Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Education Department Pushes Racial Quotas in School Discipline

At Point of Law, Ted Frank of the Manhattan Institute criticizes the Obama Administration's demand for de facto racial quotas in school discipline:

Seventy percent of African-American children are born to single mothers. Moreover, children growing up in the African-American community face the peer pressure of gangsta culture: success in school results in ostracism for "acting white."  With such dysfunction in the African-American community one would expect African-American children to have more disciplinary problems than average. And indeed they do: "black students were three and a half times as likely to be suspended or expelled than their white peers". These problems are certainly difficult: how do you change the culture?

Unfortunately, the Obama administration is proposing counterproductive policies that would reduce personal responsibility.

According to the Obama administration, the disparity in discipline is a "civil rights" issue of "equity." The Department of Education is threatening "disparate impact" inquiries on school districts that discipline blacks more than whites or Asians. School districts could only comply by failing to discipline poorly-behaving African-American students; disciplining well-behaving whites to get the numbers up will just result in lawsuits. The consequences would be disastrous. Poorly-behaving African-Americans are most likely to be attending majority-minority schools. The ultimate effect is a wealth transfer from well-behaved African-American students trying to learn to thugs interfering with that process, only adding to the dysfunction in public schools and the African-American community.

Racial quotas in school discipline will indeed "result in lawsuits," as white and Asian students sue over being disciplined for conduct that triggered no discipline when committed by a black peer (unless the school manages to conceal from the public the fact that it is applying a de facto quota).  In People Who Care v. Rockford Board of Education, 111 F.3d 528, 534 (1997), the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit declared that racial quotas and racial-balance requirements in school discipline are unconstitutional, and also stated that it is unconstitutional to use racial preferences to offset "disparate impact" (that is, statistical disparities not caused by the school's racism).  Moreover, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal statute banning racial discrimination in schools, Title VI, does not even prohibit unintentional "discrimination" such as "disparate impact," in its Alexander v. Sandoval decision.

While seeking to hold innocent school officials liable for racial discrimination based on statistical disparities that result from socioeconomic factors like broken homes, rather than racism, the Education Department has embraced the racial demagogue Al Sharpton.  Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently called for  "a huge round of applause for our leader, Reverend Al Sharpton."  (This was shortly after "Attorney General Eric Holder," the head of the Justice Department, praised Sharpton, calling him a "tireless" champion of the "voiceless" and "powerless.")  This is the same Al Sharpton who has a record of "inciting murderous riots; slandering Jews, Mormons, and homosexuals; libeling a state prosecutor in the course of championing Tawana Brawley's fabrication of a racial `hate crime.'" Even the Washington Post`s Dana Milbank, an apologist for Sharpton, admits that Sharpton "burst onto the national scene as the mouthpiece for Tawana Brawley," "who falsely claimed that she had been raped by white men."  Sharpton was found guilty of defamation for making false, racially inflammatory claims about the Tawana Brawley case that included sexually smearing an innocent prosecutor in ways that I cannot describe here due to its vileness.  "His image worsened a few years later when Jewish leaders in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, accused him of inflaming anti-Semitism. Then came the 1995 Harlem protest at which he called a Jewish landlord a `white interloper' - followed by an attack on the landlord's store that left eight people dead."

But the bigoted Sharpton gets applause from the Education Secretary, while school officials just trying to make school a safe place by disciplining violent or disruptive students get investigated for racial discrimination, or pressured to base discipline on a student's race.  Former educator Edmund Janko explains here how he used to discipline white students more than black students in order to avoid a discrimination investigation by the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights (where I used to work.) Janko would suspend whites for offenses that earned black students only a reprimand. That way, he could meet an informal racial quota in school suspensions.


British schools forced to spend £328m on 'over-inflated' exams

Head teachers criticised the "over-inflated" exams system today after it emerged that schools were forced to spend almost £330m on GCSEs and A-levels last year.

Figures show that the amount of taxpayers' money spent on tests increased by 8.5 per cent in the last 12 months, despite a drop in the overall number of qualifications awarded.

In total, exam fees have more than doubled in the last eight yeas and now account for the second largest share of school running costs.

The disclosure will prompt fresh concerns over the cost of qualifications offered by Britain's biggest exam boards.

According to Ofqual, the exams regulator, all major exam boards recorded increased turnover in the last financial year.

The Association of School and College Leaders warned that fees had soared because of repeated political meddling in the exams system, including the introduction of bite-sized modules in GCSEs and A-levels and pressure to hit targets - resulting in more pupils re-sitting tests.

Brian Lightman, the union's general secretary, said: "It is further evidence that the exams system is over-inflated.

"This represents a massive amount of public money and you have ask whether it's the best use of resources when so many other parts of the education system are being squeezed. It's money that would have been far better spent on teachers."

Malcolm Trobe, ASCL policy director, added: "The general feeling in schools is that exam fees are too high. The exam boards are being more cost-effective - for example, by doing more marking online - but that's not reflected in the fees that schools have to pay."

Ofqual found that £328.3m had been spent by English state schools on exams in 2010/11. This was up from £302.6m a year earlier and just £154m in 2002/3.

The study revealed that exam fees made up 8.6 per cent of schools' total running costs last year, compared with 7.8 per cent 12 months' earlier and just six per cent eight years ago. It was the second biggest strain on running costs after "learning resources", such as text books, said Ofqual.

The rise comes despite a drop in the number of qualifications awarded last year, it emerged.

Ofqual said the price rise was probably driven by "an increase in the level of the fees charged" by examiners combined with a shift in demand towards more expensive qualifications.

It follows criticism over training seminars staged by senior examiners - normally costing between £100 and £200 per teacher - to help schools boost pupils' GCSE and A-level results.

Today's report covers expenditure on GCSEs and A-levels alongside other qualifications - principally vocational courses.

Fewer GCSEs were awarded but rising numbers of vocational qualifications were sat, it was revealed. Numbers increased to almost 8m from just 2.2m in 2002/03.

The report shows that almost 160,000 students took a Level 1 award in music performance last year, while a similar number took a Level 2 award in food safety in catering - which is equivalent to a GCSE.

It means more people took these courses than traditional GCSEs in chemistry, German, biology, physics or Spanish, although most entrants would have been adults.


British charter schools  accused of selling "incorrect" food

The Coalition’s flagship academies are ignoring healthy eating guidelines by “regularly exposing” children to cakes, crisps, fizzy drinks and fried food, according to research.

Many schools have dropped national standards introduced in the wake of a campaign by Jamie Oliver, the television chef, because of financial constraints and pressure from pupils and parents, it emerged.

The School Food Trust said that schools were failing to act in pupils’ “best interests” and may be driving up obesity rates by permitting the sale of unhealthy food.

But separate research suggested that academies were only performing marginally worse that other state-funded schools and were actually more likely to provide children with free water.

It also emerged that some made annual losses of up to £43,000 on school catering services – the equivalent of an experienced full-time teacher.

The conclusions come just weeks after Mr Oliver attacked a Government decision to exempt academies from healthy eating guidelines, saying four-in-10 children were now overweight.

Today's report said some academies – independent state schools funded directly from Whitehall – were providing "food and drink that complies with many of the standards” but others were “doing less well, particularly with regard to food such as confectionary, soft drinks, starchy foods fried in oil and savoury snacks”.

“Here, children were once again being regularly exposed to foods high in fat, sugar and salt, which the standards were specifically designed to reduce or eliminate," said the trust.

“Many academies appear to have good intentions, but are doing little to monitor what they actually provide to their pupils.”

The last Government launched a crackdown on unhealthy food after a campaign by Mr Oliver showed that pupils were regularly being fed chips and reconstituted meat, such as Bernard Matthews' Turkey Twizzlers.

The sale of high-fat and sugary food was banned from canteens and vending machines following the disclosure.

But academies, which account for around half of state secondary schools in England, are not bound by the rules.

As part of the latest study, the School Food Trust surveyed more than 100 of the schools.

According to the research, a quarter of academies provided crisps and savoury snacks, one-in-six stocked chocolate and more than half sold cereal bars, which are usually high in sugar.

More than eight-in-10 sold squash such as Robinsons Fruit Shoot, Drench and Capri-Sun and a small number provided pupils with Coca Cola, Sprite and energy drinks including Lucozade and Red Bull.

One-in-10 schools said they refused to follow the guidelines and a third thought they were too restrictive. Some heads shunned them because of financial reasons and pressure from parents and pupils, it emerged.

But a separate study – based on in-depth interviews with 13 academies - found that many were performing no worse than other state-funded schools. In some cases, academies were more likely to comply with national rules cutting down on the use of salt, confectionery and condiments and and all academies were more likely to provide pupils with free water.

This study also concluded that most academies made a loss from catering, with one losing £43,000-a-year – the equivalent of one full-time teacher. It comes despite claims last month that academies were profiting from the sale of unhealthy food.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “We trust teachers – the professionals on the frontline – to do what is best for their pupils. Many academies go over and above the minimum requirements and are offering their pupils high quality, nutritional food.

“The School Food Trust’s own research on all secondary school food shows that even with food standards in place, many maintained schools – far from being paragons of nutrition – are not meeting all the standards and are still offering cakes, biscuits, confectionery and non-compliant drinks to their pupils.

"Clearly there is room for improvement in all schools – maintained schools as well as academies.”


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