Monday, December 08, 2014

The new segregation

Organizers of a recent Ferguson protest at the University of Missouri requested “only people of color” take part in the event’s “die-in,” one element of a larger demonstration that prompted at least two classes to be shelved so students could participate.

“During the demonstration we will hold a ‘die-in’ in the student center. We are asking that only people of color be the ones to do so,” event organizers stated in an email obtained by The College Fix. “We are asking non-people of color to stand holding hands in solidarity.”

“The ‘die-in’ is meant to represent black bodies that are killed unjustly. It was requested that others stand in a circle holding hands,” student Ebony Francis told The College Fix in a telephone interview.

Tuesday afternoon’s rally attracted hundreds of students and faculty and lasted more than 90 minutes as participants vented frustration over the decision by a grand jury to not indict Police Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown.

The “die-in” – a play on “sit-in demonstrations” popular at universities – was 4 1/2 minutes of silence to represent the 4 1/2 hours Brown lay dead in the street after Wilson shot him. During the die-in, a large group of black students laid on the ground, although a couple of white students still took part despite organizers’ instructions.

According to comments on social media, at least two classes were essentially canceled so students could take part in the demonstration, which began with a “walk-out.”

Organizers asked the campus community to leave “classrooms and offices with their hands up and meet us in the Student Center at 12:00pm to move in solidarity and inform this campus and our community that we will not tolerate injustice against black and brown lives,” according to organizers’ email.

Junior Daniel Beaman told The College Fix his psychology class was shelved Tuesday as a result. He said his professor invited students to participate in the walk out and, although the scholar did not leave the classroom, did not offer a lecture.

“I paid for my class. I don’t want to cut it short, so I don’t want to leave early unless I absolutely have to,” Beaman said in a telephone interview.

When asked what he thought of organizers’ stipulation that only people of color be involved in the “die-in,” Beaman, who is white, said “if they are trying to make a message that is against racism, I think they may have failed. The email makes it appear as if white people are not victims of police brutality. Like it’s only a black issue.”

During the protest, organized by representatives from the Legion of Black Collegians, MU NAACP, and MU4MikeBorwn, participants chanted slogans such as “Black lives matter!” and “No racist police. No justice! No Peace!” and read the names of black people who have been killed in acts of violence by police and civilians.

Senior Naomi Daugherty, student leader for MU4MikeBrown, gave a speech that included a “white privilege checklist,” citing examples of instances where whites received advantages not afforded to black people.

“If you aren’t afraid to bring children into this world because they might be killed for being black, you have white privilege,” she said, according to the Missourian.

The University of Missouri is not the only campus at which white students have been asked not to play a role in Ferguson demonstrations. “White folks” in Massachusetts were asked to keep their hands down at a campus walkout Monday afternoon, Campus Reform reports.


Chief British school inspector in fresh attack on 'weak' secondary schools

Ofsted will issue a warning over poor standards in secondary schools this week as figures show the number of failing comprehensives has soared by almost two-thirds.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, the chief inspector, will say that overall performance in state secondaries has “stagnated” over the last 12 months after years of improvements.

Publishing his latest annual report, he will raise fresh concerns over schools’ failure to tackle indiscipline and raise standards among white working-class boys.

The chief inspector is also expected to criticise standards of leadership and governance, saying too many weak head teachers are struggling to stamp their authority on schools.

It follows a series of reports into the “Trojan Horse” affair in Birmingham where it was claimed governing bodies were being infiltrated by hard-line Muslims.

Sir Michael will tell of an “impressive upward trajectory” in primary schools over the last 12 months but warn of “worrying signs” that standards in secondary education are failing to improve.

The comments are made as new figures published by Ofsted showed a 62 per cent rise in the number of state secondary schools placed in “special measures” over the last 12 months.

Some 147 schools – almost one-in-20 of the total in England – were on Ofsted's blacklist at the end of the last academic year in August compared with just 91 a year earlier.

Overall, almost a third of secondaries are now deemed to be inadequate or “require improvement" – Ofsted’s two lowest categories – compared with just 18 per cent of primary schools.

The conclusions are likely to be seen as a blow to the government which has enabled thousands of secondaries to be released from local council control to run their own affairs as independent academies.

More than six-in-10 secondaries are now academies compared with just one-in-seven primary schools.

But Sir Michael has clashed with the government over the programme by criticising standards at a number of high-profile academy chains and demanding new powers to directly inspect groups of schools – a move resisted by the Department for Education.

In a recent speech, Sir Michael said his annual report published in 2013 had showed “unmistakeable signs that England’s education system was improving”.

“Our statistics showed that although we had toughened up inspection, more schools were getting to good at a faster rate than at any other time in Ofsted’s 21-year history,” he said.

“Some 78 per cent of schools were judged to be good or outstanding based on their last inspection compared to 70 per cent the previous year.

“Since then, we have seen primary schools continue on their impressive upward trajectory, although there are some worrying signs that overall standards in our secondary schools are stagnating – in terms of both inspection judgements and, it would seem, examination results.”

Ofsted currently ranks schools on a four point scale – outstanding, good, requires improvement and inadequate. The very worst schools are put in “special measures”, usually resulting in a change of headship.

Under the regulator’s inspection system, schools previously deemed poor are also subjected to more regular checks.

Figures show that 50 per cent of secondary schools inspected over the last 12 months were in the two lowest categories. This compared with just 44 per cent in 2012/13.

