Saturday, May 19, 2012

Hooray!  Britain's  Leather lady is gone

'Quango queen' accused of running class war on private schools steps down

Dame Suzi Leather will stand down as chair of the Charity Commission in July after six years in the post, the government has confirmed.

Her departure follows criticism that she has pursued a class war against independent schools by demanding that they provide services to the poorest children or face losing their charitable status.

Private school headteachers and Conservative MPs have objected to the commission’s enforcement of new laws, introduced under Labour,requiring charities to prove they provide “public benefit” in order to keep lucrative charitable tax-breaks. A review of the laws has since been launched.

Dame Suzi, 56, has been nicknamed the “quango queen” for holding 30 public-sector posts over the past decade and a half.

Last year she was paid £80,000 for her part-time post at the Charity Commission, which she has held since August 2006.

Her previous roles include chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, the School Food Trust, an NHS Trust and a community project. She was also the first Deputy Chair of the Food Standards Agency.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: “Dame Suzi Leather, the Chair of the Charity Commission, is due to step down on 31 July after six years in office.  “We will be advertising for a new Chair of the Charity Commission very shortly.

“As a public appointment, the recruitment process will be conducted in line with the Code of Practice for Ministerial Appointments to Public Bodies, under the principles of merit, fairness and openness.”

A spokesman for the Charity Commission said Dame Suzi had reached the end of her second term of office and was ineligible for a further term.


Friday, May 18, 2012

NJ Teacher Accused of Criticizing Homosexuality

Jenye "Viki" Knox

(Union Township, New Jersey)
The Union Township High School teacher who created a firestorm last year after allegedly posting anti-gay comments on her Facebook page, wants to retire on a disability pension rather than face tenure charges.

Jenye "Viki" Knox, 50, a tenured special education teacher who has taught in Union since 2000, wrote on her personal Facebook page that homosexuality is a "perverted spirit" and "unnatural immoral behavior," according to charges of unbecoming conduct brought by her district.

She also criticized other teachers on Facebook for putting up a "Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Transgender" bulletin board in the high school and for proposing a school gay-straight alliance, according to the charges.

The tenure charge case was to begin Tuesday before a state Administrative Law Judge, but Knox filed a motion earlier this month asking that it be delayed while she seeks a disability pension due to both a back injury and "psychological grounds." She did not elaborate. A judge Wednesday agreed to list the case as inactive for three months.
The controversy inescapably endures.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Eliminating the US Department of Education: Is it really that nutty an idea?

Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson believes in the elimination of the US Department of Education.  Is this an extreme position?  Let's take a look at several of the myths about what such an elimination would mean.

Myth #1--Eliminating the Department of Education would end all Federal role in public education.  Not bloody likely.  It isn't like the Feds did not have a role in public education before 1979, when President Jimmy Carter created the stand-alone department.  Most of the functions that went into the new Department of Education were split off from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare [which was renamed the Department of Health and Human Services].  In addition, various programs from the Department's of Justice, Defense, HUD, and Agriculture were included, although Headstart, Department of Agriculture school lunch programs, Department of the Interior Indian Education programs, and Department of Labor training programs were held out.

So what is envisioned is not (some would say, unfortunately) the complete elimination of Federal roles in public education, but a return to the organization in which the Office of Education under the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare was reduced from cabinet status.

Myth #2--Public education needs a cabinet-level spokesperson.  There are excellent reasons for eliminating the cabinet-level post for Education, and the foremost has been that the position has generally been held by hack politicians (Lamar Alexander), ideologues (William Bennett), or supposedly successful school reformers like Richard Riley (who gave us high-stakes testing), Roderick Paige (No Child Left Behind) and Arne Duncan (Race to the Top).

There is no example of leadership at the US Secretary of Education level that can be provided to suggest that these individuals have left American public schools any better off than they were before the establishment of the Department of Education.

In fact, the evidence points in the opposite direction.  For example, not only has President Obama's Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, been architect of the disastrous Race to the Top program, which (as my friend John Young is fond of reminding us) has absolutely NO research basis supporting it, he has also presided over such policies as investing Federal Education dollars directly into charter schools rather than traditional schools, and reducing the due process protections for teachers at all levels accused of inappropriate behavior.

We don't need a Secretary of Education.

Myth #3--Eliminating the Department of Education would significantly reduce the funds available to public schools.

Not hardly.  Let's look at a slightly more reliable arm of the government for that data:  the US Census Bureau.  In its May 2011 report of funding public education (which uses 2009 data, which is--as usual with the Feds--the latest available), the Census Bureau concludes that the Federal government provides only 9.5% of the funding for primary and secondary public education.

Let's look at it from the other end:  the States and localities provide 90.5% of the funding for public education.

Moreover, the funding levels vary radically by state.  In Delaware, for example, the Feds provide only 6.6% of education funding--we provide the other 93.4% ourselves.  The range reported by the Census Bureau runs from a high of 15.6% in Louisiana to a low of 4.0% in New Jersey.

It is also important to remember that not all of the Federal funding comes via the Department of Education.

But it is also important to note that, especially under Ronald Reagan (imagine that!), the Department of Education was used to weaken local control of public education by increasing the power held by the States:
President Reagan also took steps to increase state power over education at the expense of local school districts. Federal funds that had flowed directly to local districts were redirected to state government. Moreover, federal monies were provided to beef up education staffing at the state level. The result was to seriously erode the power of local school districts.
This actually makes tremendous sense from a political standpoint.  Diverting Federal Education dollars from local districts to the States, and allowing the Governors to beef up their own educational bureaucraies is a tried-and-true mechanism for passing out pork into the political system rather than pushing money down into the classrooms.

[The assertion that Reagan gutted Federal spending in Education is, however, unwarranted; in 1980 the Department of Education budget was $14 billion; when Reagan left office it was $20 billion.]

Now for some realities:

Reality #1--Big, heavily funded Federal initiatives in public education have, almost uniformly, been failures.  I am not going to rehash here all the disasters that accompanied No Child Left Behind, because it has expired due to "death by waiver," only to be replaced by something (you didn't think it was possible) . . . worse.  Quoth WaPo:

But instead of offering states the right to opt out of the 2014 [NCLB] goal, the administration said they would grant waivers only to those states that did what they wanted in terms of school reform. And the Education Department’s reforms have done nothing to limit damaging high-stakes standardized testing, but instead exacerbated the problem by encouraging states to evaluate teachers in part by student test scores, a scheme assessment experts say is invalid.

In fact, RTTT has been a virtually unmitigated disaster.  Just look at Delaware's first-year report in which a significant amount of sophistry has to be expended to explain away the fact that, despite all the high hopes, Delaware test scores in the first year of the program declined precipitously.  When that happens, you generally blame one of three possible suspects:  the students, the teachers, or the test. RTTT proponents blame the test . . . you know, the test they devised.

I really, really, really (did I say really) encourage you to read about what Delaware spent its first-year allocation of about $28 million from the total $112 million grant on.  I pretty much defy you to find any spending on Delaware's worst poverty-stricken students, or any flexibility given to local schools or school districts.


Free Our Kids From Arne Duncan

President Obama now commands center stage following his formal announcement that, yes, he supports same sex marriage.

But for perspective on how we got to this point, we should shift our sights to three days before the president’s announcement. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan appeared on MSNBC where he responded “yes, I do” when asked if he supports same sex marriage.

Duncan at best raised a few eyebrows by stating his support for same sex marriage.

If he had said that homosexuality is immoral there would have been demands for his ouster.

How have we gone from a nation where our first president, George Washington, admonished that religion and morality are “indispensable” to ‘political prosperity” to one, today, in which our president says “same-sex couples should be able to get married?”

On the marriage issue, the national transformation has been breathtaking. A new Gallup poll shows the nation evenly divided – 50 percent saying same-sex marriage should be valid and 48 percent saying it should not be. When Gallup asked the same question in 1996, 68 percent opposed legalization of same sex marriage against 27 percent in favor.

In just 16 years the gap between those opposed and in support of same sex marriage has gone from a 41 point difference to practically zero.

Our public schools are controlled locally. But the influence of the federal government is substantial. The Department of Education, per its website, “administers a budget of $68.1 billion dollars in discretionary appropriations…” serving “…nearly 16,000 school districts and approximately 49 million students…”

It’s not trivial that Duncan, the man who oversees this massive enterprise molding the minds of our nation’s youth, publicly rejects the traditional definition of marriage in favor of one saying it just takes two (so far) warm bodies of any gender combination.

The president brandishes one of his favorite words in explaining his support for same sex marriage. “Fairness.” Actually, this is about unfairness.

We have bought into a grand illusion that we can make our public spaces value neutral. But this is impossible.   The struggle in our public spaces is about competing world views. Not neutrality.

As one court ruling after another has purged religious expression from our public spaces, we have unfairly suppressed traditional values in favor of promoting alternative secular views.

As we have sanitized our public schools from prayer, from displays of the Ten Commandments, from any teaching that can be associated with biblical sources, we’ve put government monopoly power behind moral relativism.

California, for instance, has a new law mandating teaching gay history in public schools. A similar mandate to teach Christian history would be challenged constitutionally.

2011-2012 Resolutions of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union, include support of same sex marriage and sex education programs that appreciate “diversity of …sexual orientation and gender identification.”

Randi Weingarten, president of the nation’s second largest teacher’s union, American Federation of Teachers, lives in an open lesbian relationship.

It should come as no surprise when President Obama says he sees much of the growth in support for same sex marriage as “generational,” with strong support coming from our youth.

Attitudes reflect education. We have created a world in which it is illegal to teach youth in our public schools traditional religious values but it is not illegal to teach them competing values of nihilism, materialism, and relativism. And these competing values are actively promoted.

As elsewhere, the main victims are poor, minority kids, often from broken families, held hostage in these public schools and prohibited from being taught the very values that could save their lives.

Is there a way out? I only see one. Universal school choice. Liberate parents and kids from government and union controlled schools. In a free America, parents who don’t share Arne Duncan’s values shouldn’t have them forced on them.


British schools 'shun traditional values in race for exam results'

Children are failing to pick up traditional values at school as teachers increasingly prioritise exam results over the development of pupils’ “character”, according to a leading headmaster.

The sheer demands placed on timetables are leaving schools with little opportunity to promote resilience, optimism, courage, generosity, empathy and good manners, it was claimed.

Anthony Seldon, the Master of Wellington College, Berkshire, said old-fashioned values were traditionally passed on to pupils through competitive sport, artistic performances and voluntary work in the local community.

But he warned that this was being lost in many schools because of the “headlong pursuit of exam results” to climb league tables and hit targets.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph on Wednesday, he said that families, religious leaders and the media were also failing to provide the moral leadership that children need at a young age.

The comments come as the Government prepares to publish the findings of an official evaluation of its new “national service” programme for teenagers on Wednesday.

The National Citizen Service offers 16-year olds the opportunity to take part in an outward-bounds course and voluntary work to give young people the “skills, values and confidence they will need as they move into adulthood”. In March, the Coalition said it was tripling the number of places on the programme to 30,000 this year in the wake of last summer’s riots.

In a separate development, a new research centre based at Birmingham University was also due to be launched on Wednesday to promote and strengthen a sense of “character” within schools, families, communities and the private sector.

The Jubilee Centre of Character and Values – based at the university’s School of Education – is being funded through a multi-million pound investment from the John Templeton Foundation.

Dr Seldon said: “The character strengths it will advocate are self-restraint, resilience, optimism, courage, generosity, modesty, empathy, kindness and good manners. Old-fashioned values, maybe.

“Some will sneer, and ridicule them as middle class or ‘public school’ values. But these are eternal values, as advocated by Aristotle and countless thinkers since.”

He said it was an “indictment of us all” that these initiatives are needed at all.

A stronger grounding in “ethics and values from within schools and families, a better example from our political and religious leaders, and a more elevating diet from the media” would have off-set the need for such a centre to have been built, said Dr Seldon.

The comments come just months after the Prince of Wales said that schools should provide more team games, outdoor activities and practical workshops to help pupils develop character.

Writing today, Dr Seldon added: “Schools have too little opportunity to teach about character because of their headlong pursuit of exam results, while families no longer provide the same settled background that they did a generation ago for children to learn about values.”


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Surviving the Perfect Storm

The Pope Center’s Jay Schalin addresses the University of North Carolina’s Faculty Assembly

On February 20, two Pope Center representatives, Jane Shaw and I, addressed the University of North Carolina system’s Faculty Assembly, an advisory committee to the UNC Board of Governors. Our topic was the future funding of the university, and we were provided with pre-meeting reading materials by former UNC system president Erskine Bowles, AAUP president Cary Nelson, and higher education observer and analyst Jane Wellman.

Jane and I knew we would be speaking to an audience that might be resistant to higher education reform and might oppose the Pope Center’s positions. However, we decided not to soften our message to curry acceptance; rather, we were pleased to have the opportunity to talk straight to those we have wanted to reach, many of whom were unfamiliar with the ideas underlying higher education reform. We divided up the duties: I gave an overview of the major trends, while Jane followed with some practical suggestions for reform.

Our efforts had mixed results. Although some faculty members in attendance were openly not thrilled at our presentations, we also discovered a few new friends. Here is a slightly adapted version of my speech. Jane's speech is here.
I’d like to begin by saying that we agree with a great deal of the descriptive analysis put forth in the pre-meeting materials, including an essay by former UNC president Erskine Bowles. Those materials, especially the speech by Bowles given before the American Association of Colleges and Universities, suggested that higher education will face increasingly scarce resources and waning public confidence in the future. Higher education, and indeed the nation, are at an important crossroads. Both have had an amazing run of growth and prosperity since World War II, but now there is more uncertainty than there has been for many years.

President Bowles and the others may even have understated the situation. There is a growing alignment of forces, trends, events, and opinions lining up as if they might turn into a “perfect storm” against our traditional four-year colleges and universities. Our economy is not sound, and Europe’s problems may make things even worse going forward. Higher education faces new competition, changing attitudes, changing technology, and changing politics.

But while we agree as to what higher education’s problems are, we differ greatly from Bowles and the other authors in our views on what you must do about these problems. I do not believe the Pope Center was asked here to merely affirm what others are saying, but to offer our own unique take as we pursue our mission to foster excellence and efficiency in higher education.

I love higher education—it made me smarter. I love visiting campuses and attending lectures. I love working with students and I love exchanging ideas with the many professors I encounter, even those I do not agree with.

I also respect you enough not to soften our true message in order to ingratiate ourselves with you. Instead, we wish to use this opportunity to speak from the heart. Many of you are unfamiliar with us, or are unfamiliar with our views; you may find our ideas a bit shocking or threatening. That is not our intent; if we offend, forgive us; we only want you to look at these matters from a new perspective, so that together we can preserve what is best about higher education. This means that those inside the academia respond to the changing environment, not with intransigence, but a spirit of cooperation. 

I agree with Cary Nelson’s observation that the current situation calls for fundamental changes. His suggestion that the federal government take over all higher education is a pipe–dream, however. Nor would I call your year-to-year funding and salary concerns “crumbs,” as he does. But he is correct to this extent: If all you do, as faculty, is pressure the legislature for more money, raise tuition, and fine-tune your funding formulas, you will do nothing but fight losing battles. You’ve been doing these same things for many years, and yet, this perfect storm continues to build.

The perfect storm continues to build.  There are two reasons why it continues to do so. One is the economy, something over which you have no control. There is a very good chance that it will continue to shrink the resources available to you. The other is to be found in Jane Wellman’s presentation in the pre-meeting materials. She observes that there is “increasing public questioning about both value and values” with respect to higher education. Addressing that problem—actually, it’s several problems, at the least—is the key to maintaining your position as the educational and intellectual center of the nation.

Consider the effects of the student loan debt bubble that’s been building. Even the New York Times has acknowledged its probable existence. Many young people have had their lives ruined by taking on more debt than they can handle to pay for their education, which has often been in disciplines that offer minimal employment prospects. It’s only rational that people question whether higher education is still the path to prosperity.

Already, as Wellman suggests, only 40 percent of the population thinks that higher education is a good or excellent value.

There was a time when all college degrees had great prestige and indicated a certain amount of accomplishment. That no longer seems to be the case. A study by two professors in the University of California system, Philip Babcock and Mindy Marks, entitled Leisure College, USA: The Decline in Student Study Time, found that the average amount a college student studies has dropped from 24 hours a week in 1961 to 14 hours in 2003; 37 percent now study five hours or less.

You should remember that every student who graduates with a degree in a weak program, with poor academic skills, a poor work ethic, and a mind full of immature and anti-social attitudes, is a walking advertisement that higher education is a poor value. I understand that such graduates are in the minority, but it’s a big enough minority that many people notice them. To make degrees more meaningful, you must raise and enforce standards; perhaps it will cause some short-term losses in enrollment and academic jobs, but it will preserve higher education’s image in the long run.

Another element is that many ideas commonplace in the academy are in deep conflict with the values of Middle America. In our universities, faculty often attack what people hold dear. How long will it be before how they will look elsewhere for knowledge and wisdom?

When people feel that an institution is no longer aligned with their best interests and their culture, they seek and find alternatives. At the Pope Center, we see—and are sometimes in touch with—a world that is positively roiling with all kinds of ideas and innovations intended to reform, or even replace, the traditional university. For example, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Peter Thiel has established a program in which he pays gifted young people to forego college in order to concentrate on their passions—so far several successful businesses have been spawned.

Many such ideas and innovations only exist on the fringe right now, but some are gradually making their way into the mainstream. They won’t change your world overnight, but may in the future. Remember that only a few years ago home schooling was a rare novelty. Since then, its growth has been explosive.

The university disregards such concerns—the concerns of the “questioning public”—at its peril. The public consists of taxpayers and voters, who choose the legislators that control state appropriations.  They are parents, who can chose to pay or not pay tuition, and they are prospective students, who can choose other options.  And they are employers who hire for good jobs. They are the alumni who donate to your endowment.

The members of the public are the key to your future funding. So far, they are only beginning to turn away from traditional college education—but they will increasingly need convincing. To do so, you will have to make hard decisions and cast off some long-held assumptions. But in the long run, the academy will be stronger—if, perhaps, a little smaller—because of it.


It is time to end the public schools

I just heard about a little boy—a six-year-old in First Grade—who is being treated like a sex criminal by the drooling half-wits who run the Aurora (Colorado) school system because he quoted an M&Ms commercial to a little girl his own age. Something about "I'm sexy and I know it", a concept of which the poor kid can't possibly have any understanding.

Everybody reading this knows that this is just the latest in an endless series—"a long train of abuses and usurpations" if I ever saw one—of Nazi-like idiocies occurring all over the country, and in Canada, as well. The last one that pissed off every intelligent individual on the continent was when a little girl drew a picture of a gun of some kind, and her father got strip-searched and their home invaded by uniformed goons with the intelligence of vicious man-eating eggplants.

You'll almost certainly recall that criminal incidents like this go back all the way to items like children bringing butter-knives to school—so they could use them to eat the brown-bag lunch they'd brought from home, something else that's now effectively been rendered illegal by food fascists—and being treated like they'd brought an AK-47.

While we're here, exactly what's wrong with bringing an AK-47 to school? Within living memory, kids used to bring their rifles so they could hunt rabbits on the way home. (I'm not sure my dad ever did this, himself, as a little kid in Walden, Colorado, but there's a photo around here somewhere showing him cuddling his "kitty"—a bobcat with enormous tufts on its ears.) In crumbling concrete jungles like "progressives" have made of, say, Detroit or the South Bronx, it might even be necessary for survival. Last time I looked there wasn't any qualifying age on the Bill of Rights, and that includes the Second Amendment.

There's an extremely good reason for that. The Bill of Rights isn't about us, it's about them. It isn't a list of things we're permitted to do, it's a list of things they aren't allowed even to consider.

But I digress. Don't you hate it when that happens?

Stuff like this goes back a hell of a lot further, in fact, than the butter knife incident. When I was a mere fourth grader in Gifford, Illinois (this would have been about 1955, the year that Davy Crockett was a big deal) I pushed a girl who was at least a head taller than I was off the corner of my desk where she had parked her backside just to annoy me. The teacher, a mad shrike who ended up retiring early for reasons of insanity, grabbed me up and slammed my head against the blackboard.

To some, this may explain a lot.

I was then rocketed straight to the principal's office, where the imbecile in charge wanted to know (apparently he'd just read a book) if I went to the movies, and what movie I'd seen last. It happened to be an Audie Murphy western (remember Audie Murphy?), confirming his most horrified expectations. When I got home (a four-block walk in a tiny farming community) and told my folks—who, whatever complaints I ever had about them, always sided with me against the authorities— all hell broke loose. Mom and Dad rattled the school system pretty well.

You could do that, way back then. Another principal of mine—in Sixth Grade—wound up being molasses-and-feathered by irate parents at his next school (every schoolboy's dream). Today, however, here in the United Soviet States of America, it would end the way it did at Waco.

Nowadays, the Glorious People's School System, crammed even fuller of cowards, criminals, and cretins than it was back then, calls the cops. The Thin Blue Line arrives to rachet handcuffs onto little kids and drag them off, traumatized for life, to Durance Vile Junior. I can't believe that no parent so far has shot one of these bastard thugs.

Be that as it may, it is time—and past time—to put these public torture and indoctrination centers out of our misery. It is time to let the kids go home, empty the criminals out of the buildings and raze them to the ground, so that not one stone is left standing on another, and to sow salt on the ruins. And if you can tell me where that idea comes from you were clearly not educated in the public schools.

"But," I pretend to hear you whimper, "wouldn't we be losing valuable aspects of public education? What about the great need to socialize our children properly?" (This is the stock statist argument against home-schooling, as well.) They may feel a need to "socialize" our children, but parents who allow their children to be "socialized" by them shouldn't be surprised when their children grow up to be socialists.

What other valuable accomplishments of modern public education will we be losing by firing these freeloaders and demolishing their day-prisons?

How about mass functional illiteracy, demonstrated by so-called journalists who are (or pretend to be) unable to parse a simple sentence, so that a speaker's concern for his own life and freedom under a given administration is misinterpreted as a threat against that administration? (The reference here is to Ted Nugent, who is a perfect fool in his own right—as is any defender of the Second Amendment who urges other people to vote for Mitt Romney—but he was speaking clearly that day, and I had no trouble at all understanding him.)

How about our children (possibly as an exercise in tolerating abuse by the government) being bullied, beaten up, and robbed by dunces? In an earlier time, our parents taught us how to deal with bullies—I had to do it several times, myself—and it always worked. Today the act of self-defense is punished as if it were aggression.

How about our kids continuing to be brainwashed with massively discredited crackpot theories like global warming—or, in general, environmentalism—Keynesian economics, Neomarxism, or anything promoted by the genocidal United Nations, to a point where they feel they have to apologize for being alive, or even wish that they were not?

No thanks.  It's time we rid ourselves of all these stupid, evil, and insane institutions for good. There is everything to gain and nothing to lose.

Absolutely nothing.  Where public school is concerned, there is no baby in the bath water.


Exactly why is college worth it today?

At a debate last Tuesday in downtown Manhattan put on by Intelligence Squared US, writer Malcolm Gladwell moved the audience to support a ban on college football; his best argument was, roughly, why is a dangerous sport like football tied to higher education at all?

But these days, you’ve got to wonder if much of anything that goes on in college has any useful purpose.  Graduates are leaving school with massive debt and ever-fewer job prospects. What are they spending all that money for?

Rutgers University last week released a study showing the grim picture for those who finished college in the last five years. Only one in two graduates has a full-time job — and 40 percent of those jobs don’t actually require the expensive four-year degree.

Colleges have long held themselves up as places of intellectual pursuits, not factories of future employees. But while universities may not see themselves as somewhere to prepare for a future career, it’s unlikely that students paying more than $100,000 for a four-year degree feel the same way.

Administrators aren’t above stringing the kids along, either. Students studying for a liberal-arts degree often hear they can do “anything” with it. That “anything,” however, could just as easily be nothing.

As for that intellectual growth: A study last year by professors Richard Arum (of New York University) and Josipa Roksa (of the University of Virginia) found that “45 percent of students show ‘no significant gains in learning’ after two years in college.”

Students not only aren’t getting valuable job skills, they’re not even learning rewarding but useless stuff. So what’s the point of college at all? (At least some of those football players manage to go pro — are they the smart ones, after all?)

It’s easy, of course, to say that college is a scam and we should have our children opt out — look at all the success stories of people who didn’t finish college. The challenge would be to find the first parents to start that opt-out revolution. All parents want to give their children a competitive edge in life, and for the last century that has meant attending college.

Maybe it’s time to change the model of what college does for its students. Maybe instead of “Shakespeare in Film” (much as I loved spending afternoons in class watching Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson), we need more courses that focus on resume-building, interview skills or other education often relegated to an understaffed Career Office.

All of college is a career office; it’s time institutions of higher education started accepting that.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Education Department Pushes Racial Quotas in School Discipline

At Point of Law, Ted Frank of the Manhattan Institute criticizes the Obama Administration's demand for de facto racial quotas in school discipline:

Seventy percent of African-American children are born to single mothers. Moreover, children growing up in the African-American community face the peer pressure of gangsta culture: success in school results in ostracism for "acting white."  With such dysfunction in the African-American community one would expect African-American children to have more disciplinary problems than average. And indeed they do: "black students were three and a half times as likely to be suspended or expelled than their white peers". These problems are certainly difficult: how do you change the culture?

Unfortunately, the Obama administration is proposing counterproductive policies that would reduce personal responsibility.

According to the Obama administration, the disparity in discipline is a "civil rights" issue of "equity." The Department of Education is threatening "disparate impact" inquiries on school districts that discipline blacks more than whites or Asians. School districts could only comply by failing to discipline poorly-behaving African-American students; disciplining well-behaving whites to get the numbers up will just result in lawsuits. The consequences would be disastrous. Poorly-behaving African-Americans are most likely to be attending majority-minority schools. The ultimate effect is a wealth transfer from well-behaved African-American students trying to learn to thugs interfering with that process, only adding to the dysfunction in public schools and the African-American community.

Racial quotas in school discipline will indeed "result in lawsuits," as white and Asian students sue over being disciplined for conduct that triggered no discipline when committed by a black peer (unless the school manages to conceal from the public the fact that it is applying a de facto quota).  In People Who Care v. Rockford Board of Education, 111 F.3d 528, 534 (1997), the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit declared that racial quotas and racial-balance requirements in school discipline are unconstitutional, and also stated that it is unconstitutional to use racial preferences to offset "disparate impact" (that is, statistical disparities not caused by the school's racism).  Moreover, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal statute banning racial discrimination in schools, Title VI, does not even prohibit unintentional "discrimination" such as "disparate impact," in its Alexander v. Sandoval decision.

While seeking to hold innocent school officials liable for racial discrimination based on statistical disparities that result from socioeconomic factors like broken homes, rather than racism, the Education Department has embraced the racial demagogue Al Sharpton.  Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently called for  "a huge round of applause for our leader, Reverend Al Sharpton."  (This was shortly after "Attorney General Eric Holder," the head of the Justice Department, praised Sharpton, calling him a "tireless" champion of the "voiceless" and "powerless.")  This is the same Al Sharpton who has a record of "inciting murderous riots; slandering Jews, Mormons, and homosexuals; libeling a state prosecutor in the course of championing Tawana Brawley's fabrication of a racial `hate crime.'" Even the Washington Post`s Dana Milbank, an apologist for Sharpton, admits that Sharpton "burst onto the national scene as the mouthpiece for Tawana Brawley," "who falsely claimed that she had been raped by white men."  Sharpton was found guilty of defamation for making false, racially inflammatory claims about the Tawana Brawley case that included sexually smearing an innocent prosecutor in ways that I cannot describe here due to its vileness.  "His image worsened a few years later when Jewish leaders in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, accused him of inflaming anti-Semitism. Then came the 1995 Harlem protest at which he called a Jewish landlord a `white interloper' - followed by an attack on the landlord's store that left eight people dead."

But the bigoted Sharpton gets applause from the Education Secretary, while school officials just trying to make school a safe place by disciplining violent or disruptive students get investigated for racial discrimination, or pressured to base discipline on a student's race.  Former educator Edmund Janko explains here how he used to discipline white students more than black students in order to avoid a discrimination investigation by the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights (where I used to work.) Janko would suspend whites for offenses that earned black students only a reprimand. That way, he could meet an informal racial quota in school suspensions.


British schools forced to spend £328m on 'over-inflated' exams

Head teachers criticised the "over-inflated" exams system today after it emerged that schools were forced to spend almost £330m on GCSEs and A-levels last year.

Figures show that the amount of taxpayers' money spent on tests increased by 8.5 per cent in the last 12 months, despite a drop in the overall number of qualifications awarded.

In total, exam fees have more than doubled in the last eight yeas and now account for the second largest share of school running costs.

The disclosure will prompt fresh concerns over the cost of qualifications offered by Britain's biggest exam boards.

According to Ofqual, the exams regulator, all major exam boards recorded increased turnover in the last financial year.

The Association of School and College Leaders warned that fees had soared because of repeated political meddling in the exams system, including the introduction of bite-sized modules in GCSEs and A-levels and pressure to hit targets - resulting in more pupils re-sitting tests.

Brian Lightman, the union's general secretary, said: "It is further evidence that the exams system is over-inflated.

"This represents a massive amount of public money and you have ask whether it's the best use of resources when so many other parts of the education system are being squeezed. It's money that would have been far better spent on teachers."

Malcolm Trobe, ASCL policy director, added: "The general feeling in schools is that exam fees are too high. The exam boards are being more cost-effective - for example, by doing more marking online - but that's not reflected in the fees that schools have to pay."

Ofqual found that £328.3m had been spent by English state schools on exams in 2010/11. This was up from £302.6m a year earlier and just £154m in 2002/3.

The study revealed that exam fees made up 8.6 per cent of schools' total running costs last year, compared with 7.8 per cent 12 months' earlier and just six per cent eight years ago. It was the second biggest strain on running costs after "learning resources", such as text books, said Ofqual.

The rise comes despite a drop in the number of qualifications awarded last year, it emerged.

Ofqual said the price rise was probably driven by "an increase in the level of the fees charged" by examiners combined with a shift in demand towards more expensive qualifications.

It follows criticism over training seminars staged by senior examiners - normally costing between £100 and £200 per teacher - to help schools boost pupils' GCSE and A-level results.

Today's report covers expenditure on GCSEs and A-levels alongside other qualifications - principally vocational courses.

Fewer GCSEs were awarded but rising numbers of vocational qualifications were sat, it was revealed. Numbers increased to almost 8m from just 2.2m in 2002/03.

The report shows that almost 160,000 students took a Level 1 award in music performance last year, while a similar number took a Level 2 award in food safety in catering - which is equivalent to a GCSE.

It means more people took these courses than traditional GCSEs in chemistry, German, biology, physics or Spanish, although most entrants would have been adults.


