For a more detailed examination of this and related issues See Dissecting School Benefits"
Monday, November 28, 2022
Wednesday, November 16, 2022
Was Secretary Duncan worried about a Bush-era ruling falsely classifying thousands upon thousands of would-be teachers still in training as "highly qualified?" ("Highly qualified" teachers were required by the federal No Child Left Behind law.) No, no, no!. Arne wasn't worried about that at all. In fact, under his 'leadership,' the Education Department continued to apply the Bush administration's ridiculously weak standards. And when a federal judge ruled that this anemic policy clearly violated the No Child Left Behind "highly qualified" requirement, President Obama quickly signed a bill lowering that NCLB standard to the equivalent of breathing. This, predictably, the issue of a man with an elite private school education.
For more such considerations please visit Highly Qualified Teachers: misgivings
Monday, October 31, 2022
Remember when Democrat Terry McAuliffe was competing with Republican Glenn Youngkin in the tightly contested Virginia gubernatorial race? They were facing off in a final televised debate, and were discussing school curricula and library books related to race, gender identity and sexuality when Youngkin charged that school systems were “refusing to engage with parents.” That's when McAuliffe made the mistake of countering “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” That might well have cost her the election.
Sunday, October 16, 2022
For a more detailed treatment of this subject see: http://newfoundations.net/?page_id=303
Wednesday, October 12, 2022
- THE NIELSON RATINGS What folks watch on TV could be one indicator of the success or failure of their schooling? Count the number of adults regularly viewing "The Celebrity Dating Game,"for example, and we might be mostly counting people that schooling somehow failed. So, the fact that ABC cancelled that wretched show after just one season would be good news on the school front. Similarly HBO's "House of the Dragon" has soared to 2022's number one spot for both cable and streaming. Rotten Tomatoes says, "The story, the casting, the acting and the set, all superb." So the popularity of that show could be a plus for schooling. Do you think the Nielsens might be helpful in evaluating schooling's success or failure?
- MUSIC SALES Perhaps we should check the sales figures for various musical artists and genres. Like the enduring popularity of paintings of Elvis on black velvet, they might well reveal \ information about schooling's success or failure. We could, for example, compare gangsta rap sales with those for classical music. Don't you think schooling has surely failed those who prefer Snoop Dog to Mozart or Ice Cube to Chopin? Presently lots of consumers are buying unmelodious, disharmonic trash accompanied by primitive, vulgar verse. Do those who prefer that, constitute a black mark for their schooling?
- CULT MEMBERSHIP Should we use the popularity of cult membership as a measure in our index? Did every Jonestown resident who drank cyanide laced Cool Aid represent a schooling failure? How about the men in David Koresh's cult who permitted that saint to sexually service their wives and daughters because, as Koresh patiently explained, he was the only man pure enough for the job. Were they well schooled? Then there's the Heaven's Gate crowd who, in conformity with "Bo" and "Peep's" teachings, "left their containers" to rendezvous with that space ship concealed behind the Hale-Bopp comet. Don't all such cults seem to have been schooled deficiently? And let's not forget the most enthusiastic members of the Trump cult.
- SUPERMARKET TABLOID SALES Do the sales figures of these grotesque gazettes provide a more valid measure of educational progress than anything ETS could dream up? I'm talking about those tabloids that headline things like "WOMEN COMMITS SUICIDE IN DISHWASHER!", or "HALF BOY, HALF DOLPHIN WASHES UP ON BEACH!" What do you think? Should we regard tabloid sales as an inverse measure of educational progress?
- THE POPULARITY OF CON-ARTIST TELEVANGELIST'S Their income is available from the IRS Tax Exempt Branch. And that might be a measure of schooling's effectiveness? Perhaps the more money these charlatans make, the less well our schools have done? Consider, for example, the Reverend Benny Hinn's television ministry. Hinn, the subject of a devastating CNN expose, is the chap who claims to lapse into "trances" while conducting worship services. Then, according to the Reverend, the Holy Spirit uses his vocal apparatus to speak to the congregation. Should the incomes of this type of shameless con artist be added to our index?
- THE CREDIBILITY OF CREATION "SCIENCE" An astonishing number of Americans believe that our 4.6 billion year old earth was born a mere 6,000 years ago. They even believe that Noah assembled mating pairs of every animal on the planet, evidently including dinosaurs, loaded them on his ark, and fed and housed them for over a year. Does the enduring popularity of this mythology constitutes proof that schools aren't getting the job done — at least when it comes to logical reasoning and science? What do you think?
Thursday, October 6, 2022
It's especially hard to teach the fine arts. In fact, it can suck the joy out of life. Unlike more practical subjects, such as math or science, for example, the value of music, dance, painting, literature and other fine arts is almost exclusively intrinsic. In and of themselves the arts are intensely worthwhile, but much less so as a means to other ends.
Of course, fields such as mathematics or engineering can have intrinsic value. For some, a well-solved equation is just as beautiful as a Van Gogh painting. But that is not the only reason, perhaps not even the principle reason, these subjects have value. They serve as a means to other ends. Even if one has no intrinsic interest in algebra, for instance, it is still can be useful for solving a variety of problems, getting into college and making a living. So are chemistry, physics, and so forth.
So, when students take such subjects they have at least two reasons to learn:
• the subject can be intrinsically interesting,
• the skills learned offer practical advantage.
Those teaching the fine arts cannot rely on extrinsic practical advantages for motivation. There is only the intrinsic joy of appreciation. Let's say one is teaching students about baroque art, for instance, and he or she shows the students images of Bernini's The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa. What practical advantages, what vocational leverage, does knowing about it offer? Very little. So, should the students remain unmoved by the beauty and breathtaking craftsmanship of this sculpture, what is the teacher to do? They have led the horse to water, but ....
Student indifference can suffocate the fine arts teacher. Imagine a musician who finds the only way she can make a reasonable living and still stick to what she loves is to become a music teacher. After investing and working to earn her teaching certificate, she lands a job at St. Mediocritus High School teaching Music Appreciation 101. Semester after semester, year after year, she tries vainly to share what she loves with classes dominated by pimply, horny boys and vacuous preening girls both of whose only reason for enrolling in her course is that it is required for graduation.
She tries and tries to engage their interest using this method and that. But in spite of the music's wondrous beauty and her various tactics, most of the class remains comatose. Some are even annoyed because of the earnestness of her efforts. About all she can get out of them is, “Will this be on the test?” Finally our teacher gives up trying to convey what makes her love music. To spare herself pain and fury she starts just going through the motions and handing out work sheets. The students, being dutiful Catholics, fill them out and pretend to listen. When the semester ends and the principal reviews our defeated teacher's course evaluations, he is pleased to discover that the student's think she has finally hit the mark.
It's especially hard to teach the fine arts.
For other observations concerning motivation for learning, see http://www.newfoundations.com/Carpenter/ProblemSolutions.html
Wednesday, September 28, 2022
Is truancy a major problem? Sure it is; but for whom? We'll get to that. First, there is this. A ton of school districts have truancy prevention programs. And a major justification for having them is that truancy breeds social problems. It's asserted, for instance, that 95% of juvenile offenders started as truants. We're also told that truants are more likely to:
- join a gang running the risk of disease, injury or death;
- use marijuana, alcohol and hard drugs;
- become pregnant and drop out of school;
- have low self-esteem, low aspirations, and educational failure;
- be illiterate or have serious trouble reading;
- engage in violent and criminal activities.
Tuesday, September 6, 2022
Monday, September 5, 2022
One in Thirty Occupations
Saturday, September 3, 2022
Ever wonder what sort of things parents teach their home-schooled children in the privacy that method provides? There's little limit on the kind of screwball ideas that can, and are, inflicted. After all, as one of my reader's notes: "any bigot, batterer, or bully can reproduce." Theoretically, parents must meet state home-schooling standards. But effective control is impossible. How can the authorities possibly check?
- evolution is bunk,
- Noah's ark and the accompanying world-wide flood actually happened.
- dinosaurs were included on the ark.
- the earth is a mere 6,000 years old.
This is a limited sampler of the buncombe sometimes taught at home. It raises doubts about the wisdom of allowing home-schooling. It doesn't follow, however, that home-schooling should be outlawed. First off, it isn't always nutty. And just because some parents bath their children in ignorance and intolerance, doesn't mean they will actually become so. One of the best cures for fanaticism is to have it force-fed to you when you're young.
For more on a related topic please visit: http://www.newfoundations.com/Clabaugh/CuttingEdge/Charters.html
Tuesday, August 30, 2022
That means school kids must be taught to respect and admire the executives “Chainsaw” typifies. And educators absolutely must create school programs and policies that thoroughly inculcate Mr. Dunlap’s guiding principle: “The meek shall not inherit the earth; and, for sure, they won’t get the mineral rights!”
