Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Obama wants more wasteful spending on education

High rates of spending do NOT improve education -- witness D.C., Detroit etc. -- but the emptyhead still thinks it sounds good to throw good money after bad. As long as he is wasting money, he is happy. If he really cared about getting kids educated, he would be pushing for a reversion to the much more effective methods of the past

President Obama will propose a major increase in funding for elementary and secondary education for the coming year in Wednesday's State of the Union address, one of the few areas that would grow in an otherwise austere federal budget, officials said. The proposal to raise federal education spending by as much as $4 billion in the next fiscal year was described by administration officials Tuesday night as the start of an effort to revamp the No Child Left Behind law enacted under President George W. Bush. Obama will highlight his school reform agenda Wednesday in the address.

The funding would include a $1.35 billion increase in Obama's "Race to the Top" competitive grants for school reform. It would also set aside $1 billion to finance an overhaul of No Child Left Behind, according to aides who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the budget proposal before its release next week.

Administration officials said they could not provide a direct comparison to current elementary and secondary education spending levels for No Child Left Behind, but they said federal education spending would rise overall by 6.2 percent.

The 2002 law mandated a huge expansion of standardized testing to measure progress toward closing student achievement gaps -- and imposed sanctions on schools that fall short. That concept has become ingrained in public education, but many experts say the law is overly punitive and ripe for revision. White House and Education Department officials last week convened key Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill to begin developing a road map for revising the law. "It was a very good meeting," said Rep. Michael N. Castle (R-Del.), one of the participants. "It couldn't have been more bipartisan."

The $1 billion fund would be held out as a carrot for a successful legislative conclusion. One top aide to the president described it as an "incentive necessary to implement the kinds of reforms that we believe are necessary."

Obama has encouraged efforts by states to raise school standards and improve testing. Aides said that in his State of the Union speech, the president will make a forceful call for broad reforms of the way school performance is measured and rewarded.

Obama is expected to propose the consolidation of federal education programs. The budget he submits next week will collapse 38 K-12 programs into 11 and eliminate six programs, senior White House aides said.

In higher education, Obama will urge the passage of legislation that would change student lending, eliminating a program that relies on private banks to make federally guaranteed loans. Instead, the government would become the direct lender for all federal student loans. That shift, according to congressional budget analysts, would net the government close to $80 billion over 10 years -- a conclusion sharply disputed by the lending industry. The House passed such legislation in September, but it has been delayed in the Senate.

Obama's budget will propose using [mythical] savings from the student loan overhaul to expand higher-education grants and community college funding, among other programs.

Senior White House aides said the increase in education funding fits into a broader effort by the administration to focus scarce resources on the nation's long-term economic health.

Obama has signaled that he wants tougher academic standards but more flexibility for schools to reach them. His administration has pushed for innovations such as public charter schools, teacher performance pay and stronger data systems to track student growth from pre-kindergarten all the way to college. To jump-start his agenda, the stimulus enacted last year funneled nearly $100 billion into education -- an unprecedented increase meant to help prevent layoffs and spur reform.


British seven-year-olds taught politically correct sexual attitudes

Seven-year-olds will be taught to oppose sexist and homophobic bullying in schools. A shake-up of sex education will also see children learning to ' recognise and challenge stereotypes'. The guidelines on 'promoting equality, inclusion and acceptance of diversity' are a key part of Labour's push to spread sex education to more children. Ministers have ordered that all primary schools should run sex education lessons because of a failure to hit a target of halving the number of teenage pregnancies.

The Government also wants to make sex classes compulsory for 15-year-olds. Ed Balls, the Children's Secretary, launched the guidelines yesterday, saying they would help young people 'understand the importance of marriage and other stable relationships'. They would also equip children to cope with television, the internet, films and magazines which persuade them toward having early sex, he said.

But parenting groups accused Mr Balls of social engineering, saying that lecturing about sexism or homophobia was not required when tackling bad behaviour by children.

The draft guidelines sent out yesterday say that children should be told from the age of five about the difference between bodies of boys and girls. They should also learn ways of keeping safe. Among questions children in their first terms in school will discuss to help them avoid abuse is: 'What is the difference between good touch and bad touch?'

Teaching on diversity will become more specific for pupils from the age of seven. The guidelines said: 'Many people still face unacceptable prejudice and discrimination on the basis of their sexuality or what they look like, and intolerance towards difference needs to be challenged. 'Sex and relationships education is an opportunity to explore the different views that children and young people hold, guided by a welltrained teacher.'

Labour introduced rules in 2000 saying that school sex education should support stable relationships and marriage. Mr Balls said: 'We want to give young people the facts so they can stay safe and healthy. 'We also want young people to understand the importance of marriage and other stable relationships - these are the bedrock of family life, the best way to bring up children and the kind of relationships we want young people to develop as they get older.'

But Norman Wells of Family and Youth Concern said: 'This guidance will confirm the fears of many parents that compulfromsory sex education will be used to indoctrinate their children into thinking that there are no moral absolutes when it comes to sexual expression. 'The vast majority of parents don't want their children's schools to present positive images of homosexuality under the guide of combating homophobic bullying. 'Nor do they want teachers to deny the differences between men and women in the name of addressing sexist bullying. 'It is not necessary to engage in social engineering in order to deal firmly with harsh or unkind words and actions, regardless of what motivates them.'

Mr Balls used the phrase social engineering this month to describe Tory pledges of tax support for married couples.


Australia: Tell off deficient teachers, says Federal education boss

Julia seems to be a lot more conservative than her pre-ministerial record suggested

TEACHERS identified as underperformers by the Government's new school rating system should expect to be roused at by disgruntled parents, the Education Minister, Julia Gillard, says. The My School website, to be launched on Thursday, will allow parents to compare schools and will have enough data to pinpoint specific subject areas of underperformance, potentially identifying the responsible teachers.

Following a briefing on the website yesterday, Ms Gillard told the Herald the Government welcomed the fact that the website would empower parents to badger school staff to lift standards. "We would expect parents to have robust conversations with teachers and principals," she said. Ms Gillard said teachers were already trained to deal with complaints on parent-teacher nights. Now, parents would be armed with even more information with which to complain. "This should put pressure on people," Ms Gillard said.

The Australian Education Union is fiercely opposed to the website, saying it will lead to the publication of league tables and cause schools and students to be stigmatised.

Ms Gillard pointed to more than $2 billion that has been earmarked towards addressing disadvantaged schools, improving teaching standards and lifting literacy and numeracy standards. "We're going to shine a light on some schools that need a helping hand and we are ready to work in partnership with those schools with new money and new programs," she said.

The website will publish a range of information, including national test results, student and staff numbers, and attendance rates for each of the nation's almost 10,000 schools. Each school will be graded using a colour-coded system on its national tests performance in the areas of reading, writing, spelling, grammar and punctuation, and numeracy for years 3, 5, 7 and 9. Each school will be compared with about 60 other schools that cater to "statistically similar" student populations, according to a specially developed Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage. Each school will also be compared against the national average. The website will be updated each September based on results of tests conducted in May.

Ms Gillard accepted that, especially with smaller schools, it would be easy to identify the teachers responsible for subjects for which the school had been poorly marked.

The Australian Education Union, which represents more than 180,000 teachers in government primary and secondary schools, has threatened to boycott this year's national literacy and numeracy tests in protest. The union's federal secretary, Angelo Gavrielatos, said his main concern was for underperforming students who could be just as easily identified as their teachers. "They know full well there will be damage caused to students," he said.

He noted that a set of protocols for school data collection and reporting devised in June by the education ministers omitted from protocols of only a year earlier an ethical principle to guard against harming members of the community. The principle says: "This could occur where the privacy of individuals would be compromised or where the reputation of an institution or group of people would be damaged through the publication of misleading information or stereotyping." Mr Gavrielatos said by "omitting this principle, education ministers conceded that there will be 'harm' to individuals and schools as a result of the creation and publication of league tables".

Barry McGaw, who is chairman of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, which created the My School website, said schools in wealthy communities that were performing below expectations would be exposed. Mr McGaw said it would show which schools in affluent areas were "coasting".


1 comment:

Allen said...

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