British charter schools  accused of selling "incorrect" food

The Coalition’s flagship academies are ignoring healthy eating guidelines by “regularly exposing” children to cakes, crisps, fizzy drinks and fried food, according to research.

Many schools have dropped national standards introduced in the wake of a campaign by Jamie Oliver, the television chef, because of financial constraints and pressure from pupils and parents, it emerged.

The School Food Trust said that schools were failing to act in pupils’ “best interests” and may be driving up obesity rates by permitting the sale of unhealthy food.

But separate research suggested that academies were only performing marginally worse that other state-funded schools and were actually more likely to provide children with free water.

It also emerged that some made annual losses of up to £43,000 on school catering services – the equivalent of an experienced full-time teacher.

The conclusions come just weeks after Mr Oliver attacked a Government decision to exempt academies from healthy eating guidelines, saying four-in-10 children were now overweight.

Today's report said some academies – independent state schools funded directly from Whitehall – were providing "food and drink that complies with many of the standards” but others were “doing less well, particularly with regard to food such as confectionary, soft drinks, starchy foods fried in oil and savoury snacks”.

“Here, children were once again being regularly exposed to foods high in fat, sugar and salt, which the standards were specifically designed to reduce or eliminate," said the trust.

“Many academies appear to have good intentions, but are doing little to monitor what they actually provide to their pupils.”

The last Government launched a crackdown on unhealthy food after a campaign by Mr Oliver showed that pupils were regularly being fed chips and reconstituted meat, such as Bernard Matthews' Turkey Twizzlers.

The sale of high-fat and sugary food was banned from canteens and vending machines following the disclosure.

But academies, which account for around half of state secondary schools in England, are not bound by the rules.

As part of the latest study, the School Food Trust surveyed more than 100 of the schools.

According to the research, a quarter of academies provided crisps and savoury snacks, one-in-six stocked chocolate and more than half sold cereal bars, which are usually high in sugar.

More than eight-in-10 sold squash such as Robinsons Fruit Shoot, Drench and Capri-Sun and a small number provided pupils with Coca Cola, Sprite and energy drinks including Lucozade and Red Bull.

One-in-10 schools said they refused to follow the guidelines and a third thought they were too restrictive. Some heads shunned them because of financial reasons and pressure from parents and pupils, it emerged.

But a separate study – based on in-depth interviews with 13 academies - found that many were performing no worse than other state-funded schools. In some cases, academies were more likely to comply with national rules cutting down on the use of salt, confectionery and condiments and and all academies were more likely to provide pupils with free water.

This study also concluded that most academies made a loss from catering, with one losing £43,000-a-year – the equivalent of one full-time teacher. It comes despite claims last month that academies were profiting from the sale of unhealthy food.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “We trust teachers – the professionals on the frontline – to do what is best for their pupils. Many academies go over and above the minimum requirements and are offering their pupils high quality, nutritional food.

“The School Food Trust’s own research on all secondary school food shows that even with food standards in place, many maintained schools – far from being paragons of nutrition – are not meeting all the standards and are still offering cakes, biscuits, confectionery and non-compliant drinks to their pupils.

"Clearly there is room for improvement in all schools – maintained schools as well as academies.”


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Higher Education Theatre of the Absurd

Higher education today is a nightmare. There are a trillion dollars in potentially toxic student debt. We see people with PhDs on food stamps, a 400% rise in tuition over 20 years, and only 49% of college grads finding jobs within a year.

According to the left, these woes result from a "conservative war on professors."

But wait. If conservatives dislike the professoriate, it is because the professoriate has done an excellent job excluding right-wingers. It is natural for people to hate those who hate them first. It doesn't surprise me if American communists hate Joe McCarthy and Ann Coulter. If educators do not want to be fighting conservatives all the time, maybe they should not have blacklisted and embargoed them for 40 years.

An April 2012 report by the California Association of Scholars provides all the necessary number-crunching: With each decade, conservative professors become scarcer. The discriminatory practices in credentialing, hiring, publication, tenure, and promotion are harder to hide. Lefties blow off any complaints as more Nixonian or "culture war" claptrap, and go back to reading Maureen Dowd.

How to blame the right? Perhaps Republican governors in some states have cut funding to higher education, but there were precious few Republicans in teaching or administrative positions to force tuitions to rise 400% or in positions to market a trillion dollars in debt to hapless young people. It is difficult if not impossible to pin higher ed's nightmares on anti-intellectual and professionally minded Republicans, especially in an election contest between Mr. Romney, who majored in English, and political-science pre-law major Mr. Obama.

Roughly 0.6% of the United States population emerges from the 120-130 most expensive colleges in the country and goes on to run the government, media, courts, economy, and academy. These are non-profit corporations. The incorrigible elitism of higher education is ironically the fruit of the most progressive and "counter-hegemonic" brain trust in the world. Professors from Columbia University (Judith Butler), MIT (Noam Chomsky), and NYU (Andrew Ross), were among the most popular supporters of Occupy Wall Street.

In 2011, Obama suggested jump-starting the economy by transferring $500 million in taxpayer money to six elite colleges, of which all but two appear on the list of those charging in excess of $50,000 per year, an act which contributed to the absurd fact of Harvard receiving millions in federal funding while sitting on a tax-free "non-profit" endowment of $31.7 billion. The plan doesn't seem to have worked.

Harvard employees were the third largest contributor to Obama's 2008 campaign. Number one was the University of California, whose flagship Berkeley is the most expensive public college in the country, charging over $55,000 a year to non-Californians.

Am I being too hard on lefties? Go read a letter from Chronicle of Higher Education editor Liz McMillen announcing the firing of Naomi Schaefer-Riley, one of only two conservatives who published blogs in the editorial "Brainstorm" section.

Schaefer-Riley wrote a scathing criticism of Black Studies on April 30, 2012. (To be fair, I found the column awful. It was simply equal in awfulness to the rest of Brainstorm.)

Within a week, over 6,000 academics had signed a petition demanding that she be fired. Their rationale combined some of the predictable salvoes ("she's a racist") with new particulars ("she was particularly wrong for singling out specific dissertations," "she admitted that she didn't read the dissertations before dismissing them," "she should not be writing on areas in which she has no degree.") With Riley gone, the only conservative on Brainstorm is Mark Bauerlein. He writes alongside some other bloggers who have increasingly questionable rights to be in Brainstorm, given the logic behind Riley's firing. Let me introduce them to you:

Laurie Essig is a white sociologist who lives in Middlebury, Vermont -- one of the wealthiest and whitest towns in the world. She wrote a piece last fall calling Herman Cain an example of "minstrelsy" because of how he talked. She remains on Brainstorm.

