Category Archives: Education

Weekend Reading, Weekend Grading


I’m spending the weekend grading exams and would rather be having a drink with these guys. The man with the mustache in the light colored suit is Mel Blank.

Here is a roundup of my regular reads:

Airforce Amazons: Springtime for Islamists

Contentious Centrist: More on the Kundera Affair

Roland Dodds (But I am a Liberal!): Obama the Hawk?

Elder of Ziyon: Islamist Strategy vs. Western Tactics and More Proof of that Hindu Zionist Conspiracy

Flesh is Grass: I Finally Learn Something from PACBI

E.D. Kain (Indiepundit and NeoConstant): Limited Government vs. Privatization (on public education and vouchers)

Martin in the Margins: Gramsci, secret Catholic Humanist?

Modernity on Politicos and the Web

A Second Hand Conjecture realizes Andrew Sullivan has completely lost it

Welcome back Snoopy! (Simply Jews)

The Stark Tenet assesses Obama’s National Security Team

Sultan Knish: Barak’s Assault on Beit Hashalom House and In Pictures, Kadima’s War Against Zionism

Zombietime (Zomblog) on the mysterious death of Dan Kliman, a Zionist activist who was found at the bottom of an elevator shaft in San Francisco.

Zword on Antisemitic Caricatures

The End (of the Semester) is Near



Only a few more days until final exams. Then comes the joy of grading them. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel…

After finals week I am heading to Northern California for a few days to visit family and friends. I plan on posting a few pictures from my trip but there will likely be much less Mexican food consumed this time. NorCal simply does not have the variety (or quality) of Mexican food one finds in the southern part of the state.

Instead, expect plenty of beautiful vistas–the San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges, etc.–unless it is rainy the entire time. Also looking forward to seeing the new home of the Judah L. Magnes Museum in Berkekey. The old building was beautiful but as the collections held by the museum continue to grow, it is too small.

Here is a roundup of what I am reading this morning:

Airforce Amazons: Against a False Choice

Bob from Brockley: Fascism Watch (South London)

But I am a Liberal! Iraqi Developments

Contentious Centrist: Germans and terrorism, the RAF movie, etc.

Flesh is Grass: British Fascists and 9/11 Untruths

Terry Glavin (added to my blogroll) has been providing excellent coverage of events in Afghanistan

Greater Surbiton celebrates a First Birthday. Congrats, Marko!

Martin in the Margins: Baader-Meinhoff, terrorism and antisemitism

Modernity Blog: More on the BNP

Normblog: Respect for law and political cynicism

A Secondhand Conjecture: The Voice of Murder

The Stark Tenet: Suggestions for PE Obama

Sultan Knish on The Future of the Republican Party

Your Friend in the North: Woz de Joos wot dun it

Zomblog (Zombietime): Victory in Iraq

Civic Literacy in the USA


The Intercollegiate Studies Association (ISI), a conservative organization, has released the findings of their annual survey on civic literacy in the United States and the results are not encouraging. Here are some of the major findings:

If there is any presidential speech that has captured a place in popular culture, it is the Gettysburg Address, seemingly recited by school children for decades. The truth is, however, Lincoln’s most memorable words are now remembered by very few.

Of the 2,508 Americans taking ISI’s civic literacy test, 71% fail. Nationwide, the average score on the test is only 49%. The vast majority cannot recognize the language of Lincoln’s famous speech.

The test contains 33 questions designed to measure knowledge of America’s founding principles, political history, international relations, and market economy.

While the questions vary in difficulty, most test basic knowledge. Six are borrowed from U.S. government naturalization exams that test knowledge expected of all new American citizens. Nine are taken from the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests that the U.S. Department of Education uses to assess high school seniors. Three are drawn from an “American History 101” exam posted online by Two were developed especially for this survey and the rest were drawn from ISI’s previous civic literacy tests.

The results reveal that Americans are alarmingly uninformed about our Constitution, the basic functions of our government, the key texts of our national history, and economic principles.

  • Less than half can name all three branches of the government.
  • Only 21% know that the phrase “government of the people, by the people, for the people” comes from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
  • Although Congress has voted twice in the last eight years to approve foreign wars, only 53% know that the power to declare war belongs to Congress. Almost 40% incorrectly believe it belongs to the president.
  • Only 55% know that Congress shares authority over U.S. foreign policy with the president. Almost a quarter incorrectly believe Congress shares this power with the United Nations.
  • Only 27% know the Bill of Rights expressly prohibits establishing an official religion for the United States.
  • Less than one in five know that the phrase “a wall of separation” between church and state comes from a letter by Thomas Jefferson. Almost half incorrectly believe it can be found in the Constitution.

Take the test here.

Support Ariel University Center of Judea and Samaria


[h/t to Engage]

In the June 11 online edition of Haaretz:

The Council of Higher Education has ruled that it will not recognize the degrees awarded by The Academic College of Judea and Samaria (ACJS), Army Radio reported Wednesday, after the college, located in the West Bank settlement of Ariel, unilaterally declared itself a “university center.”

The heads of the college said that the upgrade from “college” to “university center” represents an interim phase ahead of its evolution into a full-blown university.

However, the state has announced that in the next five years, no new universities will be established in Israel, and that is does not recognize the category “university center.”

Representatives from the Council of Higher Education emphasized that should the college rescind its unilateral decision, the degrees it issues will be recognized again, according the report. Nahum Finger, the council’s deputy chairman, called on students to rethink their future plans should the college resist the council’s orders.

Army Radio also reported that Ariel students have threatened to strike, or to turn to the High Court of Justice, should the sides fail to reach a compromise.

Boaz Toporovsky, the chairman of the National Student Union, promised that he and his colleagues “won’t leave the Council of Higher Education alone in order to prevent the students from being harmed.”

