Saturday, November 12, 2011

The limited effect of political correctness in college

Sure, colleges are full of politically correct indoctrination. But how well does the indoctrination actually work? Poorly. How College Affects Students reviews the whole literature and finds that:
Net of the attitudes and other characteristics students bring with them to college, the small changes reported in students' political orientations (on a continuum from left to right) virtually disappear.

In other words, college students end up a bit leftist because they start a bit leftist, not because their profs "raise their awareness."

While college fails as a leftist re-education camp, it does have measurable effects on two narrow areas:

1. "[S]tudents' racial, ethnic, and multicultural attitudes and values":
The link persists in the presence of a wide array of controls, including those reflecting students' precollege attitudes and values, and across various outcome measures, including cultural awareness, acceptance of different races and cultures, commitment to promoting racial understanding, support for busing, viewing racism as a continuing problem, and increases in openness to diversity broadly defined.

2. Gender attitudes. College increases support for equal economic opportunity for women and intolerance for date rape, and decreases support for the view that "women's place in in the home."

Bottom line: Whether you love P.C. or hate it, don't overrate it. Colleges nudge students' views on multiculturalism and sexism. But they don't turn moderates into liberals, or liberals into socialists.


Changes in expressed attitudes may not mean much -- particularly in the area of race and racism. Since LaPiere's study in the 1930s, psychologists have known that the relationship between expressed attitudes and behavior is weak to non-existent. So the kids may learn to say the "right" thing but how they act when free to do so will be another matter.

Note also that Right/Left orientation is highly hereditary so again little real change is likely as a result of the college experience -- JR

Beyond comedy: British school with NO pupils pays £58,000 in wages to staff manning empty classrooms for months

Paid staff are being employed to work at a school which is empty and has no pupils. The last children left Welton Primary School, near Carlisle, Cumbria, at the end of the summer term in July.

And Cumbria County Council confirmed this week that the school will formally close on December 31. But despite this, catering staff, administrators, a teaching assistant and acting headteacher Sue Watson are still being employed at the deserted school - which will cost taxpayers about £58,000.

Emma Boon, of The TaxPayers' Alliance, has slammed the practice as 'unnecessary'. She said: 'There will be some winding down costs after pupils leave but anything more than having a small number of staff to shut up shop is unnecessary. 'There will be some admin to do, but this can't become a scheme to make work for teachers that no longer have anything to do, just so that they can continue to collect a paycheck from taxpayers'.

A report presented to councillors outlines wage costs as being £35,000 for three months. The report states: 'There is currently an acting headteacher, a part-time teaching assistant along with associated admin and catering staff employed at Welton School.

'They will need to be redeployed or, if that is not possible, made redundant should the school close'.

Julia Morrison, children's services director at the council said the staff were performing 'closing-down duties' and will remain on the payroll until December 31 unless they are found other jobs. It is likely that 'three or four' will be made compulsorily redundant.

She added: 'We are obliged to keep these staff until the school closes. 'The school is still open. The fact that there aren't any children is immaterial'. [Worthy of Sir Humphrey in "Yes Minister"]

Councillors voted unanimously to confirm the closure at a cabinet meeting on last night.

Mrs Morrison told them: 'Welton has provided a good education for children of the village for many years. 'But despite everybody's best efforts, the low numbers on roll and the availability of alternative provision nearby have made the school unviable'. She said there would have been only nine pupils this September, had the closure process not started.

Last year, when there were 18 children, it cost £7,000 a year to educate a child at the school, more than double the average for Cumbria as a whole. With only nine pupils, the cost per pupil would have been higher still.

Mrs Morrison added: 'The numbers are too small to make the school educationally or economically viable'.

The council has consulted staff, parents, governors and other schools in the area. None of those responding suggested an alternative to closure.

The remaining pupils transferred to Raughton Head Primary and St Michael's at Dalston, Carlisle, in September.

A Cumbria County Council spokesman said: 'We are obliged to keep the staff at Welton School until the school closes. 'Although children have transferred to other schools, the school is still open until it formally closes on December 31 and staff have been performing closing down duties.


Australia: Even government schools no longer "free"

THE cost of a "free education" is spiralling out of control, with parents paying for staff wages, safety upgrades, ICT, grounds maintenance and major building works in state schools.

In 2010 alone, parents of state school students paid and fundraised more than $170 million in fees, charges and contributions, Department of Education and Training figures show.

At least $16.2 million of that was through P&C fundraising and voluntary contributions, with the rest made up of school charges and levies.

It comes as the Queensland Council of Parents and Citizens Associations says families are being put under increasing pressure to fund items that should usually come out of the state and federal budgets. "It is a sad state of affairs that we have got to that point," QCPCA president Margaret Leary said.

"I think the State and Federal Governments perhaps need to realise that there is increasing pressure put on schools to manage the budgets that they do have and the amount of increase in costs of running a school."

Ms Leary said she would love to see an increase in education funding but recognised governments also had their own finite budgets to manage.

Queensland Teachers Union president Steve Ryan said his members were increasingly putting their hands in their own pockets because of parents' socio-economic circumstances. In the latest QTU journal, Mr Ryan wrote that state schools had reported to the Federal Government funding review "a heavy reliance on fundraising, particularly by P&Cs.

As one submission states: 'The school and its community are being asked to bear the shortfall in government funding'. "P&Cs are raising money for major building works, airconditioning, shade areas, playground equipment, sports equipment, walkways, port racks," Mr Ryan wrote of the submissions.

"They pay for basic classroom materials ... even schools in traditionally high socio-economic areas say parents are finding it increasingly difficult to meet the cost of these valuable learning activities/resources."

An investigation by The Courier-Mail has found parents being asked to pay levies - some listed as voluntary, and some not - for staff wages, subjects, curriculum support materials, buildings, airconditioning, language programs and ICT, plus the new take-home laptop levy for high school students next year.

Parents of high school students face the greatest costs. At Brisbane State High School, all subjects have levies - including English, mathematics and science, which remain free at most others. In 2012, BSHS parents will also pay a $150 ICT fee, $200 general levy, $220 for students to take home laptop computers in Years 9 and 11 and $250 for a blazer, while textbooks cost up to $270 per subject.

DET acknowledges parents could pay more than $1000 annually for textbooks.

Queensland Secondary Principals Association president Norm Fuller said the government provided the basic costs of a good education and if schools and parents wanted enhanced resources they could contribute towards them.

DET director-general Julie Grantham said they provided "access to a high-quality, free education for all Queenslanders of school age". "State schools provide free instruction, administration and facilities to students at state schools ... Parents provide their children with the resources necessary to participate in the curriculum."

Education Minister Cameron Dick said Queensland's commitment to funding education had "never been stronger" with a record budget of almost $7.4 billion in 2011-12. "Any suggestion that the Government is short-changing state school students has no basis," Mr Dick said.

"Many parents are prepared to raise extra funds through their P&C to provide their children with an even better education - and this stance should be applauded."

The Occupy Movement's Classroom Roots

Anyone who has spent ten minutes teaching in an urban public school setting can relate to scenes of massive disrespect of property and individuals; rampant vulgarity and inappropriate behavior; random violence; mesmerizing expectations of delusional entitlement; oblivious arrogance steeped in wide scale ignorance simmering in a dismal brew of politically correct drivel; unfortunate victims caught in the crossfire of political impotence and social apathy; desperately apologetic leftist activists rationalizing, ignoring, and even promoting a destructive victimization among a lower class content to passively occupy. A ruling class and enforcement authority either sadly negligent in its duties, tragically resigned to its fate, or simply counting the days until an eventual escape through unionized retirement. Sound familiar? Well, it should, since this is what we have from Zuccotti to P.S. XYZ.

The American classroom used to be the foundation of civic and personal responsibility; American pride and patriotism; respect for authority and self-discipline; and, above all, a solid academic groundwork built on sound and proven educational principles. The result of this process, while not perfect, fed our society with a steady supply of responsible, rational, self-disciplined, self-motivated, ambitious, and passionately patriotic Americans from all walks of life and of all races.

Sure, injustice and disparity of opportunity existed but, by and large, the system at least provided a mechanism by which most people could express hope for a better future for their families. Regardless of our society’s weaknesses, it was neither an accident nor a mystery why this nation was the envy of the globe and the most successful and noble nation which this planet has seen and probably will ever see.

Add a generation or two of diluted academic standards steeped in pop educational and psychological theory. Also add rampant political correctness, unbridled worship of unrestrained subjectivity and rationalized personal responsibility. Add heaping servings of victimization, twisted notions that America is nothing but a source of oppression and injustice, authority figures whose appeasement and fawning surrender to students’ agendas turns every student gripe into a legitimate complaint and every legitimate faculty response into a sacrilege against the religion worshipping the lowest common denominators. Simmer until the bully who pushes a good student down a flight of stairs just needs to be understood, the chronic whiner who cries foul because a teacher expects decent work deserves a soapbox, and the administration starts defending the troublemaker over the good student and dedicated teacher.

When students who try to turn entire classes against their teacher are described as having integrity and students expect As for being alive and Bs for breathing, you are nearly done. Then hordes of teachers and loads of administrators sell out and begin an appeasement campaign which would make Chamberlain blush. It soon becomes more efficient and time sensitive to recognize those students who have not received honors ( all five of them) with you-are-almost-an-honor-student-so-don’t-worry-cards than to cite those who have earned honors ( the rest of the students plus the cleaning and cafeteria staff).

This dilution of quality, personal and civic responsibility, respect for self and others, academic integrity, actual constructive intellectual knowledge, and recognition of legitimate authority opens the door for the creation of a breeding ground promoting chaos, arrogant ignorance, disrespect at all levels, patriotic insolence wrapped in a twisted sense of entitlement which boggles all rational levels of common sense and decency. When you see authority figures actually defending and promoting this slide into intellectual, moral, societal, and national oblivion, you are done.

An elderly woman is pushed down the stairs at Occupy DC. There are reports of public defecation (giving the Occupy “movement” a new meaning) and urination on public and private property at various Occupy sites including Zuccotti Park in New York. There are reports of rape, sexual assault, and threats against those who want to report these incidents at various Occupy sites. A lice outbreak is reported at Occupy Portland. Destruction of property is reported at various Occupy sites including Occupy Oakland. Chants promoting everything from socialism to sex with animals are reported at various Occupy sites including Zuccotti Park.

When two vendors providing free coffee and hot dogs to Occupy San Diego protestors stopped providing the freebies, their carts were vandalized and items stolen. Most notably, one of the carts had urine and blood spattered on it, according to Councilman Carl DeMaio. When these goons turn on the very people who are lending them a hand, one begins to see just how depraved and mindless this movement really is. These protestors are the people claiming to represent 99% of our society. Their definition of representative government would be laughable if it were not so offensive.

By the way, the same pathetically biased and hypocritical media which dares to pretend objectivity while worshipping all things Left, which called any Tea Party gathering a raging mob full of violence and hate, pretends that all of the above at Occupy sites does not exist. This media’s blatant bias against the Right has become a national disgrace, tragedy, and embarrassment too absurd for even fiction.

At the root of both the Occupy movement and the pathetic educational system which has served as its breeding ground are three popular Leftist pet concepts. The first two are disparity and unfairness. It is contended that there will always be a teeming underclass as long as this basic disparity and unfairness exists. These notions can be answered with historical arguments. The Russian and French Revolutions are hailed by those promoting an overthrow of an upper class as classic examples of what can be done by people tired of unfairness and disparity.

This over-idealized and even romanticized view ignores the fact that these efforts did not really eliminate unfairness and disparity but only dressed it in different attire. Since freedom of itself creates unfairness and disparity, the notion that these two conditions can somehow be abolished through revolution is a myth since to completely eliminate these things freedom must be abolished and that very same abolishment in and of itself creates a different form of disparity and unfairness, as conditions in Russia and Cuba after their revolutions showed.

The third Leftist concept simmering beneath the Occupy movement is the idea that the above disparity and unfairness can superficially be destroyed through some promised form of entitlement. In order to be credible and legitimate, this concept demands that one accept the argument that much, if not all, of the disparity and unfairness above is beyond the control and personal responsibility of the victimized underclass.

That may, in a nutshell, be the difference between the Right and Left’s view of society. The Right argues that a good part of this disparity and unfairness can be overcome by personal ambition, initiative, personal responsibility, resourcefulness, order, and compromise. The Left, on the other hand, argues that most, if not all, of this disparity and unfairness is beyond the control or responsibility of the helpless underclass, which is in such a sad state that its only recourse is revolution demanding entitlement.

In a sense, the Right believes most of us can succeed on our own within the rules most of the time and the Left believes that nearly all of us cannot succeed on our own without breaking the rules or changing them to greatly favor us. This is the chant of the Occupy movement. Give us everything we want when and how we want it or we will take it from you. This demand is not based on merit but on perceived right.

If all of this sounds familiar to educators, it might be because many have faced the same thinking when a student with a 50 average demands an A, another demands an Excellent for her rambling façade claiming to be an essay, and a third student who spends more on sneakers than pens accuses his teacher of racism for not rewarding his rubbish with a good grade.

Our schools have instilled a consumerist attitude which prompts students to expect teachers, administrators, and schools to serve their wants, whims, and preferences over their legitimate educational, social, intellectual, moral, and civic needs. To make matters worse, the system rewards those teachers who cater to these twisted notions, punishes those who demand more from the system and their students, and then wonders why people are accusing said system of providing the farm system for the current major leagues of disorder found at Zuccotti and all its twins everywhere else.

When all is said and done, Zuccotti and its sibling sites are nothing more than reflections, reincarnations, and products of a twisted educational system where entitlement has become the norm, personal responsibility and respect the overthrown relics, and mob mentality the code of ethics. One would be tempted to pronounce Zuccotti Zoo-coddling if not for the fact that both the ASPCA and PETA might sue for defamation against animals.


Shocking teachers of special needs girl and a U.S. school that backed them up

Parents had to make secret tape-recordings to get any action

Two teachers have allegedly been caught calling a 14-year-old girl with special needs 'dumb' and 'lazy' – after she recorded them.

When the student's parents, from Washington Court House, Ohio, feared their daughter was being bullied, they hid a tape recorder in her clothing. They were stunned to hear teacher Christy Wilt and her aide Kelly Chaffins allegedly poking fun at the teenager’s weight and forcing her to run on a treadmill.

Chaffins, 46, who had worked at the Miami Trace Middle School since August 2008, was asked to resign by the district after her comments came to light. But teacher Wilt, 30, still remains at the school, after the officials claimed her involvement ‘did not meet what the educational aide had done’.

'Don't you want to do something about that belly?' Chaffins is claimed to have said to the student. The girl responds: 'Yes.'

'Well, evidently you don't because you don't do anything at home,' Chaffins says. 'You sit at home and watch TV.'

On a separate occasion, Chaffins allegedly asks the teenager why she did not know an answer to a question. When the student responds 'because I didn’t know', Chaffins becomes abusive.

She says: 'Are you kidding me? Are you that dumb? You are that dumb? Oh my God. You are such a liar. No wonder you don’t have friends. No wonder nobody likes you.'

On one further recording, Chaffins allegedly reacts after hearing the parents have complained. She says: 'They are ridiculous. Well, you know what? They are liars raising a liar.' Wilt adds: 'They are manipulators.'

The family also claims the audio reveals the girl was made to run on a treadmill for 15 minutes after getting an answer wrong. Chaffins is heard shouting at her while she runs.

The school claimed the use of the treadmill was designed to ‘refocus’ students, rather than punish them.

The girl, now a freshman at Miami Trace High School, told WBNS-TV that the abusive comments made her 'pretty sad'.

When her father heard the 'nasty, rude comments', 'all of it ripped my heart out', he said.

Before the recordings, the parents had complained to Miami Trace authorities. Superintendent Dan Roberts sent an email in response, saying there was 'absolutely no truth' in the matter, and the complaint was 'bordering on slander and harrassment'.

