Tuesday, July 12, 2005

School not always best says new study

Staying on at school does not increase work prospects and may even be detrimental for students who aren't aca-demically inclined. That's the finding of a new study which also says there is little or no gain in earnings or job opportunities for poorly performing students who stay until year 12. Its author, Michael Dockery of Curtin University of Technology, said policies to lift retention rates and to raise the mandatory time at school ignored the fact that school wasn't suited to all. He said the implicit assumption, that those who left school early would have achieved better outcomes had they stayed on at school, was a fallacy. He said that years 11 and 12 mostly benefited the more academically able.

In March, Prime Minister John Howard suggested that more young people should leave school after year 10 to pursue trades. "High year 12 retention rates became the goal, instead of us as a nation recognising there are some people who should not go to university," he said.

But a study by Dusseldorp Skills Forum (DSF) last month found that a higher school retention rate would raise workforce numbers by 65,000 and add $10 billion to the economy by 2040. DSF research strategist John Spierings said figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, to be released this month, show 40 per cent of students who left after year 10 were not fully engaged in the labour market - they were unemployed or working part-time, but not studying. [Dear me! Hasn't anybody told these galoots not to confuse cause and effect? That kids who drop out might be dumber and hence less employable anyway does not appear to have occurred to these "experts"] The figures worsen the earlier a child leaves school. Dr Dockery said he was not advocating that young people who were unhappy or performing badly at school simply drop out. "However, in such situations, other alternatives such as reasonable job openings [and] traineeships should not be ignored just for the sake of accumulating years of schooling," he said.

Business Council of Australia education policy director Maria Tarrant said that all children needed 12 years of education, but school was not appropriate for everyone.



Pushing to improve instruction of its youngest students, California is considering setting learning standards and curriculum guidelines for children as young as 3. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell is leading the drive, hoping to narrow the state's achievement gap by reaching students at a younger age. The goal is to ensure consistency and better prepare youngsters for kindergarten, but opponents fear that too much academic pressure would be placed on 3-, 4-and 5-year-olds. "I think we need to step back and look deeply at what children really need - and that's more time with their parents," said Catherine Myers, executive director of the Family and Home Network, an advocacy group for child nurturing.

Setting standards, though not formally tied to universal preschool, would complement a proposed ballot initiative by film director Rob Reiner to offer free instruction to every young child. O'Connell said he is convinced that California needs to "provide high-quality preschool opportunities to all children." "I'm convinced that if you wait until high school to address the achievement gap, it's too late," he said. O'Connell is sponsoring Assembly Bill 1246, which would require the state to determine by January 2007 precisely what preschoolers should learn and how it should be taught.

Assemblywoman Lois Wolk, a Davis Democrat who proposed AB 1246 at O'Connell's behest, said she wants to ensure that youngsters receive a basic knowledge of things like numbers and letters - not push preschoolers to cram for exams. "It's not going to be a one-size-fits-all. It can't be," she said. "Education isn't that way. What you want is for children to be able to follow directions, work with other kids, recognize colors and numbers, and to feel good about working in groups, so by the time they get to kindergarten, they're ready for the kinds of learning they need to achieve."

AB 1246 awaits action in the Senate after passing the Assembly on a 47-32 party-line vote, with Republicans opposed. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has taken no position. The measure would require the state Department of Education to set learning standards in four areas: mathematics, science, reading-language arts, and history-social science. The bill identifies several specific topics to be covered. For example, it says the history-social science standard should address citizenship and national symbols. Mathematics would touch upon the classification and measurement of numbers; science would include earth, physical and life sciences; and reading-language arts would spotlight vocabulary development and recognition of the alphabet....

AB 1246 does not call for formal testing of preschoolers and does not address teacher training to meet the new standards.

If signed into law, AB 1246 would not depend on voter approval of Reiner's ballot initiative, "Preschool for All." But O'Connell said "we're getting ready" and "ramping up" for a universal system. Reiner's measure would tax California's wealthiest families to offer every 4-year-old a year of free instruction in preschools that meet certain standards, including having curriculum based on statewide learning standards.....

"I believe a lot of people don't realize how much quality learning is taking place at preschools," said Lorraine Weatherspoon, coordinator of Sacramento City Unified School District's school readiness programs. O'Connell said existing programs do, indeed, have performance goals. But AB 1246 is meant to expand and improve upon them. "We're trying to more professionalize (preschool programs)," he said. [Oh dear!] ....

Assemblyman Keith Richman, R-Northridge, said the state's track record is dismal. "I think these curriculum standards are simply a step in making preschool an extension of K-12 education, which to a large degree has been failing students," he said.....

More here


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.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

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