Monday, November 24, 2008

Even The Washington Post Sneers At Barry's School Choice

Hope! Change! A New way of...ah, forget it
Continuing a tradition among Washington's power elite, President-elect Barack Obama and his wife have decided to send their kids to Sidwell Friends School. Michelle Obama confirmed yesterday that Malia and Sasha, the incoming first daughters, will enroll at the pricey private school when the family moves into the White House in January.

Although Mrs. Obama has said that public schools were under consideration and consulted with D.C. school officials, the decision narrowed this week after she and the girls visited Sidwell and the private Georgetown Day School. Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, visited classes and met with students while their mother talked with administration officials and parents. Mrs. Obama also visited both schools last week when she came to Washington with her husband to tour the White House and meet with President and Mrs. Bush.

Despite the early tone, the Post talks about it being an elitist school, about the school having "long been the choice of politically powerful and moneyed families," and the cost of the school, which is $28,442 for elementary school and $29,442 for the middle school. Hmm, sounds middle class to me, how 'bout you?

I wonder if they even have a teachers union at Sidwell? Most private schools don't. So, yet another group of Barry supporters thrown under the ever growing bus. But, hey, public school is good for YOUR kids, ya know!
"Mrs. Obama is the product of public education on the South Side of Chicago and she believes strongly in the importance of good public schools for all kids," Lelyveld said. "The Obama administration intends to work closely with the school systems in the years to come to ensure quality public education is available to all kids."

As long as her elitist kids don't have to go there.


British schools fined for expelling violent pupils

Secondary schools are being fined millions of pounds a year for expelling violent and abusive pupils. An investigation has revealed that at least 4.4 million pounds in financial penalties have been imposed on schools this year. Nearly a third of local authorities in England are issuing the fines, ranging from 1,500 to 10,000 pounds per expelled pupil. Some councils, including Essex, Nottinghamshire, Oldham and Somerset, have collected in excess of a quarter of a million pounds from their schools this year. The penalties are in addition to the "per pupil funding" - the money a school gets for each pupil it teaches - that councils automatically claw back when a pupil is permanently excluded.

Critics claim the fines put unacceptable pressure on head teachers to avoid permanently excluding pupils, undermining their authority and robbing them of the ultimate sanction in the battle against unruly behaviour in the classroom. The high level of fines in some authorities help to explain the big rise in temporary exclusions, where pupils are sent home for a matter of days rather than being kicked out. It also plays a part in the big growth in "managed moves", revealed by this newspaper in June, through which children escape expulsion and are simply transferred to another school, even for offences such as threatening classmates with knives and attacking teachers. These children do not count in official figures, which showed a seven per cent fall in permanent exclusions last year.

Chris Keates, the general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said: "Clawing back per pupil funding is understandable, as this funding should follow the child. "What is totally unacceptable is this removal of additional money, without any clear criteria. It undermines the Government's stated view that head teacher and governing bodies should be free to exclude pupils when it is necessary. "Stopping schools from permanently excluding pupils not only puts the education of that child at risk but puts the education of other pupils at risk. "More and more teachers are telling us that they are coming under pressure not to exclude pupils. Fining schools distorts the system and should be outlawed. "The Government needs to launch its own inquiry, as it did with admissions, to look at which authorities are setting these arbitrary penalties."

Tony Wells, the head teacher at Farnborough School Technology College, in Nottingham, an authority which fines schools up to 6,000 for permanent exclusions, said: "The removal of significant funds from school budgets is a concern to head teachers. "When the permanent exclusion of three pupils can equate to the salary of a member of staff it can seem excessively punitive and could work to limit the degree to which heads feel able to resort to that final sanction."

Of the 100 councils that responded to the Freedom of Information request, 31 imposed financial penalties. Some argued that much of the money they recover is "pupil retention" funding, allocated to schools by the Government to improve exclusion rates and behaviour. They also claim that most of the money is passed on to the schools or pupil referral units that have to find places for troublesome youngsters.

While councils are not required to fine schools, the Government supports the move. A Department for Children, Schools and Families, spokesman said: "We back heads in taking the tough decision to exclude pupils and we have given them the powers they have asked for to deal with unruly behaviour. "Of course excluded pupils still need to be educated, we cannot simply give up on them. It is right that if a school excludes a pupil, the money that would have been used to teach that pupil is reallocated and moves with them as they move on into alternative provision. "Schools have multi-million pound budgets and we do not believe that this would be a disincentive to exclusion, especially when unruly pupils use such large amounts of resources."


Teacher quality the 'focus of education revolution' -- says Australia's Leftist government

What a lot of bosh. Good teachers are born, not made. But Leftists can never accept that anything is inborn, of course (homosexuality excepted). But if the four-year courses that teachers now undergo (one year used to be enough in the past) still turn out lots of ineffective teachers, more of the same will not do any good.

While teaching is a bottom-of-the barrel choice for smart people, teacher quality will always be low. Better discipline among the kids is the main thing that would improve teaching -- if only by restoring teaching to the attractive profession that it once was. Another improvement would be larger class sizes, so that the dud teachers can be fired and the abilities of good teachers put to wider use. Heresy! But there are in fact decades of research showing that large class sizes work well. See here and here and here and here and here

The so-called education revolution will have a new focus on improving teacher quality, Education Minister Julia Gillard says. The federal government will use next Saturday's Council of Australian Government's (COAG) meeting in Canberra to push its education reform agenda. Improving teacher quality and lifting investment in disadvantaged schools will be key to the discussions, Ms Gillard said on Sunday.

"I'd like to see us next Saturday at the Council of Australian Governments put new investment into teacher quality, new investment into disadvantaged schools," Ms Gillard told ABC Television. "Quality teaching is the thing that makes the biggest difference to a child's learning outcomes," she said. "If you want to lift quality, you need to lift teacher quality."

Labor had already made a significant investment in education via its computers in schools program, the introduction of new trades training centres and steps to introduce a national curricula.


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