Friday, February 01, 2013

Leftist hypocrite:  I'll do what's best for my son insists British Liberal leader as it emerges he hasn't even visited local state secondary school

The overwhelming dominance of privately-educated schoolchildren in Britain is “corrosive” for society, Nick Clegg has warned.  But it's OK for his kid.  Just another example of Leftists seeing themselves above the rules they try to impose on others

Nick Clegg yesterday defended the possibility he may send his children to private schools as it emerged he and his wife Miriam have not even visited their local state school.

He said the education of his 11-year-old son Antonio, who starts secondary school this year, should not be used as 'a political football' and that the couple would do 'what's best' for their children although he was braced for criticism.

Last week the Liberal Democrat leader told listeners to his radio show he would send his son to a private school if he failed to find a place in a good comprehensive, saying he would use the state system 'if it works out', but that there is 'huge competition' for places in London.

But Mr Clegg, who attended Westminster public school, has apparently not looked around nearby Ark Putney academy in south-west London, it was revealed yesterday by its headmaster Mark Phillips.

Mr Phillips who has turned the school around since he was hired three years ago, said the school which was once in special measures but is now lauded by the Government for its improvements, could provide an 'exceptional' education for any child and that there was no need to pay fees for schooling.

Unless the Cleggs had visited 'under cover' he had not seen them, he said.'I am always very clear that all parents living locally are welcome to choose our school and it is important that every parent comes with their child and takes an objective look to see whether what we offer will meet the needs of their child', he said.

'It wouldn't claim to be the answer to every child and every parent. But I hope that if a parent does come, and sees an environment their child will thrive in, they will pick us...I am confident they will do exceptionally well. I don't believe you have to pay for it.'

If he chooses to educate his children privately, Mr Clegg is likely to be accused of hypocrisy after using a speech last year to attack 'the great rift in our education system' caused by many of the best schools being fee-paying and said it had a 'corrosive' effect on society and the economy.

In an interview on BBC1's Andrew Marr Show, he said: 'I accept that it's a dilemma for anyone in public life, particularly in politics, how do you balance that with the fact Miriam and I have small children, and the approach Miriam and I took right from the outset was to keep our children completely out of politics.

'We never put them in front of the camera or to make them or their education a political football.

'I totally accept that when we make a decision that'll be subject to public commentary, criticism and so on, but in the meantime we want to protect the privacy of an 11-year-old boy and make the decision that we as parents think is best for our son.'

The deadline for applying for entry to Ark Putney for 2013-14 was last October. The school is part of the Ark academy chain, set up in 2004, whose chairman is Paul Marshall, one of the Liberal Democrats' biggest donors.

Last year 62 per cent of pupils gained at least five good GCSEs, prompting schools minister Nick Gibb to write to Mr Phillips to congratulate him on the 'excellent results' saying the school was in the top 100 best-performing, based on sustained improvements every year since 2008.

However Michael Gove last year approved the sale of five acres of playing fields at the school including six tennis courts, a football pitch and a playground, to developers to fund refurbishments, after a £40million revamp under the Building Schools for the Future programme was cancelled.

Alumni of Ark Putney, which used to be Elliott School, include actor Pierce Brosnan, and 1960s England bowler Geoff Arnold. Former Welsh secretary Peter Hain sent his children to the school, which was the scene of the Christmas play in the film Love, Actually.

David Cameron has said his children will attend state school, but George Osborne has been criticised for sending his to the fee-paying preparatory school in Kensington that he attended.


49 million American students still denied school choice. Why?

Heidi and Frank Green used to worry about their daughters while they were at school.  The Clarksville, Indiana couple was concerned about bullying, cursing, large class sizes, a revolving teaching staff, and a general lack of attention for students.

Thankfully, the Greens say their lives have changed for the better as daughters Gillian and Emma are now eager to attend school. Today they are getting quality instruction at their new Catholic school thanks to a voucher program adopted in Indiana two years ago.

“School choice should be everywhere,” said Mrs. Green. “Parents should be able to decide what’s best for their kids.

Gillian and Emma are among the 255,000 students nationwide who attend a private school of their family’s choice using vouchers or tax-credit scholarships. Another 2.3 million students utilize public charter schools as their preferred option.

But there are still almost 49 million public school students throughout the country who do not have such freedom. They must attend their neighborhood public school regardless of its safety, quality, class sizes, teaching staff, or other issues outside their parents’ control.  But such restriction doesn’t have to be the case.

Sunday kicked off the third annual National School Choice Week, which runs through Saturday. There will be 3,000 events across 50 states including rallies and forums where parents will ask lawmakers for more choices for their kids.

National School Choice Week highlights the private, charter, online and home school education options available to families and those stuck with a school assigned to them by their address. Parents can choose public or private colleges for their children using many federal and state aid programs. They should be able to do the same with K-12 schools.

After major school choice victories last fall in which Washington voters agreed to allow charter schools to open in the state and Georgia voters agreed to an easier path to create more charters, a host of other states will consider additional school choice measures in 2013. Among the highlights:

 *  Tennessee’s governor will include a school voucher program in his legislative package.

 *  The Texas legislature will consider a program in which taxpayers would receive tax credits for donations they make to nonprofits that provide private school scholarships for low-income students.

 *  Mississippi’s governor proposed a private school choice program for students in underperforming public schools.

 *  North Carolina’s lawmakers will review proposals for opportunity scholarships and quite possibly education savings accounts, a new type of private school choice available only in Arizona.

 *  Alaska lawmakers will vote on a school voucher plan for all students statewide regardless of their family income.

 *  Indiana’s new governor has proposed expanding its voucher program to increase scholarship amounts and student eligibility.

 *  Maine lawmakers will hear a proposal from their governor to give children school vouchers.

Nobel laureate economist Milton Friedman, the father of the school choice concept, believed that offering parents education options other than their neighborhood school would not only be good for children but would improve education. Studies show school choice is helping children in their new schools and those who don’t participate – something vitally important when so many children don’t get a quality education.

The Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University found that high school dropouts are more dependent on government assistance such as food stamps, housing assistance, and Medicaid. They are also more likely to be in jail or prison, another cost to federal, state, and local taxpayers. And unemployment rates are highest among dropouts, according to the study.

If our society is to address its burgeoning debt problem and give young people a chance to become successful, offering parents an opportunity to access high-quality schools is a path to prosperity for themselves, their children, and society.

In several states, policymakers are ensuring more students have access to the schools, public or private, that work best for them. National School Choice Week is the time to shine a spotlight on those leaders and anyone else working to make sure every family is free to choose in education.


TN: School would limit parental access in name of child safety

Parents in suburban Nashville are furious after an elementary school announced plans to limit the number of times they could visit their children during lunchtime.  “Everyone is very frustrated, very angry,” parent Becky Rutland told Fox News. “I feel like it’s a violation of my rights as a parent.”

Rutland has four children who attend Clovercroft Elementary School in Franklin, Tenn. Like a number of other parents, she enjoys visiting her youngsters during their lunch period.  “They’re gone from me every day for seven or eight hours,” she explained, noting that occasional lunch time visits allowed her “to see them, to touch base with them and to know who their friends are.”

Under the new policy, a parent would only be allowed to eat lunch with their children twice during a nine-week period.

Carol Birdsong, a spokesperson for Williamson County Schools, told Fox News the principal came up with the voucher system as a result of the school massacre in Newtown, Conn.  “Based on that, she thought it might be good to implement a voucher-type system,” she said.

“Please remember the primary purpose for this process is to ensure that we are able to account for all the adults in the cafeteria enjoying lunch with their children,” Principal Laura LaChance wrote in an email to parents.

Under the new rules, parents would have to register online and obtain an “event ticket” to eat lunch with their children.  “To my understanding this is a plan that she’s putting into place to protect our children,” Rutland said. “I’m angry about it.”

Rutland said she believes the school is usurping her role as a mother.  “I firmly don’t believe that parents are the problem here,” she said. “And if anything, taking parents out of the school is more dangerous than having a parental presence in the school.”

Rutland said she took comfort knowing that other moms were visiting their children – and keeping tabs on activities at the school.  “(The principal) is creating a lot more hoops to limit parental involvement,” she said.

Birdsong said the new system will not be implemented until after the district completes a safety audit.  “We’ve asked all of our principals to halt any programs they were planning,” she said. “This program won’t be implemented until the audit is completed.”

Birdsong said armed deputies are already providing security in the district’s middle and high schools and they’ve asked for funding to put armed officers in elementary schools.

She said the school district understands the frustration of parents like Rutland.  “We have extraordinary parental involvement and we are very proud of that involvement,” she said. “We always encourage parents in our schools. It’s one of the reasons we are so successful.”

If that’s the case, Rutland would like to know why they are allowing one of their schools to implement a policy that would limit parental involvement.  “I don’t feel like a principal or anyone else should be able to tell me when I can and can’t see my children,” she said. “I don’t feel like a school administration knows what’s best for my children.”


Thursday, January 31, 2013

Failing schools 'hampering economy': Britain will not prosper unless education is overhauled, report warns

Britain’s economy will not prosper unless its ‘mediocre’ education system is overhauled, a hard-hitting report says today.  Failing schools and poorly performing teachers lead to a ‘waste of human resources on a grand scale,’ causing long-term damage to the UK, the scathing document says.

Local councils which do not let failing schools close must see their wings clipped, and the system for assessing teachers must be revamped, it argues.

Written by a Nobel Prize-winning economist as well as former members of the Bank of England, the report from the London School of Economics calls for radical change to get the UK growing again.

It says ‘short-termist’ banks that refuse to lend to small businesses are suffocating innovation.

It also blames ‘years of inadequate investment’ and ‘political procrastination’ over the UK’s ageing transport and energy infrastructure for holding back growth.

The symposium has spent the last year looking at ways to help the UK’s moribund economy, which is now teetering on the edge of a triple-dip recession, grow in the long term.

The report says: ‘After years of inadequate investment in skills, infrastructure and innovation, there are longstanding structural weaknesses in the economy, all rooted in a failure to achieve stable planning, strategic vision and a political consensus on the right policy framework to support growth.’

The potential of thousands of children from poorer backgrounds are being squandered by underperforming schools, it says.

‘Our failure to provide adequate education to children from disadvantaged backgrounds constitutes a waste of human resources on a grand scale.

‘It holds back economic opportunities and is detrimental to growth,’ the report states.

Co-author Professor Tim Besley, a former member of the Bank of England’s influential rate-setting body, said: ‘Rarely are skills thought of as a growth issue. But catching up with Australia or Finland would lead to very significant increase in income for the UK.’

He suggested doubling teachers’ probation periods from two to four years, and assessing them more on the job rather than intensely at the start of their career.

‘We need to focus more on how schools are dealing with disadvantaged children – such as those on free school meals. That is where the big gains in growth will come from,’ he added.

It should be easier for underperforming schools to shrink in size, meaning fewer children join them each year, the report also says.

It wants local councils to allow failing schools to shrink and successful schools to take on more pupils.  Vocational skills are ‘particularly poorly developed’ and should be made more available through more apprenticeships, it adds.


Brute force open-access

The fact that governments intervene in one area gives them an excuse to intervene in another. The demand [in Britain] that all car passengers, including those in the rear seats, should be compelled to wear seat-belts was justified by the observation that taxpayers supported the National Health Service, so if a passenger was injured in an accident, it would be a cost on us all. Laws banning smoking, and this week's proposal to put a tax on sugary drinks, are other examples that use the same justification.

Now the universities minister David Willetts is causing a stir in academe with his plans to force through open access. At present, academics do their research and try to get it printed in various academic journals. The more prestigious the journal, the more the paper is scrutinised through peer review, so getting printed in a good journal is some indication of quality. It is a costly process, and the leading journals can be quite expensive for libraries to buy, but at least the research that does get published is reasonably reliable.

However, Willetts takes the view that, since since we have a taxpayer-funded university system and a taxpayer-funded set of research councils, anything the academics produce rightly belongs to the public and should be made immediately and freely available – what is called 'open access'. The universities will not have to pay to get articles processed, and their libraries will not have to pay for the expensive journals, but they will have to pay to make the research available.

So it is quite probable that many of today's journals, and the learned societies that sponsor them, will simply disappear – which may help explain why a dozen of them have written to the government to complain about the idea.

Many academics have already opted for an open access policy (a policy practiced by the Adam Smith Institute too), since they want to get their work and ideas out to a wide audience. But often, papers are put online without proper editing – because the authors are not professional editors – which means that mistakes creep in (something that can be potentially dangerous in, say, medical or engineering research papers online). And the research goes up without proper peer review that might expose fundamental errors.

Academics will find that it is their university colleagues, not anonymous expert peers in the field from all over the world, who decide what goes online – but university jealousies can be very bitter.  If there is no effective peer review, it will be hard to know which research is reckoned to be reliable and which is not.

