Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Hillary Clinton’s Free College-Tuition Plan Short on Specifics

Hillary Clinton, who prides herself on the details of public policy, has said little about what is now the most ambitious and expensive proposal on her agenda: making public college tuition free for most Americans.

On the campaign trail, she typically offers a sentence, maybe two, about the plan. Sometimes it goes unmentioned altogether. Her campaign has offered few specifics about how the program would work, hasn’t said how much money states would have to provide or where the program would fall on her list of priorities.

The campaign website no longer lists a cost for the program, though campaign aides said they estimate it would take $500 billion in new federal spending over 10 years, $150 billion more than the college plan she put out last summer. Others estimate the costs would be much higher.

The sketchiness may owe something to the way the free-tuition plan came to be part of Mrs. Clinton’s platform. Rather than taking months or years to craft, like many of her other proposals, it was inserted as part of negotiations in July to win the backing of Democratic rival Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Lanae Erickson Hatalsky, who tracks higher education and other issues at the centrist Democratic think tank Third Way, said it was obvious that the plan was put together to win over Mr. Sanders.

Most of Mrs. Clinton’s policy proposals “are five pages of dense text with very specific ways of how they’re going to pay for it and how much it would cost,” she said. “This sounded much more like something intended to energize a campaign rally.”

The Clinton plan still is more detailed than most of the ideas put forth by her opponent, Republican Donald Trump, who doesn’t typically give the cost of his plans and sometimes changes significant planks. Still, Mrs. Clinton prides herself on her policy chops and says candidates owe it to voters to be clear about their plans. Mr. Trump’s campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Mrs. Clinton says she would pay for the college plan with higher taxes on the wealthy, including new limits on deductions. Campaign aides said that once school is back in session and younger voters are paying more attention, she would talk more about the college plan.

Clinton spokesman Jesse Ferguson said Mrs. Clinton is “deeply committed” to the revised plan. “Hillary Clinton put forward an ambitious proposal in the primary and, after listening to voters on the campaign trail, expanded it to more effectively reach the goal of erasing the barrier of debt to a college of education,” he said.

Passing this program into law will be a challenge, though, particularly if Republicans continue to control at least one house of Congress. Even some Democrats think Mrs. Clinton’s first proposal would have a better chance and worry that the revised version is too heavy a lift.

The new Clinton policy was described in a single paragraph issued by the campaign in early July amid talks with Mr. Sanders, who had campaigned against her in the primary on a more expansive free-tuition plan. His concept was that public colleges should be free for all, like public high schools.

Mrs. Clinton had already put forth a detailed plan last summer to assure that students could attend public colleges without borrowing money for tuition, but she said families should contribute what they could afford. To win over Mr. Sanders, Mrs. Clinton agreed that students in families earning $85,000 a year or less would be assured free tuition, with that threshold climbing to $125,000 over four years.

The political goals were clear. The policy was a priority for Mr. Sanders, and after her shift, he endorsed her. She also put herself in position to appeal to younger voters, who overwhelmingly backed Mr. Sanders in the primaries and are an important part of the coalition that twice elected President Barack Obama.

In his speech at July’s Democratic National Convention endorsing Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Sanders specifically cited this policy shift. It was one of several she made that were key to winning his support, including an agreement to back additional funding for community health centers.

For now, the new plan appears to cut against two points Mrs. Clinton made during the primaries.

First, she had long described her plan, which she calls the New College Compact, as a balanced way of making sure all players have “skin in the game,” including federal and state governments, universities, families and students. “I think it ought to be a compact,” she said during a Democratic debate last year. “Families contribute, kids contribute.”

Under her new plan, 80% of families would qualify for tuition-free school, even if they could afford some contribution. A Clinton aide replied by noting that students are still expected to have a job that will help pay expenses, and said that it is most important that government pay its fair share.

Second, one of her chief criticisms of the Sanders tuition-free plan was that it relied on governors, including critical Republican governors, to put up one-third of the funding. But her plan requires substantial state contributions as well, though her campaign hasn't specified how much.

The Clinton aide said states will be more likely to fund her plan because it would be phased in gradually.

She did stick by her view, voiced often during the primaries, that the government shouldn’t offer free tuition to very rich families.

Other aspects of the Clinton plan would lower borrowing costs for existing borrowers and those who attend private colleges, and would make community college free.

Meantime, Mrs. Clinton appears to be offering another change to her program that she hasn’t yet explained. In an economic speech on Thursday, she promised “tuition-free” college for the middle class, and “debt-free college” for everyone.

Aides said debt-free is a goal meant to assure no student has to borrow money to pay any college costs, including room, board and other expenses, which can represent half the total costs. That goes beyond her original concept and isn’t detailed in the pages of facts sheets provided by her campaign.

Many advocates welcome the expansions. Tamara Draut, of the advocacy group Demos, which promotes debt-free college, said it is essential that students be able to pay for all college expenses without taking loans, and that this is her understanding of the Clinton plan. She said she expects more details to come.

“I think we’re a long way from governing and there is more detail there than her opponent’s policy platforms, for sure,” she said.


UK: Cambridge brings back its written entrance exam after 30 years

It was designed to identify the nation’s brightest students but was dropped 30 years ago amid accusations that it favoured the better-off.

Now the written entrance exam for Cambridge University is being reintroduced for all applicants, sparking new concerns that it will discriminate against state school pupils less likely to benefit from expensive coaching than pupils of fee-paying schools.

Critics of the idea include former Labour Minister Alan Milburn, now chairman of a social mobility commission, who warned that Cambridge risked raising ‘further barriers’ for bright students from less advantaged backgrounds.

The Mail on Sunday can reveal some of the conundrums that candidates may face.

One question from a sample paper requires students to discuss whether ‘the recent European migrant crisis has challenged or reinforced racism’. Another is more philosophical, asking: ‘Must all revolutions necessarily fail?’

Would-be undergraduates may also be asked to compose an essay on the writer George Orwell’s observation that ‘there are some ideas so wrong that only a very intelligent person could believe in them’, or tackle maths puzzles.

The tests are tailored for different subjects and mix traditional essay topics with multiple choice questions. They are being brought back by the university because while so many applicants achieve As or A*s at A-level, fewer are taking AS-levels, a traditional indicator of academic potential.

The new university-wide written exams, which will replace a hotch-potch of tests already faced by about half of those applying, will be sat by every candidate while they are still at school. The first will take place this October and November.

They will not, however, replace the university’s notoriously tricky interview at which candidates are often put on the spot by fiendish questions such as ‘Instead of politicians, why don’t we let the managers of Ikea run the country?’

Cambridge said the exams, which will be sat by pupils in the year before they take their A-levels, should not require any extra study and were just one of a number of assessments used to determine whether teenagers should be offered a place.

A spokesman said many of the questions were designed to find out how students approached complex issues, and would help the university select those with the skills to cope with demanding courses.

Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, said: ‘For the sake of the whole country, Cambridge and other leading universities need to concentrate on identifying the brightest and the best.’


British universities compete to sign up students
Universities are desperately competing for applicants as thousands of students weigh up their options after receiving their A-level results today.

Institutions are battling to fill an expanded number of first year places following a change in regulation restricting the number of students allowed each year.

