Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Schools in many parts of Australia are a study in self-segregation
So what? People are still free to choose the company they keep as far as I know. It is enforced or legal segregation that is problematical. The big beef below is that parents avoid sending their kids to schools with big African populations. That happens in the USA and UK too. Why? Because of the high incidence of aggressive and criminal behaviour among Africans. Even Leftists avoid Africans
Public and private schools in Sydney’s north epitomise a broader racial polarisation within our school system, an ethnic divide that has academics and community leaders concerned we are creating schoolyard monocultures that fail to reflect the increasingly diverse society in which we live and work.
Demographic statistics from My School demonstrate how this polarisation affects academically high-flying as well as low-performing schools, rural schools and campuses in progressive suburbs in inner Sydney and Melbourne. Moreover, researchers warn this ethnic segregation parallels a drift towards private schools and academically stronger government schools that is creating a rump of "residual" public schools in which profoundly disadvantaged students, among them indigenous, refugee or non-English-speaking children, are often concentrated.
All of which raises the question: as the nation becomes more multicultural, are our schools becoming more racially segregated?
"I think our schools are becoming more segregated," says Christina Ho, a University of Technology, Sydney, academic who has investigated ethnic segregation at inner-city public schools, private schools and selective government schools.
Referring to Sydney’s lower north shore, Ho says: "I find it quite staggering that you can have schools that are so (ethnically) different from each other, and yet you can probably walk between two of them in 10 minutes. Why are families self-segregating?"
A senior lecturer at UTS’s faculty of arts and social sciences, Ho says this segregation is also found in gentrified, bohemian enclaves in Sydney and Melbourne. In these inner-city areas, the economic and racial divide is not necessarily the familiar one separating private and public schools; often the gulf is between white-dominated public schools with a privileged parent cohort and highly diverse public schools with economically disadvantaged parents.
During the past year, an incendiary debate has erupted in Victoria about "white flight" from disadvantaged public schools in Melbourne’s trendy inner north. Here, social housing towers built in the 1960s, home to a large population of mostly African refugees, loom sentinel-like over tastefully renovated Victorian terraces worth between $1 million and $2m. Fitzroy and Carlton are renowned for their 19th-century architecture, cosmopolitan food cultures, alternative arts scene and ardent support for the Greens — the area’s federal MP is the Greens’ Adam Bandt. Two schools that feature prominently in the white-flight debate were polling booths at the July election, and returned the nation’s highest two-party-preferred vote for the minority party, which has pro-refugee and asylum-seeker policies. At Fitzroy Primary School, the Greens attracted 82.4 per cent of the two-party-preferred vote, while a short distance away at the whiter, more advantaged North Fitzroy Primary School, the Greens won 81 per cent of the two party preferred vote.
The local council, City of Yarra, says the district has been a proud "Refugee Welcome Zone since 2002". Yet in Fitzroy, Carlton and surrounding suburbs, progressive, middle-class families have been accused of shunning public schools with high refugee populations.
"They are fleeing!" African community leader and former refugee Abeselom Nega says of white, inner-city families who apparently are rejecting diverse schools. This year, in a Melbourne newspaper, Nega accused families who avoided inner-Melbourne schools with large African-Australian student cohorts of racism.
"The white parents don’t send their kids to these schools because all they see is black kids," he claimed. Nega admits to Inquirer that this allegation is "a big call. But in the absence of proper explanations as to why this has taken place, it can only be explained in the way I have said it." He chuckles ruefully as he notes: The irony is, in these places, the residents can be described as progressive; that is the contradiction."
The latest (2015) statistics from the My School website tell a story of stark ethnic segregation in these Greens-supporting precincts. Low-fee Catholic and public schools located near housing commission apartments in Fitzroy, Carlton and Flemington are clearly out of favour with Anglo parents. Between 90 per cent and 94 per cent of the students who attend Fitzroy Primary, Carlton Primary and Sacred Heart primary are from non-English-speaking or indigenous backgrounds. Only 3 per cent of Sacred Heart’s parents are in the top SES quarter, a measure of parents’ social and educational advantage.
Yet at nearby schools Fitzroy North Primary, Princes Hill Primary and Carlton North Primary, about 70 per cent of parents — almost three times the national average — are in the top SES bracket, while less than one third of students across these schools have LOTE backgrounds.
This entrenched racial and class division continues into high school. At the high-performing Princes Hill Secondary College, which hand-picks two-thirds of its student body, just 15 per cent of students are from LOTE families, while 68 per cent of parents are drawn from the top SES quarter.
Roughly 4km away is Mount Alexander College, where Nega sits on the school council. This recently renamed high school is within 500m of the Flemington public housing estate. Last year 71 per cent of Mount Alexander’s students were from LOTE backgrounds and 12 per cent of its parents were in the top SES quarter. In 2008, 60 per cent of the college’s parents were in the top bracket, suggesting a radical flight of higher-income families from the school.
While parents jostle to get their children into high-achieving inner-city public schools such as Princes Hill Secondary and Melbourne Girls College, Mount Alexander is only half full. The good news is that under a dynamic new principal, enrolments have risen 15 per cent this year, while the school’s top graduating students regularly achieve Australian Tertiary Admission Rank results in the 90s. Even so, Nega says the risk of the white exodus is that migrant children — in this case, African-background students — graduate from school with no contacts or friendships within the Anglo-Australian community, thus creating a deep sense of isolation.
Nega is the founder and chief executive of iEmpower, an organisation that aims to steer young African-Australians away from the justice system and into jobs. Many of his clients are young men who arrived in Australia in the 1990s as orphaned refugees and still live in housing commission flats in inner Melbourne. He believes that if the present generation of African school students are confined to schools filled with fellow refugees, while living among other Africans in social housing, "they are missing out. These kids will go into the labour market not having the opportunity to deal with (a diverse environment). I think it’s highly disadvantageous to those communities. We are also hearing some anecdotal evidence that even some exclusive public schools are excluding some sections of our community."
Princes Hill Secondary, one of Victoria’s top-performing government high schools, enrols out-of-area students on the basis of "curriculum grounds". To gain admission, out-of-area students must have studied at least two musical instruments or been immersed in French — the kind of skills a refugee child from a single-parent home is unlikely to possess.
Nega says, "Everyone wants the best for their children; I get that." On the other hand, if even progressive parents avoid diverse schools, "knowing who is going to be left behind, I don’t know whether the response stacks up. You can’t have a voice saying, ‘Well, I am a progressive and I believe in multiculturalism and I want to be inclusive,’ and then not practise it."
For Vinu Patel, the decision to send his children to the solidly middle-class North Fitzroy Primary School was "very simple. It was the closest school to our home, so it was the obvious and natural choice, and it had a good name." Patel is president of North Fitzroy Primary’s parents association and he says the school is diverse in ways the My School data fails to reflect — there are same-sex parents, single parents as well as African and Asian parents with children at the school.
"It’s not just racial backgrounds, it’s all types of diversity," he says, adding that this was one of the key factors that drew his family to the campus. "It’s like licorice allsorts around here," jokes the management consultant who is of Indian and Malaysian heritage, and whose children are in Year 3 and Year 6.
Nevertheless, Patel does know of some parents who are in the catchment for the underprivileged Fitzroy Primary but have made a "conscious decision" to go to wealthier, less diverse North Fitzroy. He says accusing such parents of racism is "unfair. To call it racism is a big stretch. We are all trying to find the best education and best environment for our kids, and parents will do anything to achieve that as an outcome. It’s a rational response for many parents."
While Ho has documented class and ethnic segregation in Sydney schools, she says "the scale of that division (in Melbourne) did surprise me. I’ve been looking at that in terms of inner Sydney and I haven’t seen it to the same extent." Still, she says the trend is occurring in Sydney’s inner suburbs where, again, many progressives and Greens voters live.
Last year the academic co-authored a study on diversity and gentrifying school communities, focusing on two schools, Glebe and Forest Lodge public schools, in the city’s inner west. These schools, says Ho, are walking distance apart but Forest Lodge is "much wealthier and much more Anglo-Australian" while Glebe, closer to public housing, "is much more disadvantaged, more Aboriginal and has more kids from non-English-speaking backgrounds".
"So you definitely have that segregation, and I think you’d see that in a lot of suburbs, but especially where you have a concentration of public housing in an area that is gentrifying," Ho says. "You literally have these people buying up $1m, $2m houses that are next to social housing."
My School statistics reveal a pattern of racial and economic division across other inner-west public schools in Sydney. Only 16 per cent of students at Annandale North Public School have LOTE backgrounds, while 75 per cent of the parents come from the top SES quarter. It’s a similar situation at Newtown Public School — located in a suburb with a distinct bohemian vibe — where 80 per cent of the student body is white. Contrast these schools’ demographics to that of tiny Catholic school Our Lady of Mount Carmel Primary at Waterloo, which is near a cluster of social housing towers similar to those in inner Melbourne. Of 120 students at Mount Carmel, 71 per cent are Aboriginal and a further 25 per cent are from LOTE backgrounds. Although 90 per cent of this school’s students live in public housing, their academic results are improving significantly.
Ho argues that gentrifiers’ support for multiculturalism rarely extends to school choice. "When we interviewed people who had moved into inner Sydney, sometimes from more suburban areas, they would say, ‘Oh the restaurants and the diversity and we just love the gritty, urban feel,’ but that stops at the school gate," she says.
"They’re happy to eat at ethnic restaurants but they’re not necessarily happy for their kids to go to school with minority kids who might be ‘rough’ " — she says this in a sarcastic tone — "or who might be pulling their kids down or who don’t speak English. So there’s an acceptance of diversity that stops when it comes to ‘my own kids’. We saw that a lot."
Is this white flight a form of racial prejudice, as has been claimed? "I think that’s simplistic," responds Ho. "Sometimes I think it is overt racism but most of the time I think it’s a lot more complex than that."
She says school segregation is the result of ethnic and class factors that "work in different ways. There are some ethnic minority groups that people see as disadvantaged and dragging down their kids potentially … At the other end of the spectrum, you have avoidance of schools that are seen as Asian because they’re too successful. The students work too hard.
"There’s a strange combination of race and class which operates at different points on the spectrum. I’m quite saddened by both of those (trends), particularly in the inner-city areas where people have moved because they say they like the diversity.
Trevor Cobbold, a Canberra-based economist and convener from Save Our Schools, a lobby group for public education, says segregation in the nation’s schools "creates larger achievement gaps between schools because generally it’s the upper-income people that move. When you have schools with high concentrations of high disadvantage, that makes it really difficult to improve results."
He also warns that "for a highly successful multicultural society this is a very worrying trend because it has strong social implications about how our society works in the future". If students don’t grow up with other children of different ethnicities and class backgrounds, "it is going to be hard to expect people to do that in the workforce and in society more generally. In the past, Australia has been pretty successful at that."
What is driving this racial and economic segregation? Cobbold and Ho cite factors including rising parental anxiety about education; government policies encouraging parental choice and the growth of private schools; income inequality; and a loosening of some public school catchments — again, to facilitate parental choice.
Ho says we have long been aware of a racial divide in rural areas between heavily indigenous schools and other schools. But since 2010 the My School website has provided information about the ethnic composition of every Australian school. "It was a revelation to me when those statistics came out," says the outspoken researcher, as the website exposed economic and racial gulfs across the nation. Less positively, she says, the website is "feeding into that culture of school shopping".
Recent research by think tank the Centre for Policy Development reveals a significant shift in enrolments away from disadvantaged public schools towards private schools and higher-performing public schools. The researchers, retired school principals Chris Bonnor and Bernie Shepherd, found that parents were using National Assessment Program — Literacy and Numeracy results (also recorded on My School) to seek out better-performing schools. They warned this was creating a two-tiered education system comprising advantaged private and public schools and struggling public schools.
Cobbold contends that "unfortunately, I think a certain part of our community wants their children to go to school with kids that look alike or have similar cultural backgrounds. That is a factor, that there are some families who want to get away from the mob — the mob may be low-SES families or families from different ethnic communities." He says that apart from My School’s demographic statistics, "we’ve got no real overview or systematic study of what’s happened with ethnic segregation. I think it involves both race and class and the two factors interact."
When it comes to multiculturalism and independent schools — the least diverse school sector — Sydney Grammar principal John Vallance insists that "you can’t really generalise. Even the most expensive private schools are often far more diverse than you might expect." Even so, he believes "the more diverse a school population, the better the school. This is not just a matter of occupying the moral high ground. A diverse student body makes for a richer experience.