Confronted by WBNS-TV, Roberts added: 'When we found audio proof we acted immediately. 'We were distressed, very upset and angry by what was on those tapes.'

Instead of resignation, Wilt will undergo a probation period, as well as eight hours of mandatory classes in how to recognize child abuse and stop bullying.

The girl's parents sued, and the school district subsequently paid $300,000 in damages.

The family’s attorney Dan Modarski said: 'We were quite frankly shocked and disgusted with what we heard. What’s shocking to me is that there’s one teacher that is still employed by the district.'


Spend £27,000 on university? No, thank you...

Katya Edward would rather concentrate on work experience than spend £27,000 on going to university

When I tell people I’m not going to university, I am often met with shock and pity. I have the qualifications – three A-levels, including two As – but not the inclination.

This autumn, I have watched each and every one of my friends leave home for higher education. My entire school life had been based on preparing me for university. In Year Seven, my teachers would hold up failed maths exams and bellow, “You will never go to university if you carry on like this”. In sixth form, I had two classes a week devoted solely to my Ucas application; and after I’d been suspended for a second time, the headmaster put his head in his hands and sighed, “Well, there’s always secretarial college”.

So higher education of some kind was not an option, it was a given. Now, when people find out that I am not participating in this rite of passage, they tend to assume that I am either about to come into a huge amount of money or that I failed my A-levels. Neither of which is the case: I just don’t want to go.

I became disillusioned with the idea of university when I realised that every one of my friends was applying. Not just the clever ones, or those who wanted to carry on studying: all of them – including those who “simply couldn’t miss out on freshers’ week”.

But the intensive competition for truly desirable courses meant the majority had to settle for subjects of minimal interest. My two best friends, neither of whom is entirely unintelligent, both applied to relatively competitive universities because of pushy parents and the assumption that university is everything. They have ended up studying Construction Management and Sports Performance Studies.

I don’t think anyone has ever turned around to a builder and demanded: “Before you put up that scaffolding, do you have a degree in construction management?” Or said to an athlete: “That was the most impressive triple jump we’ve ever seen. Did you learn that in sports performance studies?”

People try and convince me that I will be unable to get a job without a degree in the current economic climate. But I believe that if I fetch enough coffees in a enough offices, learn about the businesses in which I’m fetching those coffees and make friends with the people whose coffee I’ve fetched, then I am more likely to end up with a paid job than someone who has a 2:2 in Animal Psychology from the University of Wolverhampton — no disrespect to animal psychologists or Wolverhampton.

I believe that being interesting, charismatic and driven – and I am working on all three – are worth more than any degree. In my experience, the people who end up relying on a degree are those who have not been brave enough to back their own ambitions or follow a path that their friends have disparaged.

If you love a subject, you should pursue it, carry on studying and, hey, maybe even get a degree in it. But most of the people that I know don’t go to university to study something they enjoy. They go so they can spend three years making friends, getting drunk and ending up with some sort of clue about work at the end of it.

I’m quite sure that if you try hard enough, you can do all of those things without shelling out £27,000.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Failing Schools a Sign of Failing National Character

Learning's Labors Lost

Ralph Peters

During a workout last weekend, I watched and listened as Secretary of Education Arne Duncan bemoaned our “crumbling schools.” Sorry, but it’s not our schools that are crumbling, Mr. Secretary: It’s our values. The wildly uneven, too-often-inadequate state of our Kindergarten-through-high-school system is a symptom of cultural cancer: We have become a slothful, self-indulgent, self-pitying nation of whining excuse-makers. We all want A’s for no effort. Our teachers and their students reflect our general culture of indiscipline and self-congratulation. Nor is it only the mopey-dopey left that has infected our public schools with a culture of mediocrity, when not outright failure. We all share in the blame (of which more below).

But we can’t even discuss the problem honestly and have to trim the conversation to keep it within politically correct patterns. Well, when yet another survey trumpets that the U.S. has fallen to sixth place in teaching math or science, or that we’re fifteenth in education overall, my reaction is “Okay, break those scores out by specific school locations.” Generally, our suburban and many small-town schools still deliver competitive (if less than optimal) educations. Our statistics skew sharply downward because of the appalling conditions in the inner-city and barrio holding pens and teacher’s-union bunkers we pretend are real schools.

Even within our generally slovenly culture, some sub-cultures—encouraged to wallow in cults of victimhood--do far worse than others. But we aren’t allowed to say it. We have to pretend that our national standing really is national. Yet, if it weren’t for the disgraceful conditions (and we can blame the left for these) that narcotizing “social” programs have created among minority populations, we would still be at or near the top in education.

Most well-to-do children, whatever their race, still have access to solid (if uninspiring) educations. But the left, for political advantage, has written off poor blacks and browns educationally—confining them in schools that are now about the unionized teachers, not the students.

And let’s be honest: Conservatives have made no serious attempts to reform those schools, either. All the left has to do is cry “Racism!” and we gladly turn our backs on our fellow Americans, pleased to have an excuse to do nothing about a national disgrace. (Teachers may hate “No Child Left Behind,” but that program was a sincere attempt to do something in an environment in which doing nothing had become acceptable.)

For different reasons, everyone (including the minorities themselves) has written off any serious efforts to give our underclass the elementary skills required to enter and survive in a 21st-century workforce. This human wastage, for which we all share some degree of blame, is unspeakably shameful and detrimental to our country’s future. We have to drag along those who could be pulling their own weight or even excelling. To borrow the title of a 1960s novel, Everybody Knows and Nobody Cares.

The broader problem is rooted in recent history: Two simultaneous developments have reduced the quality of teachers over the past two to three generations. First, equality of opportunity for women drained the talent pool. Without question, the transition of women from second-class to fully equal participants in society and our economy has been overwhelmingly beneficial: It has made our nation richer, more just and humane, and more fun. I can identify only a single downside: The often-brilliant women who taught me during my 1950s elementary-school years in small-town Pennsylvania became teachers because it was the best option (of very few) available to them. Those magnificent teachers were prisoners of a social system that denied them other opportunities. Their counterparts today are governors, senators, Navy pilots, CEOs, investment bankers, corporate managers…

Even for men, there were fewer opportunities in the middle of the last century. The explosion of wealth and the expansion of work we experienced over the last half-dozen decades also provided more choices for males, too. Thus, the pair of life-shaping English teachers I had in high school back in the 1960s—who survived on miserly pay—would be unlikely to be in the same jobs today. (Neither would survive in a contemporary high school, anyway, since their reading lists not only were demanding—from translations of Euripides and Sophocles, to James Joyce and D.H. Lawrence—but would outrage conservative parents who believe that “children” should not be exposed to great literature or reality).

The sad quality of so much instruction today has been brought home to me over the past dozen years. In honor of one of those English teachers, a man who died tragically young, I’ve given a small annual prize to the graduating senior in my old high school who wrote the best short story, essay or article. When the “best” efforts arrived in the mail for me to select the winner, none was ever of sufficient quality to have gotten an A from Mr. Boyer. Worse, the scrawled cover notes sent me by the English teachers themselves often were ungrammatical. My good intentions had become a travesty: Those “top” students not only weren’t required to write, but did not even appear to read much of worth.

We now have a system in which young people of lower intelligence and less ambition gravitate into the teaching profession, and in which unethical and irresponsible unions protect the worst of them. And the kids aren’t all right: Instead of getting a rigorous education, they get inflated grades to help them get into college (isn’t it remarkable that “responsible” parents are more apt to complain about a low grade than low standards?). “Every child gets a prize” is a formula for failure later on. Our system just delays sentencing until the kid hits the job market.

Beyond the lower quality of those who enter the teaching profession (with many individual exceptions, of course) we face the lack of serious content in the undergraduate programs that, theoretically, prepare them for the classroom. Teaching techniques and philosophies have replaced the fierce acquisition of knowledge, and this is inevitably reflected in the K-12 classroom. As a result, we have English teachers who don’t read seriously themselves; history teachers who have no meaningful grasp of history; and math teachers who don’t think it’s necessary for children to memorize multiplication tables.

