Friday, August 04, 2006

Scotland: Ex-pupils 'break teacher's leg after attacking him in street'

A teacher required surgery to "shocking" injuries after he was set upon by former pupils in the latest in a string of attacks on school staff to provoke warnings teaching is becoming "a dangerous profession". The supply teacher had to have six steel screws inserted in his shattered leg during surgery after he was assaulted in Edinburgh by a gang of between four and six youths, believed to be former pupils of Liberton High School. He also suffered facial injuries during the attack in which the gang kicked and punched him in the head and body as he lay defenceless on the ground.

Last night the head of Scotland's biggest teaching union warned the incident highlighted the increasing violence faced by teachers both in and outside the classroom. The 42-year-old teacher, who did not want to be identified, was attacked as he walked across North Bridge in Edinburgh last Sunday. He said: "I was stopped in the street by the kids - I still call them kids because they were my pupils - but they were young men now. They called me by my name and I recognised some of their faces. "We started talking and I asked them how they were getting on and what they were doing with their lives. Then one of them threw some water on me from a bottle. The next thing I knew someone punched me in the face. Another kicked me in the leg and I heard it snap. I fell to the ground and they started kicking and punching me in the head." He went on: "Being a teacher can be quite stressful, so I look forward to my holidays to relax, but now that's ruined. I'm just shocked that they could have done this."

Ronnie Smith, the general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), the country's biggest teachers' union, said violence in and out of the classroom was at risk of making teaching a "dangerous profession" - a label that would deter students from training to join it. Last year, a survey found at least 36 teachers in Scottish schools had to have hospital treatment after being assaulted by pupils. Mr Smith said the EIS recognised that violence towards teachers was a growing problem, and increasing numbers of teachers were leaving the profession due to stress. "It is a pretty grim state of affairs if a teacher cannot go out in his or her leisure time without looking over their shoulder," Mr Smith said. "If the job of teaching is seen as not only being pressurised in the classroom but also dangerous on the streets, it will put off people from becoming teachers and that is something we cannot allow to happen."

A police spokeswoman said: "Three men aged 20, 21 and 22 were arrested in connection with an assault." The growing number of attacks on teachers are leading local authorities to take increasingly extreme measures. In the Borders, staff have been issued with panic alarms as classroom violence spirals out of control. The "safe school alert" system works by sending pager alerts to key staff, giving the precise location so they can rush to the scene.


Children left behind in Los Angeles schools

If the No Child Left Behind Act is to work, school districts have to take part. And early evidence indicates that in at least one major case, that's not happening. Since No Child Left Behind became law in 2002, the Los Angeles Unified School District has received hundreds of millions of federal dollars meant to help students in failing public schools. Students in schools that did not make adequate yearly progress (AYP) for two straight years were supposed to have been offered the opportunity to attend another public school in the district or receive supplemental educational services, such as tutoring. But, according to data submitted to the U.S. Department of Education, only 315 of the 257,636 students in failing schools in Los Angeles participated in public-school choice in the 2003-2004 school year. And citizens groups are getting fed up.

The Alliance for School Choice and Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education (CURE) recently filed complaints against the school districts of Los Angeles and Compton, Calif., for taking the NCLB money but failing to offer these remedies. CURE argues that the Department of Education should withhold future funding until the school systems comply with the law. At issue is what is known as Title 1, Part A funding, which is dedicated to improving the performance of schools by introducing school choice or, if that wasn't sufficient, tutoring services. Up to 20 percent of Part A funding was intended for school choice or supplemental services. But, $46 billion later, only about 1 percent of the 3.9 million eligible students nationwide had moved on to better public schools.

In many cases, this was because school districts failed to inform students of the opportunities. According to a General Accountability Office (GAO) report, only 29 percent of school districts informed parents about the school-choice option before the beginning of the 2004-2005 school year. Another 21 percent notified them only as the school year began, which allowed little time to learn about other schools or make decisions on whether to transfer. The other half of school districts didn't inform parents until well into the school year, thus effectively preventing them from participating. School districts fared only slightly better on providing special educational services; 17 percent of eligible students participated.

In Los Angeles, for the 2002-2003 school year, 104 of LAUSD's 678 schools failed to make AYP for two straight years. These schools served 221,472, or 29.7 percent, of the district's students. The next year, 111 of 695 schools failed to make AYP. These schools served 257,637 students, or 34.5 percent of the district's students. LAUSD received $1.2 billion in Title I, Part A funding during those school years. One fifth, or $239 million, should have gone to fund public-school choice or after-school tutoring. But just 218 students took advantage of choice the first year and 315 the next. And just 7.1 percent participated in tutoring the first of the two years and 7.4 percent the next.

Either students in Los Angeles are attending tutoring sessions in gold-plated salons and riding to their new schools in limousines, or the money isn't being spent as intended. The latter seems likely, given a 2003 letter from Eugene Hickock, then acting deputy secretary of education, to Roy Romer, the former governor of Colorado who now heads the Los Angeles school district. The letter criticized the spending of Title I, Part A funding and questioned why the school system used so little of its money on tutoring.

According the most recent data, LAUSD still doesn't spend its Title I, Part A funding properly. Kids in failing schools remain there and don't get the help they need. Parents deserve better. If Los Angeles can't spend the federal government's money properly, it shouldn't receive any more until it improves. Parents and leaders should work to provide other opportunities to move students out of failing schools. It's time that Los Angeles lives up to its obligations to the students in its care.



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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