A record-breaking 424,000 students have secured a place in higher education - despite a 0.1 per cent drop in the number of pupils achieving the top grades from last year.

Experts have said it is a 'buyers' market' for students with many places still available through clearing, including courses at elite Russell Group universities such as Birmingham, Manchester and Warwick. One admissions officer said students have a 'better chance than ever' of winning a place.

Some universities are trying to generate excitement with gimmicks like Willy Wonka-style 'golden tickets'. Others have called in dozens of staff to man call centres in a bid to lure more students through clearing.

Boys managed to bridge the gender gap for the first time in five years – with 8.5 per cent of male entries getting A*, compared with 7.7 per cent for girls.

For A grades, girls continue to have the edge over their male counterparts - with 25.9 per cent achieving the coveted grade compared with 25.8 per cent.

Stand-out results across the country today included an 18-year-old girl who overcame a brain tumour to land three A*s, identical twins who obtained exactly the same results in the same subjects and a Disney princess who passed her exams despite spending just three months revising while filming for a children's musical.

The overall pass rate - those achieving grades A* to E - remained at 98.1 per cent, while the proportion of A* and A grades was 25.8 per cent - down by 0.1 percentage point on last year.

Today's results also revealed a double-digit increase in the percentage of EU students being awarded university places, with 26,800 being placed (11 per cent) as they rushed to secure a higher education place before Brexit. 

Ucas head Mary Curnock Cook said: 'The UK has some of the best universities in the world so it doesn't surprise me that the Brexit vote doesn't seem to have put EU students off studying here.'


Monday, August 22, 2016

Let teenagers train to be teachers on the job as soon as they leave school, say heads: Proposals to let 18-year-olds be apprentices in the classroom

This is back to the future.  Teaching skills were normally acquired in this way in C19

Heads are to lobby the government to allow teenagers to train as teachers on the job as soon as they leave school. The Teaching Schools Council wants the first teaching apprenticeship scheme for 18-year-olds, which would see them go straight into the classroom.

Currently, all teachers must either have a general degree or a specific teaching qualification – but school leaders say this may be locking out disadvantaged youngsters.

The scheme could see the trainees teaching in the classroom alongside experienced qualified teachers, as teaching assistants currently do.

The training would allow A-level students to join the profession without going to university, but would result in a degree qualification and qualified teaching status.

Supporters said yesterday it would help youngsters in deprived areas who want to become teachers but do not want to amass student debt by gaining a degree.

Teaching Schools Council member Stephen Munday, who is chief executive of Cambridgeshire’s Cam Academy Trust, told the Times Educational Supplement that the apprenticeship may recruitment in more disadvantaged areas.

He said: ‘I can see how for some parts of the country this could be a very positive route-way for youngsters who might not necessarily take seriously the possibility of a degree.

‘And for schools where recruiting is tough, they would see it as a positive. ‘There is a serious win-win here.’

The apprenticeship would be the first school-based teacher training route available to participants straight after A levels.

If given the go-ahead, the new apprenticeship scheme would mean that prospective teachers could be paid while they trained and worked towards a degree, which would drive down the cost burden of qualification.

Earlier this month, Department for Education figures revealed that the proportion of students qualifying for free school meals who had gone on to university had started to fall after tuition fees were tripled to £9,000 a year in 2013-14.

The apprenticeship is expected to be submitted for government approval next month by a partnership of training providers led by the Teaching Schools Council.

Sir Andrew Carter, chief executive of South Farnham School in Surrey, who is leading the apprenticeship bid on behalf of the council, said: ‘There seems to be a great appetite for some apprenticeship route into teaching. ‘About 50 schools have contacted me – some are teaching schools representing alliances.’

A teaching assistant apprenticeship is already being developed but this would be the first apprenticeship for teachers.

Schools could apply for funding from the apprenticeship levy introduced next year to help pay for the training under the scheme. Schools would have to pay for the salaries for their apprentices.

Details of classroom responsibilities for the proposed apprenticeships have yet to be drawn up.

But Sir Andrew said that an apprentice should work alongside a teacher, as teaching assistants do. Once they gained experience, they could take lessons under supervision as with other trainee teachers. ‘It will be an all-graduate profession,’ he said. ‘It won’t change that, but some could join at different points.

‘This is meant to be an additional route into teaching. ‘It is not intended to replace current routes into teaching. ‘It is meant to make a route in for different people, for some people who need to work.

‘There are no students loans involved in this.

‘Schools will need to recognise the apprentice route will brings some costs, but the benefits are that it will bring in employees a little earlier than perhaps before who could work at an apprentice level in the school.’

A Department for Education spokesperson said: ‘All new training routes go through a process to ensure they are of the highest quality and we will consider any submission made by the Teaching Schools Council with this in mind.’


More students nationwide are learning the PC version of Islam

In May, the Philadelphia School District announced it would be adding two Muslim holidays — Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha — to the school calendar, making the district one of a growing number in the nation to recognize Muslim holidays.

A member of the Philadelphia Eid Coalition, a political action committee whose stated mission is to convince the district to declare these holidays official religious holidays, said Philadelphia’s move will “validate our young Muslim students” and prevent them from “hav[ing] to choose between education and religion.”

Her words are particularly ironic, given the organized and concerted effort to validate Islam in American schools — at the expense of truth. Indeed, the Institute on Religion and Civic Values (formerly the Council on Islamic Education) — which has reviewed world history textbooks for more than 20 years — made no secrets about its wish to foment a “bloodless” cultural revolution through promoting Islam via textbooks and, as the Middle Eastern Forum reported, “warn[ing] scholars and public officials who do not sympathize with its requests that they will be perceived as racists, reactionaries, and enemies of Islam.”

The organization boasts that its “reviews have helped improve the coverage and framing of complex topics.” Substitute “fictionalize” for “improve,” and this becomes pretty accurate.

Joy Pullman reports, for example, that an Ohio mother plans to excuse her child from a world history class requirement that he recite the shahada, a Muslim conversion prayer. (The Christian conversion prayer is in a subsequent class — just kidding.) And when that mother requested an independent review of the district’s textbooks, reviewers found blatant errors including a claim that Muslims historically “practiced religious tolerance” by merely levying an extra tax on Christians and Jews. The book conveniently left out that if Christians and Jews didn’t fork over the tax, they could lose their heads. Tolerance, indeed. Did Christianity and Judaism receive similar classroom time? Take a guess.

Last year, we noted that a school in Tennessee was teaching the Five Pillars of Islam during a world religion study, again without similar balance.

Citizens for National Security, an independent textbook reviewer, has also noted pretty hefty lies in textbooks, including teaching that “war broke out” between Palestinians and Israelis. Yep, they were all peacefully chatting over tea and war just “broke out.” Never mind well-documented Palestinian aggression.

Indeed, earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal noted parents' growing concern over “what they see as an overly benign depiction of [Islam].” For example, the Journal points to one textbook used in 30 of Tennessee’s 140 school districts that teaches that Islam expanded via conquest but also “spread peacefully” in many places. The textbook also notes Muslims' “religious toleration” toward Jews and Christians aided in Islam’s expansion. The 1.5 million Armenians slaughtered by Muslims during the Armenian Genocide must have missed out on this “tolerance.” Versions of this same textbook are used nationwide.

That’s not to say every school is promoting Islam. Some, as Pullman also notes, are pretty much pretending religion doesn’t exist altogether. The National Association of Scholars recently issued a review of the College Board’s new AP European history standards (APEH). Among the conclusions: APEH “warps and guts the history of Europe to make it serve today’s progressive agenda,” “presents religion throughout as an instrument of power rather than as an autonomous sphere of European history,” and “points the arrow of European history toward a well-governed, secular welfare state, whose interchangeable subjects possess neither national particularity nor faith nor freedom.”

In other words, the standards discount religion from playing a motivating factor in pivotal events of history such as the Holocaust (for evil) or abolition (for good).

It’s no secret government schools have long been indoctrinating students into the religion of the state. Before parents continue to claim that the problem may be real but their local school is “different,” they’d be wise to note just how organized and systematic the indoctrination has become.


Private school BANS parents from delivering forgotten lunches or books - in a viral post that's dividing the internet

A private catholic school in the US is facing a social media storm after it issued a ban on parents bringing forgotten lunches in for their children.

Catholic High School for Boys, in North Little Rock, Arkansas, shared a photo of its own door sign on August 10 to Facebook, which reads: 'If you are dropping off your son's forgotten lunch, books, homework, equipment etc., please TURN AROUND and exit the building. Your son will learn to problem-solve in your absence.'

The post has since gained more than 70,000 'likes' and more than 3,600 comments with some applauding the school - which educates boys aged between 14 and 18 - for teaching students 'autonomy' and others accusing the $4,400-a-year school of 'starving' them.

The school's principal Steve Straessle told FEMAIL: 'We have had zero complaints from Catholic High parents because they know, on campus, their sons have every tool necessary to solve the problems listed on the sign. 'The policy is still in place. The sign is still in place.'

And one student, Patrick Wingfield, tod Arkansas Matters: 'It makes me think for myself and not rely on other people to do things for me. And if I make a mistake, I need to learn from it and try to fix it.'

But the new rule has social media divided.

One woman, Dani Leppo, commented: 'Because starving your children is a great way to enhance their educational development. Jesus would definitely tell your hungry child to "problem solve" his way out of it. Hypocrites.'

And a teacher, Fred Simpkins, concurred, stating: 'I totally disagree with this [...] I'd be pretty upset if I was paying a lot of money for my child to have a private school education and wasn't allowed to bring him/her something he/she forgot. I'm a teacher and guess what folks? I FORGET THINGS TOO!'

Others, however, took the opposite stance.

Tom Massmann wrote: 'Teach your high school kid a little self-sufficiency. Can't believe people are actually upset about this sign.'

And Joani Matthews remarked: 'OMG this says it is a Catholic High School for boys not an elementary school, not first grade, this is a high school for boys.

Catholic High School charges $4,400 per year in tuition fees for Catholics and $5,400 per year for boys of other faith traditions. Registration, class and book fees range from $300 to $600 each year.

In 1999, former president Bill described its principal, Fr George Tribou, as 'the best educator in my home state, if not the whole country.'

Its students performed well above the national average in its SAT scores last year; 24.9 versus the country's average of 20.


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Professor Criticized for Allegedly Talking about God in Ethics Class

News Channel 3 in Madison, Wisconsin is reporting that a professor at Madison Area Technical College is under investigation for allegedly talking about God in class.

Velena Jones reports that student Dan Roberts complained when professor Hien Van Dong allegedly encouraged him to have "a personal relationship with a living God." Van Dong teaches a three-credit course, "Leadership Principles, Practices and Contemporary Ethical Implications to Develop the Leader within You."

"Our text mentioned God a lot," Roberts said. "They mentioned prayer a lot. They mentioned taking a personal responsibility but needing a higher power to succeed."

Madison College is not a private university but a community college. Roberts is a former Christian turned atheist. The three-credit course was designed to encourage ethical thinking and practices, but Roberts complained that the course promoted Christianity, including one of the texts used, "Sometimes You Win, Sometimes Your Learn" by John C. Maxwell, who is an evangelical Christian.

"Having a text that pushes that having a higher power is necessary makes anyone who does not have a higher power, thinking that maybe they cannot be ethical, and that’s simply not true and that is very dismissive and uncomfortable," Roberts said. He added that he emailed the instructor with his concerns and Van Dong allegedly replied, "I discovered it isn’t about do’s and don’ts, it is about a personal relationship with a living God."

Madison College Provost Turina Bakken told News Channel 3 that the college is investigating the claims. "We will take any and all appropriate action of the learning environment for our students but also to protect our faculty."

She added, "To this point we have one letter that’s representing the experiences of one student, and we will have to let the process play out and do the right thing from there both for the faculty and the student to ensure that going forwards we put forward the most comfortable, effective learning experiences that we can."

Bakken also said Van Dong is a respected instructor with 16 years of experience at the college.


Middle-class parents need to accept that some children are just too thick for private school

By HARRY MOUNT, an extremely well-connected Briton

A friend of mine, a housemistress at a leading public [independent] school, loves her job: the teaching; the big, rent-free Georgian house; the subsidised education for her daughters.

There are only two drawbacks. In the evenings, she feels like an undercover cop, listening for sounds of naughtiness from the 60 girls who live on the other side of her sitting room wall.

And then there are the evening phone calls – when pushy parents ring up and ask her why young Caroline did so badly in her exams.

What my friend can never say is: "I'm afraid Caroline's just a bit of a thicko." That's not the answer the parents are paying £25,000 a year to hear.

My friend won't be surprised by the story of Scott Craddock, who is suing Abbotsholme School in Staffordshire for the £125,000 he paid for his son's education after the boy got just one GCSE - a grade C in science.

"David was disheartened when he got his results," Scott Craddock said of his son: "He said, 'You spent all that money on my education and I walk away with one GCSE.'"

I don't wish to be rude to David Craddock but he doesn't sound like the sharpest knife in the box. Not just because of his GCSE results – or result – but also because of his expectation that money will buy academic success; the same expectation parents have at my friend's school.

Yes, private schools do, on the whole, get better results than state schools – although Abbotsholme's GCSE results for the summer of 2015 were lower than the national average, with just 60 per cent of pupils receiving five grades between A* and C.

But Master Craddock clearly fell way below even Abbotsholme's average results. In every school in the country, there will always be pupils that literally don't make the grade.

In the row about Theresa May reviving grammar schools, critics attack the ruthlessness of the 11-plus exams. Private schools are even more ruthless. At every stage of my private education, we were subjected to a brutal survival of the cleverest routine.

Friends from my nursery school didn't get into my prep school. Friends from my prep school didn't get into Westminster, my public school. Friends from Westminster didn't get into Oxbridge. All my privileged contemporaries had parents who were paying a fortune for their children to succeed – and often to fail.

But, 25 years ago, when privately-educated children failed, their parents accepted that it was their children's fault, not the schools'. When my housemistress friend started teaching in 1992, she never got those calls from angry parents of dim children.

Today, those parents have been brought up in the All Must Have Prizes generation. They also expect good service everywhere else for their money – in restaurants, hotels and coffee shops. So why shouldn't money buy straight A grades, too? In 2010, Gary Lineker took this attitude, when his son, George, failed to achieve three Bs at Charterhouse, to get into Manchester University.

Lineker blamed the school for treating his son like a guinea pig by using the Cambridge Pre-U exams. Poor George, his father said, had "been marked much harder" as a result. It didn't occur to him that his son just hadn't done as well as his contemporaries. Or, God forbid, wasn't as bright.

And, meanwhile, the children – Generation Snowflake, as they have been called – have been mollycoddled and patronised throughout their younger days. Teachers, like my friend, are no longer able to be brutally honest about their shortcomings. If it's anyone's fault, it's the teachers', not the pupils. When I taught at a London university, I was told that it was my fault there was such a gap between the top undergraduates' results and the bottom undergraduates'.

At private schools in particular, teachers are expected to behave more and more like pliant instruments of parents' demands, rather than independent instructors of their children.

My housemistress friend doesn't just field those evening calls. She also has to have the parents to dinner twice a year to assure them how brilliant their children are, no matter how dim they might actually be. No wonder those parents are shocked when the GCSE results come through the letterbox, riddled with Cs and Ds.

It all makes for a perfect storm of entitlement, high expectation and babyish anger when that expectation isn't matched by underperforming brains.

If exams are to mean anything, all mustn't have prizes, however much money has been spent on their education.


Australian High School students propagandized about "alternative" sexual behaviour

A new sex education guide being promoted by the research institute behind the Safe Schools program provides ­students with explicit descriptions of more than a dozen sexual activities.

La Trobe University’s Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society this month launched Transmission, a film with related educational activities that introduces its Year 10 audience to a range of highly sexualised terms that have not previously been canvassed in sex education curriculums.

The resource is written by the centre’s Pamela Blackman, a former Department of Education and Training employee who has written or consulted on a range of sex education resources endorsed by the Victorian government.

While the resource is centred on a film about HIV and sexually transmitted infections which was partly funded with a $15,200 grant from the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, one of the accompanying activities focuses on sexual pleasure.

In one classroom activity, students are asked to consider a list of 20 ways of “engaging in sexual pleasure” to determine which ­activities they “think might be okay”. They are then asked to sort each sex act by their level of ­comfort.

Ms Blackman acknowledges in the explanatory notes that the exercise might prove confronting for teachers and students.

“Sexual activity, for those ready to engage in it, should be a good experience, not an experience full of fear and guilt,” she writes. “I think it’s important to recognise that sexual activity is pleasurable as well as normal.”

A focus on pleasure in addition to risk appears to be an emerging development in sex education.

As is the widespread acceptance that not all students identify as heterosexual.

Research released by the University of South Australia earlier this year revealed that students wanted less repetition of the ­biological aspects of human sexuality in their sex education classes and more “explicit and accurate” information about intimacy, sexual pleasure and love.

The report, “It is not all About Sex: Young people’s views about sexuality and relationship education’’, claimed that boys in ­particular wanted more information about how to have sex, different types of sexual acts and pornog­raphy.

Those findings contrast ­heavily with research done by the La Trobe centre that surveyed secondary school teachers on the same topic. The accompanying report, co-written by Ms Blackman and ­released in 2011, found that the pleasure of sexual behaviour was taught by less than half the teachers surveyed.

It pointed out that most sex education classes focused on fact-based topics around reproduction, birth control, HIV/STIs, safe sex as well as managing peer pressure, forming healthy relationships and decision-making around sexual activity. Abstinence remains a key theme.

The explicit nature of the centre’s latest resource has been questioned by Australian Catholic University’s senior research fellow Kevin Donnelly.

Among the handouts provided to students is a list of sexual terms including “analingus”, also known as “rimming” and “scissoring”.

“Penetrative sex” is ­described as “when a penis or ­object is inserted into the vagina or anus”.

“Most parents and teachers would feel they’ve really gone overboard with this,” Dr Don­nelly said.

“The reality is the pressure is on young people to be sexually explicit and adventurous already but that doesn’t mean we have to endorse that by what we teach.”

Family Voice Australia ­national policy officer Damian Wyld said that many 15 and 16-year-olds had not engaged in sexual activity and classroom activities like this could be ­distressing.

“The Andrews government should place parents’ minds at ease by immediately ruling out any use of this program,’’ he said.

A spokeswoman for Victorian Education Minister James ­Merlino would not comment on whether there were plans to ­endorse the resource, saying only that it was not part of the department’s resources.

The La Trobe centre and Ms Blackman declined to comment.


Friday, August 19, 2016

Fact check: Clinton, Pence mislead on Indiana education

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said that the Republican vice presidential nominee, Gov. Mike Pence, “slashed education funding in Indiana.” But Pence claimed he made “record investments in education.” Clinton is wrong, and Pence is misleading.

The education budget under Pence would be a “record” in nominal dollars, but in inflation-adjusted dollars, it’s not. However, the numbers don’t show education funding has been “slashed” either: The budgets he has signed increased education funding, even in inflation-adjusted dollars.

‘Record’ Investments in Education?

Clinton made the claim on July 23 in introducing her vice presidential running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, who, contrary to the impression Clinton left, presided over a decline in education spending, in inflation-adjusted dollars, as governor of Virginia during the Great Recession.

Clinton: "While Mike Pence slashed education funding in Indiana and gave more tax cuts to the wealthiest, Tim Kaine cut his own salary and invested in education from pre-k through college and beyond."

Pence made the opposite boast a few days earlier, on July 20, in his speech at the Republican convention.

Pence: "In my home state of Indiana we prove every day that you can build a growing economy on balanced budgets, low taxes, even while making record investments in education and roads and health care."

Larry DeBoer, a professor of agricultural economics at Purdue University, studies government budget issues and has written about state school funding. He shared a spreadsheet with us on Indiana education funding, which shows that the figure, for K-12 and higher education combined, was $9.3 billion in fiscal year 2011, the highest figure before Pence took office. Both the 2016 and 2017 budgets, as passed, are higher than that, at $9.8 billion and $10 billion, respectively.

But an increase in nominal dollars, year after year, isn’t unusual. As DeBoer said in an email to us, “Gov. Pence has made record investments in education in the sense that his budgets spend more on education than any in Indiana history. But given inflation, population growth and income growth, that would be true for almost anyone’s budgets.”

In fact, looking at funding figures dating back to 2000, the raw dollar amount for education went up every year except for two of them — both before Pence took office.

So, using nominal dollars isn’t the best way to measure whether a governor had a “record” in funding. Using inflation-adjusted dollars, DeBoer’s figures show the peak in education funding was in 2010, and the current fiscal year, 2017, which began July 1, stands 1.3% below that.

DeBoer noted that the difference isn’t large. “In real terms, and as a share of Indiana’s economy, education spending is a bit smaller than it was in 2010 and 2011,” DeBoer said. “I don’t think that counts as ‘slashed’ though.”


Too many universities are failing their students. Only the light of true competition can save them

For hundreds of thousands of school-leavers, this is the real Super Thursday, the culmination of their very own academic Olympiad.

A-level results day is one of trepidation, delight and the highest youthful emotion; it is certainly no time for commentators to take on the role of kill-joys. The vast majority of this year’s cohort will love their student years, and few will regret taking the plunge.

