Category Archives: Education Policy
U.S. fourth-graders have lost ground in reading ability compared with kids around the world, according to results of a global reading test.
Test results released on Wednesday showed U.S. students scored about the same as they did in 2001, the last time the test was given. During the interim, there has been an increased emphasis on reading under Bush’s No Child Left Behind act.
The U.S. average score on the Progress in International Reading Literacy test remained above the international average. However, ten countries including Hong Kong and three Canadian provinces, were ahead of the United States this time. In 2001, only three countries were ahead of the United States.
The loss of academic ground is
The 2002 No Child Left Behind law requires schools to test students annually in reading and math, and imposes sanctions on schools that miss testing goals.
The U.S. performance metrics on an international test of 45 nations differed from results of a U.S. national reading test, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the nation’s report card. Fourth-grade reading scores rose modestly on the most recent version of that test, taken earlier this year and measuring growth since 2005. During the previous two-year period, scores were flat.
On the latest international exam, U.S. students posted a lower average score than students in Russia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Luxembourg, Hungary, Italy and Sweden, along with the Canadian provinces of Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario.
Interesting how the U.S. metrics showed progress while other countries’ metrics seem to indicate we are getting dumber.
Hong Kong and Singapore have taken steps such as increasing teacher preparation, providing more tutoring and raising public awareness about the importance of reading, said Ina Mullis, co-director of the International Study Center at Boston College, which conducts the international reading literacy study.
Countries that improved since 2001 included Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Russia, Singapore, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia.
Countries that declined included England, Lithuania, Morocco, the Netherlands, Romania and Sweden. Sweden still outperformed the United States this time around, but average scores in England and the Netherlands were not measurably different from the U.S. average.
Overall, girls scored higher than boys in the United States and all other countries except for Luxembourg and Spain, where the boy-girl scores were the same.
The average U.S. score was above the average score in 22 countries or jurisdictions and about the same as the score in 12 others. The U.S. average fell toward the high end of a level called “intermediate.” At that level, a student can identify central events, plot sequences and relevant story details in texts. The student also can make straightforward inferences from what is read and begin to make connections across parts of the text.
Background questionnaires administered to students, teachers and school administrators showed that the average years of experience for fourth-grade teachers in the United States decreased from 15 years to 12 years between 2001 and 2006. The international average was 17 years.
U.S. kids seem to get more reading instruction than others. U.S. teachers were more likely to report teaching reading for more than six hours per week than those elsewhere.
In my opinion the public education has devolved from the classical approach of character plus basics (reading, writing, arithmetic, respect, and responsibility), to skills, to psychological-social engineering. Today, education “experts” celebrate their doctrines of multiculturalism and values clarification, but sadly, the experts have been too preoccupied with experimental education, diversity training, evolution-instruction, to wake up and realize that 68 percent of students are unprepared for college.
The long and short of it is…what they are doing…isn’t working.
Check the Nation’s Report Card here…
Family members were left stunned in Hong Kong on Thursday (November 22) after a Chinese decision denying the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier entry into Hong Kong.
The decision was later reversed by Beijing.
Hundreds of families poured into Hong Kong to greet servicemen from the aircraft carrier and fleet, which holds 8,000 of United States’ servicemen, airman and sailors, only to find out Thursday morning that the carrier would not come port-side.
The Kitty Hawk is not expected to make it back to Hong Kong by the end of the Thanksgiving day in Asia, according to the
U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is home to thousands of U.S. expatriates, with many gathering at midday for special Thanksgiving day service at the city’s oldest church, St. John’s Cathedral. Hong Kong is also a favoured stopping point for U.S. warships in the Pacific region.
There are several issues which may have prompted Beijing’s action, including U.S. plans to sell Taiwan a $490 million U.S. dollar upgrade to its missile system and last month’s meeting between George Bush and the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist leader whom Beijing considers a traitor.
The State Department and Defense Department said it remained unclear why the aircraft carrier strike group had been denied access at the last moment just as the crew of some 8,000 sailors and airmen were to celebrate the annual US holiday on Thursday.
“At present, it appears the USS Kitty Hawk strike group will not be making a port call in Hong Kong as previously planned as a result of a last minute denial by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” said State Department spokeswoman Nicole Thompson.
“The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not give an explanation for its denial. The United States is pressing the Chinese Foreign Ministry for an explanation and for a reconsideration,” she stated.
A spokesman for the Pentagon, Lieutenant Commander John Daniels, said, “We don’t know the reason the Chinese have done this.”
It is no secret that China has an array of industrial spies roaming the planet. It freely pirates US technology with no regard for intellectual rights, and has used that technology to cyber attack countries like Germany, blast a satellite out of orbit and demonstrate that it can cripple US defenses if need be.
It was only a few years ago that China could barely make a stable rocket launch. Now the Chinese turned that program around with purchased and stolen American technology.
So why did China bar the Kitty Hawk?
They barred it because they are an aspiring global super power, and they want everyone to know that they could – a demonstration of diplomatic bullying.
China is a quasi capitalist/communist super state that is rapidly expanding with a carefully controlled, state run ideology. The curious thing is, unlike the old Soviet Union, it is working. They believe in what they are doing, because their approach is producing tremendous wealth which conveniently for the Chinese, is driving the world’s fastest growing economy at the expense of U.S. workers. There is no period in history where so much wealth and economic power has been created in such a short period of time. In turn, from that wealth and industrial power, the Chinese are building military might. They are rapidly militarizing, and in a few short years, will be able to control events in Asia, without any interference from the U.S.
Taiwan will become whatever China wants it to be, the U.S. economy will continue to suffer, and the United States will simply have to accept that, because we continue to cow-tow to a country that is run by Communist thugs and continues to ignore international law.
To neutralize, or at the very least, attempt to check this coming military might that China will undoubtedly exploit to its full advantage, the U.S. must begin to respond in kind to such diplomatic slaps in the face. Our current policy of bending but not breaking, in the name of an apparantly failed mutually beneficial economic relationship with the Chinese, must be halted immediately. That is to say, scrap globalism…it isn’t working as intended.
We must begin to rebuild from within, and that includes rigorous education reforms that focus on science and technology including medicine, a wholesale change in our international economic policy with regards to China, and a renewed push in the area of space exploration, as well as advanced defense technologies.
Shoring up what little manufacturing we have left here might not be a bad idea either.
Anything short of this is suicide, and it can be done in as little as twenty years.
More to come on this.
And my personal favorite…
When is it going to stop? That is to say, when are television and radio outlets going to ban Ann Coulter? Hasn’t the insanity gone far enough and hasn’t this idiot offended enough people? There must be a point where a decision maker somewhere must look at Ann Coulter and realize that the point of diminishing returns has definitely been reached.
This time, Coulter fired at the Jews saying that they should be “perfected” by accepting Jesus and America would be better off if everyone was a Christian.
Perfected in the image of the Christian ideal? Since when are Christians representative of perfection? Most Christians I know are inflexible racists, much like Coulter. They claim they are peaceful and compassionate, yet more have been murdered in the name of Christ than for all other reasons combined through recorded history. In the modern era, Christians have demonstrated their perfection by burning churches, dragging people to death behind pick-up trucks, lynching innocent people simply because their skin color was incorrect, starting wars based on monstrous lies, and murdering abortion doctors. Evidently Coulter is too busy picking out the latest and greatest push-up bra for her next schizophrenic television appearance, rather than engaging in some light historical reading or looking at the paper once in a while.
A national Catholic organization also criticized Coulter’s remarks.
“I’m just dumbfounded that a Christian would even say this in America,” said Chris Korzen, executive director of Catholics United. Korzen also said it was “particularly dangerous” to be mixing religious conversion with discussions of what it means to be an American, and he said Coulter’s comments reminded him of John McCain referring to the US as a “Christian nation.”
This is not what the founding fathers wanted, no matter how many times fundamentalist Christians try to ram it down our throats. Anyone who has read American history knows better. The problem is I think most conservatives don’t read at all.
“I don’t believe I read anything in the constitution about Jesus Christ dying for our sins,” Korzen said, and he is right. Much like other lunatics, including Ron Paul, Coulter believes that this nation is inextricably tied to Christianity and that all other denominations are basically inferior, irrelevant, or criminal in their purpose. These fools have conveniently forgotten that the fundamental reason why this continent was settled by Western Europeans was a direct result of religious persecution in their home countries! These comments by Coulter simply reinforce her ignorance and unbridled hubris.
“We just want Jews to be perfected, as they say,” Coulter said.
Speaking to Donny Deutsch, on the magazine show, The Big Idea, she went on to say, “I don’t want you being offended by this. This is what Christians consider themselves, because our testament is the continuation of your testament. You know that. So we think Jews go to heaven. I mean, Rev. Jerry Falwell himself said that, but you have to follow laws. Ours is ‘Christ died for our sins,'” Coulter said. “We consider ourselves perfected Christians. For me to say that for you to become a Christian is to become a perfected Christian is not offensive at all.”
I’m having trouble just following that statement based on Coulter’s incoherence. Is she saying that Jews must follow Christian doctrine while their alive? She said she believes that Jews go to heaven anyways, so why are they less ‘perfect’ again?
Another Catholic group blasted Coulter’s remarks, saying they “show profound ignorance of both religion and American history.” “Ms. Coulter embarrasses Christians with her arrogance and insensitivity,” said Alexia Kelley, Executive Director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, and she does not speak for those Christians and Jews who struggle together every day for justice and the common good.”
Ann Coulter’s latest insensitive, ignorant and racist comments are indicative of the latent lack of intelligence that plagues all fundamental Christians. Most thinking people are reasonably familiar with American history as it encompasses politics, science, culture, and war, along with the internal dynamic of tolerance that has kept this country peaceful and free for over 200 years. This continual attack by Coulter and other zealots who anoint themselves as the ‘perfect’ and the righteous, as well as experts in the area of Western Judeo-Christian values, are the very same people who are working to destroy the fabric of tolerance within our culture. Much the same way they accuse liberals of being secular humanists, who try to use the education system and the media to destroy Christian values, Coulter and the Christian posse of the ignorant, have a goal of transforming America through its education system, by taking control of colleges, textbook publishers and the media, with the help of conservative state legislatures and the Bush administration. This is evident in a recent push by some Southern school districts to supplement or replace Darwinian teachings with curriculum referred to as ‘Intelligent Design’, and a vote just days ago by the FCC to further relax restrictions on monopolization of media markets by gigantic conservative corporate interests – many of whom are these same racist Christians.
Christians are deliberately trying to put a strangle hold on our culture by brainwashing youth and destroying their sense of cultural and religious tolerance. They are people who fervently believe, with a religious zeal, in a radically different worldview than the one in which average Americans believe, and one in which this nation was founded and which has underpinned every bit of its moral and economic success.
This is a cultural war between the informed and the ignorant. Coulter’s view is based on faith in a divine creator, and a moral imperative to love and obey Christian doctrine at all costs, even if that means burning the American village to acheive that.
The other view is based on rejection of hatred and ignorance along with tolerance for the views and beliefs of others. People who follow this other world view do not pray on the desperate, not not kill those who disagree with their religious or philosophical views, are not racists, and attempt to advance American culture through mutual understanding, instead of trying to impose the often bizarre and violent teaching of the bible upon us.
In my opinion, Jesus would be embarrassed and appalled by Ann Coulter.
In a follow up to a recent post, Congress has voted to overhaul U.S. college student aid by slashing subsidies to predatory lenders, using the money instead to boost student aid assistance by $20 billion. Industry analysts saying it would dampen the profits of lenders such as Sallie Mae, Citigroup Inc, Bank of America Corp and many others. After months of scandals involving kickback schemes and conflicts of interest among lenders and college officials, the bill is expected to shake up the student loan industry – an $85 billion business.
This is one of the few positive things this Congress has done recently to help the middle class. College costs have soared in recent years in the United States, forcing students to rely increasingly on loans and driving growth for banks and specialized student lenders through unscrupulous and dishonest lending practices.
Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy said it cuts, “the outrageous subsidies the government gives to lenders” and gives the money to students.
The bill calls for a 0.55 percentage point cut in the “special allowance payment” subsidy to for-profit companies that make federally guaranteed student loans. The bill also would cut interest rates on need-based loans in half, to 3.4 percent, over four years; raise the annual student Pell grant ceiling to $5,400 a year by 2012; and cap student loan repayments at 15 percent of monthly income. The bill however does include a controversial test program that will require lenders to bid for the right to make federal PLUS loans to students’ parents on a state-by-state basis. The bill also would offer forgiveness of student loan debt after 10 years for some borrowers who go into public service careers, such as being a teacher or police officer. And finally, it would cut federal student loan default insurance to 95 percent in 2012, from the current 97 percent.
Of course lending industry flunkies and/or Republicans have criticized the legislation, saying it unfairly punishes loan companies, while some Republicans were critical of the way the student loan bill has been steered through Congress by the Democrats (God forbid the Democrats push legislation through that actually helps working families).
The bill is incomplete though because it excludes some measures aimed at cracking down on the improper marketing practices behind the recent loan scandals and omits provisions that would reform confusing forms students must fill out to get financial aid.
My question is – does the bill help those currently trapped in student loan debt they cannot escape? Millions are drowning in debt incurred over the past five to seven years at the hands of criminal lenders. Are these people being helped at all? As a nation, we can ill afford to cripple the student loan system by allowing capital to hemmorage from it much like the home mortgage system. Of course the final obstacle is Bush’s signature which is never a given when the plight of the middle class is on the table.
Student loans have become the newest and most profitable predatory credit market in America. We’re already painfully aware of the ongoing home mortgage meltdown. Well…get ready for the next disaster as we continue speeding down Our- Economy-Is-Slowly-Becoming-Unglued boulevard. Government and worst of all, private students loans, are the most profitable, oppressive, and predatory type of debt of any in the nation. Kudos to the corporate fat cats who master minded these gems. This situation has occurred of course due to due to Republican legislation that was largely paid for by strong arm lobbying courtesy of Sallie Mae, the largest student loan company in America. As you might have already ventured to guess, vast fortunes are being made by unscrupulous Sallie Mae executives, and others who paid for this legislation, on the back of low and middle class college students. Additionally, many of the students now living with this high debt have not been able to capitalize on their educations, so the loans are being deferred or defaulted on altogether. To turn the old anal plug even further, these debts are exempt from bankruptcy, are not subject to cosumer protections like credit cards are and are not subject to the same collections rules that other debts are. This has effectively crippled millions of middle class people who want to repay their original debt, but are prevented from doing so by staggeringly higher amounts being demanded from them by both “non-profit”, and “for-profit” student loan companies. The situation amounts to usary, which is illegal the last time I checked. This latest scheme to defraud the middle class of this country by the power elite has and will continue to contribute to the slow economic destruction that will eventually undo our very culture. More to come on this topic in the future.
Check out these links for more info…
Sallie Mae Reaps Benefits From Ties to Key Agency, Paul Basken, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 7th, 2007
Law favors gambler Over Grad, Dave Newbart, Chicago Sun Times, May 6th, 2007
Probe Launched on Sallie Mae Collection Tactics, Amit Paley, The Washington Post, April 27th, 2007
Lending to Students a Gold Mine for Creditors, Davbid Washburn, San Diego Times Union, April 24th, 2007
Stock Options Provided to Financial Aid Officer by Student Lender, New America Foundation, April 4th, 2007
Press Release, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, State of New York, March 15th, 2007
Student Debt Mayhem, Jennifer C. O’Donnell, Port Folio Weekly, March 6th, 2007
Recently, the federal government tested American high school students on how much they understand economics. The results were predictably dismal. Only half knew that banks use deposits to make loans to other customers, while only half understood the basic principles of global trade.
