application at that particular school, but noted generally, "Let's just say, a person applying to teach whose topic is the Vietnam War and whose position is conservative, would encounter difficulties because the ideological ghosts of the 1960s are, unfortunately, still alive on a great many campuses, even though the Vietnamese themselves have put the war behind them." On April 27, 2005, 15 faculty members out of the 20 in Texas Tech's history department voted Mr. Moyar "unacceptable."

Texas Tech is not the only institution in the Lone Star State where Mr. Moyar says he received differential treatment. Another is, of all places, the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. Named after the 41st president, it is where Mr. Moyar worked as a postdoctoral fellow and lecturer in 2003 and 2004. Dean Richard Chilcoat, a retired lieutenant general, disputed the idea that that school's faculty is overwhelmingly liberal.

Mr. Moyar said Mr. Chilcoat initially told him the good news that all three finalists were considered qualified, but that he, unfortunately, was not at the top, only to learn later that he was unranked among the three finalists and found unacceptable by three faculty members. Mr. Chilcoat told The New York Sun that maybe there was miscommunication. Mr. Moyar alleges that the job description was changed from the one originally advertised. Mr. Chilcoat said that after a national search, the school made the hire based on the published criteria. Mr. Moyar says he was surprised to learn one objection raised against him was that he would not have an "immediate impact," yet his second book was published before the second book of the no. 1 candidate and before the first book of the no. 2 candidate. He says he was not told why he had been unranked.

Mr. Chilcoat declined to talk about confidential deliberations, but said in no way was ideology or politics a consideration in the voting. "I would never allow any discrimination," he told the Sun. He said Mr. Moyar was not "de-selected" but was a competent historian who got a fair opportunity to compete. "When you added everything up, he was not the best qualified," he said. Mr. Moyar said Mr. Chilcoat didn't reply to him during his final five months there. Mr. Chilcoat said, "I always made sure he knew what my position was."

Mr. Moyar told the Sun that one faculty member informed him she did not vote for him because of "ideological differences." Documents obtained by Mr. Moyar through the Texas Public Information Act and shared with the Sun show an anonymous faculty candidate assessment describing Mr. Moyar as a revisionist historian "bent on proving the merits of the Vietnam War (even if he is doing a great job doing it). His being here would hurt the reputation of the school." Another faculty member expressed concern about "his agenda-oriented research." The dean of the faculties at Texas A&M, Karan Watson, wrote to Mr. Moyar saying no evidence presented indicated that illegal discrimination occurred.

Mr. Moyar's credentials were of little help at Old Dominion, where he learned he was considered more a diplomatic historian than military. At Miami University of Ohio, the history department evaluated his scholarship to be more strongly in the field of military history than American foreign policy. This was despite his having taught courses in American foreign policy and having letters of recommendation from two of the world's top historians of American foreign relations: Akira Iriye and Ernest May, both of Harvard. The new president of Miami University, David Hodge, wrote to Mr. Moyar saying the school took seriously its obligation to hire the best faculty "without regard to personal attributes, including political beliefs."

In applying to the U.S. Air Force War College in 2003, Mr. Moyar said a professor, Jeffrey Record, repeatedly failed to contact Mr. Moyar to set up a visit to the college. Mr. Record told the Sun it was not his job to set up the visit but that he was a "polite and gracious" host to Mr. Moyar. Mr. Moyar says that after he delivered a presentation, Mr. Record told him that he was "full of [excrement]." Mr. Record told the Sun that he "flatly denies" this, but said if he did say something like that, it was purely in jest and people who know him would know it was in jest. Mr. Record said he regards Mr. Moyar's work as serious and scholarly although he disagrees with it.

Asked about the treatment of conservatives in academia, a professor at Columbia University, Eric Foner, said he did not know Mr. Moyar, but he said most history departments do not know or care about the politics of candidates. Mr. Foner, who leans to the left, said conservatives should stop complaining about being victims, which they blame liberals for doing. A professor at Boston College, Alan Wolfe, told the Sun that academic departments tend to hire like-minded people. He said there were surely liberal history departments, but so too conservative political science departments. "There is insufficient intellectual diversity at both liberal Ivy League colleges and as well as conservative colleges like Hillsdale and Grove City College," he said.

A professor at Duke University, Michael Munger, who leans to the right, said that, paradoxically, liberal students benefit most from conservative faculty. Otherwise, he said, in learning how to make arguments, "they don't get to play against the first team."

An emeritus professor of government at Smith College, Stanley Rothman, said he could not speak to individual cases but that a study he co-authored in 2005 called " Politics and Professional Advancement Among College Faculty" seemed to show that statistically, conservatives were not treated as well as liberals in the academy.

The president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, Gregory Lukianoff, said universities can "take brutal advantage" of the fact that most tenure and promotion decisions are confidential. An attorney at Alliance Defense Fund, David French, a Christian public interest law firm, said ideologically based discrimination cases, such as race- and gender-based cases, weigh direct evidence and circumstantial evidence of differential treatment. He said that once private institutions advertise for a specific job, they are required to live up to that description. A New York attorney, Jeffrey Duban, said judges look at whether a decision against a faculty applicant was arbitrary or capricious.

This month, Mr. Moyar filed a complaint with the University of Iowa's Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity after he was not selected for an interview for a job in diplomatic history. He found among county voting records that the department had 27 Democrats, no Republicans, two with no voting affiliation, and four not listed. The university has a policy prohibiting discrimination in employment based on "associational preference" along with other things like race and creed.

Mr. Moyar said, "It's extremely unhealthy for the country to have one-half of the political spectrum absent from higher education." Mr. Moyar now holds a chair at the U.S. Marine Corps University at Quantico, Va. Mr. Moyar said he wants to help other scholars in the future "who are going to have to deal with this nonsense." He said he knew going into the history field, it would be bad. "But I had assumed there would be room for a few token conservatives," he said.


Fevered brains at Kenyon college

"American Thinker" was slurred by a professor at Kenyon College, in an opinion piece in the student newspaper. Below is a reply

In the course of Vernon Schubel's attacking a recent proposal to rent College facilities to a group of Knox County religious leaders for an evangelistic celebration, he has also attacked the American Thinker, a publication to which I contribute, and, indirectly, positions that I have taken against him. I do not know of Franklin Graham or his positions or statements on Islam. I take no position on whether the College should have extended this invitation to his organization. But Professor Schubel speaks disparagingly of those "who are spreading fear of Muslims." He calls this a "virulent disease" that is called "Islamophobia," and then he compares this "disease" to anti-Semitism.

At the risk of being labeled a carrier of this "disease," consider four unpleasant realities: (1) The potential destructive power of chemical, biological, and nuclear weaponry; (2) The significant number of Muslims (al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezb'allah, to name a few of their organizations) who see nothing wrong with killing non-Muslims; (3) The very open desire for certain Muslim regimes (e.g. Saudi Arabia and Iran) to have these weapons, and Iran's very clearly expressed and forthright intention to use them; and (4) When compared to the reaction of Muslims to the Mohammed cartoons, the virtual silence of moderate Muslims in the face of all this hatred and violence.

I must insist that "fear" is a rational response to these unpleasant realities for both non-Muslims and decent Muslims alike. One does not have to assert that hatred and violence are "normative Muslim behavior," nor does one have to argue that "Islam is inherently violent or wicked" to be reasonably fearful of what extremist Muslims have shown themselves capable. This fear is not something that is by definition what the Professor calls "Islamophobia" with its implied bigotry.

Professor Schubel's analogy of "Islamophobia" to anti-Semitism is a creative sleight-of-hand. As I am sure Professor Schubel knows, the worst of the world's anti-Semitism, not seen since the days of the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s, is regularly preached in mosques throughout the Middle East. But he acknowledges no problem here. What bad happens to Jews usually happens to non-Jews before long, so is there anything wrong with this fear of what Muslims are fomenting? For Professor Schubel, anti-Semitism serves as a means to illustrate his views of Islamophobia, but is little more.

Professor Schubel takes a gratuitous shot at the renowned scholar, Bernard Lewis. Readers might want to compare the scholarship of Professor Lewis with that of Professor Schubel. Only one of them is regarded as a giant in the field.

There are cynical elements to the Professor's argument as well. He condemns this supposedly "politically powerful ministry" that he says is openly hostile to Islam. He tacks on the reference to "gays and lesbians" as subjects of this hostility. This reference slickly shifts attention from a serious problem to a pseudo-problem. Professor Schubel must know how gays and lesbians are targeted in places like Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, where the life expectancy of a known homosexual is not long. Evangelicals who can be critical, or Islamists who can be murderous; of whom should gays and lesbians be more fearful?

Professor Schubel is very concerned that the presence of Mr. Graham's organization on campus might cause the public to get the idea that Kenyon "emphasizes the study of neo-conservatism." This charge is risible. Anyone who has even a rudimentary knowledge of the prevailing orthodoxies on virtually any campus knows full well that neither Kenyon nor any other liberal arts college "emphasizes the study of neo-conservatism." Find one degree program in neo-conservatism, or name one "center for the study of neo-conservatism." They don't exist, in part because nobody can quite say what neo-conservatism is, beyond a label that many on the left regard as obviously bad.

Having spent most of his life on campus, Professor Schubel certainly knows this. I suspect that the name-calling has far more to do with rallying the faculty and administration for his demand for a new "concentration" in Islamic Studies. How better to keep those scary, "diseased" neocons at bay?

Then there is Professor Schubel's characterization of American Thinker as "ultra-right wing," which says more of the Professor than of the American Thinker. Such a phrase may evoke images of jackboots and death squads in fevered leftist minds, but it is not very useful as a characterization of this widely-read and respected mainstream website, consisting of opinion, analysis, and commentary. American Thinker has been quoted by the Telegraph of the UK and Le Monde in Paris, not to mention a raft of major American newspapers. A new college textbook is reproducing a three part series American Thinker published on the war on terror.

By all means, readers of the Collegian should check out American Thinker. I specifically suggest my July 2, 2006 analysis of Professor Schubel's embarrassing whitewash of Islam that graced the summer 2006 Kenyon Alumni Bulletin. On August 5, 2006, American Thinker published Professor Schubel's even more embarrassing response to an alumnus, and then my response to him. Readers can decide the merits.

There are those who espouse a contemporary Islam that has a serious problem with violence and hatred for those whom Islamists call infidels. To deny this is to actively avert one's eyes from the obvious. This does not mean that one must hate Muslims. Far from it. I suspect that no one except decent Muslims can reform Islam and tame its worst elements. Perhaps when enough decent Muslims recognize this sad fact and decide to purge Islam of its worst elements, prospects will improve for all civilized people, Muslim and non-Muslim alike. Professor Schubel, with his name-calling, his whining, his denials, and his silence in the face of Islam-inspired terror, is just another obstacle to the prospect for this necessary reform.


Children force-fed global warming hysteria

Comment from Australia:

JUST when you thought some common sense was back in schools with the return of core subjects history and geography, it turns out there may be new nonsense on the agenda. Apparently the NSW Board of Studies is looking to introduce climate change classes for kindergarten to Year 6 children as part of its science and technology syllabus. At first glance, it sounds sensible. Climate change could be a critical issue for our children, as well as for us. The problem, of course, is what they will be taught.

There are plenty of reasons for concern on this score. Adults have barely engaged in a grown-up conversation over the causes of global warming. Debate over the what, how, why, and when on global warming has been drowned out by hysteria. Global warming has been cleverly framed as the big moral issue of our time to quarantine it from debate.

Even conservative politicians shy away from suggesting scepticism because anyone who is a sceptic is labelled a denier. If you disagree with some of the science, and the religious fervour it has fuelled, or even evince a level of agnosticism towards it, you are not just wrong. You are a bad person forced to defend your integrity as well as your arguments. This is an old trick, but a good one. Given that stultifying atmosphere among adults, it is a stretch to imagine that classroom talk will be different.

A hint of what students might learn came a few weeks ago. My 13-year-old daughter returned home from school to tell me our house on the coast would be swamped by 6m of water. Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth was compulsory viewing for Year 8 students at her Sydney school that day. Gore told her sea levels would rise 6mby 2100. And people are causing this horrible global warming, she said.

Fortunately, I had just read up on the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and informed her that their worst case scenario prediction is that sea levels may rise by 26-59cm. Hold back the hysteria, I said. Some eminent scientists are suggesting other reasons for global warming, I added. Indeed, some point to evidence that the world may undergo a global cooling. Curious about the climate change curriculum, I asked the school if the movie coincided with a follow-up lesson to enable students to discuss or even question the Gore message on global warming. No, came the answer. “So Gore was it?” I asked. Yes, said the teacher.

So you see why it’s time to ask serious questions about what our children will be taught about this issue. It will, no doubt, start at the silly, harmless end. Keeping it simple for kindy kids, will they be treated to entreaties by pop star cum global warming guru Sheryl Crow? Crow is calling on people to use only one sheet of toilet paper per visit, rising to two or three for “those pesky occasions” as she writes on her blog.

Then it will get more serious. Perhaps older students will read an extract from the Nicholas Stern report on global warming and be introduced to the growing fad of food-miles. They might be told that kiwi fruit is a climate change culprit because flying 1kg of kiwi fruit from New Zealand to Europe translates into 5kg of carbon being discharged into the atmosphere. Given the dumbed-down nature of other parts of the school curriculum, perhaps climate change lessons will involve excursions to the local supermarket where children, armed with a food miles calculator, will add up the environmental impact of food travelling long distances to our shops.

Don’t laugh. British organisation has developed a software package to do just that because “it is essential that people are able to make informed choices about buying food and the effect on the environment of moving food around the planet”. Echoing that call, Tesco supermarkets in Britain are making the exercise easier with its plan to introduce a carbon count on their products - little stickers that will allow you to spot the products that, as the Environmental News Network suggests, “only a carbon criminal would dare take ... to the checkout”. Tesco is also planning to halve the amount of air-freighted fresh produce - a good green initiative that our own supermarkets ought to follow, the students might be told.

Children might then be taught that individual action is all well and good. By all means count your food miles - but governments must also do something to save the planet. Friends of the Earth might pop up in the curriculum with their demand that we need tougher policies to stop out-of-town stores to put an end to car-based shopping.

They want government-funded schemes to ensure local and regional food supplies. Governments must, they say, get tougher to reduce food miles. Like Earth Hour, when Sydneysiders were asked to turn off the lights, there is a certain child-like appeal to these think global, act local campaigns.

But unlike flicking a light switch, the focus on food miles provides a number of lessons on what is wrong with many of the reactions to the global warming hysteria - lessons unlikely to make it into the classroom. Will students, for example, be told that poor African farmers will be the real victims of conscientious Westerners looking to reduce their food miles? When buying local produce is promoted as good, buying foreign food must be bad. And, as the BBC reported earlier this year, that is bad news for countries such as Kenya where horticulture is second only to tourism as the biggest foreign exchange earner. We rightly encourage poor countries to build up their economies and sell their wares to rich, Western countries. Now they are being punished for doing so all in the name of global warming. Will students be asked to consider that?

Indeed, of all the reasons to be sceptical of the climate change agenda is the way it is coalescing with the anti-globalisation, anti-capitalism movements. Will students be asked to reflect on whether food miles is a new form of old-fashioned protectionism dressed up in the alluring language of global warming? Unlikely.

Which brings us back to the core problem. Making students aware of climate change is necessary. Infusing hysteria is downright dangerous. If we do not encourage students to debate, dare one say, to be sceptical about global warming, we risk creating a generation that will demand policy responses that end up causing more harm than good. Even worse, they will be denied the essence of a good education - recognising uncertainty, challenging assumptions and asking questions in the quest for knowledge.


Schools are too left wing, says an Australian conservative spokesman

TEACHING materials in primary schools have become too politically correct in depicting single sex couples and a black armband view of Australian history, according to the NSW Opposition. The Opposition's new spokesman on education, Andrew Stoner, accused the Labor Government of using schools as "a vehicle for left-wing indoctrination", saying it needed to "rein in the PC culture" within the Department of Education and NSW Board of Studies.

"Under Labor, up to half the curriculum in some subjects focuses on a purely indigenous perspective, including emotive terms such as 'British invasion', as well as 'Survival Day' instead of 'Australia Day'," Mr Stoner, the National Party leader, said. "No one doubts the integral role indigenous people play in Australian history, but any teaching of our past must be balanced. "Labor's political correctness in education also extends to gay causes, including the funding of reading material for children as young as five, regarding gay and lesbian parents. "[The Premier] Morris Iemma should keep his promise and teach kids respect and responsibility, leaving controversial issues like same sex marriage and adoption to parents."

He said books about same-sex parents, used in some primary schools include My House, Going to Fair Day, Koalas on Parade and The Rainbow Cubby House, produced by the Learn to Include project, were funded by the Crime Division of the NSW Attorney General's Department. The books tell the story of a young girl with two lesbian mothers and include a visit to the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

A spokesman for the Attorney-General, John Hatzistergos, confirmed the department had funded the project in 2004 when the books were produced as a teaching resource to help combat bullying in schools.

The Minister for Education, John Della Bosca, said Mr Stoner had been highly selective in his use of examples from the curriculum. His strong views about Aboriginal history and sexuality "should be a case study on why you don't let a National Party politician desperate for votes write the primary school syllabus". "This syllabus was designed in consultation with parents, teachers and many professional and community experts and has been successfully taught for nearly a decade. Historical events can be seen differently depending on your view and the syllabus requires teachers to always present a range of perspectives."

The president of the NSW Primary Principals Association, Geoff Scott, said principals and teachers had the final veto on which books were used in schools. Books that simply reflected the gay lifestyle, as opposed to espousing it, would generally be considered acceptable for children. However, each school would exercise discretion in consultation with parents to decide whether a book was appropriate. "There would be a number of occasions when award winning books that are well written but have inappropriate content are not put on the shelves in schools," Mr Scott said. "The principal and teachers would be up to speed with what community expected. The books in primary school libraries are not espousing a particular point of view or pushing values on to children. If a story written about people in same sex relationships, that's real life and provided it is at an appropriate standard, then it can be available for children."



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, May 02, 2007

EU threat to British universities

The independence of Britain's world-ranking universities is under threat from European Commission plans, MPs say. Moves to create an educational "eurozone" by 2010 risk undermining the institutions' autonomy and rendering one-year British masters and new fast-track degrees virtually worthless.

An investigation by the Commons Education Select Committtee into the so-called Bologna process also concludes that the European credit system, based on hours studied, not achievement, is "not fit for purpose". Barry Sheerman, the chairman of the committee, said: "I am deeply concerned about the expanding influence of the European Commission. The role of the Commission must be constrained if the Bologna process is to be successful." The MPs backed the aims of the process but said it must continue to be voluntary and should not standardise the European university system.


British education at work

Britons have a bewildering lack of knowledge about their country, a survey suggests. Stonehenge was built by the Romans, and Hadrian's Wall is in China - these are two of the misconceptions in the poll of 3,000 people commissioned by UKTV History. Nearly four in ten say that the bulldog is the animal that symbolises this country. That, of course, is the lion, part of the Royal Arms since the Plantagenets.

A quarter say that the Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall, are among the Seven Wonders of the World, confusing them with the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. According to one in five, the Pennines are between France and Spain; and for 18 per cent, Stonehenge was built when the Romans were here - rather than dating back to three millennia previously.

Adrian Wills, of UKTV History, said that the survey showed how little people knew about Britain, "from traditions to landmarks". Viewers are being asked to vote for a favourite historical site.

Some popular erroneous beliefs:

1 Official UK animal is bulldog 39%
2 Leeds Castle is in Leeds 34%
3 White Cliffs of Dover made of sandstone 28%
4 Lost Gardens of Heligan, in Cornwall, are one of Seven Wonders of the World 23%
5 Pennines are between France and Spain 21%
6 Do not know who is on back of 10 pound note 20%
7 Stonehenge was built during Roman Empire 18%
8 Hadrian's Wall is not in UK 15%
9 Nelson's Column is not in Trafalgar Square 12%
10 Lake District has an entrance fee 7%


Lessons on manners for Australian schools?

SCHOOLCHILDREN can benefit from lessons in traditional values to combat a growing tide of rudeness and anti-social behaviour, the [Queensland] State Opposition said. Liberal Leader Bruce Flegg said social and emotional intelligence lessons would address a general concern across the community that youth were becoming more violent, disrespectful and committing more criminal acts.

Dr Flegg said he would closely monitor the "Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning" program to be introduced into British schools this year after initial testing found it improved behaviour, including attendance and test results. It also created a calmer classroom atmosphere and reduced bullying and violence. The British curriculum will teach "golden rules" such as: "We are gentle, we are kind, we work hard, we look after property, we listen to people, we are honest, we do not hurt anybody."

"The rudeness epidemic is something I am really concerned about and if there is an effective program that can teach children values it would have a lot of attraction, but the devil could be in the detail," Dr Flegg said. "There is a plague of declining social skills and respect for people, authority and property and every child should be polite." He also said busier families were leading to a loss of authority figures.

But Queensland Parents and Citizens Association president Brett Devenish said teachers were already instructing students too often in areas traditionally a parental responsibility. "I don't think parents should be able to abdicate all of their responsibilities to the education system, personal learning like values and morals should normally start a few years before children start school anyway," he said.

Queensland Teachers Union president Steve Ryan said a further narrowing of core subject choice in secondary school would only disadvantage students. "We are already dealing with an overcrowded curriculum and while some ideas may have some merit, the reality is when you introduce any new subject it would have to give way to some other part of the curriculum," 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.


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

MySpace photo costs student teacher her degree

Some extraordinary smallmindedness here. How can they prove what was in the cup? Apparently the photo bore the caption "Drunken Pirate" but play-acting at parties is common. And in any case drinking alcohol IS legal

A woman denied a teaching degree on the eve of graduation because of a MySpace photo has sued the university. Millersville University instead granted Stacy Snyder a degree in English last year after learning of the web-published picture of her, which bore the caption Drunken Pirate. Snyder received "superior" or "competent" ratings on her final student-teacher evaluation in all areas except "professionalism," in which she was labeled "unsatisfactory," according to the suit filed last week. "I dreamed about being a teacher for a long time," said Snyder, 27, of Strasburg, who has two young sons. She now works as a nanny.

