Thursday, October 20, 2011

Don't worry if your child fails to make the grade at age 11: Teens' IQs 'can leap during adolescence'

It has long been known that IQ does not peak until about age 16 so it is hard to see what's news below. What would be news would be if relative positions had changed drastically but that does not seem to be reported. If some relative positions changed, race would have to be held constant in examining that as blacks both mature younger and peak in IQ (at a lower level) younger.

No journal is cited as the source of this study so it may well be a trial balloon that has not yet passed peer review. The author does not list the paper in her CV

If your teenager is struggling at school, don’t write off their chances of academic glory. Researchers have found they could still turn out to be the next Einstein because IQs can change significantly during adolescence.

In some cases, they can go up by more than 20 points – the difference between an above-average score of 120 and a highly gifted child at 140 – though they can also fall by up to 18 points.

University College London researchers tested pupils between the ages of 12 and 16 in 2004, with scores ranging from 77 to 135. Four years later, scores were between 87 and 143, but with some major changes in individuals.

Not only was there a significant change in written tests but brain scans confirmed those who had improved their score had more grey matter. The tests suggest children who perform poorly at school in their early teens may still be high-achievers.

Researchers measured each person’s verbal IQ using standard tests in maths, English, memory and general knowledge, and also their non-verbal IQ, measured by identifying missing elements of a picture and solving visual puzzles.

In brain scans, increases in verbal IQ were accompanied by an increase in grey matter in the part of the brain which is activated when you articulate speech, called the left motor cortex. A rise in non-verbal IQ saw more grey matter develop in the anterior cerebellum – associated with hand movements.

Sue Ramsden, who lead the study, said: ‘We found a clear correlation between this change in performance and changes in the structure of their brain and can say with some certainty that these changes in IQ are real.’

Meanwhile, Professor Cathy Price told the journal Nature: ‘We have a tendency to assess children and determine their course of education relatively early in life, but here we have shown that their intelligence is likely to be still developing.’

A recent study, also by UCL neuroscientists, found a part of the brain called the hippocampus which plays an important in memory and navigation is far denser in the brains of London taxi drivers than other people.

Prof Price recently showed people in Columbia who grew up in remote areas and had learned to read as adults had a higher density of grey matter in several areas of the brain than those who had not learned to read.


The EduJobs III Bailout

Michelle Malkin

One of my son's Suzuki violin teachers had a wise twist on an old saying: "If at first you don't succeed, try something else." The corollary? "When you do succeed, don't stop. Do it again." The White House could use some remedial Suzuki lessons in economics. They've got everything completely bass-ackward.

In February 2009, President Obama signed the trillion-dollar American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Nearly $115 billion was earmarked for education. The stimulator-in-chief's crack team of Ivy League economists predicted the law would hold the jobless rate under 8.5 percent.

The actual unemployment rate in October 2009 skyrocketed to a whopping 10.2 percent.

In August 2010, President Obama went back to the well. With deep-pocketed public employee unions by his side, he lobbied hard for the so-called "EduJobs" bill -- $26 billion more to bail out bankrupt states, school districts and public hospitals. Nearly half went to teachers, whose unions raked in an estimated $50 million in rank-and-file dues as a result. Obama's economists had promised the jobless rate would be down to 7.9 percent by then.

The actual unemployment rate in August 2010 was 9.6 percent.

Now, after the Senate rejected President Rerun's latest half-trillion-dollar stimulus proposal, Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are pushing for a "mini" $30 billion union jobs package for teachers (with $5 billion to mollify police and firefighters unions). In addition to funding fantastical green school construction jobs (earmarked for unionized-only contractors in an industry that is 85 percent nonunion), the EduJobs III bill will purportedly "save" 400,000 education jobs at an average cost of nearly $80,000 per job. Those will be paid for with a 0.5 percent surtax on millionaires. The job-savings estimates come from the same economic wunderkinds who predicted the jobless rate today would be 7.1 percent.

The actual unemployment rate reported this month is 9.1 percent. While the White House decries layoffs, the inconvenient truth is that the EduJobs III union payoff is a drop in the bucket compared to the millions laid off in the private sector. According to official government statistics, the share of the eligible population now holding a job has sunk to 58.1 percent, the lowest since July 1983.

So, where did all the original EduJobs money go? One survey by the Center on Education Policy found that much of the cash went to bolster fringe benefits and administrative staff. The Fordham Institute's education analyst Chris Tessone noted: "There is no reason to expect anything but business as usual from another round of subsidies. ... More subsidies just protect the status quo at great expense to taxpayers."

While strapped, reckless-spending school districts bemoan the edge of the federal "funding cliff," another chunk of the EduJobs money went to states that didn't even need it -- and had kept their teacher payrolls full through responsible fiscal stewardship. As education journalist Chris Moody reported last summer, states including North Dakota, Tennessee, Arkansas and Alaska whose budgets are in the black received tens of millions in superfluous school subsidies. "Arkansas," Moody found, "has a fully funded teaching staff for the coming year, but the state will still receive up to $91 million for teaching jobs."

In Alaska, school districts had already made hiring decisions for teachers and apportioned the children in each class based upon those numbers. Nevertheless, to fulfill their teachers union-pandering mission, Obama showered the state with $24 million under the bill -- money that a state education bureaucrat acknowledged "probably would not go to adding new teachers."

Other states, such as Illinois and West Virginia, raked in hundreds of millions more in EduJobs dough even though they hadn't yet burned through 2009 education stimulus money. In fact, a total of 20 states and the District of Columbia have spent less than 5 percent of their allotments, according to Education Week magazine.

