Friday, December 09, 2016
Australia: More deliberate ignorance from the Left
It's been known for years that PISA results are a pretty good proxy for IQ but Leftists hate anything that contradicts their "all men are equal" fantasy. So differencres below that are largely reflective of IQ are explained in all sorts of other bullshit ways -- not enough money being spent being the front runner, as usual.
The two main differences highlighted below are both an example of IQ effects: East Asians are brighter than we are and poor people and their children are a lot less bright than top earners and their children. That's why the poor are not top earners. Awful stuff to say, I know, but that is the reality -- and disliking reality won't change it
Most of the remaining variance in educational results is probably due to teaching methods. Australian classrooms are still very low discipline and permissive and that can have a very depressing effect on educational results. Bringing back corporal punishment for disruptive students would undoubtedly bring standards back up to what they once were
Another bit of bullshit below is the call for "high quality early childhood education". Have none of these galahs heard of America's "Head Start" program? It's been going for many years with nil results. It's kept going mainly as a child-minding service
Spare a thought for Australia's 15-year-olds. If they don't have enough to contend with, between the immediate demands of Snapchat and a future of robots stealing their jobs, now they have to bear the brunt of a nation's slighted pride.
The latest PISA results are out, and they are not good.
What PISA says about Australian schools
The major global test of student achievement reveals just how far Australian high school students are behind their peers in the world's best performing countries.
The real-life problem-solving skills of Australia's teenagers are declining in the fields of maths, science and reading, according to the global Programme for International Student Assessment that's taken by over half a million 15-year-olds.
Australian students have gone backwards relative to their international peers, but also relative to Australian 15-year-olds in 2000 when PISA started.
This has implications for literally everything, from the way we fund schools, to our future competitiveness in the global innovation economy, to the way we market ourselves as a major exporter of quality higher education to the world.
The data churned out by PISA is rich and deep, and education experts will be wading through it for years to come. Rather like the postmortem of an election, interested parties can slice and dice the data in many ways to find evidence to back their preferred argument.
So the federal education minister Simon Birmingham will quite reasonably point out that at a systemic level we have record levels of funding, but that money hasn't led to improved results.
But Labor, who suspects the government of sophistry to justify not funding the full Gonski, will see confirmation of why it introduced needs-based funding in the first place.
Researchers will point out that the money has often not been going where it would make the most difference.
Some will blame teachers, or the shortage of qualified maths teachers, or the education unions, who themselves will point out that our culture undervalues teachers compared with high-performing countries like Singapore and South Korea. And places a higher burden of paperwork on them.
And some will argue with the ref: questioning the cultural bias or methodology or legitimacy of the test.
One problem with that, though. Countries reasonably comparable to Australia did better than us, like Canada and Ireland. (Even though some are sliding backwards too.)
The international league tables get the headlines – can we really have been beaten in maths by obscure upstarts like Estonia? Poland? Vietnam? And, god help us, New Zealand?
But there's actually a bigger problem than being worse at maths, reading and science than literally all of east Asia.
It's buried in the Results by Student Background part of the report.
If you compare Australian students in the top and bottom quarter by their parents' socio economic background, the bottom 25 per cent are on average three years of schooling behind the top 25 per cent.
That's in all three tested areas in PISA: scientific, mathematical and reading literacy. And it means that a kid born poor, by no fault of their own, is on average getting a far crappier education than a kid born rich. The achievement gap is almost as bad for indigenous kids.
You don't need to smash your PISA results to see that's deeply unfair, and a waste of human potential.
As Dr Sue Thomson from the Australian Council for Education Research points out, we're just not dealing with the equity gap.
"I was quite saddened to look at that data," she said. "There's no difference over 16 years of reading, 13 years of maths – no changes. We are still not attending to those gaps."
So why is this everyone's problem? If you're not moved by the fairness argument, try broad self-interest.
The PISA results deal in averages.
"The deterioration in Australia's performance is because we now have more low performing students and fewer high performing students," as Dr Jennifer Buckingham from the Centre for Independent Studies said.
So just leaving the bottom quartile to languish drags the whole system down, and that impacts on everyone.
But there is no future in promoting anti-elitism in the name of egalitarianism, either.
We have to do both: improve Australia's results by lifting the bottom end, as well as the top. An OECD report from 2012 revealed that the world's best-performing education systems actually have both high quality and high equity, or access for all.
As for the top end, most of the states have a gifted and talented education policy, but there's virtually no systemic investment or resources to back it. That needs action. Needs-based funding should extend to the needs of high-potential kids too.
As for the bottom, the evidence suggests two things will make the most difference. Systemic investment in universal high quality early childhood education; and needs-based funding.
So the policy debate circles back to Gonski. A genuine sector-blind, needs-based funding model would distribute government funding by metrics of student need, with additional loading for remote and regional schools, disabled students, indigenous students and low SES students, wherever they are at school.
If there is to be no more money than the government has already committed for school funding, then that means one thing: redistributing the funding available on a more effective and equitable basis.
But there's logic, and then there's political reality. The school funding debate is at a stalemate.
The country's education ministers have their work cut out for them at COAG next week.
L.A. Public Schools Set Up Hotline and Support Sites for Students Worried About Trump
The Los Angeles Unified School District has launched a hotline and opened up “extended support sites” for students who are worried about a Trump presidency, reports the LA Times.
These new resources will provide students with “emotional support” and help address their “question and concerns about the potential impact on them and their families.”
Superintendent Michelle King notified parents and teachers on Monday via a pre-recorded call:
"Hello. This is Superintendent Michelle King with an important message for the L.A. Unified family.
Although it has been nearly a month since the presidential election, many of our students still have questions and concerns about potential impact on them and their families. As part of our commitment to providing a safe and positive learning environment, we are providing additional resources for our families.
We have opened Extended Support Sites at each of our Local District offices, as well as at the field office of Board President Steve Zimmer. These sites are open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays, to provide you with emotional support, enrollment and attendance information and referrals to outside resources.
We have also set up a hotline at (866) 742-2273, where you can call with questions and concerns. We invite you to visit lausd.net for details about these and other resources.
According to the LA Times, L.A. Unified is 74 percent Latino, so students fear discrimination and deportation under Trump.
The district has already voted to make its schools “safe zones” for illegal immigrants. Its policy states that employees must receive permission from the district before allowing federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents onto L.A. Unified campuses.
Monash University raises over $200 million in US market in "Green" bonds
This is certainly extraordinary. Borrowing a lot of money that you may never have to pay back -- because you can "roll over" the debt -- must certainly be superficially attractive but it means that a lot of money will be spent on paying interest -- money that could be used for other things. One would have thought that taxpayer funds given to a university would be spent on buildings, teaching and services only -- without a slice being cut off to pay international financiers.
But that is what Monash has done. In order to have the money now, they have agreed to have less of it for their own use. And because of the immediacy of their thinking, Leftists like borrowing. They seem incapable of imagining either the past or the future so a loan seems like free money to them. And the Daniel Andrews government that agreed to this is nothing if not Leftist
What makes the bond "green" is a little unclear. The money will actually be spent on new buildings. But perhaps the buildings will have the sort of impractical frills that Greenies like -- Pink batts everywhere and a windmill on top of every building?
In a world first, Monash University has raised A$218 million through a climate bond issued in the US private placement market to fund further sustainable development projects across its campus network.
Monash is the first university in the world to raise funds by issuing a climate bond.
The University’s historic achievement in raising development funds in this way follows its success in 2014 when it became the first Australian tertiary institution to raise debt capital in the US private placement market. The proceeds from the University’s issue were used to construct award-winning student residential buildings at the Clayton Campus.
The climate bond was certified by the 'Climate Bond Initiative' (CBI) and a Green Bond assessment [accreditation] from Moody's Investor Services. The University structured the bond to provide the market with investment options in US and Australian dollars over 15 years, 17.5 years or 20 years.
The President and Vice-Chancellor of Monash University, Professor Margaret Gardner AO said the University’s long-term debt raising initiatives, approved by the Treasurer of the State of Victoria, have provided Monash with secure and cost effective access to development capital.
Professor Gardner said the success of the Climate Bond Initiative reflects Monash as a global University. The funds would add to the university’s transition to net zero emissions.
“As a truly international university, Monash has a responsibility to provide strong and visionary leadership on sustainable development. We want our campus network to be exemplars of environmental, social and economic best practice,” Professor Gardner said.
Monash University has an annual operating revenue of more than $2 billion and its total assets are valued at $3.7 billion.
David Pitt, Monash’s Chief Financial Officer said the University was delighted with the outcome of the financing.
“The Monash issue was very well received by the investor community reflecting the University’s high credit quality based on its standing in international markets. This was a great collaborative effort with Commonwealth Bank Australia receiving in excess of A$900 million of investor bids for the issue,” Mr Pitt said.
Professor Gardner said Monash’s investment in sustainable development had been prioritised in the University’s new environmental, social and governance policy statement.
“Monash has a sustainability plan that will include a target date for net zero emissions to be announced next year,” Professor Gardner said.
Over the next two years, Monash University will allocate capital raised through the Climate Bond to a portfolio of projects that achieve certification in accordance with the standards of the Global Climate Bond Initiative.
Development projects at Monash to benefit from the climate bond funding will include:
A major new learning and teaching building targeting 5 Star Green Star Certification at the Clayton campus $180 million
Caulfield campus library redevelopment $43.4 million
Solar panel installation $6.6 million
External LED lighting project $3.5 million.
A requirement for issuing Climate Bonds is the capital raised must be spent on projects that achieve measurable sustainability outcomes in line with the global Net Zero Emissions by 2050 target.
The University will outline progress on the Climate Bond projects in its annual report.
Monash was advised on the financing by DTW Capital Solutions.
Press release from Leigh Funston (email@example.com) on behalf of Monash U.
Posted by jonjayray at 1:39 AM