The photo, taken at a 2005 Halloween party, shows Snyder wearing a pirate hat while drinking from a plastic Mr Goodbar cup. It was posted on her own MySpace site. "There were errors in judgment that relate to Pennsylvania's Code of Professional Practice and Conduct for Educators," wrote professor J. Barry Girvin, who supervised Snyder's work, according to the suit.

Snyder did her student-teaching at Conestoga Valley High School in 2006. Conestoga Valley officials told the college they would stop accepting student-teachers from Millersville if she went unpunished, the lawsuit said. Although Snyder apologised, she learned on May 12 - the day before graduation - that she would not be awarded an education degree or teaching certificate. Jane S. Bray, dean of the School of Education, in a meeting that day accused Snyder of promoting underage drinking, the suit states.

The federal lawsuit - filed against the university, Bray, Girvin and Provost Vilas A. Prabhu - seeks at least $75,000 in damages. Millersville spokeswoman Janet Kacskos referred questions to a state System of Higher Education spokesman, who declined comment. "The bottom line is we want the college to bestow the degree and teaching certificate that Stacy earned during four years of hard work and sacrifice," said Snyder's lawyer, Mark W. Voigt.


Swimming with Barracudas

The dangers of discipline-free schools

After the horrific Virginia Tech massacre, Americans are once again focusing on the distressing topic of school violence, which is most prevalent not on college campuses but in the nation's high schools. In New York, critics disagree about whether school crime is going up or down. Mayor Bloomberg announced in February that crime had fallen significantly at certain schools as a result of his "school safety initiative"; the very next day, however, the New York Times countered with an article claiming that major crime in New York City schools had risen 21 percent in the first third of the fiscal year.

But few dispute the existence of a violent subculture among some students. A rash of gang-related stabbings has shaken New York City schools. Following a fight at Franklin K. Lane High School, assailants plunged a knife into a student's chest on the subway. At a "second opportunity school" for students with prior violent offenses, one student used scissors to stab another student on school grounds; the perpetrator had been scheduled to return to a mainstream setting the following month. Equally troubling is a new Clockwork Orange-style game called "Knockout," which has become all the rage in some New York high schools. To win, kids must select an unsuspecting student and knock him unconscious with one sucker punch.

Nor is the problem confined to the five boroughs. Buffalo schools superintendent James A. Williams prompted a media outcry in February by allowing a group of students who had assaulted another student and a teacher to return to school. It wasn't long before three of the students were overheard plotting a follow-up attack.

The violence has prompted some predictable responses from legislators and school administrators. New York State Assembly members Jose Peralta and Peter Rivera have called for the passing of stalled antigang legislation, which would mete out stiff penalties for gangbangers caught recruiting new members on school grounds. In Buffalo, Williams has proposed a range of solutions: expansion of after-school activities, including athletics; a code of discipline modeled on the Catholic schools'; and undoing job cuts that have left students with no music, art, and athletics teachers, and with a shortage of guidance counselors and social workers. Getting at the "root causes" of student violence could take years, Williams suggested. Similarly, other school administrators have proposed more guidance intervention, peer mediation, and counseling; "student contracts" that carry no provisions for enforcement; and mandatory school uniforms, which would prevent kids from wearing gang colors! . And as a last resort, there are always metal detectors, closed-circuit cameras, and an increased police presence.

What's missing from all of these measures is an old-fashioned idea: the expulsion of incorrigible students who interfere with learning and present a threat to the safety of others. For all practical purposes, expulsion no longer exists in New York City schools, which have expelled fewer than ten students over the past five years. Worse still, school advocates--who often seem to advocate only for hoodlums--want incarcerated students to finish their sentences and return to mainstream classrooms as quickly as possible. Their efforts have established a revolving door between prison and New York high schools.

Those who attended New York public schools at a time when kids actually respected school authority can remember the dread of winding up in a notorious "600 School" for troubled children. The dramatic expansion of students' rights and due process, which began with the U.S. Supreme Court's decisions in Tinker v. Des Moines and Goss v. Lopez, has been furthered by consent decrees and changes in state education law that make expelling a student younger than 21 all but impossible. Today, the hoodlum class that menaces our schools fears nothing. The only civics lesson these so-called students have learned is how to manipulate the convoluted due-process system that provides them with endless opportunities for deviant behavior.

Placing these students among kids who just want to get an education safely is a disastrous idea. Metal detectors, cameras, guidance intervention, student contracts, and the like may lead to marginal improvements, but if the schools want to get serious about safety, they need to start removing the barracudas from the goldfish tank.



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, April 30, 2007

Homosexual Propaganda Fed to Elementary School Children

In a press release this morning, Stephen Bennett, a man who once lived the "gay" lifestyle and has since founded a ministry to assist people to leave the destructive lifestyle, alerted the media to a video clip demonstrating what he calls first-hand homosexual activist "brainwashing" of elementary school children. The video available on the Internet on follows a Massachusetts school's fourth annual gay and lesbian pride day activities.

The video contains actual classroom footage showing teachers imposing pro-homosexual propaganda on children as young as six. Beyond that the video captures a pre-gay pride day staff meeting where one teacher, an African American, asks if teachers are to tell children whose parents oppose homosexuality that they should nonetheless accept it as a good, to which an affirmative answer is given.

A transcript of that portion of the video follows:

Unidentified African American female teacher: "I don't know what to do about this but, as a school are we saying that kids have to support this? I guess that's what it sounds like to me that we're saying. If a child comes from a background that says homosexuality is not correct, are we telling that child that they're supposed to, this is what you are supposed to do?"

Unidentified Caucasian female teacher, "I think that we are asking kids to believe this is right. Not as a matter of moral principal, but as a matter of, we're educating them and this is part of what we consider to be a healthy education."

Stephen Bennett told in an interview that he was "horrified" and "had tears in my eyes" after seeing the video. "It's so heartbreaking to see little kids brainwashed," he said.

Stressing that the video must been seen by all concerned parents, Bennett said, "this is what is happening to America's children -- without many parents even knowing a thing. This is a crime against our children. Let the children be children!"

Amazingly, the video, while newly posted on the internet, is a clip from a 1996 pro-homosexual film called "It's elementary". While the first segment of the YouTube clip of the film covers Cambridge Friends School (CFS) in Massachusetts, a second clip covers New York City Public School 87 where similar propagandising occurs. In the 1996 video, then CFS Principal Thomas Price notes that it is the school's fourth annual celebration of gay pride day.

Homosexual activists have reacted quickly to the publicity of their agenda and have discussed demanding YouTube to remove the videos. The video's seem to have been posted to the internet by a racist and Bennett in his release stressed that the tag on the video reading "faggots" is something he opposes and should be removed.

Homosexual activists have themselves acknowleged however the veracity of the video clips as segments of the film 'It's elementary'.


Ignorant teachers

It's ironic that the teachers to whom we entrust our childrens' education have been noticeably lax about overseeing the costs and administration of so many of their retirement plans, even as their unions profit from them. Those same teachers unions have used their dues-fattened war chests and presumed expertise to lead lobbying efforts to make other Americans subject to the inevitable leveling and rationing of government-run "universal health care," often while themselves enjoying among the most generous and expensive medical benefits.

The irony is further compounded by the fact union lobbying war chests are further swollen by revenues received for recommending excessive-cost 403(b) retirement plans to members. Teachers' ignorance of their own fleecing in their 403(b) retirement programs does not inspire confidence in their judgment about our health care. The 403(b) retirement plan is the nonprofit sector's tax-deferred savings counterpart to the 401(k) plans found in the private sector. The 403(b) plans have been in the tax code 20 years longer than 401(k) plans and grew up around insurance company annuities, which were prevalent at the time. By contrast, 401(k) plans use mutual fund offerings, which typically have half or less of the costs of 403(b) plans that affect their returns. A 1 percent or 2 percent difference in costs over time and with compounding will result in a substantially lower retirement fund. For a worker contributing for 25 years, the difference can be 16 percent more in his retirement account with average cost mutual funds, or 37 percent more with even cheaper index funds.

As Forbes business magazine noted: "Teachers unions are complicit partners in this dubious pursuit. Insurers cut murky deals with labor unions to buy exclusive access to their members, sometimes paying the unions millions of dollars in fees in exchange for the unions' endorsement of their annuity plans. Inevitably this foists on teachers some of the most expensive annuity products around."

The Los Angeles Times came to a similar conclusion, reporting, "some of the nation's largest teachers unions have joined forces with investment companies to steer their members into retirement plans with high expenses that eat away at returns. . [T]he unions endorse investment providers, even specific products, and the companies reciprocate with financial support." For example, the National Education Association received almost $50 million from such an arrangement in 2004. Lower-cost 403(b) providers exist but are unlikely to be selected because they don't pay as much to the unions.

Another difference is that 403(b)s imposed fewer regulatory requirements on plan sponsors than 401(k)s. Changes in tax laws in the 1990s allowed nonprofits to also use 401(k) plans instead of 403(b)s, but few did so, thanks to lethargy, avoidance of higher standards of selection and management, and the profits going to plan sponsors from 403(b) providers.

More changes are coming, as current and proposed regulatory rule changes require 403(b) sponsors to demonstrate many of the same fiduciary responsibilities required of 401(k)s such as maintaining reasonable administrative costs. As The Chronicle of Philanthropy observes, "The aim of the changes by the Internal Revenue Service is to bring more accountability and professionalism to the 403(b) world." Even so, 401(k) providers and sponsors are currently under pressure from class action suits, the Department of Labor, and Congress for allegedly excessive costs due to fund providers paying to be included in bundled offerings, and passing those costs on to savers. A leading class action lawyer says those pressures "may serve as the first in a wave of cases," as he awaits whether such cases will result in huge settlements. The outcome remains to be seen, but inevitably the result will be greater disclosure and justification for any benefit of such arrangements.

The United Teachers Member Benefits Trust settled a suit by agreeing to a $30 million payback to New York teachers and a group of Indiana teachers recently filed suit against the insurer of their union's 403(b) plan. Keller Rohrbach, a leading class action law firm, is reportedly considering a similar suit against the NEA.

Defenders of 403(b) plans' claim their higher costs are worth the additional annuity protections- a minimum interest rate, for example - compared with the mutual funds used by 401(k)s. Defenders also claim higher 403(b) costs encourages more personal attention for plan participants. Even if those claims are true, there is no justification for teacher union profiteering from their members retirement plans. That they have looked the other way for so long reflects poorly on teachers who now want nationalized health care for the rest of us.



