Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Just finished Russell Kirk's treatise on Academic Freedom (no longer in publication).  Released 50 years ago at the time the academic community was reverberating from the McCarthy hearings, I find many of the arguments appropriate to today's discussion brought on by David Horowitz (ironically - an EX-communist) and his attempts to legislate "Academic Freedom" as Mr. Horowitz defines such. 

There are many salient points, but I find this position taken by Mr. Kirk to be telling of the distance between true conservatives and those who have taken the label as cover:

First, let me set down my premises as to the relationship that ought to exist between the State and the Academy.  In ordinary circumstances, the State  (by which I mean any political organ of society) should abstain on principle from taking any direct part in the guidance or governance of our institutions of learning; and the Academy, taken as a body, should abstain on principle from a preoccupation with politics. (Academic Freedom : An essay in definition, pg. 141).

Horowitz's minions claim indoctrination by institutions is the reason legislation is needed.  However, poor excuses for faculty do not an institutional conspiracy or doctrine make.  Prudence is needed on this very issue as well as much introspection by the faculty and administration of institutions of higher learning.

11:49:43 AM  #  
 Monday, January 10, 2005

From Questia:

Academic Freedom - Selected Resources

1:52:04 PM  #  
 Friday, January 07, 2005

An Adjunct English instructor at The College of St. Scholastica, Sharon Mollerus, has cogent thoughts regarding the Academic Bill of Rights -- focus on two things -- how this affects teaching students critical thinking skills and who decides what "balance" is.

Academic Freedom in Colleges. Clairity's Place 0 links View Technorati Cosmos
... an Academic Bill of Rights which is designed to force colleges to hire on the basis of competence rather than political correctness and to ensure diversity of opinions. Academic freedom is Sharon Mollerus There is a new movement (Students for Academic Freedom) on the part ... [[Technorati] academic rights]

10:42:57 AM  #  
Some Afternoon Webivision to watch.

Webcast of Unveiling of National Ed. Techology Plan on January 7. Watch the webcast of the unveiling of the 2004 National Education Techology Plan on January 7 at 3:00 pm Eastern time. Secretary Paige and other officials will present the plan, "Toward a New Golden Age in American Education: How the Internet, the Law, and Today’s Students Are Revolutionizing Expectations." [U.S. Department of Education]

[Jim Flowers' Radio Weblog]
9:04:38 AM  #  

If, as Prof. Fish predicts, religion will become the center of intellectual activity in Universities, then the debate for whether government should determine violations of academic freedom takes on holy (sic) new dimensions, no?

One University Under God?. What will succeed high theory and race, gender, and class as the center of intellectual energy in academe? Religion, says Stanley Fish. (free) [ - Today's News]

9:00:10 AM  #  
 Thursday, January 06, 2005

Will writes a good column ...

The Mind That Changed the World. One hundred years ago a minor Swiss civil servant, having traveled home in a streetcar from his job in the Bern patent office, wondered: What would the city's clock tower look like if observed from a streetcar racing away from the tower at the speed of light? The clock, he decided, would appear stopped because light could not catch up to the streetcar, but his own watch would tick normally. By George F. Will. [ - Op-Eds]

...Einstein's theism, such as it was, was his faith that God does not play dice with the universe -- that there are elegant, eventually discoverable laws, not randomness, at work. Saying "I'm not an atheist," he explained:

"We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many different languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is."


10:49:11 AM  #  
 Wednesday, January 05, 2005

A Fordham Foundation study, noted in a Seattle PI article, says most states flunk when their math standards are graded.  Georgia received a "B" -- same score since 1998. 

Georgia receives criticism over its allowance of calculators in K-8.  In particular, the report (pdf) notes:

Calculators are explicitly introduced in first grade with a boilerplate standard subsequently repeated for all grades 2-8:

Determine the most efficient way to solve a problem (mentally, or with paper/pencil, or calculator).

If elementary school students are allowed to decide the most efficient way to solve problems, what prevents them from choosing a calculator every time? One vague fourth grade standard does ask for some computational ability without calculator assistance:

Students will further develop their understanding of division of whole numbers and divide in problemsolving situations without calculators.

However, aside from ambiguously worded requirements to memorize the basic number facts, no other standard for grades K-8 specifies what students should be able to do without calculator assistance. This leaves open the possibility that all else can be done with calculators. Further, no mention is made of the important standard algorithms of arithmetic at any grade level.

In my book, calculators have no place in elementary education. 

11:10:02 AM  #  
 Tuesday, January 04, 2005

This study is worth a read.

Pew study: Blogs busted out in 2004. For blogs and bloggers, 2004 was a good year, according to data released from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. [Computerworld News]

10:27:06 AM  #  
 Wednesday, December 29, 2004

The folks in Indiana don't seem to care for the idea of providing affirmative action for "conservatives" in higher education -- for example, an editorial in the Chronicle Tribune in Grant County, Indiana opines:

...Now, if some liberal group were lobbying for some kind of liberal-protection law, conservatives - after they stopped laughing - would rightfully raise a ruckus and demand that the demand be ignored. And Hoosier legislators - after they stop laughing - should show the Students for Academic Freedom the door. Quickly.

Of all people, conservatives should know better. Conservatives, if they truly believe in the principles of the cause, do not want more unnecessary laws. They want fewer of them.

The Indianapolis Star  argues:

... Do conservative students, especially religious conservatives, often feel slighted, ridiculed and harassed on campus? Without a doubt.

But state and federal laws already exist to address the problem through legal means, if that's what it takes.

The better solution is for universities to create an environment in which conservatives and liberals, the religious and non-religious, feel welcome. That requires professors, students and administrators who possess enough intellectual honesty, curiosity and courage to tolerate people of all political, social and religious beliefs. Passing another law isn't the path conservatives should follow to achieve acceptance.

And, Denver Post columnist Ed Quillen shows they haven't forgotten about attempts to pass a law there last year.

10:06:34 AM  #  

These studies will certainly have folks talking under the Dome this session:

Charter Schools: Lessons in Limits. In the past five months, three major reports have been released showing that charter schools performed more poorly than public schools on the same tests. The most recent of them, issued this month by the Education Department, presented a re-analysis of data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress comparing outcomes for charter and public school students on these national exams. It echoed the NAEP findings released in August by the American Federation of Teachers. Yet another report, released reluctantly by the Education Department this fall, looked at state exam data in five states and came to the same conclusion. By Amy Stuart Wells. [ - Op-Eds]

9:55:17 AM  #