Saturday, March 31, 2012

The criminalization of school misbehavior marches on

Schools are not allowed effective means of discipline so calling the cops is their way out

What may have started as the time-honored yet unruly tradition of a high school food fight landed a few students in a place they never expected tossing today’s lunch would get them: the slammer.
WXYZ reports:

"Four juniors and seniors from Jefferson High School in Frenchtown, Mich., walked into a courtroom Wednesday wearing striped jail clothes and handcuffs where they were charged with a misdemeanor for inciting a disturbance in a public building.

All the teens were released to their parents on a $500 recognizance bond, except one whose parent couldn’t leave work so he had to spend a second night in jail.

The local ABC affiliate reports that 16 other students were given 10 day suspensions. Cory Long, 16, who is among those suspended and friends with the boys who were arrested, said he wasn’t sure who started the fight but that “food just started to fly.”

Tina Long, Corey’s mother, is reported as saying the situation is being blown out of proportion by officials:  “Every one of us did something goofy in high school. And now they want to do this to the kids?” said Tina Long.

Superintendent Craig Haugen issued a statement that said the school “will not tolerate this type of behavior.” He said that damage done to the property and potential for student injury is what “caused us to treat this more seriously than just some cafeteria horseplay.”

The Monroe Evening News reported Monroe County Sheriff’s Sgt. John Plath as agreeing that the fight warranted arrest of the students. He called it an “organized event.” Tables and chairs were said to have been overturned and thrown.

All we can assume is that if it were an epic enough food fight to land these boys in jail with a misdemeanor, it had to have been as good as the famous cafeteria food fight scene in National Lampoon’s Animal House.


Let's roll out the grammar (selective) schools across Britain: Call for nationwide expansion after a breakthrough in Kent

New grammar school classes could open around the country after the first major expansion of academic selection for 50 years was given the go-ahead yesterday.

A call went out to ‘roll out the grammars’ after Tory-controlled Kent took advantage of new Coalition rules to announce the expansion of existing schools with ‘satellite’ campuses.

The move is the first significant boost for the pro-grammar lobby since the Labour government of the 1960s launched its still controversial drive to turn the country’s 1,300 grammars into comprehensives.

Campaigners hailed Kent’s decision as a ‘small but important step’ towards the creation of a grammar school in every area where there is parental demand.

Under plans approved yesterday by councillors, a grammar school annexe will open in Sevenoaks under the umbrella of at least one existing selective school located in a nearby town.

The satellite school will cater for 120 first-years students, rising to a full capacity of about 840 pupils.

Laws introduced by Labour still outlaw the creation of entirely new grammars but the Coalition brought in powers in February that allow schools to expand in response to parental demand.

They can operate satellites on separate sites as long as they retain the same catchment area and staff.

    164 grammars remain under the 36 councils that stood firm in retaining selection

    The name comes from 6th century schools that taught Latin grammar to monks

    They exploded in number with the arrival of the nationwide 11-plus exam in 1945

    In their 1950s heyday, up to 1,300 grammars across England and Wales educated the top 25 per cent of pupils, with secondary moderns and technical schools teaching the rest

    Harold Wilson’s Labour government began dismantling grammars in 1965, with education secretary Tony Crosland vowing: ‘If it’s the last thing I do, I’m going to destroy every ******* grammar school.’

    The remaining grammar schools were able to protect selective admissions by applying for grant-maintained status under 1988 laws introduced by the Tories which allowed them to opt out of council control

More areas that have retained selective schooling are expected to follow Kent’s lead as competition intensifies for places.

A grammar in Torquay has already looked into expanding and schools in Buckinghamshire are said to be interested.

Sixty-six Kent councillors backed the expansion plan yesterday, with just three against. Councillor Jim Wedgbury declared: ‘We can make history and start the roll-out of grammar schools across the nation.’

Jennie Varley of the National Grammar Schools Association, said: ‘This is excellent news. This may now encourage other grammar schools to do the same.’

Education Secretary Michael Gove has said his ‘foot is hovering over the pedal’ of allowing full-scale expansion of grammars.

Tory MP Graham Brady, chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, said: ‘The Government is going some way to satisfying the enormous pent up demand for more selective education.’

But he added: ‘These arrangements will do nothing to improve choice for the very many people living in areas which currently have no grammar schools.

‘Those people, may just wonder why they are not allowed the same kind of choice as parents in Kent. The whole logic of this must really push in the direction of further relaxation of the rules.’

Kent’s announcement follows a three-month campaign by husband and wife Sarah and Andrew Shilling, who highlighted the severe shortage of selective places in Sevenoaks.

The town is served by one comprehensive. More than 1,000 pupils make a round trip of 25 miles a day to grammars in nearby towns.

The Shillings’ petition attracted 2,620 signatures, prompting the council to act. Mrs Shilling, a mother of three, said: ‘This is great news for the children of Sevenoaks.’

Under the plan, two forms of entry for girls and two for boys who pass the 11-plus would be created, either in two separate annexes or one on the same site.

A Department for Education spokesman said: ‘The over-riding objective of this Government’s reforms is to increase the supply of good school places so parents have real choice.’


British university drop-out rate soars by 13pc in a year

Record numbers of students quit university courses last year as the higher education drop-out rate soared above 30,000 for the first time, official figures show.

More than one-in-five undergraduates are failing to compete the first year of their degree at the worst-performing universities, it emerged, prompting fears that millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money is being wasted on unwanted courses.

At some universities, an estimated four-in-10 students will fail to finish the course they started after either dropping out, switching to another institution or graduating with a lesser qualification.

In England, the University of Bolton had the worst drop-out rate with 21.4 per cent of students quitting higher education after just a year. An estimated 45 per cent of undergraduates will fail to complete their full degree course, it emerged.

Drop-out rates were as high as a third at the University of the Highlands and Islands in Scotland and hit almost a quarter at the University of West Scotland.

Across Britain, the number of students dropping out increased from 28,210 to 31,755 last year – a rise of almost 13 per cent.

It was the first time since records began a decade ago that the rate had crept above 30,000, fuelled by an increase in the overall student population.

The rise – in data published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency – comes despite the Government spending £1bn on initiatives designed to improve student retention.

The University and College Union warned that the drop-out rate would soar in coming years following a decision to increase the cap on student tuition fees to £9,000.

Sally Hunt, the UCU general secretary, said undergraduates would be tempted to chase places on the cheapest courses, even if they fail to fit their requirements.

“Over the past five years, in England alone, over £1bn has been spent on measures to improve student retention in higher education,” she said.

“Sadly, today’s figures show that too many students, particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds, are still failing to complete their studies.

“We have real concerns that the new funding regime with hugely increased tuition fees may force some students onto courses that, although cheaper, do not best suit their abilities.

“That scenario is likely to lead to further drop outs, which will not benefit the student, the university or society.”

Figures from HESA show the number of students dropping out of university each year along with the proportion expected to complete the degree they started.

In all, 8.6 per cent of students quit higher education after 12 months last year compared with 7.9 per cent a year earlier. Some 21.6 per cent are expected to fail to complete their degree.

According to data, the worst performer was Highlands and Islands where 32 per cent dropped out last year and just 48.6 per cent of students are expected to finish the degree course they started.

More than one-in-seven students dropped out of higher education altogether at eight other British universities, including West Scotland, Bolton, West London, London Metropolitan, Swansea Metropolitan, Middlesex, University Campus Suffolk and Salford.

By comparison, Cambridge and St Andrews had the lowest drop out rates last year with just 1.4 per cent of students quitting, following by Oxford at 1.4 per cent.

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said: "Although our student completion rates compare well internationally, we want to reduce the number of students who don’t complete their studies.

“We are improving information for prospective students so that they can make more informed choices and we are committee to a better overall student experience."


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