They should ignore the doomsters who keep telling them that the odds are stacked against today’s 18-year-olds. The reality is that this is a wonderfully exciting, peaceful and prosperous time in which to be growing up. Members of this generation, like all others since the industrial revolution, will eventually end up far better off than their parents.

But while we should celebrate our young people’s prospects and achievements, far more needs to be done to improve the quality of our universities. Britain is only halfway on its journey towards creating a true free market in higher education. We need to move faster to empower students while turbo-charging competition between universities.

The danger signs are there for all to see: despite more realistic tuition fees, many universities are underperforming; teaching can be abominable, especially in research-driven institutions; and some courses do little to bolster young people’s employability.

Better-informed students would make different choices. New universities would help shake things up, especially if they were run differently. We need for-profit institutions in addition to the usual charitable universities; we need companies to start awarding real degrees to formalise the training that they give their staff and apprentices, especially in the sciences, and we need proper online-only institutions that are able to compete on cost as well as quality. The three-year undergraduate model is all well and good, but what about more two-year degrees?

A modern economy may require even more young people to go to university – but it is also true that some current students would be better off in vocational training if better quality options were available. A greater emphasis on lifetime education is also a must.

The facts are sobering. It remains the case that, on average, it pays to go to university but the gap is shrinking. In 1995, a degree would increase wages by 45 per cent on average relative to having no qualifications at all; by 2015 this premium had fallen to 34 per cent, according to the Bank of England.

The gap between graduates and those with A-levels or GCSEs has held up better over the past couple of decades, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies; but here too the graduate premium is now starting to decline. Among 30-34-year-olds, a university graduate now earns 1.55 times more than a school leaver, down from 1.63 times in the 2000s, and the ratio is falling.

One central problem is that for the past 20 years or so, there has been too much emphasis on volume growth and not enough on teaching quality. This was perhaps understandable: Sir John Major was right that too few people went to university in the early 1990s, and right to do something about it. But the higher education system, including the old polytechnics, was never designed for extreme levels of growth.

While the share of 25-29-year-olds with degrees shot up from 13 per cent in 1993 to 41 per cent in 2015, employers are paradoxically still suffering from severe skills shortages. They require more science, technology, engineering and mathematics degrees. At the same time, some 20 per cent of employed graduates are stuck in non-professional roles three-and-a-half-years after graduating.

Shockingly, there are 23 universities from which the median male graduate earns less ten years after graduating than the median UK non-graduate, according to research by Jack Britton, Lorraine Dearden, Neil Shephard and Anna Vignoles of the Institute for Fiscal Studies. The same report reveals the strikingly poor prospects of creative arts graduates, with more than half earning under £20,000 a year. So what should be done?

Graph showing the earnings of university graduates in different disciplines. Maths and computer science graduates beat business studies ones, which beat "creative arts"
Graph showing the earnings of university graduates in different disciplines CREDIT: IFS
First, sunlight is the best disinfectant. The current White Paper, which is being fronted by Jo Johnson and is generally very good news, should be beefed up, and the Government should force all universities to provide far more data about outcomes. Tax information should also be used, in suitably anonymised form, to measure this.

The Government is right to want to crack down on universities that provide bad teaching but enforcing fee cuts on underperformers, as Johnson is threatening, isn’t the right answer. We need a better, more informed marketplace. Imagine a simple app that showed what leavers’ salaries were three, five and 10 years from graduation, for each degree category and university. Students would realise that it makes sense to study physics and mathematics at a top university, rather than an English degree at a mediocre one. Institutions would no longer be able to compete with gimmicks. The Government and the universities should agree that a new app should be launched in three years’ time at the latest; surveys should be used to estimate wages if hard data is unavailable.

Second, we need more competition and a greater clash of models and approaches. The Government agrees with the Competition and Markets Authority that there are too many barriers to entry into higher education. It wants to partially liberalise the right to award degrees and for institutions to call themselves universities, which makes sense.

But here too it must go further. The planning regulations may need to be changed, special education zones set up to allow the creation of new universities close to business clusters or in new locations, and any rules discriminating against for profit-providers torn up. In five years’ time, Britain needs to be home to at least half a dozen serious alternative universities and a bigger spread of fees and course formats, or else the reforms will have failed.

It’s a bold manifesto, of course, but in these post-Brexit days all reforms, however radical, need to be on the agenda.

Britain’s youth deserve nothing less.


This is not about bigotry or homophobia. This is about fact

Should the Australian people, rather than politicians, decide if their children are subjected to compulsory gender theory

Primary school children should be educated with a rainbow world view where mothers or fathers might need to go to the doctor to change their gender.  That’s right kids, your daddy might actually be a lady who needs surgery to affirm this “reality”.

This is according to recent research on children as young as five conducted by Safe Schools advocates from Adelaide’s Flinders University.

We should not be surprised at this. After all, one of the most relentless political debates of the past six years has been about removing the gender requirement from the legal definition of marriage.

If gender matters not in marriage, how can it be a requirement for parenting? Never mind biology folks, that is irrelevant. And if gender matters not in parenting, we must not allow young minds to think it matters to them.

If we don’t join the dots between the rainbow political agenda for same-sex marriage and compulsory public funding of Safe Schools gender theory, then we should not be surprised when our kids come home confused.

This is not to make light of bullying. Bullying is serious and must not be tolerated. But we know that Safe Schools is not an anti-bullying program. It’s founder Roz Ward, a La Trobe University academic, has said same-sex marriage is about sending a message that “transphobia” and “homophobia” is unacceptable.

Surely bullying attitudes towards other students could and should be dealt with without telling the rest of the children in the class that their gender is fluid, as Safe Schools teaches. A child struggling with gender identity issues should be given all the love and professional support we, as a society, can muster.

But this doesn’t mean telling Year 1 kids that their mum really should be allowed to be a bloke. We have been told for years that changing the legal definition of marriage is a no brainer, that affects no one else except the loving couple.

The discourse has been emotional and it has been powerful. None of us want to see our fellow Australians suffering discrimination. But what many Australians do not realise is that all discrimination against gay couples was removed in 2008 when the Federal Parliament changed 84 laws to grant equality.
For marriage equality to be realised, Australia must lift its prohibition on commercial surrogacy and that will be ethically problematic, argues Lyle Shelton. (Pic: Getty)

Sure, it stopped short at changing the Marriage Act, but that is because equality was achieved without redefining marriage. The then Rudd Labor Government recognised that marriage was different and that gender complementarity was essential. Difference is not discrimination.

If gender is removed from marriage, it follows that same-gender married couples must be allowed to participate in the benefits of marriage equality. The United Nations — and common sense — recognises that marriage is a compound right to found and form a family.

Two people of the same gender are biologically incapable of producing children. That is not a statement of bigotry or homophobia, it is simply fact. For marriage equality to be realised, Australia must lift its prohibition on commercial surrogacy.

How else can a married gay couple have children? Surrogacy and anonymous sperm donation, in all its forms, is ethically problematic.

These technologies close the door on a child’s right to be raised and loved by both biological parents, wherever possible.

But unleashing a brave new world of assisted reproductive technology combined with the confusing influence of Safe Schools are not the only consequences of same-sex marriage. Already, we are seeing the rights of Australians who wish to hold on to the timeless definition of marriage being taken away.

Hobart Archbishop Julian Porteous fell foul of Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination Commission simply for disseminating this view of marriage to Catholics. Such is the intolerance of those pushing the rainbow political agenda that they took legal action.

Overseas florists, bakers, wedding chapel owners and photographers have been sued, fined and hauled before courts for exercising their sincerely held beliefs about marriage.

If anyone thinks this is just for the ‘only in America file’, think again.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has said that if he was Prime Minister, business owners who exercised their freedom of conscience about marriage by declining to participate in same-sex weddings would be fined under state-based anti-discrimination law. This is chilling stuff.

All of this is reason why the Australian people should be allowed to decide this issue.

They — not politicians — should decide if their children are going to get compulsory gender theory education in schools. They should decide if children will be denied the right to be raised and loved by their biological parents. And the Australian people should decide if their fellow Australians will be fined for holding a dissident view of marriage.

A respectful plebiscite campaign, with equal public funding to both sides, is the best way to settle this long running community debate.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Does Black Success Matter?

We keep hearing that “black lives matter,” but they seem to matter only when that helps politicians to get votes, or when that slogan helps demagogues demonize the police. The other 99 percent of black lives destroyed by people who are not police do not seem to attract nearly as much attention in the media.

What about black success? Does that matter? Apparently not so much.

We have heard a lot about black students failing to meet academic standards. So you might think that it would be front-page news when some whole ghetto schools not only meet, but exceed, the academic standards of schools in more upscale communities.

There are in fact whole chains of charter schools where black and Hispanic youngsters score well above the national average on tests. There are the KIPP (Knowledge IS Power Program) schools and the Success Academy schools, for example.

Only 39 percent of all students in New York state schools who were tested recently scored at the “proficient” level in math, but 100 percent of the students at the Crown Heights Success Academy school scored at that level in math. Blacks and Hispanics are 90 percent of the students in the Crown Heights Success Academy.

The Success Academy schools in general ranked in the top 2 percent in English and in the top 1 percent in math. Hispanic students in these schools reached the “proficient” level in math nearly twice as often as Hispanic students in the regular public schools. Black students in these Success Academy schools reached the “proficient” level more than twice as often as black students in the regular public schools.

What makes this all the more amazing is that these charter schools are typically located in the same ghettos or barrios where other blacks or Hispanics are failing miserably on the same tests. More than that, successful charter schools are often physically housed in the very same buildings as the unsuccessful public schools.

In other words, minority kids from the same neighborhood, going to school in classes across the hall from each other, or on different floors, are scoring far above average and far below average on the same tests.

If black success was considered half as newsworthy as black failures, such facts would be headline news — and people who have the real interests of black and other minority students at heart would be asking, “Wow! How can we get more kids into these charter schools?”

Many minority parents have already taken notice. More than 43,000 families are on waiting lists to get their children into charter schools. But admission is by lottery, and far more have to be turned away than can be admitted.

Why? Because the teachers' unions are opposed to charter schools — and they give big bucks to politicians, who in turn put obstacles and restrictions on the expansion of charter schools. These include politicians like New York’s “progressive” mayor Bill de Blasio, who poses as a friend of blacks by denigrating the police, standing alongside Al Sharpton.

The net result is that 90 percent of New York City’s students are taught in the regular public schools that have nothing like the success of charter schools run by KIPP and Success Academy.

That makes sense only politically, because it gains the money and the votes of the teachers' unions, for whom schools exist to provide jobs for their members, rather than to provide education for children.

If you want to understand this crazy and unconscionable situation, just follow the money and follow the votes.

Black success is a threat to political empires and to a whole social vision behind those empires. That social vision has politicians like Bill de Blasio and Hillary Clinton cast in the role of rescuers and protectors of blacks from enemies threatening on all sides. If politicians can promote paranoia, that means bigger voter turnout, which is what really matters to them.

That same social vision allows the intelligentsia, whether in the media or in academia, to be on the side of the angels against the forces of evil. That’s heady stuff. And a bunch of kids taking tests doesn’t look nearly as exciting on TV as a mob marching through the streets, chanting that they want “dead cops.” Black success has very little to offer politicians or the intelligentsia. But black children’s lives and futures ought to matter — and would, if politicians and the intelligentsia were for real.


Quarter of UK graduates are low earners 10 years after university

One in four graduates in work a decade after leaving university in 2004 is earning only around £20,000 a year, according to a new study.

The Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO) dataset is the first of its kind to track higher education leavers as they move from university into the workplace. Its findings are likely to be scrutinised closely by students considering whether to accept a university place when they receive their A-level results.

The low earning power of some graduates has become an increasing concern, as student numbers have boomed in recent years. Earlier this summer the Higher Education Statistics Agency published figures showing that one in four graduates was not in a graduate job six months after receiving a degree.

The LEO survey, which is not adjusted for inflation, reveals that the median earnings for a graduate were £16,500 one year on from when they left university in 2004, increasing to £22,000 after three years and rising to £31,000 in 2014. The lowest quartile of graduate earners fared significantly worse. A year after they graduated in 2004 their median earnings were just £11,500, rising to £16,500 after three years and £20,000 after 10. The average wage in Britain is currently £26,500.

Fears of a huge debt burden upon graduation have already led some potential university recruits to seek alternative career paths.

“The statistics are fairly clear,” said Alice Barnard, chief executive officer of the education charity the Edge Foundation, which champions vocational education. “Immediately after graduation, many graduates are either in jobs that didn’t require a degree or didn’t require the level of education they had got themselves to. They have invested not only time, energy and effort but also quite a lot of money and potentially come out the other side without the jobs they perhaps expected to get.”

Barnard pointed out that an apprentice who completes a two-year course with Jaguar Land Rover can expect to be earning around £30,000 immediately, without having incurred any debt.

“Ten years down the line, if you’re earning a huge amount you can say, ‘well, I do feel that was value for money because my degree has taken me to this point’,” she said. “What is concerning perhaps is that, 10 years after, graduate salaries stand at £31,000, which for a higher apprenticeship for companies like Jaguar Land Rover is fairly common after, say, two years.”

Any shift towards apprenticeships would have a significant impact on the fortunes of universities that face new challenges when it comes to recruiting and retaining students both at home and abroad. Experts question whether Brexit will have an impact on the number of European students opting to accept places at British universities.

On the domestic front, this year has seen a 2.2% drop in the overall number of 18-year-olds in the UK, a decline that is expected to last several years. While this has not yet translated into a shortfall in teenagers applying for university places, Ucas reports that this year there has been a 5% decrease in applications from those aged 20-24.

Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, said market conditions could play to the advantage of students considering university. “I know people have been saying it’s a buyer’s market for two to three years, but it’s definitely the case now,” he said.


A record six Australian universities gonged by Jiao Tong

Monash University and the University of Queensland are the big Australian winners in the new global top 100 list from the Chinese-based Academic Ranking of World Universities, increasingly regarded as the world's most prestigious list for higher education institutions.

In the 2016 rankings, released on Monday, Monash went from outside the top 100 directly to 79th, only two points behind the Australian National University which has been in the top 100 ever since the ranking was first published by Shanghai Jiao Tong University in 2003.

