Friday, December 16, 2011

A fine example of Leftist hate-speech from Australia

Written by John Birmingham below under the restrained and balanced heading "Why are we subsidising ignorance, stupidity and hatred?"

The fact that private schools actually cost the taxpayer LESS per pupil than government schools is just one of those silly little facts that must not be allowed to interrupt the flow of bile. The Australian Federal government does subsidize some of the costs of private schools but not all.

And the fact that the church is upholding standards that embody the wisdom of the ages cuts no ice with Mr Birmingham, of course. He knows better!

A small pic of the happy Mr Birmingham below. One pities any partner he might have

It’s heartening, but not entirely surprising that the Catholic Church overturned the decision of the Sacred Heart Primary School in Broken Hill to reject the enrolment of a young girl whose at-home parents, two women, are in a lesbian relationship.

Heartening for the little girl, even though the mums have wisely decided to spare her the inevitable unpleasantness of attending a school where she’s not wanted. But not entirely surprising, because if the Church had allowed this story to spin out of control it risked having to answer some very awkward questions about just how much money it sucks off the public tit, when it’s unwilling to comply with public standards as expressed in legislation such as the Anti-Discrimination Act.

The Catholic Church and its fellow travelers in the other denominations are pretty much out on their own when it comes to punishing kids for the sexuality of their parents. And be assured, that’s what was at stake here, and what Bishop Kevin Manning has avoided airing in public with his order to Sacred Heart to enrol the child.

All religious schools in this country, not just Catholic ones, enjoy the benefits of a grotesque double standard, where they put their hands out for a hand out, and a massive one at that, draining off billions of dollars from the education budget, while not having to measure up to the same standards demanded of public schools, most of which are woefully underfunded because of subsidies to the private sector.

Surely if the private religious schools are to trouser billions of dollars in taxpayer funds, at the expense of taxpayers who can’t afford to send their own children to those privileged institutions, more might be demanded of them when it comes to, say, not behaving like ignorant, medieval bigots. There's no reason they can't hang onto their vile opinions, but there's no reason the rest of us should have to pay for them.

As long as they enjoy a free pass from the Act, however, we will continue to subsidise their ignorance, stupidity and hatred.

They know it too. Or at least the smart ones do. That’s why they moved so quickly to shut down debate on this most recent outrage.


Twisted sex stories

The BBC has a report up this morning that claims that the number of students in sex work has doubled. But the story is paper-thin – the NUS says they’re being misreported, and the BBC gives no useful figures to support the claims in their report.

The article’s headline says “NUS: Students turning to prostitution to fund studies”. The basis of this claim is not an NUS report or even an NUS press release, but a comment given by an NUS officer on the BBC’s own story. And the content of the story is weak, to say the least.

To begin with, the story is based on a statistical fudge. It reports the change, without any concrete numbers. But relative figures are only useful if you have the original numbers to see where the change has taken place. An increase from two people to four isn’t very significant but, if expressed in terms of the change, it’s the same as an increase from 10,000 to 20,000. And, obviously, if you’re dealing with very small numbers it’s hard to say that a “doubling” of an extra ten or twenty people is statistically significant. That the number of students who know someone working in the sex industry has risen from 3% to 25% in the last ten years doesn’t say very much about the actual numbers doing so, especially given the nebulous status of the term “sex industry”.

Next, the BBC story interviews a woman who “turned to escorting during her A-levels when she found out her education maintenance allowance (EMA) was in danger of being cut.” Note the weasel words there – if Clare was studying for her A-levels and getting an EMA, she would continue to get it until June 2012. So Clare hasn’t actually been getting less money from the government at all, and won't until June next year.

Far from being forced by poverty into sex work, Clare says “I began looking for jobs, but the hours were unsociable.” I’m sympathetic to Clare – she says that she was misled by a “friend” into escort work, which is grotesque. But for the BBC to appropriate this story to support their flimsy thesis about students being forced into sex work is exploitative to her and deeply misleading to its readership.

