Friday, December 21, 2012

TSA-Style Gropings Coming Soon to Public Schools

Anytime I hear leftists look for solutions I am skeptical. Speaking in Newtown, Connecticut, Obama stated with absolute resolution, "These tragedies must end, and to end them we must change."  We have heard that word "change" before.  We must change.  OK.  How exactly?  A madman goes on a rampage and the rest of us must change?

Then Democrat operative, Kirsten Powers goes on Fox News and opines that we should make it easier to forcibly commit people.  All Americans should be on alert; we have been warned exactly what is coming.  This may be the most critical point in time for Americans to draw a line in defense of our Constitution.
Our publicly educated masses seem to collectively lack the ability to see that we are the frogs and our warm, soothing water is about to boil.  We learn a little about our Constitution in school but we do not really understand it or feel it.  If you want to see deep appreciation for American liberties, spend five minutes with an immigrant from any country in the Eastern Bloc.  We are  brainwashed to believe that "it cannot happen here." Even when the enemies of the American Dream tell us that they will dismantle us, and how they will dismantle us, we do not believe them.

We have two big problems.

The first is a public education system that fails to teach a deference for the US Constitution.  The next problem is the utter death of the Democratic Party.  It is not that the name is gone, or electoral victories are gone, but that the truly centrist, American Democratic party is like a droid or body double.  The name is there, but their agenda is increasingly associated with the Communist party, or at least massive, tyrannical government by any name. If this sounds shrill, consider this...

What if Ronald Reagan said we must change?  What would he be suggesting in terms of collective policy?  Greater church attendance, better armed citizenry, perhaps?  One thing is certain, he would never suggest that we break faith with the Constitution permanently in order to deal with a problem that is contemporary.

The Democrats have heightened their unceasing demand for gun control including demand for assault weapon bans.  Even a Rahm Emmanuel/Saul Alinsky" never let a crisis go to waste" move, Democrats are floating the idea of easing restrictions on forced mental confinement.  Is this the change that Obama envisions?  Have we forgotten that we used to do that?  Is "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" no longer required viewing?  Again, the most hard left, radical President in American history, a Democrat, has warned us that we must change.  What does he mean?  What do any hard leftists mean when they demand that people change for the sake of their own good?  Re-education camps are a central tenet of Marxism and coerced behavior is central to the Socialist ideology.  Socialist ideology holds as a sacrosanct that the collective is more important than the individual. When connecting the proverbial dots, the connections become ominous.
No change should contradict the Constitution, but today's socialistic Democrat party will never agree with that.  It cannot agree.  The Constitution holds the opposite core value to socialism. In America, the liberty of the individual is more important than the will of the collective.  Most Republicans will zealously defend the Constitution and forcefully reject any solution that defies the Constitution and curtails individual liberty. No matter how statist Obama's proposal in reaction to Newtown, here will be few, if any Democrats with the courage to break ranks and defend liberty.  They will spin and offer Orwellian "new speak" terms to replace the now absurd vision of "gun free schools" with some huge intrusive new package of big government programs offered up "for our own good" because "we must change."  The new TSA-style government department can place unionized government gropers at every school entrance.  You can bet that right now the union bosses are salivating at all the new potential government workers they could add to their rolls.

As I wrote in an earlier piece, the truth of the solution is simple, if we can handle it.  We can make schools safe and not tear another page from the Bill of Rights.  Here are three simple facts:

1)  Kennesaw, GA has the lowest crime in the country and mandates one gun per household.

2)  Switzerland is the least invaded country in the history of the world.  They mandate military service, and gun ownership.

3)  Israel deals with domestic terror every single day.  They also arm school faculty and volunteers who are well trained. They have not had a single massacre like the one at Newtown since 1970 when they put guns in their schools.

While we lock down our schools, install metal detectors and cops, the deranged killers and terrorists will always be one step ahead of us in the cat and mouse folly.  While we lock the front door, criminals will prop open the back door out take a single cop out with a shot in the back.  No matter what we label "assault weapons," from spoons to cars, the criminals will continue to commit crimes in areas where they feel safe to do so, because they know there are no weapons to stop them.  As a parent, am I thrilled with the thought of arming school staff? Honestly, no, but my fear is not based on fact or rationale.  The reality is that I can handle answers that prevent dead children, even if they make me emotionally uncomfortable.

The terrible tragedy of children murdered should be taken very seriously. Well-meaning Americans will now be left obliged to defend the Constitution in the face of a Democrat party dominated by a fifth column that sees the Constitution as the problem.  We must be willing to forcefully and civilly brace ourselves and prepare to meet their onslaught on our Constitution.  The President told us we must change. We will accept changes that are rational, Constitutional, and based on fact.  No, Mr. President, we will not accept your plans to fundamentally change us or our Constitution.


Chicago Reporter Refuses to Report Teachers Union Links to Socialist Groups

The Chicago Teachers Union and Action Now (formerly known as ACORN) staged yet another protest Tuesday, this time targeting so-called Chicago “fat cats.”

Video from the event reveals that the local Chicago media – particularly Christian Farr of NBC 5 – is uninterested in reporting the radical nature of the union and its allies. Farr said that he’s too “objective” to report such news, even though it occurred right before his eyes.

Only a single Chicago talk radio program - Wade and Roma on WLS-AM - has demonstrated the nerve to question the CTU leadership about its links with socialists. As EAG recently noted, union officials hid from the truth when confronted by the radio show hosts.

At Tuesday’s rally, EAGnews producer Jeremy Segal had a conversation with Farr regarding the fact that CTU members were seen handing out copies of a socialist newspaper. Farr said Segal was expressing “an opinion” about what they were doing.

“You just used the word ‘socialist’ – you have an opinion about what they’re doing,” Farr said. “I’m objective.”

“Will you report that they’re marching around with International Socialists?” Segal asked.

“No I’m not going to report that! That’s a judgment!” Farr yelled.