Separate data – tracking standards achieved in the most recent inspection of all schools – showed 29 per cent of secondaries overall were deemed not good enough. This was unchanged from 2012/13.

Among primary alone, standards are improving, with just 18 per cent of all schools deemed underperforming compared with 21 per cent a year earlier.

Launching his annual report, Sir Michael will criticise standards of leadership in schools, the acceptance of bad behaviour and a failure to raise standards among poor pupils.

In an earlier speech, he said: “I see too many schools where head teachers are blurring the lines between friendliness and familiarity – and losing respect along the way. After all, every hour spent with a disruptive, attention-seeking pupil is an hour away from ensuring other pupils are getting a decent education.

“We need to tackle the casual acceptance of this behaviour that persists in too many schools. Classroom teachers must have the support of their senior leaders to tackle these problems. It isn’t rocket science.”

He has also spoken of the importance of needing to "shorten the long tail of under-achievement that still scars our education system – a long tail now largely made up of white working class kids".

Prof Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, said: “The picture that Sir Michael is describing can be traced back to the pattern of policy-making over the last 16 years. The fact is that the Blair government recognised how inadequate primary schools were in the late 90s and did something about it with policies like the literacy and numeracy hour; setting clear expectations that have been built on over the last decade-and-a-half.

“Secondary schools have not received the same systematic intervention. The big policy change of this government – the academies programme – will take time to show it has been a genuine success.”

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: "Delivering better schools so our young people can succeed in life is a key part of our long-term economic plan to secure a better future for Britain. As a result, England's schools have been transformed in recent years with 800,000 more children now being taught in good or outstanding schools since 2010.

“Figures released by Ofsted this week show improvements in the proportion of primary schools rated good or outstanding this year despite the tougher inspection framework while the proportion of good and outstanding secondary schools have remained at their highest ever level.

“This has been achieved by acting swiftly on failure, turning round underperforming schools by pairing them strong sponsors and encouraging high quality schools to open. Thanks to this approach and the hard work of teachers more pupils than ever before have the chance to attend a good or outstanding local school.”


UK: Number of primary schools investigated for trying to fiddle SATs figures rises by 40%

The number of primary schools investigated for cheating in national tests soared 40 per cent in a year to more than 500, official figures have revealed.

Growing numbers of teachers are being accused of ploys such as giving pupils help with answers during the tests and altering their finished scripts.

Investigations last year led to results being quashed in 37 schools in at least one subject – a six-fold rise on 2012.

The trend emerged days before the Government publishes this year’s national primary school league tables showing how pupils performed in tests for 11-year-olds at England’s primary schools.

The lists are expected to reveal how around 800 primaries failed to meet minimum standards in the three Rs this summer, putting them at risk of being taken over by new management or even closed.

Separate data detailing the extent of improper administration of tests was published recently by the Standards and Testing Agency.

These figures showed 511 cases of alleged cheating in 2013 – up from 370 in 2012 and 292 in 2011.

Of these, 73 related to the reading test for six-year-olds which checks how well they can use the ‘phonics’ method of reading to decode words.

This is a sharp rise on 2012, when just 25 cases were reported.

Common allegations included the test administrator giving pupils too much help and coaching pupils on the test content in advance.

Other cases involved teachers failing to cover wall displays which could have assisted the children in rooms where the test was held.

Some cases, however, involved teachers opening test papers early by mistake and reported these breaches themselves.

The STA noted ‘a general increase in the number of cases reported’ for each category of allegation.

Most cases of alleged cheating in primary schools relate to national tests for 11-year-olds in English and maths, the figures showed.

Officials received 438 reports of cheating in so-called SATs in 2013 – up from 345 the year before.

The STA suggested the increase could be ‘largely attributed to an increase in the number of tests that schools had to administer’. These include a new test of English grammar, punctuation and spelling.

Almost three-quarters of cases of so-called maladministration in SATs were said to have happened while the papers were being sat.

They included 41 cases of ‘changes to paper in another hand’, up from 29 in 2012, and 85 cases of ‘test administrator over-aiding pupils’, which was down from 94 in 2012.

The breakdown also included 29 cases of children cheating themselves, slightly up from 28 in 2012.

Following investigations, there was a sharp rise in the number of schools whose results for an entire year group were annulled in at least one subject.  Results at 37 schools were quashed in this way – up from six in 2012 and seven in 2011.  In addition, results for individual children or groups of children at 51 schools were downgraded or annulled.

It follows a ‘toughening up’ of procedures to tackle maladministration, the STA told teachers’ journal Academies Week.

Schools no longer have a right to appeal against an STA decision and where there is any ‘doubt’ the results of a whole year group will be cancelled rather than simply individuals or small groups.

Schools where results are known to have been annulled include Cartmel Church of England Primary, in Cumbria, where papers were changed after the tests had finished.

Some maths and spelling tests taken this spring were altered following an investigation, leading to pupils being given no results for maths and writing.

While deploring cheating, teaching unions have warned that heads and teachers are being put under increasing pressure to drive up results to avoid the threat of Ofsted censure or falling below Government floor targets.

A spokesman for the Standards and Testing Agency said: ‘Ensuring pupils leave primary school having mastered the basics is a key part of our plan for education and parents must be confident their children’s tests are administered appropriately and that allegations of cheating are dealt with seriously.

‘We have toughened up on maladministration by removing the appeals process and sharpening the methods we use to detect it.’


No comments: