Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Two Myths About the SAT
Since the recent announcement that major changes are coming to the SAT, I've seen about 10,000 articles claiming that (A) the correlation between family income and SAT scores proves that the test is biased against poor kids and (B) the SAT is easy for the rich to "game" through test prep.
There are indeed problems with the SAT, including problems relating to parental income. Here is a persuasive argument by Charles Murray that the SAT should be scrapped entirely and replaced by subject tests like the SAT II. But we shouldn't be shocked by the simple fact that parental income is linked to children's academic achievement, and the effects of "gaming" the SAT have been wildly exaggerated.
The problem with treating the SAT-income correlation as an argument in itself is that richer kids, fairly or unfairly, actually do have higher academic capabilities. As I've written before, and frankly as anyone with eyes in his head ought to know, there are numerous ways that parents can pass advantages on to their kids -- genes, better schools, better neighborhoods, and so on. The simple correlation between income and scores tells us nothing at all about whether the SAT has an income bias, because it's exactly what we would expect from a legitimate measure of academic ability.
Income gaps are evident on basically every academic measure we have. Here is an informative paper bringing together all sorts of achievement-test results in regards to the 90/10 gap -- the gap between kids at the 90th and 10th percentiles of parental income.
It provides two important charts, with Y axes indicating the gap in standard deviations. Here's the gap in reading:
And here's the gap in math:
As you can see, across plenty of different tests, in recent years the 90/10 gap has usually been a full standard deviation or more. Measuring the gap with one test instead of another makes little difference.
[Update: Also, the ACT and SAT show very similar income trends, as I show here.]
And what about "gaming" the SAT? Well, here is a report finding that SAT prep typically raises math scores 10-20 points and reading scores 5-10 points. The standard deviation of each subtest is around 110 points, and the black/white gap is about the same. What's more, free test-prep services are targeted toward poor and minority kids -- surprisingly, black and Hispanic kids are actually more likely to use test prep, and they gain slightly more than whites from doing so (though Asians seem to gain unusually large amounts, as much as 70 points).
I'm glad to see a discussion about the merits of the SAT. But let's drop these two unhelpful talking points.
Student government candidates at California university fined $100 for talking to reporters
Members of the university’s Associated Students, Inc., formerly known as the Elections Committee, met Friday to discuss next steps regarding the alleged violations. ASI spokeswoman Michelle Broom said the fines have since been suspended until staffers consult with legal counsel pertaining to the inconsistencies in the code.
Politicians have always loved to see their names in the newspapers, but at California Polytechnic State University, candidates for student government face fines of $100 just for talking to reporters.
J.J. Jenkins, editor-in-chief of the Mustang News, the school’s student newspaper, told FoxNews.com that two of four candidates for president at the public university in San Luis Obispo have been fined $100 after they or their campaign staff spoke to the student-run publication. The students were notified they violated code banning active campaigning including “non-verbal public display” until 10 days before the April 23 election.
“I do think the poorly written code did not and does not allow the media to fully vet the candidates before the election,” Jenkins wrote in an email. “It also restricts information flowing to students, allowing the student government to, in a way, tailor what information the public gets and at what point they get it.”
“I do think the poorly written code did not and does not allow the media to fully vet the candidates before the election."
- J.J. Jenkins, editor-in-chief, Mustang News
Members of the university’s Associated Students, Inc., formerly known as the Elections Committee, met Friday to discuss the next steps regarding the alleged violations. ASI spokeswoman Michelle Broom said the fines have since been suspended until staffers consult with legal counsel pertaining to the inconsistencies in the code.
“Although we don’t know when we will hear back from our legal counsel, he is aware of the urgency of this matter,” Broom wrote in an email obtained by FoxNews.com. “We will provide more information as it becomes available.”
Reached by phone on Monday, Broom referred FoxNews.com to Friday’s statement and said ASI officials were working to provide additional information.
Jenkins, meanwhile, told FoxNews.com that junior Connor Paquin and senior Joi Sullivan were both fined $100 prior to the announced suspension. Junior Jake Rogers was not fined, however, because a student who spoke to Mustang News was not officially associated to his campaign. A fourth student, Will Blumhardt, had spoken to the publication but was not directly fined, Jenkins said.
“They told us their [$100] filing fee will not be returned to them,” Jenkins told FoxNews.com, referring to Paquin and Sullivan.
Jenkins said the election code was written so broadly that any mention of the candidates’ name in print — or “non-verbal” venues — is technically a violation.
“So basically, it’s so broad that if I write their names down on a sticky note and hand it out, that’s a violation,” he said.
The amount of the fine, Jenkins said, isn't peanuts for a college student either.
"$100 is probably about a week's worth of food or about a month's worth of utilities out here in California," he wrote in an email. "A lot of students work $10-an-hour jobs, so that's 10 hours of work and that might be all they have time for in a week."
It's bad enough to silence candidates in the name of a "level playing field," said Robert Shibley, of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. But it is also not fair to expect the student newspaper to cover an election when it can't interview the candidates, he said.
"Students, like all Americans, depend on the press for information," he said. "Instituting rules that guarantee students will have less information about what's happening on campus is a very bad idea and teaches students the wrong lessons about free speech in our democratic society."
Michael Latner, a professor of political science at the school, said it’s not unusual for laws to restrict how long candidates can campaign prior to an election. But the “bizarre” takeaway of the code, he told FoxNews.com, is that it limits an independent press, including the school’s student newspaper, from vetting candidates properly.
“It’s pretty clear that it’s had some adverse consequences,” Latner said of the code, adding that it amounts to a regulation on journalists. “The press has an obligation to provide information to voters prior to an election. If we think about this in the most general terms, the Framers recognized the crucial importance of a free press and the media provides the necessary vehicle for that.”
Latner urged ASI officials to reconsider the regulation despite perceived good intentions.
“It would certainly behoove ASI to rethink this regulation,” he said. “It seems clear to me that they didn’t think through the consequences,” he said.
UK: Strict health rules for school dinners scrapped despite warning against more than six spoons of sugar a day
Healthy eating rules which ensured children ate enough vitamins and minerals in school dinners are to be torn up, ministers said today.
The government claims rules setting out detailed nutritional standards for pupils are too complex and costly for school cooks.
However it comes just a day after the World Health Organisation warned children should try for less than six teaspoons and avoid cans of fizzy drink such as Coke altogether.
The changes to school meals are being made ahead of the introduction of free school meals for all infant pupils from this September.
To ensure pupils get a healthy, balanced diet, council-run schools must currently follow strict food and nutritional standards that set down the specific amounts of vitamins and minerals, such as zinc and vitamin A, that should be included in each meal.
However, the Department for Education said the regulations are difficult for schools to understand and have needed computer programmes to analyse the nutritional content of menus to ensure that they comply with the rules.
It follows an independent review of school food, led by Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent of the Leon restaurant chain.
It is claimed some councils or catering companies had to pay for meals to be analysed costing around £20 for each recipe.
Now ministers have ditched the rules, and will instead just state the types of food and drink that pupils should be offered, for example fruit and vegetables on a daily basis.
The new standards will apply to all local council-run schools and new academies, although they will not initially be mandatory for existing academies.
Schools minister David Laws said: ‘With six months to go, we want to support and encourage all schools to step up their preparations and these extra measures will support them in doing so.
‘Every child deserves the best possible start in life, and we know from pilots that children in schools that offer universal free school meals are academically months ahead of their peers and also more likely to eat vegetables at lunchtime instead of less healthy food like crisps.’
Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg announced last year that from September 2014 all five to seven-year-olds in England would be given a free school lunch.
But there was criticism that some schools were not prepared and would struggle to provide the meals at a high standard,
Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) said: ‘All schools support the vision of providing nutritious meals to pupils but we must not underestimate the challenge of delivering it.
‘There are practicalities remaining to be addressed on how every primary will be able to deliver the full service by September - especially for those without existing catering facilities on site and with so many other initiatives hitting schools at the same time.’
Posted by jonjayray at 12:22 AM
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Ditzy dame has 17 GCSEs
Which shows how corrupted the GCSE system became under Tony Blair
Gemma Worrall, 20, from Blackpool, sent a tweet referring to 'barraco barner' as 'our president'. She had been watching a news programme about the unrest in Ukraine and decided — in hindsight, unwisely — to get involved in the debate.
‘If barraco barner is our president, why is he getting involved with Russia, scary,’ Gemma wrote.
It’s a corker of a gaffe by anyone’s standards. Making the most powerful man in the world sound more like the fizzy vitamin supplement Berocca is one thing. Demoting him to leader of the UK is quite another.
Gemma, a receptionist at a beauty salon in the seaside town, was quick to point out that politics is not her strong suit. But the ripple effect of her blunder was like nothing she could have foreseen.
Within just 12 hours, her comment had been retweeted (where people send on your tweet for others to read again) almost 7,000 times and screenshots of her words were appearing on television news programmes as far afield as Australia, Canada and America.
On Twitter, the hashtag #Barracobarner began trending across Britain (this means it was one of the most popular hashtags in the country). And a parody account @Barracobarner already has more than 1,500 followers.
It was clearly an extraordinarily dippy thing to write. So is Gemma as dumb as her tweet would have her appear?
While Gemma might not be signing up for Mensa any day soon, she’s certainly no Jade Goody. Softly spoken and articulate, she was educated at a local Catholic school and insists that she has 17 GCSEs — an extraordinary number, as most people obtain 11 at most — in subjects including English, Business Studies, Religious Education, Textiles, Technology and Media Studies, all with passes of grade C and above. She also says she has two A-levels, in Travel and Tourism.
What U Penn Teaches Muslim Law Students
Saturday evening, Feb. 22nd, University of Pennsylvania Law School hosted the "Eighth Annual Muslim Law Students Conference," on the topic of "MUSLIM OBLIGATIONS IN PROMOTING JUSTICE IN AMERICA." Our interest in Islamic law as American citizens is to learn first-hand exactly what Muslim American law students are being taught.
The fairly innocuous and well-meaning title of the program masked the true intent, which we believe is to lull the audience and our society into a false sense of complacency regarding the real aims and effects of Islamic incursion in our society - which Stephen Coughlin covers in his must-read thesis, " To Our Great Detriment."
We were greeted with "As-Salamu ' Alaykum" (Peace be upon you), upon entering the conference and by each speaker, prior to presentation. What a comforting greeting. I responded with "Aslim Taslam."
As is typically the case, conference attendees were highly educated and polite. This is a high-end mix of people who are difficult to fault on any personal level.
The attendees, primarily American and foreign Muslim law students, as well as a few foreign lawyers, presented a mixed canvas racially, yet each person is culturally Islamic and a member of the ummah, the global body of believers. The speakers and each future American lawyer we spoke with advised us that Islam has been misinterpreted for 1,400 years. Isn't that amazing? As if we had no ability to study the history of Islam from both Muslim and non-Muslim sources on our own.
We are authoring this report in response to what we believe is attempted hoodwinking, enabled by the practice of Taqiyya and Kitman, forms of lying encouraged in Islam, if such lying is to be useful for the spread of Islam. No other religion/culture encourages its adoption by lying. But, because Islam is also a political theory that embodies military notions, the ability to further aims by deception is enshrined in the Qur'an and in Shari'ah, as it would be on the battlefield. The intended recipients of this mendacity were not only us, but the attendees and the law school itself.
The first speaker, Professor Faisal Kutty, presented us with a bogus definition of the terms "jihad" and "Islamophobia." He spoke of jihad, as if it were apple pie with vanilla ice cream, splitting the term jihad into its normative components - the "Lesser Jihad," meaning defensive or offensive military struggle, and the "Greater Jihad," meaning, personal struggle for good against evil. She downplayed the importance of Jihad's military meaning to relative insignificance, ignoring the vast majority of references in the Qur'an on Jihad, compelling Muslims to wage a military struggle as the Sixth Pillar of Islam.
Jihad is offensive. Duplicity and deception as tactics to throw off the opponent are inherent in Islam and that's why Islam states that jihad is purely defensive. In fact, jihad was, and is still, used as the normative call to action in the military conquest of vast tracts of formerly Christian, Jewish ,Hindu lands within 100 years of its founding by Muhammad. That empire still stands in terms of the Islamic culture it forced on the conquered Nations and cultures.
The reality of jihad is that Islam considers itself to be supremacist and must triumph, be victorious, over all other religions and cultures. Islam compels Muslims to spread Islam to all corners of the earth, first by invitation, Aslim Taslam, which means, "Submit and Be At Peace."
And, if that isn't effective, then by the sword or forcing subject people to accept Dhimmi status. Living in dhimmitude relegates subjects to second-class status, with vastly diminished rights, including no right for the Dhimmi peoples to defend themselves. Muhammad conquered many with that simple statement, Aslim-Taslam, which was intended to strike terror into the hearts of those offered the choice, and it did. This is the beginning of the Muslim Mafia mentality, perfected by the Ikhwan, Wahhabis, al-Qaeda, Taliban, Hezbollah, Hamas etc.
Likening it to the Mafia is no facile rhetoric. Islam offered three choices to the people of the book; Convert, Pay the Jy'izia tax or lose the right to life and property. So when Islam characterized this choice as the benefit of protection, one must ask, protection from whom? Obviously, the answer is protection from Islam, which reserved the right to take life and property if the conditions of conversion or the payment of the Jy'izia tax were not met. How different is this from the Black hand extorting protection money from the neighborhood grocer?
If Islam does not succeed in becoming the world's only true religion, then Muslims will not have fulfilled Allah's commands in the Qur'an. Thus, Muslims are obligated to proselytize Islam throughout the world through da'wa and Jihad. Whether violently or nonviolently, this is accomplished with 100% impunity from Allah, as per the Qur'an. One could make the comparison with Christianity being a proselytizing religion, but Christianity as found in the Gospels does not allow the use of violence to spread the faith, whereas, Islam specifically does. Muslims may quote the Koran saying, "There is no compulsion in religion." But, that statement is superseded and abrogated by later statements in the Koran that enthusiastically endorse violent compulsion in the spread of Islam.
Professor Faisal Kutty went on to make further incredible claims, saying that Terrorism had only killed 5 people in the last ten years. In this, presumably he was referring to within the US, and ignoring events like Major Hassan's slaughter of fellow military personnel at Fort Hood, Texas. But, he also ignored the more than 10,000 terror attacks worldwide, in the last 10 years; almost all committed by Muslims and in which, ironically, many of the victims were fellow Muslims as well. Thousands of Christians, Jews and Hindus were victims as well.
He also claimed that the popular definition of jihad is only accepted by the Taliban and by al-Qaeda, stating that they had sought to reinterpret the historical meaning of jihad to support their violent means. In this, he ignored 1,400 years of written teaching on Islam readily available from Muslim sources, as well as established treatment of jihad in recognized Sharia sources like, "The Reliance Of The Traveller," Shafi'i Shari'ah , Section O9.1- Page 600 - Justice-jihad.
In reality, his analysis is Taqiyya and Kitman. Is this what the law students are taught about jihad by a respected law professor?
Lecture number two was delivered by Amara Chaurhry-Kravitz, a female, secular Muslim lawyer, who detailed her experience with Arab/Muslim Civil Rights in the Arab/Muslim community, pointing out that the profiling was cultural, not racially based, because Islam is a culture not a race. She spoke of her work representing women and LGBT victims, seeming to suggest the many violations known to occur within the community against women in child custody, domestic violence and inheritance rights.
We further "learned" from Ms. Chaurhry-Kravitz, who locally represents CAIR, how absurd it is that her organizations, Council American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) should be associated in the popular mind with terrorism. She made light of the Holy Land Foundation Trial, and their being named unindicted Muslim Brotherhood co-conspirators.
In this she purposefully ignored the fact that ISNA, CAIR and the Muslims Students Union are all organizations founded by the Muslim Brotherhood.
She also blithely dismissed the dangers of Shari'ah, by suggesting that efforts to import Shari'ah only relate to matters of family disputes and inheritance rights. If that were so, no one would care about Shari'ah, likening its presence in the US to Jewish Halacha adjudication and Catholic Canon courts' judging on the annulments of marriages.
It is precisely Shari'ah teaching about Jihad, the killing of apostates and Ridda blasphemy laws as well as the definition of Democracy as blasphemy that raises the most profound concern. These violations of our Bill of Rights, along with others, are what make Shari'ah incompatible with a representative free Democracy and our constitution, but these were not even hinted at in the lecture.
She attempted to define what constitutes Muslim racial and civil rights profiling, giving examples of harassment of Muslims "flying while brown." Of course, Muslim racial profiling flyes in the face of reason as she herself had acknowledged, because Islam represents a culture not a race.
She went on to define Islamophobia as an irrational fear of Islam, as if it weren't a real concern. It's real enough to Hindus, Jews, Coptic Christians, Maronite Christians, Sudanese and Nigerian Christians etc. How is Islamophobia irrational, as we daily read about murderous attacks on innocent populations?
Just this past Feb 25th, 2014, fifty-nine children were hacked to death and burned in Nigeria. And what about Sudanese, Egyptian Lebanese, Syrian, Iraqi and Libyan Christians, all of which have suffered extreme oppression, from sporadic massacres to outright genocide.
Lecture number three was by a Muslim women's lawyer, Fatina Abdrabboh Esq., experienced with Arab civil rights violations by Muslims against other Muslims, in the Arab Muslim community and out of that community. She, somewhat uncomfortably, spoke of the many violations within the community against women, without making the connection that the violations often appear to be a result of Shari'ah Law conformity in Muslim society.
Our fourth and final lecture was by Professor Ramzi Kassem, defender of prisoners' rights in Guantanamo Bay and in other "black sites," where jihadists are interred without due process, by renditions. He painted a picture of the US as a Stalinist state where the organs of internal security were violating every Muslim's privacy rights on informer recruiting and fishing expeditions.
Professor Kassem decried the use of classified evidence that, if fully released to the defense counsel, would have identified intelligence assets, instead twice mentioning an unidentified Israeli Agent as being the witness against a particular detainee.
This, of course, was code for US investigations working at Israel's direction. Of course, he did not mention that the majority of GITMO detainees that have been released have gone right back to the battlefield as jihadist's and terrorists. Many have subsequently died in these actions. So, we were listening to a smooth, well mannered, handsome lawyer who, in fact, is in the business of representing terrorists and duplicitously dealing in Taqiyya and Kitman.
In sum, the conference presenters described Islamic concepts of Justice almost in a Marxist model of oppressors and the oppressed. Because Muslim concepts of justice exist only under Shari'ah, satisfying this would require legalizing Shari'ah in America. We believe that the presenters were, therefore, engaged, at best, in Political Correctness or, at worst, in Stealth Jihad in America,
Shari'ah Law and its compelling actions originate primarily from the Qur'an, with influence from other Islamic dogma and doctrine, Shari'ah is expected by Muslim authorities to be central to a Muslim's existence. This BBC program is an example of da'wa-jihad.
We recognize that of the world's 1.5 billion Muslims, not all Muslims wish to live under the strictest norms of Shari'ah and, perhaps, a majority do not. However, a significant minority which, incidentally, is the minority willing to use guns, violence and savagery to enforce Shari'ah, remains in position to call the shots.
Muslim moderates, therefore, are for the most part too weak to do anything other than delude themselves in Political Correctness or, in rare cases where it is possible in the West, attempt to reform Islam by re-interpreting Shari'ah. This holds no doctrinal currency.
Where Islam is strong, these efforts are easily silenced by Ridda, or blasphemy laws. Furthermore, Islam can never be reformed by Political correctness from America. If it is to ever be reformed, it must happen in Mecca, Medina, Qum and Al-Azhar in Egypt, as well as on the battlefield where the neck-cutters are strongest.
If Jihadists and their supporters (based on polls taken) represent 20 % of the world's Muslim population, that would equal approximately 300,000,000 people globally. That is roughly equal to the entire population of the USA. A similar percentage of the US Muslim population would result in 60,000 Jihadists and supporters among American Muslims.
After absorbing the four presentations with our existing knowledge of Islam and Shari'ah, we feel obligated to reach out to you with what the present-day of Islam in America involves and what future it has planned for itself. This future is unfolding now !
British parents fury as pork sausages are banned from the school menu and replaced with halal meat
Parents have condemned a school's decision to ban all pork products from the menu and replace other meats with halal versions.
Pupils aged between three and 11 at Brinsworth Manor Infant and Junior Schools in Rotherham - which Ofsted identifies as having only a small number of pupils from minority ethnic groups - will no longer be able to enjoy sausages, bacon or ham.
Parents at both schools, which share a site, were told of the decision in a letter from Rotherham Council’s principal catering officer Ron Parry, who wrote that there had been ‘minor adjustments’ to the lunch menu.
The move comes as Britain's vet John Blackwell called for Muslims and Jews to use more 'acceptable' methods of killing.
And parents have branded the decision 'a scandal' as only twenty per cent of the 600 pupils are Muslim and the decision to provide halal meat was up to individual schools in the town.
The school governors at both schools are understood to have agreed to the menu change to ensure the meals are more inclusive
'The children love pork and it’s a scandal to take these meats off the menu to please, what I consider to be, a low number of children who require halal meat.
'The majority of the children are now having school meals that are made for the minority. The halal children have always had the vegetarian and fish options. '
A mother of two said parents who do not know much about halal meat had not been given enough information or time to understand it.
She said : 'Normally the school is good at consulting parents but with this we have just been told what is going to happen.
'I’d want to know more about halal meat before I’d be happy for my children to eat it. I’ve been told it is not as well refrigerated.
A spokesman for Rotherham Borough Council confirmed that school meals at both Brinsworth Manor schools have changed and now include halal and non-halal meat on the menu.
She added that the Schools Catering Service supplies about 17,000 school meals every day to children at infant, junior, primary and secondary schools in Rotherham.
She said: 'The provision of both halal and non-halal is not unusual in Rotherham's school. Currently, nine schools out of 115, select one of our menus that provide a mix of both halal and non-halal meals.
'All meat on our menus, including halal, is sourced from reputable companies, which fully comply with the quality standards of the relevant individual meat boards.
'The meals are also nutritionally balanced and cooked fresh on-site every day using locally sourced meat, fruit, vegetables and dairy products where possible.
'Our menus are designed to meet both national nutritional standards and dietary requirements so that all the children of Rotherham benefit.'
An Ofsted inspection last year found Brinsworth Manor Junior School 'required improvement' having been rated 'outstanding' after the previous visit.
Posted by jonjayray at 12:14 AM
Monday, March 10, 2014
Idaho Legislature Overwhelmingly Passes Campus Carry
Despite the emotional outcry from faculty and college administrators, the Idaho House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a law enabling citizens with an enhanced concealed carry permit to carry handguns on college campuses
Idaho lawmakers on Thursday approved a measure allowing concealed guns to be carried onto university and college campuses.
The legislation, which cleared the state House of Representatives by a 50-19 vote and was overwhelmingly approved by the state Senate last month, now heads to Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter for his signature.
If the Republican governor signs the bill into law as expected, Idaho will be the seventh U.S. state that allows guns on college campuses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The passage of the Idaho bill comes amid a tense debate on the extent of gun ownership restrictions in the United States, which has seen a string of recent shootings at schools, movie theaters and other public places.
Under the legislation, those who gain a so-called enhanced concealed-carry permit in Idaho can carry firearms on campus except in such places as residence halls and public entertainment facilities like football stadiums.
The law is expected to be signed by Governor Otter and should be in effect for the next academic year.
College Sends Police to Arrest Its Employee After She corrected a map
When Ginger Anderson, a Utah Valley University employee and student, made a small change to an incorrect wall map inside of one the school’s buildings, she had no idea it would result in her being manhandled and arrested by police officers.
The 48-year-old, who works in the information center at the university, says she marked on the map with a marker because students were having trouble getting to classes. In fact, it was literally depicted upside down. She claims she corrected the map’s compass, and wrote in marker that the map was upside down.
That was in January.
Two days later, two officers with the UVU police department confronted Anderson and informed her that she would be issued a citation for “criminal mischief.” What happened next was caught on one of the officer’s lapel cameras.
When Anderson refused to immediately comply with the officers’ demands to come to the police station, one of the cops grabbed her, pushed her against the wall and took her to the ground.
Police say Anderson resisted while the UVU student and employee claims the officers used excessive force. Anderson also claims officers tried to handcuff her hands behind her back while she was wearing a large backpack, making that task difficult.
“Let me take my backpack off!” the woman can be heard shouting in the video.
An independent review found that Anderson did indeed resist — both passively and actively — and therefore officers did not break any laws or act inappropriately, KUTV reports.
Anderson says she’s more shocked that the police department decided to take such extreme action over a marking on a map that was intended to help students.
UK: GCSE shame of 'flagship' academies as it is revealed six of the Coalition's schools are among the country's worst
Six of the Government’s flagship Academies [charters] can today be revealed as the worst schools in England for GCSE results.
The academies performed so poorly last year that at least half their pupils did not gain any passes at C grade or above, a Mail on Sunday investigation has found.
Some of the schools have been warned by Ministers to improve their standards or face intervention by the Department for Education, while others say they have not been academies for long enough to turn around results.
Christopher McGovern, chairman of the Campaign For Real Education, said: ‘These results represent a massive betrayal of the young people concerned.’
The controversial academies programme has been backed by Education Secretary Michael Gove as a way of boosting standards.
The new figures, obtained from the Department for Education under Freedom of Information laws, differ from official exam tables because they show only the schools’ GCSE results and exclude so-called ‘equivalent’ national vocational qualifications.
But they will renew criticism that academies, which operate independently of town halls, often having business-backed sponsors, lack accountability.
Worst performing was the Barnfield Business and Enterprise Studio Academy in Luton, where 71 per cent of pupils failed to get a pass.
The school defended its record saying it provides ‘a unique, skills-focused education for students who would otherwise be disengaged’, adding results based solely on GCSE passes did not reflect its students’ real improvement.
Posted by jonjayray at 12:28 AM
Sunday, March 09, 2014
Teen: Teachers Made Me Stand Outside In Wet Bathing Suit, Barefoot
She Says She Got Frostbite After Standing Outside For 10 Minutes During A Fire Alarm
A ninth-grader says she has frostbite after standing outside for 10 minutes in a wet bathing suit during a fire alarm. It happened around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday at Como Park High School in St. Paul. Fourteen-year-old Kayona Hagen-Tietz says she was in the school’s pool when the fire alarm went off.
While other students had gotten out earlier and were able to put on dry clothes, Hagen-Tietz said she was rushed out with just her towel.
On Wednesday morning, the temperature was 5 below, and the wind chill was 25 below.
“So the alarm went off, and I thought it was like just a drill, like: Do I have to go outside?” Hagen-Tietz said. “And then he was like no, we usually don’t have fake ones in the winter.”
Hagen-Tietz says she and the another student were rushed out by the teacher. Her classmate had clothes by the pool, hers were in her locker. So she grabber her towel and went outside.
“As soon as they’d seen her outside in her swimsuit, soaking wet and barefoot, they should have done something,” said Eva Tietz, Hagen-Tietz’s mother.
A teacher eventually gave Hagen-Tietz a jacket, and one of her friends gave her a sweatshirt to wrap around her feet. But due to school policy, she wasn’t allowed to sit in a faculty-member’s car. “We kind of huddled up and made a circle around me, and the other kids who were cold,” Hagen-Tietz said.
Eventually, a teacher did get permission to allow Hagen-Tietz and her classmate to sit inside her car.
But by that time Hagen-Tietz had already stood barefoot and wet for 10 minutes in some of the coldest conditions of the year.
Hagen-Tietz mom then picked her up and took her to the doctor, who determined she has frostbite on her feet.
“If I had a fire and brought my children out in that condition, you know, I’m sure I would be charged in some way or another if I didn’t instantly bring them into a neighbor’s house or someplace else,” Tietz said. “The ultimate goal is to keep them safe and protect your children, and, in this instance, they did a really poor job.”
In a statement, St. Paul Public School officials said they continue to work with the St. Paul Fire Marshal to regularly review these procedures, including cold weather modifications, and they will make any changes based on their recommendations.
NY Dem Wants Mandatory Parenting Classes; Would Punish Kids for Parents’ Non-Compliance
New York State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. is apparently unsatisfied with the least-free status his state has earned. The Bronx Democrat now wants to tell parents how to raise their children.
According to U.S. News & World Report, Diaz is sponsoring legislation that would require parents to attend four “parent support programs” before their children enter seventh grade. He believes this is necessary because many do not attend optional parent-teacher conferences. The key word is “optional”, Mr. Diaz and, unlike certain politicians, many adults have more to do with their time than impose their will on people they’ve never met.
Interestingly, the Senator thinks people who feel confident in their abilities to raise children should not object. “We are trying to expand their skills. Especially good parents would not miss an opportunity to expand their parental skills and get involved with their children’s psychological problems,” he told U.S. News & World Report. So, it’s settled. Every kid has psychological problems and their parents have nothing better to do than have incompetent bureaucrats brainwash educate them.
It gets worse. If mommy and daddy don’t show up, their children won’t be allowed to advance to seventh grade. So, if a little Einstein’s parents happen to conservative, libertarian or hold any other non-statist views and refuse to be reeducated, his academic performance won’t mean a thing.
Honest College Commercial
This video presents a satirical (but not very inaccurate) look at the modern frenzy to push every kid into college.
Well-known scholar Charles Murray describes the current U.S. higher education system this way:
First, we will set up a single goal to represent educational success, which will take four years to achieve no matter what is being taught. We will attach an economic reward to it that seldom has anything to do with what has been learned. We will urge large numbers of people who do not possess adequate ability to try to achieve the goal, wait until they have spent a lot of time and money, and then deny it to them. We will stigmatize everyone who doesn't meet the goal. We will call the goal a "BA."
Elsewhere, Murray has argued that pushing everyone towards college creates a nation divided among class lines, besides wasting many students' time and money. Videos like this demonstrate some kids, at least, agree.
Posted by jonjayray at 12:23 AM
Friday, March 07, 2014
Homeland Security Will Not Deport German Christian Homeschoolers the Romeikes
Obama wins the court battle but concedes political defeat
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has verbally informed the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) that the Romeike family, German homeschoolers who sought legal asylum in the United States, has been granted indefinite deferred action status, which means that the order for their removal from the United States will not be acted upon.
As Breitbart News reported Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court had denied the Romeike family’s petition for certiorari, or review. According to a press release Tuesday by HSLDA, however, news of the Supreme Court’s denial sparked “an immediate and unprecedented reaction.” Fox News informed HSLDA that it recorded one million page views of the story about the Romeike family within 24 hours – an all-time high.
“We are happy to have indefinite status even though we won’t be able to get American citizenship any time soon,” said Uwe Romeike. “As long as we can live at peace here, we are happy. We have always been ready to go wherever the Lord would lead us – and I know my citizenship isn’t really on earth.”
“This has always been about our children,” Romeike continued. “I wouldn’t have minded staying in Germany if the mistreatment targeted only me – but our whole family was targeted when German authorities would not tolerate our decision to teach our children. That is what brought us here.”
HSLDA Director of International Affairs Michael Donnelly observed that the only reason the Romeike family had to come to America was because of Germany’s repressive policy towards homeschoolers.
“Germany’s persecution of homeschooling parents continues and is one reason, I suspect, that DHS was willing to grant the family indefinite status,” Donnelly said in the press statement. “How could our country send this loving, peaceful family back to be crushed by outrageous fines, criminal prosecution, and the loss of their children?”
In November, the Supreme Court had ordered the Department of Justice to respond to HSLDA’s petition on behalf of the Romeikes. Prior to the high court’s order, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals had denied asylum to the family after the Obama administration appealed an earlier decision by a U.S. immigration judge who had granted the Romeikes political asylum.
Before fleeing to the U.S. in 2008, the Romeike parents had been threatened with thousands of dollars in fines and possible jail time in Germany because they chose to homeschool their children. Germany’s highest court has asserted that its ban on homeschooling is designed to ensure that religious homeschoolers do not become a “parallel society.”
“HSLDA is determined to continue working in support of beleaguered homeschooling families in Germany and other countries,” said Donnelly. “The right of parents to decide how their children should be educated is a fundamental human right. The United States got it right in this case, and we call on Germany to change its policy so that parents in Germany can homeschool their children in peace.”
“Our entire family is deeply grateful for all the support of our friends and fellow homeschoolers and especially HSLDA,” said Romeike. “I thank God for his hand of blessing and protection over our family. We thank the American government for allowing us to stay here and to peacefully homeschool our children – it’s all we ever wanted.”
1.6M Paying Students Drop School Lunch--‘Challenges With Palatability’
You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it eat one of Madam Obama's school lunches
1.6 million students who used to pay for school lunches have stopped buying them, according to a Government Accountability Office Report (GAO).
GAO noted that part of the decline was due to the "challenges withpalatability" of lunches that have to meet new nutrition guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The GAO also noted that among students still getting the school lunches there was “plate waste”--n.b. students throwing away some of the food.
“All eight SFAs [school food authorities] we visited also noted that students expressed dislike for certain foods that were served to comply with the new requirements, such as whole grain-rich products and vegetables in the beans and peas (legumes) and red-orange sub-groups, and this may have affected participation,” said the GAO in its report, Implementing Nutrition Changes Was Challenging and Clarification of Oversight Requirements Is Needed.
“Further, some SFAs we visited noted that negative student reactions to lunches that complied with the new meat and grain portion size limits directly affected program participation in their districts,” said the GAO. The school food authorities noted that changes made to sandwiches led “to a middle and high school boycott of school lunch by students that lasted for 3 weeks and, at the same time, “participation in school lunch significantly declined in those schools.”
The report also said, “Nationwide, participation in the National School Lunch Program declined in recent years after having increased steadily for more than a decade. According to our analysis of USDA’s data, total student participation—the total number of students who ate school lunches—dropped from school years 2010-2011 through 2012-2013 for a cumulative decline of 1.2 million students (or 3.7 percent), with the majority of the decrease occurring during school year 2012-2013.”
“The decrease in the total number of students eating school lunches during the last two school years was driven primarily by a decrease of 1.6 million students paying full price for meals, despite increases in the number of students eating school lunches who receive free meals,” said the report.
“While the number of students who buy full-price lunches each month has been declining gradually since school year 2007-2008, the largest one-year decline—10 percent—occurred in school year 2012-2013. In contrast, the number of students participating in the program each month who receive free meals has steadily increased over the years, though the increase was much smaller in the last year,” said the GAO.
“Each month, states report to USDA the number of lunches served in the program and USDA adjusts the data to determine the number of students participating,” reads the report. “According to the data, student participation declined by 84,000 students (0.3 percent) in school year 2011-2012 and by an additional 1,086,000 students (3.4 percent) in school year 2012-2013.”
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 required that the USDA update school lunches to account for new nutrition requirements.
“Regarding the lunch components – fruits, vegetables, meats, grains, and milk -- lunches must now include fat-free or low-fat milk, limited amounts of meats/meat alternatives and grains, and whole grain-rich foods,” says the GAO. “Further, lunches must now include both fruit and vegetable choices, and although students may be allowed to decline two of the five lunch components they are offered, they must select at least one half cup of fruits or vegetables as part of their meal.”
Some of the reason for decline in participation in the lunch program was because of challenges with implementing the new lunch content, such as palatability and “plate waste.”
“In our state survey, 48 states identified student acceptance as a challenge and 33 states noted challenges with palatability – food that tasted good to students – for at least some of their SFAs in school year 2012-2013,” said the GAO.
“For example, most states reported that school food authorities (SFAs) faced challenges with addressing plate waste – or foods thrown away rather than consumed by students – and managing food costs,” reads the report, “as well as planning menus and obtaining foods that complied with portion size and calorie requirements.”
Other factors, such as complying with the new standards, made the process for school food authorities difficult.
The GAO says, “Several factors likely influenced the recent decreases in lunch participation, and while the extent to which each factor affected participation is unclear, state and local officials reported that the decreases were influenced by changes made to comply with the new lunch content and nutrition standards. Almost all states reported that student acceptance of the changes was challenging for at least some of their SFAs during school year 2012-2013, a factor that likely affected participation.”
“All eight SFAs we visited also noted that students expressed dislike for certain foods that were served to comply with the new requirements, such as whole grain-rich products and vegetables in the beans and peas (legumes) and red-orange sub-groups, and this may have affected participation,” reads the report.
“Further, some SFAs we visited noted that negative student reactions to lunches that complied with the new meat and grain portion size limits directly affected program participation in their districts,” said the GAO. “For example, in one district, changes the SFA made to specific food items, such as sandwiches, contributed to a middle and high school boycott of school lunch by students that lasted for 3 weeks at the beginning of school year 2012-2013. During this time, participation in school lunch significantly declined in those schools.”
“SFA officials in two districts believed that lunch price increases, combined with the lunch content changes, led some students to stop buying school lunches because they felt they were being asked to pay more for less food,” reported the GAO. “Some middle and high school students we talked to in these districts echoed this sentiment and said this combination led them to consider food options other than the school lunch program, particularly at the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year.”
10-year-old Ohio boy suspended for pointing finger like gun
Boys can no longer be boys
Nathan Entingh's pointed finger was apparently a “level 2 lookalike firearm.”
An elementary school principal suspended a 10-year-old boy for three days after the student pointed his finger like it was a gun and pretended to shoot one of his classmates.
“I was just playing around,” fifth-grader Nathan Entingh told the Columbus Dispatch. “People play around like this a lot at my school.”
The suspension letter from Devonshire Alternative Elementary School said that Entingh used a “level 2 lookalike firearm” during the incident.
District spokesman Jeff Warner said Entingh put his “lookalike firearm” against the other student’s head “execution style.”
“The kids were told, ‘If you don’t stop doing this type of stuff, there would be consequences,’” Warner said. “It’s just been escalating.”
Entingh’s father Paul feels that a three-day suspension is unwarranted. “He said he was playing,” Paul said. “It would even make more sense maybe if he brought a plastic gun that looked like a real gun or something, but it was his finger. I would have even been fine with them doing an in-school suspension.”
Posted by jonjayray at 12:17 AM
Thursday, March 06, 2014
Obama Admin. Wins Battle to Deport Christian Home School Family
Uwe and Hannelore Romeike came to the United States in 2008 seeking political asylum. They fled their German homeland in the face of religious persecution for homeschooling their children.
They wanted to live in a country where they could raise their children in accordance with their Christian beliefs.
The Romeikes were initially given asylum, but the Obama administration objected – claiming that German laws that outlaw homeschooling do not constitute persecution.
“The goal in Germany is for an open, pluralistic society,” the Justice Department wrote in a legal brief last year. “Teaching tolerance to children of all backgrounds helps to develop the ability to interact as a fully functioning citizen in Germany.”
On Monday, the Supreme Court declined to hear the Romeike’s appeal – paving the way for the Christian family of eight to be deported.
“I think this is a part of the Obama administration’s overall campaign to crush religious freedom in this country,” said Michael Farris, chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association. His organization is representing family.
“The Obama administration’s attitude toward religious freedom, particularly religious freedom for Christians is shocking,” he told me in an exclusive telephone interview. “I have little doubt that if this family had been of some other faith that the decision would have never been appealed in the first place. They would have let this family stay.”
Had the family stayed in Germany, where homeschooling is illegal, they would have faced the prospect of losing their children. Like the Pilgrims, they fled their homeland yearning for a place where they could be free.
Farris said the religious bias perpetrated by the Obama administration is “palpable.”
“It’s a denial of the essence of America,” he said. “The Pilgrims left England to go to Holland to seek religious freedom. They came here to seek religious freedom and parental rights for their children. Had this administration been waiting at Plymouth Rock, they would’ve told the Pilgrims to go back home.”
There are nearly 12 million illegal immigrants living in the United States. You’d think the Obama administration could find a place eight immigrants who want to live here legally.
Farris said the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the case sends a chilling message to Americans who currently home school their children.
“This administration thinks it’s a privilege to home school – not a right,” he told me. “We’d better buckle down and be ready to fight them every step of the way.”
As for now, the Romeike family will be able to stay at their four-acre farm in the eastern Tennessee. But it’s only a matter of time before the Obama administration begins formal deportation proceedings.
Last year, I interviewed 15-year-old Daniel Romeike, a soft-spoken boy with aspirations of one day becoming a mechanical engineer. He told me he was afraid of what might happen if the family was deported. He feared being taken from his parents and placed in government custody.
“If I had a chance to talk to President Obama, I would ask him to let us stay in this great country of freedom and opportunity,” Daniel told me.
The suspended art teacher who Sellotaped shut mouths of 10-year-olds who refused to stop giggling
A primary school teacher has been suspended for Sellotaping over the mouths of her 10-year-old pupils after they refused to stop giggling and talking.
Priscila Davo Ortega, 27, allegedly lined up more than 20 children during her art lesson and put layers of sticky tape across their lips because they were being too noisy.
Parents said that when some children ripped off the tape because they were struggling to breathe, the Spanish-born teacher replaced it.
Other children were left with bleeding lips when the tape was removed, and several said that they were scared about returning to school.
Miss Ortega has been suspended from teaching art and Spanish at Danesfield Church of England middle school in Williton, Somerset, pending an investigation. Police said they would work with the local education authority.
Parents learned what had happened when their children returned home on Monday. The Year 6 pupils said Miss Ortega imposed the punishment because they were making too much noise while playing a game of blind man’s bluff.
Lisa Duffield, said: ‘I was absolutely disgusted when my daughter told me what the teacher had done. I went straight round the school and demanded to speak to Mr Bradbury, the headteacher.
‘I told Mr Bradbury that under no circumstances was my daughter to be taught by her until this matter was sorted out. I didn’t trust myself to speak to the teacher myself, as I feared I might slap her.’
Sarah Gower, 38, of Williton, said: ‘The teacher did not like that they were giggling too loud, told them all to be quiet, and if they weren’t quiet she would put Sellotape over their mouths, which she did.
‘A couple of them had difficulty breathing, so they ripped it off and she put more on top. My son was confused about what happened and he was a bit scared about going to school this morning.’
Stacey Bradbury, 28, from Watchet, Somerset, said she was ‘disgusted, shocked, traumatised’ by Miss Ortega’s actions. Her 10-year-old son Thomas said: ‘She put Sellotape on our mouths just because we were talking. Some people had a really bad rash after and some girls in my class had their lips bleeding.’
Rob Lovell, 33, of Williton, said his 10-year-old daughter told him Miss Ortega said she was carrying out an ‘experiment’ to see how long the children could be quiet.
‘When my daughter took the tape off her mouth, it split her lips and they were bleeding,’ he said. ‘The same thing happened to quite a few of the pupils. They were all very upset.’
Miss Ortega is from the village of Huetor Santillan, near Granada. She worked as a nanny in London from November 2010 to June 2011, before returning to Spain to complete a master’s degree in secondary education.
She did a month-long placement at Danesfield in 2012, and began working there full-time in January. In May last year, she wrote on Facebook: ‘Now for sure, next school year, I will be an art and Spanish teacher in Danesfield School in pretty Sommerset[sic]! A bit nervous but happy.’
Last night, Miss Ortega’s family said she must have acted ‘in jest’ and not to punish the children. Pablo Davo, her uncle, who lives next door to her parents Jorge and Mari Trini in Huetor Santillan, said: ‘Sellotaping children’s mouths up because they’re being noisy would be totally out of character for Priscila. ‘She loves her job and she loves children and she never mentioned any problems when she was back here a couple of weeks ago.’
Danesfield School was rated as ‘good’ in its most recent Ofsted report, and the incident happened on the first day of lessons since it became an academy.
Headteacher Ian Bradbury said: ‘The wellbeing of our children is of vital importance to us. An incident happened in a lesson on Monday. Following that incident, I have suspended the teacher involved until a full and thorough investigation has taken place.’
British courses in self-tanning and balloon artistry 'to be axed'
Courses in subjects such as self-tanning, balloon artistry and instructing pole fitness will fail to attract taxpayer funding under a shake-up of adult education, it is announced today.
More than 5,000 qualifications will be stripped from a list of funded courses as part of a drive to boost investment in more rigorous disciplines that lead directly to a job, it emerged.
Matthew Hancock, the Skills Minister, said the changes would result in some £200 million being redirected towards work-based qualifications and apprenticeships.
The move comes amid fears that the taxpayer is being left to fund large numbers of courses that are currently deemed to be of little or no value in the workplace.
Other subjects due to be axed from a prescribed list include “coaching angling” and aerial balloon displays.
In all, it will cut the number of funded qualifications from 11,000 at the moment to around 6,000.
The move – aimed directly at adult education – follows a similar purge on qualifications for 16- to 19-year-olds which has seen courses such as "cutting facial hair" and "fitting eyelash extensions” taken out of official league tables.
Mr Hancock said: “Small qualifications in coaching angling, aerial balloon displays and self-tanning are not a good use of tax payers’ money or learners’ time.
“There are currently 15,400 regulated qualifications, and even with the restrictions we have made so far, 11,000 of them are eligible for Government funding. This means the system is complicated, bureaucratic and hard to understand and we need to change that.
“We are determined to make sure that people who work hard to achieve a qualification can be sure that it is recognised as meaningful and valuable to employers and that it makes a real contribution to our long term economic recovery.”
The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills published a report on vocational qualifications on Wednesday.
The strategy – Getting the Job Done: The Government's Reform Plan for Vocational Qualifications – sets out a series of changes to college and work-based courses for adults.
This includes giving employers a greater say in course syllabuses to make sure qualifications lead directly to jobs and giving Ofqual, the exams regulator, new powers to review the adult education system.
Posted by jonjayray at 12:06 AM
Wednesday, March 05, 2014
The 'Investment' of Higher Education
What do Harry Potter, Lady Gaga and Star Trek have in common? Each is the subject of courses offered at supposedly serious American colleges and universities. It's no wonder then that according to a recent survey by Gallup and the Lumina Foundation, only 11% of today's business leaders "strongly agree" that college graduates offer the skills needed in the real business world, while 88% want more connection between the business and college arenas. Apparently, studying the intricacies of Lady Gaga's unique wardrobe won't support a family in the real world -- shocking, we know.
Meanwhile, Gallup found that 96% of college and university chief academic officers are "extremely or somewhat confident" that their schools produce job-ready candidates. We wonder how many of these administrators have ever worked outside academia. Barack Obama wants the U.S. to have the highest proportion of college grads in the world by 2020. Just what we need -- diploma-toting experts in the invented Klingon language who, sadly, think the world needs their "knowledge."
All this is not to say higher education is worthless. The survey found 95% of the general public thinks some post-high school education is necessary, but the vast majority believes such education should focus more on useful skills. The question is what is a college education worth? The nation's student debt has far surpassed credit card debt and now exceeds $1 trillion -- up from $253 billion just 10 years ago. And as college tuitions continue to skyrocket, making those loans even more necessary, perhaps one of those useful skills would be knowing that paying money to study the science of superheroes may not be the best investment.
ObamaCare’s Growing Threat to America’s Education System
The ObamaCare credibility gap continues to grow as new evidence of broken promises comes to light. Despite the administration’s repeated pledge health care reform would not harm employment, the New York Times reports teachers and school workers are already experiencing cuts to hours and income thanks to the president’s fatally flawed law:
* Indiana schools curb student services, cut worker’s hours:
Vigo County has reduced field trips for children and cut back transportation to athletic events. School employees who had two part-time jobs totaling more than 30 hours a week — for example, bus driver and basketball coach — were required to give up one of the jobs.
* Connecticut school districts forced to make tough choices:
Mark D. Benigni, the superintendent of schools in Meriden, Conn…said in an interview that the new health care law was having “unintended consequences for school systems across the nation…Are we supposed to lay off full-time teachers so that we can provide insurance coverage to part-time employees?” Mr. Benigni asked. “If I had to cut five reading teachers to pay for benefits for substitute teachers, I’m not sure that would be best for our students.
* New Jersey college instructors experience reduced hours, less pay:
William J. Lipkin, an adjunct professor of American history and political science at Union County College in Cranford, N.J., said: “The Affordable Care Act, rather than making health care affordable for adjunct faculty members, is making it more unaffordable…and our hours are being cut, which means our income is being cut. We are losing on both ends.”
* Ohio part-time faculty see less work:
The University of Akron, in Ohio, has cut back the hours of 400 part-time faculty members who were teaching more than 29 hours a week, said Eileen Korey, a spokeswoman for the school. “We have more than 1,000 part-time faculty,” Ms. Korey said. “Four hundred would have qualified for health insurance. That would add costs that we cannot afford.”
The House Committee on Education and the Workforce has heard similar stories from teachers, professors, and school workers nationwide. The president’s health care law is hurting America’s students and threatening the strength of our nation’s education system.
Four in ten miss out on first choice school: British population rise fuels demand for secondary places
More than four in ten children in some areas were yesterday denied their preferred secondary school amid mounting competition for places.
Tens of thousands of ten and 11-year-olds found they had missed out as allocations were announced by councils across the country.
Many areas reported a rise in the number of applicants and a corresponding decline in the number of pupils being assigned their first choice schools.
The allocations to more than half a million families are likely to see a surge in appeals.
Research by the Mail shows a booming population in many towns and cities is fuelling rising demand for secondary places.
In London, where the demand for secondary school places rose 5 per cent in a year, 31 per cent of youngsters were rejected by their first choice school – up slightly on last year. This rose to 42 per cent in the boroughs of Westminster and Hammersmith & Fulham and 41 per cent in Wandsworth.
In Bristol, the population of secondary school age youngsters shot up 8 per cent, leaving 23 per cent of children without their first choice school – compared with 18 per cent in 2013.
Under the admissions system, parents list their school preferences. They are then allocated places according to the schools’ admissions criteria, which are mainly based on a family’s proximity.
Other factors can include random lotteries or ability banding – measures aimed at preventing middle-class parents playing the system by moving into catchment areas.
Banding involves all pupils being tested, with a set number of bright, average and low ability children admitted.
Competition is particularly intense for places at grammar and faith schools, as well as flagship free schools and academies, which are funded by the taxpayer but free from local government interference.
Tiffin School in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, saw 1,863 boys sitting the 11-plus test, competing for 160 places. The West London Free School, founded by journalist Toby Young, had 1,124 applications for 120 places.
Matt Richards, senior director of www.schoolappeals.com, said: ‘Most people are happy with a good school, they don’t necessarily want an outstanding school, but if there isn’t one in your area then you have a problem. ‘There are areas where schools are still failing.’
A Department for Education spokesman said: ‘Every parent deserves the chance to send their child to a good school.
Parents may list up to a certain number of schools in order of preference on their application form - in London boroughs with larger numbers of schools that can mean up to six schools, while in other areas they may be allowed to list a smaller number - for example, parents in Bristol can list a maximum of three.
Unlike with primary schools, where catchment areas are all-important and house prices go up as a result, where you live is not usually as important a factor in most secondary applications.
There is no guarantee that children will be offered a place at their first or even third choice school - some will be offered a place at a school they did not apply to and have no wish to go to.
There is a deadline date of 17 March (in most local authority areas) for parents to respond to the offer they are given, either to accept the school place offered or to appeal a decision or place a child on a waiting list. Places become available at schools when parents decide to send their child to a private school, look elsewhere for schools or to home-educate their children instead.
Parents who have appealed a school's decision not to offer their child a place will have their appeal heard by an independent panel. They will first check your child meets all the school's admissions criteria, and should come back to you with a decision within a week.
Posted by jonjayray at 12:21 AM