It was far from a mere “judgment.” We offer video and pictures to show it’s a fact that the CTU is palling around with far-left radicals who would overthrow the American economic system if they had the opportunity.

We thought some Chicago folks might want to know that their teachers union is interested in a bit more than teaching. Frankly, we wonder if they spend much time at all worrying about children and education.

The CTU’s newest talking points, put on display at the rally, center on the language used in “Stand Up to the Fat Cats,” a video produced by the union, which claims education reformers like Mayor Rahm Emmanuel are simply trying to privatize public education so corporations can profit.

Tom Lolagos, a retired Chicago teacher, said schools need to have “wrap-around services” and “the kind of resources that these (fat cat) people have in their suburban schools.”

Lolagos also said, “Our children do not deserve affirmative action when they go to college. They deserve it when they’re in kindergarten.”

It is clear the CTU and Action Now are going to ramp up their attacks on wealthy Chicagoans in order to protect the status quo in the failing school system, as well as CTU dues payers.

And the local media? They couldn’t care less.


Up to 90,000 students 'in Britain illegally': Thousands fail to attend courses and some don't even register

Ministers have been notified of up to 90,000 foreign students who may be living in Britain illegally.

Audits by universities and colleges have thrown up tens of thousands of students who may have broken the rules by failing to attend their courses or even register.

In August, London Metropolitan University had its licence to bring in foreign students after inspectors found thousands of illegal immigrants were studying there.

Since then, hundreds of other institutions have been examining their books to find if they have students who should not be in Britain.

The Border Agency revoked the Met’s licence after it discovered a quarter of overseas students sampled were in the UK illegally and around half may not have been attending lectures.

Problems have also been discovered at Teesside university and Glasgow Caledonian university.

UK Border Agency chief executive Rob Whiteman told the Home Affairs committee it had received 90,000 notifications since the Summer.

He said: ‘We are now working through them. We have a new team in the new year in the Liverpool area which includes some DVLA staff transferring over and those 90,000 notifications we have received will be processed by the end of March in terms of triaging them, making a decision on whether there’s important information in them.

‘Because the student notifications are greater than we expected - the London Met position led to a great many notifications coming through - we have created an additional team.’

Immigration Minister Mark Harper told the Committee that revoking London Met’s highly-trusted status had served as ‘a lesson’ to colleges and universities over ‘what would happen if they didn’t meet their sponsorship requirements’.

‘I think perhaps if they weren’t taking that seriously I think they will do now,’ he said.

Mr Whiteman also admitted that the Agency had found a backlog of 50,000 applications from immigrants which have not been entered into the UKBA database.

He said it should be cleared by March.

Committee chairman Keith Vaz asked Mr Whiteman if he could confirm the size of cases for entry to the UK that have been received but not put on the agency’s database.

After hearing the figure was 50,000, Mr Vaz said: ‘You have given me a straight and astonishing number.’

Mr Whiteman said the backlog would be cleared by March.

He said: ‘You must remember we receive one million applications a year. We work on the basis that we want all cases put on the system in a week.’

Last week Home Secretary Theresa May said she wanted to eradicate the abuse of the student visa system and encourage only the ‘brightest and the best’ to come to Britain.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

British schools plan overhaul of 11-plus to beat 'middle-class tutor factor' that sees some children coached from the age of five

Clueless.  This will just advantage the children of well-connected parents even more.  Make the system even more obscure and whom do you think will suss it out?

Grammar school entrance tests will be made ‘tutor-proof’ amid evidence that coaching for middle-class children begins as young as five.

Kent, Britain’s biggest education authority, today unveiled plans to revamp the 11-plus within two years to ease the ‘pressures’ of coaching on children.

Tuition typically begins months before the testing date, with some parents hiring coaches from the early years of primary school.

Under plans to introduce tests  ‘as resistant to coaching as possible’, parents and tutors will no longer be able to buy past papers or practice tests.

To test understanding rather than exam technique, questions will be made tougher and less formulaic.

They are likely to focus more on material covered at primary school, instead of requiring pupils to work through endless ‘reasoning’ multiple choice options.

Pupils may also face a new test of reading comprehension and more assessment of their writing skills.

The review was launched amid fears from grammar  school heads that bright children from disadvantaged backgrounds are overlooked because they miss out on coaching which helps youngsters reach the  highest marks.

Robert Masters, head of the ‘super-selective’ grammar The Judd School in Tonbridge, Kent, criticised a ‘culture of coaching’ that may lead to bright children from poorer homes being ‘leap-frogged’.

Kent’s 11-plus currently comprises tests of maths, verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning.  There is also a writing task, which is taken into account in the case of borderline candidates.

Councillor Mike Whiting, Kent’s cabinet member for education, is leading moves ‘to design a new approach to assess ability more appropriately – and in a way that is less coachable’.

Changes are expected to be introduced in time for testing in 2014, for entry in September 2015.

The initiative in Kent, which has 33 of the country’s 164 remaining grammars, is likely to be watched closely by other areas where selective schools still exist.


‘Scrooge Academy’: Parents’ fury as Christian primary school bans Christmas nativity play from the timetable

Parents have renamed a Christian primary school the 'Scrooge Academy' after it banned Christmas from the timetable.

Oasis Academy has decided there will be no nativity play for its pupils because of its poor academic performance.

The school in Nunsthorpe, near Grimsby, whose students are aged four to 11, says the festivities would interrupt pupil learning as it strives to improve achievements in maths and  English.

Parents believe the children are being deliberately punished because the move came just days after the school, prior to its academy conversion, was ranked last out of 44 in North East Lincolnshire in Department of Education Key Stage 2 rankings in Department of Education Key Stage 2 rankings.

Amanda Markey, whose child attends the school, said: 'They have stolen Christmas from the children.It should be called the Scrooge Academy. Where is the fun?

'They can take children out of class for assemblies but they can't find the time to organise a play? To say they cannot have Christmas until their grades improve is really unfair.

'Surely getting the students to learn a script for a festive play would aid learning, and the performance would build confidence. How can that not be of benefit to their education? The children are really disappointed; it has really affected them.

'Why can't they have a bit of fun on the last days of school?'

Helen Merriman-Sellars, 38, whose daughter Bethanie, 6, attends the school, said Christmas could have been incorporated into the children's lessons.

She said: 'While I agree that the school needs to focus on education, with a bit of planning they could easily have incorporated things like a nativity into lessons. It's educational for the children to learn about things like that and it's also an important part of their childhood.

'They are not at secondary school level, they are just primary school children.  There's also been a lot of bad feeling because the school left it so late in the day to tell us. If they were going to do this, they should have communicated it earlier to save as much upset.'

A spokesperson from Oasis Academy Nunsthorpe said: 'The academy realises that some parents are disappointed that we're not putting on a Christmas play this year.

'This is because such plays take many weeks of rehearsal time and, given the current context at Oasis Academy Nunsthorpe with very low standards of attainment , the academy needs to prioritise and focus rigorously on raising standards in English and maths for all our students.

'To do this, our students need to focus on their school work throughout the term. However, this far from means that we're not having any other Christmas activities and celebrations at the academy and these include a visiting theatre company, special Christmas assemblies, a Christmas fair, carols around the tree and a Christmas dinner for students and their parents to attend.

'In the future, when education standards have been notably raised at the academy, there will be an opportunity to re-introduce termly music and drama productions without compromising the students' entitlement to success and progress in key areas such and reading, writing and maths.'

And a spokesperson from the Oasis group, which runs the academy, said: 'There is a certain irony to the situation, in that people would think a Christian organisation would try to cancel Christmas.

'Christmas has not been cancelled and there have been other festive events put on instead of a nativity play.We understand that might upset some parents but we are trying to do what is best for the students.'


A dumbed down debate, but those tests still hold some lessons

Alan Reid (Professor Alan Reid is Professor Emeritus of Education at the University of South Australia) comments on recent international rankings, in which some say Australian students did badly

The release of the international TIMSS (maths and science at years 4 and 8) and PIRLS (reading at year 4) test scores last week unleashed a wave of commentary bemoaning the state of Australian education.

Unfortunately, much of it was hyperbole and misinformation that distorted the results as well as the subsequent public discussion.

Once again we have missed the opportunity to use comparative information garnered from the tests to assist our thinking about teaching and learning. When commentators misuse the data by removing many of its subtleties and complexities and by making simplistic and superficial claims, education debate is dumbed down. This has happened in several ways.

First, using results from just two year levels in only three areas of the curriculum, claims are made about the quality of Australian education. The fact is that although reading, maths and science are important, they tell us nothing about outcomes in other crucial curriculum areas such as the arts, history, civics, health and PE. Nor do we get any sense of how students are faring in such critical domains as problem-solving, inquiry, creativity and inter-cultural understanding. At best, the results present a narrow picture of student progress. The information is too limited to legitimise the kinds of sweeping judgments about the quality of education in Australia that have been made recently.

Second, the commentators took the test results at face value, without questioning the nature of the tests themselves. There are several issues associated with the construction of the tests, not the least of which is how a curriculum-based test can assume that students from every test country at year 4, for example, have covered the same material to the same depth and in the same sequence.

This would be hard enough to engineer across Australia let alone across the 50 countries that participated in the tests.

More than this, given what we know about how students read texts, the question of how test material can present as culturally neutral is another important consideration.

Unless students are taking the same test under the same set of circumstances and with the same preparation, its results must be treated with caution.

Third, the commentators invariably read the test results in isolation. In maths at year 4, Australia's mean score was significantly higher than 27 countries and below 17 countries; but by year 8 the mean score was below just six countries. Similarly in science at year 4, Australia's mean score was significantly higher than 23 countries and below 18 countries; however by year 8 we were below just nine countries.

Now, there could be any number of reasons for the improvement from year 4 to year 8, including that the foundations for study are being well laid in the primary years. But commentators can't cherry pick results to make their point. Taken together, and adding results from PISA (an international test of 15-year-old students in maths, science and reading), the international tests regularly place Australian outcomes in reading, maths and science in the top 10 countries. This does mean there is room for improvement, but it is hardly the stuff of which educational crises are made.

Finally, commentators have tended to accept the test outcomes as presenting a problem and immediately advocate strategies to address it. A favourite tactic is to propose following the policies of those countries that are in the top five of the league table.

There are problems with such an approach, including the differences in contexts between countries. In Singapore, for example, there is a concern that although students are successful in tests, their creativity is being stifled. Clearly it is useful to share information between countries, but importing policies and practices from other countries is fraught with danger.

Another tactic is to use the ''problem'' as a springboard for advocating a predetermined position. In the past week, various commentators have proposed such disparate strategies as greater school autonomy, revamped teacher education programs and voucher systems to enable school choice - all as means to improve Australia's standing in international tests.

The problem with these approaches is that they jump from an apparent problem to solution without some important intermediate steps, such as gathering and assessing the evidence, clarifying the problem, and explaining causes.

The test results should not be dismissed - and I am not suggesting Australian education can't improve - but I believe superficial readings of international test data are more likely to impede than advance the quality of education in this country.

Rather than misinterpreting the data, we would be better served by focusing on some of the issues the test results do highlight. These include the unacceptable differences in educational outcomes between students from affluent backgrounds and those who suffer educational disadvantage.

Progress in education can only be made if we respect evidence, recognise complexity, and are willing to inquire and investigate, rather than manufacture crises. A quality education system can only be achieved in the presence of quality public debates about education.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Celebrating mediocrity

The 2011 results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress for vocabulary were recently released. Missouri once again ranked near the middle of the pack: 24th for fourth grade and 27th for eighth grade. In a press release from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), Commissioner of Education Chris Nicastro said, “”We are pleased to see that students in Missouri are maintaining their overall level of achievement on the vocabulary test.”

I have two problems with this statement.

First, I am not sure Missouri students are “maintaining their overall level of achievement.” In both fourth and eighth grades, the average scale score for Missouri students declined from 2009 to 2012. The decline in fourth grade was a noticeable 3-point drop.

Secondly, we should not be pleased with maintaining our level of achievement; our goal is to improve. Moreover, we should not simply look at national rankings because our students will have to compete for jobs in a global economy.

The George W. Bush Institute has made it easy for us to compare the performance of our local school district with the performance of students around the world with its Global Report Card, which was recently updated. Here you can visit the website and see how the average student in your local school district compares to students across the globe. You may be surprised at what you find.

The average student in the Kansas City School District outperforms only 15 percent of students in other countries in math. In the Saint Louis Public School District, it is a paltry 12 percent. But do not make the mistake of thinking only students in the “big cities” are falling behind. Here is how the average student in a few other school districts compares:

Hume: 40 percent in reading, 26 percent in math

Cape Girardeau: 48 percent in reading, 29 percent in math

Springfield: 57 percent in reading, 48 percent in math

If students in Springfield were transported to Singapore, the district would only outperform 34 percent of Singapore students while students in the high-ranking Clayton School District would be at the 46th percentile.

It is time to stop celebrating mediocrity and expect more for our children.


Wisconsin Wants $19,969 for Public Documents Detailing ‘Cultural Sensitivity’ Training

Government transparency is a critical tool in the public’s accountability arsenal, so long as the public can afford it.

But when dealing with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI), transparency comes with a five-figure price tag. has been conducting an investigation into a “cultural sensitivity” teacher training program the department has been doing for the last few years.

There is a clear link between the department’s “CREATE Wisconsin” initiative and the nutty, left-wing San Francisco-based Pacific Educational Group. PEG recently made headlines when its training urged school employees to downplay American cultural staples like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, because they don’t reflect multiculturalism and some students may not be able to relate to them.

PEG’s founder, Glenn Singleton, who can only be described as a cultural Marxist, has led some of the CREATE Wisconsin training sessions himself.

The Portland, Oregon school district shelled out $526,901 in one school year to PEG, so the link to DPI piqued our interest. If a single district shelled out more than a half a million dollars to this bizarre outfit, what would a statewide contract cost Wisconsin taxpayers?

We tried to find out.

Several weeks ago we submitted a freedom of information request to DPI, seeking records and training materials from the program since its inception in 2009. We have legitimate questions, such as: How much has the department been spending on the program and its trainers? How many teachers have received this so-called “cultural sensitivity” training? Will it ever end? Has the program made any difference on student performance?

Then we received the cost estimate. To obtain those answers from DPI, it would take 104,275 pieces of paper and 175 staff hours, costing us an astounding $19,969.46 fee.

Read the response from the department’s chief legal counsel, Janet Jenkins, here.

Seeking answers from government is not for the faint of heart – or apparently the shallow of pocket.

We are doing our best to learn as much about the teacher training as we possibly can, but the exorbitant fees being leveled by State Superintendent Tony Evers’ department is making it very difficult.

Is this a case of bureaucracy gone wild? Or is DPI using outrageous fees to keep the public from learning about the public’s business?

To help our investigation – which we pledge will not wind up in the pocket of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction – click here to make a tax-deductible contribution.

Apparently it’s going to cost a lot of money to unmask this turkey of a program.


'Back-to-basics' grammar tests for British 11-year-olds revealed

New spelling, punctuation and grammar tests for 11-year-old pupils as well as proposed plans for a new higher maths qualification have been revealed today as part of Michael Gove's plans to improve literacy and numeracy in schools.

A new ‘back-to-basics’ test of spelling, punctuation and grammar to be sat by up to 600,000 primary school students from next summer was unveiled today by the Department for Education.

The new test will consist of one 45-minute grammar exam and one 15-minute spelling assessment. It will replace the discredited written component of national curriculum tests – known as Sats – sat by 11-year-old pupils, which was scrapped in 2011.

The move is a key part of Michael Gove’s ongoing education reforms to improve literacy among school pupils. Primary school results released last week showed nearly 500 schools had missed targets for the ‘three Rs’.

The writing composition Sats test was scrapped in 2011 because of concerns over inconsistent marking and fears young children struggled to come up with creative prose under formal test conditions.

The new exam, which is more focused, will assess pupils on correct use of punctuation, appropriate grammar usage including knowledge of nouns, verbs, adverbs, prepositions and the correct use of tenses and pronouns such as “I” and “me”. The tests will form part of the ‘writing’ component of Sats alongside existing teacher assessments of pupils’ written composition skills.

The grammar component will test pupils on their understanding of principles such as where to insert commas in a sentence, how to use colons and semicolons correctly, and when to use personal, relative and possessive pronouns.

The spelling assessment will ask pupils to correctly spell commonly misspelt words such as permanent, preferred and desperately.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “The new, rigorous spelling, punctuation and grammar tests will drive up standards in primary schools.

“Too little attention has been given to these core skills. It is vital that pupils are confident in key writing techniques.

It was also revealed that key GCSE subjects will be revamped to include specific marks allocated for correct spelling, punctuation and grammar.

The reforms are part of the Department for Education's efforts to address concerns from universities and employers that too many pupils arrive without basic literacy and numeracy skills despite having passed national curriculum tests.

Earlier today mathematics experts from the Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education (Acme), which advises the Government on maths education, revealed plans for a new higher maths qualification for sixth-form students who do not wish to study the subject as one of their main A-levels.

The qualification, which includes questions requiring problem-solving in real-life settings through applied use of statistics and probabilities, is expected to be embraced by ministers. Details will be set out in a report due to be published later this week.

This weekend Michael Gove told the Telegraph that he was close to announcing something "not quite as demanding as an A-level" aimed at students between 16 and 18 who are not studying maths or science A-levels.

