Jeff Kuhner

Australia's aboriginal community is suffering from a serious epidemic of children watching pornography at home--and then simulating sex acts in the classroom. Some of these aboriginal children are as young as seven. Even more disturbing, plenty of Australian social workers and community leaders think there's nothing wrong with it. In their twisted minds, these children are not suffering from child abuse, despite being fed an endless diet of adult porn and, in some instances, having their parents sexually molest them.

The story in the Australian should be a wake-up call to the country's authorities to crackdown on child abuse, improper sexual behavior in the classroom, and rampant pornography. A formal investigation by a former Supreme Court judge found that communities on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands were not only inundated with porn, but that welfare workers and local aboriginal leaders--those who are supposed to be protecting children--deliberately sought to dissuade teachers from tackling the problems of child abuse.

The judge's report is replete with disturbing examples of illicit sexual behavior by students in classrooms. In one case, a seven-year-old girl dropped her pants in class, simulated sexual intercourse, and jammed several plastic objects into her vagina. School officials suspect she is the victim of incest. In another case, a nine-year-old girl made numerous sexual gestures in class. When confronted by her teacher, she said she learned the moves from "blue movies." It was later found out that the girl came from an abusive home and that...

The Education Gadfly

Fordham is thrilled to welcome Amber Winkler to our ranks. As our brand new Research Director (see her bio), she'll be overseeing Fordham's vast research enterprise (and helping us produce sophisticated studies like this one). And she's blogging too! We're a boy band no longer.

The Education Gadfly

Informed sources say the finalists to succeed Chris DeMuth as president of the American Enterprise Institute are Princeton's Robbie George and Columbia's Glenn Hubbard--youngish, brilliant, and dynamic, both.

Today at a big wing-ding on federal education research sponsored by Education Sector and several other groups , former Deputy Secretary of Education Marshall (Mike) Smith agreed that it was probably a mistake to have carved the Education Department (ED) out of the old Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

I was half-serious when I first said this, citing Moynihan and Califano (celebrated opponents of ED's creation, both) and teeing off Russ Whitehurst's comment that the Department of Health and Human Services now spends a vastly larger fraction of its discretionary budget on R & D than does ED. Smith was serious, citing evidence that one of the largest contributors to weak student achievement and even worse problems for kids and school systems is health issues (he focused on tooth decay leading to rampant infection leading sometimes to death) besetting American children, especially poor ones.

The Ed in '08 chairman told ABC News:

My reasons are that the party needs to get on right now with a lot of business, including figuring out what to do with Michigan and Florida. It's important to make known right now not only my vote but as many superdelegates as possible.

Asked if this endorsement was a problem for Ed in '08, he said:

My partner here, Marc Lampkin is a Bush Republican, a McCain Republican, so we are still one Democrat and one Republican who will be working even handedly.

ABC News implied that his motives might not have been entirely pure:

By making his announcement, Romer may have enhanced his clout in an Obama White House. Plouffe said the Obama campaign will seek the counsel and advice of Romer on education issues.

"Secretary Romer" doesn't have a bad ring to it--though he'll be disappointed to discover that the U.S. Department of Education's discretionary budget is much, much smaller than Ed in '08's $60-million bank account.

Liam Julian

Malcolm Gladwell, kicking-off last week's New Yorker Conference, spoke about the mismatch problem--i.e., the hiring of people based on qualities or characteristics that have little or nothing to do with what delivers success in the position being filled.

For example, Gladwell discussed how scouting combines--at which??the best college players must jump high, run fast, be strong in front of professional scouts--is a lousy predictor of athletes' eventual success.

Another profession that Gladwell thinks suffers from the mismatch problem: teaching. "So teaching is a profession that is every bit as screwed up as professional sports," he said. (He addresses teaching about halfway through his talk.)

Liam Julian

Flypaper does not relish the role of policing The Quick and the Ed, but that blog's latest item simply demands rebutting.

Kevin Carey comments on a piece, written by an adjunct professor, in the most recent Atlantic that supposes that perhaps pushing all students to college is a bad idea. (We commented on the article here.)??Carey writes:

One thing's for certain: this piece will be catnip for those who like to adopt the contrarian too-many-people-are-going-to-college-these-days position. This is an especially attractive stance for elitists and/or people who spend a lot of time searching for opportunities to loudly begin sentences with some variation of the phrase "I know it's not politically correct to say this, but..." as if this denotes intellectual bravery of some kind.

Why this impugning of motives, this name-calling? Beyond being trivial, beyond being unspecific, it is also logically suspect. One can (and many do) make the point that to assume everyone needs college, that jobs that don't require college??degrees are plain undesirable, is??the??elitist stance. Carey bolsters this claim when he writes:

After all, without college, what are Ms. L and her struggling classmates supposed to do? Live out the rest of their lives hardly able to read and write? Find some menial job quietly providing service to the likes of Murray, Bennett, and Wolfe, who enjoy three PhDs and a J.D. between them?

This paragraph, inter alia, overlooks the fact that most Americans do not currently possess college degrees, that a majority...

"No Child Left Behind Lacks Bite."

This is not exactly news to Flypaper readers, but it's great that the Wall Street Journal is spreading the word:

Critics of the federal No Child Left Behind law, including Democratic presidential candidates vowing to overhaul or end it, have often accused it of being too harsh. It punishes weak schools instead of supporting them, as Sen. Barack Obama puts it. But when it comes to the worst-performing schools, the 2001 law hasn't shown much bite. The more-radical restructuring remedies put forth by the law have rarely been adopted by these schools, many of which aren't doing much to address their problems, according to a federal study last year.

To solve a problem first you have to diagnose it correctly. And calling NCLB "too harsh" is surely not the right diagnosis.

Liam Julian

The Wall Street Journal reviews Mark Bauerlein's new book, The Dumbest Generation, and Marion Barry defends vouchers for D.C.