Tuesday, March 04, 2014

With 80 Percent of Public School Graduates Unable to Read, NYC Mayor Kicks 700 Kids Out of Charter Schools

New York City's new socialist Mayor, Bill De Blasio, has kicked 700 students out of charter schools. Here are the details from the Heritage Foundation:

 De Blasio is blocking four charter schools – run by the Success Academy charter school network – from opening or expanding, rolling back an offer made to the charter network by his predecessor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, to co-locate in spaces not being fully used by the traditional public school system.

“The cumulative impact of de Blasio’s actions virtually halts charter school expansions,” the New York Post reported.

The charter network’s founder, Eva Moskowitz, runs twenty-two Success charter schools in New York, educating some 6,700 students. The city had agreed to allow the charters, which are public schools that are operated with more autonomy, to co-locate in buildings with traditional public schools.

But that all changed when de Blasio took office. “There’s no way in hell that Eva Moskowitz should get free rent,” he exclaimed.

One of the four schools is already in operation and three additional Success academies were slated to open their doors this fall. The mayor’s actions have left “at least 700 children without a school this coming school year.” Fifty thousand children are on charter school wait lists in New York.
According to a report from 2013, 80 percent of public high school graduates in New York City don't have the basic skills to properly read or do math. Further, minority students in NYC are hardly even finishing school.

 Nearly 80 percent of high school graduates lack basic skills like reading, writing and math and are required to relearn them before qualifying for community college.

Critics pointed out that just 13 percent of black and Latino students graduate from New York City schools with the skills required for community college – and overall, 80 percent of all graduates lack these skills.

The number of students who lack crucial reading, writing and math skills is the highest it has been in years, CBS 2 reports. Officials from City University told the news station that 79.3 percent of graduates, or 10,700 students, who arrived to take a test to get into community college last year failed and were required to relearn basic skills that should have been taught in high school. This is a sharp increase from the 71.4 percent who were lacking the skills in 2007.
Michael Bloomberg left his office with a legacy of absolute failure on education, but it seems De Blasio is already well on his way to be worse. Parents in New York are begging for school choice and education options outside of the public system The system De Blasio is protecting and upholding traps students, provides nearly zero opportunity for educational success and destroys the futures of thousands of children.


Working class children must learn to be middle class to get on in life, British  government advisor says

Working class children must be taught to think and act like the middle classes if they are to get into the best universities and top professions, a Government adviser has said.

Peter Brant, head of policy at the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, said that children from poor homes need help to change the way they eat, dress and conduct personal relationships to get ahead in life.

In a post on the commisison's blog he said that bright children are less likely to apply to top universities because they are worried about "not fitting in".

He said that they need to become more comfortable with middle-class social setting such as restaurants, theatres and offices if they are to succeed.

Last year Sir John Major, the former head of the Conservative Party, warned that it was "truly shocking" that that private school educated and aflluent middle-class children still run Britain.

Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, has said that state schools must set their standards "so-high" that they become indistinguishable from the best fee paying schools.

However, Mr Brandt said that middle-class politicians are placing too much focus on education, and often fail to realise the need to make poorer children feel "comfortable" in middle class settings.

He said: "It seems likely that worries about "not fitting in" will be one reason why highly able children from less well-off backgrounds are less likely to apply to the most selective universities.

"It probably contributes to a lack of confidence amongst those who are upwardly mobile as they struggle to adapt to their new social environment with detrimental impact on their ability to reach their potential.

"And the lack of effective networks and advice to help navigate this new alien "middle class world" probably make it more difficult to translate high attainment into success in the professional jobs market."

Mr Brant suggested that visiting different places, watching plays and having varied hobbies can help give working class children "shared cultural experiences" with those from middle-class backgrounds.

He said that young people from working class backgrounds have less "nuance and casualness" in their relationships with other people. They also wear different clothes, eat different food and visit different restaurants.

He said that these factors should not be ignored because of the government's focus on GCSE results and educational attainment.

"One helpful thing would be more awareness of this as a potential issue - it can often be unappreciated by policy makers who mostly come from middle-class professional backgrounds.

"This often means that debate can all too easily assume that if educational inequalities can be reduced and aspirations of young people from working-class backgrounds raised then that alone will be enough to tackle the problem."

Mr Brant who was raised in a £150,000 semi-detached house in Newport Pagnell, Milton Keynes went to Aylesbury Grammar School and then on to Cambridge University has worked in as a senior policy advisor for Nick Clegg and held similar policy roles at the Communities Department.

He also served in the Prime Minister's strategy unit under Gordon Brown at the cabinet office that provided policy advice on key government policy priorities.

He now works at the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission which is chaired by Alan Milburn, the former Labour Health Secretary. The body acts as an official adviser to the Coalition.

Mr Brant said: "Tackling this issue is - of course - difficult and complicated and it is far from clear what an effective response to them would be.

"One helpful thing would be more awareness of this as a potential issue - it can often be unappreciated by policy makers who mostly come from middle-class professional backgrounds.

"This often means that debate can all too easily assume that if educational inequalities can be reduced and aspirations of young people from working-class backgrounds raised then that alone will be enough to tackle the problem.

"Another helpful thing would be developing a better understanding of what is necessary to help tackle these barriers."


Australia:  Curriculum and teacher education review: a necessary evil

The federal department of education and, by extension, the federal minister do not have direct control over any schools, do not employ any teachers and do not provide any essential services to schools. The influence of the federal government on the operation and priorities of schools is largely limited to wielding the carrot and stick of funding. The previous federal government used this approach with a heavy hand.

Current Education Minister Christopher Pyne's strategy is quite different. On funding, he has given schools stability for the next four years while a new, hopefully more fiscally responsible, funding model is developed. He has withdrawn the cumbersome and pointless accountability requirements attached to this funding. The push for school autonomy via the Independent Public Schools policy seems aspirational rather than authoritarian.

While he may have strong ideas about what schools and school systems ought to be doing, Minister Pyne has chosen to focus on the areas where he is most likely to have some impact - curriculum and teacher education. Fortuitously, both are fundamental to education standards in the long term.

The curriculum review is a necessary evil. The ideal scenario would be to have no national curriculum at all, since such a beast will always be politicised and biased in some way, whether it be towards a conservative or a progressive agenda.

Given that we do have a national curriculum, however, it needs to be scrutinised. And, given that the national curriculum is already in use in many schools, and the reviewers' tight time-frame, the review can necessarily seek only to identify the most serious deficiencies in the short-term. Make no mistake, content is critical. What children learn is just as important as how they learn.

The same is true of the teacher education review. Despite dozens of reviews of teacher education and countless surveys over the last decade, which consistently find that new teachers are underprepared to teach after four years at university, little has changed in most education faculties.

When a primary teaching degree has courses with names like 'Supporting Students to Be Environmental Change Agents', you know something has gone very wrong somewhere. Reforming teacher education will be a tough task, but it's difficult to think of a more worthy one.


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