In conversations with K-12 teachers over the years, I’ve consistently found them to be sincere and well-intentioned. I’ve also found most to be dumb as rocks.....

Anyone who has encountered—and had to hire—young job-seekers fresh from university these days faces identical applicants (right down to the flip-flops worn to the interview) bursting with self-confidence to the point where it almost stains the rug, but who, once hired, often have no work ethic, no frames of reference, and inadequate preparation for basic tasks. For one example about which I can speak first-hand, masters programs from “top” universities turn out aspiring journalists who cannot spell, punctuate or construct a topic sentence, and who cannot analyze problems dispassionately, but who have wildly inflated expectations as to what they are owed in the workplace and by society.

As for high-school graduates…well, the opportunities for them are disappearing every day. Nonetheless, we must find ways to reduce the drop-out rate. A young person who lacks even a high-school diploma is doomed to be a burden on society throughout his or her life. At present, though, there are few short-term disincentives to dropping out—and young people think short-term. Were it up to me, I’d also make a high-school diploma a requirement to receive a driver’s license or to receive any government benefits.

Unfair? Absolutely not. All rights beyond the most elementary human rights must be predicated on the individual’s reciprocal responsibility to society and the state.

All that said, there can be no question but that the greatest share of the blame for the intellectual impoverishment of K-12 education lies on the political left, which has made poverty a viable lifestyle choice; politicized curriculums; lowered standards disastrously; defended unions that elevate the welfare of teachers above the success of students; made self-esteem a more important goal than learning; and fought to keep minorities “down, dumb and Democratic.”

In the Year of our Lord 2011, the United States spends far more money per capita on education than any other major country—and gets less in return. Beyond all the politics and webs of self-interest, the reason is as simple as two plus two equals four: We’ve taken learning out of education.


British Math teaching is so bad that teenagers leave school dangerously ignorant

Maths teaching is so poor that teenagers can leave school dangerously ignorant, an exam board chief has claimed. Many are unable to calculate a 25 per cent discount or a correct dosage of medication, he said.

Mark Dawe, chief executive of the OCR exam board, launched a scathing attack yesterday on the national maths curriculum in schools, a subject his organisation tests. He said employers can no longer assume that a grade C, or higher, in GCSE maths guarantees a reasonable level of competence. ‘Many [school leavers] are stumped by 25 per cent discounts or 33 per cent extra free,’ he said. ‘And they don’t understand the dosage of medicines. This puts them at a massive disadvantage in life and can even endanger them.’

His comments follow a survey of 566 employers by the CBI which found 35 per cent were unhappy with youngsters’ numeracy.

Mr Dawe believes that the problem is rooted in the limited scope of the maths national curriculum. He said: ‘Pupils can do simple sums. But outside school, they have calculators and computers to do this. 'What pupils and school leavers cannot do is work out what sums to do to solve a problem. They don’t understand how to ask the question.’

James Fothergill, head of education and skills at the CBI, said: ‘There’s currently a gap between the standard of maths achieved by many school leavers and the skills that employers require. ‘We need to see young people who are confident with mental arithmetic, working out simple percentages, ratios and fractions and being able to spot errors and rogue figures which are essential for work and everyday life.’

'We need to see young people who are confident with mental arithmetic, working out simple percentages, ratios and fractions and being able to spot errors and rogue figures which are essential for work and everyday life.’

This year a staggering 28 per cent of 16-year-olds failed to get A* to C in maths. To remedy this Education Secretary Michael Gove has said pupils will have to study the subject until they pass, or leave school. In 2015 the compulsory school leaving age will rise to 18.

A Department for Education spokesman, said: ‘It’s crucial that pupils master the basics in maths at school. ‘The UK is sliding down the international league tables in maths and we’ve got to reverse this trend if we expect our students to have the core skills that universities and employers demand.

‘That’s why we’re encouraging more maths specialist teachers for the state sector and prioritising funding for graduates with a 2:1 or first class degree in maths and sciences – so that we can drive up standards in schools across the country’.


Australia: Independent school starts fee war

AN independent school has fired the latest salvo in Sydney's "school wars" as debate heats up over whether families should be given more choice between government and private schools.

Mamre Anglican School at Kemps Creek is claiming a national first by slashing fees by 10 per cent in 2012 to help low-income families and lift enrolments - which have already soared 60 per cent over the past three years.

While debate rages over whether governments should encourage more choice in education, new independents such as Mamre Anglican are luring families away from both public and other private schools.

A national inquiry is under way into school funding but, whatever recommendations emerge, governments will have to make a call on the extent to which they bolster under-funded public schools or bankroll the growth of private schools.

Low-fee Anglican schools are booming in suburban growth corridors, strategically buying up land, heavily marketing in existing schools - and now cutting fees.

Enrolments at Mamre - which charges $3380 to $4480 a year plus $660 to $980 for excursions, camps and transport - could reach 300 next year and 500 down the track.

"The board of the school has taken the decision to lower the fees of the school by 10 per cent for 2012, I would think we would be the only school in Australia to do this," principal Vic Branson said yesterday.

"We are doing so because of a thorough demographic study which indicated ... the community would struggle with our present rate of fees and because we are already growing. We want others to join our school with its innovative programs. We feel that lower fees would encourage new families."

Mr Branson said the newly renovated school was attractive to families, with sport development and gifted and talented students programs, and recently placed 14th out of 250 schools in the Mathematics Olympiad.

Mamre takes students from kindergarten to Year 10.

Sydney Anglican Schools Corporation chief executive Laurie Scandrett said Mamre's reduced fees would bring it "into line with competitors".

The corporation has 16 schools in the Sydney Diocese and more are in the pipeline.


Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Flipping Students the Bird

How "helping" students can backfire

Steve Jobs was suspended from high school for playing a salacious prank on the graduating senior class. Biographer Walter Isaacson says Jobs and his friends tie-dyed a bedsheet with the school colors and enlisted one of their mothers to paint a large hand extending its middle finger across the sheet. Jobs hung the homespun banner from a school balcony and flipped off the seniors during their commencement procession.

It was as if the eventual college dropout and entrepreneurial billionaire wanted to say: “Eff formal education. I will learn and earn on my own terms.”

Today, President Obama is effectively giving college students and their parents his middle finger. Whereas Jobs’ prank was harmless and symbolic, the President’s plan to bail out student loans will derail the entrepreneurial dreams and financial security of countless young people.

By executive order, the President’s unconstitutional “We Can’t Wait - Pay As You Earn” plan modifies the existing Income-Based Repayment Plan so that, effective in 2012, graduates may cap their loan payments at 10 percent instead of 15 percent of their discretionary income. Anything remaining after 20 years (formerly 25 years) becomes fundamentally the taxpayers’ responsibility. And, if a student wants to become a public servant (i.e. work for George Soros) his loan will be forgiven after just 10 years.

Jobs dropped out of college because he was worried about wasting his parents’ money. He also told Isaacson he had: “no idea how college was going to help me…” Jobs self-started Apple by selling his Volkswagen bus so he and Stephen Wozniak could pool together about $1,300 of initial capital. Jobs could have squandered his parents’ money. Instead, he used his money and their garage to build a company that would create countless jobs and terrific products for people all over the world.

If Jobs had frittered away four years of his life in college instead of pursuing creative opportunities, I wouldn’t have written this column on a Mac and you wouldn’t be tweeting it to your friends from your iPhone. And, if Taylor Swift had gone to college you wouldn’t be playing her music on iTunes because she’d be an unrenowned member of a college choir.

I think young people and their parents deserve to know the truth about the President’s program.

First, the program deceptively leads students to believe they will advance and save money by taking out big loans for four years instead of skipping college altogether or taking steps to graduate debt-free—like working part-time and maintaining academic scholarships with good grades. The average student will only save between $4 and $8 a month on this program. Upon graduation, they could end up with unmarketable skills, a poor education and a 10 percent excise tax on their income for 20 years. Awesome.

Second, Pay As You Earn encourages college graduates to pursue jobs they don’t want. Students will accept lower-paying jobs in public service simply because they can get their student debt written off in 10 years—not because their skills or interests fit public service.

