Wednesday, May 29, 2013

High School Teacher Faces Discipline for Informing Students About Their Rights

A high school social studies teacher in Batavia, Illinois, faces disciplinary action for informing students of their Fifth Amendment rights in connection with a survey asking about illegal drug use.

The survey, ostensibly aimed at assessing the needs of students at Batavia High School, was distributed on April 18. After picking up the survey forms from his mailbox about 10 minutes before his first class of the day, John Dryden noticed that they had students' names on them and that they asked about drinking and drug use, among other subjects.

Dryden, who had just finished teaching a unit on the Bill of Rights, worried that students might feel obliged to incriminate themselves—an especially ticklish situation given the police officer stationed at the school.

Since there was no time to confer with administrators, he says, he decided to tell his students that they did not have to complete the forms if doing so involved admitting illegal behavior.

Tomorrow the school board will consider whether and how to punish Dryden for taking advantage of this teachable moment. The Batavia Daily Herald reports that "Dryden faces having a 'letter of remedy' placed in his employment file," which "could have consequences up to dismissal."

Dryden's supporters are collecting signatures on a petition asking the board to refrain from disciplining him.


Four out of 10 British graduates will never pay back their student loans

Around four in 10 graduates will have their student loans written off leading to a huge hole in public finances, a study has shown.

At least 40 per cent of the cash borrowed by students will never be repaid - a figure far higher than Government estimates have previously suggested.

Ministers had previously believed that around one third of the total students loan bill would be lost as those students fail to make enough money to pay it back.

However, leading university vice-chancellors, who carried out the study for the Institute for Public Policy Research, suggest that the total would in fact be closer to 40 per cent.

At present repayments do not start until a student is earning £21,000 a year, and any remaining debts are written off after 30 years.

The missing money would leave a multi-billion pound black hole in government finances and makes the current funding system 'unsustainable', according to the research, due to be published on June 10.


Stay-at-home degrees

Normal in Australia but seen as novel in Britain

Today’s IPPR study claims that a number of radical reforms are needed to make the existing funding system more sustainable.

The report calls for the creation of a new generation of cut-price degree courses priced at £5,000-a-year – significantly less than the current £9,000 maximum – for “stay-at-home” students to cut down on the amount of money being loaned by the Government.

It suggests that students could be encouraged to take places on these "fee-only" courses provided that they agree not to borrow money for accommodation or living expenses – cutting the overall loans bill.

The courses would be orientated towards students living at home and those working part-time in a move that could save the Government £10,000 per student.

Nigel Thrift, the vice-chancellor of Warwick University, and chairman of the IPPR’s higher education commission, said: “We are going to need to make major cost savings in the short-term, as well as grapple with longer-term arguments about the future of fees.

“The only way we will be able to afford to expand the number of students is if we offer a new type of degree.

“The current funding system privileges full-time residential courses supported by student loans. But this is not appropriate for many potential students, who want to study vocational courses in their local area, live at home and combine their studies with paid employment.”

Currently, universities can charge up to £9,000-a-year in tuition fees. Students can borrow the full amount from the Government – alongside a further loan for maintenance costs – but are not expected to repay until they earn at least £21,000.

The outstanding amount is written off after 30 years.

Previous Government estimates have suggested that losses to the taxpayer through the system will peak at almost £191 billion by 2047 before the Treasury starts to recoup some of these losses from graduate repayments.

The IPPR study – backed by vice-chancellors including Sir Rick Trainor, of King’s College London, Sir Steve Smith, from Exeter, and Prof Janet Beer, from Oxford Brookes – said: “The current student funding system is unsustainable.

“It shows that there is a black hole in the current system which could be as big as £1bn.

“The commission uses new modelling to show that a more accurate estimate of the total value of student loans that will go unpaid is for 40 per cent of the total value of loans.

“The Government first predicted that it would be 30 per cent but amid concerns that this was an underestimate, subsequently raised this to 32 and then 34 per cent.”


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