Monday, November 21, 2005


Hard to believe it's possible

At their Dec. 14 meeting, Merced Union High School District trustees will have a tough decision to make: How will seniors who fail the California High School Exit Exam be treated at graduation time. Trustee Cappi Quigley, on her final night as a trustee after 20 years of service, does not want students who have worked hard at school and satisfied district course requirements but still fail the exit exam to suffer. The state says no diplomas without passing the test.

Quigley favors giving these students a certificate of completion allowing them to participate in June's commencement ceremonies. District Superintendent Robert Fore also favors "erring on the side of the kids where we can."

On the exit exam issue, Weimer said the board's direction must be clear-cut and precise to avoid future nightmares. State education officials leave graduation participation and certificate decisions to local districts and Weimer doubts if the state will intervene.

Golden Valley High School Principal Ralf Swenson said the state exit exam is insensitive to the needs of special education students, many who have failed it several times. He said there are ways at graduation rites to handle issuance of both certificates of completion and diplomas gracefully.

Assistant Superintendent Sylvia Smith said 223 students at six district schools failed the exit exam last March. Some of these students took the test again earlier this month and Smith is working to get the test given next February instead of March so results will be known by April.

Counselor Wayne Denno said the Merced High counseling staff does not believe students should take part in graduation if they don't satisfy all requirements, including passing the exit exam. He said there ultimately would be consequences if the graduation ceremony is perceived as less meaningful.


Calls for overhaul of Australian State-run preschool systems

Preschools should operate under a national system to ensure uniform standards, parents should be issued with vouchers and social workers should be on hand to help those mothers who are dumping their children in childcare because they cannot cope. The demands have been made by Liberal backbenchers who say some state-run preschool systems are so poor that parents opt for long daycare, which fails to provide children with the basic literacy skills they need for primary school. The MPs claim the problem is exacerbated by subsidies which are provided for the commonwealth-run childcare system, but not preschool, which is operated by the states. "That preschooling year is so critical for a child's development ... so they can start their first year in primary schooling not having those early social adjustments," Liberal MP and Parliamentary Secretary Sharman Stone told The Weekend Australian. "A voucher system would mean that the parent would make a choice. "We give subsidies to childcare for a four-year-old but we don't for the same four-year-old in preschool." Ms Stone said the subsidy issue was having a "perverse outcome", with parents opting for childcare and children not receiving crucial education.

Former Howard government minister and western Sydney MP Jackie Kelly has also entered the debate, suggesting a large number of women who are not working are using childcare. She has called for social workers to help those mothers who see childcare as little more than respite. "Why is a mother at home not coping and needing respite from her own children? If it's respite childcare that you're seeking then let's include into those childcare centres some intervention, some parenting guidance and skills." She backed Ms Stone's call for a national approach to preschooling. "Long daycare basically makes sure your kid's fed, clothed and his nose is wiped but it isn't preparing them for school," Mrs Kelly said. "We need to look at a national preschool program because while in some states they have a very vibrant preschool program, in other states it's absolutely woeful so everyone opts for long daycare. "Some deal should come together at COAG about how we are going to progress in the future with the zero-to-fives in a more comprehensive Australia-wide system. "Childcare is national and that's why it's really taken off, but the preschool program, there's huge disparities between the states."

A spokesman for Family and Community Services Minister Kay Patterson said preschool education was being reviewed. "The minister is currently reviewing what access families have to preschool education. She believes that families should expect to receive the same access to preschool care wherever they live," he said. Mrs Kelly last week told the Liberal partyroom the Government needed to look at more innovative ways to provide care. She said the federal Government should provide more incentives, including tax deductions, for employers to set up childcare centres in workplaces. "I don't think we are being as innovative as we can be if the reality is, with an ageing population, we are going to need more women in the workforce for longer."



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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