The University of Queensland moved from 77th last year to 55th, in keeping with its reputation as the most rapid improver among Australia's top universities.

"It's an incredible achievement, given the domestic policy difficulties the Australian higher education sector has faced for a very long period," said University of Queensland vice chancellor Peter Hoj.

The Academic Ranking of World Universities, often known as the Shanghai ranking, rates universities solely on their output of high level research, with science, maths and medicine taking precedence over other disciplines.

It rewards universities strongly if its staff or graduates win Nobel prizes or Fields medals in maths, and also rewards publication in the top research journals Science and Nature. It does not measure teaching quality or the employability of university graduates.

The University of Melbourne remains Australia's top university in the ranking, lifting from 44th last year to 40th this year. The University of Sydney also did well, returning to the top 100 at 82nd after dropping out two years ago. The University of Western Australia just scraped in at 96th place.

This year was a landmark for China which, for the first time, saw its universities enter the Shanghai top 100 list. In a very strong performance Tsinghua University vaulted into the list directly to 58th, and Peking University moved straight to 71st.

Professor Hoj contrasted the tight funding for universities in Australia with China, which was making "massive and strategic investments in higher education and research".

Singapore is also celebrating a notable achievement. Only days after Singaporean swimmer Joseph Schooling won the country's first-ever Olympic gold medal, the country saw its first ever university listed in the Shanghai ranking top 100.

National University of Singapore, long recognised as south-east Asia's best academic institution, entered the list at 83rd.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Religious Liberty Expert: Uninformed Educators Are Mistakenly Suppressing Students’ Religious Rights

Educators in the nation’s public schools are mistakenly suppressing their students’ constitutionally-protected religious rights because they are afraid of doing something wrong, a religious liberty expert said at a a Family Research Council (FRC) event in Washington on Monday,

Eric Buehrer, director of Gateways to Better Education (GTBE), said that “for 21 years, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) has issued guidelines explaining students’ religious liberties” to every public school superintendent in the country, accompanied by a letter asking them to share the information with every teacher, staff member, parent and student in their district.

However, he pointed out that most educators have “never even heard about it” – even though “it would answer all these questions that people have about what students can and cannot do in their public school.

 “But for lack of information, many educators end up suppressing students’ religious freedom,” he said.

The DOE guidelines explain “constitutionally protected prayer in public elementary and secondary schools,” Buehrer pointed out, adding that students’ religious rights are not just about prayer, but cover “all forms of expression as well.”

“The way the federal government looks at it is, it’s a matter of free speech and free association,” he said. “You can speak to whoever you want to, including your Maker, about whatever you want to, including your faith.”

But many teachers are “so afraid of doing something that they are going to get criticized for that they end up repressing the faith of the children in their schools,” he said.

Buehrer called on educators to “move from fear to freedom,” emphasizing that “teaching about the Bible and Christianity and creating a faith-friendly school environment is both legally supported” and “academically expected”.

Buehrer noted that the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 stressed the importance of religion, morality and knowledge in the citizenry, and recognized the part that schools play in imparting all three to the next generation.

“Religion, morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged,” the ordinance reads.

But Buehrer says that public schools have abandoned religion and morality, and now “everything is centered around just the right knowledge.”

However, one to way to restore religious liberty in public schools is to “clarify students’ religious freedom,” he said.

Buehrer pointed out that DOE protects the right of students to pray, read their Bibles and talk about their faith both at school events and in their homework assignments. They can also organize prayer groups, which must be treated like any other extracurricular clubs.

Teachers’ religious rights are protected too, Buehrer added, pointing out that they can also meet with their peers for prayer or Bible studies on school property.

Buehrer said that “this generation of young people needs to understand and cherish religious liberty” so that they can “live it out in the world in which they occupy.”

According to the DOE’s 2003 guidance letter on religious freedom in public schools, “not all religious speech that takes place in the public schools or at school-sponsored events is governmental speech.”

“Teachers and other public school officials may not lead their classes in prayer, devotional readings from the Bible, or other religious activities,” DOE states.

However, “local school authorities…may not structure or administer such rules to discriminate against student prayer or religious speech.”

"As the [Supreme] Court has explained in several cases, 'there is a crucial difference between government speech endorsing religion, which the Establishment Clause forbids, and private speech endorsing religion, which the Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses protect'," the letter states.

Buehrer also said that students and teachers should celebrate “Religious Freedom Day” annually on January 16th.

Since 1993, “every president has called upon the nation to recognize and celebrate the religious liberties we have here in America,” he stated, calling on schools to “join the president in recognizing the day.”


N.H. gubernatorial candidate wants ‘Animal House’ fraternity reinstated

Hazing of newcomers is normal in fraternal organizations but it can be overdone

A top Democrat running for governor in New Hampshire says he wants to restore the status of a Dartmouth College fraternity that was kicked off campus just over a year ago.

But this isn’t just any fraternity: Alpha Delta loosely inspired the raucous movie “Animal House.”

The candidate, businessman Mark Connolly, was a member of the Alpha Delta fraternity when he graduated from the Ivy League college in 1979. The former New Hampshire securities bureau chief is running in the Sept. 13 primary for governor, a wide-open race. Under state law, the governor of New Hampshire is automatically an ex-officio member of the Dartmouth College board of trustees.

The Alpha Delta fraternity was kicked off campus in April 2015 after members branded pledges on their buttocks — a violation of the school’s standards of conduct policy. The incident marked the last straw for the Hanover, N.H., college, which revoked Alpha Delta’s status on campus and banned students from living in the house.

But this month, Connolly sent an e-mail to his fraternity brothers — an attempt to raise money for his campaign — in which he wrote he had recently visited the campus and that it was “awful” to see the house sitting empty.

“I understand the position the college was in and that some of the students were not fully cooperating, but I don’t think hurting past generations and preventing future ones is the best course,” Connolly wrote in a fund-raising pitch that was obtained by the Globe. “In the coming months and years, I would hope to see AD back up and running and have its status restored.”

Connolly later told the Globe, via a statement, that he hopes his former fraternity would be recognized on campus again, “but only after ensuring they are upstanding members of the Dartmouth community.”

“As governor, I will take my work as an ex-officio member of the board of trustees seriously, which I believe precludes special treatment for any one group,” Connolly said.

A recent University of New Hampshire survey showed both Connolly and his top competition, executive councilor Colin Van Ostern, are relatively unknown to likely Democratic voters, 57 percent of whom in the poll said they were still undecided about the race.

As an ex-officio member of the Dartmouth board, New Hampshire’s governor holds the same status as other board members. The current governor, Maggie Hassan, attended at least one Dartmouth board meeting last year, her press secretary said.

A Dartmouth College spokeswoman said there is no discussion to restore the house as a recognized fraternity that would allow students to live in the house.

“There is no process by which an organization can or will be re-recognized at Dartmouth,” said Diana Lawrence, associate vice president of communications at Dartmouth College. “Derecognition is permanent.”

No criminal charges were filed as a result of the fraternity’s branding. But the incident occurred while the fraternity was already under suspension for violating campus rules about drinking and partying. In 2013, a Dartmouth student turned himself in to police for urinating on a woman from a second-floor balcony at the Alpha Delta house.

