4

Literacy Is So Overated

 

 

Further evidence, if any were needed, that public education in the country has often devolved into a jobs program for incompetents and has nothing to do with education:

 

 

Efforts to introduce standardized testing and the monitoring of performance metrics for teachers in New York have been opposed by the teachers unions ever since they were first introduced decades ago. It’s an ongoing battle which has been mirrored across the nation. Still, some measures have been put in place which were intended to at least ascertain basic levels of proficiency for people seeking teaching positions. One of these is known as the Academic Skills Literacy Test (ASLT). It’s basically a reading comprehension test administered to those who would eventually be giving similar tests to students.

Sounds almost like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? You might think so, but this month it looks like the Empire State will be scrapping the examination because not enough people were passing it and the failure rates were deemed to be too heavily skewed along racial lines. (Associated Press)

New York education officials are poised to scrap a test designed to measure the reading and writing skills of people trying to become teachers, in part because an outsized percentage of black and Hispanic candidates were failing it.

The state Board of Regents on Monday is expected Monday to adopt a task force’s recommendation of eliminating the literacy exam, known as the Academic Literacy Skills Test.

Backers of the test say eliminating it could put weak teachers in classrooms. Critics of the examination said it is redundant and a poor predictor of who will succeed as a teacher.

This is not something which just cropped up. A group representing many of these aspiring teachers brought lawsuits in 2015 claiming that both the ASLT and a second exam focusing on liberal arts and sciences were somehow racist in nature. The group was seeking more than $300 million in damages but a federal court eventually dismissed the case. Despite the fact that the courts gave the testing program a thumbs up, it seems that the testing regimen will be scrapped anyway. Continue Reading

17

A Stumbling Block to School Administrators

Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.  As someone who received an undergraduate degree in the teaching of social studies, I am never very surprised when a school administration decides to engage in an act of public stupidity, however, this incident is in a class all by itself.

A second grade student at the Maxham Elementary School in Taunton, People’s Republic of Massachusetts, was sent home from school after drawing a picture of Jesus on the cross.  The student made the drawing in response to a class assignment that the students draw something that reminded them of Christmas.  Apparently the student’s dullard teacher decided that the drawing of the cross was too violent.  The school administration, in a move which hearkens back to the old Soviet Union placing dissidents in psych wards, decreed that not only would the child be sent home, but that he would have to undergo a psych evaluation.

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A Perfect Post

Occasionally one runs across a post that’s particularly nicely done. I think Matthew Boudway’s recent reflections on a column by Clifford Longley on the new atheists comes dangerously close to perfect. It’s brief, highlights an interesting article, and adds a thoughtful perspective that provides more depth to the article it cites. Here’s a snippet:

[In response to Richard Dawkins’s claim that it is wrong to “indoctrinate tiny children in the religion of their parents, and to slap religious labels on them,”]

“There is no such thing as value-free parenting,” Longley writes…Longley proposes this as an argument about parenting, but it is hard to see why it wouldn’t also apply to education. If the argument doesn’t apply to education, why doesn’t it? If it does — and if it is a good argument — then people of faith have a compelling reason not to send their children to schools where the subject of religion qua religion is carefully avoided. One could, I suppose, argue that the tacit message of such schools is that religion is too important to get mixed up with the tedious but necessary stuff of primary education, but of course public schools approach important matters all the time, and cannot avoid doing so.

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5

The Attorney General Hates This Ad

Attorney General Eric Holder asked former DC Councilman Kevin Chavous to kill this ad, according to Chavous.  An odd request from the Attorney General one would think.  However, I can appreciate the concern of the AG about this ad.  DC public schools are some of the worst in the country, chaotic and violent.  This school voucher program, which I discussed in a prior post here,  gives a few kids a chance to get out of this mess.  Who could be against the program?  Obama of course.  He, and most Democrat elected officials, are owned body and soul by the teachers’ union, the NEA, and Obama and his colleagues would sooner eat ground glass  rather than allow kids through vouchers to escape from the dysfunctional and dangerous public schools that infest much of inner city urban America.  I am sure they regret that kids suffer as a result, but such is their political reality.  Needless to say, Obama of course would never send his daughters to public schools in DC, and I applaud his parental decision while I condemn his heartlessness in preventing other, less wealthy, parents from having the same option for their kids.

15

Obama Ditches Youth Indoctrination Program

Obama Youth Organization

[Updates at the bottom of this article as of 9-3-2009 AD at 4:39am]

In what is a growing sign that President Obama is showing more signs of incompetence, the White House withdrew the requirement that school children write a paper supporting President Obama and his socialistic policies.  This was going to be a requirement after viewing an indoctrination video showing President Obama pushing his plan for socialism to school children nationwide.

President Obama’s plan to inspire the nation’s schoolchildren with a video address next week erupted into controversy Wednesday, forcing the White House to pull out its eraser and rewrite a government recommendation that teachers nationwide assign students a paper on how to “help the president.”

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6

Witches, Essays, Agriculture and More

I was thinking of writing a lengthy piece over lunch, when I wrote up my task list and realized that “lunch” needed to be no more than twenty minutes long. So instead, I present a number of pieces that struck me as interesting lately, but which I don’t have a whole post worth of things to say about.

InsideCatholic just reprinted a lengthy piece by medievalist Sandra Miesel discussing the realities of witch burning in the Middle Ages through “Age of Reason”. It’s an article well worth the time to read, avoiding both the slanders of anti-Catholics and the overly rosy rebuttals used by some apologists.

Entrepreneur Paul Graham has an interesting essay on what an essay should be, why people ought to write them, and how high school English classes do a pretty poor job of teaching people this skill. Continue Reading