Educators also must put an end to this “inclusion” stuff. Kids in inclusive classrooms sometimes start helping and caring for less fortunate classmates. We all know what can happen when that camel gets its nose under the tent. Communism, next up!
Business leaders often order “involuntary separations from payroll” in order to enhance profits, boost stock prices and increase efficiency. This is best done by targeting employees who have worked there the longest since they make the most money. Right sizing long-serving individuals really benefits share holders. But are public schools adequately preparing kids for this reality? No, they're certainly not. Otherwise there wouldn't be so much kvetching about world of work layoffs.
The most well-run businesses also periodically wet their beaks in employee pension funds. But a lot of employees object. Can schools do anything to facilitate greater acceptance? Sure. Encourage the kids to start school-based savings accounts that administrators also have access to. Then have these same administrators randomly confiscate some the kid's money and spend it on luxury goods for themselves and cooperative school board members. Do this recurrently and we won’t have all this whining and complaining every time pension funds are freed up to increase corporate profitability, executive bonuses and stockholder value. Employees will expect it.
Business execs also find it increasingly profitable to ship American jobs abroad. It greatly enhances profitability. But here again, American workers whine incessantly. In fact, their whining has got some Congress men and women pretending they care. What can be done to make workers more compliant? Here's a possibility: Have school leaders "decruit" a bunch of American teachers in a massive "workforce imbalance correction." Then import new, cheap, hungry, replacement teachers from an emerging nation. (India, with it's large English speaking population, comes immediately to mind.) This would not only save a ton of money, kids who witness it will expect to lose their jobs to foreign competition when their own jobs are shipped overseas.
In fairness, public schooling does meet some of world of work needs already. After a few years in elementary school, for instance, kids learn they have to go along to get along. That’s solid preparation for the real world of work. Twelve years of public schooling also teaches kids to live with mindless rules, red tape and managerial double talk. This too must continue, as it is invaluable. In general, though, school preparation for the real world of work requires much improvement. There are lots of possible ways to do that. Maybe you have some ideas! We're all ears.
Saturday, August 27, 2022
A extensive sampling of school district mission statements reveals that just about every American public school claims they nourish critical thinking. That's sheer humbug. The prime directive actually operative in every public school district is: Never challenge the cherished beliefs, or commitments, of significant elements of the local community. With more than 90% of our public schools controlled by locally elected boards, how could it be otherwise? What elected school board member is going to want students taught to think critically about anything a significant number of voters regard as sacrosanct? No board appointed school superintendent wants that either. The same applies to teachers who are capable of critical thought to begin with.
Tuesday, August 2, 2022
Affirming Diversity, Sonia Nieto's 1992 celebration of multicultural education, has become an educational classic — of sorts. Yet her prescription for public education is based on an obviously false assumption. Namely, that cultural values are mutually inclusive and support tolerance. They're not and they don't.What, specifically, is Professor Nieto prescribing for our schools? She calls it "Affirming Diversity." What does that imply? The professor says it, "... implies that cultural, linguistic, and other differences can and should be accepted, respected, and used as a basis for learning and teaching."
Really? But the values of cultures can be, often are, completely at odds. Plus they're commonly at odds with the very tolerance Nieto's prescription requires. Consider, for example, the dogmatism of the Quehabi Islamic sect that controls Saudi Arabia. Their brand of religion divides the world into good guy true believers — those who subscribe to their highly conservative version of the Sunni school of Islam — and the bad guys of every stripe who don't. In their view, all other religious beliefs must be, at minimum, suppressed. Preferably, they should be annihilated. After all, they're horribly wrong!
Think this an exaggeration? Well, even some Saudi's don't think so. In fact in 2004 a Saudi royal study group, no less, found that the kingdom's religious studies curriculum "encourages violence toward others, and misguides the pupils into believing that in order to safeguard their own religion, they must violently repress and even physically eliminate the 'other.' Embarrassed when their religion's intolerant dogmatism was called out, Saudi education authorities promised to eliminate these features of their curriculum. But when the Washington Post analyzed Saudi school books they found them to be as hate filled and intolerant as ever.
How is this pertinent to Professor Nieto's recommendation that we affirm diversity? Let's imagine her trying to teach in Saudi Arabian higher education. As a woman she would only be allowed to teach in a gender segregated setting. And all senior administration, even of female schools, is restricted to men. She would also discover that Saudi public higher education is only open to Saudi citizens and residents. Plus each and every student must be a Muslim. (I imagine the same criteria applies to professors.)
Imagine the possible conflicts created by such a policy in a school setting. "Yes class, Conner just spit on Maureen and threatened to kill her! Conner is a Protestant, and Maureen is a Roman Catholic. And they're both from Northern Ireland. Religious hatred between these groups has characterized their respective cultures for hundreds of years. So, we must respect and affirm Conner's culture, while also respecting and honoring Maureen's." Just how in the world is that sort of thing supposed to happen?
"Affirming diversity" is the pedagogical equivalent of following Alice down the rabbit hole into Wonderland. And, intellectually, it's pure pablum. So when "woke" professors praise, even struggle vainly to adopt, this egregious nonsense, it evidences the idiocy that ensues when political correctness replaces rigorous logic and factual evidence.
For more on the limits of multiculturalism see: www.newfoundations.com/Clabaugh/CuttingEdge/Multiculturalism.html
Monday, June 13, 2022
Remember Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl “wardrobe malfunction?” This momentary glimpse of her right boob, a pasty covering the nipple, created such a furor that Congress, the FCC and the Supreme Court all got involved.
Complaints about the incident repeatedly emphasized that "children were watching!" So what? Why is a kid getting a brief glimpse of a nearly bare boob so upsetting when, by the time they complete elementary school, the average U. S. child has watched some 8,000 murders on TV. Yep, that's right, eight thousand! And we're not even counting movie murders or the killings depicted in electronic gaming.
Routinely exposing children to murder as entertainment generates little to no public protest. Yet a momentary glimpse of a boob get's the nation's bowels in an uproar? What in the world is one to make of that? Who but a moral cretin, someone like Rev. Franklin Graham comes to mind, thinks that feigned murder of a fellow human is acceptable while a very brief glimpse of a boob, nipple covered, is mouth foamingly outrageous? Murder as entertainment generates a great deal of money for people who count? But in what other way is it beneficial — especially for children?
Okay, kids know that TV, movie and electronic media murders aren't real. Nevertheless, what are they learning by living in a culture where the staged depiction of murder is entertainment? Also ask yourself, what kid's learn about sexuality when a breast bared for a fraction of a second creates a national furor? Healthy that ain't.
Here's an actual incident that first got me thinking about this. One morning my wife and I were walking to our car when some young boys next door made believe they were shooting me. I know, boys often do that sort of thing. But let's broaden our view of it a bit. Suppose, instead of pretending to murder me, they had mimicked having sexual intercourse with my wife. Let's imagine they were pointing at her and thrusting their butts. Imagine how the boy's mother would have reacted if I informed her that her were doing that. She would have been mortified. But had I expressed concern about her boys were pretending to murder me, she would have thought me tetched. Why? How come kids mimicking a pleasurable act is utterly unacceptable, while mimicking murder is amusing? What sort of weird cultural values does this reflect?
Most of what shapes a child's sense of right and wrong is caught rather than taught. By that I mean, kids absorb how to behave and what to value just by living in a certain environment. Now, what do you think they are absorbing by watching and playing at murder? Is this wise and worthy of their promise? And as for this puritanical attitude regarding human sexuality that they absorb, how wise is that? No wonder we've got all sorts of sexual deviants running about.
So, am I far out in left field on this? Or does what I'm saying make sense? Please comment.
To examine similar educationally related issues, see articles at www.newfoundations.net
Thursday, June 9, 2022
No Child Left Behind imposed one-size-fits-all standardized testing on every public high schooler in the nation. The subsequent Every Student Succeeds Act, also requires testing of all but private school students. (Do you wonder why private schools escaped?).)
1. Given an unprecedented federal budget deficit, the best course of action of those listed is to: a. borrow still more money from China b. cut another trillion dollars from the tax bills of the wealthiest Americans c. slash Social Security benefits d. tighten the nation's belt and spend only what we have.2. If an attractive intern offers sex, a public official should: a. quickly take him or her up on it before they change their mind b. accept, but make sure the intern's clothes are laundered afterward c. politely decline d. ask them what they mean by "sex."3. If, as a member of Congress, you plan to have our schools emphasize “character education,” the best individual upon whom to base the curriculum would be: a. J. Edgar Hoover b. Richard Nixon c. Bill Clinton d. none of the above4. If an attack on the US originated in Afghanistan, the best course of action would be to: a. invade Iraq b. invade Iran c. invade Canada d. find out where Afghanistan is located.