Thursday, August 01, 2013

Arkansas Teachers Head Back to School This Fall Armed with Concealed Handguns

In the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, the NRA  proposed putting armed guards in schools to increase safety. Now, one town in Arkansas is doing just that—but with school staff rather than professional security guards.

With 53 hours of training under their belts, more than 20 administrators, teachers and school employees in Clarksville, Ark., will head back to school this August packing a 9mm handgun, AP reports.

"The plan we've been given in the past is 'Well, lock your doors, turn off your lights and hope for the best,'" Superintendent David Hopkins told AP. But as deadly incidents continued to happen in schools, he explained, the district decided, "That's not a plan."

Although most proposals to put armed guards in schools after Newtown went nowhere thanks to “resistance from educators or warnings from insurance companies that schools would face higher premiums,” Arkansas already had a law on the books that allows “licensed, armed security guards on campus,” according to AP. The extensive training school staffers in Clarksville received allows them to be considered guards.

Students will not know which faculty and staff will be carrying weapons, although signs will be posted at each school about the armed guards—already a greater deterrent than declaring schools as ‘gun-free zones’.


British Judge hits out at 'foolish, overbearing and demanding' parents who bombarded private school with complaints - then sued when children were asked to leave

A couple who sent a barrage of emails and letters to their children’s school have been strongly criticised by a High Court judge.

The unnamed French couple were described as ‘foolish, overbearing and demanding’ after swamping independent Hall School, Wimbledon, south west London, with complaints that verged on the ridiculous.

In one complaint the mother – who sent most of the communication – said she was unhappy that their six-year-old daughter had been scored an A and not an A+ in a spelling test.

In another, she wrote about her concerns over the 'unhygienic' position of her son’s water bottle in the classroom.

The school was left no choice but to ask the parents to take the children out of the school, sparking the legal battle in which the parents claimed a breach of contract.

However, taking the side of the school, judge Jeremy Richardson said their behaviour ‘went well beyond the realms of even the most zealous, some might say pushy, parents’.

Describing the ‘enduring nightmare’ that the school suffered at their hands, Judge Richardson said: 'The focus of any school should be on the education and welfare of the children who attend it. Of course, parents need to play a full role and take a keen interest in their children. That is right and proper.

'But equally , parents must - and most do - appreciate that school is a community which needs to be permitted to get on with its principal task of educating children collectively. No school should be bombarded with unwarrantable demands by parents.

'Teaching and other staff bear a high responsibility in what they do. Looking over their shoulders for fear of litigious parents is one aspect of their professional lives they could well do without.

'It is also of critical importance that teachers and others of whatever rank feel able to express their views with candour.'

The couple were seeking £50,000 in damages from the school, claiming teachers backtracked on a deal to give their children good references after they were withdrawn from the institution.

But the businessman and his wife, who cannot be identified to protect their two sons and daughter whom the judge described as 'delightful', were the 'authors of their own misfortune', the judge said.

He said the meddling parents' case was unseemly and without one shred of believable evidence to support it.

Tensions between the parents and staff worsened when headteacher Tim Hobbs insisted on being present during meetings between them and teachers.

But it was at a subsequent parents' evening last summer when the couples' behaviour left staff 'visibly shaken'.

The couple confronted teachers, kept one member of staff in discussion for 45 minutes and left two senior members of staff extremely upset.

The judge brushed aside the father’s insistence that the meeting had been simply 'lively', and described both the mother and father's conduct as 'appalling'.

Headteacher Tim Hobbs had then asked for the children to be withdrawn - or they would be expelled - as the relationship between the family and the school had broken down.

He said the children must leave through no fault of their own, with the next term’s fees waived and deposits returned, due to the irretrievable breakdown in trust.

Mr Hobbs agreed to write supportive references for the boys to the head of nearby Donhead School, Chris McGrath, but did not, as was claimed, say he would not disclose information about the parents if asked, as it would have been professionally negligent to have done so.

The judge rejected the couple’s allegation that Mr Hobbs had conspired with Mr McGrath, resulting in the boys being refused a place.

'There was no cover-up nor conspiracy nor anything else untoward. To suggest Mr Hobbs and Mr McGrath were bare-faced liars was frankly outrageous. They leave this court as honest and honourable men, as they arrived.'

The judge said that most parents would have been 'absolutely delighted' with the school’s observation that the couple’s children were a 'credit to you both' and there were no concerns for their future development either academically or socially.

Instead, the parents 'viewed everything in a self-centred self-contained artifice as though no-one else but them and their children mattered'.

'They interfered and meddled with the school and made unwarranted demands. Of course, all parents want the best for their children. Parents at fee-paying schools rightly demand the best but the school must be allowed to be a school.

'The conduct of the parents far exceeded the worst excesses of normal concerned parents by a considerable margin. I can well believe their domineering and demanding conduct became an enduring nightmare for the school.

'This parental misconduct - and it was misconduct - was such a shame as, whatever their failings, their children are a delight and were much liked by the staff at the school.

'If only the parents had been sensible, restrained and interested in their children’s progress, and there was progress, instead of being foolish, overbearing and demanding, events would have been, I am sure, to the advantage of all their children.'

He added: 'Whichever way one looks at this case from a legal viewpoint, there is simply not a viable case against the defendant. There was no breach of contract whatever. There was a variation of an extant contract to bring it to an end.'

After the ruling in London, Mr Hobbs said: 'We are very glad at the outcome. We don’t think it should ever have come to this stage and we are very glad that the children are settled in another school and are doing well.'


Fifth of British university leavers are unemployed or in low-paid jobs six months after leaving

A fifth of graduates are unemployed or in unsalaried or low-paid posts six months after leaving university, official figures reveal.

One in ten are out of work and a similar proportion are on internships, doing voluntary work or travelling.

Those that have found employment are often stuck in menial jobs such as window cleaning, packing or bottling and stacking shelves.

The research by the Higher Education Statistics Agency paints a sobering picture for young university leavers who have spent at least three years studying and have built up large debts.

It shows many are emerging into a hugely competitive job market where they may wait years before securing meaningful employment.

The trebling of tuition fees last year to a maximum of £9,000 has created the prospect of thousands of students leaving university in two years with debts of £40,000 or more once living costs are added - and no prospect of starting to pay it off for the foreseeable future.

Details were released at the same time as a Confederation of British Industry report warned too many sixth formers were being pushed into the ‘default’ university route instead of considering vocational courses and on-the-job training.

Key industries such as manufacturing, construction, IT and engineering face a recruitment crisis as a result, it said.

Of the 190,000 full-time first degree leavers in 2011-2012 who took part in the HESA survey, more than 17 per cent said they had continued studying.

Two-thirds said they were working - but barely more than half were on permanent contracts.  Six per cent said they had taken basic, unskilled work such as manning rubbish trucks or sorting mail.  Two per cent were doing internships, 1.3 per cent were involved in voluntary work and 2.7 per cent classified themselves as other/unknown, a category which includes ‘developing a portfolio’.

Another five per cent had opted to travel or do ‘something else’.

Opportunities for university leavers have shrunk by four per cent since last year, according to a survey by the Association of Graduate Recruiters earlier this month.

Banking and finance has seen 45 per cent of jobs evaporate, while accountancy and professional services firms have 17 per cent fewer vacancies.

At the same time the pay premium gained from higher education is being eroded, creating a double whammy for graduates.

Twenty years ago they earned 52 per cent more on average than workers with lower or no qualifications. Now that is down to 27 per cent.

National Union of Students president Toni Pearce said: ‘Many of those entering the work-place for the first time are finding it hard to find a job that matches their skills.

‘Those taking their first step on the career ladder are willing to work hard and pay their dues but employers must stop exploiting them through things like unpaid internships.’

The CBI report called for a university admissions-style system to be set up to help more young people apply for apprenticeships and vocational courses.

This is needed to prevent a chronic shortage of suitable workers as it estimated the majority of posts created between now and 2020 will be in high-skilled jobs.

‘What is now seen as the “default route” of an undergraduate degree is not suitable for all - young people have different talents and learn in different ways,’ the report said.

‘We should aim to inspire but also be realistic, setting out the costs and likely return on options open to young people, including the vocational options that have long been undersold.’

Policy director Katja Hall added: ‘We need to tackle the perception that the A-levels and three-year degree model is the only route to a good career.

‘When faced with a £27,000 debt, young people are already becoming much savvier in shopping around for routes to give them a competitive edge in a tighter job market.


No comments: