Friday, August 05, 2016

Federal Appeals Court Upholds Criminal Charges Against 13 Year Old for Burping in Class

Another argument for school choice...

The scene is Albuquerque's Cleveland Middle School, where a 13-year-old class clown is disrupting things by constantly burping during teaching time. So the teacher bounces him to the vice principal's office, who has a sneaking suspicion that the kid is involved in selling pot on school grounds. The boy is made to take his jeans and shoes off but no drugs are found.

The kid—a pain in the ass in all likelihood, let's be honest—is suspended for the rest of the school year. As over-the-top as that seems, there's worse yet to come. He's also criminally charged under an impossibly vague statute that reads in part:

No person shall willfully interfere with the educational process of any public or private school by committing, threatening to commit or inciting others to commit any act which would disrupt, impair, interfere with or obstruct the lawful mission, processes, procedures or functions of a public or private school.

And now, as George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley writes,

Teachers and administrators have been criminalizing juvenile conduct rather than dealing with such issues with the students and their teachers....the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has issued an opinion upholding one of the most ridiculous examples of the criminalization of our schools. The Tenth Circuit said that Albuquerque school officials and police were justified in ordering the arrest of 13-year-old boy who was burping in class. The Tenth Circuit ruled that the school officials and police officer were entitled to immunity for their excessive response to what was at worst a class clown.

When you encounter this sort of ridiculous overreaction on the part of school officials—which is then certified by even-more-august authorities—it is no wonder why Americans are losing confidence in major institutions of political, commercial, and civic life. These are not the actions of authorities who have belief in themselves and the things they run. They are the behaviors of a society in decline, to be honest, that no longer feels as if it can exercise power at any level except via banishment and extreme action.


'Visionary' £7m eco-school to be demolished because of leaky roof

One of Britain's first eco-schools which cost £7 million when it was built just six years ago is to be demolished because of a leaky roof

Plans have been unveiled to scrap the abandoned eco-school at Dartington, Devon and replace it with a new £6 million facility.

More than 300 pupils at Dartington Primary School have been taught in temporary classrooms for the past two years due to the award-winning new complex suffering leaks shortly after opening in 2010.

The school was meant to be one of the first zero carbon primary schools to be built in the country.

But Devon County Council now aims to replace the troubled school site with a new complex which will cater for 315 pupils plus a nursery for 30 youngsters.

The project contains plans for 12 classrooms, a new school reception, an admin section, a kitchen and a plant room along with a new school hall. The target completion date has been set as early 2018.

The council's planning and design statement said: "The existing school was vacated in the summer of 2014 and relocated into a series of rented buildings. "Subsequently it was accepted that the vacated buildings were beyond economic repair.

"As the existing school is now unoccupied, demolition, clearing of site and construction of the new school can take place without causing disruption to the running of the school. "Therefore the existing school site has been identified as a suitable location for the new school building.

"The proposal therefore seeks a means to safeguard the jobs that the existing school provides whilst contributing to employment in Dartington."

It will provide significant social benefits to the local community by maintaining the existing primary school provision for Dartington and its catchment area.

The proposal also provides significant environmental improvements.  The building has been designed to have a high thermal, natural light and ventilation performance, contributing to an environmentally sustainable building."

The abandoned complex was described as "visionary" when it opened in 2010. Solar panels were installed to power the classrooms and rainwater was collected on the school grounds so that it could be filtered and used again.

It had initially been hoped that repairs would fix the leaky eco-primary school.  But pupils moved into temporary classrooms in 2014 and have been there ever since.


Australia: Trainee teachers flunk mandatory literacy and numeracy tests

HUNDREDS of student teachers have flunked basic literacy and numeracy tests required to graduate and work in school classrooms.

The two hour mandatory tests show between 5.5 per cent and 6.9 per cent of graduates cannot read or write well enough to teach despite spending up to four years studying at university. Those who fail to pass will have to resit the tests.

About 265 trainee teachers — one in 14 — failed to pass the numeracy test and 210 — one in 18 — failed to correctly answer the literacy questions, data released by the Federal Government shows.

Student teachers marked with a fail did not meet a standard which included questions about working out percentages, spelling frequently used words and identifying common grammatical mistakes.

The strict new standards have been imposed on trainee teachers as Naplan scores have flatlined and writing scores for students in the early years of high school plummeted over the last five years despite record government spending on education.

In pilot tests last year 500 of 5000 university students did not make the grade, the results suggesting thousands of new teachers are fronting classrooms without the proper skills to teach.

The tests aimed at ensuring future teachers have literacy and numeracy skills in the top 30 per cent of the adult population have been rolled out nationally in a bid to arrest Australia’s slide down the international rankings.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham yesterday said 94.5 per cent of candidates in this year’s tests — conducted in May and June — met the standard for literacy and 93.1 per cent reached the numeracy benchmark.

“Families rightly expect their children to get the best possible education from teachers with the best possible skills … no new graduate should be registered to teach without meeting these standards,” Senator Birmingham said.

“Australians want to know that school students are learning from teachers with strong personal literacy and numeracy skills.

Sen Birmingham said the results — better than last year’s trial tests which up to 10 per cent of student teachers failed — were “extremely encouraging”.

“Today’s results are an improvement on the voluntary trial that was run last year and show through this laser focus on literacy and numeracy that our new teachers are graduating with better skills,” he said.

President of the Australian Council of Deans of Education Professor Tania Aspland said the “right mix of both personal and academic traits” was needed to make great teachers.

“This is why universities use a variety of means, not only academic scores, to select teacher education students,” she said.

“We also work hard to ensure our students can combine theory with strong practical school experiences during their studies.”

The test data shows that Victoria and NSW have the most students who have completed or registered to sit the test but hundreds of trainee teachers in South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland still have to comply.

The tests were a key recommendation of the Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group and have been endorsed by all state and territory education ministers.


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