Monday, February 04, 2013

AZ:  Freshman suspended over gun photo: 3-day suspension issued‏

The usual hysteria.  Schools will do anything rather than do what would really protect their students:  Abolish "gun free" zones and arm some of their staff

On Feb. 1, ABC 15 reported that a teenager at Poston Butte High School in Florence, Ariz. used the gun photo as the desktop background on his school-issued computer. Daniel McClaine Jr. chose a photo of an AK-47 on top of a flag and when a teacher noticed it she "turned him in."

"Since the laptop belongs to the school, the district policy states students are prohibited from 'sending or displaying offensive messages or pictures,' and cannot access, send, create or forward pictures that are considered 'harassing, threatening, or illegal.' McClaine said he read the guidelines but does not consider the picture threatening to anyone," reports ABC 15.

The freshman was suspended for 3 days over gun photo. He defended himself by saying that the photo wasn't showing anything violent. He expressed an interest in the military -- saying that he wanted to join -- and that he found the photo on the internet and decided to save it as his background picture.

"This gun wallpaper does not show anything that’s violent. It's not showing anybody getting shot in any way. It's just a picture of a gun. It's nothing -- nobody getting shot, nobody getting it pointed at them, it's nothing," explained McClaine.

His parents support him and don't think that he should have been suspended. "To me it's ridiculous. Three days for a picture? It wasn't like he was standing in front of the school holding the gun. He should have got a warning. He shouldn't have ever been suspended. Not for something so frivolous," said McClaine's dad.


More privately-educated pupils win British university offers

And so they should.  Elite people are smarter  -- and so are their kids

More pupils from top private schools are winning places at elite universities despite a Government drive to widen access to higher education, according to research.

More than three-quarters of applications made by pupils from Britain’s best independent schools last year resulted in the offer a place, it emerged.

The success rate was up from just over seven-in-10 in each of the previous two years.

Some 95 per cent of applications to one Russell Group university – Exeter – led to the award of a place, while numbers were well over 80 per cent at other leading institutions.

The disclosure – in data published by two of the leading private school organisations – comes despite the introduction of tough new targets designed to force top universities to take in more pupils from “under-represented” groups.

Controversially, around half of Russell Group universities have set themselves a benchmark to increase the proportion of places awarded to state school students under deals signed with the Government’s Office for Fair Access.

Last week, Anthony Seldon, the Master of Wellington College, Berkshire, warned that privately-educated pupils were being "discriminated against at the final hurdle" when they make university applications.

But the latest figures suggest that more pupils from Britain’s leading independent schools are actually winning higher education places.

Chris Ramsey, universities spokesman for the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, said: “No-one should face discrimination on account of school type and this evidence suggests that highly-selective universities are still giving a very high number of offers to our candidates.”

HMC and the Girls’ Schools Association surveyed members across Britain as part of an annual report on university applications.

Some 75.8 per cent of applications made to universities in 2012 resulted in an offer of a place, it emerged. This compared with 72 per cent in 2011 and 71.7 per cent a year earlier.

Figures show that 95 per cent of applications to Exeter resulted in an offer, while numbers were between 80 and 90 per cent at other Russell Group universities such as Leeds, Nottingham, Manchester, Newcastle Birmingham and Southampton.

Almost four-in-10 applications to Cambridge and three-in-10 to Oxford resulted in an offer, figures show.

Students can traditionally apply to up to five courses through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

In all, 97.3 per cent of pupils gained at least one offer – up from 96.9 per cent a year earlier.

Separate figures suggest the upward trend may continue into 2013. Some 55 teenagers from King’s College School, Wimbledon, have Oxbridge offers for courses starting this autumn, while numbers are as high as 40 at North London Collegiate School and 29 at Cheltenham Ladies’ College.

Keith Budge, headmaster of Bedales School, Hampshire, which sent 26 students to Oxbridge in recent years, said: “Universities are interested in attracting pupils with the greatest potential to succeed and most independent schools are taking advantage of the freedoms they have to help their pupils achieve this.”


Britain hands over £100m to Polish students

More than £100 million of taxpayers’ money has been awarded to Polish students over the last five years to allow them to take degree courses in the UK, official figures show.

Some 23,500 students have successfully applied for Government-backed loans to cover tuition fees or living expenses under EU rules that give Europeans access to the same funding as British students.

Data from the Student Loans Company suggests that average loans awarded to Poles have soared by almost 50 per cent this year to coincide with a sharp hike in university fees.

But it is feared that many students may return to Poland after graduating and fail to pay the money back – leaving a multi-million pound black-hole in the public finances.

It comes just days after it emerged that Polish had officially become England’s second language after an influx in the number of workers from Eastern Europe over the last decade.

The latest disclosure sparked claims that students from outside Britain were accounting for an increasingly large share of the universities budget despite severe cutbacks across the public sector.

Andrew Percy, the Conservative MP for Brigg and Goole, said: “It is unacceptable at a time when British students are paying increased tuition fees that £100m is being used to provide loans to Polish students. A large number of them will never pay it back.

“This demonstrates why the Government needs to reopen negotiations with the EU on these issues.”

Data obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by students at Westminster University showed that £102.8m worth of loans had been provisionally awarded to Polish nationals between 2008/9 and 2012/13.

Some 23,500 separate applications for loans had been made over the period, although many students may have applied in more than one year.

Of those, around six-in-10 borrowers were living in Poland or elsewhere in Europe, while the remainder were already in the UK.

In total, £21.5m was awarded to 3,580 Poles in the current academic year – an average of just over £6,000 per student.

By comparison, the equivalent of £4,200 was awarded to each applicant a year earlier.

Under European law, students from EU member states can apply for the same Government-backed loans as British students. They also count towards strict controls on the overall number of students that each university can recruit – limiting costs to the taxpayer.

But it is feared that the system used to reclaim money from those returning to their own country after graduating is not robust enough.

Separate figures show 2,400 EU students failed to provide the Student Loans Company with details of their income and were “placed in arrears” in 2010/11, while another 400 defaulted on their repayments.

The annual repayment threshold for Poland is currently £9,480, rising to £9,825 in April this year.

The Student Loans Company insisted the figures covered the amount of money awarded to students after a successful application for funding, but pointed out that loans were dependent on them taking up a course place.

Kevin O’Connor, SLC head of repayment, said: “The Student Loans Company expects to receive payments from all customers in repayment. Depending on status and circumstances we adopt various collection methods to recover outstanding payments.

“If you fail to make repayments, your account will start to accrue an arrears balance and SLC will chase that as an arrears account.”


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