Thursday, September 24, 2009

Crazy ideas in NYC

Failing kids are going to have to go to school on Saturday? If the first 5 days of the week do no good, how is another half-day going to help? And how are you going to get such kids to school on Saturday? Nobody has much of a clue in NYC. All sides are ignoring the elephant in the room: discipline failures

During an education policy speech at Pace University Tuesday night, City Comptroller Bill Thompson claimed the city's schools are going in the wrong direction. "My friends, it's time for change. The current administration has had eight years to get the job done on education," Thompson said.

The Democratic Mayoral candidate once again took on Mayor Michael Bloomberg's signature issue, and this time offered a plan on what he would do differently. Thompson is calling for universal pre-K, as well as a longer school year for failing students. "Some students may require more time and assistance on certain tasks," Thompson said. "The school week and school year should be extended for these students, including Saturday school."

Chris Cerf, an education advisor for the Bloomberg campaign, listened to the speech and quickly dismissed some of the proposals. "I didn't hear anything in that speech that suggested, that would lead anyone to believe that what were very vague and hopeful promises that would actually be executed," Cerf said.

Team Bloomberg said a longer school day could cost tens of billions of dollars. The Thompson campaign didn't have an estimate, but one supporter said the expense would be worth it. "It may cost hundreds of million dollars. Let's assume it costs a billion dollars. The fact is, Bill Thompson has expressed this has his priority," said City Councilman Robert Jackson.

Education has become one of the most contentious issues in the race. Even before Thompson's speech, the mayor raised questions about the Democrat's time as head of the old board of education.

"The issue for voters really is clear. If you think the schools are better today than they were under my opponent's leadership then you should vote for me," said Bloomberg. "And if you think that they were better when he ran the Board of Education then you should vote for him. And I wonder whether he'd be willing to say the same thing. Don't know."

Thompson ducked the mayor's criticism by saying the race should be about a variety of issues. But it's clear education is going to be at the center of campaign.


The Leftist war on British education continues apace

Sacked for exposing the bullies: Dinner lady fired for telling parents girl had been whipped. If you can't prevent violent behaviour, cover it up is the British response

A school dinner lady who told the parents of a seven-year-old girl that she had been viciously bullied in the playground has been sacked. Scott and Claire David were simply informed in a letter home that their daughter Chloe had been 'hurt' in an incident with a skipping rope. In fact, she had been tied to a fence, whipped by four boys, had to be dragged to safety and suffered burns to her wrists.

But the attempted cover-up was exposed when Carol Hill - the dinner lady who saved her from further injury - bumped into Mr and Mrs David and told them what really happened. Mrs Hill, 60, was suspended after the incident in June and yesterday it emerged that she has been fired by a disciplinary tribunal for breaching pupil confidentiality at Great Tey Primary School, near Colchester, Essex.

The decision has been condemned by the girl's family, who were prevented from giving evidence on Mrs Hill's behalf. Other parents at the school are considering withdrawing their children in protest.

Friends say that Mrs Hill, from Great Tey, who has worked at the school for almost eight years, is 'shocked and very disappointed' but is planning to appeal. One said: 'She thinks she's been treated really shabbily but she insists that if she saw a child being bullied again she would definitely step in like she did.' Her husband, Ron, said: 'She's not been eating and has been really down. I can't describe how cross I am. I can't believe it's got this far. She's done nothing wrong.'

Mrs Hill has previously told how another pupil alerted her to the bullying incident. She found Chloe bound up and terrified. She said: 'She had eight knots around her wrists and had been whipped across the legs with a skipping rope. I took her back into the school, along with four boys who had been seen with her. Two admitted it.'

Mr and Mrs David say Chloe, who had rope burns to her wrists and whip marks on her legs, was sent home with an accident notification letter. They could not find out what exactly had happened as she was in shock and refused to talk about it. Later that evening, Mrs Hill was helping at a Beaver Scouts meeting and went over to Mrs David to say she was sorry about what happened. Speaking in July, she said: 'As I was talking to her it became clear she did not know the whole story. I had to tell her because she then realised there was more to it.'

Mr and Mrs David have since withdrawn Chloe and their five-year-old son, Cameron, from the school. They say that if Mrs Hill had not told them, they would never have been alerted to what had really happened. They later demanded to see the school's accident book which stated that Chloe had been tied up.

Mr David, 33, a steel worker, said last night: 'I'm disgusted and shocked that Mrs Hill has been sacked and I'm disgusted that the school has been able to cover everything up. 'It was her job to make sure that children's welfare was being looked after. That's what she did but she's now being punished for doing her job properly. 'We back Mrs Hill totally. She did not realise we did not know all the facts. We should have done - we should have been called into the school.' He added: 'Chloe seems to be doing OK now. She seems to have bounced back better than us. We're still trying to cope with what happened.'

Many parents are backing the dinner lady and want her to be reinstated. Sue Dyer and her husband Ivan, 50, a horticultural engineer, have five children at Great Tey Primary School. Mrs Dyer said: 'The way Carol's been treated is totally unjust. I would put total trust in her ability to look after my children. 'Carol is 100 per cent for children, she is a very popular figure in the village and the school. 'The children think Carol's coming back - they keep asking, when is Mrs Hall back?'

Mrs Dyer said that if the headteacher had informed Chloe's parents about the full extent of the bullying in the first instance, the trouble would have been avoided. Margaret Morrissey, of family campaign group Parents Outloud, said: 'I'm absolutely sure she was just trying to act in the best interests of the child. 'I doubt if there's anyone who knew what had happened who wouldn't want to sympathise. I'm sure that parents will be very upset to hear that she's lost her job over it.'

Headmistress Debbie Crabb has insisted that Chloe's parents were told of the incident according to school 'accident and first aid procedures'. But she said the procedures would be reviewed. She said yesterday: 'We can confirm that subject to any appeal Mrs Hill will not be returning to work at Great Tey Primary School.'


British universities to end 'irrelevant' research

This is reasonable as long as basic science is not affected

The days of university researchers developing formulas for the perfect cheese sandwich or signing up for David Beckham studies may be numbered after the government’s higher education funding body announced plans to tighten its criteria for research grants. Academics will be required to demonstrate that their research is relevant to society in order to be allocated public funds and the biggest grants will go to projects likely to influence the economy or public policy. Critics say the plan, due to come into force in 2012, will sacrifice academic freedoms to market forces.

The plans are due to be announced today by the Higher Education Funding Council for England. It will allocate £1.76bn a year in government funds for academic research under the Research Excellence Framework. From 2012, university departments must submit their work to be rated by a panel of academics. Marks will be awarded, 25 per cent for the impact the research will have and 15 per cent for the department’s research strategy, staff and student development and its engagement with the wider world.

The Hefce said the system would pay out for research in the arts and humanities as well as science and technology.

But Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, told The Guardian: “Academic research should never be at the behest of market forces. “History has taught us that some of the biggest breakthroughs have come from speculative research and it is wrong to try and measure projects purely on their economic potential.”

David Sweeney, Hefce’s director for research, said: “The Research Excellence Framework will recognise and reward excellent research and sharing new knowledge to the benefit of the economy and society, and will ensure effective allocation of public funds. “It will encourage the productive interchange of research staff and ideas between academia and business, government and other sectors.”

Under the previous funding allocation system, universities were able to take on star academics at the last minute to boost their research performance.


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