Sunday, June 21, 2015

British schools inspectorate axes four in ten of its 'failing' inspectors in purge to boost quality of school visits

Someone has inspected the inspectors, it seems

Ofsted is ditching four in ten of its inspectors because they are not considered good enough to judge schools reliably, it has been revealed.

The education watchdog’s purge of 1,200 inspectors is part of a plan to improve the quality and consistency of its school visits and written reports.

Headteachers welcomed the news but expressed frustration that schools had clearly been subjected to inspections by assessors who ‘weren’t up to the job’.

Sir Robin Bosher, Ofsted’s head of quality and training, told the Times Educational Supplement: ‘Our absolute aim is to have the highest-quality inspectors we can.

‘I am committed to making sure that my colleagues in headship can be assured they have a good inspector walking up the path. 'I’m determined that will happen.’

He said Ofsted cut its headcount with assessments, which also whittled down the 2,800 freelancers who wanted to become full-time inspectors to just 1,600.

Sir Robin revealed that one of the key reasons for rejecting so many was their lack of skill in writing reports, an area that has been a source of serious concern for many schools.

Last October it emerged that a senior school inspector accused of ‘inappropriate copying and pasting’ in his reports has been dropped by Ofsted.

David Marshall produced identical or near-identical sections in his assessments of schools over three years while working as a lead inspector for Tribal, a private contractor used by the watchdog.

Ofsted had been using 3,000 inspectors from contractors, but from September they will all be employed by the watchdog.

Chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw announced last year that Ofsted would no longer use such ‘additional inspectors’.

After every school inspection they will be graded by a lead inspector, who will report back to Her Majesty’s inspectors (HMIs) and Ofsted’s regional directors.

Sir Robin told the Times Educational Supplement he was ‘confident’ that the new approach would allay headteachers’ fears over quality and consistency.

But he added that no system would be perfect and he could not rule out problems in the future.  He said: ‘We’re dealing with human beings. We’re not making telephones, we’re delivering inspection. It’s a human process, and because of that there’s room for things not to be right.’

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT headteachers’ union, said that Ofsted deserved praise for its actions.  But he added: ‘You look back and say, for the last few years we’ve been inspected by a group where 40 per cent weren’t up to the job.’

Janis Burdin, headteacher of Moss Side Primary, an outstanding school in Lancashire, said: ‘If 40 per cent have been viewed as not good enough to continue, what does that say for all those who have recently had inspections?’

Geoff Barton, headteacher at King Edward VI School in Suffolk, added: ‘For many of us, there’s a lot the organisation needs to do in order to restore its tarnished reputation.

‘I am reassured that they are purging so many inspectors, but ultimately it’s the quality of inspection rather than the quantity of inspectors that matters.’


The Creepy Consequences of Oppression Chic

Why was America so shocked by homegirl hoaxer Rachel Dolezal?

The spray-tanned con artist, who resigned this week as head of the Spokane chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of (Artificially) Colored People, is the inevitable outcome of academia's cult of manufactured victimhood.

College campuses have been grooming a cadre of professional minority fakers and fraudsters for decades.

The notorious pretendians Ward Churchill and Elizabeth Warren faked their Native American status to bolster their faculty credentials at the University of Colorado and Harvard, respectively. It was a mutually beneficial racket for all poseur parties involved. Churchill and Warren basked in their tenured glory. The schools racked up politically correct points for adding the right flavors to their employment rolls.

Churchill was specifically granted a "special opportunity" position that his school created to increase "diversity" on the teaching staff. Warren falsely listed herself as a minority professor in a law school directory. Harvard officials eagerly touted Warren's bogus background, the Boston Herald reported, to "bolster their diversity hiring record in the '90s as the school came under heavy fire for a faculty that was then predominantly white and male." Based solely on what Warren later admitted was unsubstantiated "family lore," the Fordham Law Review called her the "first woman of color" at Harvard Law.

The pressure to conform and cash in on the cult of oppression chic is even more virulent among the student body. Race-based affirmative action is a primary catalyst.

Take Vijay Chokal-Ingam, brother of TV star Vera Mindy Chokalingam. He pretended to be black in 1998-99 in order to gain admission to St. Louis University School of Medicine.

"In my junior year of college, I realized that I didn't have the grades or test scores to get into medical school, at least not as an Indian-American," he wrote. "So, I shaved my head, trimmed my long Indian eyelashes and applied to medical school as a black man. ... Vijay the Indian-American frat boy become Jojo the African-American Affirmative Action applicant to medical school."

From the moment they apply to the nation's elite institutions of higher learning, applicants are rewarded for playing up racial division, ethnic strife and identity politics. "I told Harvard I was an undocumented immigrant," Dario Guerrero bragged in The Washington Post last fall. "They gave me a full scholarship."

In the 1990s, top-tier schools introduced a "diversity essay" requirement for undergrad admissions. The online "Common Application" used by hundreds of colleges and universities directs prospective students to "describe an experience that illustrates what you would bring to the diversity in a college community, or an encounter that demonstrated the importance of diversity to you."

More recently, the University of California at Berkeley mandated that all graduate school hopefuls supply a "personal history statement" with "information on how you have overcome barriers to access opportunities in higher education."

And that's not enough. Applicants for every U.C. Berkeley graduate program must provide "evidence of how you have come to understand the barriers faced by others, evidence of your academic service to advance equitable access to higher education for women, racial minorities and individuals from other groups that have been historically underrepresented in higher education, evidence of your research focusing on underserved populations or related issues of inequality, or evidence of your leadership among such groups."

These "progressive" schools then herd their young charges into color-coded dorms and segregated academic departments, where they can stew even deeper in their "otherness" and gripe about "white privilege."

We've moved from "separate, but equal" to "separate is superior."

In addition, I've chronicled dozens of cases of minority students over the years who have faked hate crimes when they were dissatisfied with their level of systemic oppression. Instead of being punished, many of these p.c. performance artists have been praised by college administrators and faculty for "raising awareness" of social injustice.

Is it any wonder, then, that lying liar Rachel Dolezal learned from historically black Howard University to loathe the skin she was born in?

After receiving a full art scholarship based on her portfolio of "exclusively African-American portraiture," she reportedly encountered bigotry from campus officials who had assumed she was black when she applied. She lost a lawsuit against the university in which she described an atmosphere "permeated with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule and insult" for being white. Soon after, according to her family, she began to make her creepy transition and continues to "identify as black."

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. If you can't make it, fake it. In the ivory tower, the most afflicted and the most offended are at the top of the food chain.

Oppression Olympics breeds grievance grifters.


Obama Admin Pressures Colleges to Adopt Unconstitutional Speech Codes

By Hans Bader

Under the Obama administration, the Education Department has pressured schools and colleges to restrict speech, including off campus speech, even when it is protected by the First Amendment, and is not severe and pervasive. It claims this is required by federal anti-discrimination laws such as Title IX and Title VI. It also expects colleges to investigate off-campus sexual misconduct by students, even though most federal appellate court rulings say schools have no such duty under Title IX.

As I recently noted in The Wall Street Journal, “the Education Department, where I used to work,” is

“pressuring colleges to adopt unconstitutional speech codes in the name of fighting sexual harassment. It has disregarded many court rulings in doing so.

“For example, the Education Department has wrongly ordered schools to regulate off-campus speech and conduct. That contributed to the harassment charges against Prof. Laura Kipnis, who was accused over a politically incorrect essay she wrote in the Chronicle of Higher Education and statements she made on Twitter. Court rulings like Roe v. Saint Louis University (2014) reject Title IX claims over off-campus conduct, but the Education Department ignores them. It also ignores court rulings like Klein v. Smith (1986) emphasizing that the First Amendment usually bars public schools from restricting off-campus speech. For example, the Education Department told schools to regulate comments ‘on the Internet’ in an October 2010 letter. In 2014, it demanded that Harvard regulate off-campus conduct more.”

At Northwestern University, Professor Laura Kipnis was subjected to a bizarre Title IX investigation over an essay in the Chronicle titled “Sexual Paranoia Strikes Academe” (which hypersensitive students claimed offended them and constituted sexual harassment) and her subsequent statements defending herself on Twitter (which the students claimed constituted “retaliation” in violation of Title IX, even though she did not identify them by name). Kipnis was ultimately found not guilty.

Although it eventually became clear that nothing Kipnis did violated Title IX, Northwestern probably felt obligated to subject Kipnis to that chilling, lengthy, and extensive investigation due to improper mandates issued by the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), which make it hard to summarily dismiss weak or baseless Title IX complaints. 

As I have discussed earlier, OCR issued such mandates in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act’s notice-and-comment provisions, a disturbing practice frequently committed by the Education Department. A federal appeals court in a different part of the country ruled in White v. Lee (2000) that lengthy, speech-chilling civil rights investigations by government officials can violate the First Amendment even when they are eventually dropped without imposing any fine or disciplinary action. But Northwestern is a private university.

OCR’s mandates wrongly extend Title IX to off-campus speech and conduct, and pressure colleges to investigate even if the speech or conduct alleged is not severe and pervasive. The Supreme Court's 1999 decision in Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education requires proof that conduct was severe and pervasive to violate Title IX, emphasizing five times that it must be “severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive.” 

OCR, to the contrary, deems colleges liable for sexual harassment based on conduct that is merely “persistent” or “severe” or “pervasive.” Professor Kipnis may have been “persistent” in expressing her views, but there was nothing "severe" and "pervasive" about them, or the way she expressed them.

OCR sometimes expects colleges to nip harassment in the bud by taking draconian measures against speech that does not legally amount to sexual harassment, such as when it told the University of Montana in 2013 to investigate even speech that was not offensive to a reasonable person, much less severe or pervasive, as “sexual harassment.”

Prior to the Obama administration, a college like Northwestern would not have taken seriously a Title IX complaint over debate occurring largely off campus, like Kipnis's essay and tweet. They would not have felt obligated to even investigate such a weak Title IX complaint, because judges had often ruled that off-campus activity was simply beyond Title IX's reach, in decisions such as Lam v. Curators of the University of Missouri (1997) (which rejected a lawsuit against a university over a professor's alleged assault against a student) and Roe v. Saint Louis University (2014) (which rejected a lawsuit over an alleged student-on-student rape).

In addition, according to most courts, the First Amendment gives public schools and state colleges little power to restrict off-campus speech, as decisions like Klein v. Smith (1986) and J.S. v. Blue Mountain School District (2011) make clear.

But OCR has disregarded such court rulings. In an October 26, 2010, “Dear Colleague” letter about school bullying and Title IX, it told America’s school officials that federal statutes such as Title IX and Title VI can require schools to punish students for “graphic and written statements” on the “internet,” and “web sites of a sexual nature.”

Prior to the Obama administration’s attempt to radically expand Title IX, a university would have viewed Kipnis's statements as obviously beyond the reach of Title IX because they were not “severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive” (as the Supreme Court’s Davis decision requires for Title IX harassment liability), and also because they were directed at the general public, not to the complainants (which made them protected by academic freedom and the First Amendment, under the logic of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in Rodriguez v. Maricopa Community College (2011), which rejected a racial harassment lawsuit over a professor’s anti-immigration emails which were deemed to create a hostile educational environment.).

But in May 2013, OCR ordered the University of Montana to ignore the requirements in the Supreme Court’s Davis decision (that speech be severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive) in its internal Title IX investigations of harassment and retaliation.

Kipnis’s university, Northwestern, apparently heeded OCR's censorial instructions to the University of Montana in adopting the overly broad definition of harassment cited by the complainants who sought to silence Kipnis. Moreover, in May 2014, OCR told Tufts University to change its harassment policy to reach even statements not “directed at a specific person or persons.” That, too, opened the door to harassment charges over commentary and discourse such as the newspaper essay written by Professor Kipnis.

As one observer notes, since 2013, “the Office for Civil Rights has sent conflicting signals ever since then about whether the definition it urged on the [University of Montana] should be adopted by all colleges, or need not be (sometimes suggesting it is a blueprint for all colleges, and sometimes not), but it is not surprising that colleges that want to avoid a Title IX inquisition have adopted it to avoid potential harassment by the Office for Civil Rights, as many in fact have,” resulting in draconian restrictions on speech at some colleges, as the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has noted.


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