Friday, January 11, 2013

Dishonest Educators

Walter E. Williams
Nearly two years ago, U.S. News & World Report came out with a story titled "Educators Implicated in Atlanta Cheating Scandal." It reported that "for 10 years, hundreds of Atlanta public school teachers and principals changed answers on state tests in one of the largest cheating scandals in U.S. history." More than three-quarters of the 56 Atlanta schools investigated had cheated on the National Assessment of Educational Progress test, sometimes called the national report card.

Cheating orders came from school administrators and included brazen acts such as teachers reading answers aloud during the test and erasing incorrect answers. One teacher told a colleague, "I had to give your kids, or your students, the answers because they're dumb as hell." Atlanta's not alone. There have been investigations, reports and charges of teacher-assisted cheating in other cities, such as Philadelphia, Houston, New York, Detroit, Baltimore, Los Angeles and Washington.

Recently, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's blog carried a story titled "A new cheating scandal: Aspiring teachers hiring ringers." According to the story, for at least 15 years, teachers in Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee paid Clarence Mumford, who's now under indictment, between $1,500 and $3,000 to send someone else to take their Praxis exam, which is used for K-12 teacher certification in 40 states.

Sandra Stotsky, an education professor at the University of Arkansas, said, "(Praxis I) is an easy test for anyone who has completed high school but has nothing to do with college-level ability or scores." She added, "The test is far too undemanding for a prospective teacher. ... The fact that these people hired somebody to take an easy test of their skills suggests that these prospective teachers were probably so academically weak it is questionable whether they would have been suitable teachers."

Here's a practice Praxis I math question: Which of the following is equal to a quarter-million -- 40,000, 250,000, 2,500,000, 1/4,000,000 or 4/1,000,000? The test taker is asked to click on the correct answer. A practice writing skills question is to identify the error in the following sentence: "The club members agreed that each would contribute ten days of voluntary work annually each year at the local hospital." The test taker is supposed to point out that "annually each year" is redundant.

CNN broke this cheating story last July, but the story hasn't gotten much national press since then. In an article for NewsBusters, titled "Months-Old, Three-State Teacher Certification Test Cheating Scandal Gets Major AP Story -- on a Slow News Weekend" (11/25/12), Tom Blumer quotes speculation by the blog "educationrealist": "I will be extremely surprised if it does not turn out that most if not all of the teachers who bought themselves a test grade are black. (I am also betting that the actual testers are white, but am not as certain. It just seems that if black people were taking the test and guaranteeing passage, the fees would be higher.)"

There's some basis in fact for the speculation that it's mostly black teachers buying grades, and that includes former Steelers wide receiver Cedrick Wilson, who's been indicted for fraud. According to a study titled "Differences in Passing Rates on Praxis I Tests by Race/Ethnicity Group" (March 2011), the percentages of blacks who passed the Praxis I reading, writing and mathematics tests on their first try were 41, 44 and 37, respectively. For white test takers, the respective percentages were 82, 80 and 78.

This test-taking fraud is merely the tip of a much larger iceberg. It highlights the educational fraud being perpetrated on blacks during their K-12 education. Four or five years of college -- even majoring in education, an undemanding subject -- cannot make up for those 13 years of rotten education. Then they're given a college degree that is fraudulent, seeing as some have difficulty passing a test that shouldn't be challenging to even a 12th-grader. Here's my question: If they manage to get through the mockery of teacher certification, at what schools do you think they will teach?


The children going to the school nurse for aspirin - and being given the Pill (even though they're under the age of consent and their parents don't know a thing about it)

Common in America.  Now in Britain

When 14-year-old Izabela Motyl felt a headache coming on in double maths, she put her hand up to go to see the school nurse. But when she arrived at the sick bay, she was offered a lot more than a couple of tablets and a lie-down.

Izabela, now 17, from Middlesex, said: ‘I went in and sat down, and the nurse explained she couldn’t give me an aspirin without permission from my parents. But before I went back to my lesson, she did offer me a confidential service on contraception — and told me my mum and dad wouldn’t need to know.

‘I told her I was a still virgin, but she gave me two condoms because she said it was important people my age have stuff around. I was a bit shocked. I thought: “What must she think of me?” — but I took them anyway. I’d recently started going out with a new boyfriend, the brother of a friend I’d got to know better through Facebook, so I thought I’d take the condoms just in case.’

Perhaps it’s no great surprise to hear that ‘just in case’ came sooner rather than later for this particular schoolgirl.

A few weeks later, just after her 15th birthday, Izabela had sex at her home while her mother, an airline hospitality worker, and her stepfather, a foreman, were out of the house.

