Thursday, October 20, 2016

This Lawsuit Isn’t an Answer for Detroit Students Wanting a Decent Education

Detroit school students, represented by the Los Angeles-based public interest firm Public Counsel, filed suit last month against the state of Michigan, claiming a legal right to literacy based on the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

Ninety-three percent of Detroit’s predominantly black public school eighth-graders are not proficient in reading, and 96 percent are not proficient in mathematics. According to the lawsuit, “decades of state disinvestment in and deliberate indifference to Detroit schools have denied plaintiff schoolchildren access to the most basic building block of education: literacy.”

In terms of per-pupil expenditures, the state does not treat Detroit public school students any differently than it does other students. According to the Michigan Department of Education, the Detroit school district ranks 50th in state spending, at $13,743 per pupil. This is out of 841 total districts. That puts Detroit schools in the top 6 percent of per-pupil expenditures in the state.

Discrimination in school expenditures cannot explain poor educational outcomes for black students in Detroit or anywhere else in the nation. Let’s look at routinely ignored educational impediments in Detroit and elsewhere.

If the Michigan lawsuit is successful, it will line the pockets of Detroit’s teaching establishment and do absolutely nothing for black academic achievement.

Annie Ellington, director of the Detroit Youth Violence Prevention Initiative, reported that 87 percent of the 1,301 Detroit public school students interviewed in a survey last year knew someone who had been killed, disabled, or wounded by gun violence.

According to an article published by the American Psychological Association, 80 percent of teachers surveyed nationally in 2011 had been victimized at school at least once during that school year or the prior year. Detroit Public Schools are plagued with the same problems of violence faced by other predominately black schools in other cities.

In Baltimore, each school day in 2010, an average of four teachers and staff were assaulted. In February 2014, The Baltimore Sun reported that more than 300 Baltimore school staff members had filed workers’ compensation claims during the previous fiscal year because of injuries received through assaults or altercations on the job.

A 1999 Michigan law requires school districts to expel any student in sixth grade or above who physically assaults a school employee. The Lansing Board of Education ignored the law and refused to expel four students for throwing chairs at an employee, slapping a teacher, and punching another in the face.

It took a Michigan Supreme Court ruling to get the board to enforce the law. The court said the law was enacted “specifically [to] protect teachers from assault and to assist them in more effectively performing their jobs.”

Colin Flaherty, author of “Don’t Make the Black Kids Angry,” has compiled news stories and videos that show how black students target teachers for violence. He discusses some of it in his Jan. 12, 2015, American Thinker article, titled “Documented: Black Students Target Teachers for Violence.”

As a result of school violence and other problems, many teachers quit when June rolls around. Every year, Detroit loses about 5 percent of its teaching positions (135 teachers). According to a Detroit schools representative, substitutes, principals, and other staffers must cover classes, a situation not unique to Detroit. In California, signing bonuses of $20,000, “combat pay,” aren’t enough to prevent teachers from leaving altogether or seeking out less violent schools.

The departments of Education and Justice have launched a campaign against disproportionate minority discipline rates, which show up in virtually every school district with significant numbers of black and Hispanic students. The possibility that students’ behavior, not educators’ racism, drives those rates lies outside the Obama administration’s conceptual universe.

Black people ought to heed the sentiments of Aaron Benner, a black teacher at a St. Paul, Minnesota, school who abhors the idea of different behavioral standards for black students. He says: “They’re trying to pull one over on us. Black folks are drinking the Kool-Aid; this ‘let-them-clown’ philosophy could have been devised by the KKK.”

Personally, I can’t think of a more racist argument than one that holds that disruptive, rude behavior and foul language are a part of black culture.

Here’s my prediction: If the Michigan lawsuit is successful, it will line the pockets of Detroit’s teaching establishment and do absolutely nothing for black academic achievement.


British parent shares bizarre note from his child's Italian school telling children to bring their own loo roll

Pens, pencils, files... These are all normal things to expect a child to bring along on their first day at school. But one school in Milan is so short on funds it has started asking pupils to supply four rolls of toilet paper, according to a note shared by a bemused British parent.

William Hardy, whose child goes to Scuola Primaria Casati, a state primary school in the centre of the city, the wealthiest in Italy, was also asked to bring paper and cups.

He received the message at the start of the school year and shared it with The Local. It read: 'We've run out of toilet paper. So that this great friendship can continue we have to bring one packet of four rolls of toilet paper (each)!'

At the bottom was an image of a smiling poo and toilet roll.

Unfortunately, such desperate measures are not particularly uncommon among schools in Italy.  Marilena Lombardi, whose child goes to an elementary school in Campania, in the south of the country, was told to bring paper towels and soap.

She told MailOnline: 'We were asked to bring all these necessities to the school because of the cuts the government had on the schools from north to south.

'So we did, each one of us parents bought toilet paper, paper towels and soap for the school.

'We were all willing to participate and didn't make a fuss, we want our children to have all they need in school but still we found it unfair that we had to do this


Freshers' week is now 'more like entering a convent': Professor says university crackdowns on student freedom stops them growing up

The freedoms once enjoyed by students are under threat from universities obsessed with micromanaging students' personal lives, a top academic has warned.

Frank Furedi, emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Kent, says starting university now resembles an induction course 'into a convent'.

Writing in his book, What's Happened to the University, Professor Furedi said universities are now infantalising students rather than treating them as adults.

Speaking to MailOnline, Professor Furedi said: 'University overall is becoming increasingly paternalistic. Increasingly, instead of being treated like young men and young women [students] are being treated like they are in nursery.'

Professor Furedi points to the widespread availability of counselling and support services available to students as part of the problem.

He said: 'There is an assumption that you have the psychological or moral resources of a youngster.

'Even before an exam there are all these resources, you can cuddle pets and cuddle soft toys. These are the types of thing I would do with my five-year-old.

He added: 'The university has become a clinic that assumes they are dealing with emotionally confused youngsters.'

Professor Furedi argues such services encourage students to turn to others when faced with even basic personal challenges such as homesickness.

He also warns such widespread use of these services threatens to trivialise the needs of students struggling with genuine mental health issues.  'In life, we have bad things happen to us, we are disappointed and those are not issues that need medical care,' he added.

This fixation on managing and protecting new students is also filtering down to Freshers' week, once the symbol of the freedom of university life.

Professor Furedi said: 'A lot of kids are still drinking dancing making new friends but there is a mean spirited culture which assumes that having fun means you are going to have disruptive behaviour in the future.'

He said the message is 'don't go drinking and dancing because things may go wrong', rather than encouraging students to explore their new environment independently.

He added: 'It's like coming into a monastery or convent, you almost have to choose not to let loose for that week.


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