Third, this program discourages natural entrepreneurship. Inc. Magazine reports: ‘As part of the “We Can’t Wait” initiative, the White House also announced an unusual partnership with Gen Y Capital Partners.’ Basically, once students qualify for Pay As You Earn, Gen Y will help them with up to three years of their student loan payments and potentially help them find free room and board for up to two years on a participating college campus. Gen Y’s founder, Scott Gerber, defended the partnership in The Huffington Post as necessary during “a time when our nation is in desperate need of economic stimulants…”

Huh? Natural entrepreneurs do not need free housing from a college that will over-structure their life or possibly try to take credit for their ideas.

Realistically, I see this partnership encouraging young people to set their sights low and develop stupid companies with meager growth prospects in order to get their student loans forgiven. A calculator on the U.S. Small Business Administration’s website reveals that if a young entrepreneur reports an income under $20,000 a year, their monthly student loan payment would be $0.

The President should be encouraging entrepreneurial youths to ditch college and pursue a private Peter Thiel-style fellowship rather than pushing them to spend four years of their life accruing needless information and burdensome debt. Extreme innovators like Steve Jobs, Taylor Swift, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Dell, Bill Gates, and Ralph Lauren helped themselves and society by “selfishly” skipping overpriced, cookie-cutter experiences like college.

Pay As You Earn lets colleges get off the hook for rising costs and failing educational programs and hangs young people out to dry. I think students and their parents deserve more than the President’s middle finger in exchange for their votes in 2012.


Teachers' union fat-cats live high

According to the propaganda of the teachers unions, these are bleak times for public education. Younger teachers are being laid off, school employees are making benefit concessions, and unions are losing bargaining privileges.

Heck, things are so (allegedly) bad that President Obama is barnstorming the country in an effort to whip up support for his latest bailout for Big Education.

In the midst of all the wreckage, one group has emerged completely unscathed: the leaders of the American Federation of Teachers. The fat cats at the AFT are living large – dare I say like the 1%?

The union’s recent financial report filed with the federal department of labor reveals President Rhonda “Randi” Weingarten saw a cool 15% increase in her compensation – a bump of over $65K, taking her to $493,859. An additional 193 employees make more than $100,000.

Remarkably, the union – while being bludgeoned in places like Wisconsin and Tennessee – apparently sees value in supporting new teachers unions around the globe.

The report reveals several expenditures to unions around the country, including:

* Federacion Colombiana de Educatores - $51,876

* Federation of Mongolian Education and Science Unions - $51,875

* KK NSZZ Solidarnosc (Poland) - $51,876

* National Professional Teachers Organisation of South Africa - $42,951

* NASWUT (UK) - $42,951

* Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (Philippines) - $46,200

The union also reported paying $6,934 to “Wild Africa Safaris Inc.” which appears to be a Canadian travel agency specializing in African and Middle Eastern destinations.

But the union doesn’t just “spread the wealth” abroad. They know how to have a good time in America as well. Check out these separate expenditures totaling over $500,000, just in Las Vegas:

* Flamingo Las Vegas - $175,476

* Flamingo Las Vegas Adv. Dep. - $129,859

* Harrah's Las Vegas - $71,716

* Harrah’s Entertainment - $77,500

* Flamingo Las Vegas - $28,592

* Harrah's Las Vegas - $10,511

* Harrah’s Entertainment - $12,500

* Mirage Hotel-Lodging - $6,152

The reality is the union can spend its dollars however it sees fit. If it wants to pay Weingarten a million dollars a year – and push her further into the 1% – that’s its choice.

But there are thousands of teachers across the country who have no choice but to financially support the union as a condition of their employment. They are just the “host” that the parasitic union leadership feeds off of.

The “peons” can labor in the classroom, while Weingarten and her ilk live large in Vegas. The least Weingarten could do is bring back some souvenir shirts that read, “My leadership went to Vegas on my dime, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.”


British primary schools to be run on High School lines

Children as young as five will be taught by specialist subject teachers under a Government plan to give pupils the best start to their education.

A new wave of primary teachers will be trained to give dedicated lessons in disciplines such as mathematics, science and foreign languages, it was announced. It signals a dramatic shift in the primary school workforce which has traditionally favoured all-rounders who can teach any subject.

Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, said the move would put state-educated pupils on a par with those in fee-paying schools. “Children in private sector through prep schools get primary specialist teaching in core subjects such as maths and sciences,” he said today.

“We want to make sure children in the state sector can benefit from the same opportunities. Learning about maths and science early on in life can enthuse a child to develop a love of the subjects later on in their education.”

The reforms are outlined in a radical blueprint designed to overhaul the system of teacher training in England. From 2012, funding will be reallocated to allow more state-funded training places to be made available for subject specialist primary school teachers.

They will get priority places over students taking general primary courses and schools will be offered the chance to train their own primary specialists.

Trainees teaching science, maths and foreign languages could be offered extra financial rewards because the subjects are seen as vital to pupils’ future chances of getting into top universities and securing a good job.

Ministers will also toughen up the selection process to weed out unsuitable trainees and introduce a package of generous incentives to attract the brightest graduates.

For the first time in 2013, students must pass basic tests in English and maths to start postgraduate training courses – and will only be allowed to re-sit assessments twice. Tests themselves will also be toughened up and the pass marks will be raised.

It will replace the current system in which student teachers normally take exams half-way through one-year courses and are permitted unlimited re-sits.

As reported on Tuesday, the Government will also introduce a system of tapered bursaries designed to attract graduates with first-class honours degrees.

The top students will be able to claim £20,000 scholarships – given out in monthly instalments throughout their course – to teach physics, maths, chemistry and modern languages. The best students will also be eligible for £9,000 bursaries to teach other “priority” secondary school subjects and to train as primary teachers.

Graduates with a 2:1 or 2:2 degree will handed smaller awards, while those with third-class degrees will be banned from claiming state funding.

But teachers condemned the move as elitist. Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: “A first class degree does not necessarily a first class teacher make.

“The real incentive which Government needs to address in order to attract people into teaching is not simply bursaries. “Teachers need to be given greater control over what goes on in the classroom, the unnecessary bureaucratic workload needs to go, pay and conditions need to remain competitive and of course Government needs to ensure a good pension.”

In further reforms, the Government will create a new training programme specifically to allow former Armed Forces personnel to gain qualified teacher status.

Alternative positions will be available in schools for ex-soldiers to act as advisors on discipline and “work with students at risk of exclusion or exhibiting anti-social behaviour”.


Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Education reform ideas: Christie v. NJEA

Gov. Chris Christie is expected to make education policy a top legislative priority in weeks to come. The New Jersey Education Association, the state's largest teachers union and one of Christie's chief adversaries, has released its own platform of ideas to change the school system. Here's a look at the contrasting ideas on some major issues:


Christie: Tenure would no longer be permanent for teachers who receive it. Teachers could lose tenure based on their evaluations.

NJEA: Require teachers to work for four years, instead of the current three, before being eligible for tenure. A mentor would be required in the first year. The union had already proposed moving tenure charge cases from courts to an arbitrator, saying they would be decided more quickly that way.


Christie: Allow students easier movement to other public schools. Use corporate tax credits to fund scholarships that students in some low-performing districts could use to pay tuition at other public or private schools.

NJEA: Let some colleges approve and regulate charter schools and broaden existing options within school districts or in other public schools. Do not use public money for scholarships to private schools.


Christie: Base a large portion of retooled teacher evaluation system on measurable standards, such as students' improvement on standardized tests.

NJEA: Do not rely more heavily on standardized tests.


Christie: Allow low-performing districts to pay higher salaries for top teachers moving from other districts.

NJEA: Experienced teachers who switch school districts would be eligible for tenure in two years instead of the current three.


Christie: Pay teachers partially based on student outcomes, such as performance on standardized tests.

NJEA: The union has opposed singling out individual teachers for merit pay based on test scores. Its new plan calls for teacher leaders to be appointed and eligible for higher salaries, a concept similar to one Christie supports.


Christie: Have education management organizations — possibly including for-profit companies — run some struggling schools.

NJEA: Do not allow for-profit firms to run public schools in the state.


Sexual harassment: Nearly half of 7th- to 12th-graders targeted in a year

That’s one finding in the first national study of the subject in a decade. The report also highlights some examples of how educators have been able to help students stand up to sexual harassment

Nearly half of students in Grades 7 to 12 experience sexual harassment during the school year, according to a report out Monday – the first national study of the subject in a decade.

Adults need to create a climate that doesn’t tolerate such peer-to-peer behavior, say the report's authors – especially since only 9 percent of the targets of sexual harassment report it at school.

“Sexual harassment doesn’t get attention as much as bullying, because it’s less comfortable to talk about ... but we hope this report is one way to start a conversation” school by school, says Catherine Hill, co-author of the report and director of research at the American Association of University Women (AAUW) in Washington. “It is distinct from bullying in a number of ways ... and it has a disproportionate impact on female students.”

Fifty-six percent of girls in the nationally representative survey about the 2010-11 school year said they were sexually harassed, compared with 40 percent of boys.

Among the findings of “Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School,” published by AAUW:

* 33 percent said a peer had made unwelcome sexual comments, jokes, or gestures.

* 30 percent experienced sexual harassment by text message, e-mail, Facebook, or other electronic means.

* 18 percent were called gay or lesbian in a negative way.

* 13 percent of girls and 3 percent of boys were touched in an unwelcome sexual way.

* 4 percent of girls and 0.2 percent of boys reported being forced to do something sexual.

Students said they were eager to have anonymous ways to report such behavior, as well as structured discussions of sexual harassment and enforcement of rules against it.

AAUW is reaching out to groups such as Girls for Gender Equity, Men Can Stop Rape, and the Girls Scouts and Boy Scouts to help raise awareness about sexual harassment and prevention.

Schools need to be alert to the issue, AAUW points out, to help stop a cycle of harassment – in which those who admit to harassing their peers often have already been harassed themselves.

Many boys, for instance, report feeling upset about being called gay, and “that could prompt them to try to prove their masculinity” by going after girls in inappropriate sexual ways, says Holly Kearl, report co-author and a program manager at AAUW.

If schools neglect severe or pervasive sexual harassment, they could be held liable under Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education. But as the report points out, sexual harassment can cause problems for students long before it prompts legal action.

For instance, among students who experienced sexual harassment:

* 32 percent said that afterward they did not want to go to school (and for 10 percent, this lasted quite awhile).

* 31 percent felt sick to their stomachs.

* 30 percent found it difficult to study.

* 8 percent stopped doing an activity or sport.

* 4 percent switched schools.

Educators have been able to help students stand up to sexual harassment and change the school climate, and the report highlights some examples.

Jennifer Martin, an English teacher at Tinkham Alternative High School in Westland, Mich., designed a women’s studies course in 2003 when she realized how many of the school’s girls were upset about sexual harassment by the boys, but were reluctant to report it.

“Their lives had taught them this is just how it is; this is what women have to deal with,” she says.

The course ranged from the history of women’s movements to the definition of sexual harassment and laws against it. But the first thing Ms. Martin had to do, she says, was build trust among the girls so they could help one another, instead of seeing themselves as competitors for boys’ attention.

“When they saw it was a safe place and they realized they had a common problem, then they were reporting more. And [within six weeks] they would stand up for one another in the hallways when they saw other girls being harassed,” Martin says.

While the course was recently discontinued, the culture change in the school has lasted, Martin says, partly because staff awareness grew.

The authors of “Crossing the Line” hope it will serve as a springboard for more teachers, parents, and students to initiate such prevention efforts.

“In the [popular] media, sexual harassment is often treated as a joke,” Ms. Kearl says. “So if that’s the only message students are getting, that’s problematic.”


British drive for more discipline in school: New teachers must show they can control pupils

Trainee teachers will be instilled with a zero-tolerance approach to ill discipline in school. They will be taught to bring back the traditions of pupils standing when a teacher enters the room and of keeping quiet in corridors.

A trainee unable to prove they can control a rowdy classroom will not qualify for a teaching post.

The radical shake-up by Education Secretary Michael Gove is designed to raise standards in state education. New teachers will have to punish any pupil who steps outside strict codes of behaviour. They will learn to discipline, or even send home, students who fail to turn up to their class without the right equipment – such as a pencil and paper.

All trainees will have to sit personality tests to prove their resilience and ability to remain calm under pressure. And the majority of their training will be conducted on the job in a classroom – rather than in a university lecture hall.

Headmasters will have the power to sack teachers who cannot control their class.

Mr Gove will also announce that graduates with first-class degrees will be handed £20,000 bursaries to train for a year as teachers.

The reforms to recruit only the best come as figures show 10 per cent of teachers leave the profession after a year – often because they cannot handle a class.

Yesterday, the Daily Mail revealed that some teachers were handed jobs despite failing numeracy tests up to 37 times. Mr Gove has limited the number of resits a trainee can take to two from 2012.

The new system of tapered bursaries will be introduced for postgraduate trainees. Students with first-class degrees are expected to receive up to £20,000 to teach secondary school subjects such as maths, physics and chemistry, which suffer the biggest staff shortages.

They would receive £13,000 to teach ‘medium priority specialisms’ such as languages, IT and design and technology, and £9,000 to teach other secondary subjects and to work in primary schools.

Students with a 2:1 degree would get £15,000 to teach shortage subjects, while those with 2:2s would receive £11,000.

Funding will be withdrawn for graduates holding less than a 2:2 degree. The tax–free bursaries can be spent however the student wishes, but it is likely that there will be an obligation to remain in the profession for an agreed period once they have completed their training.

The funds for the scheme will be found within the existing £500million teacher training budget. It is also expected that funding will be axed from some undergraduate teacher training courses as part of a shift toward training in schools.

This September, 100 schools, ranked ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, were given specialist ‘teaching school’ status entitling them to grants to train new staff.

However, unions warned that the academically brilliant do not necessarily make good teachers. ‘We all want the brightest and best but having a first-class degree is no guarantee that you are able to communicate with children,’ said a spokesman for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.

‘The best teachers have an enthusiasm for their subject and an understanding of how children develop. If teachers do not have the ability to convey their knowledge and passion to pupils, their academic brilliance is not going to do pupils any good.’


Monday, November 07, 2011

The past shows what is possible -- and what has been lost

As Fred Reed says below, education has indeed changed mightily since the '50s. I left school at age 16 in 1959 but by that time I knew the words of several Schubert Lieder and had been introduced to Bach and Dvorak. I could get by in German and was familiar with Latin grammar. I knew who Hannibal was and who Publius Cornelius Scipio was. I knew words like "inchoate". I was familiar with the works of poets like Wordsworth, Coleridge, Tennyson and Blake, had read some Chaucer in Middle English and had heard of Homer. I knew quite a few chemical formulae and was familiar with Newtonian mechanics ... etc.... etc. And I was taught all that in an obscure government school in an obscure Australian country town. I undoubtedly absorbed it better than most but the point is that I was taught it. All of my teachers and my fellow-students were white -- JR

With the regularity of sunrise, editorials raise alarums over the sorry state of schooling in America, wondering year after year why students are so abysmally ignorant. Why the puzzlement? The reasons is that Americans don't want education. They would rather have polio. If they saw education coming down the street, they would crawl into the storm sewers to avoid it, and epoxy the manhole covers down for a better seal.

They like the appearance of schooling, yes. They pay exorbitantly for degrees, grades, titles. Substance be damned. This is why many seniors in high school can barely read, and graduates of universities do not know when WWI took place.

How did this come about? There are 26 letters in the alphabet, 52 if you count upper case. That comes to 5.2 a year for ten years. A parrot could learn them. Yet functional illiteracy flourishes in Amerca.

When my daughters were three, they could read Dr. Seuss and sound out words like “transportation,” which they had no idea what meant. Why could they do this? Because their daddy sat down with them and said, “C says “kuh,” A says “Aa,” and T says “Tuh.” Kuh-Aa-Tuh, cat. Ain't them some apples?” They agreed about the apples, and were off and running. Mission accomplished, without a carrier to stand on. Age three.

