Tuesday, April 24, 2012

TN: “Don’t Say Gay” bill advances in House

Tennessee’s elementary and middle school teachers could face more pressure not to talk about homosexuality with their students next year after the so-called Don’t Say Gay bill cleared a House education committee Tuesday.

Some Republican leaders have questioned the need for House Bill 229, which prevents the teaching of alternative lifestyles, noting that it is already illegal under state law to teach sex education in grades K-8.

House Education Chairman Richard Montgomery, R-Sevierville, voted against the measure, but it passed on an 8-7 vote and goes to the calendar committee before a floor vote.

Bill sponsor Rep. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald, and others argued that outside groups and some teachers slip those conversations in, and the bill serves as an accountability reminder.

“I have two children — in the third- and fourth-grade — and don’t want them to be exposed to things I don’t agree with,” Hensley said. “... Even though the state board disallows this now, I’m afraid it does happen, and sex education is talked about in a way that it is acceptable.”

Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, who voted for the bill, said he’s seen documentation that outside groups are entering classrooms at the invitation of principals and teachers and not staying within the curriculum guidelines.

“And they should,” he said after the vote.

Schools caught in violation of the state’s sex education policies can have state money withheld, and teachers face a $50 fine and up to 30 days in jail, according to state law. The bill passed the Senate last year.


British PM praises children who rise when adults enter the room

Children should stand up when their parents or teachers walk into the room, David Cameron has suggested.  The Prime Minister made the remarks in a speech praising the return of “real discipline” to British schools.

He said reforms to the education system would lead to “fantastic outcomes” like children who observe the old-fashioned practice of rising in the presence of an adult.

Mr Cameron also applauded schools where children are allowed to be competitive and learn about failure.

"Give headteachers and their staff the freedom to teach and run their schools; give parents greater choice and transparency about schools and their results and you can see fantastic outcomes,” he said.

“Children who stand up when their parents or teacher walks in the room. Real discipline, rigorous standards, hard subjects. Sports where children can learn about success and, yes, sometimes failure too.”

The Prime Minister was speaking in Dumfries as part of the Conservatives' local election campaign.  He told Scottish party members they must be the “insurgent force” campaigning for greater freedom in public services and the right for citizens to run their own local areas.

The Prime Minister also gave his support to towns and villages across Britain fighting the spread of wind farms. “We shouldn’t be plonking wind farms all over communities that don’t want them,” he said.

The Tories are only the fourth most powerful party of local government in Scotland, as the Scottish National Party, Labour and the Liberal Democrats all have more councillors.

In a light-hearted introduction, Mr Cameron joked about his relationship with Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister, saying they are “like any couple”.

Amid signs of strain in the Coalition over recent weeks, the Prime Minister admitted there had been ups and downs to their relationship.

“I love coming to Dumfries,” he said. “I pass, as you do, Gretna Green on the way, and I'm reminded of my own shotgun wedding.

"It feels like years ago. Like any marriage there's good times, there's bad times. We - that's Nick and I - we have to work at it like any couple.

"I didn't expect to end up with a Liberal Democrat, but there we are. You have to make it work - and we do make it work for the good of our country."


Some top Australian private schools to face reduction in Federal subsidies  -- maybe

Prime Ministers Howard, Rudd and Gillard knew better than to cut any private school funding.  Private schooling is sacrosanct to a big proportion of Australians. 39% of Australian teenagers go to private schools.  Former Leftist leader  Latham wanted to attack private school funding but lost the election,  in part because of that threat

LORETO Kirribilli is among the independent schools in NSW with the most to lose - estimated at up to $3.9 million a year - in the proposed Gonski reforms of schools funding, a preliminary analysis shows.

Other schools at risk of having their federal funding reduced are Monte Sant' Angelo Mercy College at North Sydney, St Aloysius' College at Milsons Point and Oakhill College at Castle Hill.

They are among the 17 per cent of independent schools in NSW that have had their funding maintained and indexed at the levels they were at before the Howard government changed the system in 2001.

The Commonwealth formula uses census data to allocate funding on the basis of need according to the socio-economic status of parents.

Since the introduction of the so-called SES funding formula, the wealth profile of many schools has increased, entitling them to less funding under the formula.

But the Howard government introduced a "no losers" policy, which was continued under the Rudd and Gillard governments, which meant annual funding for schools would not decrease.

Analysis by the Association of Independent Schools using 2009 data from the federal Department of Education suggests 86 NSW independent schools would lose between $65,000 and $3.9 million each year under the Gonski system.

The NSW Greens MP, John Kaye, said government figures showed Loreto Kirribilli would have received $32 million less than it has since 2001 if the SES formula had been applied strictly. This year it will receive an estimated $3.6 million above its strict SES entitlement of about $1.7 million.

"Losing some of that money would be more than fair and reasonable, especially if it ends up back in public schools," Dr Kaye said.

Geoff Newcombe, the executive director of the Association of Independent Schools NSW, said an examination of the proposed Gonski model using 2009 data showed a number of schools to have had their funding maintained and indexed would receive more funding, casting doubt on claims that these schools were "overfunded and rorting the system. Other schools, however, will have their funding reduced by amounts ranging from relatively low levels to up to $4 million," he said.

He said all education sectors were awaiting 2010 data to allow the Gonski model's indexation rate to be calculated.

If it was below 6 per cent, the "feasibility of the Gonski model will be struck a severe blow".

It would need to reflect "the real increases in the annual cost of education which has averaged around 6.5 per cent to 8 per cent per annum". A spokeswoman for the Education Minister, Peter Garrett, said the Gillard government had said repeatedly that no school would lose a dollar per student as a result of the funding review.

"Mr Gonski and the review panel have made clear that there is still a lot of work to do to test and refine the various elements of their proposed funding model.

"This includes testing the proposed funding amount per student, and examining whether the loadings for disadvantage are set at the right levels."


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