Gina Barreca is an English professor from the University of Connecticut. Her most recent post was a rhyming schoolgirl taunt against Naomi Schaefer-Riley, written in the childish style of a sixth-grade bully pulling on the braids of the odd girl out. She remains.

Jacques Berlinerblau is a Georgetown professor who directs the university's program in Jewish civilization. He writes about secularism and atheism a lot, preaching to readers not to confound the two. I must ask forgiveness for not knowing how to characterize his expertise, but I am fairly confident that someone whose career landed him a directorship in Jewish civilization, secularism, and atheism, who lives in the Washington DC area, is probably not going to have time to develop an additional "rigor" in the theology of the middle American "Christian Right" (whatever that is). Yet Berlinerblau wrote a piece with the classy title, "Message to the Christian Right: Go Bifurcate Yourself."

Then there is Michael Ruse, an expert on Charles Darwin who writes about his charming trips back to his native England, where he says, "England was, and still is, a very class-ridden society [...] the sort of society that the Republicans are desperately keen to impose on the USA. These divisions were reflected in the sea-side resorts."          Before you can shrug and ask, "huh?", Mr. Ruse is on to his next aside, such as when he suggests in the middle of a meditation about evolution that supporters of Intelligent Design hate gays or that conservative Christianity is a cancer causing racism and hatred of transsexuals, which can only be solved by American Christians acting more like people from Alberta.

With the Yahoo message boards readily available, none of this low-brow commentary is remotely necessary in the country's most revered professorial publication.

There are more interesting characters in the Chronicle's Brainstorm section, all of whom seem to think that because they are professors and blogging in the Chronicle, they can opine about anything whether they are experts in what they are talking about or not. With Naomi Schaefer-Riley gone, they will be freer to swipe with impunity and blog while Rome burns. The tragedy goes on.


Can the Humanities Be Saved?

 By Janice Fiamengo

When I finally landed a tenure-track position at a Canadian university, I was ecstatic and full of hope - exhilarated by the opportunity to teach students about literature and ideas and to have conversations with colleagues equally in love with literature and ideas. I didn't realize that my experience as a university teacher of English would have much less to do with these passions than with the distortion of the university's core mission in the name of pedagogical and political orthodoxy.

To begin with, the student writing that came across my desk left me aghast. I had taught before, but I was unprepared for the level of illiteracy, the stunted vocabularies, near-complete absence of historical knowledge, and above all the extraordinary apathy of many English majors. The most basic of expression rules - the difference between it's and its, the incorrectness of "would of" for "would have," the role of the apostrophe or semi-colon, the fact that "a lot" was two words - were beyond the grasp of the majority, no matter how often I reviewed grammar or devised mnemonic devices. And the sheer sloppiness and muddled thinking in the essays, where the titles of poems and authors' names were frequently misspelled and dates were wildly inaccurate, suggested a fundamental indifference to the subject matter.

Not only was my students' writing appalling, but I soon encountered their resentment at being told about it. "Who are you to tell me I can't write?" was the attitude - once expressed in those very words. More than one student insisted that her other teachers had always rewarded her with high marks for her "creativity." Most believed themselves more than competent. After sitting with one young woman explaining the cause of her failing grade, I was befuddled when her only response was a sullen: "This doesn't exactly make me feel good." When I responded that my job was not to make her feel good, she stood haughtily, picked up her paper with an air of injury, and left my office without another word. In her mind, I later realized, I had been unforgivably cruel.

I was up against it: the attitude of entitlement rampant amongst university students and nurtured by the utopian ideology that permeates modern pedagogy, in which the imposition of rules and identification of errors are thought to limit student creativity and the fostering of a hollow self-esteem takes precedence over the building of skills on which genuine self-respect might be established. In the Humanities subjects in particular - and in English especially, the discipline I know best - such a philosophy has led to a perilous watering down of course content, with self-validation seen as more important than the mastery of specific knowledge.

With this philosophy has come a steady grade inflation. The majority of students in English courses today can expect a B grade or higher merely for warming a seat and handing in assignments on time. The result, as I soon discovered, was a generation of students so accustomed to being praised for their work that when I told them it was inadequate, they simply could not or would not believe me. They seemed very nearly unteachable: lacking not only the essential skills but also the personal gumption to respond adequately to criticism.

When I mentioned my dismay to fellow teachers, a number were sympathetic, sharing stories of student resistance and unwarranted smugness. One told me of her humiliation at being hauled before the department head by a posse of disgruntled students who alleged that the grades she had awarded were at least 5% lower than their average, and must therefore be raised to correspond with their accustomed level. Rather than laughing them out of his office, the department chair undertook to investigate the matter, informing the instructor that if the allegation was found to be correct, her marks would have to be revised. In the end, the case was not as straightforward as the students had claimed and my colleague's marks were allowed to stand, but the damage to her sense of authority - and the outrageous notion that a professor's marking could be determined by precedent and forcibly harmonized with previous grades, regardless of quality - had already taken effect.

Other professors with whom I spoke were not so sympathetic. They stressed the personal challenges students faced at university, the need to consider so-called alternative pedagogies to pique student interest. In other words, the problem was mine if students did not "feel good."

One colleague suggested - when I complained that not a single student had read the assigned novel on the day we were to begin discussing it - that I should show a film on a related subject for a change of pace. At a professional teaching workshop designed to re-ignite one's teaching passion, I was told that group discussion need not be stymied by the fact that students came to class unprepared; a student who had done the assigned reading could explain the reading to the others in the group so that all could participate and benefit. The message was clear enough: being hip and cheerful and expecting little and demanding nothing were the keys to happy classroom encounters. And student happiness - not commitment to the subject - was unquestionably the goal.

