Wednesday, December 31, 2003

30 December, 2003


"The mantra of 'school choice' is getting louder. The wholesale failure of the K-12 public school system to adequately educate children, no matter how much money is spent per pupil, is universally acknowledged by all but the most diehard teacher union bureaucrat. Educational reform is a leading topic of governors, state legislators, members of Congress, teachers, school boards, presidential administrations, think tanks, and concerned parents."

29 December, 2003


But what do you expect of the Leftists and Feminists who dominate U.S. school teaching?

For many years, researchers and educators alike believed that reading problems affect far more boys than girls, with boys suffering problems at rates as high as five to one. About 15 years ago, our research group at Yale decided to investigate the occurrence of reading problems in boys and girls. Using data from our ongoing Connecticut Longitudinal Study (CLS) of learning we, too, found that elementary schools indeed were identifying nearly four times as many boys as girls as having a reading disability. However, when we individually tested each child, we found comparable numbers of boys and girls are affected by reading problems.

Why the difference?

School identification of a reading disability is dependent on teacher perceptions. Examining the CLS data, we discovered that teachers perceive boys and girls quite differently. In fact, they rate males as having more problems than females in virtually every area assessed. According to their teachers, boys are more inattentive, more active and exhibit more behavioral and academic problems. Yet, despite such teacher reports of difficulties in the classroom, we found that boys and girls perform similarly on individual tests of reading and math.

Why are more boys identified by their schools? The answer is behavior. For example, boys who may exhibit normal activity levels for their gender - but excess activity for girls - are perceived as outside the range of normal, and subsequently are referred for testing. Behavior is used as a proxy for a learning disability and here, the normally increased activity level of boys is perceived as pathological.

More here

28 December, 2003


A 15-year-old Brookfield Central High School student's homemade rhymes earned him a five-day suspension and could get the honor student expelled because of a lyric deemed threatening toward the principal - perhaps the first such case in Wisconsin.

Over the course of three months, Sashwat Singh wrote and recorded a 32-minute, 14-track rap compact disc featuring rants that made reference to illegal drug use and explicit sexual acts. He denigrates classmates, his mother and his high school. One track is a rap he used when campaigning to be class treasurer...

Singh's suspension may mark the first time a high school student in Wisconsin has been removed from school for a song he'd written, said Ken Cole, the executive director of the Madison-based Wisconsin Association of School Boards...
Dan Macallair, the executive director of the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice in San Francisco, said the suspension is indicative of a national trend toward zero tolerance in schools.

"We're punishing kids for things that we adults never would have been punished for when we were that age," he said. "If we try to criminalize every comment that adolescents made, all our kids would be locked up."

Neither Macallair nor Cole was familiar with any other case of a student being disciplined for a song recorded outside school...

More here

24 December, 2003


How goes the annual battle to delete Christmas from schools and the public square? News is mixed, but on the whole, things are not going well for the Grinches. In New Jersey, for example, the Hanover Township school district said it was considering a ban on Christmas carols and other religious songs at school concerts. Parents protested and threatened to sue, so the school board beat a hasty retreat. "If a school wants religious music, they can have it, the way they could before," said the school board president.

The key phrase here is "threatened to sue." In the old days, when an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer would show up to hammer some tiny school board into submission, the legal costs of resisting were so high that the boards usually caved in. Now the anti-Grinches have legal muscle of their own. The Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund, which supported the Hanover parents, claims to have 700 lawyers ready to fight anti-Christmas assaults around the country....

More here

23 December, 2003


One of the most unlikely recent successes in the book world has been Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss. Being a light-hearted guide to the importance of correct punctuation, it is hardly the kind of thing you would have expected to fly off the shelves....

I believe that behind the success of Truss' book is anger at the British education system. Two generations now have not been taught grammar. The post-1960s consensus, that state education should be less didactic and 'pedantic', and more creative and pupil-orientated, has left a sizeable proportion with a feeble grasp of the English language and, consequently, little interest in it.

It is a serious matter. Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between poor education and disposition to crime. Inarticulate people who cannot spell properly are also more likely to be unemployed.

More here.

21 December, 2003


Mike Adams has some good questions:

Communications Professors: Last week, the College Republicans appealed a decision to de-recognize them as an official student group. During their appeal, a professor called the president of the group "arrogant" and their advisor "paranoid." He shouted them down every time they tried to make an argument. He also used a condescending voice just like that guy in the movie "Office Space" (did you get the memo I sent you?). The professor has tenure and teaches, of all things, communications. So, which one is easier to get, a hunting license or a PhD in communications?

Adrien Lopez: Why did former Student Body President Adrien Lopez (hereafter A. Lo) ask me to leave the university because I frequently criticize the campus diversity movement? How can you promote diversity and tolerance by kicking someone off campus because they don't share your views?

19 December, 2003


Opinion Journal reports: "Clay-Chalkville High School in Pinson, Ala., has suspended 15-year-old Ysatis Jones, a sophomore, for a "major drug offense," the Birmingham News reports. The offense? She took ibuprofen for menstrual cramps. "It is harsh. I will admit that," Nez Calhoun, a Jefferson County School District spokeswoman, tells the paper. "If we don't have consequences for aberrations of the rule, then we never will get a handle on drugs in the school." "


"In a recent Washington Times commentary (December 7, 2003), I used language suggesting that the tactics of campus diversity proponents sometimes resemble tactics the Nazis used during World War II. A recent letter to the editor by UNC-Wilmington professor Dick Veit (rhymes with spite) lends credence to the analogy.

The UNCW College Republicans (CRs) have recently been involved in a highly publicized conflict with the university administration. The controversy began when the CRs tried to limit their membership to Republicans. The university wanted to force them to admit Democrats. When the CRs refused to capitulate, they had their official group status revoked and had their funds frozen by the university......"

More from Mike Adams here

18 December, 2003

Dave Huber has some more examples of the compulsive Leftism of the American teacher's union -- of which he is a regretful member.

17 December, 2003


A reader notes that alternatives to the degraded "education" offered by the universities are emerging. There is a similar private J-School here in Brisbane too.:

"Keith Windschuttle and his wife Elizabeth run Macleay College a private college here in Sydney that teaches journalism, editing and PR. This college runs out of inner city locations so is easy for adult part time students to attend. Macleay students are highly regarded and tend to do better in the job market than their government trained competitors. And the idea of CBD based class rooms is something the government run colleges have never thought of. Anyone who has tried to work full time and study part time knows the pain extra commuting to and from college, over and above work commuting, causes. Windschuttle says journalism isn't an academic profession and should be seen simply as an apprenticeship, craft or trade. The main thing is accurate reporting, quality notes, documented sources and the routine follow up of other opinions. These "basics" are the things that have suffered as media sociology, political correctness and cultural relativism have replaced basic skills among academic trained journalists. The academic teachers of journalists must consider these basics beneath them. The recent Jason Blair affair and the BBC's failure to take notes in the David Kelley affair may suggest this. My guess is that a lot of the hostility Windschuttle has received has little to do with his controversial work on Australian frontier history and may represent a backlash from 'the profession'."

Being a conservative in academe could be a lonely experience. Being born with the gift of self-confidence, I was never bothered a bit by it but I guess it would bother most. PID points out that in Australia's "history wars" it is basically one man on the conservative side (Windschuttle) versus the rest. That sure is a lonely eminence! But it only takes one person to show that the Emperor has no clothes, of course. And for all their numbers, the lying Leftist historians still have no answer to Windschuttle. They have been forced into admissions that ought to have seen them sacked, in fact.

Now here is a sentence that any Leftist reading this blog will enjoy quoting out of context: I have recently been browsing through my copy of Mein Kampf and noted this comment about the Germany of Hitler's time from the translator (Ralph Manheim): "Germany was a land of high general culture, with the largest reading public of any country in the world. In the lower middle class, there was a tremendous educational urge. People who in other countries would read light novels and popular magazines devoured works on art, science, history, and above all philosophy. Certain philosophical phrases became journalistic cliches. Hitler is forever speaking of 'concepts', of things 'as such' (an sich). Moreover, he is constantly at pains to show that he, too, is cultured". So being intellectual and cultured leads where? Like Hitler, the intellectuals of today are mostly socialists too. Most intellectuals think they know it all and want to impose that on others. It is no coincidence that the most intellectual country in the world also became one of the most vicious. And Bolshevik Russia was run by bourgeois intellectuals too.

My goodness! The Tugboat has ventured into giving lessons about basic moral philosophy. He tries to explain what words like "ought" and "good" mean. He seems to wander about a lot, though. I think everybody now agrees that such terms function to commend but where we go from there is contentious. I myself would add that such statements can convey empirical claims but see nothing further that they could conceivably do or be -- though my deontologist friend and fellow-conservative Keith Burgess-Jackson thinks there is yet more to be found in such statements. I point out how my view is distinct from Leftist moral relativism here.