He said: "The final piece of the jigsaw will come out shortly, for more academic students, to make sure there are courses and qualifications for them to carry on doing mathematics until the age of 18, even if they are doing humanities.

"We want to be able to support people to integrate into education post-16 a way of maintaining mathematical fluency even if, for example, they are planning to do modern languages at university.

"The economic crisis through which we are now living is a crisis of maths because people relied on dodgy equations to do the work for them."

He added that the Government is spending more money on mathematics than any other subject and has recruited 300 graduates on £11,000 bursaries to be maths specialists in primary schools, or maths teachers in secondary schools.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Texas School District Will Let Teachers Carry Guns

A tiny Texas school district may be the first in the nation to pass a law specifically allowing teachers and staff to pack heat when classes begin later this month.

Trustees at the Harrold Independent School District approved a district policy change last October so employees can carry concealed firearms to deter and protect against school shootings, provided the gun-toting teachers follow certain requirements.

Superintendent David Thweatt told the policy was initiated because of safety concerns.  "We have had employees assaulted before by people in the last several years," Thweatt said. "I think that safety is big concern. We are seeing a lot of anger in society."  He wouldn't comment further on the nature of the assaults.

The Texas superintendent linked gun-free zones with the uprising of school shootings in recent years.  "When you make schools gun-free zones, it's like inviting people to come in and take advantage," Thweatt told

In order for teachers and staff to carry a pistol, they must have a Texas license to carry a concealed handgun; must be authorized to carry by the district; must receive training in crisis management and hostile situations and must use ammunition that is designed to minimize the risk of ricochet in school halls.

Thweatt said the small community is a 30-minute drive from the sheriff's office, leaving students and teachers without protection. He said the district's lone campus sits 500 feet from heavily trafficked U.S. 287, which could make it a target. The kindergarten through 12th grade school district is home to 110 students.

Thweatt said officials researched the policy and considered other options for about a year before approving the policy change. He said the district also has various other security measures in place to prevent a school shooting.

"The naysayers think [a shooting] won't happen here," Thweatt said. "If something were to happen here, I'd much rather be calling a parent to tell them that their child is OK because we were able to protect them."

He told he doesn't think students will think twice about the new policy.  "I hope they forget all about it," he said. "We want them to pay attention [to their school work]."

Texas law outlaws firearms on school campuses "unless pursuant to the written regulations or written authorization of the institution."

While the district's plan shot them into the national spotlight, carrying guns to school is nothing new some states. In Utah, the law allows anyone with a permit to carry a gun in public schools and state institutions of higher education.

It was unclear how many of the 50 or so teachers and staff members will be armed this fall because Thweatt did not disclose that information, to keep it from students or potential attackers.


The End of the University as We Know It (Maybe)

In fifty years, if not much sooner, half of the roughly 4,500 colleges and universities now operating in the United States will have ceased to exist. The technology driving this change is already at work, and nothing can stop it. The future looks like this: Access to college-level education will be free for everyone; the residential college campus will become largely obsolete; tens of thousands of professors will lose their jobs; the bachelor’s degree will become increasingly irrelevant; and ten years from now Harvard will enroll ten million students.

We’ve all heard plenty about the “college bubble” in recent years. Student loan debt is at an all-time high—an average of more than $23,000 per graduate by some counts—and tuition costs continue to rise at a rate far outpacing inflation, as they have for decades. Credential inflation is devaluing the college degree, making graduate degrees, and the greater debt required to pay for them, increasingly necessary for many people to maintain the standard of living they experienced growing up in their parents’ homes. Students are defaulting on their loans at an unprecedented rate, too, partly a function of an economy short on entry-level professional positions. Yet, as with all bubbles, there’s a persistent public belief in the value of something, and that faith in the college degree has kept demand high.

The figures are alarming, the anecdotes downright depressing. But the real story of the American higher-education bubble has little to do with individual students and their debts or employment problems. The most important part of the college bubble story—the one we will soon be hearing much more about—concerns the impending financial collapse of numerous private colleges and universities and the likely shrinkage of many public ones. And when that bubble bursts, it will end a system of higher education that, for all of its history, has been steeped in a culture of exclusivity. Then we’ll see the birth of something entirely new as we accept one central and unavoidable fact: The college classroom is about to go virtual.

We are all aware that the IT revolution is having an impact on education, but we tend to appreciate the changes in isolation, and at the margins. Very few have been able to exercise their imaginations to the point that they can perceive the systemic and structural changes ahead, and what they portend for the business models and social scripts that sustain the status quo. That is partly because the changes are threatening to many vested interests, but also partly because the human mind resists surrender to upheaval and the anxiety that tends to go with it. But resist or not, major change is coming. The live lecture will be replaced by streaming video. The administration of exams and exchange of coursework over the internet will become the norm. The push and pull of academic exchange will take place mainly in interactive online spaces, occupied by a new generation of tablet-toting, hyper-connected youth who already spend much of their lives online. Universities will extend their reach to students around the world, unbounded by geography or even by time zones. All of this will be on offer, too, at a fraction of the cost of a traditional college education.

How do I know this will happen? Because recent history shows us that the internet is a great destroyer of any traditional business that relies on the sale of information. The internet destroyed the livelihoods of traditional stock brokers and bonds salesmen by throwing open to everyone access to the proprietary information they used to sell. The same technology enabled bankers and financiers to develop new products and methods, but, as it turned out, the experience necessary to manage it all did not keep up. Prior to the Wall Street meltdown, it seemed absurd to think that storied financial institutions like Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers could disappear seemingly overnight. Until it happened, almost no one believed such a thing was possible. Well, get ready to see the same thing happen to a university near you, and not for entirely dissimilar reasons.