One of the screenwriters of “Animal House,” a 1978 film starring John Belushi, was a member of Alpha Delta while at Dartmouth. The movie depicted the wild antics of a fraternity house.


Australia: Funding fails to pay off in student results

Jennifer Buckingham 

While there has been some improvement in mean scores in Years 3 and 5 since NAPLAN began in 2008, the latest results show there has been no improvement to speak of in Years 7 and 9 -- and their writing scores have declined since 2011 in several states.

In terms of the proportion of children who failed to achieve even the National Minimum Standard (NMS) -- which is low compared to international benchmarks -- there has been no improvement anywhere.

Billions of dollars of extra funding has gone into schools in recent years, yet there appears to have been little pay-off in what should be the core job of schools -- teaching children to read, write and do maths. This is because extra funding has little impact on student achievement if teachers are not using the most effective teaching methods.

For example, the NSW government Early Action for Success central literacy program, 'L3', was not properly trialled and tested before being implemented to more than 400 schools. It does not meet the criteria for evidence-based reading instruction identified in scientific research, including an absence of systematic phonics instruction.

Funnelling more money into programs that are not truly evidence-based will not help children achieve higher literacy levels.

The NAPLAN reading assessment is a broad measure that flags only that a student is having difficulty, but not why. The Year 1 Phonics Screening Check (PSC) proposed by the Australian government earlier this year will be an early marker of which children are struggling with this fundamental skill and which schools are not teaching it well. Since the Year 1 PSC was introduced in English schools in 2012, the failure rate in Year 2 reading comprehension tests has declined by 30%. We can only hope it will have the same effect here.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Only Gender Neutral Pronouns, Please

Schools are one of the primary places where the minds of the next generation are developed, molded and guided. What is taught in school will have a deep impact on the culture for years to come. What is troubling is just how successful the Rainbow Mafia has been not only in pushing for acceptance but in promulgating its odious agenda in the nation’s schools.

The latest example of this comes from a school district in North Carolina, where the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) board has recommended that educators not refer to students as “boys” and “girls” but by gender neutral terms such as “scholars” and “students.” CMS Chief Communications Officer Kathryn Block stated, “CMS remain fully committed to supporting its transgender students and nurturing a safe and welcoming environment for every student and employee.” In response, Tami Fitzgerald, an activist with the North Carolina Values Coalition, said, “School is no longer about reading, writing and arithmetic. It is now about gender fluidity.”

The school board also stated that it would put on temporary hold its plan to fully institute regulations that would allow transgender students to use bathroom and locker room facilities corresponding to their gender “identity” rather than their biology. These regulations will be on hold until the Supreme Court gives a finally ruling on the transgender bathroom issue. The times they are a changing, but not all change is a good thing.


America's Universities Become Man-Hater Clubs

Over the past several years a popular, often media-driven narrative has developed at universities and colleges across the nation — that of the campus “rape” culture. Various university campuses aiming to clean up and rid the school of this “rape” culture have developed procedures establishing university tribunals designed to police and deal with misconduct. But many of these tribunals seem to harbor an “anti-male” bias. Over the years, numerous male students found guilty by these tribunals were disciplined by the university even though no criminal charges were ever brought or even pursued.

The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled against a lower court that had dismissed a student’s claim that Columbia University had violated federal anti-discrimination laws when the school found him responsible for sexual assault. The suit brought by the student was based on the Title IX federal statute, which bans sex discrimination in education. The student’s claim was that Columbia University had engaged in an anti-male bias when it had found him responsible for sexual assault.

This pattern of anti-male bias seems to be a growing problem on many university and college campuses across the nation. As K.C. Johnson, a history professor at Brooklyn College, said, “Accused students often have claimed that these new procedures violate [Title IX] in reverse — that effectively they were biased against male students.”

In its ruling, the Second Circuit Court reprimanded the lower court judge, stating that a “university that adopts, even temporarily, a policy of bias favoring one sex over the other in a disciplinary dispute, doing so in order to avoid liability or bad publicity, has practiced sex discrimination, notwithstanding that the motive for the discrimination did not come from ingrained or permanent bias against a particular sex.”

The final outcome of this case is still pending, but what has become quite evident is that many of the nation’s universities and colleges have an “anti-male” bias problem.


Grammar wreckers KNEW they would make Britain's schools worse

Here's why the quarrel about grammar schools never ends: it is not really about schools, but about what sort of country this should be.

Grammar schools stood for adult authority, for discipline, for tradition, for hard work first and reward afterwards, and for self-improvement.

They also tended to assume that boys and girls were different, and so educated them apart from each other. I like these things, but many don’t.

Old-fashioned Labour saw the point of this. They realised that it helped the poor become better-off and to have better lives and more power. They created a peaceful revolution that changed Britain for the better. Labour councils used to build new grammar schools and be proud of them.

But the modern liberal Left don’t like any of these ideas. They would rather teach children how to have sex than teach them to believe in God.

Especially they don’t think parents or teachers should have any authority over the young. The State should be trusted to tell them what to think. They should look to the State for any improvement in their lives.

They don’t like the idea that there are fixed things that you just have to learn – which is why the teaching of languages and sciences is shrivelling in our schools.

The people who smashed up more than a thousand of the best state secondary schools in the world didn’t do it to make education better. They knew it would make it worse for bright children.

In one case, that of Sir Graham Savage, they openly admitted this. They did it to make the country more ‘democratic’, more like the USA. They have made it like the worst bits, but very unlike the best bits.

How odd it is to recall that in my childhood there was a thing called the ‘brain drain’, which meant British scientists being lured away to the USA because they weren’t educating enough of them.

And in those days a set of English A-levels was said to be equal to an American university degree. It isn’t so now. The enemies of grammars really should stop lying about the subject to get their way.

They moan about those who don’t get into grammars. But what about the huge numbers who can’t get into good comprehensives, and are dumped in vast bog-standard comps which are, in reality, worse than the old secondary moderns.

Of course selection for any school has losers as well as winners. But we have selection in our supposedly comprehensive schools. It is mainly done through the secret privileges (fake religious belief, close knowledge of feeder schools etc) exercised by sharp-elbowed, well-off parents. How is this better than selection by ability?

A 2010 survey by the Sutton Trust found that comprehensive schools in England are highly socially segregated. In fact, the country’s leading comprehensives are more socially exclusive than the remaining grammar schools.

Both the 164 (then remaining) grammars and the 164 most socially selective comprehensives drew pupils from areas where about 20 per cent of children were from poor homes.

But the supposed comprehensives were more socially selective, taking only 9.2 per cent of their pupils from poor homes, while the grammars took 13.5 per cent. Who’s democratic now?

In fact, most of the remaining grammars are so besieged by middle-class commuters hiring tutors that their entry figures are utterly distorted. If we still had a national grammar system they would be far fairer than the top comprehensives are.

I wish I thought Theresa May really wanted to restore grammars. This has been successfully done in the former East Germany.

But I fear that this is just a token move to try to hold on the support of the many voters who want to see this change. Even so, it is a good deal better than nothing, and a sign that this dreadful national error may one day be reversed.