Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A teacher replies

The public, the politicians and the media should be ashamed of the hatchet job they have done on the teaching profession.

As a teacher I am appalled, particularly by the actions of Republican politicians such as Scott Walker. Teachers are the new scapegoats. They have implied teachers don't work that hard, and they use lower socio-economic schools' failing test scores as an example. Did you know that in Finland (The World's Most Literate Country) if you were to go to an area where there are poor people and you were to test their children, you would find America's poorest school is still better.

Finland, The World's Most Literate Country, has students performing lower in reading and writing than an American school. How is that possible? According to these politicians, America is in trouble.

Well, Finland only tests 60 percent of their students. So yes, Finland's top 60 percent score better on the average than the 95 percent of American students that take a similar test.

In China, only 4 percent of the population takes a similar test. Most countries start weeding out their students with a lower level of intelligence as early as elementary.

In America we do not believe in Leaving Children Behind, everybody gets an equal education. This is where the game of politics enters and everything gets spun.

The truth is we spend roughly $800 billion a year on education. We spend more per pupil than any other country. This is where they have a field day and ask the $800 billion question. Since we spend more $7,700 per pupil (on the average about $2,000 more than Finland and $4,000 more than Japan) shouldn't we have a higher literacy rate and smarter citizens.

These politicians point fingers at teachers. They point to low income areas and they say, "That school is failing. America is in trouble." Did you know there's a direct correlation between poverty and low test scores? Even in Finland. Did you know education is a four-legged chair? Student. Teacher. Parent. Administrator. Did you know it takes a village to raise a child?

This year Hawaii teachers will be taking another pay cut. Perhaps we deserve it. Perhaps it is a shared sacrifice of hard economic times. And perhaps the American Institution of Learning is not as poor as many of these politicians and the media would like you to believe.


Christian Group Attempts to Overturn California Gay Education Law

A California-based conservative group has filed documents in an attempt to overturn a law that adds gay history to the state's public school curriculum.

The controversial law, which California Governor Jerry Brown signed on July 14, states that beginning January 1, public schools in California must teach students about the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans as part of the social sciences curriculum.

The group, the Capitol Resource Institute (CRI), is a socially conservative organization that has dedicated itself to fight against efforts by California officials to increase the rights of the homosexual community.

The group would have to collect 433,971 signatures to bring about a referendum, which would allow voters to decide whether or not to keep the law in place. The legislative director of the organization, Paulo Sibaja claims to already have the required number of signatures to allow a vote, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Sibaja has scheduled a news conference for Wednesday to further explain details of a referendum on the issue, and how the proposed change will be financed.

Many parents are furious that their children will subjected to lessons on gay and lesbian history, and have expressed concern that the gay agenda will continue to push for more influence in the state.

Blogger Mike Denny writes, “How long until they have Gay Sexual Education forced on our kids. How about a field trip to the Gay Pride Parade! Oh what the hell, how about we all take the kids to a Gay Bathhouse. Maybe the really good kids can spend the night in Barney Franks basement.”

A number of church groups and religious organizations have also expressed their discontent over the passing of the law.

Rev. Louis Sheldon, chairman and founder of Traditional Values Coalition, an inter-denominational public policy organization, states, “It is an outrage that Governor Jerry Brown has opened the classroom door for homosexual activists to indoctrinate the minds of California’s youth, since no factual materials would be allowed to be presented.”

He continues, “By signing SB 48 ... California’s classrooms, textbooks and instructional materials will all become pro-homosexual promotion tools. If parents don’t already have their children out of public schools, this should cause them to remove them.”

Institutor of the bill, Senator Sen. Mark Leno, feels that CRI’s request for the bill change will fall on deaf ears.

"I think it will be a challenge for them to get the signatures… If they succeed in that, I bet Californians reject it,” Leno told the San Francisco Chronicle.


Top British students concentrated in just 12 elite universities

An English "Ivy League" consisting of just a handful of leading universities could develop as a result of Government plans to shake-up higher education, figures suggest.

Data published for the first time shows that more than half of students with the best A-level grades are currently concentrated in just 12 elite institutions.

Some 26,121 out of 50,712 students who gained at least two As and a B took up places at a dozen of the country’s top universities, including Manchester, Durham, Oxford, Cambridge and Nottingham.

The remainder of bright students living in the UK are shared between some 145 other universities, further education colleges and specialist art and music institutions, according to data published by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

The disclosure underlines the extent to which a small number of elite institutions dominate higher education in England.

It also suggests these universities will be best placed to expand even further as part of Government plans to allow institutions to admit unlimited numbers of the brightest undergraduates. Under the current system, universities have their total numbers of students capped by Government.

But proposals set out in last month's Higher Education White Paper will allow universities to recruit as many AAB students as they wish from 2012. The move comes as part of a plan to generate more competition between universities and give students a greater choice over where to study.

The reforms are expected to starve mid-ranking competitors of many top recruits – possibly forcing them to lower their fees from the maximum £9,000.

Today, a leading academic warned that the move also risked discriminating against students from deprived backgrounds who are considerably less likely to gain good grades.

Sir Steve Smith, president of Universities UK, said these institutions should be allowed to make use of “contextual admissions” – a system in which pupils from poor-performing schools are admitted with lower A-level grades to recognise the extra effort they make to get good results. "Proposals to create more places for students with at least AAB A-level grades must explicitly allow universities to use contextual data in the admissions process,” he said.

"In terms of the most selective courses, it remains the case that some under-represented students often do not have the grades required. It's critical therefore that the sector continues its outreach work."

Data from Hefce shows the number and proportion of top students admitted to each university in 2009/10. It shows that the highest number of AAB students attend Manchester, Durham, Oxford, Cambridge, Nottingham, Leeds, Exeter, Bristol, Warwick, Birmingham, Sheffield and Southampton. Figures also show 99 per cent of Oxford and Cambridge's UK students in 2009/10 achieved at least AAB – the highest rate in the country.

Imperial College in London admitted 944 students with AAB, equating to 96 per cent of their intake, while 93 per cent of students at the London School of Economics – 617 in total – had these grades.

Institutions with high proportions of AAB students are the most likely to benefit from the Coalition’s higher education reforms, although some may not take advantage of it.


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