The higher-ed business is in for a lot of pain as a new era of creative destruction produces a merciless shakeout of those institutions that adapt and prosper from those that stall and die. Meanwhile, students themselves are in for a golden age, characterized by near-universal access to the highest quality teaching and scholarship at a minimal cost. The changes ahead will ultimately bring about the most beneficial, most efficient and most equitable access to education that the world has ever seen. There is much to be gained. We may lose the gothic arches, the bespectacled lecturers, dusty books lining the walls of labyrinthine libraries—wonderful images from higher education’s past. But nostalgia won’t stop the unsentimental beast of progress from wreaking havoc on old ways of doing things. If a faster, cheaper way of sharing information emerges, history shows us that it will quickly supplant what came before. People will not continue to pay tens of thousands of dollars for what technology allows them to get for free.

Technology will also bring future students an array of new choices about how to build and customize their educations. Power is shifting away from selective university admissions officers into the hands of educational consumers, who will soon have their choice of attending virtually any university in the world online. This will dramatically increase competition among universities. Prestigious institutions, especially those few extremely well-endowed ones with money to buffer and finance change, will be in a position to dominate this virtual, global educational marketplace. The bottom feeders—the for-profit colleges and low-level public and non-profit colleges—will disappear or turn into the equivalent of vocational training institutes. Universities of all ranks below the very top will engage each other in an all-out war of survival. In this war, big-budget universities carrying large transactional costs stand to lose the most. Smaller, more nimble institutions with sound leadership will do best.

This past spring, Harvard and MIT got the attention of everyone in the higher ed business when they announced a new online education venture called edX. The new venture will make online versions of the universities’ courses available to a virtually unlimited number of enrollees around the world. Think of the ramifications: Now anyone in the world with an internet connection can access the kind of high-level teaching and scholarship previously available only to a select group of the best and most privileged students. It’s all part of a new breed of online courses known as “massive open online courses” (MOOCs), which are poised to forever change the way students learn and universities teach.


Faith schools account for six out of 10 top-scoring grade schools in England

This year religious schools accounted for six out of 10 primaries where every pupil reached the expected standard for English and maths at the age of 11.

They also maintained their dominance at the very top of the annual national league tables for results in these tests even though they make up only about a third of schools across the country.

Critics of faith-based schools argue that they attract more middle-class children, who are likely to do well academically because of their backgrounds, at the expense of youngsters from poorer families.

However, the schools say their success is based on their strong traditional values and the high standards they encourage all pupils to meet.

Department for Education statistics show that 896 primaries scored 100 per cent in the measure of how many of their 11-year-olds reached Level 4, the standard expected for their age group, in both English and maths this year.

Of these 552 were faith schools, nearly 62 per cent of the total, up from 60 per cent last year.

They included 406 Church of England primaries, 131 Roman Catholic, six Jewish, four Methodist, one Greek Orthodox and one Sikh. The other three simply described themselves as Christian schools.

All three of the top primaries in England were Church of England schools, based on the proportion of 11-year-old pupils who achieved the more difficult Level 5 in both English and maths.


Monday, December 17, 2012

What is so common about the Common Core?

I have heard the old adage, “the plural of anecdote isn’t data.” Nevertheless, on two occasions recently I had the opportunity to speak with teachers in public schools about the Common Core. If you are unaware, the Common Core is a series of standards for K-12 education. The standards were not developed nationally, but states have been highly incentivized (read coerced) to adopt them.

When I asked these two teachers about the changes in their districts (one teacher was from the Kansas City area, the other from the Saint Louis area) I was surprised by the commonality in their responses. It seems it is not just the standards that are common, but also the criticisms.

Though they have never met and work in completely different districts, both lamented about the increased testing associated with the Common Core.

Add testing to the growing list of complaints associated with these new standards, including:

*    Their overall lack of rigor.

 *   The math standards eliminate Algebra I in the eighth grade.
*  The tremendous costs associated with implementing the standards. Professional development, textbooks, and technology alone may cost Missouri more than $325 million.

The most interesting thing about the Common Core, in my opinion, is that our state adopted the standards with little public knowledge. Gov. Jay Nixon signed Missouri onto the initiative in August of 2009, before the standards were even drafted. Then in June of 2010, shortly after their public release, the Missouri State Board of Education adopted the standards. Thus, millions of dollars were committed and the future of Missouri’s education system was determined by a fiat rather than by the will of the people.

Bill Evers, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education, recently spoke with the Independence Institute’s Ben Degrow about the Common Core and provides a nice overview of the issues.

SOURCE.  (See the original for links)

Chicago Teachers Union Latest Group to Stoke Class Warfare With ‘Fat Cats’ Video

On the heels of the controversial California Federation of Teachers “Tax the Rich” video, the Chicago Teachers Union has produced its own class warfare-stoking cartoon, “Stand Up to the Fat Cats.”

The CTU is again attempting to slam Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the advocates of school reform as the “fat cats” who are simply looking to get rich off the government education system.

The CTU apparently doesn’t want the billionaires and “profiteers” horning in on their very lucrative territory.

Fashioned as a children’s book – likely for an audience of students – the CTU video claims several groups from around the country converged on the city to “force the educators to work longer hours, take pay cuts and move their students into unsafe buildings. These actions hurt the educators but the fats cats promised it was best for the students.”

Read in a sinister voice, the video explains in children’s terms how unions were formed and how they fought back in 2012 “when a new evil fat cat landed in Chicago.” At that moment, a mugshot of Emanuel, portrayed as an overfed feline, appears holding a jail identification sign.

It goes even more downhill from there.

This is the latest salvo from a union that is more interested in radical social revolution than pay and benefits for its members or improved student learning. And, sadly, this sort of student-focused propaganda is unsurprising, given the CTU’s leadership.

EAGnews previously reported on CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey’s radical ties to the International Socialist Organization and his recent appearance at a Marxist convention. And let’s not forget that CTU President Karen Lewis and other leaders of the union were “front-and-center with Occupy Chicago.”

Big Labor is fixated on ginning up class-based strife. Unions like the CTU are bent on forcing higher taxes for the “rich” just to continue a government spending spree that directly benefits the unions themselves, their millionaire leaders and to some degree their members.

