Thursday, September 15, 2011

Class Warfare, Pandering Dominate Phone Call Between Biden, Teachers Unions

Ridiculously false choices and rhetoric ruled the evening when the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers hosted a closed-media conference call with Vice President Joe Biden to inform their members about the latest government school and teachers’ union bailout.

In a recording obtained exclusively by, Biden explained the administration is seeking to spend $30 billion to create a “Teacher Layoff Prevention Fund.” He also said that many schools today are “deciding whether or not to heat the school or keep a teacher.”

Like school stimuli-past, Biden said schools would not be able to bank the money, but would be required to spend it. “It’s to be able to keep you at work and even rehire teachers,” he told the unions. So the Obama administration – yet again – is setting up a situation where the problem will be the same next year and the administration will have to propose another bailout or the school sky will fall in and even more kids will graduate unable to read.

Obama’s proposal includes $10 billion for the 100 “largest, high need public school districts” to use for renovations. So just prior to the election, the administration is proposing to spend $100 million in communities that traditionally vote for Democrats. Coincidence?

It’s vitally necessary and these jobs (no really, these jobs) truly are “shovel-ready,” Biden contends. In some schools, students “must often dodge falling ceiling tiles and scattering roaches and bathrooms that are missing.” Not just missing doors, but completely gone!

In others, “raw waste spews into the halls after the sewage line burst, 29 kids squeezing into rooms built for 20, etc.” Biden said.

But there is resistance and skewed priorities, according to Biden. (You wouldn’t think a call with the Obama administration and the teachers’ unions wouldn’t be complete without a little class warfare rhetoric, would you?)

“The corporations are fat with money out there” and the reason they aren’t spending it to create jobs is because “they don’t think there are going to be customers to be there to buy because they don’t have jobs or they have stagnant incomes…”

Naturally, it’s the businesses’ fault. The reality is business owners are unsure of the tax, regulatory and ObamaCare liability environment, so they’re sitting tight. Businesses are cautious when there is instability, which the Obama administration has created.

Nevertheless, Biden, like the typical liberal, sets up false choices. “As the president’s said, you know, we have to have priorities. It’s not that we are against people getting tax breaks who are wealthy, I mean, it’s just about being fair.”
“Thirty billion dollars to hire back or keep a total of 280,000 teachers employed. We can either do that, or we can continue to give a $37 billion tax break…to the oil companies, who are doing incredibly well, don’t need our help, said they didn’t, but our Republican colleagues and a few Democrats have said they’re going to continue that tax break – that loophole – for gas and oil. It’s not needed.

“We can spend $37 billion continuing this loophole or $30 billion for 280,000 teachers in the classroom.”

The others on the leftist list of boogeymen didn’t escape unscathed.
“We can modernize our 35,000 schools or we can keep letting hedge fund managers – and they’re not bad guys – but hedge fund managers pay at 15 percent tax. You guys pay at 28 percent or higher. And it’s a $20 billion a year tax break allowing them to avoid ordinary income taxes. … It’s just not fair.

“What do you want to do? Keep that tax loophole that costs $20 billion a year or modernize 35,000 public schools and put people to work?”

Oil companies? Check. Hedge fund managers? Check. Who’s left? Oh yeah, corporate jet owners.
“We can either keep cops and firefighters on the job, which we do in this bill – there’s a total of $5 billion for them combined – or you can give corporate jet owners a special tax break. … That costs $3 billion, that one tax loophole, for corporate jet owners. They’re not bad guys, I don’t care if they have jets, but why in God’s name are we going to spend $3 billion to give them that tax break…?”

Another apparent injustice is the paltry fee for corporate jets to file a flight plan, according to Biden. It’s supposedly much cheaper than for a commercial airline to do the same. Biden contends $12 billion can be raised by increasing the fee to $100.

NEA president Dennis Van Roekel fawned all over Biden. “The NEA, we are proud to stand with this administration. We recognize the unwavering commitment you have made to working families and students,” said in response.

AFT president Ranid Weigarten assured Biden the unions would be there for the Obama administration. “…The president has put together a very granular, very concrete bill…to actually put people back to work.”
“Now it’s for us to try to get this done. Create the pressure we know educators can do to say, look – we can’t, you know – there’s an election in 14 months from now but this is an opportunity to get this done, paid for with shared sacrifice – shared responsibility – of those who happen to be more fortunate than most people on this call and this is that opportunity.

“And speaking for the AFT, Mr. Vice President, then I’ll stop, we will do whatever we can to help create the…advocacy to do this.”

So on behalf of the administration, the NEA and AFT will begin the work of selling yet another bailout for government-run schools. A bailout, of course, which would produce $35.4 million in dues for the NEA and $13.1 million for the AFT.


'Outstanding' British schools that should only be rated average: Education Secretary wants focus on standard of teaching

More than half of secondary schools and nearly one in four primaries officially rated ‘outstanding’ do not deserve the accolade, the Education Secretary has warned.

Michael Gove highlighted the shame of Ofsted inspections, revealing 410 schools were rated ‘outstanding’ when the quality of their teaching is not.

Disturbingly, they have been given a reprieve from the dreaded inspections unless one is triggered by a dramatic slump in grades – reducing incentives to raise teaching standards.

Inspectors rank schools on 18 factors, some of them woolly and only one of which refers to ‘quality of teaching and learning’.

These include ‘the extent to which pupils adopt healthy lifestyles’, ‘the extent to which pupils feel safe’, and ‘the effectiveness with which school promotes equal opportunity and tackles discrimination’.

