Monday, February 15, 2016

These Academics Are Pissed There’s Too Much Global Warming ‘Denial’ In Science Classes

Some academics are mad there are too many middle school and high school science teachers questioning the science behind global warming.

As it turns out, there are too many “politically conservative” teachers presenting skeptical arguments about global warming to kids — something that’s really angering researchers because they say there’s no real debate about warming.

“At least one in three teachers bring climate change denial into the classroom, claiming that many scientists believe climate change is not caused by humans,” Josh Rosenau, program and policy director at the National Center for Science Education, said in a statement on a new study he co-authored.

Rosenau and his colleagues surveyed 1,500 public school science teachers from 1,500 across the country and found 30 percent of teachers taught students modern global warming “is likely due to natural causes,” and another 12 percent didn’t emphasize the alleged human causes of recent warming.

Thirty-one percent of teachers who taught their students about global warming reported “sending explicitly contradictory messages, emphasizing both the scientific consensus that recent global warming is due to human activity and that many scientists believe recent increases in temperature are due to natural causes,” according to the study.

Apparently, it was largely conservatives driving lessons that question global warming science, according to researchers. The study noted “a question measuring political ideology was a more powerful predictor of teachers’ classroom approach than any measure of education or content knowledge.”

“Indeed, teachers’ assessment of the scientific consensus is intertwined with their personal conclusions about global warming and its causes,” the study noted, later adding that for “political or cultural conservatives, simply offering teachers more traditional science education may not lead to better classroom practice.”

This seems like a balanced approach to such a controversial topic — fairly present both sides of the debate and let kids weigh both arguments. But that’s not how climate science should be taught, according to Rosenau and his colleagues.

Obviously, some these teachers are being pressured to present skeptical arguments by conservative teachers and parents of their students, according to researchers. Bertha Vazquez, a Miami teacher who talks about global warming in all her classes, told The New York Times she gets pressured all the time to tone it down.

“Every year, I get the email from a father who says, ‘This is garbage,’ and why am I teaching this?” Vazquez said. “If you’re not as confident in the subject area, you’re going to avoid it. It’s no fun to field those phone calls.”

Of the teachers who responded Rosenau’s survey, however, only a small fraction reported being pressured to teach about climate. According to the study, only “4.4% of teachers reported such pressure (6.1% reported pressure to teach it, mostly from fellow teachers).”


Oxford college won't rename Rhodes computer room

University College didn't want to be seen to be supporting the Rhodes Must Fall campaign           

An Oxford college has rejected calls to rename its Rhodes computer room amid concerns from donors refusing to hand over their cash because students were “trying to erase history”.

It is understood Sir Ivor Crewe, provost at University College, privately told the president of the Junior Common Room (JCR), which represents undergraduate students, that it was keeping the name because it didn’t want to be seen to be supporting the Rhodes Must Fall (RMF) movement.

This followed a motion by the JCR to rename the computer room as “Rhodes Scholars Computing room” in light of a petition to remove the statue of Cecil Rhodes at Oriel College which later failed to achieve its goal.

The news follows a defiant statement by Sir Ivor earlier this week telling students he was “confident” the college would not change the name because it was in honour of the Rhodes scholars and not of Rhodes himself.

Separately, minutes from a JCR meeting earlier this month showed donors had threatened to withdraw funds from University College over the Cecil Rhodes furore, after it voted to have his name removed from their computer room.

Alumni from University College refused to donate during the annual fundraising telethon because they “were concerned that the JCR [Junior Common Room] was trying to erase history”, minutes from a JCR meeting show.

On the donors concerns, a student at the meeting was quoted as saying “lots of old members during the Telethon expressed the sentiment that they did not want the generosity of the people who donated the money to be dishonoured”.

According to the student “clarification is important and it’s a good discussion to them but lots of them were concerned that the JCR was trying to erase history. Many of them didn’t donate as a result, so [it is] important to honour the wishes of the people who donated”.

A JCR source stressed “the question of donors [being] concerned [was] raised by a single student at the meeting based on the conversations she’d had”.

It is understood that out of 900 calls made during the Telethon only 10 donors said they would delay their decision to give to the college until they saw an outcome on the computer room issue. This information, however, was not brought to the Governing Body and therefore was not part of the decision in keeping the name.

News of the computer room’s name remaining the same follows a campaign at Oxford University to topple the statue of the colonialist politician because of his views on other races. The Daily Telegraph revealed last week the statue was staying following concerns donors might withdraw multi-million pound contributions.

Campaigners also argue this is part of wider push to broaden the curriculum at Oxford to include more minority views and increase the recruiting of black and other races both at staff and student level.

Recently UK student unions have sought to ban anything on campus that might cause offence to anyone as students seek “safe places”. Last year, a group of leading academics wrote in the Daily Telegraph calling for students to embrace opposing views at universities.

A University College spokesman said: "The Rhodes Computer Room was funded by a group of former Rhodes Scholars on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the Rhodes Trust and is not named after Cecil Rhodes. The College’s Governing Body decided to keep the name of the Rhodes Computer Room unchanged. At no point during its comprehensive discussion was the issue of donations raised."


Australia: Thousands of students caught up in major college collapse

If government money is given out to every Tom Dick and Harry without checks that it is being used wisely, the temptation to take the money and deliver little in return will always be too strong for some.  But it will always end badly

Thousands of students of at least four colleges have been left in limbo with huge debts following the collapse of one of the country's largest vocational education companies.

At least 500 administration and teaching staff have also been affected by the collapse.

Aspire College of Education, The Design Works College of Design, RTO Services Group and the Australian Indigenous College were placed in voluntary administration on Tuesday. Aspire alone has about 20 campuses around Australia.

All of the colleges are owned by Global Intellectual Holdings, which is also in administration with debt owing to ANZ Bank.

The fallout follows a federal government crackdown on the scandal-plagued vocational education sector, which included bans on inducements like free laptops and freezing funds to private colleges accessing VET FEE-HELP to 2015 levels.

There has been widespread rorting of VET FEE-HELP, a HECS-style loans system for vocational training students.

"There's thousands of students that have been left high and dry," a source said.

One employee said that the administrators took all the employees' keys and credit cards and padlocked the gates at The Designworks College of Design campus in West Burleigh in Gold Coast.

The colleges have campuses across Australia, including several in Melbourne and Sydney, and receives tens of millions of dollars in government funded student loans.  The Australian Indigenous College only enrols indigenous students.

The source said the colleges had exploited the VET FEE-HELP scheme by enrolling as many students at possible, with little regard to their ability to complete the course.

"They would recruit as many students as possible. They weren't interested in the students or their ability to complete the course. They were interested in anyone that came out of the dole office, single mums, and they targeted poor areas."

A letter from the administrator to employees said that major federal government changes to the VET FEE-HELP sector had "resulted in very significant pressure on the college's ability to operate."

"The owners of the colleges have exhausted all available means to continue operating and, with great reluctance, have been forced to place the colleges into voluntary administration."

ASIC documents show the colleges appointed administrators from Hall and Chadwick on Tuesday.

According to Global Intellectual Holdings' most recent accounts, the head company employs 501 people. It is unclear how much is owed to current employees of the colleges and to other creditors to the business.

Global Intellectual Holdings made $83 million in revenue in the year to June 2015, making it one of the largest vocational education companies in Australia.

The group's collapse comes despite Global Intellectual Holdings making a profit of $17.95 million in 2015. During the year it paid $14 million in dividends to its directors Roger Williams and Aloi Burgess. The accounts show the company held $19 million in debt.

Commonwealth Bank is listed as a creditor to Aspire College.

The colleges offer business, management, community services, graphic design, beauty, interactive digital media and teaching English as a second language courses.

The first meeting of creditors will be held at the Hilton Hotel in Brisbane on February 18.


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