“We’re fed up that every conflict in the higher education system comes at our expense,” Army Radio quoted Toporovsky as saying. “All that interests us is that the degree of a student who studied in Ariel be recognized by every institution in Israel.”

The Council of Higher Education has warned that additional, harsher sanctions will be placed on the college should it not obey the council’s directive.

Representatives from the Student Union and the Council of Higher Education will meet on July 1 in order to discuss the fate of students who will be affected by the decision.

I read about this on Engage. Most of my readers are probably aware Engage is devoted to challenging anti-Semitism on the left, and many of the individuals affiliated with the project describe themselves as leftists. I really appreciate all the positive work they do.

However, I was disappointed to read David Hirsh’s perspective in the comments. He views Ariel as a “settler-college” and while he is a dedicated opponent of the academic boycott of Israeli educational institutions, he claims, “If the Palestinian trade unions argued for a position of boycotting Ariel, on the basis that it was illegitimate because in the occupied territories, then this would be worth listening to.” Mr. Hirsh is not alone in this perspective, but most Jews continue to view Judea and Samaria as liberated, not occupied.

I think this move by the state speaks to the need for more private universities and colleges in Israel. I noted this in a comment at Engage but my comment was never posted. Not sure if it was deleted as SPAM or what happened…

The Jewish Press reports:

The College of Judea and Samaria (CJS), located in the city of Ariel, is really quite an incredible phenomenon. Established in 1982 in Kedumim, it began by offering evening classes to area residents. The school steadily grew and in 1991 relocated to its present location in Ariel.

With more than 9,000 students, CJS is now Israel’s largest public college and its fastest growing academic institution.


Israel Today: Stifling coexistence in the name of peace and Arabs studying at “settler” college

Jewish Virtual Library

Ariel: From a college to a university

Israel Democracy: From Star Wars to Medicinal Marijuana: the College of Judea and Samaria

One Jerusalem: Biggest educational experiment in Israeli history is taking off

For more information:

In Israel

The Ariel University Center of Samaria
The Office of University Center Foundations
Ariel, 40700
Tel. 972-3-937-1418
Fax. 972-3-906-7440
Web site. Moving From a College to a University

In Israel

Israeli Friends of the Ariel University Center of Samaria
The Ariel University Center of Samaria
Ariel, 40700
Tel. 972-3-937-1418
Fax. 972-3-937-1418

In the United States

American Friends of the Ariel University Center of Samaria
National Office
P.O. Box 235029
Encinitas, CA 92023-5029
Tel. 760-634-8458
Fax. 760-477-7009

American Friends of the Ariel University Center of Samaria
New York Regional Office
3145 Coney Island Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11235
Tel. 718-891-9102
Fax. 718-891-0062

In Canada

Canadian Friends of the Ariel University Center of Samaria
4936 Yonge Street, Suite 220
Toronto, ONT M2N-6S3
Tel. 416-818-5444

In the United Kingdom

UK Friends of the Ariel University Center of Samaria
c/o Education in Israel Trust
90 Northgate, Regents Park
London, NW8-7EJ

In Europe (Continental)

European Friends of the Ariel University Center of Samaria

The New Criterion: Special Section on Education


The recent edition of The New Criterion has a special section concerning education. I’ve only had a chance to read Paquette’s article but all of them look interesting:

Introduction: What was a liberal education?

by Roger Kimball

An introduction to our special issue on education.


On the sadness of higher education

by Alan Charles Kors

On comparing the university life then with now.


The world we have lost: a parable on the academy

by Robert L. Paquette

On the Alexander Hamilton Center affair at Hamilton College.


The new learning that failed

by Victor Davis Hanson

On the value of classical learning.


Liberalism vs. humanism

by James Piereson

On the battle between learning for the sake of learning and learning for utility.


The age of educational romanticism

by Charles Murray

On requiring every child to be above average.

Finished grading


I finally finished grading all my papers and submitting final grades this afternoon. It takes a while when you require your students to write, rather than assigning multiple-choice exams. As always, there is at least one student who questions why they did not do as well as they thought they should. In most cases the answer is obvious, a failure to do the work at a college level.

Unfortunately, some of my students are unable to write a cohesive paragraph of sentence, let alone identify an author’s thesis or the evidence an author uses to support her thesis. I wonder how these students were even accepted. Have standards declined that much?

I am not a product of elite education. I attended public schools, community college and state college. It took me longer than four years to receive my B.A. and I worked (part-time or full-time) to support myself during my graduate studies. But throughout my higher education there was a requirement that students be able to communicate in standard written English. What happened?

Part of this is due to the societal expectation that every individual should attend college. There is also the fact that jobs which did not require college degrees in the past do require them today. There is an excellent article by “Professor X” (“In the Basement of the Ivory Tower”) in the June Atlantic (not available online yet) which addressed many of the issues I deal with on a daily basis. Here is a bit:

There seems, as is often the case in colleges, to be a huge gulf between academia and reality. No one is thinking about the larger implications, let alone the morality, of admitting so many students to classes they cannot possibly pass. The colleges and the students and I are bobbing up and down in a great wave of societal forces–social optimism on a large scale, the sense of college as both a universal right and a need, financial necessity on the part of the colleges and the students alike, the desire to maintain high academic standards while admitting marginal students–that have coalesced into a mini-tsunami of difficulty.

I’ll post a link to the article when it is available.

End of the Semester (Grading Time)


It’s that time of the semester…the end. That means loads of final papers to grade and less time for the blog. I hope to be done with all of that by May 9 and then have more time to write. I also am trying to convince someone to contribute a guest post on the American labor movement (nudge, nudge) in the next few days (weeks?).

Nobody that I tagged has responded. But Ben Neill added me to his blogroll, which was nice. Bob has a post on the books people are reading here.