An Obama education official helpfully suggested that the unneeded money be spent on "on-campus therapists" instead.

Many other school districts failed to heed warnings against binging on full-time hiring sprees with temporary funding. Education Week reported this spring that the New Hanover County (N.C.) school district used $4.8 million in short-term EduJobs money to fund 88 teaching positions, in addition to more than 100 classroom slots funded with 2009 stimulus tax dollars. Obama and the Democrats blame meanie Republicans for the fiscal emergencies these districts now face.

But who devoured the Beltway candy instead of eating their peas? Washington rewards bloated school pensions, Taj Mahal construction outlays and chronic local education budget shortfalls by pouring more money down their sinkholes. Instead of incentivizing fixes, politicians -- dependent on teachers union campaign contributions and human shield photo-ops -- incentivize more failure.

The solution to this vicious cycle of profligacy? It's elementary: Try something else.


UN Schools Face Palestinian Heat for Trying to Teach Holocaust

A new report by MEMRI, the Middle East Media Research Institute, describes a “fiery debate” between the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) and the Palestinian teachers it employs over the agency’s attempt to teach about the Holocaust to the 220,000 children in its Gaza schools.

The report quotes one Palestinian group calling Holocaust studies “a lie fabricated by Zionists” and a Hamas legislator labeling teaching it a “war crime.”

Trying to calm Palestinians protests, then head of UNRWA in Gaza said two years ago the Holocaust would be taught alongside studies about the Palestinian “Nakba” – the 1948 “catastrophe” of the founding of the State of Israel. (Raising the question: was a UN official suggesting a moral equivalency between the Nazi murder of six million Jews and the experience of Palestinians when seven Arab armies refused to recognize the new Jewish State and instead launched war on Israel?)

MEMRI describes UNRWA’s efforts in its refugee camps in Jordan which haven’t fared much better: "In early 2011, UNRWA announced plans to add Holocaust studies to the curriculum of its schools in Jordan, as well, but in light of opposition from teachers there and their threats to step up the protest against it, the organization backed down."

Palestinians aside, the UN agency is facing a bigger image problem on Capitol Hill.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee last week approved a bill which among its de-fund-the-UN-provisions threatens to cut off U.S. aid entirely from UNRWA for activities which the legislation says contradict American values and foreign policy priorities.
Click here to find out more!

According to its website, UNRWA protects and advocates for some five million registered Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza, “pending a solution to their plight.” Services include education, health, and social services in Palestinian refugee camps.

The House bill would prohibit further U.S. funding – to the tune of $230 million per year – of UNRWA until it: “vets its staff and aid recipients via U.S. watch lists for ties to Foreign Terrorist Organizations; stops engaging in anti-Israel propaganda and politicized activities; improves its accountability and transparency; and stops banking with financial institutions under U.S. designation for terror financing or money laundering.”

UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness wrote in The Huffington Post in August that: “UNRWA imposes the strictest standards of neutrality on its staff, beneficiaries, suppliers and installations that go well beyond those of many comparable organizations and even governments” and that “every six months, staff names are checked against the UN 1267 Sanctions Committee list of terrorists and terrorist entities.”

With Hamas controlling Gaza and its trade unions, it’s questionable even with the best intentions how effective UNRWA can be in vetting its thousands of employees, many of whom are themselves refugees.

Former UNRWA general counsel James Lindsay provided an insider account of the organization last year accusing it of perpetuating the scourge of Palestinians’ refugee status when some are able to support themselves. “No justification exists for millions of dollars in humanitarian aid going to those who can afford to pay for UNRWA services,” he wrote.

Lindsay also criticized UNRWA officials for expressing anti-Israel political positions on the conflict, writing the agency should: "halt its one-sided political statements and limit itself to comments on humanitarian issues; take additional steps to ensure the agency is not employing or providing benefits to terrorists and criminals; and allow the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), or some other neutral entity, to provide balanced and discrimination-free textbooks for UNRWA initiatives.” “The United States, despite funding nearly 75 percent of UNRWA’s initial budget and remaining its largest single country donor, has largely failed to make UNRWA reflect U.S. foreign policy objectives.”

The Obama administration strongly opposes the House bill. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent a letter to the committee which according to Time warned: "that the legislation would severely limit U.S. participation in the world body, undercut U.S. interests and damage the security of Americans at home and abroad. “This bill would effectively cede American leadership, creating a void for our adversaries to fill,” Clinton wrote.

It appears UNRWA is trying to address some of the criticism, though with Hamas running Gaza, it’s unclear how successful those efforts can be. Earlier this month, thousands of Gaza teachers went on strike for the day to protest UNRWA suspending staffer Suhail Al-Hindi, the head of the Local Staff Union, a pro-Hamas body. Hamas sources told Reuters said the U.N. agency had accused Hindi of meeting with Hamas political officials. Reuters reported:

"Buses took some 7,000 teachers employed at UNRWA-run schools to U.N. headquarters in Gaza city where they held a sit-in, calling for an end to “UNRWA political punishment of employees”.

All this raises tough questions: however flawed, is UNRWA providing even a small mitigating force against radicalism exemplified in its efforts to teach the Holocaust and fire employees? Would U.S. interests be better served by leaving the education solely in the hands of Hamas? On the other hand, as long as Hamas runs Gaza, do Americans want to keep footing the bill for a troubled enterprise?


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