Needless to say, Izabela didn’t tell her mother she was sexually active, so it is no wonder she was furious when she later found out, by chance, that her daughter was on the Pill. Izabela had got the Pill after she went back to see the school nurse, who referred her to a clinic for contraception.

Her mother came across the packet while searching in Izabela’s bedside table for a phone charger.

‘My mum is Catholic,’ says Izabela, ‘so she was not happy I was having sex at all, especially when I was so young. She was also angry because I didn’t tell her I’d been given the Pill at school.’

Furious, Izabela’s mother approached the school to be told that it was policy for birth control advice to be given to pupils under 16 without parental consent.  'When I went to see the nurse, I hadn't even thought about having sex, but you do feel encouraged when your school seems to say it's ok'

The same service is being offered in hundreds of state secondary schools across the country. Not only are condoms offered to pupils under 16 years old (the legal age of consent) if they express an interest, but girls are referred for contraceptive injections and implants, where a small rod is inserted under the skin to prevent conception for up to three years.

Policy is set in education authorities, but the confidential service is already offered in areas as diverse as Bristol, Berkshire, Peterborough, West Midlands, Northumbria and County Durham.

Nor are the schools involved all sink-estate comprehensives. Many, including Izabela’s, are praised by Ofsted and sought-after by middle-class parents.

As Britain continues to have the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in Western Europe, encouraging school nurses to provide advice and referrals — without the consent of parents — is seen as the only way to reach the most at-risk girls.

Although parents may not like it, the NHS says it’s critical that ‘young people are not put off’ by the fear that their parents will get involved.

Indeed, the  free availability  of contraception has been credited with driving  down the teen pregnancy rate to the same level it was in 1969: latest figures show conceptions among under-18s fell to 34,633 in 2010, compared with 38,259 in 2009, a drop of nearly ten per cent.

But though the number of pregnancies remains the same as more than 40 years ago, the figures mask the fact that children’s attitudes to sex have changed beyond all recognition.

Few would dispute that today’s teenagers regard sex in a far more casual, even flippant light than was the case for their parents’ generation. As a result, the rates of sexually transmitted diseases are soaring: 186,000 new cases of chlamydia — an often-symptomless infection that can cause infertility — were diagnosed in 2011, with sexually active young people the most at risk of contracting it and passing it on.

Meanwhile, the ‘age of consent’ is rapidly becoming a misnomer, as more than a quarter of girls now lose their virginity before their 16th birthday.

And as Izabela, who has now left her school, testifies with depressing candour, they tend to become sexually active even younger. ‘Young people generally start getting into stuff like oral sex at about 12,’ she says. ‘Around the age of 14, they lose  their virginity.

‘When I went to see the nurse, I hadn’t even thought about having sex, but you do feel encouraged when your school seems to say it’s ok. You get free birth control and your mum doesn’t need to know.

‘It’s like there’s no longer any reason not to have sex.’

Izabela adds: ‘I have my stepdad, who is like a father to me, but a lot of girls don’t have strong male figures around the house to enforce their authority. Going with boys can be a way to get the male approval that is missing from their lives.’

So what does the future hold for those young girls who are being encouraged to believe the free availability of contraceptives means it must be acceptable to have under-age sex? Sophie Lewis, now 19, from Manchester, lost her virginity at 15, after her school recommended she have a contraceptive implant fitted. They also handed out condoms to pupils, with few questions asked.

She says she now bitterly regrets having sex so young, and firmly believes that easy access to contraception contributed to a general expectation at her secondary school that people would have sex sooner rather than later.

‘The school referred me to a clinic to have an implant fitted because I was dating a boy three years older,’ she says. ‘I thought we were in love but, looking back, I was too young to know. Part of it was about not wanting to be the last virgin in the year. ’


Australia:  Dept keeps parents in the dark on child rape

South Australia's Education Department has told a mother that other parents will not be informed of her son's rape at a country primary school two years ago.

The woman's 11-year-old son was assaulted by an older boy in December 2010.  The older student was subsequently convicted and given a suspended sentence in 2011.  He has since been transferred to a new school.

The victim's mother says she has received an email from the Education Department saying that neither school community will be told of the incident because both of those involved were minors.

She says parents need to know if their children are sharing a classroom with a convicted rapist.  "There would be outrage. I know there would be," she said.

"When children actually do something wrong at school, it might be something quite small, but notes come home.  "Yet my child was raped and no one is told. How does that make sense? I just can't comprehend that at all?"

She says the decision not to inform parents is putting other children at risk.  "We've been through this horrific episode and we just have to keep it a secret," she said.

Premier Jay Weatherill was Education Minister at the time but says the Child Protection Act prevents him from commenting.


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