Thursday, March 31, 2005


THe UK disaster continues

Teachers across the country are enduring a daily diet of verbal and physical abuse from children as young as 5 as discipline in schools worsens across the country, the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers heard yesterday. Voting unanimously to expel violent and disruptive pupils permanently from schools, the NASUWT members said that being sworn at, punched, stabbed with compasses and breaking up fights were now the stuff of daily life in many schools. The vote, by the country's second-largest teaching union, came after David Bell, the Chief Inspector of Schools, gave warning last month of a growing discipline crisis in schools.

David Ward, a teacher from Sheffield who moved the motion, painted a picture of worsening discipline in schools up and down the country. In one school, children were spitting at teachers from the third floor, while at another, he said, the fire alarm had been set off 40 times in one day. "There is a picture of an increasing amount of ill- discipline, sometimes low-level, often not, of ineffective school policies and of unsupportive school management teams," Mr Ward said.

Members said that the abuse was not restricted to secondary schools and that some primary school heads were appearing to reward unruly behaviour. Ralph Robins, a primary school liaison officer in Cornwall, said that one pupil who had consistently verbally abused staff and refused to follow orders had been given alternative activities, such as model-making and playing on the computer.



If the schools did their job properly in the first place there would be no need for it

The failure of some American students to master math is adding up to big bucks for tutoring companies in India. A little-known provision in the federal No Child Left Behind law allows federal taxpayer dollars to flow to online tutoring services several time zones away in places such as New Delhi and Calcutta. Those services typically contract with U.S. tutoring companies, which provide them the computer software and set the lesson plan.

Few would begrudge using public money to give struggling students extra help. But some U.S. teachers decry the offering of instruction to Indian firms that pay full-time, college-educated tutors as little as $230 a month. They also complain that while the law requires teachers to be fully certified, private tutors have no such requirement. "We are seeing teachers being laid off," said Nancy Van Meter of the American Federation of Teachers. "Given that situation, it's hard to understand why our tax dollars are being used to create jobs overseas."

The Indian tutoring companies say they are simply filling a market void by providing after-hours services with which some U.S. teachers don't want to be bothered, said Anirudh Phadke, an official with New Delhi-based Career Launcher. The firm, which also serves students in the Middle East, tutors about 1,500 American students in math alone. "We have a lot of good teachers over here willing to do this full time," Phadke said during a telephone interview. "It's a good opportunity."

Because well-known online tutoring services, such as Sylvan Online, subcontract with firms such as Career Launcher, it's hard to say how many students are spending their money on Indian tutors.



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

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