Friday, October 25, 2013

British Liberal leader:  parents 'taking chance' with children's private education

This popinjay himself went to an elite school and clearly owes a lot to the position in British society that gave him.  In the usual Leftist way he is however obsessed with credentialism.  You need a piece of paper to say you can teach and nothing will prove anything otherwise to him.  I myself had good success as a High School teacher without one minute of "teacher training".  And I am far from alone

State schools should not be granted the same freedoms as those enjoyed by independent schools, the Deputy Prime Minister said, because parents can choose to send their children there.

Mr Clegg has opened a rift within the coalition by criticising Michael Gove’s decision to let his flagship free schools hire teachers who lack teaching qualifications.  Such qualifications are not required by many fee-paying schools.

“If you pay your fees you take your chances. The idea that in the schools system, for which Governments are responsible supported by all taxpayers – which is far, far bigger than the smaller number of schools where parents pay the fees and take their chances, that you don’t have a duty of care – that we don’t a duty of care towards parents and children with some basic standards, I cannot for the life of me understand.”

Mr Gove insists headteachers of free schools and academies must have the freedom to employ untrained teachers in the same way private schools “hire the great linguists, scientists, engineers and other specialists they know can best teach and inspire their pupils.”

The policy has outraged the teaching unions, who regard it as a cost-cutting measure that will harm children’s education.

Mr Clegg was educated at the independent Westminster School and taught by men with no professional teaching qualifications.

He said he was “really proud” that the free schools programme had freed teachers from Whitehall micromanagement but added: “Freedom does not mean anarchy. There’s law that they have to abide by.”

“Just because you’ve got qualified teacher status doesn’t mean you’re the greatest teacher ever. But it provides a certain basic quality standard.”

“I think most parents listening to this programme would think it is a totally standard suggestion, hardly revolutionary, that in a profession which is as important as teaching that teachers should be qualified or seeking qualification while they are teaching.”

Asked whether Mr Clegg’s intervention had caused a ‘Coalition crisis’, he said: “I’m perfectly entitled to talk without being shouted down about my vision of the future of the schools system.”


Obama Administration Is ‘Strengthening’ Colleges It May Later Reward Under New Ratings System

President Obama’s Education Department recently announced that it is sending 39 lesser-known colleges a total of $20.1 million this year as part of the government's “Strengthening Institutions Program.”

The grant money may be used for planning, faculty development, building an endowment, or boosting academic programs.

The Strengthening Institutions Program helps colleges and community colleges “expand their capacity to serve low-income students by providing funds to improve and strengthen the academic quality, institutional management, and fiscal stability of eligible institutions.”

Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vermont – a four-year liberal arts college that promotes “environmental sustainability” – said it would use its share of the grant money to fund a project called "Strategies for Student Success," which school officials describe as a "model program for how all students can flourish."

Helping students graduate and get a good job or a graduate degree are two elements of a new college ratings system announced in August by President Obama.

President Obama said his college ratings system will help students and families select schools that provide the “best value. After the ratings system is well established, “Congress can tie federal student aid to college performance so that students maximize their federal aid at institutions providing the best value,” the White House website says.

In other words, the federal government can’t set tuition rates, but it can used federal student aid as leverage.  As the White House put it, “President Obama’s plan will connect student aid to outcomes, which will in turn drive a better, more affordable education for all students.”

But even before the government’s college ratings system is in place, the Obama administration is sending millions of taxpayer dollars to colleges that serve a "substantial number" of low-income students, essentially strengthening those colleges so they might have a better chance of being rated a “best value” when the ratings system takes effect.

Green Mountain College says the Education Department is giving it $2 million over five years ($399,950 in the first year of the five-year grant program). The college says it makes the environment a "unifying theme across the curriculum."  Among other things, it offers a master's degree in "Sustainable Food Systems."

"At the end of their undergraduate careers, GMC students are able to articulate a positive vision for a just and sustainable society, and they have the skills and knowledge they need to help make that vision a reality at the personal, local and global levels," the school's website says.

Green Mountain College has 700 undergraduates. Tuition, room and board run about $43,708, but the college says 94 percent of all GMC students currently receive some kind of financial aid. The college says it is committed to helping families pay for a GMC education with an "ambitious multi-year affordability plan."

And it says approximately 25 percent of GMC students are the first in their family to attend a college or university. So this appears to be exactly the kind of college that the Obama administration eventually will reward with “best value” ratings and federal student aid.

Although the new college ratings system is still in the works, President Obama dropped some hints in August, when he  spoke at the University of Buffalo:

He said the new college ratings system will measure whether a school helps students of all backgrounds graduate with good career prospects and manageable debt.

“And then down the road, using these ratings, we’re going to work with Congress to change how we allocate federal aid for college. Because I said this last year, and I meant it, colleges that keep their tuition down while providing a high-quality education, we want to see their taxpayer support go up. We should not be subsidizing schools that are not getting good results for the young people who attend them.”

The college ratings system is supposed to be in place before 2015. The White House said it will be based on measures such as “Access,” which includes the percentage of students receiving need-based Pell Grants; “Affordability,” which will measure average tuition, scholarships, and loan debt; and “Outcomes,” including graduation and transfer rates, graduate earnings, and advanced degrees of college graduates.

As previously reported, federal Pell Grants are gifts of cash -- not loans. They are not based on academic merit but on whether a student's income and his or her parents' income is low enough to qualify the family as what the Department of Education calls "low-income."

Essentially, Obama's plan would encourage colleges to discriminate against applicants who come from families with total incomes of $60,000 or more by awarding colleges higher federal ratings and increased federal aid for admitting a higher “percentage” of students who receive federal Pell Grants.

Many of the 39 institutions sharing this year’s 20.1 million are community colleges or technical schools.

The strengthening institutions program is not new: It was authorized under Title III, Part A, Section 311 of the Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1965, as amended.

In fiscal 2012, the U.S. Department of Education awarded $5.4 million in new grants to 14 colleges and universities as part of the Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP).

SIP did not conduct a grant competition in FY 2011; instead it funded down the FY 2010 slate, making 34 new awards at a cost of 12,965,081.

In FY 2010, SIP conducted a competition and funded 48 new awards totaling $18,216,000.

And in FY 2009, SIP funded 57 new awards from the FY 2008 slate, totaling $21,307,000.


"Teachers are Democracy's Last Line of Defense from the Tyranny of the One Percent"

Minnesota's 2013 Teacher of the Year gave a five-minute acceptance speech at the 2013 Education Minnesota Conference in St. Paul, MN. While most of her remarks were spent praising her fellow teachers and students alike, she seemed to think it was also an opportune time to take a jab at rich Americans.

Hall, who teaches at Open World Learning Community in St. Paul, talked to her audience about teaching character and modeling traits she associates with success. But, her message quickly turned hypocritical, for she managed to sneak in a potshot at America’s wealthiest Americans, many of whom gained their riches through the hard earned success Hall herself seemed to champion:

“From where I stand, teaching is a profession which takes a gritty patriotism. And from where I stand, teachers are American democracy’s last line of defense from the tyranny of the one percent. I feel Americans do feel a debt of gratitude toward us, for teaching character, for modeling persistence and generosity and responsibility.”

From where I stand, Ms. Hall, you’ve got some mixed messaging. Her biased comment nonetheless received a round of applause and when she ceded the podium back to the emcee, the latter was quick to call the teacher “fabulous” and “amazing.”

Even more laughable was when the teacher of the year lamented how educators are mistreated by the media.  “I have to admit, these negative messages baffle me, they don’t match up with the teachers that I know [...] These messages must come with people who haven’t been in our classrooms.”

They endure negative media messaging? Clearly, Hall and her fellow educators haven’t turned on the news lately. Wealthy Americans have arguably received the cruelest treatment in the media in recent years, what with the glowing, edited coverage of Occupy Wall Street.

How sad Minnesota has awarded a teacher who has no problem with demonizing successful Americans.


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