Some 150 secondary schools were given the top rating by inspectors last year – even though they failed to score high marks for their teaching. And 260 primaries were similarly trumpeted after inspectors found their teaching was just ‘satisfactory’, or ‘good’.

Under Ofsted, nearly one in ten secondaries, 9 per cent, are ranked outstanding. But Mr Gove has pointed out that the true percentage is just 4 per cent.

And for primaries, Ofsted figures claim 7 per cent are outstanding, while just 5 per cent actually have outstanding teaching. The revelation means 410 schools could be downgraded from ‘outstanding’ to ‘good’.

The stark warning reveals tens of thousands of parents – who fight to ensure they secure the best possible education for their children – are being misled. And it highlights the devastatingly low level of excellent teaching in schools.

Mr Gove’s comments coincide with a report, by exam board Pearson, which shows a resounding 97 per cent of parents believe quality of teaching is the most important factor about a school.

The Education Secretary, in a damning indictment of inspections, has called for an urgent review.

‘It is a worry to me that so many schools that are still judged as “outstanding” overall when they have not achieved an outstanding “teaching and learning”, he told the National College’s Teaching Schools conference in Nottingham. ‘I intend to ask the new Chief Inspector to look at this issue and report back to me with recommendations.’

The method of inspecting schools was introduced by Labour in 2005. They are given an overall ranking by Ofsted following an inspection – outstanding, good, satisfactory or inadequate. It is this ranking that is widely published to parents and plastered over websites.

Last night Rob Bristow, president of exam board Pearson, said inspections must be brought in line with the concerns of parents. ‘When our report asked parents what the most important factors were in choosing their child’s school, an overwhelming 97 per cent told us that their impression of teaching quality was important,’ he said.

‘Parental choices aren’t based solely on exam performance and league tables. ‘They want to be sure that their child receives the very best teaching, to help them reach their potential. This needs to be reflected in the information parents receive.’

The shameful over-inflation of hundreds of schools was also damned by former chief inspector of Ofsted, Christine Gilbert, before she stepped down in June.

The most recent Ofsted annual report highlights the shocking lack of good teaching. It states: ‘The quality of teaching is still too variable.’

Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, said: ‘It’s concerning that quality of the teaching is hidden beneath the outstanding rating especially as those schools are not due to be re-inspected. ‘I hope the Government will rethink its decision not to inspect outstanding schools to ensure they are achieving the highest possible levels of teaching quality.’


British teacher on trial for allegedly pushing and hitting 'rude and defiant' pupil who swore at him

An assistant headmaster was put on trial today accused of assaulting a ‘rude and defiant’ teenage girl. Science teacher William Stuart, 47, was angry that the 15-year-old pupil ignored his instructions to stay behind after food was smeared on the wall of the school canteen, a court heard.

He is accused of following her into a corridor where allegedly he grabbed her arm and caused her to fall over before pushing her against coat pegs. She then swore at him. The teenager complained to police five days after the incident at Graham School, Scarborough, in March. Three days later, Stuart was suspended.

He denied a charge of assault at the town’s magistrates court. He has an unblemished career spanning 23 years and five schools, and if convicted he could be forced to quit teaching.

The girl, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, told the court a friend had smeared icing from a sticky bun on the canteen wall. When the group went to leave, she said she heard Stuart shouting: ‘Get back into the hall you three.’

She told him: ‘No, I’m not coming back because I’m not involved,’ and walked away. The girl claimed the teacher was ‘really angry’ and said: ‘How dare you walk away from me?’ But she said she ignored him and went upstairs.

‘He was coming up behind me quite fast, he was still angry and shouting,’ she added. ‘He came up beside me, put his arm on the banister and wouldn’t let me get past. ‘I turned to get away, but he kept trying to get in front of me to block my path. He was still shouting, “Stop, don’t walk away from me.” ‘I was scared because he wasn’t shouting like a teacher, collected and calm, trying to get the situation under control.’

The teenager said she managed to get up the stairs and into a corridor. ‘He lunged at me with his hand, grabbed my upper right arm and pulled me towards him. I spun round, hit a wall and fell down. ‘I was shocked because I know teachers aren’t supposed to make that sort of contact with a student. I felt scared and wanted to get away. He then grabbed my right arm again and forced me to my feet.’

The teenager claimed Stuart ‘used force and aggression’ to pull her up, adding: ‘We were facing each other and he grabbed my shoulders and pushed me backwards into coat pegs. It really hurt my back when I hit the pegs.’

The girl said she then swore at him and pushed him out of the way. Prosecutor Jessica Strange also told the court the teacher hit the girl ‘again in the back before she ran away down the corridor’.

The pupil went to the school office and reported the incident before being taken home by her mother.She claimed she was left with red marks the size of 50p pieces on her lower and upper back and her right arm.

Ian Glen QC, defending, accused her of telling lies about what happened and ‘exaggerating grossly’. He told the girl: ‘You were out of control that day with anger and defiance weren’t you?’ She replied: ‘No.’

Mr Glen told the court 19 incidents were detailed in the school’s bad behaviour log from September 2009 to July 2011 about the girl’s poor attitude in class and on school grounds. The court also heard the girl has already been excluded this term after assaulting another pupil.

She admitted defying a rule not to wear hoodies at school. She has also been involved in incidents of throwing food and Plasticine and was repeatedly described by different teachers as ‘rude and defiant’.

Colleague David Thompson said of Stuart: ‘He upholds standards in the school and will not tolerate disobedience or misbehaviour, but will work with students to overcome difficulties.’


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