All papers that go public will have to be treated as potentially suspect. Mind you, in economics, some of us came to that conclusion many years ago. Perhaps David Willetts would be better employed making sure that research projects were a proper use of taxpayers' money, rather than bullying his university employees about how they present it.


British Minister tightens up nursery staff qualifications slightly  in bid to raise standards

Good to see some cost consciousness here  -- with a relaxation of staff ratios

Childcare workers need fewer qualifications than those working with animals, a minister will warn today as she unveils plans to raise standards.  Elizabeth Truss will express concern at the ‘hair or care’ stereotype of underqualified girls going into  hairdressing or childminding.

In a bid to drive up standards, the Tory education minister will insist nursery staff must have at least a C in GCSE English and maths.

The minister will say: ‘Staff in this country earn about £6.60 an hour on average, only a little above the minimum wage.  ‘This speaks volumes for how much those working in the early years have hitherto been valued.’

She has designed radical reform to improve the quality of personnel. But in a bid to drive down costs so better staff can be attracted by better pay, adult/child ratios will be relaxed.

 Each nursery worker will be able to look after four under-two-year-olds, rather than three as now. The number of under-fives goes up from four to six.  Childminders will be able to have two babies in their care rather than one, and four under-fives, not three.

Miss Truss will also announce new graduate level ‘early years teachers’ specifically trained to teach young children.

In a speech in London, Miss Truss will say that ‘too many people who work with young children are under-qualified’.

‘Given what we know about early years development, it is no longer acceptable that childcare professionals are not required to have a GCSE grade C or above in English and maths,’ she will say.

Highlighting the contrast with abroad, she will say: ‘In France, at least 40 per cent of staff in crèches must hold a diploma, which demands a three-year, post-16 course. In the Netherlands, certified childcare workers must train for two years post-18.’

Expert Government advisers, she will add, have expressed concern at ‘the hair or care stereotype’, in which often students with ‘the poorest academic records’ are  steered towards childcare.

She will quote Helen Perkins, head of early years and childhood studies at Solihull College, who said: ‘We demand that students need a relevant qualification before they are able to handle animals independently on our animal care courses. Nobody demands the same level of qualification before you can be left alone with a baby.’

Older pre-school children do best in ‘teacher-led settings’ with ‘structured activities’, which will be favoured by Ofsted, she will say. However, Labour’s shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg said the plans threatened child safety.

‘This Government has created an affordability crisis by cutting support and pushing up costs for parents. Watering down quality is the wrong way to try to deal with the problem they’ve caused,’ he said.

‘Experts are warning this could threaten child safety and won’t reduce costs. Parents will be worried.’

Ministers are also finalising plans for £1.5billion in tax breaks for working families with young children, expected to be worth at least £1,000 a year to help pay for spiralling costs of childcare.

Details are expected to be announced in the Budget in March.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What sort of sadist sends a child to boarding school? Me

By James Delingpole

"It’s such a hole this place,” wrote the young Prince Charles, with feeling, from his rugged Scottish boarding school Gordonstoun. Given the endless bullying he got – not to mention the school’s famously spartan cold-showers-and-early-morning-run regime – is it any wonder his loving grandmother, the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, was shown in recently published letters to have pleaded with her daughter not to send him there?

But that was back in the Sixties, when Britain was another country. Today, of course, it would be quite unthinkable for any half‑way sentient parent to pack off their darling boy, from the age of eight or nine onwards, to a school far from home, with no Mummy to kiss him goodnight, and just a half dozen sobbing, snoring, bed-wetting dorm-mates for company. What kind of sadist would you have to be to do that now?

Well, a sadist a bit like me, I suppose. Though my wife initially vowed we’d never do it, we have ended up sending all three of our children to boarding school. And this isn’t because we can easily afford it, nor because we love our kids any less than day-school parents love theirs, nor because it buys us lots more time (laughs darkly and bitterly) to go on groovy holidays-à-deux without having to worry about child care. We do it for one main reason: because it makes our children happy.

A happy boarding school education? To anyone of my generation or older, this will probably sound an oxymoron. My own boarding school days – at my now-defunct prep school, at any rate – were grisly: lumpy mattresses, cold dorms, gristly food, harsh discipline. Reading Prince Charles’s Gordonstoun letters, I got an instant shock of recognition: I, too, used to refer to my school as “Colditz”. (Only not in correspondence: the prison’s censors – and I’m not joking here – wouldn’t allow it. Apparently the truth might upset our parents.)

Things are very different now, though. Of the 73,000 children currently boarding at state or private schools in Britain, I’d say the vast majority are there because they actually want to be. They’ve read Harry Potter, they’ve seen the facilities (four-star hotel meets Center Parcs) and they want to live the dream.

This has been as true for our Girl, 12, as it was for Boy, 14. Reared on Enid Blyton’s Naughtiest Girl series and the (Rupert Everett) St Trinian’s movies, she was damned if she was going to be cheated out of the gloriously eccentric prep school boarding education that she had seen her brother enjoy.

This means that tonight – as throughout term‑time – my wife and I will be rattling around the house on our own, the beds where our kids were sleeping during last weekend’s exeat now cold and empty once more. Parents of day-school children tell you, often with a slightly accusing tone in their voices, that this is an experience they could never bear. I’ll concede them their point, just so long as they don’t think this makes them more caring, loving parents. Indeed, I believe that quite the opposite is true.

Why is it more loving and caring to send your kids away to boarding school? (If you can afford it, which I’m not suggesting everyone can – even if, like us, you’re heavily subsidised by bursaries.) Partly because children, like all herd animals, prefer to be with their own kind. Sure it’s nice, as a parent, to be able to see them every day. But what they’d prefer – being, let’s be honest here, not nearly as into you as you are into them – is to be in an environment where they’ve got dozens of mates on tap from the moment they wake up till the second they fall asleep. This is not a service you can provide at home.

Then there’s the superior pastoral care. All right, again, this is something that, as a parent, you like to think you can provide perfectly well yourself. But can you do as good a job as they do at boarding school? I wonder. Though you do hear horror stories about school houses where the kids run riot because the housemaster is too slack, or where they turn into angry rebels because the housemaster is too draconian, our experiences with all three of our children have been extremely happy ones.

My stepson Jim – aka the Rat – was the first to go away, to a superb state boarding school near my family in the Midlands called Old Swinford Hospital. Jim was bright but a slacker and could easily have gone off the rails. But he was steered through a difficult adolescence by an inspirational housemaster – Dennis Christley – who’d dealt with hundreds more teenage boys than I ever had and who, by administering just the right amount of carrot and stick at just the right moments, turned Jim into the charming, rounded, socially well‑adjusted delight he is today.

You could argue, I suppose, that this is the parents’ job. But is there any rule that says it has to be? I’m quite capable of killing a chicken but I’d rather get it from the butcher; I might even be able to fill in a tax return, but it’s far less painful to let my accountant do it.

It’s the same with kids – especially ones who are teenaged, like Boy is now and like Girl soon will be. Do I really want to be there to experience every strop, every mope, every accusation of how totally lame, uncool and unfunny I am? Personally, I’d rather contract these chores out to the professionals.

Indeed, this was what the headmaster of Boy’s new school promised us in his welcoming address. “Your boys will soon be entering the dark, stagnant tunnel of festering vileness that is adolescence,” he said (I paraphrase, very loosely). “But it’s OK, that’s our problem. Just keep paying the fees and in five years’ time, we will have nurtured your spotty, poisonous caterpillar into a magnificent butterfly – or mighty hawk’s moth, perhaps, if you think butterflies are too camp…”

In these grim, anti-elitist times, even this benefit is sometimes used against boarding schools. The children they turn out, we’re told, are too polished, too articulate, too privileged to play a meaningful part in our wonderful new, dumbed-down, multicultural, egalitarian, post‑jobs world. Why, the only kids they’ve ever met are other rich, white kids.

Again, this isn’t an argument that stands up. First, many of the kids at boarding school these days come from quite ordinary backgrounds – even at Eton, 20 per cent are on bursaries. Second, these schools are often at least as multicultural as those in the state sector. No fewer than 26,376 of the 67,927 kids at private boarding schools last year were non-British with parents living abroad: that’s well over a third. Sure, those kids are probably a financial notch or two above the Somali and Polish kids at the neighbouring comp, but that doesn’t make their presence any less culturally enriching.

Or socially beneficial. Remember, the children of the Russian oligarchs, Chinese senior party members, Indian magnates and Korean car manufacturers currently being educated at British boarding schools are one day going to be running the post-Anglosphere world. So in fact, far from sheltering our darlings from reality, we boarding school parents are preparing them for it.

Our children are imbibing the vital importance of getting in with the new masters of the universe – learning their ways, softening their barbarian customs with our traditional native virtues of decency, good manners and fair play, and becoming their trusted friends. If that’s not worth the sacrifice we parents make of going without the sight of our darling ones for two or three weeks at a stretch, I don’t know what is.


Roedean head attacks 'hostility' to private schools as she quits UK for job in Switzerland

The headmistress of a leading independent school for girls condemned hostile attitudes to private education yesterday as she revealed she is quitting Britain for a job abroad.

Frances King, head of Roedean for five years, said she was fed up with being ‘always on the negative side of public opinion’.

Private schools had been through a ‘bruising time’ and the Government ‘cannot afford to be supportive’, she claimed.

Mrs King will leave the UK to become director of an international school in Switzerland – Collège Alpin Beau Soleil – in the summer. She said she found it ‘quite hard work’ working against a tide of disapproval in Britain.

While UK private education was increasingly sought-after among overseas parents, Britain itself was unable to celebrate its success and heritage, she warned.

‘It is quite hard work to continue to be always on the negative side of public opinion,’ said Mrs King who became head of Roedean, in East Sussex, in 2008.

She added that Roedean was ‘making sure we have got a good amount of money put into bursaries and, as much as we can afford in our situation, we are trying to ensure widening access’.

The school was also staying focused on its core purpose of providing ‘top quality education’, she said, but it was ‘hard work’ pursuing this in the face of national disapproval.

Fellow headmistress Vicky Tuck expressed similar sentiments when she left Cheltenham Ladies’ College for a school in Switzerland in 2011. She said she was made to feel ‘slightly immoral’ for running a fee-paying school.

‘There are things about England and British education that are quite irksome – you have constantly to defend independent education,’ Mrs Tuck said at the time. ‘Many of us in the independent sector work very hard and feel at times we have to apologise for what we’re doing.’

At Roedean, where fees for boarders are up to £31,350 a year, half of pupils are now from overseas.

Oxford-educated Mrs King, who was previously head of Heathfield School for Girls, Ascot, said some boarding schools in Britain were a throwback to the days of the British Empire, when children were sent home to be educated.

She told the Times: ‘They are still struggling on. There was a boom period when local British people decided that boarding was just the best thing; that is now changing, perfectly reasonably – you want your child at home.’

Strong schools such as Roedean would continue to thrive but others would ‘find the market too tough’.


Teach basic knowledge, not 'skills'

This needn’t mean schools resurrect the dreaded “rote memorization” bogeyman

It's a common trick to sell parents and taxpayers lemons by using words most people find attractive. California state schools Superintendent Tom Torlakson's proposal to shift state tests to fit the Common Core falls into this category.

"Multiple-choice, fill-in-the-bubble tests alone simply cannot do the job anymore," he said. He wants tests that "measure the real-world skills our students need to be ready for a career and for college." This means moving away from memorizing knowledge toward "critical thinking" and "problem solving." The new tests would have children write short essays and complete computer projects, and they will have to be graded by hand.

No reasonable person opposes critical thinking and problem solving. But children cannot develop these abilities without a broad base of knowledge. Asking them to do so is like telling them to build a house with no materials, because skills must be applied to something. If children have no experience with this, they end up having neither skills nor knowledge.

This is a signature insight of University of Virginia researcher and self-described liberal E.D. Hirsch. He found that students with broad knowledge in basic subjects such as math, English, history and science understood college-level texts better than their peers who did not focus on real content in school.

This and subsequent research has resoundingly demonstrated that teachers should impart facts and knowledge rather than empty "real-world skills," because it is very difficult to apply skills to facts and knowledge you have never encountered. The consensus in neuroscience is that the "higher-order" academic skills Torlakson wants, such as reading comprehension, require readers to know related information.

Skills-based classrooms send kids into the world to participate in democracy when they have never learned democracy's history and language.

This needn't mean schools resurrect the dreaded "rote memorization" bogeyman. It simply means elementary students would read poems by Robert Louis Stevenson and Emily Dickinson and study ancient Rome, the world's major rivers, and the Declaration of Independence, for example.

Failing to encounter and store away this basic knowledge hurts all children, but particularly hurts poor and minority children, Hirsch has shown, because their parents are the least likely to fill in these knowledge gaps. Thus schools exacerbate an existing achievement gap by not teaching all students core knowledge. This is a major impediment to kids' future success, because word knowledge, for example, strongly predicts income level.

When Torlakson says the Common Core – requirements for what each student should know in each grade in math and English – prompted his proposal, it should make citizens think long and hard about those standards, given that the focus on "skills" destroys learning. If the Common Core also focuses on skills, as its creators indicate, California will be one of 46 states to increase educational inequality.

Besides being necessary for college and jobs, these are the basic things parents and taxpayers expect their schools to teach. California should follow another blue state's lead: In 1993, Maryland began requiring schools to teach content-focused curriculum. For the past decade, its achievement gap has narrowed, its students have hit the top of the national test-score charts, and the state holds its own when compared to foreign countries. California's children would benefit from a similar change.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The National Association of Scholars Report on American History

In a careful study of U.S. history courses at the University of Texas and Texas A & M University, the National Association of Scholars recently released report indicates that race, class and gender tend to crowd out the teaching of other perspectives. This form of thematically skewed teaching leads to an incomplete knowledge of American history, an ignorance transmitted from one generation to the next.

Eighty three percent of the U.T. faculty members teaching these courses received their PhD's in the 1990's or later and had race, class and gender (RCG) research interests. Hence it is hardly surprising that 78 percent of U.T. faculty members were high assigners of readings in these three areas. Moreover, an inordinate focus on RCG isn't the only problem since this emphasis subordinates other aspects of the national history. In these general American history courses, key documents from the past such as the Mayflower Compact or Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address were not assigned. Only one faculty member assigned "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" and only one assigned Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville.

Even though the study was restricted to two Texas institutions, I feel confident in asserting that other universities share similar characteristics of narrow specialization and a failure to provide broad coverage. It should hastily be noted that RCG are important topics that deserve a place in the history curriculum. The issue, however, is that the strong emphasis, alas the overarching emphasis, on these themes does not do justice to the depth and complexity of our national history.

In fact, diversity of informed opinion to which universities give lip-service, makes institutions of higher learning a place of genuine scholarship. When the study becomes monolithic and narrow, students are intellectually shortchanged and the appreciation of history as a discipline is skewed by political ideology.

NAS researchers didn't merely examine the evidence, they proposed several sensible recommendations. First, perhaps foremost, a review of the curriculum is called for, one that is objective and fair-minded. Two, hiring committees should take into account the need for a broad narrative of American history. Three, essential readings should be considered as part of the curriculum review with an emphasis on diversification. Four, state legislatures responsible for underwriting colleges and universities should demand transparency. Review and oversight do not in turn lead to a violation of academic freedom provisions. Last, these American history courses implicitly and sometimes explicitly suggest universities have drifted from their main mission. Increasingly these instructors think of themselves as reformers eager to eliminate prejudice and bigotry. However, when university programs consider it their responsibility to atone for or redress impressions of the past, history becomes a tool of ideological manipulation. While the struggle between the downtrodden and rooted injustice is one dimension of our history, it, in itself, doesn't convey the whole story.

Most Americans are understandably disconcerted by the gap between the credentials of college graduates and what they actually know. Students may believe they have studied American history, but in many instances, they acquired a prejudicial view of America, one that perverts evidence and the canons of scholarship. All too often courses at U.T. and Texas A&M favor one kind of historical study: one that emphasizes race, class and gender and deemphasizes other approaches such as political, intellectual, economic, diplomatic or military history.

In pointing out this obvious ideological bias, the NAS has not only performed a service for the taxpayers of Texas, but to all Americans who wonder why the balance in American history has been undermined by the self appointed professors of reform.


Teacher unfairly fired because she 'pruned bush without risk checks'

A teacher was unfairly sacked from her job after her superiors claimed she had pruned a bush without performing a risk assessment, a tribunal heard.

Tracey Smith was awarded £70,000 compensation after successfully arguing her career had been left in ruins following her unfair dismissal from a secure unit for problem youngsters in Sheffield, south Yorks.

The 43 year-old had been accused of breaking rules over disciplining a youngster, having poor relationships with colleagues and breaking health and safety rules, the tribunal was told.

One “ridiculous” allegation centred on suggestions that Miss Smith, from Crookes, Sheffield, had not pruned a bush without performing a risk assessment.

Today, it emerged that she had been awarded £70,000 – the maximum possible amount – after an employment tribunal found she was unfairly dismissed from Aldine House, a secure unit for eight young offenders and other problem youngsters.

The Sheffield-based hearing in September last year found Miss Smith had been unfairly dismissed and awarded more than £18,000 for loss of earnings.

A second hearing on Monday awarded her a further £52,400, the maximum amount a tribunal can award in compensation.

Sheffield Council, which operates the secure unit, said it was considering an appeal.

Miss Smith said outside court: "The case has destroyed my career and I am pleased to have won.  “I believe the problems arose because I didn't get on with my line manager. I was accused of five allegations.  "One, which was ridiculous, was that I pruned a bush without performing a risk assessment.”

She added: “I was on full pay for nine months doing nothing, which is something I was horrified about because I have friends who run companies and were having to make redundancies. It was not good use of taxpayers' money.

"I am so pleased with the result. To prove my innocence and show that I have been unfairly treated was my goal and … I now feel vindicated."

Miss Smith, who remains unemployed, had worked at the secure unit, for three years when she was suspended on full pay in August 2010.

She was then sacked in May the following year, despite working at other mainstream schools for 12 years.

Before her suspension she had reported to management about the bullying behaviour of her line manager, which she said was placing herself and the young people in the unit at risk because they were ignoring alarm calls.

After she was sacked she was placed on the “dismissed persons register”, which hindered her chances of gaining new employment.   Her name has only recently been removed from the register after the tribunal result.

Her lawyer, Scott Sim, of Howells Solicitors, said they were “very happy” with the result.  “Miss Smith was found to be subjected to an unfair dismissal which has had a large impact on her life and hindered her attempts to gain employment elsewhere,” he said.  “We are pleased that justice has been achieved for Tracey and she can now move forward."

Mr Sim said that at the initial hearing in September, Sheffield council claimed that Aldine House was due to be closed and so any further hearings were postponed.  Since then Aldine House has remained open resulting in a second hearing where Ms Smith was awarded further compensation.

A spokesman for Sheffield Council said today: “We note the result of the tribunal and we are looking into appealing the decision.  “It would be inappropriate for us to comment further than this at this time.”


Headmaster accuses Oxbridge of 'discrimination' against public school pupils applying for university places

Public school pupils are being discriminated against when they apply for places at Oxford and Cambridge, a leading headmaster has claimed.  Dr Anthony Seldon, the Master of the prestigious Wellington College described the 'hostility' towards these students as 'the hatred that dare not speak its name.'

There are cases of some parents allegedly putting their children into local state sixth forms to give them a better chance of getting into Oxbridge.

David Cameron has tried to 'disown' his Eton-educated background because of the public 'jealousy' of independent schools, said Dr Seldon.

He told the Daily Telegraph that at Wellington there were 62 pupils clever enough to get an interview at Oxbridge, but he expected only 20 to be offered places.

'From our perspective it looks as if some public school students are being discriminated against at the final hurdle,' he said. 'Was that different to when I was at Oxford 35 years ago? Yes. I don't think anyone gave a toss back then where you came from, only that you were good enough to go.'

He added: 'Positive discrimination in favour of state school people has become the hatred that dare not speak its name.'

This year, according to the paper, Cambridge has reduced the number of places it is offering to independent schools to 200 with almost two-thirds its students coming from state schools and colleges.

The dilemma facing parents of privately-educated children is highlighted in the Sunday Telegraph's Seven magazine tomorrow with the case of  a QC with two daughters at the Catholic boarding school St Mary's Shaftesbury, Dorset.

He took away the cleverer of the two at 16 and sent her to the local state sixth form because he believed it would improve her chance of a place at Oxbridge.

Last October, private school leaders raised the prospect of boycotts against any university found to be systematically discriminating against their pupils in admissions.

They are incensed that more than half of top universities have set specific targets for admitting more state school pupils under pressure from the Government to widen the social mix of students.

Headmasters are demanding that universities such as Cambridge and University College London are banned from setting targets which classify students according to the type of school they attended.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Head Start gets tested -- and flunks

There are few institutions more sacrosanct in Washington than President Johnson's Head Start program. The federal government spent more than $7.9 billion on the program in 2012 alone to provide preschool services for nearly 1 million low-income Americans.

The program represents everything that is supposedly great about the liberal welfare state. It redistributes resources from wealthy to poor. It uses the power of the federal government to combat inequality by giving poor and minority students an educational boost before they fall behind their wealthier peers.

There's just one problem: It doesn't work.

Until recently, no one even conducted a scientific test of Head Start's effectiveness. Republicans demanded one in 1998, and the Department of Health and Human Services commissioned it four years later. The ongoing randomized study of Head Start was based on a nationally representative sample of 5,000 children who applied for the program in 2002. Approximately half of the subjects received Head Start services, while the other half did not. The students were then tested on their language, literacy, math and school performance skills.

The initial results were supposed to be published by the HHS in March 2009. But the Obama administration delayed this until January 2010, at which point the reason became obvious. As the 2010 Head Start Impact Study report notes, "the benefits of access to Head Start at age four are largely absent by 1st grade for the program population as a whole." Specifically, the language, literacy, math and school performance skills of the Head Start children all failed to improve.

Since 1965, the federal government has spent $180 billion on Head Start. Democrats have used the program as a partisan political weapon for decades. President Obama's 2012 stump speech even included a specific line about evil Republicans wanting to "kick children out of Head Start programs."

But despite the obvious political salience of this program, not one major news outlet covered the study demonstrating its utter ineffectiveness. The New York Times, Washington Post and even the Wall Street Journal ignored this taxpayer-funded, official, scientific HHS study.

Now, the HHS has finally published a follow-up to its 2010 study that follows the same children through the end of third grade. And again, the HHS has concluded that Head Start is ineffective, concluding that Heat Start resulted in "very few impacts ... in any of the four domains of cognitive, social-emotional, health and parenting practices." And those impacts that were found "did not show a clear pattern of favorable or unfavorable impacts for children."

Does that sound like a program you'd want to spend $8 billion on next year?

Soon after he was sworn into office, Obama promised that when it came to education, his administration would "use only one test when deciding what ideas to support with your precious tax dollars: It's not whether an idea is liberal or conservative, but whether it works." Head Start doesn't work. Will Obama follow through on his promise and end the program, or will he cling to it as a "liberal idea"?


Rotten to the Core: Readin', Writin' and Deconstructionism

 Michelle Malkin

The Washington, D.C., board of education earned widespread mockery this week when it proposed allowing high school students -- in the nation's own capital -- to skip a basic U.S. government course to graduate. But this is fiddlesticks compared to what the federal government is doing to eliminate American children's core knowledge base in English, language arts and history.

Thanks to the "Common Core" regime, funded with President Obama's stimulus dollars and bolstered by duped Republican governors and business groups, deconstructionism is back in style. Traditional literature is under fire. Moral relativism is increasingly the norm. "Standards" is Orwell-speak for subjectivity and lowest common denominator pedagogy.

Take the Common Core literacy "standards." Please. As literature professors, writers, humanities scholars, secondary educators and parents have warned over the past three years, the new achievement goals actually set American students back by de-emphasizing great literary works for "informational texts." Challenging students to digest and dissect difficult poems and novels is becoming passe. Utilitarianism uber alles.

The Common Core English/language arts criteria call for students to spend only half of their class time studying literature, and only 30 percent of their class time by their junior and senior years in high school.

Under Common Core, classics such as "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" are of no more academic value than the pages of the Federal Register or the Federal Reserve archives -- or a pro-Obamacare opinion essay in The New Yorker. Audio and video transcripts, along with "alternative literacies" that are more "relevant" to today's students (pop song lyrics, for example), are on par with Shakespeare.

English professor Mary Grabar describes Common Core training exercises that tell teachers "to read Lincoln's Gettysburg Address without emotion and without providing any historical context. Common Core reduces all 'texts' to one level: the Gettysburg Address to the EPA's Recommended Levels of Insulation." Indeed, in my own research, I found one Common Core "exemplar" on teaching the Gettysburg Address that instructs educators to "refrain from giving background context or substantial instructional guidance at the outset."

Another exercise devised by Common Core promoters features the Gettysburg Address as a word cloud. Yes, a word cloud. Teachers use the jumble of letters, devoid of historical context and truths, to help students chart, decode and "deconstruct" Lincoln's speech.

Deconstructionism, of course, is the faddish leftwing school of thought popularized by French philosopher Jacques Derrida in the 1970s. Writer Robert Locke described the nihilistic movement best: "It is based on the proposition that the apparently real world is in fact a vast social construct and that the way to knowledge lies in taking apart in one's mind this thing society has built. Taken to its logical conclusion, it supposes that there is at the end of the day no actual reality, just a series of appearances stitched together by social constructs into what we all agree to call reality."

Literature and history are all about competing ideological narratives, in other words. One story or "text" is no better than another. Common Core's literature-lite literacy standards are aimed not at increasing "college readiness" or raising academic expectations. Just the opposite. They help pave the way for more creeping political indoctrination under the guise of increasing access to "information."

As University of Arkansas professor Sandra Stotsky, an unrelenting whistleblower who witnessed the Common Core sausage-making process firsthand, concluded: "An English curriculum overloaded with advocacy journalism or with 'informational' articles chosen for their topical and/or political nature should raise serious concerns among parents, school leaders, and policymakers. Common Core's standards not only present a serious threat to state and local education authority, but also put academic quality at risk. Pushing fatally flawed education standards into America's schools is not the way to improve education for America's students."

Bipartisan Common Core defenders claim their standards are merely "recommendations." But the standards, "rubrics" and "exemplars" are tied to tests and textbooks. The textbooks and tests are tied to money and power. Federally funded and federally championed nationalized standards lead inexorably to de facto mandates. Any way you slice it, dice it or word-cloud it, Common Core is a mandate for mediocrity.


British university chiefs will vet tougher new High School leaving exam  that aims to end 'resist culture' that has led to dumbing down of qualification

A-level candidates are to return to sitting their exams at the end of a two-year course in a bid to end the ‘resit culture’ that has led to the dumbing down of the qualification.

In addition, the tougher new courses are to be supervised by top universities. 

The shake-up, to be announced today, aims to end years of political meddling in what was once regarded as the ‘gold standard’ of exams.

Education Secretary Michael Gove wants to abolish the reliance on coursework and ‘bite-size’ modular exams, which are taken throughout the two-year course and often resat.

This follows evidence that they have left students unsuited for the rigours of university.

Under the radical plans, pupils who start their courses in September 2015 will no longer sit simpler AS-levels after one year of their course as a stepping stone to A-levels.

Mr Gove has written to exams watchdog Ofqual revealing that he has secured the backing of the  Russell Group of top universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, to oversee the new A-levels.

Their professors will join new  subject committees in core subjects – English, maths, physics, chemistry, biology, history, geography and  foreign languages – to draw up the content for the exams over the next two years.

They will then review each exam paper every year to ensure that content and questions are sufficiently tough. Exam boards which fail to deliver will be condemned.

A senior official said: ‘At the moment, pupils spend far too much time worrying about exams, revising for exams and doing exams.

These changes will mean pupils get two years to get properly to grips with a subject and prepare them for university. AS-levels will no longer be simple stepping stones to A-levels but rigorous exams in their own right.’

Ofqual has already revealed that pupils will be allowed to take just one resit in order to prevent repeated attempts to artificially boost grades.

Allies of Mr Gove say the reforms, which have been signed off by the Liberal Democrats, will return  A-levels to the rigorous reputation they enjoyed before the last Labour government.

And by effectively handing over the content of the ‘gold standard’ exams to universities, he will end political influence by the Department for Education. Mr Gove hopes that means his reforms cannot be overturned if Labour wins the next election.

A source close to Mr Gove said: ‘Michael is withdrawing the DfE from A-levels and giving power back to universities.  ‘Now, a minority of private schools teach far beyond A-levels while many state schools are wrongly told that A-levels are sufficient to satisfy the best universities. This must change.’

But the plans will be resisted by the teaching unions and the National Union of Students.

Mr Gove is also expected to make further announcements about the future of exams at 16 after the Mail revealed last year that GCSEs are to be scrapped and replaced with a more rigorous exam on the lines of the old O-level.


Sunday, January 27, 2013

British Primary school bans six-year-old boy from wearing Christian band in class for 'health and safety reasons'

A furious dad has slammed a school after his six-year-old son was banned from wearing a Christian band in class on health and safety grounds.

Peter Thompson's son Eddie had been wearing the band, decorated with the Christian symbol of a fish, out of sight for six months.   But when a teacher spotted Eddie scratching his ankle she noticed the band, covered by his sock, and ordered him to hand it over.

Mr Thompson, 39, is demanding an apology from the head at Estfeld Primary in Tickhill, near Doncaster, and is keeping Eddie at home until the situation is resolved.

He has made a series of complaints and says he believes the school is discriminating against him because he is a Christian, after Eddie was told he could not wear the band at school.

Mr Thompson, from Tickhill, said : 'I couldn’t believe it when Eddie told me what had happened. He was so upset.  'He wears the band because he wants to feel that God is always with him. He has had it on for the past six months and makes sure it is covered by his sock, so it’s not on display or posing any kind of risk.

'No one has said a thing about it for all this time but when one of the teachers spotted it when Eddie had an itchy ankle and was scratching it she took it off him.

'When I complained about this to the school they were very blunt and said bands like this were banned. I think they’re discriminating against him because he’s a Christian. This is a symbol of his faith.

'I’m particularly angry and upset at the school because during the summer they were actually selling rubber charity bands to raise money.

'It doesn’t make sense to me that now they say they are banned yet in the summer they were selling them on school property.

'I don’t want his education to suffer but I don’t want to send him back at this stage and when he does go back I’m worried about how he will be treated.'

Head teacher Diane Risley said: 'At Tickhill Estfeld the safety and well being of all pupils is taken extremely seriously and the school has a clear uniform policy in place to help families understand what pupils can and cannot wear whilst at school.

'Whilst we do not comment on individual cases any parent who has concerns is entitled to raise these with us directly.'

Mr Thompson, a lorry driver, said Eddie picked out the band himself at a Christian bookshop six months ago.  He said: 'We are telling Eddie that he's now off school because of the weather. He keeps praying for snow.'

Mr Thompson, who regularly attends Bentley Baptist Church in Doncaster with his son, believes the school are discriminating against Eddie because he is a Christian.  He said: 'We are a Christian family and Eddie's band was a reflection of this.'

The news follows a recent victory by airline worker Nadia Eweida who won a court battle after being banned from wearing a Christian cross while working at a check-in counter. Her case was upheld by the European Court of Human Rights who ruled that she was allowed to wear it as an expression of her faith.


Health Law Pinches Colleges

Some Schools Cut Hours of Hard-Pressed Adjuncts to Avoid Rules on Insurance

Robert Balla, an adjunct professor at Stark State College and two other schools in Ohio, faces a new cap on the number of hours he can teach.

The federal health-care overhaul is prompting some colleges and universities to cut the hours of adjunct professors, renewing a debate about the pay and benefits of these freelance instructors who handle a significant share of teaching at U.S. higher-education institutions.

