Before 1980 there was no U.S. Department of Education. Before 1964 there was relatively little federal involvement in education at all. But let a few Republican presidential candidates suggest that maybe Washington’s role in schooling ought to be scaled back somewhat, and the New York Times, reliable barometer of establishment opinion, finds cause for concern. Why, “even Mitt Romney,” the paper frets, “now says, ‘We need to get the federal government out of education.’”
The lingering institutional wisdom when it comes to education is that increased spending will bring about improved results — even as history continues to reveal otherwise. For example, recent reports indicate that though education spending has increased 64 percent since the inception of the federal No Child Left Behind program, there has been little improvement in America’s test scores. Meanwhile, American schools continue to make little progress against other industrialized nations.
A recent Canadian study has confirmed what has been known for over two decades — much to the chagrin of public school officials: Homeschoolers perform better than public school students in the crucial core academic disciplines of reading and math.
School teacher Isaac Moffett asserts that the Bible is not just a religious document, but a primary source of history. He and his fellow teachers in Nampa, Idaho, relied heavily upon the use of the Bible and other religious texts in class, and as a result, the school was shut down.
For many years, I kept track of the SAT scores for my publication, The Blumenfeld Education Letter, as an indicator of the decline of literacy in America and the continued dumbing down of Americans. And since there has been no implementation of intensive phonics in our schools, I have not expected the SAT verbal scores to improve. And apparently, I’ve been right.
HuffingtonPost.com columnist Andrew Reinbach expressed concern September 12 that the Tea Party is propagating the ideas of The John Birch Society. In an article entitled "The John Birch Society's Reality," Reinbach noted that the JBS is "a group Barry Goldwater and William F. Buckley Jr once thought too extreme, but which has since become the intellectual seed bank of the right."
Higher education is getting "Curioser and curioser!" as Alice said in Wonderland. Elmhurst College in Elmhurst, Illinois, is now asking prospective students about their sexual orientations and "gender identities," the Chicago Sun-Times reported recently. "Would you consider yourself to be a member of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender) community?" is now among the questions asked students applying for admission to the college in the fall of 2012. No one is required to answer the question, the school says, though a "Yes" makes the applicant eligible for a scholarship worth a third of the cost of tuition. About 60 percent of the 3.300 students at the private liberal arts college are on scholarships of one sort or another, school officials said.
The Ohio School Athletic Association seems to be taking the non-constitutional maxim of “separation of Church and state” a bit too far. The Association, along with one of its referees decided to penalize the Louisville High School football team’s receiver for making a gesture to heaven, and is now facing harsh criticism as a result of that decision.
Wisconsin public employees unions were not able to stop Governor Walker’s plan to remove benefits from the items subject to collective bargaining. The unions first persuaded Wisconsin state senators to flee to Illinois, so that a quorum could not be formed to conduct business on that issue in the Wisconsin legislature. Then these unions thronged Madison, trying to intimidate Republican state legislators; these legislators, however, refused to be intimidated. State Supreme Court elections, which once were pro forma referenda on the ethics and competence of justices, was transformed into an ideological policy issue in which Judge Prosser was targeted for elimination because it was felt that he would uphold the constitutionality of Walker’s reforms; that failed too. Finally, public employees unions tried to recall enough Republican state senators to tip control of the state senate back to Democrats; that failed too.
A teacher in Paterson, New Jersey, is in boiling water because she told her Facebook friends that some of her students were “future criminals.”
Rarely does a government official call for himself — and his entire department — to be canned. But that is, in effect, what Secretary of Education Arne Duncan did in a recent webcast, according to a video and partial transcript posted at CNSNews.com.