Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Goodbye educrats, hello education

Who, beyond literate and well-educated individuals themselves, need and actively seek literate and well-educated individuals? Answer: the world of business.

It’s hard to run a bank without employees with math skills, or design air conditioners without employees with engineering skills, or even sell Lotto tickets without someone who can use a touch screen.

Texas Instruments, the North Dallas semiconductor giant, recently announced a $5 million commitment to help launch and develop the Plano Independent School District’s new academy that will focus on science, technology, engineering and math.

Across the Metroplex, Bell Helicopter announced they’re spending $235 million on new buildings at their Ft. Worth campus, contingent on getting property tax abatements from the city but not from the school district because they want to continue supporting education.

Libertarians like to ponder how schools would be funded in a free society with no government involvement. In this case, Bell could just donate to the school as TI did.

One objection, of course, is that they’re funding only science and technology education that relates directly to their specific needs. What about history and arts and language and all the rest that goes into a well-rounded education?

Government intervention still wouldn’t be needed. For example, there’s nothing preventing the Museum of Modern Art or the Kimbell or the Amon Carter in Fort Worth’s Cultural District from developing programs on their own dime and making them available to all schools everywhere. This is the electronic age where computers and iPads and Kindles are replacing expensive and inefficient book publishing.

And developing those programs creates great PR, and future visitors and sponsors and contributors, for those organizations.

There’s no end to the special interest institutions that would eagerly develop and distribute courseware for every school in the country, and in the world, if it meant making a profit or creating future customers or just producing positive publicity.

Don’t say it wouldn’t happen because it already has.

One example: back in the 1950s small town car dealerships made new cars available to high school drivers ed classes, figuring that those who learned on a Ford or Chevy or Plymouth would more likely become future Ford or Chevy or Plymouth buyers.

Millions of words have and can be written about the free market in education.

Getting government, and coercive government-created unions, permanently out of our schools would create an Education Renaissance in America.


British universities axe 5,000 'soft degree courses' as the funding cuts sink in

Universities have axed 5,000 degree courses in preparation for cuts in state funding and the trebling of tuition fees, due to take effect in 2012. Figures show there are 38,147 courses on offer through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service for entry in 2012, down a staggering 12 per cent, from 43,360.

Vice-chancellors have targeted their least popular non-academic courses – 'soft subjects' that offer poor employment prospects such as Caribbean Studies – because they are loss-making.

Some universities, such as London Metropolitan, have slashed more than 60 per cent of their courses, including philosophy, performing arts and history.

The University of East Anglia has announced the closure of its music school, which was opened in the 1960s with the help of Benjamin Britten. The figures, from Supporting Professionalism in Admissions, come as universities fear applications for so-called 'Mickey Mouse courses' will reduce to a trickle when students face the prospect of £9,000 a year fees.

Official Ucas figures released last month show overall applications are down 9 per cent on last year. The deadline for applications is January 15.

From 2012, the value-for-money of courses is to be put under the spotlight. Universities will have to publish a raft of statistics about each course they offer to ensure students, facing the prospect of huge debts, can make better informed decisions.

Business Secretary Vince Cable has warned that ailing universities will not be propped up and will be allowed to go bust. They all face losing about 10 per cent of state funding.

The University and College Union, said: 'This government reforms have been a complete mess. It’s particularly going to hit students planning to live at home to minimise expenses.

'It'll be a real tragedy if they suddenly find cuts at their local university mean they can no longer study the subject they have always wanted.'


Fire Britain's criminally negligent teachers

A teachers’ union official has claimed absurdly that the Government’s education reforms are a ‘crime against humanity’.

Patrick Roach, deputy general secretary of the NASUWT, attacked plans which allow parents to set up schools free of local government control.

Only a fanatic could equate freeing schools from political interference with genocide and torture.

But this is the type of deranged hyperbole we have come to expect from the Left-wing rabble which runs Britain’s teaching unions.

I’ll tell you what’s a crime against humanity. It’s teachers and education professionals like you, Trotsky, who have betrayed a generation of children, now leaving school semi-literate, innumerate and ill-disciplined, utterly unsuited for the adult world of work.

Trendy teaching methods and ‘child-centred’ learning are what lie behind the fact that more than one million young people in Britain are not only unemployed, many of them are unemployable.

It’s also a crime to shut every school in Britain by staging a politically-motivated, self-indulgent strike, which is what Wolfie Roach and his fellow ‘professionals’ intend to do next week.

The strike is going ahead, even though only a third of NASUWT members voted in favour.

It is to be hoped that the majority of staff who opposed industrial action will report for work as usual, even if that means crossing hostile picket lines.

Any teacher who walks out on November 30 should be sacked. Our children deserve better than this criminal neglect.


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