Monday, November 14, 2011

Sec. Duncan says he supports allowing kids of illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition

That good ol' generous taxpayer again!

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Monday he’s encouraged that some states are allowing the children of illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at public colleges.

As an example, Duncan pointed to Rhode Island, where this fall the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education unanimously approved in-state tuition for illegal immigrants starting in fall 2012.

Another dozen states have similar laws or policies, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In contrast, four states have laws specifically prohibiting illegal immigrant students from receiving in-state tuition, and two states bar those who are illegally in the country from attending public secondary schools altogether, the National Conference of State Legislatures said.

Duncan said some of the children of illegal immigrants came to the United States when they were infants. He said the United States is their home, where they’ve worked hard in school and taken on leadership roles. For too long, he said, the U.S. policy toward them has been backward.

“They are either going to be taxpayers and productive citizens and entrepreneurs and innovators or they are going to be on the sidelines and a drag on the economy,” Duncan said in an interview with The Associated Press.

The topic has been an issue in the GOP presidential primary race, with Texas Gov. Rick Perry taking criticism from rival contenders for supporting a law that allows illegal immigrants to get in-state tuition at Texas universities if they meet other residency requirements

Under the Rhode Island policy, in-state rates will be available only to illegal immigrants’ children who have attended a high school in the state for at least three years and graduated or received a GED. Students will lose their resident tuition unless they commit to seek legal status as soon as they are eligible.

The Pew Hispanic Center has said the number of Hispanic college students ages 18 to 24 increased by 24 percent, meaning about 35,000 additional young Hispanics were in college in 2010 compared to a year earlier. It’s the largest such increase. Duncan said he was pleased to see the increase and will be monitoring the students to see if they graduate.

Duncan supported the DREAM ACT, which Congress failed to pass last year. That legislation would have allowed young people to become legal U.S. residents after spending two years in college or the military. It applied to those who were under 16 when they arrived in the U.S., had been in the country at least five years and had a diploma from a U.S. high school or the equivalent.

Also on Monday, the Lumina Foundation, which seeks to expand educational opportunities for students beyond high school, announced it will provide $7.2 million over a four-year period to 12 partnerships in 10 states with significant and growing Latino populations. The effort seeks to leverage community leaders across the education, business and nonprofit sector.


David Cameron goes to war on Britain's 'coasting schools'

Britain is facing a “hidden crisis” because schools in prosperous areas are failing to push middle-class children to reach their full potential, David Cameron warns today.

In an article for The Daily Telegraph, the Prime Minister says there is a “shocking gap” between the best and worst schools and their teachers as many “coast” and “muddle through”.

He says the “secret failure” of comprehensive schools in wealthy shires and market towns is as significant as the problems facing schools in deprived, inner-city areas.

The shortcoming has been hidden from parents because league tables identify only problem schools rather than institutions achieving average results when their pupils have the potential to be top achievers.

In today’s article, Mr Cameron discloses that tackling the “coasting comprehensives” will be a top priority for the Government. Sir Michael Wilshaw, the new chief inspector of schools, is said to have them “in his sights”.

Mr Cameron writes: “Why should we put up with a school content to let a child sit at the back of the class, swapping Facebook updates? Or one where pupils and staff count down the hours to the end of term without ever asking why B grades can’t be turned into As. Britain can’t let weak schools smother children’s potential.”

He says that while it is “relatively easy” to identify problem schools, it is just as important to tackle those that are resigned to mediocrity.

“It is just as important to tackle those all over the country content to muddle through — places where respectable results and a decent local reputation mask a failure to meet potential,” he writes.

“Children who did well in primary school but who lose momentum. Early promise fades. This is the hidden crisis in our schools — in prosperous shires and market towns just as much as in the inner cities.”

In January, new league tables will be published that will show how low-, middle- and high-achieving children are performing in their schools.

In June, a new national pupil database will be introduced to show how pupils have progressed during their time in school. The data will not disclose any names but should allow parents to identify schools that are better at pushing certain pupils in different subjects.

Mr Cameron writes: “This challenge is one for all parts of the country — places where governors, parents and teachers might never guess things might be wrong. That’s why it is vital to shine a spotlight on secret failure by giving people the information they need to fight for change.

