Sunday, July 21, 2013

Rap Superstar on charter schools

    What do researchers at The Heritage Foundation and Miami-born rapper Pitbull have in common? A belief in the power of charter schools.

    Pitbull, whose given name is Armando Christian Perez, delivered the opening address at the National Charter Schools Conference in Washington, D.C., last week. Perez has six children, three of whom attend charter schools.

    “I believe in the system. I’ve seen it with my own eyes,” the entertainer told the crowd of charter schools advocates at the conference. “Every day I see firsthand how my children are becoming highly motivated thanks to the charter schools they attend.”

    Perez is so convinced of the power of charter schools to “revolutionize education in America” that he is providing backing for a new charter school in his old inner-city neighborhood of Little Havana.

    Charter schools “are fundamentally about freedom, and freedom is what America is all about,” the rapper proclaimed.

For what it’s worth, here’s a succinct definition of what school choice actually is:

    As Heritage’s Israel Ortega writes, “School choice, put simply, is the ability of parents to send their children to schools of their choice. It’s a simple concept, but the reality is that this choice is often limited —particularly among low-income Americans and minority communities.”

    The fight for school choice is the fight to ensure that parents everywhere can provide their children with the educational opportunity necessary for success. As Heritage visiting fellow Virginia Walden Ford writes, “Parents are made to feel hopeless and helpless when faced with failing neighborhood schools that their children must attend because they don’t have the resources to either move to a neighborhood with better schools or to pay private school tuition.”

School choice initiatives are often ignored and neglected by the American media. So when high-profile entertainers celebrate and defend them, it’s a really big deal. Pitbull’s presence at the conference therefore is not insignificant -- especially because he supports a political party that, in some ways, is hostile towards this movement.


Swansea schoolboys keep cool in skirts after shorts ban

Stupid British rigidity circumvented

Boys at Gowerton Comprehensive School in Swansea resort to wearing skirts to school in order to deal with the heat following a ban on shorts.

Mothers of the students at Gowerton Comprehensive School said the boys had not been allowed to wear gym shorts as an alternative and they were also not permitted to roll up their trousers to cool down.

The boys defended their decision to wear skirts saying: "It's cooled us down quite alot, if we wore trousers in class it would affect us, getting sweaty and losing concentration because of the heat".

One concerned parent said the heat even had health consequences on her son.

"Stephen came home from school on Wednesday and he'd been complaining that it had been hot all day and as he was telling me about his day he passed out in the living room."

Temperatures hit the high twenties in Wales last week as Britain continues to experience a heat wave which is expected to last into next month.


Australia:  Complaints aside, ICT graduates in demand, say teachers

(ICT = Information and Communications Technology)

While ICT workers rail against employers offshoring work and using overseas staff on 457 visas for destroying opportunities in the sector, academics insist their graduates are finding jobs as easily as ever.

Leon Sterling, dean of the ICT faculty at Swinburne University and head of the Australian Council of Deans of ICT, said debate about the issue was "distorted by a small minority of loud voices".

Professor Sterling said outsourcing did not spell bad news for new starters but instead led to the creation of additional opportunities.

"Far from removing jobs, there are more jobs," he said. "People may be nervous, as a result of getting the message that there are no jobs in ICT, but it’s not true."

His comments follow the release last week of the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency’s ICT Workforce Study, which called for more young people to be funnelled into the sector to avoid a major skills shortage.

AWPA chief executive Robin Shreeve said use of more overseas workers on 457 visas was likely if the sector did not receive a big influx of new blood. The number of ICT workers holding 457 visas rose from 5327 to 9271 in the past two years. The number of tertiary ICT graduates dropped from 9093 in 2003 to 4547 in 2012, despite concerted efforts by academia and industry bodies to talk up the advantages of a technology career to school leavers.

About 90 per cent of Swinburne’s 2012 graduates had found employment in the sector, Professor Sterling said.

It’s a similar story at the University of Queensland, according to Paul Strooper, the head of the IT and electrical engineering school.

"There will always be offshoring of jobs but they’re not the sort of jobs we train people for here," Professor Strooper said. Most UQ students had jobs before graduation, he said, with companies wanting to employ graduates often arriving too late.

University of Wollongong bachelor of IT graduate Mark Darragh went from university to a full-time job last July.

Employed as a systems engineer at Suncorp in Sydney, he undertook a final year internship with the bank, which led to the offer of a graduate role.

Being open to all possibilities within the sector was the key to success, Mr Darragh said.

“You don’t want to have a silo approach…come in open minded, you have more opportunities,” he said. “IT is a very broad field.”

Another Wollongong 2012 alumnus said her path to employment had been less smooth. She obtained her current IT support officer role after two months of searching but said the position was not secure.

“I’m currently in the process of looking for another job but have been finding it difficult,” she said.

“I am concerned as I hear in the news about so many IT positions being off-shored to other countries when there are people like me who are more than capable of carrying out the duties.”

Other classmates were still job hunting, the graduate added.


No comments: