Friday, November 25, 2016
Oxford college is to appoint 'class liberation officer' to protect working class students from insults
This is not as pathetic as it appears. The British class system is very oppressive and working class students undoubtedly feel unfairly excluded from many activities at Oxford. Whether that can be changed is another question
Working class students at an Oxford University college are to get a 'class liberation officer' to protect them from bullying and patronising comments.
Last week students at St Hilda's College voted to create the new post, backing a motion that said working class students suffered from 'microaggressions and classism at university' and needed more support.
St Hilda's was founded in 1893 as an all-women's college but started allowing men in 2007.
'Insults such as "chav", chav-themed social nights and questions such as "why are you wearing Primark?" can make poor students feel upset and worthless,' one student was reported as complaining in The Times.
St Hilda's alumni include TV presenter Bettany Hughes, newscaster Zeinab Badawi, crime writer Val McDermid, Labour MP Meg Hillier and poets Wendy Cope and Jenny Joseph.
The motion which was passed proposed that 'the position of Class Liberation Officer should be created to represent the interests of students from working class backgrounds and act in a similar way to the POC (People of Colour) and RE Officer, LGBTQ+ Officer, Women’s Officer and Disabilities Officer to represent students who self-identify as being part of this group.'
Those behind the move pointed out that earlier this year then Prime Minister David Cameron accused Oxford of 'not doing enough to attract talent from across our country'.
St Hilda's is not the first college to appoint a champion for lower income students.
King's College London, Manchester University and the School of Oriental and African Studies have all created similar roles in recent years.
Meet Betsy DeVos, Trump’s Pick for Education Secretary
President-elect Donald Trump has selected billionaire philanthropist Betsy DeVos, a relatively unknown figure on the national scene, to head the U.S. Department of Education.
“Betsy DeVos is a brilliant and passionate education advocate,” Trump said in a press release. “Under her leadership we will reform the U.S. education system and break the bureaucracy that is holding our children back so that we can deliver world-class education and school choice to all families.”
Although she has little name recognition, DeVos is well-known in the education world, having donated and served on the board for a number of school choice nonprofits.
“I am honored to accept this responsibility to work with the president-elect on his vision to make American education great again,” DeVos said in a statement. “The status quo in education is not acceptable. Together, we can work to make transformational change that ensures every student in America has the opportunity to fulfill his or her highest potential.”
DeVos is a relatively safe pick for conservatives who favor school choice programs such as vouchers that would enable low-income families to send their children to a private school of their choice, however, she is a polarizing figure for those who support the traditional public school system.
Here’s seven things to know about Trump’s pick for education secretary:
1. She does not support Common Core “period.”
Upon accepting the position of education secretary, DeVos issued a statement clarifying that she is not a supporter of Common Core “period.”
Trump’s disdain for the national standards was perhaps the most talked about education policy issue on the campaign trail, and DeVos’ opinion on the issue was previously unclear.
DeVos currently serves as head of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, which was started by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who Trump criticized for defending the national standards.
In recent years, DeVos had been quiet on the issue of Common Core, but upon accepting the position in the Trump administration, she changed that, writing:
I do support high standards, strong accountability, and local control. When governors such as John Engler, Mike Huckabee, and Mike Pence were driving the conversation on voluntary high standards driven by local voices, it all made sense.
Have organizations that I have been a part of supported Common Core? Of course. But that’s not my position. Sometimes it’s not just students who need to do their homework.
However, along the way, it got turned into a federalized boondoggle.
Above all, I believe every child, no matter their ZIP code or their parents’ jobs, deserves access to a quality education.
2. She strongly supports school vouchers.
DeVos believes that every child should have the opportunity for a “top-notch education,” regardless of their family’s financial background.
For that reason, she and her husband advocated a ballot proposal in 2000 that would have amended the Michigan Constitution to create a school voucher program that allows taxpayer funds to follow students to private schools. After hitting a roadblock, she and her husband formed a political action committee to support voucher-friendly candidates on the national level.
According to Chalkbeat, “the group counted a 121-60 win-loss record.” Since then, she’s played a major role in expanding the number of school choice programs available to students across the country.
3. She also supports charter schools.
DeVos and her husband have been actively involved in promoting charter schools for over two decades, and helped to pass Michigan’s first charter school law in the state.
Charter schools are publicly funded and open to all students, but able to operate with more autonomy than traditional public schools.
There are currently 275 charter schools in Michigan, according to the American Federation for Children, some of which have been criticized for their lack of accountability and government oversight. Some blame the DeVos family for contributing to that lack of oversight. “The DeVos influence is one reason that Michigan’s charter sector is among the least regulated in the country,” Chalkbeat reported.
4. She’s an outsider in Washington, but an insider in Michigan.
Although dealing with the inner workings of Congress will be new to DeVos, she’s well-familiar with the political system, having served as chair of the Michigan Republican Party.
Her husband, Dick DeVos, was elected to the State Board of Education in 1990 and ran for governor of Michigan in 2006, losing to Democrat Jennifer Granholm.
