Friday, August 24, 2012

Education Spending Doesn't Deliver

When a presidential candidate decries education cuts he's probably not serious about education. He's serious about winning elections.

The Obama campaign didn't waste time before attacking Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., on education, stating in its response to Ryan's being named Mitt Romney's running mate that Ryan proposed "deep cuts in education from Head Start to college aid." The campaign hit education even before Medicare, illustrating just how much they must think voters will recoil at any diminution of education spending.

"But hold on," you're thinking, "isn't education vital? And if so, shouldn't we invest as much as possible?"

Those are reasonable questions for people with jobs, families, and not a whole lot of time to research education policy. After all, with most things, if you pay more you get something better.

But President Obama employs lots of people who assess education policy, and he must know what the statistics reveal: Washington spends huge amounts in the name of education but gets almost no educational improvement in return.

Begin with Head Start, a nearly $8 billion program that's politically untouchable, not only because it deals with education, but it's for preschool kids. It's almost tailor-made for demagoguery, with anyone who'd dare trim — much less eliminate — the program practically begging to be declared a rotten so-and-so who hates even the littlest of children.

But the fact is there's no meaningful evidence the program does any good. In fact, the most recent federal evaluation found that Head Start produces almost no lasting cognitive benefits, and its few lasting social-emotional effects include negative ones. Only the people employed by Head Start money — and the politicians who appear to "care" — are really benefiting.

This is repeated in elementary and secondary education, only with a bigger bill. In 2011 Washington spent almost $79 billion on K-12 education, and the latest federal data show inflation-adjusted federal outlays per pupil ballooning from $446 in 1970-71 to $1,185 in 2008-09. Meanwhile, scores for 17-year-olds on the National Assessment of Educational Progress — the "Nation's Report Card" — have been stagnant.

Oodles "invested," no return.

Lastly there's higher education. Once again, someone who hasn't had much time to study policy might reasonably think the key to improving and expanding higher education would be for the federal government to spend more on it. But again, reality differs: federal aid fuels tuition inflation and encourages massive waste.

The connection between aid and prices is somewhat intuitive if you think about it. Basically, if you give people $100 more to buy something, sellers will raise their prices $100. The buyers are no worse off, the sellers are better off, and the only losers are the people who furnished the money. With college aid, we call these losers "taxpayers."

Of course there's more to college pricing than aid, but the effect remains.

Studies have found that private colleges raise their prices a dollar for every extra buck students get in Pell Grants, and schools often reduce their own aid when government assistance rises.

Then there are the dismal outcomes that go with giving away college money.

First, only about 58 percent of first-time, full-time students finish a four-year degree within six years at the school where they started, and most who don't finish by then likely never will.

Next, a third of people with bachelor's degrees are in jobs that don't require them.

Finally, the National Assessment of Adult Literacy suggests serious watering down of a college degree. In 1992 about 40 percent of adults whose highest degree was a bachelor's were proficient in reading prose. In 2003 — the only other year the NAAL was administered — only 31 percent were. Among people with advanced degrees, prose proficiency dropped from 51 percent to 41 percent.

Again, spending hasn't translated into better education.

To someone who doesn't know about these sorry results spending federal money on education probably seems rational. But President Obama must know the facts, which means when he decries cuts in education spending, it can't be about what's educationally best. It must be about what's politically best for him.


Hundreds of British schools facing closure over stalling High School  results

Hundreds of schools face being closed or taken over as GCSE results stall for the first time in the exam’s 25-year history.

Results for nearly 700,000 pupils this morning are expected to show little or no improvement on last year and grades falling in some subjects.

Ministers are also driving up the minimum GCSE performance target for secondary schools.

Heads must ensure that at least 40 per cent of pupils achieve five GCSEs at grades A* to C including English and maths – up from 35 per cent for the past two years.

Schools which miss the target risk being closed or converted into academies – state-funded schools outside local authority control.

Last year’s GCSE results suggest that more than 250 schools are below the tough new floor target.

If hoped-for improvements in results fail to materialise today, a similar number could find themselves falling short this year.

Moves by exam watchdogs to contain ‘grade inflation’ are expected to end the era of large year-on-year increases in results.  In addition the number of pupils sitting easier vocational qualifications has been cut and science exams have been toughened.

Last week, for the first time in more than 20 years, A-level results showed a drop in the proportion of A grades awarded.


Australia: Empty education promises from the Federal Left

Who could ever deny our children the best education possible? It is of critical importance and Australia can offer no greater commitment to ensure the prosperity of the nation and its next generation.

But in this week's blizzard of words over the future of the Gonski report into education funding, the government is pulling a cruel hoax on Australia.

The government does not have the $26 billion required over a forward estimates period to cover its airy promises of better teachers and no school being left worse off in real terms.

All we have is a government addicted to making big announcements and locking in spending like there is no tomorrow, when in reality, all it is offering is false hope.

Recent history in Britain is a prime example of such false hope. The former Labour government led by Gordon Brown left David Cameron's government a crushing legacy of unfunded commitments with a series of unachievable promises.

Labor here are following the lead from their cousins on the other side of the world. Take, for instance, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, which the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, promised Labor would deliver. What Gillard and Labor have actually done is announce four NDIS trial sites. This is a long way short of committing the $8 billion that will be required to adequately service the NDIS every year.

If the government has really launched the NDIS, as it claims to have done, then the cost is not accounted for in its budget. Labor's only financial commitment is $1 billion for trial sites.

The best we get from the Prime Minister is an admission the government will have to make "substantial savings" to achieve her outcomes.

It was hard not to laugh when she said on Sunday "you've got to be prudent with every dollar, and we are". This is a Labor government that has made waste and mismanagement an artform, such as in the failed border protection policy that has incurred a $4.7 billion blowout or the $50 billion national broadband network that is a massive drain on the nation's resources.

The truth is that Labor will have no choice but to raise taxes to pay for its gargantuan promises. The Labor senator Doug Cameron said as much a fortnight ago when he said it was "inconceivable that this amount of government expenditure on building a good society could be funded from existing revenue".

In effect, the Treasury Secretary, Martin Parkinson, and now his predecessor Ken Henry are in agreement; Labor cannot continue checking expenditure against the nation's credit card. In the end, someone has to pay the bill.

With an election not due for possibly 15 months, the Coalition will not be making promises it cannot keep.

If a Coalition government is elected we have pledged, based on present information, a budget surplus in our first year and each year after that.

Unlike Labor, the Coalition is not hiding from funding its promises. Savings measures such as a reduction in the number of public servants have already been announced, with many areas of policy already costed and ready to deliver at the appropriate time. And if we are elected, a commission of audit into government finances will immediately begin a top-to-bottom review of government administration, identifying areas for immediate cuts to put an end to government waste and mismanagement.

Labor wants us to believe it will deliver a budget surplus in 2012-13 - a wafer thin $1.5 billion or just 0.1 per cent of gross domestic product. Contrast that with their record; just a year ago they forecast a $23 billion deficit for the 2011-12 financial year, which then turned out to be $44 billion. Four programs alone - schools funding, the NDIS, border protection and new submarines for the Australian navy - account for almost $75 billion in unfunded government promises.

Much rests on what will be revealed in the mid-year economic fiscal outlook due in November, and more importantly the budget in May.

Labor has introduced or increased 26 taxes since it came to power - including a carbon tax that was never supposed to happen.

Now the public has to suffer the indignity of a government providing nothing but false hope, for genuinely needed government programmes that have been promised but remain unfunded.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Educational Lunacy

Walter E. Williams
If I were a Klansman, wanting to sabotage black education, I couldn't find better allies than education establishment liberals and officials in the Obama administration, especially Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who in March 2010 announced that his department was "going to reinvigorate civil rights enforcement."

For Duncan, the civil rights issue was that black elementary and high school students are disciplined at a higher rate than whites. His evidence for discrimination is that blacks are three and a half times more likely to be suspended or expelled than their white peers. Duncan and his Obama administration supporters conveniently ignored school "racial discrimination" against whites, who are more than two times as likely to be suspended as Asians and Pacific Islanders.

Heather Mac Donald reports on all of this in "Undisciplined," appearing in City Journal (Summer 2012). She writes that between September 2011 and February 2012, 25 times more black Chicago students than white students were arrested at school, mostly for battery. In Chicago schools, black students outnumber whites by four to one.

Mac Donald adds, "Nationally, the picture is no better. The homicide rate among males between the ages of 14 and 17 is nearly ten times higher for blacks than for whites and Hispanics combined. Such data make no impact on the Obama administration and its orbiting advocates, who apparently believe that the lack of self-control and socialization that results in this disproportionate criminal violence does not manifest itself in classroom comportment as well."

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, nationally during 2007-2008, more than 145,000 teachers were physically attacked. Six percent of big-city schools report verbal abuse of teachers, and 18 percent report non-verbal disrespect for teachers. An earlier NCES study found that 18 percent of the nation's schools accounted for 75 percent of the reported incidents of violence, and 6.6 percent accounted for 50 percent. So far as serious violence, murder and rapes, 1.9 percent of schools reported 50 percent of the incidents. The preponderance of school violence occurs in big-city schools attended by black students.

Educators might not see classroom comportment as a priority. According to a recent hire, a Baltimore high school now asks prospective teachers: "How do you respond to being mistreated? What do you do if someone cusses you out?" The proper answer is: "Nothing." That vision might explain why a 34-year veteran of the school had to be taken from the premises in an ambulance after a student shattered the glass in a classroom display case.

Mac Donald reports that a fifth-grade teacher in St. Paul, Minn., scoffs at the notion that minority students are being unfairly targeted for discipline, saying "Anyone in his right mind knows that these (disciplined) students are extremely disruptive."

In response to the higher disciplinary rates for minority students, the St. Paul school district has spent $350,000 for teacher "cultural-proficiency" training sessions where they learn about "whiteness." At one of these sessions, an Asian teacher asked: "How do I help the student who blurts out answers and disrupts the class?" The black facilitator said: "That's what black culture is." If a white person made such a remark, I'm sure it would be deemed racist.

Some of today's black political leaders are around my age, 76, such as Reps. Maxine Waters, Charles Rangel, John Conyers, former Virginia Gov. Douglas Wilder, Jesse Jackson and many others. Ask them what their parents would have done had they cursed, assaulted a teacher or engaged in disruptive behavior that's become routine in far too many schools. Would their parents have accepted the grossly disrespectful public behavior that includes foul language and racial epithets? Their silence and support of the status quo represent a betrayal of epic proportions to the blood, sweat and tears of our ancestors in their struggle to make today's education opportunities available.


Cramming for exam success 'is counterproductive'

Staying up late to ‘cram’ is actually counterproductive, according to a study which has shown that students who work into the small hours do worse in their exams.

But researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, discovered American teenagers who took a more planned approach to their studies achieved better grades.

They looked at 535 teenage pupils who they followed for a number of years. The volunteers were asked to complete homework and sleep diaries for a fortnight in the ninth grade (at the age of 14), 10th grade (15 years) and 12th grade (17 years).

Those who regularly stayed up late to study reported more instances where they did not understand something in class or did poorly in a test. The research is published in the journal Child Development.

Andrew Fuligni, professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral at UCLA, said: “Our results indicated that extra time spent studying cuts into adolescents' sleep on a daily basis, and it is this reduced sleep that accounts for the increase in academic problems that occurs after days of increased studying.

"Although these nights of extra studying may seem necessary, they can come at a cost."

He advised: “Academic success may depend on finding strategies to avoid having to give up sleep to study, such as maintaining a consistent study schedule across days, using school time as efficiently as possible, and sacrificing time spent on other, less essential activities."



Half of British pupils failing in High School  maths and science

Hundreds of thousands of teenagers are being denied the chance to pursue highly-skilled careers after failing in science and maths at secondary school, according to research.

Jobs in engineering and technology are being “closed off too early” for as many as half of schoolchildren because of a lack of qualified teachers and priority being given to other subjects.

Figures show that in some areas fewer than a third of pupils finish compulsory education with at least a C grade GCSEs in maths and two separate sciences – seen as the minimum requirement for further study or apprenticeships.

The report, by Education for Engineering (E4E), a body representing the engineering industry, found that almost a fifth of pupils were not even entered for two sciences.

Rhys Morgan, the organisation’s head of secretariat, said: “For too many young people the pathway to a rewarding career in science and engineering is being closed off too early.

“The minimum qualifications for progression to science, engineering and technology roles would usually be A*-C grades in two science GCSEs and in mathematics.

“But we have found that only half of young people achieve this and strong evidence to suggest that of those that don’t, many are enrolling on less than the double science they will need to keep their careers options open.”

According to figures, around half of pupils currently fail to gain good grades in maths and two sciences, but performance differs significantly between local authorities.

Trafford in Greater Manchester had the highest participation and achievement rate in the country, with more than two-thirds gaining high scores in the subject. The worst performing area was Blackpool where just 31 per cent of pupils hit the target.

The study also showed that many pupils were being denied the chance to sit separate science GCSEs in biology, chemistry and physics. Only 18 per cent sat exams in the three sciences in 2010.

A further fifth of pupils failed to take at least two sciences and one-in-12 were not entered for any GCSEs in the subject at all.

Dr Morgan added: “Teachers and pupils work hard to achieve in their exams, but some pupils are enrolling on options that will limit them in the future.”


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Massachusetts school district launches student condom policy

A Massachusetts school district will be contacting parents in the next two weeks to detail a new program allowing students ages 12 and older to have access to condoms.

The Springfield Republican reports that officials with Springfield's School Department will emphasize that parents and guardians have the right to opt out if they do not want their children to get condoms.

The access to condoms by school nurses is part of a "comprehensive reproductive health policy" that was approved in a 4-to-3 vote by the School Committee in April. The intent is to reduce teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted illnesses.

Letters and opt-out forms will be mailed before school starts, targeting families of middle- and high-school students ages 12 and older. Parents also will be contacted by phone.


Working-class pupils lose out because they are 'too polite'

What a load of bollocks!  Lack of confidence or not knowing the answers I can believe but "polite" is just a politically correct gloss

Middle-class children are more likely to put their hands up in the classroom and ask questions than peers from working class homes, research suggests.

Pupils from wealthier households have more natural confidence at school after being taught by mothers and fathers to engage with authority figures, it was claimed.

The study found that children with working-class parents were more polite and courteous in lessons but often shunned teachers and attempted to solve problems alone – hampering their long-term academic development.

It was feared that the differences in classroom behaviour by the two groups may have knock-on effects in later life as poorer children slip further behind richer classmates.

The disclosure – in research published in the United States – comes amid continuing concerns over link between social class and educational achievement.

One British study earlier this year found that the highest-performing pupils from disadvantaged families lagged around two-and-a-half years behind bright children brought up in wealthy homes by the age of 15.

Despite an extensive Labour drive to boost access to higher education, it also emerged that the richest schoolchildren were around six times more likely to go on to a top Russell Group universities than the poorest fifth.

Jessica Calarco, assistant professor of sociology at Indiana University, assessed the classroom behaviour of primary-age pupils as part of the latest research.  She said: "Even very shy middle-class children learned to feel comfortable approaching teachers with questions, and recognised the benefits of doing so.

"Working-class children instead worried about making teachers mad or angry if they asked for help at the wrong time or in the wrong way, and also felt that others would judge them as incompetent or not smart if they asked for help.

"These differences, in turn, seem to stem not from differences in how teachers responded to students – when working-class students did ask questions, teachers welcomed and readily addressed these requests – but from differences in the skills, strategies and orientations that children learn from their parents at home."

The study was based on observations of a class of state school children aged nine to 11 over a two year period. Children were assessed twice a week and then interviewed with their parents over the summer holidays.

Research revealed that pushy parents from all kinds of social backgrounds attempted to teach their children how to behave at school and work hard.

But a clear class divide in their methods emerged.  Working class parents were more likely to emphasise the role of politeness and courtesy and being deferential to authority, it was revealed. They would also tackle assignments or projects but on their own without asking for help.

In contrast, middle class children were encouraged to raise their hand, ask questions and not be afraid to ask for help when needed.

These children are then more likely to be noticed by teachers who tend to reward such behaviour, said the study. It meant that they became more outgoing as they get older, which could help as they get jobs or have to deal with authority in other ways, it emerged.


Australia: Federal aid to private schools still an issue for some on the Left

It's just gone 50 years since what is now called the Goulburn Schools Strike. On Friday July 13, 1962, six Catholic schools in the Goulburn diocese closed and instructed their pupils to enrol the following Monday in the government school system. Some 2000 Catholic pupils applied for entry into the public school system, which had only 640 vacancies.

The immediate cause of the protest was the refusal of NSW health authorities to install additional toilet facilities at Our Lady of Mercy Preparatory School in Goulburn. It was driven by members of the Catholic laity who were frustrated that they received no government support for the funding of the Catholic school system, which had been formed at the end of the 19th century.

The story of the Goulburn School Strike is documented in Michael Hogan's book The Catholic Campaign for State Aid (1978) and in the Commonwealth Education Department's publication entitled A History of State Aid (2006). The incident attracted widescale national media attention. Yet it was not successful, and within a couple of weeks, the Catholic school children returned to their original schools.

In her speech to the Independent Schools National Forum yesterday, the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, referred to that "first, famous Menzies science laboratories program which gave so many independent schools a historic boost". Correct. The reference was to the decision of Robert Menzies's Coalition government, on the eve of the 1963 federal election, to commit the Commonwealth to provide financial aid for the establishment of science blocks in both government and non-government schools.

This did not happen by chance. The Menzies government had achieved only a narrow victory in the 1961 election. It was saved by a strong first preference flow from the Democratic Labor Party, which had been formed as a consequence of the Labor Split of the mid-1950s. B.A. Santamaria (the president of the Catholic lay organisation the National Civic Council) and others convinced the Coalition of the need to make a gesture to the largely Catholic DLP voters.

The tactic worked in 1963. So much so that it was tried again four years later. In 1967, the Victorian Liberal Party premier Henry Bolte was worried that he might lose seats to the Country Party. This time Santamaria, working with the DLP, sent a message to Bolte that the DLP could well preference the Country Party ahead of the Liberals if the Liberals did not make a gesture to DLP supporters.

Bolte got the message. In 1967 the Liberal Party announced that, if re-elected, it would provide a form of per capita payments to children attending non-government primary schools. By the end of the 1960s, the principle of government assistance to non-government schools and students had been firmly established. Soon after, Labor, which had long opposed assisting non-government schools, came on board.

From time to time, sections of the left have tried to change the policy. Before she became Labor premier of Victoria, Joan Kirner was active in the Defence of Government Schools (DOGS) organisation - which was really an attack dog aimed at non-government schools.

Appearing on Jonathan Green's Sunday Extra on Radio National last weekend, Ben Eltham declared that the $6.5 billion annually needed to fund the Gonski Report "would easily be found if private schools, the elite private schools in particular, were not receiving any funding at all".

Apparently Eltham is unaware of the message of Goulburn half a century ago. If government funding to non-government schools ceased or was significantly reduced, there would be a movement of students from the private to the public sector. This would amount to a significant cost to the Commonwealth and state budgets.

Then there is the politics. Many families in the suburbs and regional centres - where most of the marginal seats are located - want their children to attend moderate-fee, non-government schools. Mainstream Labor understands this, even if many inner-city leftists do not.

The hostility of the education unions to private schools turns on the fact that some non-government schools challenge the public sector model. Quite a few private schools have larger class sizes than their public school counterparts. Moreover, all give principals the right to hire and fire teachers and to terminate poor performers. The teachers unions, on the other hand, frequently defend the incompetent and the lazy among their members.

In the United States, Britain and now Western Australia, governments are establishing "charter" or "free" schools, which are publicly funded but operate independently from the education bureaucracy. The Coalition, led by Christopher Pyne on this issue, is beginning to embrace this initiative.

Prime Minister Gillard has performed well in standing up to the education unions and introducing such initiatives as the My School website. Her support for independent schools is in this tradition.

The real test, however, will turn on funding. Her speech yesterday did not resolve this issue.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

95%  of last year's 882 NYPD school arrests involved minorities

NYPD school safety officers were ticketing or arresting students last school year at an average clip of eleven pupils per day, data released Tuesday revealed.

Black and Latino students were collared in 95% of the 882 total arrests, while blacks and Latinos make up about 71% of the city’s student body of about a million pupils.

The NYPD data, released to the City Council under a law passed last year, revealed that 1,666 tickets were also issued during the school year.  Nearly three-quarters of the students arrested were male.

“If the Bloomberg administration is serious about helping young men of color succeed, then it must address these disparities and focus more resources on educating children, not arresting them,” argued Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Top NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said Lieberman was ignoring the circumstances of the complaints that prompted the arrests.  "The NYCLU’s kneejerk reaction to claim racism is as old as it is false,” he said. “It knows better than to compare arrests against population instead of description of suspects provided by victims.”

The data, which rounds out the first annual figures disclosed under the law, did not include arrests made by police officers based out of precincts.


'Mickey Mouse' subjects taken by 90% of British pupils: Soft courses to be axed from league tables

Nearly nine out of ten 16-year-olds last year took at least one ‘Mickey Mouse’ subject such as ‘cake making’, ‘party décor’ and ‘sugar confection’ which are being purged from school league tables.

Education Secretary Michael Gove is cracking down on the flimsy subjects which under Labour were billed as being equal in part or whole to GCSEs in maths and physics.

New information from the Department for Education revealed the extent to which children had been pushed on to the range of thousands of courses outside the core subjects.

Some 552,575 pupils took at least one of the so-called ‘equivalent’ qualifications last year. The number of pupils taking a core academic subject – such as maths, a science, English, languages, history and geography – halved under Labour to barely one in six.

Meanwhile the sheer number of qualifications on offer had become  so unwieldy that 225 of them were taken by just a single pupil each,  and 791 were taken by fewer than  ten pupils.

Some of those qualifications that were deemed to be equal in part or whole to maths and physics GCSEs included a course in ‘drinks service’ which was taken by just five pupils.

Just one student took ‘sugar confection’. Nine pupils took qualifications in ‘call centre skills’ while ‘party décor’ was taken by 11 pupils. Cake decorating proved more popular – it was taken by 40 pupils, while pastry craft attracted seven students.

Tap dance was popular with 22 students who took one of seven qualifications in the subject.

Just one pupil took a qualification in ‘front of house ops’ while 31 opted for ‘soft furnishings’. And four students took ‘water sports’ as a school subject. Make-up was taken up as a GCSE equivalent by 202 students while 16 took a qualification in ‘jewellery making’.

A course on ‘health and safety’ was taken by 6,025 pupils while the ambiguous ‘working with others’ attracted 22,885 pupils.

There were a total of 1.9million entries in the so-called ‘equivalent’ qualifications.

Mr Gove has despaired over how few students take core academic subjects for their GCSEs. Just one in six 16-year-olds chose subjects such as English, maths, a science, history, geography and languages.

Ministers are cutting the value of more than 3,100 vocational qualifications from this year, ending their recognition in England’s school league tables.  They hope the move will make it less likely for schools to offer such qualifications as they will no longer have any equivalence with GCSEs in more academic subjects.

By 2014, only 140 ‘equivalent’ subjects will count in GCSE tables. Tory MP Chris Skidmore said: ‘These figures lay bare how Labour lied to a generation, falsely giving them the impression that qualifications that employers will all too often regard as irrelevant were "equivalent" to GCSEs in rigorous subjects like maths and science.  Hundreds of thousands of young people are now paying the price for their deception.

‘In tough economic times, we must make every effort to ensure that our children are learning the subjects that employers and universities value most so they can compete for jobs once they leave education.

‘That is why the Government is right to remove these courses from the league tables and to promote rigorous academic subjects through the English Baccalaureate.’



Australian private schools to get more Federal funding

With 40% of Australian teenagers going to private schools, this was a no-brainer.  The parents concerned also vote.  The Labor party has obviously not forgotten Mark Latham's rout over his threat to reduce private school funding. 

It was a conservative government (in 1963 under  Menzies) that initiated Federal funding for private schools and conservatives have owned the issue ever since

Australian parents have the sort of choice that American voucher advocates only dream of

THE Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, will today reveal that every independent school will receive an increase in government funding regardless of its wealth.

The announcement, a significant victory for the private school lobby, goes beyond the government's previous pledge that no school would lose a dollar under funding reforms.

It is designed to head off the Coalition scare campaign that private schools would have to increase fees because their funding would not increase in real terms under the long-awaited overhaul of school funding.

At an independent education forum in Canberra today, Ms Gillard will say there should be government support to educate every child from the poorest and most remote school to the best known and best resourced.

"Every independent school in Australia will see their funding increase under our plan," she is expected to say. "This plan will lift school standards, not school fees.

"No matter how rich or poor your parents are or where you go to school, our nation should provide a basic degree of support to your education."

Speaking to the Herald this month, Ms Gillard signalled she wanted to swing the national debate back to Labor policy strengths such as education, disability and industrial relations.

Today's funding pledge is a massive departure from former Labor leader Mark Latham's notorious private school "hit list", which would have resulted in 67 of the nation's wealthiest schools losing funding.

Labor has been determined not to antagonise the private school sector after the "hit list" was one of the policies blamed for its 2004 election loss.

David Gonski, who chaired the first major review into school funding in 40 years, was given the task of ensuring no school would lose a dollar as a result of its recommendations. But Ms Gillard will today go a step further and say every independent school will receive a funding increase.

The states and independent and Catholic education systems have raised concerns that modelling showed 3254 schools could lose out if the Gonski model was strictly applied. This includes 227 Catholic schools, 720 government schools and 103 independent schools in NSW.

However, the Gonski modelling assumes government and Catholic education systems would redistribute funding to ensure no school was worse off.

The federal government's final response to the Gonski review was initially expected this week but is now expected next month.

The review recommended the federal and state governments boost spending on education by $5 billion a year, with the majority to go to public schools.

The model aims to address disadvantage by allocating a standard amount per student, with loadings for students with a disability and those from low-income, indigenous and non-English speaking backgrounds.

The Commonwealth is expected to tip in $3 billion - double the amount the Gonski review suggested - with the states also required to contribute.

However, the funding will be conditional on schools submitting a performance plan on how they would improve student results and more training and annual performance reviews for teachers.


Monday, August 20, 2012

The last laugh

Asinine Education Officials

September's coming, so let's look at the latest way our federal government screws up public schools.

Black students are suspended or expelled far more than white students - 350% more. President Obama's Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, claims it's because of white racism. I think that's baloney. Black students are disciplined more because they misbehave more, but it doesn't matter what I think.  Liberals are in charge of the US Department of Education, most state education departments, and all teachers' unions. What they think is what matters. They think they can solve the problem the same way they try to solve so many other social problems - by blaming it on racism and spending money on it.

The result is always the same too: It gets worse and we go further into debt because nearly half the money they spend is borrowed from China. Obama Administration officials and civil rights advocates like to repeat one phrase, according to Heather MacDonald, writing in her City Journal essay Undisciplined: the "school to prison pipeline."

They think racist schools steer black students to prison. They believe white racist discrimination causes poverty and poverty causes crime. They're completely stuck in that sixties mindset and cannot think any other way. That would be fine, but they're running our schools and spending billions. MacDonald points out that white boys are suspended or expelled twice as often as Asian or Pacific Islander boys, but administration officials ignore that. It doesn't fit their world view. Neither do they seem to notice correlation between black misbehavior in schools and the black murder rate.

"The homicide rate among males between the ages of 14 and 17 is nearly ten times higher for blacks than for whites and Hispanics combined," writes MacDonald. "Such data make no impact on the Obama administration and its orbiting advocates, who apparently believe that the lack of self-control and socialization that results in this disproportionate criminal violence does not manifest itself in classroom comportment as well."

Why the blindness? It's easy to explain. These officials are all devout members of the multicultural priesthood. They mustn't look at cultural clues among black students like fatherlessness, drug use, (c)rap music, domestic violence, graffiti, sexual behavior, "ebonics," generational welfare, domestic violence - to name just a few. It's okay to bring up those things if you're going to blame them on racism, but if you were to suggest that the black community itself might share responsibility for any of it - or might even foster it in some cases - you'd be quickly labeled "racist" and shunned.

In graduate school during the 70s, I was trained to apply standardized tests to students measuring intelligence, achievement, and various other learning abilities. If I obtained low scores measuring intelligence, there were items to rule out lest it skew an individual student's profile, and one was "cultural deprivation." It had to be considered when trying to determine if a student had enough gray matter to learn what the school was trying to teach. In other words, he might be intelligent but his culture was holding him back. But as I said, that was back in the 70s. Writing anything like that in a student's folder today would be dangerous to one's career.

When black students or any other students are suspended or expelled, follow them out to their cars. Watch them struggle to get in with their pants hanging down below their asses and their hats on sideways. What do you hear as they pull away? Even if you're deaf, you would likely feel the air around you literally vibrate from a deep base box in the trunk with a (c)rap music beat. Listen to the anger and hate in the "ebonic" lyrics. There are definite cultural clues there about what may be affecting their behavior, but Arne Duncan and his ilk have to ignore them. To acknowledge them would force a modification of their entire world view.

(C)Rap is the signature music of a sick, black subculture. Unfortunately though, it's celebrated in countless award ceremonies televised around the world. It's worshiped and glorified by Hollywood and by students of all races and it's not good. It's poison, and the solid black Christian culture from which emerged people like the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. wanes as the sick, black subculture spreads.

American Heritage Dictionary defines multiculturalism as: "The view that the various cultures in a society merit equal respect and scholarly interest. It became a significant force in American society in the 1970s and 1980s as African-Americans, Latinos, and other ethnic groups explored their own history." To the multicultural priesthood, I'm obviously a heretic and I don't march in their parade. I believe that good and bad are perfectly fine adjectives to use when describing culture. Cultural trends that degrade women and kill children are bad. Cultural trends that nurture them are good. Our educational elite doesn't seem to get this because they drink multicultural Kool-Aid every day. That's how they "race to the top" of their profession. And yes, the puns are intentional.

Regardless of race, students who misbehave must be removed from classrooms lest they deprive others students of their right to education. Anyone who doesn't understand that shouldn't be making education policy. They shouldn't be in the profession at all.


British High School  students must be told the whole truth about the value of a degree

"Mis-selling of higher education is one of the least remarked upon scandals of our time"

To listen to ministers talk about university education, it is as if Britain has entered an academic arms race with the rest of the world. China’s universities, we’re told, are spewing out six million graduates a year: we must compete, or we’re doomed. In the Blair years, a national target was set: half of all young people ought to enter higher education. They’d have to get into debt, but they were reassured it would be a worthwhile investment. Having some letters after your name meant going further in your careers and earning far more. Those without a degree, by implication, would enter the workplace at a distinct disadvantage.

It is surprising that David Willetts should continue this line of argument, because he is clever enough to know what simplistic nonsense it is. It is understandable for the Universities Minister to be in favour of studying, but the real picture of education in Britain is far more complex. The idea of a binary divide in the career prospects of graduates and non-graduates is not a picture that would be recognised by employers. In many lines of work, those who did not get the A-levels for university now have a future just as bright (or otherwise) as the graduates.

From the moment that John Major started to abolish student grants, the British government has been in the business of selling (rather than simply providing) higher education. Yes, studying costs, runs the argument, but it is an investment: what students pay is a small fraction of what they will get back.

Then came the proliferation of courses and institutions, from BA (Hons) in Golf Management at the University of the Highlands and Islands to Trade Union Studies at Blackpool College. The definition of a degree has changed massively, but the financial argument used for getting one has not changed at all.

When Mr Willetts trebled the cap on university fees, he justified this by arguing that a university degree will “on average boost your earnings by £100,000 over a lifetime”. If true, that would – more or less – justify the average £40,000 of debt which is expected to face those who start college this autumn. But it doesn’t take a A* in A-level maths to suspect that the £100,000 figure disguises a vast range of alternative scenarios, many of which imply disadvantage for those who, for whatever reason, give university a miss.

Last year the Government released a research paper that spelt it out. For doctors and dentists, a degree is a prerequisite. They will earn £400,000 more over a lifetime, as you might expect, having been fully trained for a well-paid profession. But for students admitted to less rigorous degrees, the premium quickly diminishes – especially for men. Those who graduate in the subjects I studied, history and philosophy, can expect to earn a paltry £35 a year more than non-graduates. For graduates in “mass communication” the premium is just £120 a year. But both are better value than a degree in “creative arts”, where graduates can actually expect to earn £15,000 less, over a lifetime, than those who start work aged 18.

With employment, it’s not much better. The old joke – “What do you say to an arts graduate? 'Big Mac and fries, please’”– has all too much resonance now. Of recent graduates, almost a third are in jobs that don’t require anything more than GCSEs. One in 10 recent graduates is now on the dole. All youth unemployment is tragic, but there is something especially scandalous about young people who have been sold a vision of graduate life, only to find it was a piece of spin to sweeten the bitter pill of student loans. The mis-selling of higher education is one of the least remarked-upon scandals of our time.

The simplistic argument – that the brightest get the best grades and go to the best universities – would be more convincing if Britain had a meritocratic education system. But here, perhaps more than any other country, the quality of exam results are linked to background. For all the egalitarian aims of the comprehensive school system, it has produced the opposite: a system where a direct relationship can be drawn between pupils’ exam results and their families’ wealth. Scandalously few of those who live in our sink estates will have done much celebrating after their A-levels yesterday.

The league tables, showing the best state schools, bear a suspicious resemblance to prosperity indices. And this is not, to paraphrase Neil Kinnock, because British children from poor backgrounds are thick. It is strange how, after each set of A-level results, there is a uproar about how many pupils who qualified for free school meals are admitted into Oxford University – but less interest in how these children do so much worse at school, from primary years onwards. Employers have learnt that bright children don’t necessarily have the best GCSEs.

The ministerial focus of education as an economic tool risks missing the larger point. David Cameron’s Government is doing much to make the system work better. The most pernicious equation in public life, between wealth and GCSE results, cannot be found in the new breed of Academy schools. The Harris Academy group, which runs 13 schools in deprived inner-city boroughs, announced yesterday that it is sending pupils to Bristol University for maths, Warwick University for law and Imperial College for medicine. These sixth-formers would have enrolled at the school when it was a fledgling New Labour project; now there are hundreds of Academy schools. It is perhaps the most rapidly vindicated social experiment of modern times.

Even for undergraduates, things may be on the turn. Tuition at Britain’s best universities has always ranked among the best in the world; it is the lower-ranking colleges that have tended to short-change students. Mr Willetts’s decision to remove the cap on places for students with AAB at A-level should soon have universities competing for pupils with such grades. Next year, this will hold true for pupils with ABB results. Having introduced the bad side of a market system (fees), the proper side (competition for custom) will finally get under way.

By next year, all universities will be forced to release information on graduate employment rates for each course. This will help students work out if they are being conned. If all goes well, the number of good courses will expand, and the courses that serve neither students nor society will be exposed. And while there has been a dip in university applications, it has come from wealthier students. The offer of bursaries for students from the lowest-income families seems to be having the desired effect.

Much has been written about the "jilted generation" and how twentysomethings feel betrayed, saddled with debt and robbed of prospects. Unemployed graduates, all 130,000 of them, will be richly entitled to such resentment. Theirs may well end up being known as the transition generation, those sold university education for a hefty fee, before they were able to know what they were buying. But there is an upside to all this. If a degree is no guarantee of success in modern Britain, then the lack of one is no guarantee of failure. For those whose A-level results have precluded university, there is still all to play for.


Australia:  Ombudsman slams Victorian University over soft marking allegations

VICTORIA'S Ombudsman has slammed Swinburne University in his annual report.

According to Ombudsman George Brouwer, a whistleblower reported that “a supervisor had directed a teacher to pass all of their students to ensure the university received upcoming federal government funding".

Mr Brouwer referred the allegation to the university for independent investigation, which found the claim was baseless.

However the Ombudsman criticises the process on seven counts, including a refusal by the investigator to address the federal funding issue and because; “the conclusions did not contain any analysis of the facts and findings of the investigation; specifically, there was no discussion of evidence that appeared to support the allegation”.

Although the university revised the report when challenged by the Ombudsman’s staff, “even the revision was inadequate, addressing only four of the concerns I had raised".

"I determined to finalise the matter in any case, as I considered that the outstanding issues were unlikely to significantly affect the outcome of the investigation, especially at such a late stage,” Mr Brouwer’s report states.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Tax Raisers Slam Voters For ‘Lack of Investment’ in $355 MILLION Florida School District

Earlier this week, voters in Florida’s Marion County school district went to the polls and defeated a union-supported effort to raise property taxes, which would have “saved” music, art and library programs.

In response to the narrow 52-48 percent vote, tax increase advocates became unhinged. The superintendent of schools, who made no mention of reforming compensation packages for employees, told the Ocala Star-Banner , “(The vote) means that the community does not support music, art and library programs.”

The group pushing for the tax, Marions United for Public Education, offered a more searing indictment, courtesy of its president, Nancy Noonan, “… (T)he lack of investment in Marion County schools will haunt the district in the months and years ahead.”

What is Marion County taxpayers “lack of investment” exactly? According to a budget posted on the school district’s website, taxpayers already cough up $355 MILLION for school operations, including $98.8 million in property taxes alone.

If a third of a billion dollars apparently isn’t enough to maintain art, music and library programs in Marion County, Florida, then voters would be wise to take a good, hard look at who they’ve hired to run their schools and analyze just what their priorities are.


Ending Free Pension Giveaway Would Save Cleveland Schools $35 Million

For a school district facing possible bankruptcy, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District was very generous with its employees during the 2010-11 school year.

For example, taxpayers may be surprised to learn they paid the pension contributions for the district and the teachers during 2010-11. So instead of just paying the district’s $49 million contribution to the State Teachers Retirement System, taxpayers took care of the teachers’ $35 million contribution, too.

Of course, taxpayers didn’t really have a choice in the matter. That agreement had already been written into the district’s collective bargaining agreement with the Cleveland Teachers Union.

Education Action Group discovered the pension giveaway – and many other budget-busting provisions – during its recent analysis of CTU’s collective bargaining agreement with the school district. Using Freedom of Information requests, EAG was able to track where some of the CMSD’s money goes, and propose how the district could save approximately $57 million.

Other remarkable findings:

 *    Cleveland Public Schools paid out nearly $11.6 million in total substitute teacher costs in 2010-11. The district’s 3,547 full-time teachers took a total of 45,757 days off during that school year (40,675 sick days and 5,082 personal). That averages to nearly 13 absences per teacher.

 *    Cleveland Public Schools paid out just over $4 million in reimbursement for unused sick days for teachers and others covered by CTU’s collective bargaining agreement in 2010-11.

 *    The Cleveland school district spent $3.9 million on automatic, annual “step” raises for teachers and other employees covered by the teacher union’s contract in 2010-11.

 *    The Cleveland school district paid out $116,423 for salary and benefits for the union president, who never taught during the 2010-11 year.

While the teachers’ contract requires the union to reimburse the district for the CTU president's salary, there is no mention of reimbursement for the cost of a replacement teacher. And if no replacement teacher was hired, then the district is, in effect, loaning money to the union to pay its president that could be used to hire at least one full-time teacher.

These are the hidden costs of an increasingly expensive government education system. Taxpayers would be wise to scrutinize how their schools are spending dollars before turning over even more hard-earned money.

The report, titled, “Sucking the Life Out of America’s Public Schools: Part 6 – Cleveland Teachers Union Contract,” is the latest in a series which includes Milwaukee, Detroit, Philadelphia, Minneapolis and Los Angeles.


Dropping the Holocaust from history lessons? What some British Schools are doing so that they Avoid Offending Muslim Students

    British teachers are also reluctant to discuss the medieval Crusades, in which Christians fought Muslim armies for control of Jerusalem: lessons often contradict what is taught in local mosques.

In Cheshire, two students at the Alsager High School were punished by their teacher for refusing to pray to Allah as part of their religious education class.

In Scotland, 30 non-Muslim children from the Parkview Primary School recently were required to visit the Bait ur Rehman Ahmadiyya mosque in the Yorkhill district of Glasgow. At the mosque, the children were instructed to recite the shahada, the Muslim declaration of faith which states: "There is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his messenger." Muslims are also demanding that Islamic preachers be sent to every school in Scotland to teach children about Islam, ostensibly in an effort to end negative attitudes about Muslims.

British schools are increasingly dropping the Jewish Holocaust from history lessons to avoid offending Muslim pupils, according to a report entitled, Teaching Emotive and Controversial History, commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills.

British teachers are also reluctant to discuss the medieval Crusades, in which Christians fought Muslim armies for control of Jerusalem: lessons often contradict what is taught in local mosques.

In an effort to counter "Islamophobia" in British schools, teachers now are required to teach "key Muslim contributions such as Algebra and the number zero" in math and science courses, even though the concept of zero originated in India.

In the East London district of Tower Hamlets, four Muslims were recently jailed for attacking a local white teacher who gave religious studies lessons to Muslim girls; and 85 out of 90 schools have implemented "no pork" policies.

Schools across Britain are, in fact, increasingly banning pork from lunch menus to avoid offending Muslim students. Hundreds of schools have adopted a "no pork" policy, according to a recent report by the London-based Daily Telegraph.

The culinary restrictions join a long list of politically correct changes that gradually are bringing hundreds of British primary and secondary education into conformity with Islamic Sharia law.

The London Borough of Haringey, a heavily Muslim district in North London, is the latest school district to switch to a menu that is fully halal (religiously permissible for Muslims).

The Haringey Town Council recently issued "best practice" advice to all schools in its area to "ban all pork products in order to cater for the needs of staff and pupils who are not permitted contact with these for religious reasons."