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.
School reading lists have radically transformed in the last few decades. While students from a generation ago may have spent their summer vacations dipping into such classics as A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, the present crop of students is being assigned dark, graphic, and edgy reading such as Norwegian Wood and Tweak: Growing up on Methamphetamine — novels which feature homosexual orgies and lesbian sex.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) continues its attack on the constitutionally guaranteed right of free speech and religious expression as it targets school districts in Mississippi and Kentucky that have held to their long-time traditions of public prayer. On August 18th the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported that the Wisconsin-based secularist group had sent a letter to the superintendent of the DeSoto County, Mississippi, school district, the largest in the state with 40 schools and 32,000 students, demanding that the district stop allowing prayers at school athletic events and high school graduations.
Item: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for July 13, in an account on the city’s recent school cheating scandal, reported: “Pressure to meet testing targets was a major reason cheating took place at 44 Atlanta schools involving 178 educators, according to a state investigation released last week. The revelations, called ‘deeply disturbing’ by the Obama administration, have tarnished Atlanta’s Cinderella story of school reform.”
Starting this year, all children in Detroit’s public schools, from kindergarten through 12th grade, will receive free breakfast, lunch, and snacks, the school system has announced.