I have just discovered a new book on authoritarianism -- that favourite whipping-boy of Leftist psychologists. Only this time it is not conservatives under attack. The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power by Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad, says that, behind the humanistic and permissive mask, gurus and other "alternative" cult figures and "teachers" are all really a bunch of authoritarians who subtly do their best to control others. I agree!


15 December, 2003


"Two hours before she would be stabbed to death during sixth period, a lawsuit contends, Ortralla Mosley complained to teachers at Reagan High School that her ex-boyfriend was becoming increasingly violent with her and that she was worried about her safety. That suit, filed in Austin last week, says school officials knew of Marcus McTear's violence with girls but were 'deliberately indifferent.' Now Ortralla's mother, Carolyn, is suing the Austin Independent School District for wrongful death under Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sexual discrimination in public schools. She seeks $23 million in damages."

More here

13 December, 2003

Larry Elder has a pretty disheartening summary of GWB's socialist record. Just one excerpt: "By this time in his term, Reagan vetoed over 20 bills, President George W. Bush, none. Reagan campaigned to shut down the Department of Education. President Bush shook hands with a smiling Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., as they united to pass the so-called No Child Left Behind Act, increasing the federal government's role in education and, by the way, dropping the dreaded-by-liberals voucher provision. Bush also expanded Head Start despite the program's questionable effectiveness"

12 December, 2003


From Opinion Journal

"The Christian Science Monitor reports a "religious upsurge" among American college students: "Religion on campus--particularly evangelical groups . . .--is thriving these days, but it doesn't always find an easy home in the intellectual, secular world of higher education." Example:

Evangelism, intolerance of homosexuality and other lifestyles, and the "our way is the only way" version of Christianity can be awkward fits in secular higher education, with its increasingly inclusive culture.
At the University of Chicago, the school was so nervous about an evangelical speaker that it called in the campus police. And a few years ago, Tufts University derecognized the local InterVarsity [Christian Fellowship] chapter--though the group was later reinstated--after a very public dispute when a lesbian student filed a discrimination charge against InterVarsity.

See what we mean about the perversity of the left? An "increasingly inclusive culture" is one that deals with disagreement by calling in the cops and shutting down groups whose views are deemed unacceptable"

11 DECEMBER, 2003


"Three federal judges in Michigan now have ruled that school districts violated the free speech rights of students. On Friday, U.S. District Judge Gerald E. Rosen said the Ann Arbor School District acted improperly in the case of a Roman Catholic student who wanted to express her views on homosexuality. The case is 'about tolerance of different, perhaps, 'politically incorrect' viewpoints in the public schools,' Rosen wrote."

7 December, 2003


That "affirmative action bake sale" at Texas A&M University seems to have succeeded in getting the point across. A&M president Robert Gates announced this week that his institution will not engage in racial discrimination, despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows it to do so. From Opinion Journal

5 December, 2003

USA now more Marxist than Russia: "After arriving in the United States with a diploma from Leningrad University..., I realized that I had the extremely unmarketable skills of a Marxist-Leninist philosophy professor.... Eventually, I ... enrolled at San Francisco State University. I majored in creative writing. I couldn't believe what I found. Imagine the utter amazement of a refugee from a Communist country, where Marxism was forced on all students, now having to sink in a puddle of socialist propaganda again -- but this time in the middle of an American university! Imagine the astonishment of a person who, after fighting the KGB and being a refusenik, finally comes so close to her dream of receiving a real education instead of indoctrination, only to find herself, once again, in the middle of a socialist brainwashing machine -- but this time in San Francisco...

28 November, 2003

School bars "insensitive" costumes

"A group of Skokie [IL] first graders got an unexpected lesson in cultural sensitivity Friday when their principal wouldn't let them dress as American Indians for their annual Thanksgiving celebration. After a parent complained that the costumes the children had made might be offensive, the principal told the kids to leave their construction-paper headdresses on the classroom shelves. Those who had opted to be pilgrims fared no better. Their paper black hats and bonnets also were banned, and for the first time in more than two decades, the 1st graders at Madison School commemorated the events of October 1621 in their school clothes."

More here

21 November, 2003


If I have any Leftist readers, this post should make them froth at the mouth

There is a great letter here from someone in Britain who watched GWB's interview there on TV. It highlights the contradictory views many of GWB's detractors have of him and the arrogance behind such views.

The point the letter makes about GWB's relative inarticulateness reminds me of a similar phenomenon here in my home State of Queensland. Queensland was run for nearly 20 years by the very conservative Sir Johannes Bjelke-Petersen. I was one of his party members. "Sir Joh", as he was known, was universally condemned by the intelligentsia for his inarticulateness. He spoke like the ill-educated farmer he was. The media regularly said he made no sense at all. But he made plenty of sense to the ordinary Queenslanders who voted for him and in one State election (1974) his government actually got 59% of the popular vote -- a majority so large as to be almost unheard of in a Westminster democracy.

The big political battle in Australia in the mid-70s was in fact between the immensely erudite and silver-tongued Leftist Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, and the stumble-tongued but very canny Queensland Premier. And when the 1975 Federal election came around Sir Joh did Whitlam like a dinner. The Leftists won only one out of 18 Queensland seats -- which lost them power in Australia as a whole.

So I think that is a pretty good augury for GWB next time he faces the voters. I suspect that his "inarticulateness" is an asset to him with his voters too. And if GWB does as much good for the USA in his second term as Sir Joh did for Queensland he will be doing very well indeed.


19 November, 2003

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson tells it like it is: "The problems of the black community are due to a lack of moral character and not racism.... . Over 90% of black homicides in America are committed by other blacks, but instead of addressing the root causes of black-on-black crime, the NAACP absurdly blames gun manufacturers. The average black public high school graduate has in reality only an eighth-grade education, yet the NAAPC vehemently opposes school choice"

16 November, 2003


"Fourteen-year-old Lauren Lee recently got some great news in a progress report sent home from Sherwood High School in Montgomery County [MD]. The freshman got an 'A' in a tough honors-level geometry course. Not bad, thought Lauren's mother, Lauren Asbury, especially considering that her daughter never attended the school. 'She doesn't go to Sherwood,' explained Mrs. Asbury. 'She goes to Good Counsel High School.' Lauren, who lives in Olney, has never attended Sherwood High School in Sandy Spring, but that hasn't stopped teachers she's never met from giving her high marks."

More here

"Before they send their children onto a college campus in North America, parents should read two new reports. What passes for education at many universities is not merely an intellectual embarrassment; it is also tremendously expensive. The good news: A spotlight is now shining on these problems, and students in the near future may receive the quality education for which their parents having been paying through tuition and taxes."

14 November, 2003

Big cost for little value: "Amidst all the woeful tales of college students over-burdened with tuition and college loans, the real college cost story -- that it's taxpayers who are truly suffering -- has been ignored. Here's reality. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, more than half of public universities' revenues -- $79 billion -- were extracted directly from federal, state, and local taxpayers, while only 18.5 percent came from student fees and tuition. ... Of course, tuition, too, is covered largely by taxpayers."

13 November, 2003


An excerpt from email posted on David Horowitz's blog of November 6th

"Recently my daughter, an art major, was given an assignment to create a demonstration poster centered around the war in Iraq. I am happy to say she is conservative through and through. She was set on creating a poster in support of the President and the war but was abruptly instructed that she had to create one contrary to her values and opinions. She complied reluctantly and of course received a lesser grade, in my opinion, because her position was contrary to that of the professor. Most recently in a communications class the professor spent the better part of a 90 minute class going off against the President and his foreign policy. Unfortunately, any student who speaks out in these venues is seriously harassed by the professor. In another setting of art students the question of political preference came up. My daughter realized from the discussion that she was in the minority and only reluctantly voiced her conservative position.

What is particularly disturbing about these episodes is that she attends what can only be considered one of the more conservative institutions in the state, East Carolina University. Despite the traditional conservatism there, General Shelton spoke at commencement, the liberal academics continue to make their stands in the classroom often times at the expense of the conservative student. These liberal positions are effecting the outcome of student grades if the student does not conform to the political slant of the professor."

8 November, 2003


Mike Tremoglie writes (Excerpts):

If anyone doubts the need for an Academic Bill of Rights contact Professor Jay Bergman of Central Connecticut State University (CCSU).

Recently, Bergman sent a letter, signed by over twenty people, to the chairman of the university's board of trustees, noting the lack of intellectual diversity there. He cited several examples. One was a seminar about slavery reparations. According to Bergman it was an indoctrination session. "Not one of the presenters expressed the reasonable opinion, which students attending the seminar were entitled to hear, that reparations are a bad idea," Bergman wrote.

In addition to the reparations seminar, Bergman cited a Women's Studies program that rarely invited speakers who differ with feminist doctrine. He noted, for example, the complete absence of campus speakers who are pro-life or against Affirmative Action.

Bergman is president of the Connecticut Association of Scholars, the state chapter of the National Association of Scholars (NAS) - an organization of professors devoted to eliminating tendentious scholarship in academia. He has an abiding interest in academic freedom.

The fact that there were more than twenty other signatories to his letter indicates that this is a genuine problem for CCSU.

Bergman's letter was reported by the Manchester (CT) Journal Inquirer. In it Bergman opined that, "Unless students are exposed to a wide variety of viewpoints, they cannot exercise the freedom they need as students to evaluate critically what they are told by their instructors." This is a professed tenet of colleges, yet many of those cited in the letter apparently do not believe this to be true

More here

7 November, 2003


Ron Edwards writes (Excerpts):

"So what on earth is the number one enemy of this great but troubled land? This wretched enemy number one I am refering to is this nation's government or public school system. Now please allow me to make my case! There is an old biblical saying that states as a man thinketh so is he. It is not difficult to see how that worthy verse could easily apply to a nation of sovereign individuals. You may not realize it but, when American children enter grammar school they are on par with students from other industrialized nations. However, they remain competitive with students from other lands for only a few short years. The reason being is that for the most part, government school teachers focus more on indoctrinating American students into becoming tree huggers. Government school teachers also mold their students into politically correct dolts with no concept of absolutes, moral or otherwise.

On the other hand, most foreign students are thoroughly instructed in math and science. In addition, students in other lands benefit from being completely immersed in the knowledge about their homeland and it's history. They are also encouraged to appreciate their nation of origin. Unfortunately, "We the People" of the United States are mentally coerced (from childhood) into not knowing about or giving a damn about our country.

Most assuredly, you can blame the nations mentally depleting government school system. Don't Believe me?. Then ask almost any American high school or college graduate from the past twenty five years to explain the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Then go ahead and ask them why they would believe a stupid lie such as 'lowering taxes doesn't stimulate growth in the economy.

Dear reader, for the past seven or more decades government schools have weaned America away from the very principles that made her the one-time envy of the world. Have you noticed how certain groups that foster deviant behavior now have or shall soon receive preferential rights and forced insurance coverage? Of course, you may think I'm drifting away from America's most dangerous enemy, but I'm not at all.

If you are a parent and your child attends a government-uh-public school, many teachers will spend more time focussing your young one on special rights for deviants, revisionist history and anti traditional family dogma than on reading, writing, arithmetic and real history. For example, many government school students in California are taught about and forced to experience being a Muslim. However if one of those students even whispers anything relating to Christianity they are harshly punished."

6 November, 2003


A reader writes:

"I have two incidents from my recent graduate education that I thought might interest you.

Several years ago I left an industry job to return to the University to pursue a Ph.D. in electrical engineering. For several reasons including class scheduling conflicts and personal interest I took a minor in STS (Science Technology and Society), basically a liberal arts view of science and technology. I was a bit surprised to find this area of study to be a bit of a fact free zone but there were some tidbits offered as facts.

I was told it was the invention of the steam engine that made it possible for England to ship its convicts to Australia and for England and the other colonial powers to establish empires. I had just read "The Hostile Shore" and knew transportation happen entirely in the age of sail. My elementary school history lessons are enough to know the Spanish, English, Portuguese and Dutch colonial empires were all established at least two hundred years before trans-oceanic steam ships appeared.

I was told here in America the very promising steam engine power automobile was defeated by an outbreak of hoof and mouth disease. In an effort to contain this disease, public watering trough were destroyed removing the water source needed by the owners of steam powered automobiles, most of which did not have condensers and therefore required several liters of water per mile to operate.

No word on why steam engines in steam ships which by definition do not lack for water for cooling fell into disfavor at about the same time."


1 November, 2003

But there's always money to pay the bureaucrats: "Stone-faced parents gathered at the Ottoson Middle School library in Arlington [MA] one recent morning looking determined and exhausted. 'We have all spent so much time in the last six months working to find money to restore what's been cut,' said Jeff Carver, who has two daughters at Ottoson in grades 6 and 9. Parents in Arlington who raised $275,000 after a Proposition 2 1/2 override attempt failed are now wondering where to draw the line. How much should public school budgets rely on private fund-raising?"


We all know that free speech in American universities is a lost cause but it is not doing too well in American High Schools either

Teens sue high school in speech case: "Two Snellville [GA] students have filed a federal lawsuit against their high school for suspending them over criticisms of a teacher they posted on a Web site. ... [Lloyd] Goldsmith and [Alexander] Morgan were suspended in March, after the two made postings on an off- campus Web site created by another student as 'an outlet to provide students, teachers and parents at Brookwood High School or other citizens a place to vent and post comments concerning a particular Brookwood teacher ... with whom many students were experiencing frustration and difficulty,' said the lawsuit, which was filed Aug. 22."

Friday, October 31, 2003

30 October, 2003

Exit exams rightly expose grade inflation as a cruel fraud. -- but it is a disgrace that they are needed at all: "Instead of leading to success, grade inflation is more likely to lead to failure, dashed hopes, broken dreams, and public humiliation. Just ask Bridget Green, who in May was looking forward to completing her education at Alcee Fortier Senior High School in New Orleans by graduating as the class valedictorian. ... But despite her superior grades, Green could not pass a math proficiency exam required for graduation ..."

29 October, 2004

I posted a big excerpt on PC Watch recently from the now much-noted NYT story by Bob Herbert about black education in NYC schools. A central point was that the no-hoper students sat at the back of the class, were ignored, learned nothing but still got a pass mark. I think from memory that Ogbu's book about the poor performance of black students in middle class neighbourhoods reported much the same phenomenon in school classes so it is not solely a NYC problem. It has all just stirred a memory in me of what my education many years ago in a small Australian country school was like. There it was the GOOD students who sat at the back. The slower and naughtier students were at the front for greater teacher attention. That was a healthy educational system, unlike the diseased NYC abomination. But of course "slow" and "naughty" students no longer exist in the politically correct world of modern-day U.S. public schools. The policy of the ostrich prevails -- though saying that that is probably unkind to ostriches.

26 October, 2003

Most Americans would choose private schools: "A new Gallup poll conducted for Phi Delta Kappa International, whose education surveys command high respect in the teaching profession, reveals a compelling motivation for the fierce opposition teacher union leaders and most public school officials show toward school vouchers: Most students wouldn't attend public schools if they had a voucher."


Wow! THIS NYT article tells it like it is in NYC public schools. And I don't blame the teachers one bit for not caring. It is the most reasonable response in a system which has given up on discipline. I feel sorry for the kids who want to learn, though. Political correctness has certainly destroyed what little chance a lot of black kids had of getting a decent education.

Some excerpts:

"I've been talking recently with a handful of dedicated teachers about the classroom conditions that have festered over the past several years at some of New York City's least successful high schools. These are places where fear and loathing take up the space that could have been occupied by progress and reform. You'll find these noisy, chaotic classrooms in almost any of America's big cities, not just New York. They are ruthlessly destructive, and scary to students and teachers alike. They are places where childhood dreams all too frequently expire.

The teachers would not go on the record. They were afraid of being punished by school officials for speaking out. And some worried about reprisals from their own union because of comments critical of teachers.

"What goes on in these classrooms, that's the story of urban education," said a teacher from Brooklyn. "You've got kids playing dice in the back of the classroom. You've got kids listening to their Walkman, or writing rap rhymes. And rapping to girls. And also practicing gang signs.... The teacher just teaches the ones in the front."

"You have violence in some of our schools, and people react to violence in different ways," he said. "You have teachers who have categorized all of the students as a problem. So they walk into the room afraid of the students without ever knowing them. To them, the students are one-dimensional. Everybody's a thug. Everybody's a problem. So they don't require anything of any of them.

"Meanwhile, the students themselves are scared. The class becomes undisciplined, and therefore dangerous. So the good students cut out because they don't want to be in that environment. That's one way you lose the good kids. You have a lot of students who are not thugs, but who left school because they couldn't learn _ they couldn't even hear _ in that noisy, disruptive atmosphere."

But there are many, many [teachers] who are not remotely interested in these kids. They tell the kids to their faces: `I don't care what you do. I'm still going to get paid.' "They mean it. They don't care. The kids pass classes they don't even attend, and attend classes they aren't even assigned to."

