Friday, February 01, 2013

Leftist hypocrite:  I'll do what's best for my son insists British Liberal leader as it emerges he hasn't even visited local state secondary school

The overwhelming dominance of privately-educated schoolchildren in Britain is “corrosive” for society, Nick Clegg has warned.  But it's OK for his kid.  Just another example of Leftists seeing themselves above the rules they try to impose on others

Nick Clegg yesterday defended the possibility he may send his children to private schools as it emerged he and his wife Miriam have not even visited their local state school.

He said the education of his 11-year-old son Antonio, who starts secondary school this year, should not be used as 'a political football' and that the couple would do 'what's best' for their children although he was braced for criticism.

Last week the Liberal Democrat leader told listeners to his radio show he would send his son to a private school if he failed to find a place in a good comprehensive, saying he would use the state system 'if it works out', but that there is 'huge competition' for places in London.

But Mr Clegg, who attended Westminster public school, has apparently not looked around nearby Ark Putney academy in south-west London, it was revealed yesterday by its headmaster Mark Phillips.

Mr Phillips who has turned the school around since he was hired three years ago, said the school which was once in special measures but is now lauded by the Government for its improvements, could provide an 'exceptional' education for any child and that there was no need to pay fees for schooling.

Unless the Cleggs had visited 'under cover' he had not seen them, he said.'I am always very clear that all parents living locally are welcome to choose our school and it is important that every parent comes with their child and takes an objective look to see whether what we offer will meet the needs of their child', he said.

'It wouldn't claim to be the answer to every child and every parent. But I hope that if a parent does come, and sees an environment their child will thrive in, they will pick us...I am confident they will do exceptionally well. I don't believe you have to pay for it.'

If he chooses to educate his children privately, Mr Clegg is likely to be accused of hypocrisy after using a speech last year to attack 'the great rift in our education system' caused by many of the best schools being fee-paying and said it had a 'corrosive' effect on society and the economy.

In an interview on BBC1's Andrew Marr Show, he said: 'I accept that it's a dilemma for anyone in public life, particularly in politics, how do you balance that with the fact Miriam and I have small children, and the approach Miriam and I took right from the outset was to keep our children completely out of politics.

'We never put them in front of the camera or to make them or their education a political football.

'I totally accept that when we make a decision that'll be subject to public commentary, criticism and so on, but in the meantime we want to protect the privacy of an 11-year-old boy and make the decision that we as parents think is best for our son.'

The deadline for applying for entry to Ark Putney for 2013-14 was last October. The school is part of the Ark academy chain, set up in 2004, whose chairman is Paul Marshall, one of the Liberal Democrats' biggest donors.

Last year 62 per cent of pupils gained at least five good GCSEs, prompting schools minister Nick Gibb to write to Mr Phillips to congratulate him on the 'excellent results' saying the school was in the top 100 best-performing, based on sustained improvements every year since 2008.

However Michael Gove last year approved the sale of five acres of playing fields at the school including six tennis courts, a football pitch and a playground, to developers to fund refurbishments, after a £40million revamp under the Building Schools for the Future programme was cancelled.

Alumni of Ark Putney, which used to be Elliott School, include actor Pierce Brosnan, and 1960s England bowler Geoff Arnold. Former Welsh secretary Peter Hain sent his children to the school, which was the scene of the Christmas play in the film Love, Actually.

David Cameron has said his children will attend state school, but George Osborne has been criticised for sending his to the fee-paying preparatory school in Kensington that he attended.


49 million American students still denied school choice. Why?

Heidi and Frank Green used to worry about their daughters while they were at school.  The Clarksville, Indiana couple was concerned about bullying, cursing, large class sizes, a revolving teaching staff, and a general lack of attention for students.

Thankfully, the Greens say their lives have changed for the better as daughters Gillian and Emma are now eager to attend school. Today they are getting quality instruction at their new Catholic school thanks to a voucher program adopted in Indiana two years ago.

“School choice should be everywhere,” said Mrs. Green. “Parents should be able to decide what’s best for their kids.

Gillian and Emma are among the 255,000 students nationwide who attend a private school of their family’s choice using vouchers or tax-credit scholarships. Another 2.3 million students utilize public charter schools as their preferred option.

But there are still almost 49 million public school students throughout the country who do not have such freedom. They must attend their neighborhood public school regardless of its safety, quality, class sizes, teaching staff, or other issues outside their parents’ control.  But such restriction doesn’t have to be the case.

Sunday kicked off the third annual National School Choice Week, which runs through Saturday. There will be 3,000 events across 50 states including rallies and forums where parents will ask lawmakers for more choices for their kids.

National School Choice Week highlights the private, charter, online and home school education options available to families and those stuck with a school assigned to them by their address. Parents can choose public or private colleges for their children using many federal and state aid programs. They should be able to do the same with K-12 schools.

After major school choice victories last fall in which Washington voters agreed to allow charter schools to open in the state and Georgia voters agreed to an easier path to create more charters, a host of other states will consider additional school choice measures in 2013. Among the highlights:

 *  Tennessee’s governor will include a school voucher program in his legislative package.

 *  The Texas legislature will consider a program in which taxpayers would receive tax credits for donations they make to nonprofits that provide private school scholarships for low-income students.

 *  Mississippi’s governor proposed a private school choice program for students in underperforming public schools.

 *  North Carolina’s lawmakers will review proposals for opportunity scholarships and quite possibly education savings accounts, a new type of private school choice available only in Arizona.

 *  Alaska lawmakers will vote on a school voucher plan for all students statewide regardless of their family income.

 *  Indiana’s new governor has proposed expanding its voucher program to increase scholarship amounts and student eligibility.

 *  Maine lawmakers will hear a proposal from their governor to give children school vouchers.

Nobel laureate economist Milton Friedman, the father of the school choice concept, believed that offering parents education options other than their neighborhood school would not only be good for children but would improve education. Studies show school choice is helping children in their new schools and those who don’t participate – something vitally important when so many children don’t get a quality education.

The Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University found that high school dropouts are more dependent on government assistance such as food stamps, housing assistance, and Medicaid. They are also more likely to be in jail or prison, another cost to federal, state, and local taxpayers. And unemployment rates are highest among dropouts, according to the study.

If our society is to address its burgeoning debt problem and give young people a chance to become successful, offering parents an opportunity to access high-quality schools is a path to prosperity for themselves, their children, and society.

In several states, policymakers are ensuring more students have access to the schools, public or private, that work best for them. National School Choice Week is the time to shine a spotlight on those leaders and anyone else working to make sure every family is free to choose in education.


TN: School would limit parental access in name of child safety

Parents in suburban Nashville are furious after an elementary school announced plans to limit the number of times they could visit their children during lunchtime.  “Everyone is very frustrated, very angry,” parent Becky Rutland told Fox News. “I feel like it’s a violation of my rights as a parent.”

Rutland has four children who attend Clovercroft Elementary School in Franklin, Tenn. Like a number of other parents, she enjoys visiting her youngsters during their lunch period.  “They’re gone from me every day for seven or eight hours,” she explained, noting that occasional lunch time visits allowed her “to see them, to touch base with them and to know who their friends are.”

Under the new policy, a parent would only be allowed to eat lunch with their children twice during a nine-week period.

Carol Birdsong, a spokesperson for Williamson County Schools, told Fox News the principal came up with the voucher system as a result of the school massacre in Newtown, Conn.  “Based on that, she thought it might be good to implement a voucher-type system,” she said.

“Please remember the primary purpose for this process is to ensure that we are able to account for all the adults in the cafeteria enjoying lunch with their children,” Principal Laura LaChance wrote in an email to parents.

Under the new rules, parents would have to register online and obtain an “event ticket” to eat lunch with their children.  “To my understanding this is a plan that she’s putting into place to protect our children,” Rutland said. “I’m angry about it.”

Rutland said she believes the school is usurping her role as a mother.  “I firmly don’t believe that parents are the problem here,” she said. “And if anything, taking parents out of the school is more dangerous than having a parental presence in the school.”

Rutland said she took comfort knowing that other moms were visiting their children – and keeping tabs on activities at the school.  “(The principal) is creating a lot more hoops to limit parental involvement,” she said.

Birdsong said the new system will not be implemented until after the district completes a safety audit.  “We’ve asked all of our principals to halt any programs they were planning,” she said. “This program won’t be implemented until the audit is completed.”

Birdsong said armed deputies are already providing security in the district’s middle and high schools and they’ve asked for funding to put armed officers in elementary schools.

She said the school district understands the frustration of parents like Rutland.  “We have extraordinary parental involvement and we are very proud of that involvement,” she said. “We always encourage parents in our schools. It’s one of the reasons we are so successful.”

If that’s the case, Rutland would like to know why they are allowing one of their schools to implement a policy that would limit parental involvement.  “I don’t feel like a principal or anyone else should be able to tell me when I can and can’t see my children,” she said. “I don’t feel like a school administration knows what’s best for my children.”


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