Like the cartoon produced by the California union, this video in all likelihood will be shown in Chicago classrooms to unsuspecting children.

Wake up, parents of Chicago, unless you really don’t care about having your children converted into Young Socialists of America. Your kids will be filled with knowledge about the evils of capitalism and unfairness of American society, but they still probably won’t be able to read or do simple math.

That’s the type of “education” the CTU is delivering.


Nearly 50,000 British children let down by failing primary schools that let bright starters 'fall back into the pack'

British schools mostly focus on getting the dummies over the line and neglect brighter kids

Almost 50,000 of the brightest children have been failed at primary school despite a rise in headline pass rates, official league tables revealed yesterday.

Four in ten who were high-fliers at the age of seven failed to reach their potential and achieved only average grades in national tests at 11.

School-by-school tables for more than 15,000 primaries show that national results in English and maths SATs tests were markedly up on last year.

In 2011, 67 per cent of pupils achieved level four – the expected standard for their age – in reading, writing and maths, but this year it was 75 per cent.

However, concerns are being raised over provision for the brightest in some primaries after it emerged that 49,678 of the 125,800 pupils who were the top performers at seven did not continue on the same trajectory over the next four years.

They failed to achieve the level five in English and maths tests at the age of 11 that had been predicted by their results at seven.

The Department for Education said it was ‘unacceptable’ that children who made bright starts to their school careers had ‘fallen back into the pack’.

The tables are based on results in national tests in English and maths taken by more than 540,000 11-year-olds in England in the spring.

They show that a quarter of youngsters left primary school without a basic mastery of reading, writing and maths – down from a third last year. This means they failed to reach the expected level four in all three subjects.

The figures also show that two-thirds of pupils who were slow starters in the three Rs failed to catch up and reach the expected standard by the end of primary school.

But there were 59 schools where every pupil in the lowest-achieving group at seven had been pulled up to expected levels at the age of 11.

The number of schools failing to meet basic targets for performance fell by more than half, from 1,310 to 521.   Of these 521, 45 have already shut down or been turned into academies under the control of outside sponsors. Many of the rest now face closure or takeover.

Faith schools were more likely to achieve good results than other primaries, it emerged.  Some 62 per cent of the 896 primaries which brought all pupils up to expected levels in English and maths were faith schools, despite them making up only a third of primaries nationally.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said the results were ‘excellent news’, adding: ‘It shows the hard work that’s going on in the system and has been going on for some years.’

A Department for Education spokesman said: ‘Every child must be challenged to achieve their best. These results show that some children who were struggling at seven have made real progress by 11 and are now performing as well, or even better, than we expect.

‘However, there are still too many cases where the opposite is true. It is unacceptable that children who made such bright starts to their school career have fallen back into the pack.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Va.:  Loudoun School Board Committee rejects proposed Islamist Gülen charter school bid

Last night, a select committee of the Loudoun County School Board recommended the disapproval of an application for taxpayer funding of a charter school linked to Turkish Islamist Fethullah Gülen.  Two of the three members recommended rejection of the application outright; the third called for delay of its consideration "for cause."

This outcome is a huge, if preliminary, victory for citizens who have come together to oppose the public funding of a school associated with the Gülen Movement in the Virginia county west of Washington, D.C. The Loudoun Math and Information Technology Academy (LMITA) application will now go to the full School Board, which is expected to consider it over the next two months.

It is to be hoped that the Board's deliberations will be informed by the following notable developments:

* Public comments received by the select committee were overwhelmingly negative. Among the concerns expressed by opponents were: serious problems with the model the applicants cite - another Gülen school known as the Chesapeake Science Point Public Charter School in Anne Arundel County; growing evidence of financial and other mismanagement with other Gülen schools in Georgia, Texas and Ohio; and the Islamist character of the Gulen enterprise. Evidence of the latter was provided in the attached letter from Mary Addi, a former teacher in a Gülen school in Cleveland, Ohio. It draws on her own experience and that of Ms. Addi's husband, an expatriate from Turkey who was also a teacher at that school.

* Four elected officials who have previously endorsed the LMITA application have withdrawn their support for the project. It is expected additional withdrawals will occur as others of those who previously endorsed LMITA - in many cases a year or more ago - learn about the serious grounds for concern about this school and its true sponsors.

* The case against LMITA was laid out in detail in a powerful briefing presented the night before the select committee vote by Center President Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. and a former public school teacher, Rachel Sargent. A version of the presentation is available online at

The briefing illuminates the pattern employed by Gülen and his cult-like Turkish supremacist Movement to induce school boards to charter and pay his followers to establish vehicles for indoctrinating impressionable American students, usually under the guise of enriched science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.  At its core, this pattern involves deception with respect to the true character of the proposed school, its association with the Gülenists, and the myriad problems such Gulen academic institutions have presented to school system administrators and taxpayers from Texas to Maryland.

In the wake of the select committee vote, Mr. Gaffney said:

"The committee is to be commended for its appreciation that Loudoun County does not need and should not allow the establishment there of a Gülen school at taxpayer expense.  Every effort must now be made to ensure that the full School Board arrives at the same, prudent conclusion by understanding and acting upon the true and unacceptable nature of the Gülenist penetration of America's public school systems."


Why judges can’t create color-blind campuses

The Supreme Court will never succeed in completely removing affirmative action from higher education

The Sixth Circuit Court’s ruling two weeks ago throwing out Michigan’s ban on racial preferences in college admissions would definitely deserve a place of honor in any top 10 list of judicial sophistries. But even if the Supreme Court reverses the ruling, universities will still find artful ways to promote their sham diversity. Instead of seeking more court intervention, defenders of color-blind campuses might serve their cause better by simply demanding more university transparency.

The Sixth Circuit has been trying to thwart Michigan’s quest for race neutrality in government hiring and admissions ever since two lawsuits challenging the University of Michigan’s admission practices made a stop in its chambers en route to the Supreme Court about a decade ago. The Supreme Court eventually outlawed the blatant racial double standard that the school’s undergraduate program employed but allowed its law school’s more individualized consideration of race. However, Michigan voters in 2006 amended the state constitution by a 58-42 margin barring all discrimination—big or small—by race, sex, and national origin.

However, the Sixth Circuit has now ruled that Michigan’s ban against discrimination is itself discriminatory. It violates the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection because it leaves minorities who want racial preferences in admissions no option but to mount a counter referendum. But students who want, say, their family connections or their socio-economic background considered can lobby the admissions committee or the university officials or the governing board. “The existence of such a comparative structural burden undermines the Equal Protection Clause’s guarantee that all citizens ought to have equal access to the tools of political change,” the court averred.

But the same might be said, points out Roger Clegg of the Center for Equal Opportunity, of a Ku Klux Klan member who wants a whites-only admissions policy. Would the court have qualms about placing a “structural burden” on his rights?

Michigan’s attorney general is appealing the ruling to the Supreme Court. If the court’s conservative majority sides with him and rules against the University of Texas’ race-based admissions policies in a separate case (to be decided any minute), opponents of affirmative action believe that a new age of color-blind campuses will dawn in the country.

But that is a triumph of hope over experience.

For starters, throwing out racial preferences that benefit minorities while leaving intact (as both Michigan and Texas do) alumni preferences that predominantly favor whites will not advance the cause of racial justice. Why? Because it will open minority seats to competition by whites, but not white seats to competition by minorities. Those who are serious about race neutrality have to scrap both simultaneously or lose moral credibility.

But if they don’t like this reason, there are others.

Regardless of what the court decides, neither private nor public universities will give up racial preferences: private universities because the rulings won’t apply to them—and public universities because they will ignore the rulings.

This is not a hunch. This is what they’ve always done.

The University of Texas, for example, pioneered the so-called 10 percent solution for the explicit purpose of getting around the 5th Circuit Court’s ban on race. Under this solution, it automatically admits the top 10 percent of every school’s graduating class, including inner-city schools, something that allows it to boost its minority numbers while pretending to be race-neutral.

The University of Michigan, meanwhile, has replaced race with its proxy, zip code. It filters applicants based on where they live, giving those who come from predominantly minority neighborhoods a leg up in admissions. The upshot is that, despite the ban, its minority numbers have barely budged, according to UCLA law professor Rick Sander, who obtained the university’s admissions data through a Freedom of Information Request.

Forcing universities to give up such shenanigans and comply with court orders would require constant scrutiny and legal challenges by watchdog groups whom universities will easily outspend and outlawyer. And there are plenty of judges around eager to enable universities, as the Sixth Circuit demonstrates.

The best among bad options might be full disclosure laws requiring universities that receive federal funding to reveal what admission standards they use for which group—minorities, alumni, athletes, donors—along with their graduation rates. This will expose any admissions double standard whether toward minorities or rich white legacies and cause elite universities to risk their reputational appeal.

What’s more, race-conscious admission policies produce an unusually high drop out rate among minorities by placing them in academic environments for which they are unprepared, Sander has found. Publicly available graduation rates will allow minority kids to pick colleges commensurate with their level of preparedness, preventing them from being set up for failure.

Universities are out of control, no doubt. But informed consumers might hem them in more effectively than court diktats.


Numeracy in England slipping

One in four adults has the maths skills of a nine-year-old or worse and struggles with the most basic everyday sums.

According to a shock report, more than eight million adults in England are considered to lack even basic numeracy.

The figures in the Skills For Life survey reveal that this quarter of the population has difficulty in understanding price labels and the sums involved in paying household bills.

Their abilities are on a par with those expected of pupils at primary school aged between seven to nine.

In an even more disturbing development, the number of adults in this group is nearly a million more than it was a decade ago.  This is despite a stream of costly initiatives in recent years designed to improve adult numeracy.

A further nine million adults have the maths skills expected of a child aged nine to 11.  Those in this group are likely to struggle in calculating change, using train timetables or working out deductions on their pay slip.

The Skills For Life survey revealed that altogether 49 per cent of working-age adults in England – about 17million in total – have the maths skills of a child at primary school.

Numbers had risen from 15million in 2003, when a similar survey was conducted.

The report also revealed that fewer than one in five 16 to 18-year-olds can demonstrate skills equivalent to a grade A* to C pass in maths at GCSE.  This is despite the A* to C pass rate for the GCSE exam now being 60 per cent.

Chris Humphries, chairman of the charity National Numeracy, said: ‘This discrepancy is both puzzling and worrying for everyone involved in education and merits further investigation.

The survey, which questioned 7,200 people aged 16 to 65, also revealed that more than five million adults – 15 per cent of the working population – struggle with simple reading and writing.

The Department for Business, which released the 400-page report, admitted that English and maths skills had ‘a long way to go’.

Ministers said improving basic skills was vital to a ‘thriving economy’.

Labour launched a major campaign in 2000 to boost the basic skills of adults but it is said to have mainly benefited literacy, where performance has improved since 2003.

Ministers said that tough new English Baccalaureate Certificates to replace GCSEs from 2017 in core subjects would help to boost standards in both English and maths.

From September of next year, new study programmes will require pupils to keep working towards GCSEs in maths and English if they failed to achieve them by the age of 16.

Free maths and English GCSE courses are now available for adults, and other qualifications for those with lower skills levels.

The survey, which questioned adults for whom English is their first language, found that literacy skills were worst in London and the North-East.

Numeracy skills were worst in the North-East, followed by London and the East Midlands.

Skills minister Matthew Hancock said: ‘Good English and maths are vital for getting a job and playing a full part in society.

‘We have doubled the funding for adult English and maths because they are so important.

‘I would urge anyone who is struggling to take advantage of the provision that is on offer, which now includes maths and English GCSEs for adults who missed out the first time round.

‘These essential skills are the building blocks of a productive society and a thriving economy. I am determined that everyone should have the chance to achieve their very best.’