Friday, January 11, 2013

Dishonest Educators

Walter E. Williams
Nearly two years ago, U.S. News & World Report came out with a story titled "Educators Implicated in Atlanta Cheating Scandal." It reported that "for 10 years, hundreds of Atlanta public school teachers and principals changed answers on state tests in one of the largest cheating scandals in U.S. history." More than three-quarters of the 56 Atlanta schools investigated had cheated on the National Assessment of Educational Progress test, sometimes called the national report card.

Cheating orders came from school administrators and included brazen acts such as teachers reading answers aloud during the test and erasing incorrect answers. One teacher told a colleague, "I had to give your kids, or your students, the answers because they're dumb as hell." Atlanta's not alone. There have been investigations, reports and charges of teacher-assisted cheating in other cities, such as Philadelphia, Houston, New York, Detroit, Baltimore, Los Angeles and Washington.

Recently, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's blog carried a story titled "A new cheating scandal: Aspiring teachers hiring ringers." According to the story, for at least 15 years, teachers in Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee paid Clarence Mumford, who's now under indictment, between $1,500 and $3,000 to send someone else to take their Praxis exam, which is used for K-12 teacher certification in 40 states.

Sandra Stotsky, an education professor at the University of Arkansas, said, "(Praxis I) is an easy test for anyone who has completed high school but has nothing to do with college-level ability or scores." She added, "The test is far too undemanding for a prospective teacher. ... The fact that these people hired somebody to take an easy test of their skills suggests that these prospective teachers were probably so academically weak it is questionable whether they would have been suitable teachers."

Here's a practice Praxis I math question: Which of the following is equal to a quarter-million -- 40,000, 250,000, 2,500,000, 1/4,000,000 or 4/1,000,000? The test taker is asked to click on the correct answer. A practice writing skills question is to identify the error in the following sentence: "The club members agreed that each would contribute ten days of voluntary work annually each year at the local hospital." The test taker is supposed to point out that "annually each year" is redundant.

CNN broke this cheating story last July, but the story hasn't gotten much national press since then. In an article for NewsBusters, titled "Months-Old, Three-State Teacher Certification Test Cheating Scandal Gets Major AP Story -- on a Slow News Weekend" (11/25/12), Tom Blumer quotes speculation by the blog "educationrealist": "I will be extremely surprised if it does not turn out that most if not all of the teachers who bought themselves a test grade are black. (I am also betting that the actual testers are white, but am not as certain. It just seems that if black people were taking the test and guaranteeing passage, the fees would be higher.)"

There's some basis in fact for the speculation that it's mostly black teachers buying grades, and that includes former Steelers wide receiver Cedrick Wilson, who's been indicted for fraud. According to a study titled "Differences in Passing Rates on Praxis I Tests by Race/Ethnicity Group" (March 2011), the percentages of blacks who passed the Praxis I reading, writing and mathematics tests on their first try were 41, 44 and 37, respectively. For white test takers, the respective percentages were 82, 80 and 78.

This test-taking fraud is merely the tip of a much larger iceberg. It highlights the educational fraud being perpetrated on blacks during their K-12 education. Four or five years of college -- even majoring in education, an undemanding subject -- cannot make up for those 13 years of rotten education. Then they're given a college degree that is fraudulent, seeing as some have difficulty passing a test that shouldn't be challenging to even a 12th-grader. Here's my question: If they manage to get through the mockery of teacher certification, at what schools do you think they will teach?


The children going to the school nurse for aspirin - and being given the Pill (even though they're under the age of consent and their parents don't know a thing about it)

Common in America.  Now in Britain

When 14-year-old Izabela Motyl felt a headache coming on in double maths, she put her hand up to go to see the school nurse. But when she arrived at the sick bay, she was offered a lot more than a couple of tablets and a lie-down.

Izabela, now 17, from Middlesex, said: ‘I went in and sat down, and the nurse explained she couldn’t give me an aspirin without permission from my parents. But before I went back to my lesson, she did offer me a confidential service on contraception — and told me my mum and dad wouldn’t need to know.

‘I told her I was a still virgin, but she gave me two condoms because she said it was important people my age have stuff around. I was a bit shocked. I thought: “What must she think of me?” — but I took them anyway. I’d recently started going out with a new boyfriend, the brother of a friend I’d got to know better through Facebook, so I thought I’d take the condoms just in case.’

Perhaps it’s no great surprise to hear that ‘just in case’ came sooner rather than later for this particular schoolgirl.

A few weeks later, just after her 15th birthday, Izabela had sex at her home while her mother, an airline hospitality worker, and her stepfather, a foreman, were out of the house.

Needless to say, Izabela didn’t tell her mother she was sexually active, so it is no wonder she was furious when she later found out, by chance, that her daughter was on the Pill. Izabela had got the Pill after she went back to see the school nurse, who referred her to a clinic for contraception.

Her mother came across the packet while searching in Izabela’s bedside table for a phone charger.

‘My mum is Catholic,’ says Izabela, ‘so she was not happy I was having sex at all, especially when I was so young. She was also angry because I didn’t tell her I’d been given the Pill at school.’

Furious, Izabela’s mother approached the school to be told that it was policy for birth control advice to be given to pupils under 16 without parental consent.  'When I went to see the nurse, I hadn't even thought about having sex, but you do feel encouraged when your school seems to say it's ok'

The same service is being offered in hundreds of state secondary schools across the country. Not only are condoms offered to pupils under 16 years old (the legal age of consent) if they express an interest, but girls are referred for contraceptive injections and implants, where a small rod is inserted under the skin to prevent conception for up to three years.

Policy is set in education authorities, but the confidential service is already offered in areas as diverse as Bristol, Berkshire, Peterborough, West Midlands, Northumbria and County Durham.

Nor are the schools involved all sink-estate comprehensives. Many, including Izabela’s, are praised by Ofsted and sought-after by middle-class parents.

As Britain continues to have the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in Western Europe, encouraging school nurses to provide advice and referrals — without the consent of parents — is seen as the only way to reach the most at-risk girls.

Although parents may not like it, the NHS says it’s critical that ‘young people are not put off’ by the fear that their parents will get involved.

Indeed, the  free availability  of contraception has been credited with driving  down the teen pregnancy rate to the same level it was in 1969: latest figures show conceptions among under-18s fell to 34,633 in 2010, compared with 38,259 in 2009, a drop of nearly ten per cent.

But though the number of pregnancies remains the same as more than 40 years ago, the figures mask the fact that children’s attitudes to sex have changed beyond all recognition.

Few would dispute that today’s teenagers regard sex in a far more casual, even flippant light than was the case for their parents’ generation. As a result, the rates of sexually transmitted diseases are soaring: 186,000 new cases of chlamydia — an often-symptomless infection that can cause infertility — were diagnosed in 2011, with sexually active young people the most at risk of contracting it and passing it on.

Meanwhile, the ‘age of consent’ is rapidly becoming a misnomer, as more than a quarter of girls now lose their virginity before their 16th birthday.

And as Izabela, who has now left her school, testifies with depressing candour, they tend to become sexually active even younger. ‘Young people generally start getting into stuff like oral sex at about 12,’ she says. ‘Around the age of 14, they lose  their virginity.

‘When I went to see the nurse, I hadn’t even thought about having sex, but you do feel encouraged when your school seems to say it’s ok. You get free birth control and your mum doesn’t need to know.

‘It’s like there’s no longer any reason not to have sex.’

Izabela adds: ‘I have my stepdad, who is like a father to me, but a lot of girls don’t have strong male figures around the house to enforce their authority. Going with boys can be a way to get the male approval that is missing from their lives.’

So what does the future hold for those young girls who are being encouraged to believe the free availability of contraceptives means it must be acceptable to have under-age sex? Sophie Lewis, now 19, from Manchester, lost her virginity at 15, after her school recommended she have a contraceptive implant fitted. They also handed out condoms to pupils, with few questions asked.

She says she now bitterly regrets having sex so young, and firmly believes that easy access to contraception contributed to a general expectation at her secondary school that people would have sex sooner rather than later.

‘The school referred me to a clinic to have an implant fitted because I was dating a boy three years older,’ she says. ‘I thought we were in love but, looking back, I was too young to know. Part of it was about not wanting to be the last virgin in the year. ’


Australia:  Dept keeps parents in the dark on child rape

South Australia's Education Department has told a mother that other parents will not be informed of her son's rape at a country primary school two years ago.

The woman's 11-year-old son was assaulted by an older boy in December 2010.  The older student was subsequently convicted and given a suspended sentence in 2011.  He has since been transferred to a new school.

The victim's mother says she has received an email from the Education Department saying that neither school community will be told of the incident because both of those involved were minors.

She says parents need to know if their children are sharing a classroom with a convicted rapist.  "There would be outrage. I know there would be," she said.

"When children actually do something wrong at school, it might be something quite small, but notes come home.  "Yet my child was raped and no one is told. How does that make sense? I just can't comprehend that at all?"

She says the decision not to inform parents is putting other children at risk.  "We've been through this horrific episode and we just have to keep it a secret," she said.

Premier Jay Weatherill was Education Minister at the time but says the Child Protection Act prevents him from commenting.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Crowd Laughs approvingly as Chicago Teachers Union President Talks about Killing the Rich

The Chicago Teachers Union is not just about looking out for its members’ interests. The union wants to fundamentally change America, too.

That shift occurred when the radical Karen Lewis was elected as its president two years ago. She’s best known for mocking U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s lisp and for taking on - and defeating - Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the district’s first teachers’ strike in a generation.

CTU leaders have been on a victory lap of sorts since the September strike, with union activists seeing themselves as protectors of union power during a time of membership decline and education reform at the state and local level.

They’ve also taken on the role of social activities, fighting for causes like the Occupy movement and gay marriage, which have nothing to do with education.

Some union leaders have called for violence and other radical tactics to achieve social goals.

When Lewis appeared at the Illinois Labor History Society’s “Salute to Labor’s Historic Heroes from the History Makers of Today,” she didn’t disappoint the crowd. She threw gasoline onto the fire of class warfare, and even mentioned mob killings of wealthy Americans.

“… Do not think for a minute that the wealthy are ever going to allow you to legislate their riches away from them. Please understand that. However, we are in a moment where the wealth disparity in this country is very reminiscent of the robber baron ages. The labor leaders of that time, though, were ready to kill. They were. They were just – off with their heads. They were seriously talking about that.”

Some in the audience laughed and clapped at her remark.

“I don’t think we’re at that point,” Lewis laughingly replied, without specifying when “that point” might arrive. “And that’s scary to most people. But the key is they think nothing of killing us. They think nothing of putting our people in harm’s way. They think nothing of lethal working conditions.”

She then used schools without air conditioning as an example of “lethal working conditions.”

The true labor leaders of the “robber baron” age would probably roll over in their graves and remind Ms. Lewis that she and her colleagues have it quite good.

Big salaries with an average income in the $70,000 range. Generous benefits and pensions. Limited work days and nine-month work years. What are these people complaining about?

Lewis also used the occasion to mock “job creators.”

“Which side are you going to be on? So are we going to be on the side of justice? Are we going to be on the side of a living wage for every person? Or are we going to be on the side of people whose entire mentality is based on a lie. ‘Job creators.’ Really? Then why have we lost so many jobs?”

With such a cynical, un-American attitude coming from their union president, does anyone really expect Chicago teachers to introduce students to the many virtues of the free market system, or the nobility of taking a risk to become an entrepreneur and therefore a “job creator”?

As domestic terrorist-turned-professor Bill Ayers acknowledged, leftists have the power in our schools and classrooms, and they’re taking full advantage.

The Chicago Teachers Union is the tip of the spear in terms of “social justice unionism.” It’s a union led by far-left radical activists who are determined to alter American society through our schools and children. Advocating for the interests of teachers is simply a means toward a larger and nastier goal.


Say bonjour to cheaper childcare: Ministers study French-style nurseries to double the number of children staff can look after

Childminders and nurseries will be able to double the number of children they look after under radical plans to cut care bills for working families.

Ministers are considering a move to copy French childcare rules where each member of staff can look after up to eight children. In England the limit is just four toddlers.

It is hoped that reducing the red-tape burden on employers will help to bring down childcare bills which sees British parents spending more than a quarter of their income on looking after their children.

Education minister Liz Truss today signalled she wants to tear up ‘onerous requirements on numbers’ to bring reduce nursery bills.

Britain has some of the highest childcare costs in the world, meaning the typical mother with one child and a full-time job needs to work for up to four months of the year just to break even. Millions with two or more children conclude it is not worth working at all.

But Miss Truss said the problem could be tackled without additional government funding.

She pointed to ‘strong examples’ in Europe where rules on staff ratios are less stringent, which would enable nurseries to employ fewer, better-paid staff.

The minister warned that in the UK some poorly-paid childcare workers do not have good qualifications in English and maths ‘yet we expect them to help our young children learn to speak and do their first sums’.

In France Écoles Maternelles offer traditional nursery style teaching by teachers in large groups of 3 and 4 year olds and the government there is about to extend them to disadvantaged two-year-olds. French crèches for the under-3s are also in much demand, Miss Truss said.

‘They operate with fewer staff who are better qualified and better paid than their English equivalents,’ she said in an article for the ConservativeHome website.

In France, staff are paid over £16,000 and are responsible for up to eight toddlers. The figure in Ireland and Holland is up to six children.

By comparison, nursery staff in England earn £13,000 and can be responsible for no more than four toddlers.

Miss Truss said: ‘In England, we need to move to a simpler, clearer system that prioritises quality and safety over excessive bureaucracy.

‘We also need to think about the balance between the number and quality of staff in our system.

‘It is no coincidence that we have the most restrictive adult-child ratios for young children of comparable European countries as well as the lowest staff salaries.

‘Our ratios put a cap on the salaries staff can be paid because of onerous requirements on numbers. ‘If staff are being paid barely more than minimum wage, nurseries struggle to retain and recruit high quality people.’

However, Labour warned a move towards the French system could harm the quality of care.

Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg said: 'David Cameron is presiding over a childcare crisis – with 381 Sure Start centres shut down, spiralling costs for working parents and less support through tax credits.

'Now his own Children’s minister says they plan to cut the number of nursery staff – which experts say will threaten child safety and the quality of care for toddlers.'

Ministers are expected to set out a major overhaul of childcare next week.

In addition to changes to staffing ratios, it is likely to include generous tax breaks being offered to families with children under five who need to pay for nurseries and childminders.

Senior coalition figures are to meet later this week to finalise a deal expected to be worth up to £2,000 per year per child for all working parents.

The favoured model would more than make up for the loss of child benefit for better-off families that comes into effect today – but only for those where both parents work.


Australia: Parents to dig deeper as private school fees soar

40% of Australian teenagers go to non-government High Schools (Only 7% in Britain and 9% in USA)

ANNUAL tuition fees will top $20,000 this year for some Queensland students as school fees soar by up to 10 per cent.

Brisbane Grammar School (BGS) is the first in the state to post an annual tuition fee of more than $20,000, charging an all-inclusive $20,920 for Years 8 to 12 this year. That is 6.5 per cent up on last year.

Year 8 to 12 students at the school also face an $1100 tablet levy and a voluntary building fund donation of $1000.

Parents at some other schools will pay more than $20,000 for Year 12 students once levies, uniforms and textbooks are factored in.

Schools in this category include Brisbane Girls Grammar School, Brisbane Boys' College, The Southport School (TSS) and Anglican Church Grammar School (Churchie).

Churchie parents will pay more than $17,000 just to send their children to prep - known as Reception at the school - when all costs are counted, including a $15,548 tuition fee.

Fees for Year 12 students are at least $20,397, including a tuition fee of $18,272 - up 5.5 per cent on last year.

The school's preparatory - Reception to Year 6 - students have their own gymnasium, teachers are paid at a higher rate than many others across the state, pupils have specialist music and arts programs and co-curricular staff are paid for their expertise, unlike in many other schools.

Churchie headmaster Jonathan Hensman said: "Churchie's educational program is built on a strong tradition and reputation for excellence, offering the highest quality educational experience".

Brian Short, headmaster of BGS, which has consistently topped state academic performance charts, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Parents at Loreto College have been hit with the biggest known fee increase in Queensland of 10 per cent - from $7400 for a first child in 2012 to $8140.

Loreto College principal Cheryl Hamilton said fee increases in recent years had typically been between 6 per cent and 8 per cent, but factors including a freeze in State Government funding levels and information technology development meant they were higher for 2013.

"I encourage any parents with any concerns about the increase to contact me," she said.

Queensland Catholic Dioceses have also released their suggested or mandated fee increases, with Brisbane Catholic Education suggesting a rise of 4 per cent in primary and 3.7 per cent in secondary.

These increases are for systemic schools, which do not include religious institute schools such as Loreto.

Systemic schools in the Cairns Diocese have a mandated 5.5 per cent increase, while parents in the Rockhampton Diocese will pay 4 per cent extra.

Queensland school fees are still substantially below some interstate.

Victoria's Geelong Grammar School will cost parents of Year 12 students more than $32,000 in fees this year.


Wednesday, January 09, 2013

The Role of 'Educators'

Thomas Sowell

Many years ago, as a young man, I read a very interesting book about the rise of the Communists to power in China. In the last chapter, the author tried to explain why and how this had happened.

Among the factors he cited were the country's educators. That struck me as odd, and not very plausible, at the time. But the passing years have made that seem less and less odd, and more and more plausible. Today, I see our own educators playing a similar role in creating a mindset that undermines American society.

Schools were once thought of as places where a society's knowledge and experience were passed on to the younger generation. But, about a hundred years ago, Professor John Dewey of Columbia University came up with a very different conception of education -- one that has spread through American schools of education, and even influenced education in countries overseas.

John Dewey saw the role of the teacher, not as a transmitter of a society's culture to the young, but as an agent of change -- someone strategically placed, with an opportunity to condition students to want a different kind of society.

A century later, we are seeing schools across America indoctrinating students to believe in all sorts of politically correct notions. The history that is taught in too many of our schools is a history that emphasizes everything that has gone bad, or can be made to look bad, in America -- and that gives little, if any, attention to the great achievements of this country.

If you think that is an exaggeration, get a copy of "A People's History of the United States" by Howard Zinn and read it. As someone who used to read translations of official Communist newspapers in the days of the Soviet Union, I know that those papers' attempts to degrade the United States did not sink quite as low as Howard Zinn's book.

That book has sold millions of copies, poisoning the minds of millions of students in schools and colleges against their own country. But this book is one of many things that enable teachers to think of themselves as "agents of change," without having the slightest accountability for whether that change turns out to be for the better or for the worse -- or, indeed, utterly catastrophic.

This misuse of schools to undermine one's own society is not something confined to the United States or even to our own time. It is common in Western countries for educators, the media and the intelligentsia in general, to single out Western civilization for special condemnation for sins that have been common to the human race, in all parts of the world, for thousands of years.

Meanwhile, all sorts of fictitious virtues are attributed to non-Western societies, and their worst crimes are often passed over in silence, or at least shrugged off by saying some such thing as "Who are we to judge?"

Even in the face of mortal dangers, political correctness forbids us to use words like "terrorist" when the approved euphemism is "militant." Milder terms such as "illegal alien" likewise cannot pass the political correctness test, so it must be replaced by another euphemism, "undocumented worker."

Some think that we must tiptoe around in our own country, lest some foreigners living here or visiting here be offended by the sight of an American flag or a Christmas tree in some institutions.

In France between the two World Wars, the teachers' union decided that schools should replace patriotism with internationalism and pacifism. Books that told the story of the heroic defense of French soldiers against the German invaders at Verdun in 1916, despite suffering massive casualties, were replaced by books that spoke impartially about the suffering of all soldiers -- both French and German -- at Verdun.

Germany invaded France again in 1940, and this time the world was shocked when the French surrendered after just 6 weeks of fighting -- especially since military experts expected France to win. But two decades of undermining French patriotism and morale had done their work.

American schools today are similarly undermining American society as one unworthy of defending, either domestically or internationally. If there were nuclear attacks on American cities, how long would it take for us to surrender, even if we had nuclear superiority -- but were not as willing to die as our enemies were?


British pupils to learn Byron and Blake by heart in poetry drive

Teenagers will be encouraged to learn classic works by Byron, Blake, Coleridge, Shelley and Keats off by heart under new plans designed to improve understanding of poetry in schools, it was announced today.

A new anthology featuring 130 poems has been published as part of a Government-backed programme designed to promote the subject at the end of secondary education.

Thousands of 14- to 18-year-olds will be expected to learn and recite the poems from their memory in a competition led by Sir Andrew Motion, the former Poet Laureate, it was announced.

The collection – featuring a range of poems from the 14th century to the present day – is intended to present schoolchildren with a broad sweep of the genre over more than 600 years.

It includes pieces such as John Donne’s The Good-Morrow, extracts from Paradise Lost by John Milton, William Blake’s Auguries of Innocence, Lord Byron’s The Destruction of Sennacherib, Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Kubla Khan, Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Ozymandias and John Keats’s Ode to a Nightingale.

The anthology also includes modern poets such as Benjamin Zephaniah, Simon Armitage and the current Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy.

Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, said the move was intended to pass the nation’s “cultural legacy on to the next generation”.

It comes after claims from Sir Andrew that many schools were shunning more “difficult” poems in favour of verse that narrowly appealed to their interests.

He suggested that teachers needed to be equipped with a “wider range” of poetry needed to inspire pupils instead of using English lessons as a “means of ticking yet another set of boxes”.

Ofsted, the education watchdog, has also previously warned that classical poetry was losing out to nonsense verse in the classroom.

Launching the competition on Monday, Sir Andrew said the anthology was intended to feature “familiar poems from the canon alongside less well-known pieces”.

“In every case, we preferred poems that make a powerful impact when they are heard aloud – not because they are theatrical, but because they dramatise experiences that surprise us into a new apprehension of ourselves and our capacity for imagining, thinking and marvelling,” he said.

Mr Gove added: “The richness and diversity of this anthology will ensure that more children than ever will be captivated by the work of many great poets.”

As part of the competition, pupils will be encouraged to memorise one poem published before 1914 and another after 1914. Pupils will be judged on their recital skills at a school and county level before a final at the National Portrait Gallery in London in April.

More than 250 schools and colleges have signed up so far.

The Department for Education, which is providing £500,000 funding to The Poetry Archive to develop and run the competition, said the scheme was intended to promote an understanding of the subject and enable pupils to develop “self-confidence and creative understanding”.

It is also hoped that it will give teachers the opportunity to extend and develop their teaching of poetry and allow children to cover a more broad range of verse, officials said.

Tom Payne, the Telegraph's poetry critic, said the anthology was a "good-looking list" but insisted some pupils and teachers would "hate some of the poems here".

"I do think the list looks a little on the serious side – students do need reminding that poetry is fun," he said. "A good many poets here have written good and memorable comic stuff, but even Betjeman is represented by something elegiac."

He also said that there was a danger presenting more modern poems alongside earlier verse.

"It's a real risk offering contemporary work, however wonderful it seems now," he said. "We don't yet know how vital it will be to these children, who will, after all, be carrying this stuff in their heads into their nineties and beyond."


Primary school league tables 2012: Combining shows with studies at England's top school

No black or Asian faces.  Putnam would understand

From putting on a performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat to achieving the best test results in the country, everyone at Ashurst Church of England Primary gets involved in the school’s success.

The tiny rural village primary near Steyning in West Sussex was the only school in England where every 11-year-old pupil exceeded the expected standard for their age in both English and maths this year.

Janet Williams, the head teacher, said the school of 61 pupils aged between four and 11 was “more or less one large family”. The staff know all the children very well and support their individual needs.

Pupils also take part in a wide range of non-academic activities, from the chess club, which has beaten much bigger schools to reach the finals of the Sussex junior tournament three times in the past 15 years, to the annual spring music festival and Christmas play, which this year was Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical about the Biblical story of Joseph.

Mrs Williams said: “You want to make sure your children are sufficiently prepared for the tests, but they form just part of the children’s curriculum.

“We have a wholly enriched curriculum. We do a huge amount of work by way of the performing arts - theatre, drama, music, plays. The children will do all of them.

“Each and every person contributes wholly. We’re trying to look at the whole child and potential can lie in various places.”


Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Every Idea Is an Incitement

Mike Adams socks it to 'em

Dear CRM 495 Students:

Welcome back! It's hard to believe that Christmas break is over and that it's time to start a new semester. It's almost as hard as believing that one of your professors is actually sending you an email using the word "Christmas." But even the liberals agree that I am no ordinary professor. Please allow me to explain.

After I got tenure, I left the political Left and became a conservative Republican. I know you've never had a conservative professor before and you are probably wondering what to expect. In a nutshell, you can expect to hear the truth about a number of things for the very first time in your college career. And that means you can probably expect to be offended from time to time.

Just in case you are wondering whether you are getting in over your head, let me give you a few examples of beliefs I hold, which you may well deem to be offensive. Based on the following revelations, you can make an informed decision as to whether this class is really for you.

African-Americanism. I think the term African-American is ridiculous. If you insist on being called this then you aren't American and you've probably never been to Africa. If you demand to be a hyphenated American then you're just un-American. Get over yourself or get out of the country. Sorry if you're offended but you offend me with your ethnocentrism.

Coke. I cannot stand that four letter word that begins with "c" and refers to female genitalia. Repeating it at The Vagina Monologues does not make women empowered. It makes them unrefined idiots. If you c*** c*** a feminist play without using feminists who say the word c*** then you simply c*** be taken seriously. Sorry if you're offended, but women who curse like sailors offend me.

Daddy issues. Every semester, I get at least one female student who comes into class late and hyperventilating. She makes a scene in order to get sympathy. Then, she apologizes after class while dumping all her personal problems on me. Let me be blunt: women like this have daddy issues. Put simply, daddy didn't give them enough attention and now they are seeking it from me because I remind them of daddy. Sorry that offends you. Go tell your daddy.

Guns. I have more guns than I need but fewer than I want. In fact, as I sit in my home office writing this email I am positioned between two packed gun safes. There are enough guns in this room to issue a 21 gun salute in the event you don’t make it through the semester. There are also about 12,000 rounds of ammunition in this room. And there is more elsewhere in the house. Some people are afraid of guns but I am afraid of gunlessness. Most of your professors say that homophobia is a social disease. I say that hoplophobia is a social disease. If you don't like abortion - oops! I mean guns - you don't have to have one.

Momma's boys. Every semester, I get at least three male students who cannot run their lives. They constantly ask me questions that I have already answered on the syllabus. When is the first test? What kind of questions are on it? How many tests are there? These are the kinds of young males who still could not wipe their bottoms when they were 12 (and probably still can't do their own laundry). If you are one of them, you have no chance of passing my class and no chance of succeeding in life. Please drop out now and join the army. Sorry if that offends you but you need to be a man. If that's too much to ask, just complain to momma next time you're home dropping off your laundry.

Pepsi. I cannot stand that five letter word that begins with "p" and refers to female genitalia. Every year at The Vagina Monologues, they sell p***** pops, which are little candied vaginas on a stick. The feminists walk around licking them in a display of feminist empowerment. I hate to be p**** but why don't they sell p**** pops, too. Maybe that would offend them. That's too bad because their sexism offends me.

Queer Centers. When I was a kid, we played "smear the queer" (dodge ball). Later, they said we could not call it that. Now, the word "queer" has made a queer re-entry into the realm of social acceptability. Some colleges are even opening “Queer Resource Centers.” Make up your mind, thought police. And stop acting like women with daddy issues! Sorry if that offends you. Indecisiveness offends me.

Racial Preferences. If you can't get into college without checking a box that says African-American or Hispanic, you do not need to be here. Sorry but the only reason there are racial differences in SAT scores is because minorities refuse to take off the training wheels. You're just as smart as anyone else so hop off the Big Wheel and join the bike race. Sorry if you're offended but your racism offends me.

Wolf-crying. People cry racism all the time. In fact, I've been told I'm a racist for opposing affirmative action. That’s funny to me. I don’t think blacks need a crutch because I believe they are equal. Therefore, I'm called a racist - even though I was the first kid on my block to own a Flip Wilson record. Those people (oops, I said, those people) need to chill. In fact, I should let them borrow my old Flip Wilson record to lighten the mood. Next thing you know, they'll say Flip Wilson offends them because Geraldine made fun of cross dressing. Have I mentioned that cross-dressing offends me?

XXX. Pornography is more than disgusting. It is evil and I hate it. This is probably not offensive to anyone - unless, of course, you are a porn star. But, once you become a porn star, you pretty much give up the right to be offended. If you're offended anyway just drop my class and sign up for one of Dr. Porco's instead (no I did not make up that last name). Dr. Porco was just hired by the UNCW English Department despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that he published a book of pornographic poems - some of which were written while he was drunk and hanging out in topless bars. He tries to pass them off as academic. And that offends me, which is why I simply choose not to read them.

Now that everything is on the table, you are ready for your first assignment. Since this is a class covering the First Amendment, we are going to focus on important US Supreme Court decisions dealing with free speech. Our first case will be Gitlow v. New York. I want you to read it with two questions in mind:

1. Since the Supreme Court nationalized the First Amendment, speech codes have emerged on most state-run campuses. How have these speech codes survived in light of the nationalization movement?

2. Holmes' dissent in this case has been often quoted. If he is correct in saying that "every idea is an incitement" then how can universities actually enforce speeches codes? As they are actually enforced, do these codes violate other portions of our constitution?

As you can see, we'll be tackling some serious issues this semester. So we need to weed out all of the self-absorbed, hypersensitive products of the era of political correctness in higher education. That was the purpose of this email. If you are still reading then congratulations! You've demonstrated more intellectual integrity and emotional maturity than the majority of your professors.

See you next week in class.


Head teacher among EIGHTEEN staff to quit £11m British school over threats and physical assaults

Staff are leaving an £11million school for boys with 'challenging behaviour' in droves because they fear for their safety, two unions have said.

The headteacher, two teachers, seven governers and eight other members of staff have quit the Foremost School in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, in just one year thanks to inadequate alarms, communication equipment and poor design that prevents them from monitoring pupils.

The £11m facility opened in February to cater for students who have been removed from mainstream education because of difficult behaviour.

Some, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) said, exhibited 'extreme' behaviour.  Sources, quoted by the Daily Star, say staff have been forced to endure threats of violence and physical assaults from pupils.

The school is designed to cater for 40 pupils, but there are just 16 in attendance currently.

The NUT and Unison both say they have voiced fears to North Yorkshire County Council over the design of the buildings, where staff are expected to maintain 'line of sight' contact with students and colleagues.

Teachers say students can easily give teachers the slip and open fire doors.

One of the sources said: 'The building is such that sometimes we physically lose sight of these children and that's not conducive to maintaining the level of care we are responsible to deliver.'

Other sources spoke of 'serious situations' but declined to go into detail about them. They also said three teachers and the headteacher quit not long after it opened.

Unison's Stella Smethurst said: 'Things are not working well at the school and it's the same issues coming around again and again, relating to the safety of the building, safety of staff and also the pupils.'

North Yorkshire County Council was not available for comment. They have previously stated the school has had 'a challenging year', but safety was a priority.


The battle to find a decent government-funded  school in Britain gets ever harder

Parents are flooding an elite group of grammar schools, faith schools and flagship academies with more than a thousand applications, it was revealed.

Experts warned that demand for the most sought-after places was being driven by an increase in the number of recession-hit parents seeking a top-quality free education as an alternative to private schools.

But the sheer number of applications for England’s top schools has led to the introduction of controversial admissions rules designed to stop middle-class parents “playing the system” to secure places.

Around one-in-six of the most oversubscribed are selecting equal numbers of high, middle and low-ability pupils or using lotteries to engineer a more comprehensive intake, figures show.

The move means that some pupils could be overlooked in favour of peers living further away from the school gates.

The Department for Education insisted it had introduced new powers to enable the most oversubscribed state schools to expand, creating additional capacity.

But the latest figures suggest that tens of thousands of parents are still being left disappointed.

The Telegraph requested data on the most oversubscribed schools in each council area. Figures obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show:

 *  A Muslim secondary in Birmingham – the Al-Hijrah – was the country’s most sought-after school, with 18 pupils competing for each of its 60 places;

 *  Two grammar schools in Slough – Herschel and Langley – had 14 and 13 applications for each place, respectively;

 *  The Harris Academy in Crystal Palace, south London, was the most sought-after school without a religious ethos or academic selection, with 2,212 applications for 180 places – 12 pupils for each vacancy;

 *  In total, 20 schools in England had at least eight applications per place;

 *  The majority of England’s most popular schools had secured academy status, giving them complete control over admissions and the curriculum, while one-in-eight were grammar schools and one-in-six were faith schools.

The disclosure came as The Good Schools Guide – established 26 years ago with a focus on helping parents secure the best private education – started running its first dedicated state school consultancy service because of the sheer demand for places at “Rolls Royce state schools”.

Janette Wallis, the guide’s senior editor, said it had seen a sharp rise in parents seeking a top state school after being priced out of fee-paying education.

“Grammars, top faith comprehensives and academies are more in demand than ever,” she said. “There are some brilliant ‘supercomps' out there now, often led by superheads and getting super results.

“In most cases, however, these highest achieving comprehensives have some element of selection, whether via geography, church attendance or a percentage admitted on the basis of aptitude.”

Matt Richards, founder and senior partner of School Appeals Services, said some families made unrealistic applications, adding: “It is still the case that many parents don’t make preferences that are achievable. You may get hundreds of kids sitting a grammar school entrance test when their parents know they don’t have a hope in hell of getting in."

The Telegraph requested data on the three most oversubscribed schools in each council area, although some authorities could only name one or two schools.

In all, 102 out of 152 authorities in England supplied complete figures relating to 291 schools.

Parents can usually apply to between three and six schools each, although heads have to treat each application equally and cannot prioritise families naming a school as their first preference.

Rules introduced under Labour also gave heads the power to impose new admissions systems to give all pupils a fairer chance of accessing top schools – stopping middle-class families “buying” their way in by moving into the local catchment area.

Under the move, schools can place all or some pupils into a “lottery” and award places using a random ballot. They can also use “fair banding”, in which applicants sit aptitude tests and an equal number of high, middle and low achieving pupils win places.

According to figures, 47 out of 291 used at least one of these admissions processes. Eight used both systems, while 12 ran lotteries and 27 employed fair banding.

Parents in London were most likely to face these admissions rules, although they were also employed by popular schools in Bradford, Manchester, Bristol, Derby, Liverpool, Northampton, Middlesbrough and Brighton.

Al-Hijrah School, in the Bordesley Green area of Birmingham, which had 1,101 applications for 60 places this year, currently uses random allocation.

But Mrs Wallis said: “Lotteries and fair banding drive many parents’ blood pressure through the ceiling.

“Most parents we speak to hate lottery-style admissions policies because it feels arbitrary. Fair banding has an underpinning of logic but drives parents mad when a child in different band from their son or daughter gets a school place even though the child lives further from the school than they do.”

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “We are creating thousands more school places and raising standards throughout the country so that every child has the chance to go to a good local school.

“We have made £2.7 billion available since 2011 for those local authorities that face the greatest pressure on places and this month we announced an extra £1 billion to build new free schools and academies and expand existing good schools.

“Last year we revised the admissions code to make it fairer and simpler for all parents and we have banned councils from using lotteries as the principal method of allocating school places.”


Monday, January 07, 2013

The Julea Ward Settlement: A Win for Religious Liberty

Alliance Defending Freedom recently settled a lawsuit brought on behalf of Julea Ward, a former graduate student at Eastern Michigan University who was expelled from her counseling program after refusing to violate her religious beliefs. Media reports have unfortunately suggested that Julea's lawsuit involved her refusal to counsel a client because he identified as gay: this is untrue.

Instead, her case involved her religious objection to being forced to provide counseling about sexual relationships outside of marriage, an objection which applies equally to homosexual and heterosexual clients.

Her objection is to providing counseling on certain topics, not to counseling any particular group.

So the claim that Julea refused to see clients who identified as gay is patently false.

The actual facts are that Julea faced a values conflict when a potential client sought counseling about a homosexual relationship. Recognizing the likely values conflict with the client, she asked her professor whether she should refer him before any meeting took place and was instructed to do so. But the University charged Julea with "imposing values" on the potential client, and disobeying ethical rules that apply to counselors. It then expelled her from the program, even though she was a stellar student who was carrying a 3.91 GPA.

Julea's referral request was not a renegade act. Indeed, the American Counseling Association Code of Ethics, which the University requires students to follow, broadly allows for referrals anytime a counselor determines an "inability to be of professional assistance," and also endorses referrals where a counselor's personal beliefs prevent her from providing end-of-life counseling.

Other permissible referrals would include an atheist counselor referring a Christian client seeking help with a crisis of faith, and a pro-abortion counselor referring a pregnant client who wants to keep her baby. These and many other values-based referrals (including the one Julea inquired about) are permissible precisely because they are in the best interests of the client.

Despite all this, the University targeted Julea for punishment because it disagreed with her religious beliefs. But public universities are for everyone, not just those who follow politically correct trends.

So we filed suit to defend every Americans' God-given right to live in accordance with the dictates of their conscience. And although the district court did not protect this right, the Sixth Circuit reversed in a strongly worded opinion that firmly establishes that "discriminating against the religious views of a student is not a legitimate end of a public school." Julea's settlement enforces that principle, expunging the black mark of expulsion from her record and providing her with $75,000, a portion of which she can use to cover the educational expenses incurred as a result of the University's misconduct.

The settlement not only rights the wrongs the University did to Julea personally, it also leaves the Sixth Circuit's opinion intact, which is a major win for religious liberty. The opinion held that "the First Amendment does not permit educators to invoke curriculum as a pretext for punishing a student for her religion." Regardless of what policies a public university puts into place, it cannot use them to target students' religious beliefs for punishment.

Even more importantly, the Sixth Circuit explained that "[t]olerance is a two-way street," and that any rule that compels affirmation of homosexual conduct and discriminates against contrary religious beliefs "mandates orthodoxy, not anti-discrimination," in direct violation of the First Amendment.

Religious students are thus protected from public universities' perverse attempts to prevent them from living out their faith in the name of "non-discrimination." In the future, universities are on notice that they "cannot compel a student to alter or violate her belief systems based on a phantom policy as the price for obtaining a degree." Even if an established policy exists, universities must apply it in a "faith-neutral manner" and are forbidden from "permitting secular exemptions but not religious ones."

Thus, the University's claims that the settlement "leaves the University's policies, programs, and curricular requirements intact" and that the "faculty retains its right to establish, in its learned judgment, the curriculum and program requirements for the counseling program" are irrelevant. The point is that university policies must be applied in a manner that respects students' First Amendment rights, which is where the University went wrong with Julea.

Put simply, the Sixth Circuit's opinion requires public universities to respect students' fundamental religious freedoms and ensures that the maltreatment Julea experienced will not be in vain. And that is a big win for students everywhere.


“Education Is The Key?” Assessing The Value Of A College Degree In A Tumultuous Economy

Half of recent college graduates can’t find employment. Those who find a job often settle for something less than a “college level job.”

So what good is a college education, anyway, in our very unstable economy?

As 2013 launches with more federal government debt and American businesses guessing when the next punitive regulatory show will drop, most Americans are ignoring an area of societal upheaval that is poised to get more intense. Increasingly, Americans are wondering how essential it is for one to possess a college degree.

The upheaval transcends what you’ll read in the occasional “top paying” and “worst paying college degrees” articles. In fact, the presumption that a particular college degree will land one in to a particular job with a particular salary is actually part of our problem (such presumptions don’t adequately allow for the fact that our economy, and, thus, the relative value of skills and services, is always subject to change).

The most obvious manifestation of this problem is found in the pain of ever-rising tuition costs, and student loan debt. This isn’t anything new, but the recessionary conditions of the past five years have brought college degree price tags, and the debt they engender, under the microscope.

President Obama has spoken to this concern over the years, and-not surprisingly- he has proposed more “free” and reduced-rate student loans (all to be subsidized by taxpayers). His main challenger in last year’s presidential race, Mitt Romney, campaigned on policies to spur job creation as means of putting young graduates to work. Yet both candidates ignored the real problem: no matter how the economy performs or what the labor markets are doing, the price of a college education always moves in one direction-up.

So, why does this happen? Why, when the prices of other products and services either remain flat or decline, do tuition rates steadily rise? At least part of the answer is found in one very important fact. It is a consistent agenda within institutions of higher learning to offer as many low cost, and even “free” tuition programs as possible. Whether you’re examining state run colleges and universities, or private institutions, look in to the details of their budgets and the agenda becomes clear. It is a point of pride when, year after year, college and university leaders can report that they issued more “scholarship” programs that were doled-out according to ‘financial need.”

This is to say that colleges and universities are often set up to function like their own little economic re-distribution systems. And while the goal of getting lower income Americans enrolled into college is noble, the cost of it is usually balanced on the backs of middle class students and parents who are trying to earn their way through life. If a student isn’t “poor enough” to qualify for needs-based assistance, then the student will face ever-rising tuition rates.

The less obvious component to the college education dilemma directly involves changes in the nature of our American economy. Although it doesn’t fit conveniently in to the various narratives of our national political dialog, the fact is that our country may very well be – believe it or not – on the verge of a manufacturing renaissance (gasp!). And it may be happening without the permission and blessing of the AFL CIO (gasp again!).

For most of the past forty years, the U.S. has been a place where great things are invented and designed, but the actual building of those things has happened on other continents. Yet last year, the General Electric Corporation began once again to build refrigerators and dishwashers in the U.S., reversing a nearly two-decade long trend. Last fall, the Deloitte global consulting firm published a report suggesting that nearly three-quarters of a million jobs in the U.S. manufacturing sector remain un-filled, because employers can’t find workers with the correct skills. And Jeff Immelt, CEO of General Electric, even suggested that the U.S. is poised for a sizeable “in-sourcing” boom – the opposite of “out sourcing” – where manufacturing jobs that were once “sent overseas” return home.

This scenario also challenges the importance of a college degree. It suggests that we may be on a trajectory where people who know how to weld, operate a lathe, and run a drill press, could one day be in higher demand than those with accounting, engineering, and computer science degrees.

An “in sourcing” boom. A manufacturing renaissance. Some would call these things wishful thinking, yet the beginnings of such phenomena are here, right now. Americans should be preparing for it – and we should all be asking the leaders of colleges and universities why their prices only go up.


Teacher 'bias' gives better marks to favourite pupils, British research reveals

It really does pay to be the teacher’s pet. New research has revealed that teachers mark children’s work according to how they feel about particular pupils.

The study, commissioned by the Department for Education, found that staff allow “bias” and “personal feelings” to influence their marking. Neat handwriting also bring children extra marks, it found.

The research involved more than 2,000 teachers judging essays written by their 11 year old pupils over the course of a year. The overall marks awarded to pupils were then double checked by specially trained, external “moderators”.

They discovered that in one in ten cases, teachers had marked the work too favourably. In 5 per cent of cases, the work was marked too harshly.

Nearly two thirds of the moderators said they thought that “teachers’ personal feelings about particular pupils influenced their assessments” on some occasions or on a regular basis.

Children who provided longer stories or had very neat writing were also more likely to receive better marks, regardless of the quality of their writing, most moderators said.

The study was conducted by the National Centre for Social Research, as part of wider research into the impact of changes to the national curriculum tests which will come in to effect this year.

The findings cast doubt on teacher objectivity and undermine calls from teachers unions and some academics for internal assessment to replace external tests at primary school level.

It comes after a report by Ofqual found that teachers in some secondary schools over marked GCSE English essays last year in a bid to get more pupils to a grade C, thereby “fiddling” league table rankings.

Professor Alan Smithers, the director of the centre for education and employment research at Buckingham University, said: “It is a failure to understand human nature to rely on teacher assessment.

"If the results are going to be used to judge schools and teachers, you would expect teachers to be as optimistic in their marking as possible.

"When teachers know the pupils, they are going to be influenced by all sorts of extraneous things such as whether they like the pupil.

"Some staff are more favourably disposed to female than male pupils for instance, some employ stereotypes, such as expecting Chinese pupils to do well but not expecting too much from say, Bangladeshi children.

“Essentially the only fair way to test children is through externally set and externally marked exams.”

Professor Peter Tymms, Durham University’s head of education, has warned against “inherent bias” in teacher assessment and said it should not be used as a measure of school performance.

He said staff could be subconsciously biased according to factors such as a pupil’s gender, ability, social class or behaviour in lessons.

Even if teachers were aware of their prejudices, trying to compensate for them would not make their assessments reliable.

“If you know you have got that bias and you react against it, you might go too far in the other direction,” he said.

Under the new system, which was partially introduced last year, primary teachers will assess the quality of their pupils writing over the year and produce a score.

Specially trained local authority moderators will then check a sample of their judgements in at least 25 per cent of schools.

In addition, a new English grammar, punctuation and spelling test will be taken in May, along with the standard reading test. Both are externally marked.

Teachers will submit their writing scores before the results of the grammar and reading tests are known to prevent it from influencing their judgement.

The Department said that it had not yet decided whether the three elements of the English test will be reported separately or whether the scores will be added together.

A spokesman said: “We expect teachers to take professional responsibility for accurate assessments so that all children get the results they deserve.”


Sunday, January 06, 2013

'Treat white working class boys the same as ethnic minorities': British minister says universities should help those from poorer backgrounds

Universities should treat white, working-class boys in the same way as ethnic minorities, said David Willetts.  The Universities minister wants them put in the same category as students from disadvantaged communities when it comes to recruitment – meaning universities will have to agree to improve access for them before being allowed to charge higher fees.

Critics fear the move could lead to universities discriminating against middle-class students at independent schools.

Mr Willetts said the university access watchdog, the Office for Fair Access, already looked at disadvantaged groups ‘when it comes to access agreements’.  ‘I don’t see why they couldn’t look at white working class boys,’ he said, in an interview with The Independent.

He said he put forward a plan to include white, working class boys as a target group for university recruitment in a forthcoming meeting with the Offa director Professor Les Ebdon.

More girls entered university every year than the number of boys who had submitted an application form, Mr Willetts said.

Figures show applications from men this autumn were 13 per cent down on the previous year – four times more than the drop in women applicants.

Dr Wendy Piatt, director general of the Russell Group, which represents 24 of the most selective universities, said: ‘Universities cannot solve this problem alone.

'The root causes of the under-representation of students from disadvantaged backgrounds are under-achievement at school and poor advice on the best choices of A level subjects and university degree course.'

In an article to accompany his interview in the newspaper, Mr Willetts reveals there will be a £1.1billion increase in universities funding for teaching over the next two years – led by income from the higher tuition fees. He claims this will improve teaching standards and cut class sizes.

He also plans to remove the cap on student numbers, which currently means universities face stiff fines for breaching their targets.

And he sets out plans for a drive to target parents to explain the new fee structure. He said parents ‘reportedly understand the details of the student finance system less well than their children – for example, no eligible student has to pay upfront fees.’


Put cooking back on the national curriculum to make children healthier and stop them wasting food, urges Britain's Women's Institute

The head of the Women's Institute today called for all children to be taught cookery at school to prepare them for adult life.

Ruth Bond, whose organisation has more than 200,000 members, believes it would help pupils eat healthier and teach them not to waste so much food at home.

The WI has launched a food security campaign in an attempt to reduce the 15million tonnes of food Britain throws away each year.

It comes as ministers are considering whether to force schools to increase culinary teaching.

Mrs Bond said the education system had 'fallen down' because cookery lessons were not 'taught widely'.

She said: 'I think it would be an excellent thing if it was brought back into schools but, of course, so many schools do not have the facilities.   'The way you live depends a lot on how you eat and being able to cook your own food is a great bonus.'

She said the demands of modern life meant many children were living on a diet of ready meals because their parents were often too busy to cook.

It would also help if more parents got their children into the kitchen with them, added Mrs Bond, who admitted she was 'fortunate' to learn from a mother who taught the subject.

She added that the WI, which has around 210,000 members in 6,500 branches, holds regular home-cooking courses for young parents so they can plan meals at home more effectively.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, she said a useful tip would be to adapt recipes from books to include ingredients that need using up.  She said: 'It is a case of planning what you are going to eat, make your list, and look in your cupboard to see if there is anything that would do.'

Mrs Bond also suggested that best-before dates do not have to be followed too religiously, especially if the food has not gone mouldy.

The WI has enjoyed a long history of campaigning on behalf of women and their communities

A Department for Education spokesman said: 'Decisions on the subjects to be included in the secondary National Curriculum will be announced in due course, but nothing will prevent schools from teaching practical cookery.

'We know that a healthy attitude towards food, developed early, is critical to the health and well-being of young people.  'We are currently looking at the role food and cooking plays in schools and how this can help children develop an understanding of food and nutrition.'

The WI was set up during the First World War to encourage women to tighten their belts and make the most of their meagre household budgets.

Last month, it was revealed that, due to the recession, record numbers of young women are once again turning to the organisation to learn vital 'make do and mend' skills.  In the last three years, 56,500 women have joined the WI, which has a total membership of around 210,000 in England and Wales.


University applications plummet for second year running in Britain as 40,000 fewer pupils apply since introduction of £9,000 a year fees

University applications have plummeted for the second year running amid a backlash against £9,000-a-year tuition fees.

The number of applicants from England has fallen 14.2 per cent - nearly 40,000 - in two years following the imposition of higher charges.

Students applying to start university this year will be the second cohort to face the new regime of fees amounting to £9,000-a-year for some courses - almost treble the previous limit.

The fees hike led to a sharp drop in applications last year but universities hoped numbers would soon rally.

The latest figures, which show a further 6.5 per cent decline between 2012 and 2013, triggered renewed claims that fees are dampening demand for higher education.

But the Government and universities insisted it was too early to say definitively whether demand had dropped again.

As many as half of candidates have not yet submitted their forms, according to trends seen in previous application cycles, it was claimed.

But Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, warned that Britain risked being left behind economic competitors because the fees regime was putting youngsters off higher education.

‘We are witnessing a worrying trend of fewer people applying to university, particularly among young people,’ she said.

‘We need our brightest people pursuing their dreams. We simply cannot afford to fall behind other countries that are seeing a rise in the number of students and graduates.’

Under reforms which took effect in September 2012, universities in England can charge up to £9,000-a-year in fees, with students able to take out Government-backed loans to cover the cost and repay them once they are earning £21,000-a-year.

Universities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can also charge £9,000-a-year but the three devolved administrations made arrangements to cushion the impact on their own students.

Scottish students receive free tuition while those in Wales qualify for subsidies to cover the difference between the old and new fee levels, wherever in the UK they study. Northern Irish students receive fee subsidies if they choose to study within the province.

Figures released yesterday by the UCAS admissions service show that as of December 17, 303,861 applicants, including overseas students, had submitted forms - more than 18,000 down on last year.

Among students from England alone, applications dropped 6.5 per cent, or 16,000.

Excluding mature applicants, the number of English 18-year-old school-leavers applying for degree places has dipped 6.6 per cent.

This is more than three times the drop seen among Scottish applicants, who put in 2.1 per cent fewer applications.

But the decline in demand was sharpest among Welsh students, who made 10.9 per cent fewer applications.

According to analysis by the UCU, the number of 18-year-old English applicants is down 9.0 per cent between 2011 and 2013 - far exceeding the estimated 2.3 per cent reduction in the overall population of 18-year-olds over the two-year period.

Wendy Piatt, director general of the Russell Group, representing 24 leading universities, said: ‘It’s likely that around 40 per cent of students have yet to apply so let’s not jump the gun - it’s still too early in the year to say what the overall applications numbers will be.

‘It’s only right that prospective students are taking their time deciding which universities to apply to and making use of all the information available to them.

‘Going to a good university remains a sound investment for the vast majority.’ A spokesman for the Department for Business said: ‘It is too early to form a definitive picture about university applications for the 2013/14 academic year.’