Tuesday, January 27, 2015

New Parent Trigger School, Same Old Intimidation

A group of parents has become the first in Orange County, California to submit petitions that, once verified, will require the state to convert their children's school into a charter school. It's the second or third step in a marathon to improve an elementary school where only one-third of students rated proficient in reading and half rated proficient in math in 2013.

The parents already have faced an intimidation campaign similar to ones waged against other parents who pulled the parent trigger in the Sunshine State. Led ? of course ? by the state's teachers union and school district, the low-income and mostly Latino parents were first told their meetings to discuss employing the parent trigger had to be covered by a $1 million insurance policy. When they moved meetings to a parking lot, they were heckled by union members, The Wall Street Journal reports. The Journal continues:

In an October newsletter, the union warned teachers that `If you see signature gatherers or unusual people on your campus, contact the office, and depending on the situation, approach them and inquire why they are there or what they need.' While teachers by law can't tell parents not to sign the petition, the union said `it is okay to make statements such as: "If I were a parent at this school, I wouldn't sign the petition."'

The union also falsely claimed that signature collectors were bribing parents with free iPads. The superintendent wrote a letter to parents last month warning that `it has been reported to us that there are people in our community who have been paid by an organization to gather parent signatures for a petition that could completely change the way some of our schools are run ...'

Yes, sir. That's the point. The parent trigger works on the premise that parents deserve the opportunity to completely change their child's education situation if the current one isn't getting results. While the establishment worries about upsetting its comfortable salary structure and daily schedule, parents worry their child can't read or compute very well. That's why placing power over education in parents ? the consumers' ? hands unequivocally yields better results than government-run quasi-monopolies. More states should try it sometime.


Black teen assaults teacher in NJ class

A YEAR nine student in the US has been arrested after he allegedly slamming his teacher to the floor during class - over a mobile phone.

Police said the New Jersey high school physics teacher confiscated the student's mobile phone during class which led to the attack.

The attack, captured on another video phone, shows the teen wrapping his arms around the 62-year-old teacher and pushing him into an empty desk.

The exchange quickly escalated when the boy wrestled the man across the classroom and slammed him to the floor.

In the video, the teacher initially tries to continue talking to the class but is later heard yelling what sounds like, "Let me go".

Other students in the class move out of the way but do not intervene and finally yell for security once the teacher is on the ground.

The 16-year-old boy is heard yelling "Give me my f***in' phone bro" and then can be seen reaching down to grab something from the teacher, presumably the phone.

"What strikes me is that the teacher never even defended himself," said Lee McNulty, a retired teacher from the same school who has been vocal recently with criticism about violence and disorder in the high school. "That just shows how much teachers are afraid of losing their job."

Peter Tirri, president of the Paterson Education Association, the teachers union, said he's "disappointed" that other students didn't come to the teacher's aide.  "Maybe they were afraid," he added. "I don't know."

According to reports, students are allowed to keep their phones in class for education purposes, but teachers can take them away and return them if they're caught using them for other purposes.

"It's troubling that in our society today students think that inside a school they can put their hands on each other and teachers as well," Jonathan Hodges, a veteran school board member, told NorthJersey.com.

"I went online trying to find this video and I found numerous videos of teachers being attacked by their students."

School officials confirmed that criminal assault charges have been filed against the student, who has been suspended from school.

The names of the teacher and student are not being released at this time.


Australia: Education expert supports university deregulation

A FORMER key policy adviser to Labor has blasted both sides of politics for the stalemate on higher education, urging the party to abandon its opposition to fee deregulation and “get over its sentimental attachment to the Whitlam legacy of free educatio­n’’.

Professor Peter Noonan, one of the nation’s leading education policy experts, also wants the Abbott government to back down on its holy grail of full dereg­ulation by appointing an independent body to advise on the best model to prevent excessive tertiary student fee increases and rein in the risk of taxpayer-funded bad HECS debts.

Education Minister Christopher Pyne is working to lock in Senate crossbench backing for the government’s higher-education changes, including offering a compromise which could trade away $2 billion in budget savings to win support for dereg­ul­ating the tertiary sector.

The government has won praise from Universities Australia and vice-chancellors for being prepared to move on its proposal for a 20 per cent cut to university course funding in order to allow to institutions to set their fees.

Key independent senator John Madigan revealed last week his willingness to continue negotiating on the reforms, joining a number of his colleagues in declaring the current funding level “unsustainable’’.

But the government faces fierce opposition from Labor, the Greens and other crossbenchers, including the Palmer United Party.

Professor Noonan — who was on the Rudd government’s 2008 Bradley review, which uncapped student numbers, and served as a key policy adviser to former Labor education minister John Dawkins when fees and the Higher Education Contribution Scheme was introduced in 1989 — said Labor couldn’t afford to run a scare campaign on the reforms and had to be constructive.

He told The Australian parliament could endorse “fee variability” in a two-stage process, starting with parliament agreeing to establish a body that could recommend a model with the right market constraints within months. The model could then be voted on in parliament in time to meet the start date of the government’s higher-education reforms next year.

Professor Noonan said the government’s commitment to full fee deregulation was bad economics given the market was distorted by cheap student loans that blunted price signals, and it had no accountability on how universities spend fee money.

“To call that micro-economic reform would be heroic,” said Professor Noonan, a professorial fellow at the Mitchell Institute in Melbourne. “Anyone who thinks that a system that blunts price signals can simply underpin price deregulation doesn’t understand economics.”

He said the government’s plan to make universities use some of their premium fee revenue for scholarships risked inflating fees and would be used by universities as simply a marketing tool. Student disadvantage should be addressed by the welfare system.

He also attacked Labor, saying fee variability was logical, would make the system financially sustainable and would boost quality if done right. Professor Noonan said it was also unfinished business for Labor after it began deregulating student numbers in 2010: “Labor has to get over its sentimental attachment to the Whitlam legacy of free education.”

He warned that if Senate negotiations allowed full fee deregulation, any Labor government wouldn’t be able to afford to wind it back and the party therefore needed to be constructive to ensure the market design was right.

“There is no doubt there are risks for Labor in this and it would be seen as a backdown … but trying to pick up the pieces after it has happened will be a bigger problem,” he warned. “Labor can’t afford to run some scare campaign. They need to be constructive.”

Professor Noonan dismissed proposals for a full review of fee deregulation, saying there had been enough reviews, going back decades. He warned that if the process dragged on the opportunity for good policymaking could be lost in the noise of the next election.


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