How in God's name can you keep kids in school for twelve years and prevent their learning to read? We're talking genius here.

Schooling children was once thought routine. When I finished the fifth grade in Robert E. Lee Elementary School in the Virginia suburbs of Washington—this would have been about 1955—I could add, subtract, multiply, and divide fractions, do long division and multiplication, and knew grammar cold: direct and indirect objects, appositives, linking verbs, participles. I would like to attribute this to my incomparable brilliance. The problem with this laudable understanding is that all the other kids could do these things too. The teachers had taught us. It was what schools did.

Children learned because of a social consensus that they should do so. In those far-off days, the white population, then the only one that mattered, agreed on certain things. For example, parents believed that correct English was desirable, and that their little monsters should learn it. They believed that numeracy mattered. That grades should reflect performance, period. It worked.

Problems of discipline did not exist because of, again, consensus. Society thought, parents thought, the schools thought, and the children thought that children should be respectful of teachers and do as they were told. This was not authoritarian. There were always the class clowns—I may know somewhat of this—but everyone, including the children, knew where the limits lay.

The teachers participated in the consensus. They were mostly intelligent women not yet fem-libbed into being useless lawyers, and embodied the masculine focus on performance over feeling good about oneself. This allowed the passing on of civilization. The prinicpal was usually a man, and a fairly formidable one. He easily kept adolescent boys in line. Their fathers also bought the consensus, a point not lost on teens.

Then, roughly during the Sixties, consensus died. The reasons were race and the discovery by the young that they could demand what they found laborious to earn.

Forced integration was perhaps the first crack in the dike. The black children came from a culture utterly alien to that of whites, having very different academic expectations and speaking a dialect hardly a word of which resembled standard English. They read and calculated grade levels below the whites, did not regard General Lee and Stonewall as quite the heroes the whites did, and had little interest in the literature and history of Europe, which after all was not where they came from. They sank instantly to the bottom of their classes. Explain this as you will, blame whom you will, but it happened. So much for consensus.

The chasm was too deep for solution. The difference in language was particularly grave. Yet, curiously, there was nothing inherently black about the degraded English now called Ebonics: Blacks in Mexico speak standard Spanish, in France, standard French, in England standard English. But not in America.

The choice was to flunk or accomodate. The latter was chosen. The consensus on academic standards was broken.

So was the consensus on courtesy and what constituted civilized behavior. The courts decided that foul language was a part of the culture of blacks, and consequenly legitimate. So was horrendous grammar. Thus if a black student said to a teacher, “You be a muhfuggen bitch,” she could not respond, “No, William, you should say 'You are a muhfuggen bitch.” It would be cultural imperialism.

This approach, intended to protect blacks, of course embodied a profound contempt, and in particular the observably false belief that they could not learn to read and speak English. Condescension and self-awareness seldom cohabit.

Concommitantly, the exodus of bright women into biochemistry left the schools in the hands of dull-witted and little-read women, often of recent blue-collar origin, who, having had no experience of either education or cultivation, fell into psychobabble and ploughed the fields of self-esteem. Teachers who had not read the classics, and in many cases had never heard of them, could have no idea why these things might matter. Masculine influence having evaporated, they turned the schools into hothouses of niceness, anti-violence, hostility to boys, and cloying political correctness.

The Sixties had triumphed, had instilled the idea that if mention of incompetence were forbidden, the effort of becoming competent could be avoided. These are not fevered imaginings. From a piece I wrote for Harper's in 1981:

“The bald, statistically verifiable truth is that the teachers' colleges, probably on ideological grounds, have produced an incredible proportion of incompetent black teachers. Evidence of this appears periodically, as, for example, in the results of a competency test given to applicants for teaching positions in Pinellas County, Florida (which includes St. Petersburg and Clearwater), cited in Time, June 16, 1980. To pass this grueling examination, an applicant had to be able to read at the tenth-grade level and do arithmetic at the eighth-grade level.Though they all held B.A.s, 25 percent of the whites and 79 percent of the blacks failed. Similar statistics exist for other places.” l

Thus the student's project on Italian Americans I saw on a wall in a middle school near Washington, honoring Enrico Fermi's contributions to, so help me, “Nucler Phisicts.” On the wall. Uncorrected.

And so we now see rigorous study as an unreasonable imposition. The pretense is sufficient. A new consensus forms. Even in what were once universites almost everyone gets As, and students, if so they may be termed, graduate in a state of darkness, knowing nothing of history, geography, literature.

Of the standards of earlier times, only a blisterish sensitivity remains. To correct anyone's English is to provoke fury and cries of “Elitism!” this being generally conceived as worse than pederasty or shoplifting.

And if you proposed to reinsitute the curricula of 1955, only Jews and Asians would abstain from the lynch mob. How far we have come.


Fifth of Britain's trainee teachers cannot do sums or spell... and one had 37 resits before passing basic maths test

One in five trainee teachers cannot do simple sums or pass basic spelling and grammar tests. One in ten have failed their final-year numeracy and literacy tests twice in a row, while dozens have needed an astonishing ten attempts.

One clearly innumerate trainee was allowed 37 resits to get through the maths paper.

Critics said yesterday those who take multiple resits should not be teaching and will have a detrimental impact on their pupils. From next year, Education Secretary Michael Gove is limiting the number of retakes to just two.

Trainees have to pass basic skills tests in literacy, numeracy and ICT (information and communication technology) before they qualify for the classroom. The pass mark is a modest 60 per cent.

The latest figures from the Training and Development Agency for Schools reveal that in 2009/10, a fifth of trainees failed both the numeracy and literacy tests first time round.

Some 6,957 failed literacy and numeracy on the second attempt, while 1,508 failed either discipline on their fifth attempt.

More disturbing still are the vast number of resits some trainees have been granted before passing. One took 37 tries to pass numeracy and 57 would-be teachers passed only on their 19th attempt.

Standards have fallen during the last five years. Of the 32,717 trainees who passed their numeracy test in the academic year 2003/4, 83.6 per cent did so first time. And of the 33,412 trainees who passed their literacy test, 86.4 per cent did so at the first attempt.

Last year the figure was 80 per cent for both. Under Mr Gove’s plans, woefully poor trainees will no longer be allowed in the classroom.

His policy would have weeded out 1,963 for poor literacy and 2,939 for poor numeracy last year. But critics say his crackdown does not go far enough.

Passing the numeracy test has been a requirement of Qualified Teacher Status since 2000. Passing tests in literacy and ICT were made compulsory the following year.

Students sit the online tests in the final year of teacher training. They were originally allowed just four or five attempts to pass. But Labour scrapped the rule in 2001 to allow unlimited resits.

Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, said: ‘It’s shocking we have allowed people to become teachers who don’t fully grasp our language or handle numbers and who we have let slip through the net on the 37th attempt.

‘The nature of tests is that ... people will be able to fluke them, which means they pass but have no proper understanding of the subject – much like with driving tests. Three attempts will reduce this possibility, but it does not go far enough.’


Australia: Vicious little thugs in class of chaos as principals and teachers are abused, threatened or bashed in NSW

PRINCIPALS and teachers are abused, threatened or bashed daily in schools by violent students, angry parents or intruders with a grudge.

Almost 460 serious incidents including 130 violent acts against school staff were logged during term one and term two this year in reports to the Department of Education and Communities.

The reports, obtained under freedom of information laws, show educators receive death threats, are forced to disarm weapon-wielding students and sometimes are injured and hospitalised in attacks.

While some of the most serious incidents involve intruders or angry parents, teachers are also threatened and assaulted by badly behaved students in class.

Some children become so out of control at school they throw furniture, smash windows and assault teachers by biting, kicking and hitting, forcing a number to seek an apprehended violence order for protection. Among the cases documented in reports to the department:

A TEACHER was hit in the back by a rock; and

A THREAT was made during a classroom confrontation to use a hacksaw blade from the industrial arts room.

The Department of Education and Communities said the safety of students and staff was its "top priority".

"Close to 90 per cent of the state's schools regularly report no such incidents and the great majority of the remaining 10 per cent report only one incidence of violence each school semester, with the bulk of these not being serious enough to result in anyone being charged by police," a spokesperson said.

"Schools receive information via students' enrolment information which assists them to safely support students once they are enrolled and to contribute to the safety of everyone in the school community.

"Where required, schools implement behaviour support plans for individual students to promote effective learning and manage factors that may impact on behaviour."

Teachers Federation senior vice-president Joan Lemaire also said schools were overwhelmingly safe places but added she was "deeply concerned" about any violence that occurred.

The federation has complained about inadequate staff and resources to cope with problems in some schools and has concerns some students with behaviour issues are still being enrolled without a thorough risk assessment.

Four years ago a survey of beginner teachers found bad behaviour by students was driving many out of the job.


Sunday, November 06, 2011

Student Suspended for Breaking School's Zero-Tolerance No-Hugging Policy

A 14-year-old Florida student who hugged his friend was suspended as a result of his middle school's zero-tolerance no-hugging policy, reported. Nick Martinez said he gave a quick hug to his best friend, a female student, between classes.

The public display of affection was spotted by the principal of Palm Bay's Southwest Middle School, 74 miles southeast of Orlando. While the principal said he believed the hug was innocent, he brought the two students to the school's dean, who penalized them with in-school suspensions.

According to the Southwest Middle School's student handbook, students can receive a one-day out-of-school suspension for kissing, while students caught hugging or hand-holding are penalized with a dean's detention or suspension.

School administrators said a committee of parents approved the "no hugging" policy years ago, and there aren't plans to change it any time soon. The school's strict policy stipulates that there is no difference between an unwanted hug, or sexual harassment, and a hug between friends.

Christine Davis, spokesman for Brevard County School said the school's "focus is on learning; therefore, we cannot discriminate or make an opinion on what is an appropriate hug, what's not an appropriate hug," said Davis. "What you may think is appropriate, another person may view as inappropriate."

"A lot of friends are hugging. I just happened to be the one caught doing it," Nick said. "Honestly, I didn't know because I didn't think hugging was a bad thing. I didn't know you could get suspended for it."

Nick's mother, Nancy Crecente, said she plans to ask the school board to change the policy.


New Charges Surface Against antisemitic Professor

by Mike Adams

Dear Governor Kasich

It has been awhile since we talked about the case of Julio Pino – a tenured member of the faculty of Kent State University. Shortly after I last wrote to you there was a Secret Service raid on his home. The raid was meant to ensure that certain veiled threats directed to the Obama White House were not a prelude to some planned act of violence. I thank you for any role you may have played in helping alert the federal authorities.

As you may know, Pino is continuing to cause substantial problems in Ohio. I recently received a letter from a Jewish student at Kent State who was concerned after Pino created a scene at an event cosponsored by Hillel. (You may have heard of the incident in question but please read this letter in its entirety. It contains new allegations you may find disturbing).

Student members of Hillel have elected to take action with the help of some other leaders on campus. They are not satisfied with the way the University appears to be handling the situation. Not enough is being done to deal with a professor who has resorted to using intimidation to advance his own personal jihad against others including Jewish students.

Some examples of anti-Semitic intimidation of students include the following:

1. Professor Pino calling a Jewish student who had served in the Israeli Army “his favorite war criminal” and;

2. Telling another Jewish student that “because you are Jewish, you will burn in hell.”

This second allegation is particularly problematic because it allegedly occurred in class with a student under his supervision. It is also particularly problematic because the university refuses to investigate the incident. The targeted Jewish student has reported the incident to officials at Kent State. But no investigation has been launched. Nor do Kent State officials seem to know the status of the report filed by the student.

It bears repeating: Kent State knows Julio Pino has been accused of telling a Jewish student – in class, mind you – that he will “burn in hell” simply because he is Jewish. And they refuse to investigate Pino.

Governor Kasich, I am asking for your help. I want your office to order the investigation of Pino to begin immediately. If action is not taken against Professor Pino, this will not only set the bar for the acceptance of anti-Semitism on campus, but it also will open the door for others at Kent State and around the country to abuse their positions as educators to whom students open their minds.

In other words, we can ignore what Professor Pino does outside the classroom but not what he does inside the classroom. That is not to dismiss the severity of Pino’s off-campus conduct. After all, he posted bomb-making instructions on a terrorist website during a time of war. And he specifically called for the weapons to be used against U.S. troops. But that is an issue for the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.

Ohio taxpayers have specific interests the federal government does not – such as combating religious harassment in state-supported classrooms.

Indeed, many members of the Kent State student body want to make sure Professor Pino is held accountable in accordance with the severity of his words and deeds. Students are enraged at this situation, and so are many Ohio taxpayers who are funding this Professor’s in-class bigotry. I hope that you can offer your insight and support, given your knowledge of Professor Pino’s previous actions.

Thank you so much,
Mike S. Adams

p.s. It has now been eighteen months since Professor Pino was investigated on allegations that he sent an email from his office using his university account ( saying the following: “I (expletive) your mother up her greasy (expletive) and (expletive) when you aren’t looking.” Pino’s defense is that his computer account was hacked. The university has not yet concluded the investigation. In other words, it appears that they really did not investigate Pino.

p.p.s. I was the recipient of the aforementioned email and can provide a copy to the Governor’s Office upon request.


Bright pupils struggling with basic grammar, says top head

One of Britain’s top private schools is introducing back-to-basics lessons in grammar amid fears that growing numbers of new pupils lack the most basic command of written English.

St Paul’s Girls’ School has been forced to stage a crash course in simple grammatical rules because too many young children struggle with the correct use of capital letters, plurals, commas, full-stops and irregular verbs.

Clarissa Farr, the school’s High Mistress, suggested that “proper grammar” had a bad image and feared that many primary schools were failing to teach the subject in case children found it boring.

It was also claimed that some pupils' written English was being undermined by the use of mobile phones and the internet.

St Paul’s Girls’ School in Hammersmith, west London, is now staging traditional lessons in grammar for all children aged 11 to 14 to address the concerns.

For the first time this term, girls are being given a dedicated class every fortnight covering a full range of issues such as sentence structure and the use of commas, colons and full-stops. It will also cover confusing words, capital letters and formal and informal speech.

The move comes after the Government announced earlier this year that pupils would lose marks in GCSE exams for poor spelling, punctuation and grammar amid concerns over falling standards of English.

Ms Farr said: “You would think that we might be attracting pupils who already have a pretty strong command of English grammar given that we’re very strong academically and that we expect a very high standard from the pupils that we test for admission. “However, the reality is that a lot of our students don’t have even a basic command, as we would see it, of the rules of conventional grammar when they arrive.”

Some 93.2 per cent of A-levels sat by sixth-formers at the fee-paying school this summer were graded A* or A. It also has a higher proportion of pupils accepted into Oxbridge than almost any other school.

In an interview with the Telegraph, Ms Farr said many new pupils were highly imaginative but struggled to express their ideas accurately on the page. “Maybe there’s a message here for what needs to be going on at primary level,” she added. “There appears to have been a shying away from the teaching of these basic skills, maybe for fear that they are dull or seen as too hard.

“Actually, they do not need to be dull. Girls are finding that they can be quite enjoyable and can give them a tremendous sense of achievement.”

The school has devised a structured programme of grammar lessons for all pupils in the first three years of school. Dr Jonathan Patrick, the school’s head of English, who devised the curriculum, said common mistakes included “comma splicing” – when pupils wrongly employ a comma to join two independent clauses.

Other frequent errors include the misuse of common words, including “however” as a straight replacement for “but”, “less” instead of “fewer” and confusing the terms “number” and “amount”, he said.

He suggested that screen-based technology may be damaging children’s writing skills. “I think that most young people are dealing with text or writing either through a mobile phone or computer and I do think that standards across the board [are suffering],” he said.

“My friends still laugh at me for using colons and semi-colons in text messages but they are in danger of dying out. We have to accept that this is where young people are using language most frequently – in electronic forms – and therefore maybe the principles need to be restated.”