“The last government shied away from the problem. It kept huge amounts of data under wraps — focusing only on league tables which seemed to show things were getting better every year. It set a narrow definition of coasting schools which allowed many to slip through the net undetected. By contrast, this Government is going to widen it so that more average schools are pressed to do better.”

The Prime Minister says Mossbourne Academy in Hackney, one of the most deprived areas in Britain, is now achieving far higher marks than comprehensives in middle-class areas across the Home Counties.

“The point of education is to change lives — it’s not good enough for teachers in shire counties to be satisfied with half of children getting five good GCSEs, when Mossbourne Academy achieves 82 per cent in Hackney,” writes Mr Cameron.

“When people involved in education can see what needs to be done to get out of a rut — and are given the freedom to make their own choices rather than orders from above — dramatic improvement is possible. Goffs School in Cheshunt, for instance, went from barely half its pupils achieving five good GCSEs including English and maths, to almost three quarters in a single year.”

It is understood that the Government has decided against sending “hit squads” into comprehensives identified as “coasting”. Ministers instead hope that by publicly identifying failing schools, parents and governors will put staff under intense pressure to improve standards.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, the incoming head of Ofsted, previously warned that the watchdog needed to do more to tackle teachers who were coasting.

He said extra effort was needed to identify “the teacher … who year in, year out just comes up to the mark, but only just, and does the bare minimum”.

The Government is also giving permission for dozens of new free schools, effectively independent schools paid for by taxpayers within the state system, across the country. Mr Cameron says he wants these schools to be the “shock troops of innovation” who will “smash through complacency”.

The Coalition is also relaxing admissions and expansion rules for successful schools, which is expected to lead to an increase in grammar school places.

Yesterday, it emerged that some grammar schools are planning to take over schools in neighbouring towns — effectively leading to the creation of the first new grammar schools since the 1960s.

Graham Brady, chairman of the Conservatives’ backbench 1922 Committee, said it was a “small but important step”.


Australia: UQ boss Professor Paul Greenfield goes to ground

Brisbane is a small city where not much happens (thankfully). There are the usual crimes of violence in certain areas late at night but nothing that deserves more than one mention in the papers.

So the story of a Jewish university head fleeing allegations of corruption is a lot of fun and Brisbane's local newpaper has made the most of it. Latest below:

Seven days after The Courier-Mail broke the enrolment scandal that has seen Prof Greenfield and his deputy, Prof Michael Keniger, agree to step down, the UQ boss continues to avoid facing the music.

The university has so far refused to reveal the full details of the "misunderstanding" that Prof Greenfield said had led to "irregularities" that benefited a close relative. It has also refused to say where Prof Greenfield is, what he is doing and why he continues to avoid answering questions from The Courier-Mail.

University security guards are stationed outside Prof Greenfield's home in exclusive riverside Indooroopilly, and his office remains empty.

He was also absent from his Peregian Beach holiday hideaway on the Sunshine Coast. The professor's last confirmed engagement was a review of the KAIST research institution in South Korea on Thursday.

"The enrolment decision was as the result of an unfortunate misunderstanding ... and a breakdown in the normal checks and balances that control such decisions," is the closest Prof Greenfield has come to an explanation, and that came on Wednesday, only after repeated pressure from this newspaper.

"As the two senior officers, (senior deputy vice-chancellor) Michael Keniger and I have accepted responsibility for this error and breakdown," the statement continued.

Yesterday, university security again asked The Courier-Mail to leave the UQ executive building.

Outside the vice-chancellor's home, his wife said he was not home and would not be returning for "a long time".

In his statement from Korea, Prof Greenfield was critical of the media scrutiny.

"While I am upset at the inappropriate media pressure on my family and UQ and the public attacks on my reputation, I am most concerned that UQ does not take its eye off the main game," he said. The university was "on a roll", he said. "There are numerous reasons for this, but one is that we do not engage in self-indulgent in-fighting."

Prof Greenfield made it clear he would not quit before the agreed date of June next year, after he turns 65. "We need your support over the next eight months so that the momentum is maintained," he said.


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