As Mark Steyn analyzed in his recent book  on the decline of America, the emphasis on a vacuous therapeutic empowerment of the student body has led to a drastic lowering of expectations in North American post-secondary institutions. Students now read less than ever before for their courses, and professors are under increasing pressure to evaluate students in non-traditional ways (i.e., outside of tests and essays). The burgeoning number of students who register with a disability complicates evaluation: teachers are expected to accommodate invisible learning problems - their nature undisclosed due to privacy considerations - which mandate that they provide extra time on in-class tests, refrain from imposing late penalties, provide their lecture notes to students, or allow them to write exams on a word processor. The emphasis in hiring decisions on student evaluations of teachers - see, for example, the public website "Rate My Professor," in which students' often crass assessments are posted for all to see ("She's hot!" "His voice puts you to sleep") - makes it increasingly attractive to instructors to earn popularity, or at least to avoid attack, by giving high grades and making their courses fun rather than demanding.

As traditional content is removed from courses, it is often replaced by non-academic material, specifically a devotion to "social justice" that masquerades as critical analysis despite the fact that the impartial weighing of evidence so necessary to such analysis is largely absent from its championing of victims. In books such as The Professors, David Horowitz has shown the dominance of Leftist activists at American colleges and "the extent to which radicalism at the very edges of the American political spectrum [has] established a central place in the curriculum of American universities." A recent report [3] by the California Association of Scholars laments the widespread politicization of teaching, pointing out the extraordinary imbalance of liberal to conservative scholars at California universities (29:1 in the Berkeley English Department, for example), a situation that certainly applies across North America. Many professors in the Humanities and Social Sciences devote themselves less to teaching their particular disciplines than to decrying the presumed crimes of the United States, sympathizing with Islamic terrorists and other violent dissidents, calling for the overthrow of the capitalist world order, and condoning plans for the destruction of Israel.

As Horowitz explains, the radicalization of the Humanities and the decline of academic standards are closely related, with political commitment often necessitating the abandonment of scholarly integrity. Many teachers of English no longer care much about prosody or literary history or correct grammar because such subjects seem trivial beside the grand social struggles that claim their allegiance. It may well seem more urgent to combat racism than to combat the comma splice, to analyze patriarchal privilege rather than Jane Austen's irony; and when right thinking is more important than rigorous thinking, details can be overlooked in the cause of student enlightenment. Combine this with an administrative emphasis on filling seats and a state commitment to student access, and one has the perfect academic storm, one that sweeps away scholastics and whirls in crude social engineering.

That many of my colleagues seemed sincere in their commitment to history's underdogs cannot excuse the damage caused by their policies and by their skewed teaching practices - for their ideological convictions were often imported into the classroom, where a balanced overview of course material was sacrificed to the politics of "race, class, and gender." Students learn quickly enough in such courses that success requires them to adopt approved positions: to be skeptical of Western nations' claims to equality and justice, to understand their country's history as a record of oppression, and to look with ready admiration at non-Western cultures, which they are taught to see as superior. Young white men learn early on that history's villains are usually white men. Lesbian identities, Aboriginal culture, and Sharia law are protected from critical appraisal by charges of homophobia, genocidal racism, or cultural imperialism. Instructors often choose the texts on their syllabus not to represent the traditional scholarly consensus on the important and best literature of the period but rather to represent a range of victim groups presented in noble conflict with the forces of social prejudice. Literature is taught not because it is valuable in itself but because it teaches students to denounce inequality and to empathize with victims, and to feel appropriately empowered in grievance or guilty by association.

Indeed, some students become so immersed in Leftist ideology - a kind of secret society whose code language they have learned in fear and trembling and now exercise with pride - that they believe it the only possible view of the world and have never seriously considered alternatives except as the deplorable prejudices of the hateful unwashed. Their conviction of rightness has revealed itself in a multitude of anti-intellectual and repressive behavior on university campuses across the country.

What is to be done? De-radicalizing the Humanities will be no easy task, for the ranks of the professoriate are filled with instructors who see their primary responsibility to be that of advancing ideological goals. True believers as they are, they will not be easily dissuaded from their cause, and dissenters from Left orthodoxy often feel overwhelmed, beleaguered, and under threat. Yet saving the Humanities for genuine scholarship has never been more urgent, and it is heartening to know that articulate champions of reform such as Horowitz and others, including Richard Cravatts, Stanley Fish, and David Solway, continue to raise their voices in dismay and stalwart hope. Some day, perhaps, if the decline is not irreversible and if more courageous professors will stand against the corruption of the academic enterprise, departments of English might once again become places where professors and students pursue a love of literature.


Cellphones in class and backchat from pupils: British Inspectors notes reveal teachers are losing school discipline battle

Mobile phones are routinely allowed to disrupt learning at the country's worst schools, notes by inspectors have revealed.

Handwritten records - not released to the public - show how at one school teachers were confronted with `a mass exodus of pupils especially girls keen for a smoke and to check their phones'.

At another school, four incidents of mobile phone disruption were noted, with a rising trend over the period the comprehensive was being monitored.

The details emerged as Ofsted signalled a crackdown on low-level disruption in class - including by mobiles.

Chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw told how a blanket ban on phones in school can prevent disruption associated with handsets, including cyber-bullying.

Other incidents of indiscipline recorded in the notes include children "back-chatting" their teachers, swearing at the headmaster, causing mayhem in lessons and throw objects around the class.

The notes relate to five schools that were rated inadequate by Ofsted during the last three months of 2011.

The secondary school-aged children are abusive, disobedient and aggressive - and can't wait to get out of class to have a cigarette.

All the shocking observations about schoolchildren's behaviour were made by inspectors who were rating the schools for Ofsted, the education standards watchdog.

In one report an inspector at a Bristol school, where pupils were described as "rude and threatening", saw a student telling the headteacher to "f*** off".

At all the worst schools it was noted how pupils were continually swearing and making inappropriate comments, while one pupil sent out of class for misbehaving then hid in a cupboard.

At one school a lesson observation had to be cancelled because all the pupils had decided to "bunk off" leaving just the inspector and the teacher in the classroom.

The revelation of just how bad the behaviour of schoolkids has become, emerged as members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers said punishment options had become "totally inadequate" since the scrapping of the cane.

The reports into the nation's most out-of-control kids comes from Ofsted officials' notes taken while assessing the behaviour of pupils during inspections in the last three months of 2011.

Nick Seaton, a spokesman for the Campaign for Real Education, said: "Teachers don't have enough sanctions to ensure that bad behaviour doesn't take place.

"Opinion polls consistently state that the public would like to see a return to corporal punishment, but with European laws in places the cane is unlikely to ever return.

"It is vital that youngsters learn the boundaries between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour and unless they do they are unlikely to ever succeed in the world."