5. She supports homeschooling.
In a 2013 interview with Philanthropy Roundtable, DeVos voiced her support for homeschooling. She said:
Homeschooling represents another perfectly valid educational option. We’ve seen more and more people opt for homeschooling, including in urban areas. What you’re seeing is parents who are fed up with their lack of power to do anything about where their kids are assigned to go to school. To the extent that homeschooling puts parents back in charge of their kids’ education, more power to them.
6. She funds a variety of nonprofits.
DeVos and her husband are founders of the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, where they support “organizations and programs that focus on community, education, the arts, justice, and leadership.” She serves as chairman of the American Federation for Children and the Alliance for School Choice, according to Philanthropy Roundtable.
Some organizations the DeVos family has supported include the Foundation for Excellence in Education, ArtPrize, West Michigan Aviation Academy, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, American Enterprise Institute, Mars Hill Bible Church, and The Heritage Foundation, which is the parent organization of The Daily Signal.
DeVos is the daughter of Edgar and Elsa Prince. Her father was an extremely successful engineer, developer, and industrialist, who founded Prince Corp. DeVos’ in-laws, Richard and Helen DeVos, are longtime personal supporters of The Heritage Foundation.
Richard DeVos is the co-founder of Amway, which is now one of the largest and most successful companies in the world. In recognition of their support, The Heritage Foundation named the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society in their honor. Through their family foundation, Betsy and her husband Dick DeVos have continued the family’s support of The Heritage Foundation over the last decade.
7. She chose to send her children to private Christian schools.
Growing up, DeVos attended Holland Christian High School in Michigan, and graduated from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and political science. She also chose to send her children to private Christian schools, according to Chalkbeat.
Back to basics phonics test to be rolled out in Australian schools
A five-minute reading check for first-graders that includes made-up words like "beff" and "shup" has dramatically improved early literacy rates in the UK and is set to be adopted in Australia.
The Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham has endorsed new research which suggests the UK's Year 1 phonics screening check should be rolled out across Australian classrooms, after pledging to promote a back-to-basics approach to education in the May budget.
The test would provide data on student literacy levels as well as on how effectively teachers are teaching phonics, according to the report's author, Dr Jennifer Buckingham from the Centre for Independent Studies.
The federal government is threatening to make state education funding contingent on state governments implementing measures like the phonics check, after the current funding deal runs out at the end of next year.
But the Teachers Federation said the screening test was "anti-teacher", because it was based on not trusting teachers to do their jobs properly.
The phonics check was greeted with some controversy when it was introduced in the UK in 2012, with some teachers and parents claiming smart kids were failing the test because they were trying to correct the made-up words they saw in front of them, for example by sounding "strom" as "storm".
But in the years since it was launched, the share of children meeting the expected standard lifted from just over half in 2012 to eight in 10 this year.
Dr Buckingham's report, Focus on Phonics, said the UK's experience showed the check should be trialled in Australia.
She said there was doubt over how well systematic phonics is taught in Australian schools and has been critical of the widespread use of Reading Recovery, which the NSW government recently scrapped.
"Surveys of principals suggest there is not a lot of confidence in new teachers' ability to teach reading – which is extraordinary, because if there's one thing a primary school teacher should leave their initial teaching education with, it should be a high level of ability and training to teach reading," she said.
Literacy as measured by the international Progress in Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) and NAPLAN from Year 3 upwards suggests that the literacy levels of Australian students are persistently low compared with other English-speaking countries.
The check takes 5-7 minutes per child and can be administered by a teacher. It tests students' ability to sound out 40 words, including made-up words to ensure they are not simply remembering sight words.
"This check is a very simple and quick assessment of what children know at a pretty crucial point in their learning, before the gaps start to open up and becomes hard to remediate," Dr Buckingham said.
She is calling for a pilot program to be run in mid-Year 1.
But Maurie Mulheron from the NSW Teachers Federation said: "Her solution is more testing. And really it's a pernicious kind of thing she's saying, that 'I don't trust that teachers are doing the right thing, I don't trust that they're teaching the syllabus, I don't trust that they're using the literacy strategies they say they are, so I'm going to test the children to prove the teachers aren't doing the right thing'.
"It comes from a mindset that is anti-teacher."
Dennis Yarrington, the president of the Australian Primary Principals Association said "I'm a bit concerned with the assertion that teachers are not teaching phonics well, that's a broad statement," he said.
"The APPA would certainly not support any type of standardised year 1 assessment. We need to be identifying things that work in Australia, and we have a number of assessment tools being used in schools across Australia already. But if a school doesn't have something in place, this could be an option for them to trial."
Mr Birmingham discussed the UK's phonics screening check with his UK counterpart Nick Gibb in June. He said "the evidence from Dr Buckingham adds further weight to the need for states and territories to support the evidence-based reforms that the Turnbull government wants to use to leverage our record levels of funding to turn around our declining international education performance."
Mr Birmingham said the phonics check would be discussed with states and territories at the COAG Education Council meeting next month.
The NSW government has already committed $340 million to an early intervention literacy strategy, including a plan to make "quality online literacy and numeracy assessments" available to teachers.
Posted by jonjayray at 1:36 AM