There are people resorting to illegal sex work because of poverty. This is very, very bad, especially because the prohibition of a lot of sex work has made it a violent and dangerous type of work. But this BBC article has hijacked this very real problem in order to promote a specious non-story that misleads readers.


British Teachers giving students exam questions before they sit High School exams

Teachers are giving students the exam questions before they sit GCSEs and A-levels after secret conversations with examiners, whistle-blowers have told The Daily Telegraph.

Secondary school teachers have alleged that they are under so much pressure to deliver high exam grades that they have been forced to adopt questionable tactics.

The information given to pupils is so detailed that earlier this year a teenager disclosed a forthcoming question for an A-level law exam on an internet bulletin board after his teacher had a meeting with an examiner.

One whistle-blower, an examiner for one of the main exam boards, said the “cause of the rot, ultimately, is competition between exam boards”.

The heads of the country’s main exam boards will be questioned by MPs today over the growing scandal in the examinations system after disclosures by The Daily Telegraph last week.

This newspaper reported that teachers were paying up to £230 a day to attend seminars with chief examiners, who advise them on exam questions and the wording pupils should use to get higher marks.

One examiner from WJEC, the Welsh exam board, was recorded by this newspaper saying: “We’re cheating.”

Another, Steph Warren, the chief examiner for Edexcel GCSE Geography, told an undercover reporter considering taking the company’s tests “you don’t have to teach a lot” and there is a “lot less” for pupils to learn than with rival courses.

The exam boards are expected to claim today that these examiners spoke out of turn and there is no evidence of widespread wrongdoing.

However, The Daily Telegraph has been contacted by dozens of teachers, pupils and examiners who allege a system riddled by dubious practices. Last night, a dossier of evidence provided by whistle-blowers was passed to the committee of MPs who will question examiners, exam board executives and regulators about the system.

The latest claims include:

Allegations that one of the main exam boards was warned that a teenager had posted a correct exam answer online before an A-level law test after his teacher met an examiner. Last June, students at two high-performing schools were also allegedly openly discussing the content of a forthcoming A-level history paper on Facebook.

An English examiner who says that over the past decade the standard to receive a C grade has “markedly deteriorated” and that “what has happened is a travesty against learning”.

A teacher who was visited by chief examiners who dropped “big hints on what to expect in the summer exam”. The teacher left last year, disillusioned with the system.

A science teacher from Wales who said he and colleagues were told by their head of department to “leave information up on the board” or “displayed on the power point [presentations]” so pupils could “copy it down” in an exam.

Teachers who contacted The Daily Telegraph raised concerns that they were being urged to help students “cheat” to increase grades.

One science teacher said he and colleagues were put under pressure to help students with the answers during an exam. “Basically, it was said to us to cheat,” he said.

Another teacher from south London said students’ coursework grades were being inflated to increase the pupils’ marks. The same teacher claimed that students were given answer booklets when completing an online test.

There is also evidence that teenagers are being told of forthcoming questions. In the case of the law A-level, a student wrote on an internet forum last Jan 26 about “a few hints” from his teacher.

He wrote: “If it is (and he is sure) general defences, then this will be the question, (again from the examiner dude). Evaluate any two genera; [sic] defences that you have studied and put forward proposals for reform of any one. And he also said, they will not specify which defences you do.”

The following day, the exam question was: “Write a critical analysis of any two of the general defences (insanity, automatism, intoxication, consent, self-defence/prevention of crime). Include in your answer a consideration of any proposals for reform of one of your chosen defences.”

An A-level law teacher from Formby in Merseyside, who has also acted as an examiner, said her school had complained to AQA, the board that set the paper, after seeing the student’s posting. “He clearly had insider information,” she said.

After receiving the complaint, AQA said there were “no irregularities”. A board spokesman said: “This case was drawn to our attention and we conducted a thorough investigation which found no evidence of malpractice.”

AQA said it had not informed Ofqual about the incident because its own investigation had not found malpractice. Headmasters have raised concerns that the increasing commercialisation of exam boards has led to a fall in standards.

Nick Gibb, the schools minister, said there would be “major changes” to GCSEs, including marking papers on the basis of spelling and grammar – and scrapping modules.


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