Thursday, January 17, 2013

Gangs are Latest Excuse for Not Closing Failing, Half-Empty Chicago Schools

Instead of appropriately dealing with gang-related violence, an independent Chicago school closure commission is recommending no school closures because such a move could force students to cross gang lines.

So in Chicago, gang violence is the “new normal” and instead of combating and gaining some control over the problem, city leaders are simply accommodating it.

Wow. Gangs of street punks are now influencing public policy and million dollar decisions. It looks like they really have won.

Of course the Chicago Teachers Union, which stands to lose money if schools close, agrees with the recommendation.

The CTU has been arguing against school closures for some time, as the union is looking to stave off an increase in the number of non-union charter schools, which serve about 50,000 students. A moratorium on school closures would naturally mean that more union teachers will be needed and their dues money will keep flowing to the CTU.

Chicago Public Schools are facing a $1 billion budget deficit and now that the district has locked in an expensive three-year collective bargaining agreement with the CTU, reducing labor costs is not really an option. But consolidating schools and streamlining operations is.

But now taxpayers might have to continue to pay to operate half-empty schools because city leaders don’t seem to be willing to deal with gangs. The Chicago Tribune reported there are 100,000 empty seats in schools in a district that has 400,000 students.

“CPS built new schools to relieve overcrowding in some communities but failed to close enough of the older, emptier ones, often caving to community pressure,” the newspaper reported.

Those half-empty schools are among the city’s worst performers academically.

The latest excuse shows the CTU will stop at nothing to protect the miserable status quo, regardless of the consequences for Chicago’s children.


More city co-eds turning to sugar daddies for school support

More New York City co-eds are turning to a new source of income — sugar daddies — to cope with the rising cost of their college tuition, surprising statistics released yesterday reveal.

And the majority is enrolled at New York University, according to the sugar-daddy dating site

Nearly 300 NYU co-eds joined the site’s service last year seeking a “mutually beneficial” arrangement with rich older men — a 154 percent jump over 2011.  It was the second-highest number of new members for any college in the country.

Hundreds more young women from Columbia, Cornell and Syracuse universities also have recently signed up for the service, the site said.

“I’ll admit that I’ve thought about doing something like that,” said a Columbia junior who gave only her first name, Karen.   “It would be easier in some ways than working, taking classes and then spending years paying back loans.”

Alex Cranshaw, 22, who graduated from NYU last year, said three of his female classmates had sugar daddies — including a woman whose benefactor financed a whole semester in Madrid.

“He funded her tuition, paid for her housing, gave her spending money and paid for her airfare,” Cranshaw said.  “She told her parents she got a scholarship. They had no idea.”

Not all students approve of the arrangements.

“Clearly, we need more financial aid if those are the lengths people are going to pay for school,” sniffed Ashley Thaxton, 20, an NYU theater major.  “I have friends who work multiple jobs, and there are other opportunities to support yourself through school,” she said.

Still, few jobs bring in as much money — and as many extra benefits.

The average co-ed “sugar baby” receives about $3,000 a month in allowances and gifts from her sugar daddy, enough to cover tuition and living expenses at most schools, said Jennifer Gwynn, a spokeswoman for the site.

In New York City, where cost of living and learning are higher, sugar babies can fetch as much as $4,000 a month.

NYU and Columbia are among the nation’s most expensive universities, with Columbia ranking third with $59,208 in total annual costs and NYU ranking fifth with $58,858 in total annual costs, a recent Forbes magazine survey found.

The Pew Research Center says one out of five households are in debt because of student loans.

“I can understand why someone would be desperate enough to do it,” said Abby Kron, 19, an NYU student studying communications.  “But I don’t support it.”

Then again, “it’s easy to stand in judgment when you or your parents’ economic status allows you to pay your tuition in traditional ways,” she said.


Top British universities 'given powers to recruit more students'

Popular universities will be given more freedom to expand under Government plans to relax controls on places, it was announced today.

Institutions will be able to recruit unlimited numbers of bright sixth-formers gaining the equivalent of one A and two B grades at A-level from September 2013, it emerged.

Ministers will also ease controls on other students – those failing to gain the highest grades – by allowing academics to over-recruit by up by to three per cent without incurring fines.

The move – outlined by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills – is designed to stop universities taking a “cautious approach to recruitment” and effectively leaving some places empty.

In a letter to the Higher Education Funding Council for England, ministers hinted that number controls would be lifted further in future years to reward sought-after universities and take places away from the least popular institutions.

The letter, signed by Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, and David Willetts, the Universities Minister, said officials should “consider increasing the flexibility for those institutions that have shown strong recruitment patterns in 2013/14 and taper this away from institutions enjoying less demand”.

It comes just 24 hours before the main deadline to apply to university this year through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

The Government has already radically slashed direct state funding for university teaching. In its place, universities have been given the power to impose student tuition fees of up to £9,000-a-year.

In the letter, ministers said it would result in £8 billion worth of funding for teaching in 2012/13, rising to £9.1bn in 2014/15.

The Government also wants to encourage more competition between universities and reward the most popular institutions.

Last year, they were given powers to recruit unlimited numbers of students with two As and a B at A-level – benefiting around 80,000 school-leavers.

Next autumn, number controls will be lifted for students with ABB, affecting an additional 35,000, it emerged.

Places for all other students – around two-thirds of the total cohort – are subjected to number controls, with universities fined for over-recruiting. But the letter said that “over-recruitment of up to three per cent will no longer incur a financial penalty”.

“This should deter over-cautious behaviour in making offers and recruiting students,” it said.

But the University and College Union, which represents lecturers, suggested that Government reforms to higher education were already proving a turn-off for students.

Figures published last month showed that applications had dropped by 23,000 so far this year, with students deterred by the rise in fees.

Sally Hunt, UCU general secretary, said: “The move to allow universities to over recruit is an interesting one and presumably has been introduced after the failings of the government’s recent reforms which left many universities with unfilled places.”

Liam Burns, president of the National Union of Students, said: “The introduction of £9,000 per year tuition fees, the imposition on an artificial market for students, cuts to central teaching grants and constant tinkering have left the entire higher education sector in turmoil.

"That the government is making more places available than they previously promised and are going some way to reintroduce leeway for universities that accidentally over-recruit is to be welcomed but this is rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic rather than fixing problems of government’s own making."


No comments: