Sunday, July 03, 2011

Affirmative Reaction: Texan Wins Scholarship Exclusively Offered to White Males

Storms expected?

There are thousands of different academic scholarships available for those in need coming from traditionally underrepresented demographics in higher education. But what about poor white males? Do they not deserve an opportunity to go to college if fiscally restrained? The Former Majority Association for Equality has awarded its second of five academic scholarships to Brendan Baird based off his demonstration of a high GPA, community service, sports ability, financial need, and the fact that he is a white man.

While the scholarship right now is just a $500 check, the Former Majority Association for Equality plans on expanding their scholarship fund to $25,000 to another 5,000 recipients who may need the money.

“Right now everybody else has their own specific scholarship: Minorities, left-handed people, people who like the color green,” said the group’s vice-president Marcus Carter, who is black. “I don’t feel the animosity of helping this group.”


Florida: Five Steps Forward for School Choice

Florida, already an education reform leader, took further steps this week to expand educational opportunity and provide more school choice for families.

Governor Rick Scott (R), who on Monday signed five bills to broaden educational opportunities for K–12 students, remarked: “Everything we can do to encourage more choice, we should be doing it.”

And Governor Scott is serious about expanding options. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Scott’s bills increase students’ options in a variety of ways, providing more choice between charter, public, virtual, and private schools.

Charter School Choice. High-performing charter schools will now be able to “increase their enrollment by adding additional grades or opening additional branches without the local school board’s approval.” Currently, there are more than 30,000 students on waiting lists for the top-performing Florida charter schools.

Public School Choice. Previously, students attending a failing public school—one which received an “F” grade for two of the four previous years—could transfer to a higher-performing public school. Now, if a student’s school receives a “D” or “F” grade in the previous year, he or she will be able to transfer to a higher-performing public school.

Virtual School Choice. The Florida Virtual School, the nation’s largest online school, will now be able to offer courses for elementary school children, whereas courses were previously limited to middle and high school students.

Private School Choice. The new laws expand private school choice for special-needs students via the state’s McKay Scholarship program. The scholarships, currently limited to children “in the state’s exceptional-education program,” will now be open to students with “504 plans,” or students who have a disability but generally not one that requires the same level of intervention.

The legislation broadens private school choice for low-income students. Corporations that contribute to Florida’s Tax-Credit Scholarship Program—which allows businesses to receive a tax deduction for donations toward private school scholarships for low-income students—will now be able to receive a deduction for up to 100 percent (previously set at 75 percent) “of their state income tax liability.” Encouraging more corporations to participate means more scholarships for more students.

Since Florida implemented a series of education reforms more than 10 years ago to expand school choice, student scores have increased significantly, and the achievement gap between minority and white students is narrowing.

Today, many more states are putting policies similar to Florida’s into place to ensure that parents can choose the school that best meets their child’s needs. As the school choice tide continues to swell, more students and families around the nation will have the power to make the best choices for their children’s academic futures. Florida is once again leading the way, and students in the Sunshine State are the beneficiaries.


British Health and Safety fears are 'taking the joy out of playtime'

Misguided "jobsworths" have turned playgrounds into joyless no-go zones and risk harming children’s education for fear of being sued, the chairman of the Health and Safety Executive has warned.

Bureaucrats were using health and safety rules as a “feeble” excuse to stop people enjoying themselves, Judith Hackitt told The Daily Telegraph. “Cynical” authorities employed them as cover for cost-cutting, she added.

“The creeping culture of risk-aversion and fear of litigation also puts at risk our children’s education and preparation for adult life,” she said. “Children today are denied – often on spurious health and safety grounds – many of the formative experiences that shaped my generation. “Playgrounds have become joyless, for fear of a few cuts and bruises. Science in the classroom is becoming sterile and uninspiring.”

Miss Hackitt said the “gloves are off” and her organisation would target officials or employers who wrongly used health and safety to stop everyday activities. “In many cases, the people behind these unreasonable rulings are well-meaning but misguided jobsworths. They may have the public interest at heart but they simply make the wrong call,” she said.

“But a trend of far more concern to me is the use of health and safety as a convenient excuse by employers and other organisations cynically looking for a way to disguise their real motives.” These included concerns over the cost or complexity of an activity, requirements for insurance, and, “most of all”, a fear of being sued for personal injury.

That had nothing to do with health and safety law and but related to the rise of no-win, no-fee claims, she added.

A litany of what she called “daft decisions” in recent years has included ordering children to wear goggles to play conkers, banning running at a pancake race and stopping firefighters using the station pole.

Miss Hackitt’s intervention came as Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, told teachers yesterday not to cancel school trips because of “misguided” concerns. The Department for Education cut its guidance on health and safety for schools from 150 pages to eight.

Miss Hackitt spoke to the Telegraph after publicly criticising Wimbledon authorities for closing Murray Mount, where fans watch on a big screen, because of fears that people would slip.

She said: “Health and safety has surely become one of the most well-worn and dispiriting phrases in the English language. From news reports to TV dramas, it has become convenient shorthand for someone, somewhere, stopping someone from doing something they want to. “Our message to bureaucrats who perpetuate these myths is clear. Own your own decisions. “Don’t use health and safety law as a convenient scapegoat or we will challenge you.”


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