Wednesday, May 6, 2015

History, Public Education, Gender & The Left

It is not news that our public education system is failing our children. We have pumped money into public schools for fifty years and have seen little increase in reading or math skills. Moreover, the results are even worse when it comes to U.S. history and civics. While these increases in spending have done nothing to help the children, they have created a Frankenstein's monster with public sector teachers unions that actually inhibit improving public education and that exist seemingly for the sole purpose of acting as a money laundering operation for the left.

The following depressing news on student knowledge of U.S. history, civics and geography comes from Breitbart:

Results of the “Nation’s Report Card” released this week by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) show that only 18 percent of 8th-graders are “proficient” or above in U.S. history, and only 23 percent are proficient in civics.

Despite hundreds of billions of dollars poured into education programs in the United States via the U.S. Department of Education, the “Nation’s Report Card” states that 8th-graders’ average NAEP scores in U.S. History, Geography, and Civics demonstrated no significant change since 2010 when students were last assessed. In geography, just 27 percent of U.S. 8th-graders performed at or above the proficiency level on the NAEP assessments.

Among white, black, Hispanic, and Asian students, Asians scored highest, with 33 percent proficient in U.S. History, 44 percent in geography, and 40 percent in Civics. White students are at 26 percent proficiency level in U.S. History, 39 percent in geography, and 32 percent in civics. Only 6 percent of black students scored at the proficient level in U.S. History, 7 percent in geography, and 9 percent in civics, while Hispanics were at 8 percent, 11 percent, and 12 percent, respectively. . . .

In an analysis of the report, National Center for Policy Analysis Youth Programs Director Rachel Stevens asked whether it is any wonder U.S. students are struggling in U.S. History, geography and civics – commonly grouped together as “social studies.”

This should come as a surprise to no one. Nothing is more politicized by the left than our history education, with many educators wanting to turn what history they do teach into a social justice grievance theater for our children rather than a study of the the events that drove the development of our nation, why they occurred, and why they are important. Without that fundamental knowledge, it is next to impossible to know what is worth valuing, or the dangers that might accrue to the nation from taking particular paths, such as turning our nation from a republic into a regulatory bureaucracy, limiting freedom of speech, removing the Judeo Christian religion from the public square, or enacting gun control to take weapons out of the hands of law abiding citizens. Each of those issues is steeped in centuries of bloody conflict and each were decided upon by our Founding Fathers based on that extensive history. But if one is not aware of that history, than it is far easier to work fundamental changes to our nation. As perhaps the greatest of living historians, Bernard Lewis, wrote in a 2008 editorial:

We live in a time when great efforts have been made, and continue to be made, to falsify the record of the past and to make history a tool of propaganda; when governments, religious movements, political parties, and sectional groups of every kind are busy rewriting history as they wish it to have been, as they would like their followers to believe that it was.

The left's disdain for our nation's history was on display in a recent appearance by our nation's First Lady, Michelle Obama, in remarks she made at the Whitney Museum. Said Ms. Obama:

You see, there are so many kids in this country who look at places like museums and concert halls and other cultural centers and they think to themselves, well, that’s not a place for me, for someone who looks like me, for someone who comes from my neighborhood. In fact, I guarantee you that right now, there are kids living less than a mile from here who would never in a million years dream that they would be welcome in this museum.

And growing up on the South Side of Chicago, I was one of those kids myself. So I know that feeling of not belonging in a place like this. And today, as first lady, I know how that feeling limits the horizons of far too many of our young people.

So museums, the physical repositories of our nation's history, are built for white Americans? Black Americans and other minorities have no interests at stake in our nation's history and thus, rightly, feel unwelcome or shunned by museums? This is but an extension of the social justice grievance theater attitude of the left towards our history. Horrendous.

To shift gears to a related story, one that shows that the left has far more interests in pushing an ideological agenda as opposed to actually educating our children, there is the issue of whether our children, or at least a portion, would be better served by attending single sex schools. I have personal experience with this and can attest, anecdotally, that my experience has been that males learn better in a single sex environment and that there are far fewer disciplinary problems. I would expect that my observations are borne out by research, and indeed they are. This from the CRC:

The advantages of single-sex schools According to multiple long-term studies of children from around the world, students achieve more and learn better in single-sex schools.

An Australian study of 270,000 students found that both boys and girls performed significantly higher on standardized tests when they attended gender-specific schools.

During an experiment in Virginia in 1995, 100 eighth graders were separated just for math and science courses. Almost immediately, the girls began to achieve more, become more confident and participate more often in class.

In 2001, a British study concluded that nearly every girl regardless of her ability or socioeconomic status performed better in single sex classrooms than co-ed ones. The study of study of 2954 high schools and 979 primary schools showed that while boys at the lowest ends academically improved the most in single sex schools, single-sex education was particularly beneficial to girls. Every one of the top fifty elementary schools and top twenty high schools in Britain are single sex schools.

And this today from Britain's newspaper, The Telegraph, completely reinforces that reality: Girls thrive in single sex schools because they do not have to impress boys, head says.

Single sex education is better for teenage girls as it takes the pressure off them to try and impress boys in a “sexualised world”, the headmistress of one of Britain's best boarding schools has claimed.

Rhiannon Wilkinson, head of Wycombe Abbey in Buckinghamshire, suggested female pupils were allowed to "remain girls for longer" at boarding school so they can focus on their work.

She added single boys hold girls back because girls mature faster and it is best for their education to grow in a "boys free" environment. Speaking to the Telegraph, she said: "My wide educational experience in both mixed and girls’ schools has shown me clearly that girls are best served educationally in their teenage years in a boy-free work environment.

"Most psychological studies suggest that girls and boys develop at different rates and that girls are far in advance of boys through the teenage years: it is in a girl's best interests to be educated separately, at least until boys catch up with her."

A study published in 2013 by Newcastle University scientists found evidence that girls' brains can start maturing from the age of 10 while some men do not start that process until they are between 15 and 20.

The head of the independent girls' boarding school added: "A single-sex education does not mean a single-sex life and there are many opportunities at girls’ schools for girls to mix with boys socially and enjoy sharing time together in a non-competitive way."

Ms Wilkinson, who also taught a Haileybury, an independent co-educational school in Hertford, said another benefit of an all-girls education is that they can focus on their education without the distraction of wanting to please boys.

She said: “In co-ed environments lots of girls when adolescence kicks want to be liked by boys not just for their intelligence and want to be popular with boys.

“In a girls environment you’re free from that. Most of the time you're focusing on your education, on who you are, you don’t feel you're not being yourself in the classroom, you're not afraid to throw yourself in the sport field.”

She also said boarding schools take the pressure off girls to grow up quickly in a “sexualised world".

Ms Wilkinson said: "Girls in single sex schools thrive, they remain girls for longer, these places provide a bit of protection, a bit of relief from a highly sexualised world. Boarding schools are wonderful havens and oasis where girls can be happy and achieve what they need academically."

Her comments echoed earlier remarks by Tony Little, the headmaster of Eton, who said single-sex education allowed pupils to “be themselves” until later in life.

Mr Little said last month: "What does strike me is that in a single-sex environment, particularly at the age of 13,14,15, there is an opportunity for both boys and girls to be themselves for longer. To be 'boyish' for longer, to be young girls." . .

This all seems a no-brainer. Separate kids by gender so that they can concentrate on academics rather than the opposite sex. Indeed, one could argue that this is increasingly important for males as the public education system becomes ever more feminized and hostile to boys.

So what could possibly be the arguments from the left against dividing up our public schools by gender? One, they summarily dismiss all the studies showing that there is any sort of performance difference between co-ed and gender specific schools. Two, they ignore the issue of disciplinary problems. Then they get to the meat of their ideological complaint:

"There's really no good evidence that single-sex schools are in any way academically superior, but there is evidence of a negative impact," said Lynn Liben, professor of psychology and education at Penn State and co-author of the study. "Kids' own occupational aspirations are going to be limited, and there could be long-term consequences where, for example, girls are used to being in roles only among other girls, then they have to face the real world where that's not the case."

Supporters of single-sex schools argue that boys' and girls' brains are wired differently, and therefore require different teaching styles to maximize education, but study authors note that neuroscientists have not found hard evidence that show differences in girls' and boys' different learning styles.

The report also cited a 2010 study which compared two preschool classes. In one class, the teacher used gender-specific language to address the children. The other teacher did not. After just two weeks, the researchers reported that children who had the teacher using sex-specific language played less with children of the other sex. The kids also showed an increase in gender-specific stereotypes (i.e. boys played with trucks, girls with dolls).

Ahhh, those pesky "gender specific stereotypes" of which the radical feminists always complain. Preventing such stereotypes is obviously a greater societal good than the actual education of our children. Also, though unstated, dividing students by gender would also make it much more difficult for the left to sexualize children. And God forbid a girl should not aspire to be, say, an infantry soldier or a fire fighter. As the left has made clear, physical differences between the sexes are to be ignored for the benefit of ideology. They want to impose their fantasy upon us, regardless of the societal cost.

The biggest threats to our nation are internal, at the moment at least. And no internal threat is greater in the long run than the stranglehold the left maintains on our K-12 public education system, where ideology and graft trump the education of our children.

1 comment:

Storm'n Norm'n said...

Also linked here: