Institute for Justice Comments on Locke v. Davey:

FEBRUARY 25, 2004

Education Updates from the DDC:


Online Colleges

Labor of love or cheap labor? The plight of adjunct professors
by Celine James


On the 20th anniversary of the 1983 National Commission on Excellence in Education report, "A Nation at Risk," the only news media attention given to the continued sorry state of education in America was a shallow report by NBC News anchor, Tom Brokaw about functionally illiterate adults aired on Dateline August 8, 2003. Indeed, it is simply unconscionable that little to nothing has been done to resolve the decades-long education crisis that has robbed generations of students of their education and is still leaving so many high school graduates -- and even college graduates -- functionally illiterate.

The only overview of what has been going on since the "Nation at Risk," report was aired on C-Span Book TV, August 9, 2003, in which a panel of education experts from Harvard and the Hoover Institution discussed the issues and their collaborative books, "A Nation Reformed?," which accept the status quo, and "Our Schools and Our Future," which renews the alarm. Sadly, the only consensus was that there has been no improvement in public education since the dismal 1983 report.

It should come as no surprise that the erosion of the education system in our country is the result of gross failures of good intentions, selfish interest denial -- and costly exercises in futility -- which have been confirmed by state and national testing and assessments. Will it take another generation to resolve what the education revolution turned into a national crisis? Society is already answering painfully to young people let down by the education establishment's factories of ignorance.

What is even more troubling is the possibility that an ignorant public -- at odds with themselves -- is exactly what government, social engineers and the academic elite want to maintain power and control, and the fact that there is insufficient outrage from the people and the media. Maybe what we need is another revolution to take back education for our children.

From C-Span Book TV
August 9, 2003
A Nation At Risk Panel Discussion:
Description: In commemoration of the twentieth anniversary of the 1983 National Commission on Excellence in Education report, "A Nation at Risk," the U. S. Department of Education in Washington, DC, hosted a panel discussion on the state of the American public school system. When first published, the report caused controversy because it warned of a "rising tide of mediocrity" in education that would endanger the country's future.

The panelists discuss two books written in response to the twenty years of reform following the report. The books are "A Nation Reformed?" and "Our Schools and Our Future." In attendance are Chester Finn, Jr., Paul Peterson and Caroline Hoxby, contributors to "Our Schools and Our Future," and David Gordon, Patricia Albjerg Graham and Robert Schwartz, contributors to "A Nation Reformed." William Hansen, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Education delivers opening remarks and Ronald Brownstein, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, moderates the event.

Author Bio: Ronald Brownstein is a national political correspondent and columnist for the Los Angeles Times. David Gordon is the editor of the Harvard Education Letter, a bimonthly publication about K-12 education research. Mr. Gordon is also the editor of "The Digital Classroom: How Technology is Changing the Way We Teach." Patricia Albjerg Graham is the Charles Warren Research Professor of the History of American Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her books include "Progressive Education: From Arcady to Academe" and "SOS: Sustain Our Schools." Robert Schwartz has been a lecturer on education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education since 1996. From 1996 to 2002, Mr. Schwartz was the president of Achieve, a non profit organization created by the nation's governors and corporate leaders to help states implement standards-based reform.

Chester Finn, Jr. is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and chairman of the Koret Task Force on K-12 Education. His latest book, "The Educated Child," was co-written with William J. Bennett and John Cribb. Mr. Finn's other titles include "Charter Schools in Action," with Bruno V. Manno and Gregg Vanourek, "The New Promise of American Life," co-edited with Lamar Alexander; and "What Do Our 17-Year-Olds Know?," co-written with Diane Ravitch. Caroline Hoxby is a distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution and a member of the Koret Task Force on K-12 Education. Ms. Hoxby is a professor of economics at Harvard University and the director of the Economics of Education Program for the National Bureau of Economic Research. She is the editor of "The Economic Analysis of School Choice," and has written extensively on educational choice and related issues. Paul Peterson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a member of the Koret Task force on K-12 Education. Mr. Peterson is the Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Government and the director of the Program on Education, Policy and Governance at Harvard University. He is the author of "The Price of Federalism," a co -author of "The New American Democracy;" "Welfare Magnets: A Case for a National Welfare Standard," and "Race and Authority in Urban Politics: Community Participation and the War on Poverty."

Publisher: Hoover Institution Press Stanford University Stanford, CA 94305 Harvard Education Press 8 Story Street, 5th floor Cambridge, MA 02138

(A related education update book)

-- DDC

The Worm in the Apple:
How the Teacher Unions Are Destroying American Education
Authors: Peter Brimelow, Michael Antonucci
Publisher: Harper Collins
February 2003

From Barnes & Noble Editors
In this book, two NEA watchers provide a detailed indictment of the nation's largest teacher union. Forbes journalist Brimelow and Education Intelligence Agency director Antonucci accuse the National Education Association of paralyzing America's schools. Equating modern teacher unions with robber-baron monopolies, they charge that the NEA opposes meaningful educational reform and exploits school systems for its own purposes.

From the Publisher
In this critique, Peter Brimelow exposes the teacher unions for what they are: a political and economic monopoly that is choking the education system, like the "trusts" that put a stranglehold on American business a hundred years ago. Until the unions are held accountable, and public schools opened up to market forces, no education reform, no matter how worthy, will succeed. It is time, Brimelow convincingly argues, to bust the Teacher Trust.

From The (pro-education establishment) Critics
The Washington Post
Brimelow leaves no doubt that the unions' paid organizers and political contributions give them far more influence over the conduct of local school business than parents have -- one reason why conservatives calling for a breakup of monopoly government control of public schooling often find so much support. But he fails to show that the unions' excesses have had much effect on what is going on in classrooms, where teachers are struggling with pedagogical problems that have nothing to do with their union representation. - Jay Mathews

Publisher's Weekly
"The problem with America's government school system is socialism. The solution is capitalism-the introduction of a free market." This provocative theme, stated explicitly by CBS Marketwatch columnist Brimelow, aptly sums up the premise of this lengthy opinion piece on what's wrong with American schooling and how to fix it. The real villains in the government educational scam, according to Brimelow, are the unions, with their bloated bureaucracies, political maneuvering and teacher protection rackets. Brimelow's prescriptions go further than suggesting we simply get rid of unions. His remedies run along predictable ideological lines: turn education over to market forces, hand over responsibility for teacher education to private firms instead of universities and abolish the U.S. Department of Education. Competition, in this paradigm, will solve all of education's problems. For politicians seeking ammunition in the war on public education, Brimelow shares plenty of anecdotes highlighting what he sees as the excesses of teacher unions. Unfortunately, his text suffers from selective use of research and unnecessary teacher bashing (e.g., he opens the book with a commentary on how extraordinarily fat teachers are) to make the point. He can also be hypocritical, as when he accuses union spokespeople of hyperbole when warning against vouchers, merit pay and other conservative proposals for school reform, yet engages in much of the same, detracting from what might otherwise be a welcome addition to the national conversation.

The Myth of Multiculturalism
by Jeanne McDonnell
July 31, 2003

During the last few weeks before I began my freshman year at William & Mary, the school offered a learning experience that sounded like a pretty good deal.

It was a five-week seminar called the Summer Transition Program. It promised to help students "develop and enhance study habits, test-taking and time-management skills necessary for a successful college experience." It also sought to "create friendships" and a "lighter fall course load by offering three credits."

I couldn't participate, though. I'm white -- and the class was offered only to racial and ethnic minorities.

Which raises a few questions: Is William & Mary saying that only ethnic and racial minorities need extra help with study habits, test taking and time management? Do white freshmen already have these skills down cold? Wouldn't a class that counts as three hours of coursework and thus could be used to lighten the first-semester workload help all novice collegians?

Furthermore, why on earth would a friend of mine who scored 1490 on her SAT be invited to take such a course -- all expenses paid -- simply because she' s Hispanic? You'd think anyone who scores a 1490 on the SAT has a pretty good handle on study habits, time management and, especially, test taking. At least that's what my friend thought. She took the invitation as an insult.

And why would the college seek to foster "friendships" exclusively among minority students? Isn't one of the purposes of college to meet and learn from students of different backgrounds? Doesn't cloistering minority students together for the first five weeks of their college education constitute a signal from the college that they need not -- indeed, should not -- mix with others?

Yes it does -- and that may be the point. When the academy looks around for the problems most in need of addressing, here is what it sees: "oppressive foundations of society such as white supremacy, capitalism, global socioeconomic situations and exploitation." That's according to Paul Gorski, an adjunct professor who specializes in diversity issues at the University of Virginia and George Mason University, and Bob Covert, an associate professor at Virginia.

Even if one concedes that these are the most pressing problems on campus, how do the Summer Transition Program and similar programs help? And, again, wouldn't we be better off addressing these problems together?

Sadly, some of those who fought so hard for desegregation now fight for re-segregation -- in the name of multiculturalism and diversity. They forget the very lesson they taught America 40 and 50 years ago, the message of Martin Luther King Jr.: That people be judged not by the color of their skin but by what's in their hearts and minds.

As Michael Boland, an editor of The Counterweight newspaper at Bucknell University wrote: "Meaningful diversity, the sort that actually enriches a university setting, springs from what's going on inside people's heads. It is not a function of what those people look like."

Yet diversity of color seems valued far more than diversity of thought in the very places where thought should matter most -- college campuses. Boland 's remarks followed a public snubbing of Bucknell's Conservative Club. When the club sought a seat on the Multicultural Council of Presidents, an umbrella organization of minority student groups, the request was denied without explanation.

Conservatives take a lot of heat for allegedly being indifferent to the needs and struggles of minorities. Might helping other minorities get to know the members of the Conservative Club increase understanding?

Common sense seems to be on a leave of absence elsewhere, too. Three years ago at Penn State, a student chapter of Young Americans for Freedom was forbidden to register as a student organization because it had in its charter a statement that human rights are "God-given." The student-run group that certifies student organizations claimed this constituted religious discrimination, and the faculty group that reviews its decisions agreed. It took the president of the school to see the First Amendment implications and overturn the decision.

Wake Forest used to require incoming freshmen to attend a racism workshop in which whites were "ridiculed, abused, made to fail and taught helpless passivity so they can identify with 'a person of color for a day,'" according to Reason magazine. Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania topped that: It made freshmen line up by skin color, from lightest to darkest, and step forward and express how they felt about their place in the line.

Professor Gorski says the "metaphor of the melting pot is no longer functional" in America. In fact, it's more functional -- and more necessary -- than ever. Lincoln was right that a house divided against itself will not stand. America's universities need to realize that.

-- Jeanne McDonnell, a sophomore at The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., is a summer 2003 intern at The Heritage Foundation.

Los Angeles Times Magazine October 26, 2003

Re: L.A. Times Magazine Cover Story, "Ready, Writing and Revolution,"
October 5, 2003

It was disturbing, but not surprising, to read about the public-funded charter school in Los Angeles teaching social justice revolution to middle-school students, particularly when most of them read at second-grade level and need remedial training.

Indeed, it is troubling enough that the education establishment robbed generations of students of their education and left them functionally illiterate by replacing fundamental academics with the nonsense of political correctness, censored textbooks, historical reconstruction, social promotion and outcome based programs.

However, playing serious social revolution and protest games with young minds already confused by going through the raging hormone years of adolescence, is simply unconscionable.

Society has been assaulted by selfish interests and battered by the failures of good intentions since the '60s revolution. Sadly, the most damaging results are coming from our nation's factories of ignorance and warehouses of violence: America's public schools.

Daniel B. Jeffs