Monday, August 29, 2011

NJ: Princeton bars freshmen from Greek system

The idea that you can stop students from getting drunk is a laugh. And most universities encourage student clubs of various sorts -- as long as they are not Christian, of course. Universities always have been and always will be an important social experience

Princeton University president Shirley Tilghman is banning freshmen from joining fraternities and sororities as of the 2012-2013 year, after an internal report said the groups encourage exclusivity and alcohol abuse.

Members of sororities and fraternities will also be forbidden from any form of “rush,’’ or recruitment, of freshman students, the Princeton, N.J.-based school said in a statement on its website. Upperclassmen won’t be stopped from joining the groups, said Cass Cliatt, a university spokeswoman.

While about 15 percent of Princeton undergraduates participate in sororities and fraternities, the organizations are not recognized by the university, do not have residential houses, and have been prohibited during much of the school’s history.

The report on campus social life produced last year by a 13-member panel of students, faculty, and staff said that the groups lead students to narrow, rather than expand, their set of friendships.

But Jake Nebel, a Princeton junior who is master of the school’s Alpha Epsilon Pi chapter, argued that fraternities and sororities, often called Greek societies because they are named for Greek letters, do not limit students’ contact with others, and in fact help them expand their relationships.

“Developing close friendships is both difficult and important during freshman year, and Greek societies serve that purpose for the large number of students who are interested in them,’’ he said in an e-mailed response to questions.

Supporters of the societies suggested a compromise that would allow freshmen to join the groups in their second semester of school, Nebel said.


Next lot of British High School exam results will 'mark end of Labour Party's grade inflation'

GCSE results out today will signal the end to decades of relentless ‘grade inflation’ as rigour is returned to the education system, experts believe. Teenagers receiving their results will pass close to a quarter of their exams at grades A or A* – three times the number of those receiving As two decades ago – before the A* was introduced.

But although the grades will be the best in the exam’s history, they will show only a minor improvement compared with previous years. And assessment experts believe pass rates and rates of top grades will eventually plateau in 2012 before falling in 2013.

The ‘significant slowdown’ – after 23 years of rampant increases – marks the end of Labour’s ‘we shall all have prizes’ culture, and has been attributed to measures designed to end the dumbing-down of exams.

In the past year, the culture of endless re-sits has been axed, easy-to-plagiarise course work slashed and exam boards made to penalise pupils for poor spelling and grammar. Under Labour, pupils could score an A* in

More pupils this year have sat tougher subjects following the Coalition’s attempt to remove a ‘perverse incentive’ for schools to teach pupils soft, easy-to-pass subjects.

Previously, a BTEC in ICT was considered equivalent to four GCSEs for the purpose of league table performance. The end of grade inflation at GCSE mirrors the halt in A-level inflation seen last week. Although overall A-level pass rates improved very slightly, the proportion of top grades awarded stagnated.

Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, said the results herald the end of ‘grade inflation’. He added: ‘A chief factor could be the attitudes of examiners who saw it as their duty, under Labour, to help the Government achieve its targets by awarding top grades to more teens. But now the Coalition is in power the focus has shifted from targets to rigour.

‘The Government has also introduced measures to make exams more tough, such as ending the culture of re-sits.’

Some 750,000 teenagers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are receiving GCSE grades today. Overall almost 70 per cent will have an A* to C, 23 per cent an A* or A, and close to 8 per cent an A*.

The results will also show the gender gap is closing, largely due to the scrapping of course work. Girls tend to work ‘harder and more consistently’ than boys, Prof Smithers said, and therefore score higher in course work, now replaced by ongoing assessment by teachers.

For years Labour had been accused of dumbing-down GCSEs. When the A* was first awarded in 1994, just 2.9 per cent of pupils achieved it compared with 8 per cent now. In 1994, 12.9 per cent scored an A or A*, compared with 23 per cent now.

General Secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers Russell Hobby, said: ‘Grade inflation was a symptom of extremely high stakes. Everyone has been involved in gaming the system, from politicians to exam boards, to teachers to pupils. But when this is done a lot is sacrificed.’

A Government source said: ‘We’re restoring rigour to GCSEs by getting rid of modules and reintroducing marks for spelling and grammar that Labour disgracefully removed.’


First-Grader Faces In-School Suspension for Growing Hair Long to Donate to Cancer Victims

I suspect this kid is being used by an attention-seeking mother. Dress codes are helpful to discipline

A 6-year-old boy was placed into in-school suspension during his first week of elementary school in San Antonio, Texas, for violating the school dress code, reports.

The school claims the boy's long hair and diamond earring do not meet school requirements. According to the district's parent-student handbook, boys cannot wear earrings and hair must be kept neat, clean and well-groomed.

The boy's mother, Kandi Shand, says Gareth was growing his hair out so he could donate it to Locks of Love, a non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to cancer victims. "He'll be sitting in the principal's office every day," Shand told Kens5.

Gareth's earring is a small diamond, which he has worn for five years with no problems. The family recently moved from South Carolina to Texas.

Gareth says his classmates tease him about his earring. "I like diamonds," he told Kens5. Shand vows to fight the Blanco Independent School District to allow her son to wear his diamond earring, reports.


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