19 October, 2003

This article points out that making education ever more available to more and more people at lower and lower cost to them is basically a bottomless pit. Education is such a popular cause however that nobody seems to know how put a stop to the crazy spiral involved. That most of the extra credentials earned are meaningless bits of paper and that some of them actually reduce a person's employability, nobody wants to admit: "Americans, it seems, have never been better educated. Between 1970 and 2000 the number of individuals enrolled in institutions of higher learning increased from about 8.5 million to 15.3 million. Likewise, from 1971 to 2001, the percentage of 25- to 29-year olds in the United States holding at least a bachelor's degree rose 71 percent. So why, as Congress prepares to reauthorize the federal law governing higher education, are policy makers so unhappy?"

18 October, 2003

A good summary here of the "briefing note" put out to journalists by some moronic White House staffer in connection with the forthcoming visit to Australia of GWB. Many Americans must be embarrassed at the obviously low intellectual level of their bureaucracy. Giving the Guardian good cause to laugh at you is not exactly clever. It's all a pretty good comment on the shambles that is American education. No doubt the klutz who wrote the crap had a degree of some kind.

16 October, 2003


What "compassion"! (From the WSJ)

"Caney Creek High School of Conroe, Texas, has decided to expel 15-year-old Brandon Kivi because he let his girlfriend, Andra Ferguson, use his asthma inhaler when she had an attack after forgetting to bring her inhaler to school. Although the two teens both use the same prescription medicine, the school deemed Kivi's actions a violation of its zero-tolerance antidrug policy. (We noted the case Thursday.)

"On Friday, school officials decided to expel Kivi but not press criminal charges," reports Houston's KPRC-TV. Says Kivi: "I'm happy. Everything's final. I'm expelled till after Christmas and I can come back after Christmas, but I won't." He and Ferguson are both leaving Caney Creek High to be home-schooled."

15 October, 2003


Stalin would approve. He said: "There is complete freedom of speech in Russia -- as long as you agree with me

"Attacks on free speech in the name of political correctness have proliferated on and off the college campuses for more than two decades. The attempt to ban public displays at the University of Alabama was so blatant and so crude that it was relatively easy to galvanize opposition to it. A more censoring atmosphere lurks in the larger society, inhibiting debate and inflicting great harm because it operates under the radar of public consciousness. This is true particularly true of public and private opinions about blacks and women."

More here

12 October, 2003


"America has an educational system worthy of David Duke. Its effect is to perpetuate and exacerbate the country's racial divide, disadvantaging blacks (and Hispanics) and blighting their prospects."

More here

4 October, 2003


A number of left-of-center columns have pointed out the Republicans already control all branches of Colorado government -- so why do they want to control colleges, too? This is obviously an anti-democratic argument, given legislators are popularly elected and Republicans outnumber Democrats in Colorado.

At the same time, Republicans have argued persuasively that conservatives are the minority in college humanities and social sciences departments. But this minority is not one that merits special legal protection, the left argues, for various reasons. Which minorities do so qualify? The "oppressed" ones, of course. And who decides what counts as "oppression?" The left does, of course.

More here

1 October, 2003


Thomas Sowell has a useful short review of the new book about education called No Excuses by A & S Thernstrom. I liked the bit about U.S. university graduates not being able to get teaching jobs in the public schools because they do not have one of those dreary teacher's certificates. I had the same experience myself here in Australia once. I taught matriculation level Economics and Geography in two private schools with excellent results but was then rejected for a teaching job in a government school because I did not have one of those useless teaching diplomas. Results counted for nothing. Phony "credentials" were all that mattered.

Another point the Thernstoms make is confirmed by the OECD -- which reported last week that there is no correlation between increased education funding and achievement and there is no correlation between smaller class sizes and achievement.

How surprising! "Alyssa Edmonds's report cards have been a string of paper trophies -- grades of 'E' for excellent, 'VG' for very good. But when her mother saw her 11-year-old's poor state test scores last year, she worried for the first time that the North Adams schools might be failing her children. 'I would like to know why my daughter ... didn't test at grade level but passed all her subjects and was passed into the next grade,' said Mary Edmonds, 40, a mental health worker who grew up in North Adams. 'I want to know why my kids aren't being taught what the state thinks they need to know to graduate and get a diploma.'"

Why American students don't love this country: "A report from the Albert Shanker Institute says that American school students are getting a slanted view of our nation's history. ... It would be hard to have pride in your country, if you realized that your government handed down orders within itself to launch a military-style operation, tanks and all, against American citizens who were simply acting out their non-violent religious beliefs..... But there's something else, something this report fails notice or point out. While going on at length about the lack of positive education regarding American history and principles, nowhere does it mention that the schools are active instruments of socialist indoctrination."

Good to see USA Today editorializing in favour of the Washington D.C. voucher program. And they have done it again here.

And some Australian schools in Muslim immigrant areas are pretty bad too.


27 September, 2003


Thomas Sowell on the reason for the disastrously low educational results of American blacks:

"American schools waste an incredible amount of time on fads, fun and propaganda for political correctness. Those students who come from homes with highly educated parents, or parents whose values stress education, get a lot of what they need outside of school, as well as making the most of what they get within the school.

It is those children who do not come from these kinds of homes whose futures are forfeited when class time is frittered away. Low-income black students are the biggest losers when educators fail to educate and when courts create so many legal obstacles to enforcing school discipline that a handful of classroom clowns or hoodlums can prevent everyone else from getting a decent education.

More money won't cure any of this."


Sowell says: "With all the abysmal results in ghetto schools in general, there are nevertheless particular schools serving low-income minority students with test results well above the national average. What is the difference? The biggest difference is that successful schools teach in ways that are directly the opposite from what is fashionable in the public schools in general. Successful schools spend their time on the three R's, they teach reading with phonics, they memorize multiplication tables, and -- above all -- they have discipline, so that a few disruptive students are not able to prevent all the others from being educated.

26 September, 2003


In a public school in St. Louis, a teacher spotted the suspect, fourth-grader Raymond Raines, bowing his head in prayer before lunch. The teacher stormed to Raymond's table, ordered him to stop immediately and sent him to the principal's office. The principal informed the young malefactor that praying was not allowed in school. When Raymond was again caught praying before meals on three separate occasions, he was segregated from other students, ridiculed in front of his classmates, and finally sentenced to a week's detention.

More here

23 September, 2003

How desperate the America-hating Leftists get! This Leftist report claims that the USA is way down (compared to other countries) in the amount it spends on education and concludes therefore that the USA is not "kid-friendly". But they only count FEDERAL spending on education -- whereas most U.S. education spending is at the State or local level. It's not even a clever lie!

That wonderful public education: "There are, of course, many reasons why so many students can't qualify for college. Most of them never get the cultural support to overcome the general debasement of public education. Nobody knows this better than the teachers, which is why so many public-school teachers send their kids to private schools."


"The deterioration of public school education is most prominently observed in social studies, where, as education scholar Chester E. Finn, Jr. observes, "the lunatics have taken over the asylum."

The attitudes of elite educationists have reduced education to ideology, and a venomous ideology it is: America's contribution to humanity is an odious conspiracy of dead white males. The pedagogues worry that attentiveness to the details of democracy might cause children to discover that the ideology is false, that democracy actually is the best way mankind has found to organize a government of the people, by the people, for the people.

J. Martin Rochester, a professor of social studies at the University of Missouri at St. Louis, in an essay in the book "Where Did Social Studies Go Wrong," turns up the heat on those responsible for dumbing down education and collapsing discipline.
"Co-operative learning" is the euphemism for reducing learning to something only the least among us can master, something like making it up to a crippled child by breaking the legs of everyone else. "Co-operative learning" draws on the free labor of smarter students to bring up low achievers, which reduces average learning abilities for everybody. "Constructivism," the theory that children can "construct" their own meaning from personal experience, is pushed on youngsters who can't construct a proper sentence.

"Multiple intelligences theory" searches for "the specific genius" within each child, equating the skill of slam-dunking a basketball, for example, with the ability to perform open-heart surgery. The reliance on fun-filled, action-packed, visual media over fact-filled textbooks and lectures treats whole classes as though suffering attention deficit disorder.

Textbooks, such as they are, make matters worse. They not only give the visual equal space with the words, but lack authority and we pretend that uninformed students can think critically, with informed judgments, when they have no stored knowledge.

One textbook directives instructs teachers: "We must stop exhorting students to be 'good citizens' according to our own unquestioned view of good and help them instead to ask 'good questions' about their own values and those of others. Controversies, rather than fixed knowledge and values, will play a central role in the structure of social studies education."

This is an education theory from Alice in Wonderland: "Verdict first, trial later." How can students create "controversy" when they haven't learned what to criticize?"

More here

18 September, 2003


When the Labour government came to power in Britain it did all the politically correct things with British schools -- totally removing most powers of discipline in the process. The result: The UK school system has now become such a sink of aggressive behaviour among the pupils that nobody is willing to teach in some schools. So in desperation they now have totally unqualified people "teaching":

"The shortage of good teachers in the core subjects is still one of the biggest problems in British education, especially in greater London. Twenty-nine per cent of GCSE physics teachers do not have an A-level in the subject. At my previous school in a London suburb, which was not considered tough, a maths teacher from Romania who barely spoke English was employed. She quit after two days. A-level biology students had no teacher for the three months prior to their exams. The English department advertised for two terms without receiving one suitable applicant."

17 September, 2003


As a former academic myself I can tell you that the average Professor really hates it that he has to sit in a crowded office churning out great ideas for only an average salary while someone else in business with little education and just one good idea can make a million dollars. In other words our average academic thinks that the existing system cheats him of the money and recognition that he deserves -- and that makes him want to change that system: It makes him a Leftist. And that is the big reason why academics with no alternative market for their skills and "wisdom" -- i.e. professors in the humanities and social sciences -- are so overwhelmingly Leftist. A small number of academics however -- including me -- are so constitutionally conservative that they defy the Leftist consensus all around them. Mostly, however, they have to do it very cautiously in case they lose their job over it.

A good example of such caution seems to be "Conservativenet" -- an online discussion group for conservative academics. I get the impression that the moderator, Richard Jensen, is very careful to screen out any posts that might upset the Leftists. He defines his censorship guidelines with the following bromide: "Conservativenet refuses to publish lies, hate speech and incoherent arguments". Any Leftist Political Correctness advocate would defend HIS policies in the same way. Because the list seems to be so censored, I myself have never bothered with it but readers of this blog do occasionally send me stuff off it (plus news of posts that have been rejected).

Recently a reader noted that the list had posted on it the NYT article on Facism that I mentioned on this blog here. The NYT article did of course have that paper's characteristic Leftist bias so my reader suggested that I post a reply on Conservativenet to set the record straight. I therefore submitted my "Front Page" article on Fascism for posting on the list. My article points out the most inconvenient truth that Fascism originated on the Left, not the Right. In a fit of rashness, moderator Jensen did in fact post it on his list.

He soon seemed to regret his rashness, however. When another contributor to the list posted some points of disagreement with my article and I endeavoured to reply, Jensen refused to post my reply on very superficial grounds. Fear reasserted itself.
I have however posted here the censored reply (plus Jensen's feeble excuse) for the benefit of those who have less to fear. If anyone thinks my reply contained "lies, hate speech and incoherent arguments", please let me know.


14 September, 2003

"The story of America's heroes, accomplishments and ideals is getting surprisingly short shrift in a place of great influence: the nation's public schools. That's the theme of a provocative report about U.S. civics and history education"

8 September, 2003


The logical outcome of "all men are equal": "A LOTTERY-style system could soon decide which students get into university. Applicants .. would be selected using a random number generator. The [U.K.] Government plan is aimed at creating equal opportunities for applicants from all backgrounds. It is being considered by a working party of education experts set up by Education Secretary Charles Clarke to review university admissions and establish an Office for Fair Access."

7 September, 2003

The Supreme Court again has institutionalized the second-class citizenship of African Americans with a strange twist on the old segregationist policy of reserving some privileges for "whites only." Only, this time around, the court seems to be saying that high standards in education are permissible only for white people.

Good if it happens: GWB says that his new education law aims at raising the bar for student achievement "The law sets a clear goal for American education: Every child, in every school, must perform at grade level in reading and math, which are the keys to all learning." The initiative "seeks to improve achievement, particularly among poor students, through expanded testing, tougher quality requirements for teachers, yearly monitoring of student progress and sanctions for schools that fail to improve."

6 September, 2003


How to Save the World is the name of a relatively recent Leftist blog. The very name encapsulates the vast ego needs of the typical Leftist intellectual. He needs to be a world-saving hero. And what are the ways this one plans to save the world? Take a look at his trite "ideas" on education for instance: "The 'teacher's' role in all of this is facilitation, not instruction". So he does not want teachers to teach! No wonder the kids learn so little in school off their Left-leaning teachers these days!

In his desperation to have something to say that seems marginally different he is just trotting out hoary old "progressive" education ideas that never stop being tried somewhere and which always self-destruct after a few years -- Bertrand Russell's "Beacon Hill" school of the 1920s being just one example of such failure. But Leftists rarely know much history. They can't afford to. It makes such asses of them.

I myself taught in a "progressive" school once so I saw it all close up. The kids who had self-discipline or some pressure from home did OK but the other half mostly played cards and learnt nothing.


5 September, 2003


(Really a well-planned escape from an insane bureaucracy)

A lucky escape: "Almost three decades after Boston's bruising school desegregation battles, nearly half of the white children in the city attend private schools and most minority children remain walled off from suburban school advantages, according to a report released yesterday. The report ... depicts a region with stark divisions between school districts. Students in Boston public schools are mostly black and Hispanic. Hispanic children are concentrated in schools in the blue-collar, satellite cities such as Lowell and Lawrence. And suburban schools are predominantly white. White children have almost entirely escaped the city of Boston... "

I wonder why? "In nearly every state, the number of children being educated in their homes is rising about 10% a year."

4 September, 2003


A rare victory for sanity over PC in the Australian State of New South Wales. They might even make it safe for men to become teachers again eventually

"Trivial and vexatious claims of child abuse against teachers - including shouting at students or comforting them - will be largely eliminated by legal changes before State Parliament. An estimated 2000 teachers have been reported for "child abuse" since 1999, when the Commission for Children and Young People Act began operating. Investigations have included allegations of teachers glaring in an intimidatory manner, restraining violent students or hugging distressed children.
The Premier, Bob Carr, who flagged changes in July to "strengthen the authority" of teachers to manage and discipline students, said yesterday that the term "child abuse" would be removed from two laws and replaced with "reportable conduct"."

2 September, 2003


Just in from another reader:

"I had first hand experience with what came out of Harvard. I worked for a US Investment bank which did it's annual recruitment program from the Ivy League and the better schools.

I have to tell you that the Harvard grads and under grads I ended up with on my trading desk had to be as bad as they could be. As someone who is interested in probability theory, after a while it became apparent to me that this was not just a cluster of "bad data" coming through the works. These people came out of Harvard with the worst attitude towards work I have ever imagined. Not one recruit from Harvard ever turned into a success. In fact there was an almost pass the parcel attitude between desk managers as to who ended up with the Harvard batch. It got so bad that the department which had been the lest profitable for the year ( this being Wall Street) ended up with Harvard people.

And the best: for those who are curious were Wharton Kids.

I tried to figure out why this was so and the only thing I came up with is that Wharton kids were taught properly."



There has been lots written about what a poor education the Left-leaning teachers of U.S. High Schools give to their students these days. But sometimes deeds speak louder than words. And the deeds of adminstrators at Harvard speak very loudly indeed. Harvard gets the cream of U.S. High School graduates so at least those students should be 100% as educated as you can get -- right? Wrong! One of my readers writes that the reality is much, much worse than that:

I attended Harvard in the early 80's and knew my way around campus fairly well, and was aware of all the academic programs they offered. So you can imagine my surprise when I found out that the University has an active "remedial English" program that at least 20% of incoming freshmen are required to use. Larger minority enrollment, and foreign students are not driving this program, all students seem to be equal offenders. Harvard's black student body have SAT scores within 90 points of their white and Asian peers; Which is excellent. Harvard will not tell you they have this program; and it has a fancy name to hide its purpose, but it is a Community College style remedial English program.

It is a full remedial program with instruction in spelling, grammar, and the lost art of essay writing. From what I understand, essay skills -- or the lack of them -- is what tipped the University off to these problems.

This program is housed under the Freshman Student Union. They use this like a referral system.... they send the kids to the Union, and then they get moved into this informal, formal program.

There is a whitewash of the program here asserting that it is NOT a remedial program but even that does not tell the whole story. The really bad students are funnelled through there to even a more simplified program.

Can anyone now deny that vouchers are the only hope for the U.S. school system?

And if you read what Jeff Jacoby has to report about Harvard's ethics, the coverup should surprise no-one.


Sunday, August 31, 2003

27 August, 2003


Bernhardt Varenius of Anti-Socialist Tendencies has drawn my attention to this article. I have yet to find an article written by a Leftist that I find worth fisking but this one tempts me. There is so much about it that is wrong-headed and self-congratulatory. I hope one of my fellow bloggers does a real job on it. I will content myself with taking up his initial point about Leftists being more likely to be highly educated. He thinks that shows that conservatives are stupid. He is right that there is a tendency for Leftists to have more formal education but he fails to ask WHY that connection exists. It would not be because of the heavy Leftist indoctrination that people almost always get in the universities and colleges these days would it?

But WHY are university and college teachers so Leftist? Too easy! They know that they are smart so therefore think that they should be the ones running everything. So they HATE it that people want to run their own lives! And that's what makes a Leftist. We know what's good for you is the Leftist credo.

OK. There is one more point that I cannot resist fisking: He says that conservatives were the ones way back who supported the flat earth theory. How he knows that he does not say. What I CAN tell him was that the people who most vigorously resisted Galileo and his ilk were the clergy of the day. And who were the highly educated people at that time? The clergy! So much for the wisdom gained from a higher education!

Parting shot: And it's not so long ago that the leading intellectuals of both Britain and America were supporting Hitler's eugenic ideas. Such wisdom!

Pickens, D. (1968) Eugenics and the Progressives. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press


25 August, 2003

My top post yesterday noted that the Australian middle-class has moved Leftward over the years. In response, Gerry Jackson of Brookes News emailed me: "For what it's worth, it seems to me that what moved our middle class to the left was the spread of tertiary education, which in many cases is nothing less than leftwing indocrination. Listening to some graduates as they try to talk about economics, history or politics drives me to distraction and makes me realise just how far standards have fallen in some of our faculties."

Great! American universities are cutting back on the number of classes they offer. Hopefully that will discourage some students from wasting their time with the so-called education that such universities offer. With the exception of economics, the Humanities and Social Sciences have become so unscholarly that scrapping ALL of their courses would be of net benefit to the world.

23 August, 2003

"What is the answer to this crisis in education? One of the answers is tougher standards, such as those imposed by NCLBA, with credible consequences to back those standards up. But this is merely a first step. A more important and far-reaching response would be to initiate comprehensive parental choice in education."


"Hallelujah. Someone in authority is finally fighting back against political correctness. The Bush administration has warned campus thought-control bullies that it is monitoring their imperious tactics. The Washington Times' George Archibald reports that Gerald A. Reynolds, assistant secretary for civil rights in the Department of Education, has sent a long overdue brush-back letter to college and university officials concerning their odious and oppressive campus speech codes."

17 August, 2003


A reader writes:

"These outfits were established as a reaction to leftist domination of public sector academia. Conservative and market oriented thinkers found the leftist monopoly of state subsidied tertiary education corrupt, narrow and intellectually oppressive. Behind the facade of a progressive, social reformist academia and intelligentsia is the reality of careerism, vested interest and power politics played at public expense.

The social science arms of our universities these days are in many ways not much more than the marketing department of big government. I think it is appropriate to examine closely whether recommendations from private think tanks represent the special interests of their largest corporate donors. However the same skeptical eye also needs to be cast at the output of government financed universities and agencies. Just because someone works in the public sector, there is no reason to assume that they magically become an economic eunuch.

The left is always warning us about the cynical vested interests of the military industrial complex allegedly maniupulating public policy for their sectional gain. But is this risk mysteriously confined to those in uniform? what about the academic-big government complex? Few government-paid academics are prepared to bite the hand that feeds them. In fact this common sense observation underlies much of the work of the think tanks and is still resisted in State academia.


Real men don't do quilting and feminist refusal to recognize that is cruel to boys in the educational system.

China Hand has given us a little of the story of his earlier years in China. When I met him around 1970 he was a conservative but he later went to university and veered to the far Left. Various people then told him that if he thought Mao was so great he should go to China. Leftists were of course regularly told to "go to Russia" in the old days but China Hand is the only one I know of who really did put his money where his mouth was.

15 August, 2003

The teacher's unions all hate it but there have been many studies over the years showing that smaller class sizes do not improve education. The latest is here

11 August, 2003

Bernard Chapin says: "The political correctness that infects our colleges and universities has been well documented over the years. However, a lesser studied phenomenon is the amount of PC that is present within our primary and secondary schools. I noticed its presence during the time I interned at a major suburban district. The specter of Stalinist PC ended up having quite a bit to do with my future vocational decisions. Now I work at an alternative school, and when people ask me why I do, I answer by saying: "There is no such thing as political correctness at an alternative school. Life is real there and reality can't be covered up with lies and euphemisms. That's why I'll never leave."

6 August, 2003

American universities are not the only breeding grounds for educated stupidity. Australian universities have abandoned standards wholesale to lure fee-paying students from Asia. What do they think is going to happen when it gets widely known how worthless their degrees now are? But the universities concerned are of course run by government bureaucrats rather than by businessmen so why should they care about the future?


Andrew Ian Dodge tells of his time as a conservative college student:

"In the early days of political correctness, in the mid-to-late 80s, some of us were on the bleeding edge of PC persecution. I was failed, expelled (for a week), harrassed, verbally abused and denied my first amendment rights. We, the right at Colby, told our Republican leaders about what was going on and they did F***-all. This crap could have been nipped in the bud, instead students, like me, were allowed to blow in the wind.

The Federal government should make it clear to colleges that, if they recieve any Federal funds, they will be expected to treat students in an acceptable way. If the college wants to behave like North Korea towards its students, then it must be entirely private. It is high time we stopped colleges that are recieving tax funds from allowing PC abuse to occur. Your constitutional rights should not end when you walk onto a university campus."

4 August, 2003


So, test-happy Florida wants to have a statewide exam for university juniors.
News flash: We already have one. It's called CLAST, the College Level Academic Skills Test.

In their quixotic quest to re-invent the wheel, politically minded reformers let CLAST slip down the memory hole. Then again, so have a lot of college juniors. Since it debuted in 1982, CLAST has been riddled with so many exemptions, loopholes and waivers that only about 30 percent of students actually have to sit for the test. Why? Because some couldn't pass it.

The politically correct "solution," in the face of whining students, is to slay the messenger and bury the underlying academic problems. Thus, CLAST has turned into a cadaver of its former self.

More here.

31 July, 2004

This article points out how overwhelming the Asian, Indian and Jewish presence is at the top of America's scientific and engineering research tree and asks why. The politically motivated dumbing down of American education would seem to be one answer. Education in India and China still has standards and the USA imports the results of that. Pity about bright American kids, though.

23 July, 2003

An interesting comment on the introduction of free public schooling to America: "Supporters expected poor immigrants to rush to free public schools, but they didn't ... they were already in good schools, and many immigrants had come to the U.S. to avoid such intrusive, controlling government. When New York City offered free schools, attendance didn't increase. Even poor immigrant families valued education enough to pay for what they wanted."

20 July, 2003

"Since 1980, federal funding for education has grown an astounding 228 percent -- a good track record if your goal is to maximize federal spending. The problem is, liberals don't care if the spending actually goes towards better educating children. More education spending has not resulted in higher test scores."

16 July, 2003

"Public education in America is producing politically correct, properly sensitized, ignorant little socialists. Some of them can read and write and many can make change at McDonalds, given the machines that tell them what the change amount should be. All of the problems now besetting our youth can be laid at the feet of the socialist indoctrination required by the states before one can become a 'certified' teacher."

12 July, 2003

This story shows how good the Left-dominated U.S. educational system isn't. Note that the librarian who wrote the letter would undoubtedly have a college or university degree.

2 July, 2003


There wouldn't be any blacks there, would there? "Marc Epstein teaches history at Jamaica High School in Queens, N.Y., with a student body of 2,500. [The school] has eight deans, Epstein being one of them. Student discipline occupies much of their time. The school has an assistant principal for security, and two secretaries and a school aide assigned to the dean's office. There are 10 school security agents assigned by the New York Police Department to patrol Jamaica High School's halls; there are more when there's random scanning of students for weapons. At least $1 million is budgeted for school safety ..."

26 June, 2003


The Australian alternative to vouchers is already well-established: "Federal funding of non-government schools is on a runaway trajectory but the Howard Government has no plans to rein in the cost, estimated to hit $5.4 billion by 2006. With enrolments in non-government schools growing - and a new religious school opening every six weeks in NSW - federal budget estimates of the funding have blown out by $150 million. "We have no intention of putting some sort of a cap on it," the Minister for Education, Brendan Nelson, said. "This is a society that values and believes in supporting parents in their choice of education." This year, the scheme will pay $4.37 billion to 2650 schools - more than federal spending on universities - while two years ago the budget put the bill at $4.22 billion."


24 June, 2003


Since everyone else will be blogging on this I won't say much but I find this reasoning pretty incredible:

Justice O'Connor declared that the Constitution "does not prohibit the law school's narrowly tailored use of race in admissions decisions to further a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body." ... "Effective participation by members of all racial and ethnic groups in the civic life of our nation is essential if the dream of one nation, indivisible, is to be realized,"

WHAT educational benefit flows from having a racially diverse student body? No-one has ever shown any net benefit to my knowledge -- though there is plenty of evidence that it leads to dumbing down.

OF COURSE all racial groups should participate in the life of the nation but who said that blacks need favouritism before they can participate? Sounds like old-fashioned racism to me.



In U.S. Catholic universities it would appear that it is now politically incorrect even to refer to the RC church's teaching about homosexuality. You have free speech to say that homosexuality is OK but even Vatican representatives have no free speech to assert what the church's own catechism teaches. I am beginning to think that even the wishy-washy old Church of England (See here, here and here) puts up more of a fight for traditional Christian teachings than American Catholics do. How can you claim to be a Catholic if you reject the Chuch's catechism? Beats me! I think they are just using the Church for their own convenience while having no respect for it all. Totally dishonest, in other words.

21 June 2003

USA Today can have surprisingly sensible editorial pieces at times. This one about High School students being required to pass a final test before they get a graduation diploma makes a lot of good points. Example: "U.S. Department of Education researchers found that ''A'' students in schools in poor neighborhoods had the same reading scores as ''D'' students in schools in affluent areas." In other words, without the tests, a lot of diplomas are meaningless. But I guess we really knew that.

17 June, 2003

Andrew Bolt summarizes well the shocking story about how the exposure of systematic lies by Leftist historians caused not one shred of repentance among them. They of course attacked the man (Keith Windschuttle) who exposed them instead. Excerpt: "Windschuttle aims to take the discipline of history back to some golden age when it was all about facts," complained Professor Alan Atkinson. Well, yes, professors. That's his point."

A victory for home schoolers against the Fascist educational authorities of Massachusetts.

16 June, 2003


And they call it education: "Jefferson Parish public school students without a certain amount of head or body hair will be barred from playing sports or participating in other strenuous activities under a tightened drug-testing policy that will go into effect in the fall. Closing what they described as a loophole in the year-old policy, which they said resulted in some students shaving most of their hair so they could provide urine samples instead of hair for testing.

15 June, 2003

"If American education is to survive, it must completely abandon its current paradigm of enormous, age-segregated schools controlled by Federal monies and the NEA. A return to the one-room school house -- even in large metropolitan areas -- would be a massive improvement.... As long as we allow any government body to control education through funding, our children will continue to be either ignorami or bored stiff all day long."

7 June, 2003

The Leftist "educators": Recent studies suggest as many as half of today's college freshmen must take at least one remedial course in college, with more than four in 10 of these taking a remedial course in writing. Why would K-12 teachers put a low priority on grammar and usage skills? Because that's what they are taught to do by their professors in schools of education.

Saturday, May 31, 2003

30 May, 2003

Oregon folly: "Voters clearly value education, but this new money will largely benefit the teachers' union, not the students. Rather than help the schools in a positive way, the new tax will allow the school system avoid doing two things it must eventually do: control spending and become accountable for learning outcomes."

27 May, 2003


Eleanor Spreitzer emails me that Robert Kennedy Junior was in boarding school -- a college preparatory school -- when his father was shot. She comments:

"This is a member of a family that foams at the mouth against school vouchers and school testing. School Choice? The children in their family go to boarding schools - college preparatory schools - the children of the poor and undereducated go to failing - actually dangerous (because of no disciple) - schools. These failing schools produce the foundation of poor and undereducated needed for the children of the rich and powerful to get and maintain government jobs, salaries, privileges, pensions and most importantly - POWER.

The children of the rich and powerful learn the routine quickly and easily - promise the poor and undereducated - a better life and better education - but in reality - keep them right where they are - undereducated. Undereducated people are easy to control. Tell them anything - they are too ignorant - and too browbeaten to question any one with such a grand education. This has been going on for the last 50 years. Conservatives and Republicans want to stop this cycle - and we are called the mean spirited ones!"


26 May, 2003


Whenever the Australian or British governments try to rein in higher education expenditure or shift more of it to user-pays, we get all sorts of doom and gloom about dumbing down the clever country, undermining future prosperity etc. But what is the connection between education spending and economic growth anyhow? Not what we are being told, at least according to this study of US States: "Using data from all 50 states and spanning two decades... Three distinct regressions find no consistent, statistically significant impact of higher-education appropriations on states' economic growth. Indeed, a stronger relationship is found when the models are reversed, suggesting that a better case can be made that growth drives spending, rather than spending driving growth." "Comparing states' higher-education appropriations and gross state products also yields no solid evidence that spending drives economic growth."

I found similar results some time ago in Australia. See here or here

And using even broader statistical data, Ivar Berg long ago made the related point that a higher education is of questionable economic benefit to the individual being educated too.

Berg, I. (1973) Education and jobs: The great training robbery Harmondsworth, Mddx.: Penguin.


23 May, 2003


British socialism has now got so bad that they cannot even afford to pay all their schoolteachers and are having to sack some of them. Sounds like Russia. One of their headmasters put his finger on the problem, though: "There is more money going into the system, but so much of it is taken up by bureaucracy that it is not finding its way to schools". You can bet that there will not be any bureaucrats sacked.

By lowering testing standards, some U.S. States hope to evade the penalties that a federal law imposes on schools whose students fare poorly on standardized tests. Anything rather than actually educate the kids!

Jeff Jacoby is pretty plainspoken about teachers' unions and tells us that we need to recognize that first and foremost: "Teachers unions, like all unions, want to make money and amass power. Those are the motives behind everything they say and do. They're not in business "for the children." They're in business for themselves."


22 May, 2003


News from Wesleyan University:

Transgender freshman will have the option of living in a "gender-blind" hall - one floor of a dormitory for students who don't want to be categorized as one gender or another. The new mission statement says freshmen who choose to live in the gender-blind area "will be assigned a roommate without the consideration of gender." University officials say they believe the hall is the first of its kind in the nation.

A famously liberal school, Wesleyan has garnered publicity in recent years for a course on pornography, a gay prom and rumors of a "naked dorm."

Peter LaBarbera of the Culture and Family Institute, a conservative group, called the new housing a case of "politically correct anarchy" that would draw more students into "gender confusion."


Jenny Rees writes from Wales:

Teachers are often referred to as "learning providers" while students and pupils have become "learners". In a chilling statement in one document we learn that Ms Davidson's plans for a 21st Century education will have "little resemblance to that understood as being a traditional good education".

Clearly the idea that pupils go to school to learn their alphabet and times table is out of fashion. Instead "learners" will "interface" with "learning providers". This Orwellian view of how education should be provided, (perhaps inspired by Ms Davidson's admiration for Cuba) is one that has no place in my vision.

In this the education department appears to feel that I am not alone, as they have also stated their intention to embarking on a "marketing" campaign to sell the benefits of this to parents and employers. The politically correct nonsense, which is damaging children's future prospects, must stop. My vision would be a system in which bright pupils from the most deprived areas of Wales are not held back by being in classrooms full of unruly pupils who don't want to learn, but are instead given the opportunity to shine even if that means moving schools.

18 May, 2003

Bad kids rule as teachers gagged

Political correctness has really gone mad in some Australian schools:

SCHOOL children who accuse their teacher of verbally or psychologically abusing them have been given the right to complain to child protection investigators.

Teachers are aghast at the new guidelines covering the protection of 750,000 students in schools across the State of New South Wales, which allow complaints to be made against them for non-physical "abuse". Under the controversial provisions, teachers can be investigated for "targeted and sustained criticism" of a student and for "belittling, teasing and making unreasonable demands". They also are prevented from "socially isolating" children who are disruptive or naughty in the classroom.

The changes also have incensed parents and school principals, who believe that the new rules seriously undermine class discipline and potentially jeopardise students' safety.

More here

16 May 2003


It is appalling hat many of our college and high school campuses have become incubation centers for politically correct dogma. Consider a few recent examples.

_ Indiana University's Commission on Multicultural Understanding gave an award to graduate student B. Afena Cobham, in part for calling on a student newspaper, the Indiana Daily Student, to terminate editor John Paul Benitez for publishing an editorial cartoon critical of affirmative action. The Cobham demand letter said: "We call upon John Paul Benitez to resign from his position with the IDS immediately. If he refuses, then he should be removed. His action is not protected free speech and has no place on a college campus."

_ Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts officials refused to grant two student groups permission to have a pig roast in the college quadrangle, claiming it might offend vegetarians. Brian Harcourt, a member of both clubs, said, "The campus allows many other different types of cookouts, and they never seem to have a problem with them." One university spokeswoman claimed the issue went beyond just offending vegetarians. But she admitted, "I'm not a vegetarian, but I personally don't want to look out my window at a pig roasting on a spit. ... An ice cream social would be nice."

_ The University of Massachusetts at Amherst hired a firm for $10,000 to help design a new mascot to replace the Minuteman, which has been the UMass symbol since it replaced the previously politically incorrect "Redman" in 1972. School officials said the design firm expressed concern "with the single-gender ethnicity of the Minuteman, and the fact he's carrying a firearm [in the logo] is also a concern."

_ A decommissioned A-4 Skyhawk Marine fighter plane has been on display in front of Encinal High School in Alameda, Calif. since 1984. But when the school principal sent the plane off to be sanded and repainted a few months ago, a small group of teachers and parents vowed to block its return because it represents American militarism.

14 May, 2003

The British Tories are total lost souls. They seem to think that the way to beat Labour is to be more Leftist than Labour! Their latest caper is a promise to abolish all university tution fees -- while Labour is taking the economically responsible course of putting the fees up! Britain is a strange place these days.

Shooting the messenger: A small group of minority politicians and prominent religious leaders in Florida is threatening a boycott of some of the state's largest industries in the hope of forcing the suspension of an achievement test that thousands of high school seniors (particularly blacks and Hispanics) recently failed. Sadly, however, scrapping the test will not make them any smarter or more employable.

And in New York even a lot of the teachers cannot pass basic competency tests!

12 May, 2003


This survey finds "Politically correct" books are just boring students to tears.

One series of novels, incredibly popular with Australian teens is the John Marsden "TOMORROW WHEN WAR BEGAN" series. John Marsden is Australia's no 1 bestselling writer for teenagers. The books feature a mixed group of teens struggling to survive and grow up in a future Australia under foreign military occupation. The book features resistance drawn from "pre-war" gun owners. Considering the way 'the gun lobby' has been portrayed in Australia in recent years, this is probably a small victory against PCness.

As quoted on Dissecting Leftism

3 May, 2003

A very successful Australian -- Rupert Murdoch -- says of Australian education: ""I think the education establishment with its insistence on tenure at a tertiary level, and its power at primary and secondary level - setting bullshit syllabuses - is really doing the country an immense disservice," he says." Good to see someone with his inflence saying so.

2 May, 2003


Students are now reading history books that, to avoid the appearance of "ethnocentrism," eschew the very idea of progress. One middle school textbook "lauds every world culture as advanced, complex, and rich with artistic achievements, except for the United States." Textbooks "sugarcoat practices in non-Western cultures that they would condemn if done by Europeans or Americans.... They condemn slavery in the western world but present slavery in Africa and the Middle East as benign.... " Publishers of literature textbooks actually subscribe to the notion that "everything written before 1970 was either gender biased or racially biased.".

More here.

29 April, 2003

Of course, Leftist teachers are not to blame for this: "An 18-member panel of educators has found that writing, which their report calls one of the most important skills students can learn, is woefully neglected in most American schools". But I am sure the kids know a lot about "Greenhouse" etc.

23 April, 2003


Last spring a Brooklyn mother named Jeanne Heifetz noticed something fishy on New York state's standardized high-school English exam: an excerpt from a book she'd once read had been altered. Her curiosity piqued, she gathered 10 exams from the past three years and discovered that most of the literary passages had been expurgated. References to race, religion, sex and other hot topics had been removed or softened. A "fat" boy had become "heavy," a "gringo" was now an "American," and a childhood memoir about visiting "the Negro section of town" had been stripped of racial content. Elie Wiesel's declaration that "Man, who was created in God's image, wants to be free as God is free" had been reduced to the lifeless slogan: "Man wants to be free."

More here.

22 April, 2003


I posted a comment here on 20th from a reader who believes that the pervasive Leftist influence in colleges and universities has degraded them to the point where their degrees are often useless. Another reader adds:

If any young people ever ask, you don't need college. I'm the network administrator (for the northwest U.S.) for a major corporation and I have no college degree. I am entirely self taught. Most U.S. job descriptions list requiring a college degree or equivalent experience (usually 4 years). So, if you can get into the field, and get 'real' experience, you can still be considered. Of course, this is not an excuse to fail to round out your education but there are libraries and we can read on our own. The beauty of self education is that you are paid to learn (at entry level jobs) rather than paying exorbitant sums to a university....

I also referred recently to a piece of research I did some time ago that showed that higher levels of education can actually reduce economic prosperity. And way back in the 70s Ivar Berg brought together a lot of evidence to show that college education does not benefit you economically. So most people would be better off to save their money and leave the Leftist college teachers to stew in their own juice.

Berg, I. (1973) Education and jobs: The great training robbery Harmondsworth, Mddx.: Penguin.


California Teacher Training Prefers Politically Correct Methods Over
Proven Methodology

California's K-12 teachers are trained in student-centered teaching methods that lack support in research and undermine learning, according to Facing the Classroom Challenge: Teacher Quality and Teacher Training in California's Schools of Education, a study released today by the California-based Pacific Research Institute. The study found the California State University (CSU) system biased in favor of student-centered teaching methods, despite overwhelming evidence that teacher-centered teaching methods are more effective in improving student achievement.

"The hard evidence clearly shows that traditional teacher-centered, knowledge-based instructional methods improve student achievement more than the progressive child-centered methods favored by California's schools of education," said author Lance Izumi, director of the Pacific Research Institute's Center for School Reform. "This is especially true for children of low socioeconomic status."


According to The Times, Britain's aptly-named NUT (National Union of Teachers) is trying to outlaw testing. They do not want people to realize how little the kids learn at some schools these days. The government responded:

The Department for Education and Skills condemned the decision. A spokesman said: "We are not going back to the days when we had no regular information about how pupils were doing in school. Testing at seven and 11 has meant that the literacy and numeracy strategies have produced improvements in pupils' learning that would never have been dreamt of five years ago."

In her post of 11th, Kimberly Swygert reported similar moves by Californian teachers. Teachers do tend to be Leftist worldwide. There are a lot of mini-Stalins there. They like being dictators.


20 April, 2003


An Australian reader writes:

I do think left domination undermines the quality of education kids are getting. The world doesn't work the way they teach it and if students are to really learn (assuming that is what they want to do) they have to ditch their academic education. Most people who actually run anything or do real work tell you they didn't start learning until after university. This is probably a major cause of the "anti-intellectualism" of Australian society that leftist intellectuals are always whinging about. They don't see the irony in this. Thank God Australians are so deeply anti-intellectual, we would be a third world country if we actually listened to these guys.


16 April, 2004

The UCLA Faculty Senate has voted 180-7 to condemn the war, making it the first university to do so since Iraq's liberation. The value of a university education is becoming increasingly doubtful. I think all the people with real brains must have gone into business by now.

24 February, 2003

There is a BIG post at Critical Mass about the utter destruction that has been wreaked on black education at high school level by affirmative action. Leftist tolerance and lack of any standards has meant a total betrayal of black students -- giving them virtually no education at all. Leftist dishonesty really is immensely destructive wherever it is allowed to prevail.

16 February, 2003


Teachers do make a difference. "The vocabulary of the average American 14-year-old has dropped from 25,000 words to 10,000"

World history textbooks in U.S. classrooms sanitize the problems of Islam when compared to how they often treat Western civilization More here.

Jeff Jacoby has some horror stories of how Leftists destroy high-school education in Massachusetts -- all in the name of "equality" of course. Like the Soviets, they achieve equality not by lifting everyone up but by keeping everyone down.


12 February, 2003

Jimspot is irate at education authorities in hanging-chad country who will not allow students to fail exams.

24 February, 2004

Cronaca notes more strangeness emanating from Britain: Charles Clarke, the British government's education honcho, said education for its own sake was "a bit dodgy"

27 January, 2003


I have just had this quote passed on to me -- from a time when Latin was part of every university liberal arts curriculum:

Dean Briggs of Harvard College circa 1900: "The new degree of Bachelor of Science does not guarantee that the holder knows any science. It does guarantee that he does not know any Latin."

From an interesting article on Jacques Barzun in The New Criterion


Why Read This summarizes a lot of evidence showing that smaller class sizes in schools have no educational benefit.

That is of course an old story now but every teacher wants to reduce his/her workload so will never accept it. And then the parents and everybody else end up believing the teachers and then the good old taxpayer forks out yet again for more wasted expenditure.

24 January, 2003

Joanne Jacobs reports: Congressional investigators created a fake school -- Y'Hica Institute for the Visual Arts -- in London, and applied for federal loans for three non-existent students to study abroad. All were approved by the Department of Education.