Sunday, February 16, 2014

Kline: Focus on Strengthening Existing Early Ed Programs, Not Rubber-Stamping Another

The House Education and the Workforce Committee, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), today held a full committee hearing entitled, “The Foundation for Success: Discussing Early Childhood Education and Care in America.” During the hearing, members discussed the federal investment in early childhood development, and explored opportunities to better support the nation’s youngest citizens.

“Early childhood education and development programs can have a lasting influence on a child, laying the foundation for future success and achievement in school, the workplace, and life,” said Chairman Kline. “Since the 1960s, the federal government has played an active role in helping children – especially those in low-income families – gain access to critical early care and development services.”

However, Chairman Kline continued, “A 2012 report by the Government Accountability Office [found] 45 federal programs linked to early childhood education and care operated by several different federal agencies.” Chairman Kline shared an infographic illustrating the dozens of existing programs that provide or support federal and state early childhood education and care. He noted that many of the federal programs, such as Head Start, are in need of serious review and improvement. “This should be our first priority, not rubber-stamping a 46th federal program,” Chairman Kline said, alluding to President Obama’s call for universal pre-k.

Kay Brown, Director of Education, Workforce, and Income Security for the Government Accountability Office (GAO), discussed the disjointed federal early childhood education and care system. “Multiple agencies administer the federal investment in early learning and child care through multiple programs that sometimes have similar goals and are targeted to similar groups of children… the federal investment in these programs is fragmented [and] some of these programs overlap one another.” Ms. Brown recommended a renewed focus on program coordination and evaluation to ensure programs are more effectively serving children and taxpayers.

Dr. Grover “Russ” Whitehurst, Senior Fellow and Director of the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution, reiterated the importance of reassessing the current federal system of early childhood programs. “I’ve spent a lot of time in childcare facilities that were under the sway of federal legislation… I observed classrooms that I would have been pleased to have my own children attend, but I also saw far too many situations that made me want to cry… The current system, a mishmash of 45 separate, incoherent, and largely ineffective programs, fails to serve the broader public and certainly is less than optimal for the children and families to which it is directed.”

In addition to federal and state programs, there are a number of successful private-sector early childhood programs. Dr. Elanna Yalow, Chief Executive Officer for Knowledge Universe Early Learning Programs, explained the value of public-private partnerships in strengthening early childhood education. “For instance, Knowledge Universe participates in the state voluntary pre-k programs in Florida and Georgia, among others, and we participate in a number of Head Start partnerships in Ohio. All these varieties of public-private partnerships could be better utilized to provide more children and families access to a high-quality early learning experience that best meets their family’s needs.”

At the conclusion of the hearing, Chairman Kline said, “No one denies the importance of early childhood education and care. But we simply do not have unlimited resources, so we must focus on ensuring our existing federal investments are getting maximum results. As the committee continues to discuss the early childhood programs in its jurisdiction, such as Head Start and the Child Care and Development Block Grant, we will focus on exploring opportunities to strengthen the programs through enhanced coordination and transparency, while also taking steps to ensure the programs prioritize serving children and families most in need.”


Forever Thirteen

by Fred Reed

Oh, help. It seems that at Columbia University a rat pack of nursery feminists have got their skivvies in a knot because the library, Butler, is named for an, ugh!, man. Yes. It cannot be denied. In protest, these girls, apparently having nothing more important to do, have filmed “feminist pornography” in the library. A scandal arose. What feminist porn might be is not clear. Since feminism has more dykes than the Zuiderzee, presumably they will show it to each other.

Anyway, one of these drab libertines, a Sara Grace Powell, says, “Butler is an extremely charged space—the names emblazoned on the stone facade are, for me, a stimulant for resistance.”

A stimulant to grow up might be more to the point. She means “stimulus,” of course, but why would a child at an Ivy university be expected to know English?

What droning boilerplate. If her thoughts were any shallower I would suspect her brainpan of being a cookie sheet. It is a case of Darwinian reversal. We regress to cephalopody.

To an extent I have to sympathize with Sara. I grant that seeing a horrible male name “emblazoned” (the pretentious verbiage of a high-school newspaper) would send me into a decline also. Wouldn’t it you? Never mind that if the man thus emblazoned had not made the money to donate the library, Sara wouldn’t have one in which to make pornography, presumably the purpose of libraries. Nor, if it weren’t for men, would she have anything to study except, I suppose, her fascinating angsts. (I will guess without evidence that her presence at a pricey finishing school like Columbia depends on a parasitic relationship to her father’s bank account.)

The adage that children should be seen and not heard gets half of it right.

More from Miss Powell, again writing with more Sara than Grace:

I work in Butler but sometimes feel suffocated by it….The point was to transgress the relative conservatism (and its history) of the space with this hysterical intervention.

What godawful pedestrian self-important prose. Couldn’t she, you know, like, go do her homework or something? If I had in my beginnings written that mysteriously or badly, I would not have been permitted on the obit desk. Perhaps she means “histrionic,” or merely that the participants are hysterics, which hardly needs emphasis. With Sara Grace, one is never sure.

The silly self-admiring solemnity of it all! I’m not sure whether to be amused or annoyed. Hers is dishwater academese of the hormonally unfinished that says ”look at me I’m all grown up really, really, see the really neat words I use.” It is the language of a federal report improved by narcissism.

One expects pubescent behavior from the pubescent. Yet this pseudo-literate pretentiousness is standard at hundreds of Women’s Studies departments everywhere: priggish, self-righteous, moralizing. But aren’t universities places where teenagers grow up instead of avoiding doing so? (No.) Today in America adulthood seems to flow upward like sap in a tree, reaching the genitals at age twelve or so, and the head at twenty-eight. We approach perpetual juvenility.

One expects middle-school behavior in middle school. One expects students in high school infallibly to know everything about everything, to be sure how to correct an erring world that has puzzled adults for at least several thousand years. But shouldn’t they get over it? How did our universities and graduate schools turn into intellectual litter boxes?

Let us return to the work of feminist pornographers:

It begins with a group of girls sitting around a library table taking their shirts off. As the film progresses, the girls engage in activities including kissing, rubbing eggs on their bodies and twerking around a chicken carcass.

I consulted the Wikipedia to see what “twerking” might be:

Twerking is a type of dancing in which an individual dances to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low squatting stance.

Ah, I thought, enlightened. It sounds like SueBob’s Red Rooster Lounge and Poon Pit in Wheeling. It takes place in the library at Columbia, thank God. If these painfully asexual co-eds took their show on the road to SueBob’s, the customers would give up sex and become stylite monks in the Syrian Desert. It is interesting, though, that that their approach to attacking men involves taking their shirts off. Merchandising seems a female instinct. I remember when feminists burned their bras, thinking that this was a blow at males. Being a boy myself at the time, I encouraged them in this political action.

But I promised psychoanalysis. My diagnosis is that Sara-kind suffer from a Fredipus Complex, which consists in a failure to separate emotionally from their parents, with whom they confuse the university. Thus the desperate desire to outrage. They could get the same effect by dyeing their hair green or going to a secluded glen and rolling in anchovy oil, thus allowing others to study. That isn’t the spirit of the thing somehow.

What I particularly like, being a connoisseur of all forms of cultural collapse, is that the grown-ups at Columbia, if any, let this stuff go on. A reasonable course would be to tell these excessively serious gal-chillun that a university is not the place for acting like stupid, self-indulgent little twits, and suspend them for a semester. Apparently this doesn’t happen, in part because the faculty are little better than the children. At the high end of the age distribution are professors who came out of the Sixties and their aftermath. These (I know: I was there) had little interest is scholarship, which they regarded as irrelevant, racist, sexist, ageist, elitist, capitalist, and male—which latter, thank God, it is. Add to this the spinelessness of academics, and the conversion of universities into profit-making corporations, and…voil√°! Hail Columbia.

Per force, I yield to reality. Twerk until you drop. However, I demand democracy. It is elitist that only Columbia girls can embarrass themselves in the library, dancing around a dead chicken like ditz-rabbit Twerpsichores. I too want to squat and make thrusting movements with my pelvis at Columbia. (I worry about the chicken, though. Isn’t there an animal-rights issue here?) Yes, I know. These pole-dancers without a pole are merely expressing their deepest political conceptions. (I am prepared to believe this.) No doubt it is their right. All I ask is that I have an equal right to make an ass of myself.


British inspectorate launches new clampdown on scruffy teachers

Education inspectors are to launch a clampdown on scruffy teachers amid fears adults may be setting a bad example to pupils by wearing casual clothes in lessons.

Ofsted said inspections of teacher training would be overhauled to place a greater focus on “professional dress and conduct” in the classroom.

For the first time, the watchdog will mark down training institutions in England that fail to show student teachers the importance of adopting smart attire.

The watchdog insisted it was "not being prescriptive" about teachers’ clothes.

But Sir Michael Wilshaw, the chief inspector, has previously emphasised the importance of teachers adopting “business-like” attire.

This is likely to include a focus on suits for ties, shirts and suits for men and smart skirts or dresses for women, with jeans and T-shirts being frowned upon.

The change comes as part of a shake-up of the way Ofsted inspects training courses based in universities or schools following concerns that too many new teachers are unable to control unruly pupils and conduct themselves properly in front of lessons.

Figures published last month showed that at least four-in-10 teachers fail to last longer than five years in the job, often after being poorly prepared for the classroom.

Sean Harford, the regulator’s national director for initial teacher training, said: “Too often newly qualified teachers enter the classroom ill-prepared for the challenges of teaching pupils.

“If they are to succeed then they need the continued support of middle and senior managers after their training. Our more rigorous way of inspecting will help make sure that teachers are better prepared when they enter the teaching profession.”

Ofsted published a consultation document on Tuesday setting out the proposed new inspection regime, which will be implemented from June this year.

It places a far higher emphasis on the “management of pupil behaviour and discipline”, ensuring new teachers have the expertise needed to control lessons.

The watchdog will also spend more time directly observing trainees in the classroom, with inspectors watching them at the end of the training year and again a few weeks into their new jobs to make sure they meet the relevant professional standards.

In a key move, Ofsted said it was amending guidelines on teacher training “to include reference to the standard of professional dress and conduct adopted by trainees”.

A spokesman said it was “not being prescriptive about what teachers should and should not wear”, but added: “We are clear that teachers must, on day one, conduct themselves and be dressed in a manner which befits their professional status.”

Staff at Sir Michael’s old school – Mossbourne Academy in Hackney – were expected to wear “business-like” clothes in lessons.

In a recent speech, he said: “How many times have I heard that trainees have been sent into schools without proper guidance on professional behaviour or dress?

“How many times have I heard that trainees have been inadequately prepared to deal with poor behaviour?”

Further reforms to teacher training inspections include:

 *  Ensuring trainees are taught about the causes of low achievement among pupils and how to raise exam results;

 *  Strategies to boost standards among children from the poorest backgrounds;

 *  Making sure teachers can use “continuous assessment and summative tests” to monitor the performance of pupils;

 *  Ensuring training institutions have a rigorous recruitment and selection process to focus on “high quality trainees”;

 *  Efforts made by teacher training partnerships to focus on tough schools that struggle to recruit good teachers, particularly in "areas of the country where recruitment is extremely difficult".


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