In an era where global trade is directly affecting our culture on a critical level, why aren’t our high school students made to learn economics? The fact is, only about 5% of all high schools curriculums mandate economics as a requirement for graduation, while most schools don’t offer economic courses at all.
In addition, the same report shows that math skills are well below the international average and continuing to trend downward. Governor Richardson recently called for a new ‘Manhattan Project’ with the goal of developing alternative fuel. I say, with what talent? Will we have to import math and science students from China too to shore up the pathetic porduct our high schools are turning out?
As a nation we cannot afford to allow future workers to languish in academic mediocrity at the risk of sacraficing our way of life. These statistics are the precursor for a socio-economic cataclysm that will see the U.S. slip into economic and cultural chaos, as we wilt in the face of economic pressure from countries like China, unable to compete or moreover, preserve our culture. Maybe the trend has already begun.
No one in this generation experienced the great depression and few know much about it because by default, few students care to talk about history either – but if things continue on the same destructive path in this country both economically and culturally, they may get a taste of it first hand. Maybe students will be made to learn economics and math then? Of course our president doesn’t seem to understand economics either so why should our students be bothered?
America’s public school system has traditionally served our culture as an institution of equal opportunity in American society – but it is failing and failing badly. June is graduation month and if you take time to quickly examine many schools, you will find that millions of high-school students will not be graduating and that the shear number of non-graduates is at an all time high. A new report from the U.S. Department of Education reveals that more than 1 million students will fail to graduate high school this year and that the core of these students are primarily present in minority communities across the country. Almost 50% of Black and Hispanic male students drop out of public high school by the 10th grade. The most miserable areas for public education in general are Detroit, where only 25 percent of students will graduate, Cleveland at 35%, Baltimore at 35%, Dallas at 46%, New York at 45% and Los Angeles at 45%. In my opinion, these are appalling. Many education analysts and experts believe that the current education crisis is all the more problematic given the ultra-competitive nature of the global economy and the direct effect that the global economy has on the domestic socio-economic dynamic in the states.
The Alliance for Excellent Education estimates that each high school dropout earns approimately $260,000 less than a high school graduate over his or her lifetime. These dropouts also put additional strain on social and welfare programs. In fact, high school dropouts make up nearly half of heads of all households on welfare, and also represent over half of our total prison population. Do our insulated leaders in Washington – enscounced in their ignorance – see the cost to our society?
Even more pathetic are the students who do graduate and the grossly inadequate education they are receiving. In low-income schools, students have less than a 2 in 5 chance of being taught by a mathematics or science teacher who holds a degree in the subject he or she teaches at all, much less an advanced degree. This may explain why less than a third of our fourth-grade and eighth-grade students performed at adequate levels in math, and why American 15-year-olds have consistently fallen below the international average in mathematics literacy and problem-solving over the past 15 years. Some professional estimates predict a national shortfall of more than 280,000 math and science teachers by 2015.
So what is your government doing? You may have guessed – nothing. George W. Bush’s “No-Child-Left-Behind act is long on accountibility and short on substance. You can test students all you want – if they’re only taught to pass the test – your strategy is hollow and void of any life-long skill building that is crucial to the continued success of our culture. The sad truth is – we don’t produce competent doctors, mathmeticians, computer programmers, scientists or anything for that matter, that requires real use of grey matter. How long are we going to let our public school system crumble? Will we finally learn when our GDP begins to shrink and we become one of the ruled instead one of the rulers? If things don’t change, we as a society better be prepared to face the consequnces of our academic mediocrity. Just read the history of Rome America…if you can understand it.
Posted by M Podoba 6/20/07