According to My School, the academically selective Sydney Grammar has a more diverse student population (25 per cent of its students have LOTE backgrounds) than most other elite private schools and some public schools. This reflects an intentional policy on Vallance’s part. "I have been keen," he says, "to stress the school’s status as an inclusive, secular institution — something unusual amongst traditional private schools — and I think this makes us more attractive to a wider range of people … Throughout its modern history, we have always had a high population of migrant families or the sons of migrant families." Every year the $32,000 a year school offers scholarships and most of those who sit for the scholarship test are from Asian backgrounds. Does this tell us something about how such migrant families value educational opportunity? "Yes indeed it does," replies the headmaster.
This year, self-described "book whisperer" and "PC lefty" Alice Williams bought into Melbourne’s heated schools and ethnicity debate and was surprised to find herself the target of "Twitter hate" from other PC lefties. Williams was called a racist — a charge she vehemently denies — after she took issue with the claim white families bypassing multicultural schools were racist.
The author, blogger and mother of one had argued in a comment piece published in The Age that it was "obnoxious" to argue that high-achieving students should remain in disadvantaged schools and "sacrifice their own education to somehow drag up the level of their peers".
Williams tells Inquirer she is no "white apologist". Rather, her point was "that it’s far too simplistic to cry ‘racism’ when parents choose not to send their children to underperforming schools. It ignores the fact that some schools are under-performing … (because) the kids there are starting from a lower educational base." She adds: "Of course parents aren’t going to want to send their children to schools where they’re not going to get a good educational outcome. That’s not racist. That’s about them wanting what’s best for their child."
Williams feels strongly about this issue partly because her left-wing parents sent her to a low-performing Melbourne school with a majority migrant student base and a culture of low expectations. She dropped out of university "because I didn’t know how to study, I’d never had to study" before eventually returning to tertiary education and completing a communications degree. "In my experience, any school that has high levels of non-English-speaking students will have low literacy outcomes, and it’s not because of any race," she says. Some schools handle this challenge well, but "we can’t pretend it isn’t an issue".
Williams’s home is in the catchment for the in-demand Princes Hill Primary. Although her son is only five months old, she finds this school off-putting because it is "so incredibly white" and has a low vaccination rate. "It’s all these Greens voters who don’t vaccinate their children," quips the committed Greens voter. This year, two Princes Hill students contracted measles and a further 21 unvaccinated students were sent home — demonstrating how this overwhelmingly Anglo school attracts many nonconformist parents.
Grammars plan: heads tell education secretary of their 'deep opposition'
These heads are not impartial. They just don't want to be left with "dreg" students only
A group of headteachers of non-selective secondary schools in Kent have written to the education secretary to voice their “deeply held, vehement opposition” to government plans to expand grammar schools across the country.
The group’s views are significant as they work in a county where the 11-plus and selection are still in place, so they have firsthand experience of the impact of grammar schools on non-selective schools in the area and the children who attend them.
The letter to Justine Greening, signed by 33 headteachers of Kent’s secondary non-selective schools and academies, was sent as the government’s consultation on extending selection in education closed on Monday. It warns of “philosophical and systemic flaws” in the proposals and calls for selection in Kent and elsewhere to be abandoned rather than expanded.
Kent is one of the few remaining authorities in England with a selective system. One headteacher of a non-selective secondary who did not want to be identified said he was appalled that more children across the country might have to go through the same experience that Kent children face as a result of government proposals.
The letter, which follows a similar one from concerned headteachers in Surrey, says the advantages for pupils in selective schools are obvious – a confidence boost, a sense of success for selected pupils and their parents, and a culture of high expectations and aspirations.
Those that are not selected, however, are left with a sense of being second best, the letter says. “It certainly serves to erode self-confidence, to limit aspirations and develop a culture of ‘second best’ that good leaders in non-selective schools then spend time undoing so that they can unlock the students’ true potential,” it says.
“The reality is that the students were not selected – this is a clear message and one that is hard to take and even understand for an 11-year-old. We challenge the government to provide convincing evidence to parents, school leaders and children that not being selected aged 11 will motivate any child to make better progress than before.”
The heads argue there is no compelling evidence on which to base the development of a new wave of grammar schools. “The experience of school leaders in Kent should be valued and heard,” the letter says.
“Kent has one of the widest gaps between the achievement of disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students. The very existence of a two-tier selective system is the biggest cause of this inequality.”
Many in the education sector have made submissions to the government arguing there is no evidence that grammar schools have a positive impact on social mobility. Among them is the National Association of Head Teachers.
“The evidence does not support the expansion of grammar schools. They do not contribute to social mobility and will distract attention from the things that really matter,” said Russell Hobby, the union’s general secretary.
Earlier on Monday a report by the Education Policy Institute said less than 4% of local authority areas in England would see a boost to educational attainment from new grammar schools and attract the necessary parental support to make them a success.
The Department for Education said: “Our proposals are about creating more choice, with more good school places in more parts of the country. We want to do this by lifting the ban on new grammars, and harnessing the resources and expertise of universities, faith schools and independent schools. We welcome contributions to the consultation and will respond in due course.”
Public University Professors Demand "Sanctuary Campus" to Shield Illegal Aliens
Comparing immigration enforcement to "fugitive slave laws," professors at a taxpayer-funded university in south Florida are demanding that the school protect illegal aliens by creating a "sanctuary campus." Students at colleges around the nation have made similar requests to protect undocumented classmates after president-elect Donald Trump vowed to increase deportations and reverse an Obama administration measure that shields those brought to the U.S. illegally as children.
But the Florida professors are blazing the trail as the first faculty members to officially call for campus-wide sanctuary in the aftermath of the presidential election. They work at Florida International University (FIU), a public institution with 54,000 students, more than half of them Hispanic. One of the professors, Asia Eaton, teaches psychology and women's and gender studies and the other, Jason Ritchie, anthropology.
Dozens of other university staff members also signed the document making the sanctuary demand. It starts off like this: "Like many people in South Florida, we were caught off guard by the election." It continues to state that Trump's victory "laid bare the pervasive racism and sexism that have limited the life chances of too many Americans for too long. As a nation, we cannot continue to sweep these problems under the rug."
The professors reveal that they are "deeply worried about the dangers of a Trump presidency" to the well-being of their diverse student body. They specifically mention an Obama amnesty measure known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which shields thousands of illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children "through no fault of their own" from deportation. In many cases, the so-called "dreamers" get driver's licenses, work permits and discounted tuition at public universities such as FIU.
During his campaign Trump said he would terminate DACA along with other Obama amnesty measures. The FIU professors point out that college presidents nationwide have determined that DACA is "both a moral imperative and a national necessity." No further evidence is provided to substantiate that absurd claim, however.
As preposterous as this may sound, the demand gets even crazier when the professors compare the college sanctuary movement to safe havens that shielded individuals and institutions that refused to comply with fugitive slave laws in the 1800s. They refer to it as a tradition in the U.S. of providing safe-haven to vulnerable populations. "In that spirit, we call on our administration to declare Florida International University a sanctuary campus, develop a plan for protecting undocumented students, and refuse to cooperate with any efforts to identify, detain, or deport undocumented students, even if DACA is repealed or any other laws or policies change."
The document further alleges that students are "under attack" and they cannot remain silent.
Students-and some faculty-in dozens of colleges and universities around the country have asked that their fellow undocumented classmates be protected from immigration authorities, but administrations remain largely silent. In Illinois, many of the state's public universities have been under pressure to declare themselves sanctuary campuses for illegal alien students but no official action has been taken.
One of the state's mainstream newspapers reported this week that the campuses have rejected the calls, instead outlining other (unofficial) ways they will offer protections. "The University of Illinois this week became the latest campus to dismiss the idea after thousands signed a petition asking school leaders to adopt the sanctuary label in an effort to protect undocumented students from being targeted for their citizenship status," the article says. "A similar petition at Northwestern University also failed last month."
Unrelated to this matter, but of interesting note is that two veteran FIU professors were convicted of spying for Cuba's communist government over nearly three decades. The husband-and-wife duo, Carlos and Elsa Alvarez, got convicted in a Miami federal court in 2007. Carlos was sentenced to five years in prison for acting as an unregistered Cuban agent and Elsa got three years for harboring her husband's illicit intelligence work and failing to report it to authorities.
Posted by jonjayray at 1:53 AM