The Affordable Care Act requires large employers to offer a minimum level of health insurance to employees who work 30 hours a week or more starting in 2014, or face a penalty. The mandate is a particular challenge for colleges and universities, which increasingly rely on adjuncts to help keep costs down as states have scaled back funding for higher education.

A handful of schools, including Community College of Allegheny County in Pennsylvania and Youngstown State University in Ohio, have curbed the number of classes that adjuncts can teach in the current spring semester to limit the schools' exposure to the health-insurance requirement. Others are assessing whether to do so, or to begin offering health care to some adjuncts.

In Ohio, instructor Robert Balla faces a new cap on the number of hours he can teach at Stark State College. In a Dec. 6 letter, the North Canton school told him that "in order to avoid penalties under the Affordable Care Act…employees with part-time or adjunct status will not be assigned more than an average of 29 hours per week."

Mr. Balla, a 41-year-old father of two, had taught seven English composition classes last semester, split between Stark State and two other area schools. This semester, his course load at Stark State is down to one instead of two as a result of the school's new limit on hours, cutting his salary by about a total of $2,000.

Stark State's move came as a blow to Mr. Balla, who said he earns about $40,000 a year and cannot afford health insurance.

"I think it goes against the spirit of the [health-care] law," Mr. Balla said. "In education, we're working for the public good, we are public employees at a public institution; we should be the first ones to uphold the law, to set the example."

Irene Motts, a spokeswoman for Stark State, a two-year community college, said the new rules were necessary "to maintain the fiscal stability of the college. There are a lot of penalties involved if adjuncts go over their 29 hours-per-week average. The college can be fined and the fines are substantial."

Nationally, colleges through trade groups such as the American Association of Community Colleges are asking the Internal Revenue Service to write special rules for adjuncts. The IRS recently acknowledged the issues in higher education, but so far hasn't agreed to take further steps.

For decades, colleges and universities have cut costs by hiring adjuncts instead of tenured or tenure-track faculty. In 1975, adjuncts made up 43% of the faculty at U.S. colleges. By 2009, that number had climbed to nearly 70%, according to John Curtis, director of Research and Public Policy at the American Association of University Professors, a professional group with an affiliated labor union.

Many of the adjuncts have other careers in their subject areas, and teach only a single class each semester. But a sizable number make their living from teaching, and have to pay for their own health insurance. Most adjuncts who don't receive coverage through their employer will be eligible for subsidized insurance starting in 2014 through new exchanges set up by the federal health-care law.

Adjuncts long have complained about the terms of their employment, and unionization by them has steadily increased, said Richard Boris, director of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education at Hunter College in New York. Some 37% of part-time, nontenured faculty are in a union, according to a survey conducted by the center between 2008 and 2012.

Some college administrators fear the fallout of the Affordable Care Act will further motivate unionization efforts, said Dan King, executive director of the American Association of University Administrators.

In the short term, Mr. King said he expects many colleges will hire more adjuncts and have each teach fewer classes. But that could make it harder for schools to find enough qualified adjuncts, he said. As a result, he believes institutions over the long term will need to create more full-time teaching positions that rank between a part-time adjunct and a tenured professor.

"I think colleges and universities are going to have to rethink their model for how they compensate adjuncts. It's clear to me over time the current model isn't going to be sustainable," Mr. King said.

At Community College of Allegheny County, which has an annual budget of around $109 million, administrators estimate it would cost at least $6 million to provide health benefits to the 200 adjuncts whose hours are being cut, plus 200 support staff who also work an equivalent of 30 hours.

That likely would have required a significant tuition increase, at a time when the school is trying to keep down the cost for students while absorbing reductions in state funding, said David Hoovler, executive assistant to the college's president.

As part of the college's decision to lower the cap on the number of classes adjuncts can teach, the administration also raised the pay per class by 2.7% and will start offering a health-care plan that adjuncts can buy through the school, Mr. Hoovler said. The college says the plan should be cheaper than what adjuncts could buy on the open market.

Large employers in the private sector also are examining the cost of insuring more employees. Some companies, particularly restaurant operators, have been moving to cut hours to reduce the number of workers to whom they would be required to offer health insurance. Others are preparing to expand health-benefit offerings to more such employees.

The Department of Health and Human Services doesn't expect the law will have a substantial effect on employment, citing the experience of Massachusetts, which has a similar requirement on the state level, as well as a Congressional Budget Office report on the Affordable Care Act.

Health care is just one issue that has been pushing adjuncts to unionize. Many say they also are looking for better pay, job security and more respect.

While the salary of a full professor with a doctorate at a public university has risen with inflation and now averages $120,000 a year, according to the American Association of University Professors, the pay for adjuncts has stayed flat. Even those with a doctorate earn an average of just $3,200 a course each semester, Mr. Curtis said. For a full-time adjunct with a doctorate, that can translate to less than $20,000 a year.

Many adjuncts who hope to break into the academy have been unwilling to risk antagonizing the faculty or administrators who have the power to elevate them to the tenure-track jobs they covet. But as those jobs have become harder to land, adjuncts have become more motivated to challenge the status quo, said Maria Maisto, an adjunct teaching English composition at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland and president of the New Faculty Majority, an organization created in 2009 to empower adjuncts.

She is hopeful that changes made on campuses because of the Affordable Care Act will help draw increased attention to the plight of adjuncts.

"We think it could definitely raise a number of HR issues that have fallen through the cracks," Ms. Maisto said. "It could open avenues for reform that weren't evident before."


Hebrew-English charter school in Van Nuys approved by LAUSD

Should keep out the linguistically challenged

A proposed Hebrew-English charter school in Van Nuys won the approval Tuesday of the LAUSD board, which also OK'd the renewal of two landmark charters and the conditional approval of a third.

Lashon Academy plans to open in July near Vanowen Street and Hayvenhurst Avenue, operating a dual-immersion program in English and Hebrew. It initially expects to enroll about 290 students in grades K-2, with a target of 660 youngsters in grades K-6 by the end of the five year charter.

The charter was approved 6-0, with board member Richard Vladovic absent, despite concerns raised by Tamar Galatzan about opening a language-based school.

"I'm generally supportive of choice," said Galatzan, who represents the Van Nuys area. "This is a choice that parents should make, and it's called private school."

Superintendent John Deasy pointed out there are several dual-immersion programs operating in Los Angeles Unified to cater to its diverse population.

"I'm interested to find out who would attend a Hebrew-English program in Van Nuys," Galatzan said, repeating her worries about "private schools masquerading as public schools."