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, April 29, 2007

Brown University Outrage:

Anti-Israel Academics Organize Conference To Attack Pro-Israel Critics, Shut Out Pro-Israel Speakers and Students

We long ago resigned ourselves to institutional academics getting together in their sandboxes, building their little castles, and defending themselves from the evil Israel Lobby that's trying to "exclude their voices". The irony, of course, is that it's actually pro-Israel advocates who routinely get excluded from academic discussions. But what's happening at Brown reaches new lows of brazen hypocrisy. Middle East scholars have organized a workshop to attack the Israel Lobby, national security specialists, and people like Daniel Pipes and Martin Kramer - except they didn't invite defenders of the Israel Lobby, national security specialists, or Dr. Pipes and Dr. Kramer. The punch line? The workshop is about "open discourse and academic freedom". This tip got dropped into our inbox late last night:

Today, at a meeting of [pro-Israel] groups on [Brown's] campus, we found out that... Brown's Middle East Studies Department (which currently offers no courses...) and what is essentially the IR department, with the support of the Muslim Students Association, organized an "academic" conference called "The Study of the Middle East and Islam: Challenges after 9-11," featuring (among others) Juan Cole and Stephen Walt. There are no pro-Israel speakers, and neither Hillel nor Brown Students for Israel were even asked for input on a conference about the future of Middle East Studies. Needless to say, this is not the kind of thing we want on our campus.... We're determined not to let this conference go by without making it clear to the University that this disregard of academic standards/norms and disrespect for Brown's Jewish community is not acceptable.

The conference was organized by Marsha Pripstein Posusney and Elliott Colla. The goal is to "foster a greater understanding in this country of the Middle East and Muslim world." And wouldn't you know it, the people who are preventing greater understanding are security specialists and pro-Israel academics: "new national security regulations", "pressures from concerned citizen groups", "Congressional oversight of college courses pertaining to the Middle East and Islam", "independent efforts to monitor such courses and publicly vilify instructors deemed to be promoting 'dangerous' views in the classroom". You can get the full agenda off our server here.

Here's the thing though: this conference is bait. No one is actually coming here to learn anything. Walt is the most conservative academic on the monitoring panel, and he's published that Campus Watch is a neoconservative extension of the Israel Lobby. They're trying to be so absurd that people like Pipes and Kramer will protest their rank academic bias. If there's a student-led outcry about how they deliberately insulted pro-Israel undergrads, all the better. One way or another, Cole, Walt, and their ilk will be screaming about how they're being monitored and publicly vilified. Clever, clever.

Except none of these scary sounding "challenges" have been strong enough to stop the workshop participants - which is so brave of them, since criticizing Israel and the Bush administration in academia is so risky. And except this workshop actually is a hypocritical outrage. Just because they're going to use legitimate public outcry to scream about "censorship" is no reason not to call their "open discourse" bluff and put their hypocrisy on public display. This is how children behave - throwing fits to get attention and then complaining about how they're always being disciplined. The problem with this conference isn't that it's dangerous, it's that it's mendacious.

Contact information for Brown University officials is below. Get in touch with us if you want to coordinate with some of the pro-Israel Brown student leaders. We're not going to publicly out them, lest the Brown IR professors are as vindictive as the UC Irvine ones. Usual warnings about being productively circumspect apply: their fantasies of persecution notwithstanding, the goal is not to silence Cole, Walt, et al. What we'd like to see is genuine public discourse - to see the American academy restored to the status it once had as a genuine site of reasoned deliberation and careful scholarship. In addition to being a perfectly reasonable position, this also has the benefit of making their inevitable screams of "censorship" sound really stupid.

At a minimum, the University should be made to understand that this nudge-nudge wink-wink of unbalanced "balance" is unacceptable in any institution that has pretensions toward higher learning. We know that some of our readers are reasonably distinguished Brown alumni, and one or two of you are not insignificant donors. You should feel free to express your opinion about the one-sidedness of this workshop - a workshop that is, in turn, being used to set the future direction for classes, scholarship, and ideology at your alma mater. But this travesty isn't limited to Brown students - this echo chamber of a workshop will hurt everybody. Universities of Brown's caliber help set the tone for the rest of the academia and the rest of the country, and "open discourse and academic freedom" can't be allowed to mean "America and Israel bashers getting together to tell each other how smart they are".


Do-gooder MIT bigshot found to be a liar

She downgraded the importance of academic qualifications -- what one might expect considering her own concealed deficiencies in that departmenmt

Marilee Jones was an inspiration to students, using her position as the dean of admissions at one of America's most prestigious universities to reform its bruising application process and telling high schools and parents across the country not to place unrealistic pressures on their children. But there was one thing she didn't mention: that she lied to get ahead.

Ms Jones, known for her red hair and admired for her blunt, refreshing views, resigned yesterday from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, three days after the university discovered that her own CV, submitted with a job application 28 years ago, had "misrepresented her academic degrees". According to The Tech, MIT's campus newspaper, Ms Jones was confronted in a meeting on Monday after an anonymous caller had contacted the university about her false credentials. In her CV and subsequent biographies, Ms Jones had claimed to have received degrees from Union College, the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Albany Medical College. None of which turned out to be true.

"This is a sad and unfortunate event," wrote Daniel E. Hastings, MIT's dean for undergraduate education in an e-mail to the university. "But the integrity of the Institute is our highest priority, and we cannot tolerate this kind of behaviour." In her own statement, Ms Jones, the co-author of Less Stress, More Success: A New Approach to Guiding Your Teen Through College Admissions and Beyond, said that she had resigned "because very regrettably, I misled the Institute about my academic credentials". "I misrepresented my academic degrees when I first applied to MIT 28 years ago and did not have the courage to correct my resume when I applied for my current job or at any time since. I am deeply sorry for this and for disappointing so many in the MIT community and beyond who supported me, believed in me, and who have given me extraordinary opportunities."

Ms Jones joined MIT's admissions office in a junior, administrative role in 1979. The university said yesterday that her job did not require a master's and a bachelor's degree, as she claimed to have, but those qualifications helped her rise to the position of dean, overseeing an admissions process that attracts more than 11,000 undergraduate applications each year, of which around 13 per cent are successful.

From the moment she became dean, in 1997, Ms Jones set about reforming MIT's application process, rewriting the form to place more emphasis on students' personalities and passions rather than their academic data and the relentless lists of extra-curricular activities that American high school students are encouraged to amass to impress prospective colleges. In her book, she and Kenneth Ginsburg wrote: "As we prepare these paper-perfect students for higher education, are we undermining their ability to succeed in life? The most worrisome thing about this generation of driven students may be the fear of imperfection that's being instilled in their psyches.''

And in an address to other college admissions staff in Boston last year, Ms Jones said the quest for perfection in adolescent students was "making our children sick", and described the increase in suicides, ulcers and anxiety disorders among high-achieving teenage students. "Kids aren't supposed to be finished," she said. "They're partial. They're raw. That's why we're in the business." ....

The resignation of Ms Jones comes as students in their penultimate year of high school will be considering whether to apply to MIT in the autumn and less than a year after another Massachusetts' institution lost its a director for a similar reason. John J. Schulz, the dean of Boston University's College of Communication, resigned after admitting that he embellished his academic record at Oxford University.....


Australia: Brave words, but the Labor Party's policy offers no improvement to corrupted State education

A conservative facade hides destructive Leftism

THE exact moment it happened is hard to pinpoint, but the reality is that the Australian Labor Party, at both federal and state levels, has captured the education territory that was once the preserve of conservative governments and it now controls the debate. By scrapping former Opposition leader Mark Latham's hit list of so-called elite, private schools, endorsing parents' right to choose non-government schools, arguing for a collaborative approach to a national curriculum and, this week, placing subjects such as history and geography back on the school timetable, Kevin Rudd and the ALP have moved to the centre of the political spectrum.

As with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his mantra of education, education, education, Rudd knows that to win the support of aspirational voters in marginal seats the party has to eradicate the vestiges of its socialist past and adopt education policies based on conservative values, such as strong academic standards, parental choice and holding schools accountable for performance.

As always, though, the devil is in the detail and no amount of rhetoric can disguise the fact the ALP is beholden to key players such as the Australian Education Union, which regularly supports Labor by donating thousands of dollars during elections and organising campaigns in marginal seats in opposition to Liberal governments. If a Rudd government is elected this year, there is a danger that Australian education will continue to suffer from a dumbed down, politically correct curriculum and provider capture, where the education system, instead of meeting the needs of parents and students, is run for the benefit of the teachers unions and bureaucrats.

Take Labor's plan to develop a national curriculum. Arguing for higher standards and placing academic disciplines centre stage are beyond reproach. On reading Labor's policy paper more closely, though, it is clear the party intends to give the job of developing a national curriculum to the Curriculum Corporation and the Australian Council for Educational Research, two organisations responsible for Australia's adoption of outcomes-based education and the present parlous state of the school curriculum.

Based on Rudd's performance as a key bureaucrat during the years of the Goss government in Queensland and his first speech to parliament as Opposition Leader, it is clear that while he mouths platitudes about the importance of choice and accountability in education, he is still Comrade Rudd. Under Wayne Goss, Queensland earned a reputation for being a bastion of a new-age, cultural-left approach to curriculum. Indeed, as publicly stated by academic Ken Wiltshire, under the Goss-Rudd partnership education in the state was dumbed down, with a curriculum characterised as "weak and insipid".

In his first parliamentary speech as Opposition Leader, Rudd entered the "battle of ideas for Australia's future" by outlining his vision for the nation and the role of government and society. Once again, although the rhetoric is soothing - nobody can disagree with values such as equity, sustainability and compassion - a close reading shows that Rudd is an unreconstructed statist of the old order. Recognising the importance of a strong economy and of families as a social institution, Rudd argues that education is a public good - the same expression used by Pat Byrne, president of the Australian Education Union - and that families must be protected from the market, but commits himself to the present centralised, bureaucratic approach to education.

There is an alternative. If Labor is serious about raising standards, supporting parental choice in education and ensuring that schools are accountable, then why not embrace, as Blair has done in Britain and George W. Bush has done in the US, what are termed charter schools and vouchers? As argued by Blair, when opening schools to increased competition, there is a need "to escape the straitjacket of the traditional comprehensive school and embrace the idea of genuinely independent non-fee paying state schools. It (the British white paper's goal) is to break down the barriers to new providers, to schools associating with outside sponsors, to the ability to start and expand schools; and to give parental choice its proper place." Instead of being centrally controlled and managed, charter schools, within broad guidelines, have the freedom to hire, fire and reward better performing teachers. Control rests at the local level, in the hands of the school community or the principal, and charter schools are free to enact their own curriculum.

Vouchers represent a second way to open schools to market forces by giving more parents the financial means to choose between government and non-government schools. Unlike the present situation, where state schools are funded by government via a top-down centralised system, with vouchers, parents receive the money directly and they are free to spend it where they will.

Vouchers, especially those directed at students from under-performing schools or students who are educationally at risk because of their socio-economic background, have existed for years in countries such as the US and Chile, and the benefits are many. Research suggests that increased parental choice and competition between schools leads to higher standards, as there are strong incentives for schools to succeed in what they do. Put simply, the money follows the child and failing schools lose market share while successful schools attract more students. As parents are best placed to make decisions about their children's education, giving more parents the ability to choose between government and non-government schools is an inherent social good, and overseas research shows that vouchers and charter schools lead to increased social stability and cohesion.

On the level of rhetoric, Rudd and Opposition education spokesman Stephen Smith argue that teachers should be made more accountable, that parental choice must be supported and that the days of the Australian Education Union controlling what happens in schools are long gone. If they are true to their word, the ALP would also embrace innovations such as vouchers and charter schools. Now that would, indeed, represent an education revolution.



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.