Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Education advisers

Curious who's advising the candidates day-to-day on education? While familiar names populate the official advisory panels, the folks slogging it out day-to-day on education issues aren't necessarily familiar names. Over at This Week in Education, Alexander Russo has a self-described work-in-progress that aims to put together a list. Take a look. I'm sure Russo would welcome contributions.

Richard Whitmire

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's not at all surprising that all the candidates, in both parties, are being advised on education by women, with their own long entrenched views, since it's only women who make their views known about the topic. After a solid education during the 1960s in both psychology and sociology, followed by a lifetime of service in the Regular Army overseas, I have lived stoically with those views my entire life. And that is the primary problem, not only with our mediocre educational system, but with those who do the overwhelming majority of writing about it, including those in the Fourth Estate.

Why does no one ever dare describe this massive, and enormously expensive, industry with its most obvious label - "female-dominated"? Why do so few "men" ever dare to make THEIR views known? Are they EVER going to get really angry for their sons? As a man with a good mind and a solid sense of fair play, I'd be crazy to believe a single word that comes out of that self-serving industry unless I can independently verify it elsewhere.

When such a huge industry, as well as our largest voting bloc, are so overwhelmingly dominated by one gender, just who has the responsibility for achieving the equity prescribed by law, by our whole concept of justice? Ours is the only English-speaking nation that has not been adult enough to embrace its failing boys as an issue demanding urgent national, including goverment, attention.

US News has just published an excellent first step in trying to get past all the warped statistics, lame excuses, outright lies and other self-serving propaganda about our pre-college school system. The following was my response to the US News editor.


re America's Best High Schools, US News issue of 10 December 2007.

I wish to commend US News for their efforts to find a way to objectively highlight the best among our nation's public high schools. It's a shame we can't apply similar independent ratings to rank our public schools against those in other countries, such as Canada and Europe, which are quite obviously far ahead of our own.

It is also highly commendable that you included both race and economic standing as critical early factors in your methodology. Canada, which has among the world's best performing public schools and where one in every four citizens was born in a foreign country, has long shown that neither race or money are adequate excuses for low-performing schools.

But I was especially struck by your cover showing the young girl far out front in sharp focus, with a couple of boys out of focus in the fading background. This picture very succinctly tells the story of America's public school systems' best kept secret. Until our schools resume routinely providing the public with accurate and reliable statistics on gender, and openly publicizing that data, then all we will be getting is just more slick self-serving propaganda from our female-dominated school systems and their very powerful unions. And publications like US News will be party to the deception.

These days you practically need a federal court order to get schools to reveal reliable statistics on gender - on anything from suicide and drop out rates, to participation in advanced placement programs, to scholarship awards and college admissions. This is in sharp contrast to the period between 1960 and 1990 when women, justifiably, never ceased complaining very loudly about perceived gender inequities in our schools and demanded not only reliable gender statistics but immediate corrective actions, including dramatic changes in teaching methods, even changes to the content of text books. Now it's all the rage to use words, as you do, like "students" and "children" to conceal the fact that the scales are now so very heavily weighted by much higher achieving girls, that their participation in advanced placement programs, for example, is nearly ten times higher nationally than for boys.

But colleges and universities, after three decades of women using Title IX to apply quota systems to college sports programs, DO routinely provide gender data. So it requires zero leap in logic to realize that our pre-college schools are now training nearly twice as many girls as boys to be admitted to college and to get college degrees, and mostly in the liberal arts and social sciences. Gender inequities don't suddenly materialize at a university's entrance; they require decades of preceding "education". Fortunately, Title IX doesn't say anything at all about sports. Title IX (of the 1972 Education Amendments to the Civil Rights Act of 1964) prohibits gender discrimination in ANY education program or activity at any level receiving any federal funding.

Women long ago firmly established the legal principle that significant numerical imbalance in any endeavor was prime facie evidence of institutional discrimination, as well as the principle that it is not possible to blame the victim of such discrimination. I know. I was there. And I fully supported establishing such principles. Are we now to toss out all that legal history when the victims are boys and the institution is female-dominated? When women were complaining, the imbalances in our schools were extremely small compared to what they are today - in the opposite direction. And those imbalances have been growing steadily for the past twenty-five years. Quite obviously something is very wrong here, but unless the public is assisted by the Fourth Estate, which includes US News, to get factual information about gender inequities in our schools, those wrongs will continue until our women have far more responsibility on their plate than they ever imagined possible.

We spend far too much time lauding efforts, process, and far too little time examining the results of those efforts. It is NOT about our teachers; it is solely about our kids - ALL of them. And the only thing that counts is the results the taxpayer receives for his or her investment in both their kids' and their nation's future. Hiding gender inequities in our schools serves no one, and least of all our nation.