Friday, February 05, 2016

Christian Family Sues Over ‘Islamic Indoctrination’ Homework

A Maryland couple are suing their county school system, the school board, and their daughter’s high school principal over what they claim was “Islamic indoctrination and propaganda” in a world history class.

John Kevin Wood and his wife, Melissa, say they are Christians and were upset to learn their 16-year-old daughter brought home homework that characterized Muslims as having “stronger” faith than Christians.

As The Daily Signal previously reported, the Woods also took issue with the assertion that “Islam, at heart, is a peaceful religion.”

They say their daughter was forced to write out and say the Shahada, the Islamic profession of faith: “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”

Thomas More Law Center, a Michigan-based Christian nonprofit, filed the lawsuit on the couple’s behalf in federal District Court in Maryland.

The Woods are suing Maryland’s Charles County public school system, the Board of Education, La Plata High School Principal Evelyn Arnold, and Vice Principal Shannon Morris.

“The Wood family’s case is important, and indicative of developments throughout the country where schools are teaching Islam in ways that are denigrating to other religions,” Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, told The Daily Signal.

He added:

"Teachers of Islam are doing things that would never be tolerated for other religions, like spending more time on Islam, reciting its five pillars, and making its confession of faith. That would never be tolerated for other religions. There is no memorizing of the Ten Commandments or the Nicene Creed, which is the statement of faith for Catholics and many Protestants."

Wood is a former Marine and firefighter who fought and lost comrades in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm and responded to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the Pentagon.

In October 2014, Wood was angered when he saw the world history homework that read, in part, “Most Muslim’s [sic] faith is stronger than the average Christian.”

He said he told La Plata High officials he planned to pursue “lawyers and the media” if the school continued to “retaliate against” his daughter “for her adherence to her Christian faith.”

In response, he said, the school’s vice principal barred Wood from setting foot on school property.

“We are here to vindicate the rights of John, his wife, and their daughter,” Thompson said. “We are here to vindicate their right to religious beliefs and the freedom not to violate [those beliefs].”

It’s not that simple, says Andrew Kloster, a legal fellow in the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation. Kloster said in an email:

"If you look at the school materials, it is sometimes unclear if the student is being asked to fill in statements related to how Muslims view themselves (this would be unobjectionable), or whether the statements are considered ‘objective’ (which would be factually wrong, but within the right of a school board in terms of setting curriculum), or whether the student is being asked to personally endorse the statements."

Ultimately, whatever the legal result, the tone of the worksheet is extremely problematic and smacks of political correctness and Islamic theology. To avoid lawsuits and bad publicity like this, schools should generally have policies in place to accommodate reasonable requests by religious students—it would take only a few minutes to come up with alternative questions that are more sensitive and less biased.

Thompson said Thomas More Law Center will file a preliminary injunction for the ban against Wood’s visiting the school within the next two weeks so that he may attend his daughter’s graduation.


Dept. of Education Is an Informational Security Threat

The Department of Education sits on millions of Americans' sensitive data, and the chief information officer of the agency acts as though protecting that data is a part-time job, The Wall Street Journal reports.

On Tuesday, the House Oversight Committee held a hearing into Education’s informational security and to scrutinize CIO Danny Harris' conduct because House Oversight Chair Jason Chaffetz thinks the Department of Education is vulnerable to the kind of hack that the Office of Personnel Management experienced last year. If you recall, the hack that was blamed on Chinese hackers netted the sensitive data of every federal employee, past and present — 21.5 million people.

The Department of Education keeps 139 million Social Security numbers in its records and gives out billions of dollars in grants and loans. In fiscal year 2015, it failed to detect a hack performed by the department’s inspector general auditing Education’s compliance with the Federal Information Security Management Act. In other words, these records lying within the Department of Education are fat targets for foreign governments or organized crime.

Meanwhile, the CIO Harris has been in hot water in 2013 for running side businesses. Year over year, the Department of Education has expanded its role in education by giving out money so American youth can attend college. Now it has shown it can’t handle the responsibility of managing the information of some of the nation’s brightest.


A debate over transgender students using opposite-sex bathrooms erupts in South Dakota

South Dakota could soon become the first state in the nation to pass legislation that would ban students from using public school bathrooms, locker rooms and showers that are opposite from their biological sex.

“I’m concerned about what I see happening in schools across our country,” said Rep. Fred Deutsch, a Republican from Florence who introduced a bill last week that would ban transgender students from using school facilities opposite from their biological sex.

    "Federal bureaucrats, without the force of federal law, are threatening to withhold federal funding from schools that do not allow transgender students full, unrestricted access to facilities of the opposite biological sex. I don’t want that to happen in South Dakota. And I especially don’t want our children to be required by the federal government to shower, change or use restrooms with other young people of the opposite biological sex"

The bill, HB 1008, passed the House last week by a vote of 58 to 10. The measure is expected to be taken up by the Senate this week.

Left-leaning groups like the Human Rights Campaign said the bill is “nothing more than a vile attack on students who are already vulnerable to high rates of discrimination and harassment.”

“The South Dakota House of Representatives’ vote in favor of discrimination against transgender students is alarming and appalling,” said JoDee Winterhof, HRC senior vice president for Policy and Political Affairs at the Human Rights Council, in a press release. “Fair-minded South Dakotans absolutely must stand up now and demand their lawmakers in the Senate stop this hateful legislation from moving any further.”

The legislation requires that a “reasonable accommodation” be made for students asserting their gender is different from their biological sex, and described a reasonable accommodation as “one that does not impose an undue hardship on a school district,” “a single-occupancy restroom,” “a unisex restroom,” or the “controlled use of a restroom, locker room or shower room that is designated for use by faculty.”

Deutch views his legislation as a necessary response to what he considers “aggressive” actions on behalf of the Obama administration to ensure schools comply with guidance they issued in April 2014.

That guidance states that Title IX protects transgender students from sex discrimination.

Title IX is the federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program that receives federal funding. Prior to the 2014 issued guidance, it was unclear whether or not the law applied to students using sex-segregated facilities.

If schools do not comply with Title IX laws, they could be at risk of losing their federal funding.

Last year, a school in Palatine, Ill., experienced that first-hand, when the Department of Education threatened to strip them of millions of dollars in federal funding for refusing to grant a transgender student who was born male but identifies as female full, unrestrained access to the girls locker rooms.

In its investigation, the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights ruled that Township High School District 211 had discriminated against the student “on the basis of sex.”

However, that ruling conflicts with two decisions handed down in Pennsylvania and Virginia, where courts ruled that Title IX does not apply to the issue of transgender students using sex-segregated facilities.

A similar case in Fairfax, Va., could elevate the legal debate. There, a teen who was born female but identifies as male is taking the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, where its decision could have a national impact.


Thursday, February 04, 2016

Meet the British students fighting campus censorship

If there’s one thing that really gets on my nerves, it’s the idea that students today are uniquely intolerant. The explosion of campus censorship in recent years has made bashing campus politicos a kind of commentariat pastime, with fortysomething columnists wheeling the little blue-haired pillocks out each week to give them a good kicking. But while the students’ union censors deserve everything they get, all too often campus censorship has been painted as a generational phenomenon – as if undergraduates appeared from the womb with a Safe Space policy in hand.

This is a copout. It distracts from the profound, long-running trends that have undermined the value of free speech, both on campus and beyond. What’s more, it gives the campus censors too much credit, and the vast majority of students too little. Every time a speaker, a newspaper, a pop song or a novelty hat is banned on campus, the students’ union hides behind two words: democratic mandate. But, as anyone who’s ever met a student knows, students’ union officials represent no one other than their own prudish selves.

The closing of the campus-radical mind, the transformation of students’ unions from outlets for young people’s ideas and ambitions to glorified therapy centres, has driven the vast majority of students away. To pin the blame for campus intolerance on all students, most of whom will never have voted in an SU election, is to downplay the scandal of campus censorship. Students’ unions across the country are smearing their own members as soft-headed simpletons, unable to handle views they might find offensive and only ever one lads’ mag away from a spot on the sex offenders’ register.

But this is not to say that students are apathetic. Far from it. As SUs have become more and more intolerant, switched-on students have merely taken their discussions elsewhere. What’s more, as petty authoritarianism has crept into all corners of campus life, regulating not just the speakers they can hear but even the chat-up lines they can deploy, it’s gotten more and more undergrad backs up.

Over the past three years, through our work on our campus campaign Down With Campus Censorship! and our groundbreaking Free Speech University Rankings, we’ve met hundreds of students who are sick of being patronised. And, in the wake of the huge splash made by our FSUR 2016 findings last week, many of them have already made waves of their own.

At the London School of Economics, former spiked intern Charlie Parker has launched the LSESU Speakeasy, which has already hit headlines in the Evening Standard. Meanwhile, in Edinburgh, spiked writers Blair Spowart and Charlie Peters have been covered in pretty much every outlet north of the border after setting up their own spiked-affiliated group, which will be making mischief in the Teviot this term.

From London to the Lothian, we’ll be working with students across the country this year to help them make mischief and have out the hard arguments against campus censorship. But there’s plenty that’s been bubbling away already. Today, in the run-up to our conference, ‘The New Intolerance on Campus’, at Conway Hall in London on 17 February, we’ve put together a series of exclusive video interviews with some of the campus freedom fighters we’ve met on the campaign trail.


How ‘progressive’ education patronises the poor

Tarjinder Gill

Deprivation is, it seems, destiny for children in British schools. Or at least it is according to Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers. Bousted recently used her column in the Times Educational Supplement to berate ‘those now in charge of education’ who have the temerity to ‘refuse to accept that teachers alone cannot compensate for the lost life chances of poor children’.

Bousted is critical of those she describes as being ‘great adherents of ED Hirsch and his powerful knowledge curriculum’ who refuse to accept that children living in poverty ‘find a narrow academic curriculum, topped off by timed exams, alien to their lives and their interests’.

Schools cannot and should not attempt to solve all of society’s problems. Teachers are already expected to spend too much time promoting citizenship, character, healthy eating and anti-bullying initiatives. However, this does not mean that poverty is an excuse for low educational attainment. Children from poor families are every bit as capable of mastering a rigorous academic curriculum as their wealthier peers.

Fortunately, a growing number of teachers now take this view and have high expectations for all their pupils no matter what their home circumstances might be like. Unfortunately, this group of teachers is now Bousted’s sights – she accuses it of being the ‘New Blob’. The original ‘Blob’ was, of course, former education secretary Michael Gove’s derogatory label for those who stood in the way of his reforms.

If the New Blob comprises those who do not accept poverty as an excuse for low attainment, then count me in. Progressive education, idealised and promoted by the original Blob, of which Bousted was proud to declare herself a member, has become deeply entrenched in British schools. It has proved itself to be toxic to the life chances of the poorest in our society.

Back in the 1960s, prime minister Harold Wilson backed a comprehensive education system on the promise that it would effectively provide grammar schools for all. Alas, this was not to be. Instead, the knowledge-rich grammar school curriculum was attacked as ‘middle class’ and ‘elitist’. Teachers, trained by progressive educationalists in universities, started to enshrine prejudice against working-class children into the core of the education system, at the same time as flying the banner of equality.

A commitment to teaching the ‘best that has been thought and said’ has been replaced by an array of educational fads. Teachers are encouraged to focus on ‘relevance’, only teaching topics of ‘interest’ to less well-off children. However, such a focus merely reinforces existing inequalities. The obsession with ‘relevance’ means that, by virtue of their differing experiences and backgrounds, middle-class children benefit from a richer curriculum than their working-class peers.

'Discovery’ or ‘inquiry’ learning similarly reinforces inequalities as it promotes the view that children should discover knowledge for themselves rather than being directly taught. Instead of standing on the shoulders of giants, children end up sitting in a deep, sandy pit of their own ignorance. Is it any wonder that some give up?

Our success as human beings stems from our ability to learn from, and build upon, what is already known. The focus on ‘relevance’ and ‘discovery’ is driven by a fear of authoritarianism. However, this anti-authoritarian approach to teaching is not anti-authoritarian at all; rather, it gives children power and responsibility they are unable to exercise wisely.

A BBC Panorama documentary on the state of British schools, ‘The Best Days of Their Lives?’, was filmed the year of my birth (1977). The programme depicted the breakdown of discipline in the classroom, which resulted from the political undermining of the authority of the teacher. Similar scenes are still being replicated today.

An inability to evaluate or revise practices deemed to be ‘progressive’, and, if necessary, try a different approach, demonstrates the education establishment’s unflinching commitment to such ideas. It also shows a wilful ignorance of the collective experience of thousands of teachers.

The failure of so-called progressive teaching methods has not led to a culture of excuse-making. ‘Sort out poverty, deprivation, home circumstances, racism and sexism’, the progressives cry, ‘and our methods will eradicate bad behaviour and enable these children to succeed’. In the meantime, poor children are treated as collateral damage. Badly behaved pupils are allowed to disrupt the learning of other pupils and are lavished with special attention. This neither supports the child with behaviour problems nor their classmates.

This common occurrence stems from the idea that educating poor children is secondary to meeting their pastoral needs. But even if this were true for a small number of children, it should not be the basis of all teaching.

Bousted is right, the ‘reality of poverty is unsavoury’. However, perhaps unlike her, I have lived in poverty and had an education that transformed my life, enabling me to escape it. In order to back up her claims, Bousted must pretend that I and all those like me don’t exist. Such ‘progressives’ fail to recognise teachers, like those that taught me, were able to guide us to repeated academic success.

It’s an unpleasant truth that the ideology Bousted and her supporters espouse continues to fail poor children up and down the country. Challenge government policy by all means, but remember this: it is the duty of those for whom education offered a brighter future to make sure that ladder is not pulled up.


Illinois' reform governor says state preparing to take over Chicago Public Schools

Fifty years of financial and classroom failure is too much for Illinois' Republican reform governor.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

"Gov. Bruce Rauner on Tuesday said he's preparing for a state takeover of Chicago Public Schools and has told state Board of Education members to start looking for an interim superintendent for the city’s cash strapped school district.

At a news conference in Springfield to discuss legislation that would change the state's procurement process, Rauner said he's already told the state Board of Education to begin the process of identifying who can take over as superintendent of CPS.

"The state's going to be ready to step in and take action," Rauner said a day after the Chicago Teachers Union rejected a contract proposal from CPS.

"I asked our administration. I believe it's coming. I believe a state takeover is appropriate," Rauner said"

CPS, whose bonds are rated as junk, recently proposed a budget that includes deep cuts in spending as it faces enormous pension obligations. The Chicago Teachers Union, whose members apparently aren't very good at math, calls the proposed budget "an act of war."


Wednesday, February 03, 2016

UK: Is this the ultimate in molly-coddling? Primary school send letter home with test results telling children scores don't matter and 'you must celebrate you'

Not very good for their social development.  Nobody likes an egotist

A primary school in Northern Ireland has sent a heart-warming message to its pupils on transfer exam results day telling them that scores do not matter and 'you must celebrate you'.

The lovely letter, which was sent to students at the Harmony Hill Primary School in Lisburn, encourages them not to feel disappointed if they did not get the results they were hoping for.

The headteacher Mr H. Greer warned the pupils that 'in life things don't always work out the way we want them to' and urged them not to give up easily 'when the going gets tough'.

The letter reads: 'Before you open the envelope with your score in it, we want you to read tips first.'

'Inside the envelope is a score. It's a score you've been waiting for but it might not be the score you've been hoping for. If that's the case, it's only natural that you will feel disappointed.'

'We will be very sorry about that and will feel disappointed 'for you' too - but we won't feel disappointed 'in you'.'

'Unfortunately, in life, things don't always work out the way we want them to and it can take a little time to sort out the feelings and thoughts we can have when that happens. '

'We know that each one of you has worked very hard and with a great attitude.'

'No score can ever take that away from you. In fact, we believe that your attitude and who you are as a person is much more important that any mark on a test.'

'Who you are and the attitudes you have will travel with you to whatever school is fortunate enough to have you as one of their new pupils in September. That is so important.'

'You are quite simply 'unique' and we are very proud of you.'

'Make us proud whatever school you go to. Don't give up easily when the going gets tough.'

'Grow up to be kind, caring, generous, loving adults who make a positive difference to this world by how you live your life.'

'Remember the score in the envelope is just a mark for some tests. It cannot measure how amazing you are. So , no matter what happens in the next few minutes, today you must celebrate YOU.' 


Detroit Teachers Sue to Remove Leadership

After working under Emergency Manager Darnell Earley since 2013, teachers in Detroit Public Schools had enough. Their union, the Detroit Federation of Teachers, filed suit, calling for removing Earley and placing the district that educates 46,000 students once again under local control.

The suit also requires the district create an “appropriately funded capital plan,” because, as the teachers union implied, the emergency manager put in place to pull the district out of its $515 million in debt was essentially making it up as he went along.

Commentator John C. Goodman painted a dire picture of the school, where buildings rot, cockroaches roam and test scores show students are not getting the education they need. For example, only 27% of Detroit’s fourth graders were proficient in reading in 2012, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress exam.

As we’ve said in the past, if Obama ran a city, it would look like Detroit. Michigan has managed Detroit Public Schools' finances since 2009. Big, central government came to the public schools' aid, and didn’t do the students any favors.


Australia: New figures show one in five children starting school don’t have the skills to learn properly

LITERACY levels of Australian children are worsening in a "slow motion disaster", with new analysis revealing one in five children who started school this year already don’t have the skills to learn properly.

The shock finding is contained in yet-to-be-released work by the Centre for Independent Studies that cements the fact a young child’s vocabulary is one of the most powerful predictors of later school success.

But 20 per cent of students, and 30 per cent from disadvantaged areas, don’t understand enough words when they enter school to be able to learn how to read or follow other subjects properly.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham has seized on the new findings to call on parents to make reading a priority, saying they have to be part of the solution to Australia’s lagging literacy levels that have fallen behind other countries since 2000.

"We’re absolutely at a critical point where we do need to ensure that Australian parents recognise that they all have responsibilities that sit alongside what happens in an early learning context and in a school environment," Senator Birmingham said.

Centre for Independent Studies research fellow Dr Jennifer Buckingham dubbed the slide in literacy as a "slow motion disaster rolling on" and is working on new analysis for a "Five from Five" launch in March of reading resources for parents, schools and governments.

She said children being read to learnt vocabulary; concepts like "under" and "over"; word sounds and exposed them to new words and meanings that spoken language didn’t.

"They have built up this store of knowledge so that then when they learn to read ... it really is just unlocking the codes to words they already know," she said.

"In the same way you immunise your child against infectious disease, the best way to immunise your child against future reading failure is to read to them every day from a very young age," Professor Oberklaid said.

Professor Oberklaid said it was not about "hot housing" or creating "baby Einsteins", but feeding the developing brain.


Tuesday, February 02, 2016

The Left are still obsessed with race

The report below is from  Boston.  It is race-obsessed.  The carefully set-out categorization of students by race is reminiscent of apartheid South Africa.  But why does race matter? The school is an academically selective one, which is why its students get good results. So the students who are there are there because of their ability.  And blacks are simply less able as judged by the school's admission criteria.  So admitting less able black students would simply destroy the basis of the school's success and do nothing for the blacks concerned.

And there is nothing even slightly surprising in fewer black enrollees in a selective school.  The "gap" between black and white educational achievement is well-known. And that gap too is totally unsurprising in view of a century of research which regularly shows very low average IQs among blacks.  It would be surprising if blacks regularly did well at school.  Their educational performance validates the IQ test figures.

But the Left dream of all men being equal so repeatedly refuse to accept the obvious -- and look for something other than IQ as an explanation for low black educational aptitude.  They have never found one -- despite decades of trying.

And the decline in black enrollments is no mystery either.  The school is not allowed to implement "affirmative action" now.  Only blatant racism will let you get around low black average IQ.

And I must say that I find the emphasis on the school "supporting" students rather wrong-headed.  The students are there to be taught, not to be "supported".  They won't be "supported" when they go out into the workforce.  "Supporting" them gives them altogether the wrong life-lessons.  Families are the place for support, not schools

And I am quite sure that the incidents of "racism" reported below are very few and far-between at the school. And such incidents as there are would be more likely to be a product of hyper-sensitivity among blacks rather than anything intentional by the white speaker.  There is such huge censoriousness about any mention of race in conversation throughout American society that any overtly "racist" student would be taking great risks

Twenty years ago, some 23 percent of students at Boston Latin School were black, giving hundreds of African-American teenagers access to the city’s top public high school and a springboard to elite colleges.

Today, just 9 percent of Latin students are black, and only 12 percent are Hispanic, levels far lower than the city’s other two exam schools — Boston Latin Academy and O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science — and markedly out of step with the district as a whole.

The percentage of black students who attend Latin School has declined each year since 2010, state data show, reaching its lowest mark since at least the mid-1990s.

The disparity lends context to recent complaints of racism that have roiled the school, prompted a School Department investigation, and raised questions about the cause — and consequences — of low enrollment of students of color at the competitive exam school.

Some Latin School students and alumni say the decline has contributed to a climate where students of color are marginalized and racial epithets are thrown around all too casually.

Boston school officials will look at whether administrators did not discipline students who harassed black classmates.

In the 13 days since a student group launched a social media campaign to raise awareness of alleged racism at the school, some parents, alumni, and close observers of the school system have said the issues are longstanding and have even deterred some students from enrolling.

“I know of parents of color [whose children] will score high enough to get into Latin, but will choose Latin Academy because they are concerned about the culture, a feeling that their students won’t be supported in the way that they need,” said Kim Janey, senior project director at Massachusetts Advocates for Children, a Boston nonprofit.

Larger demographic trends have also played a role in reducing diversity at the school. The percentage of black students who attend Boston public schools has dropped from 48 percent in 1996 to 32 percent this year.

That citywide decline appears to be one cause of the long-term decline in black enrollment at Latin School, where seats are coveted due to high academic performance that makes it among the top feeder schools to Harvard and other prestigious colleges. Last year, every student at the school scored proficient or advanced on the English and math sections of the MCAS tests.

Another cause of shrinking black enrollment at the school is a 1995 lawsuit that led the Boston School Committee the following year to eliminate racial quotas that had, since the era of court-mandated school desegregation, reserved 35 percent of exam school seats for black and Hispanic students.

Since then, the number of black students at Latin School has dropped by 60 percent. Over the same period, the school’s Hispanic population has grown by less than 1 percent, even as the percentage of Hispanic students across the district has increased by almost 70 percent.

The school is a magnet for white and Asian students, which is unusual in the Boston system. Nearly half of Latin School students are white, compared to 14 percent districtwide. The number of white students at the school has declined slightly over the past 20 years, but not nearly as quickly as their representation in the district as a whole.

Almost 30 percent of Latin School students are Asian, compared to 9 percent across the city. That portion has swelled from just 17 percent two decades ago, when the district had over 1,100 more Asian students.

Boston public school officials said in a statement Thursday that although a 1998 court order banned the district from considering race in exam-school admittance, it is working to “increase diversity and cultural proficiency at these schools and those across the district.”

Under Superintendent Tommy Chang, the district is trying to close achievement gaps and increase the acceptance of black and Hispanic students into exam schools, in part by offering more preparation courses for the entrance exam, the statement said. Currently, only one is offered.

Scores on the exam, which students can take in the sixth and eighth grade, are combined with grade-point averages to determine admission into the three schools.

The present controversy surfaced last week, when two [black] Latin School seniors — Meggie Noel and Kylie Webster-Cazeau — said in a YouTube video that black students are routinely subjected to racial slurs and insensitive remarks.

They accused administrators of failing to discipline students for racist behavior and called on classmates to share stories of racist experiences on social media, using the hashtag #BlackAtBls. The social media campaign has since expanded to high schools across the district.

In response, school officials said they would investigate the students’ charges and provide mandatory training for school leaders on how to respond to reports of bias.

This week, Chang and Mayor Martin J. Walsh met separately with students to discuss their concerns and praised the students for sparking a discussion about diversity and inclusion.

“This struggle is not new to Boston,” Chang said at Wednesday’s School Committee meeting, where Noel and Webster-Cazeau spoke. “We are ready to listen and act on [the student advocates’] behalf.”

Omékongo Dibinga, who teaches at American University in Washington, D.C., said in an interview that he experienced racism when he attended Latin School in the 1990s.

Dibinga said there were times he was disciplined more harshly than white students for the same offenses, and that when he ran for senior class president some white students wore white sheets in protest. They were not disciplined, he said.

Dibinga said he wasn’t surprised such issues have persisted. Declining black enrollment, he said, may have made matters worse and discouraged parents from choosing the school.

“Black families are very sensitive about how their children are going to be perceived,” Dibinga said. “If parents feel like nothing has changed, or maybe even gotten worse, why would they subject their child to that?”

Janey, of the children’s advocacy group, said her sister was one of many black students of their generation who entered the Latin School in the 1980s but eventually transferred because they did not find a nurturing environment.

“There is, from the people I know personally, a feeling that there wasn’t the support there needed to help navigate through,” she said.

But Ernani DeAraujo, an attorney and former city official, said he saw high attrition among students of all backgrounds, and he did not remember feeling isolated or experiencing racism as one of few Latino students at the school in the 1990s. At the time, he said, Latin School warned incoming students to expect three hours of homework each night.

With more than 2,400 students, Latin School is the largest public school in Boston. And because of its high academic expectations, it is widely considered one of the most difficult.

But for many students, especially those of limited means, the exam school provides a route to top colleges and career paths that would have otherwise been closed, DeAraujo said.

“A year at Phillips Andover or at Choate costs more than my mom’s annual income at that time,” he said, naming two top private schools. “So to get that quality of education at a public school is just amazing. I wouldn’t be where I am today without it.”

Complaints of racism at Latin School are not new, said Rosann Tung, a Brown University researcher who has studied Boston’s public schools. Tung said black and Hispanic students are substantially underrepresented at the prestigious school.

“It’s a systemic opportunity gap,” she said.


UK: The value of a university degree is being undermined because too many students can't read or count properly

Too many students who cannot read and count properly are going to university which is undermining the 'currency' of a degree, a major international report said today.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said a three year undergraduate was too expensive and unsuitable for people with poor literacy and numeracy.

And it warned the removal of a cap on student numbers could make the problem worse.

Some 7 per cent of 20 to 34 year old graduates in England have numeracy skills below 'level two' - considered to be enough to properly read a car's fuel gauge.

The report found some 3.4 per cent of graduates are below this level for literacy, defined as being able to understand the label on a bottle of aspirin. 

For numeracy, this is worse than in other nations - including Australia, Ireland, Poland, Italy and Spain, the report shows.

Around one in five young university graduates can manage basic tasks, but struggle with more complex problems, it adds.

'Those with low basic skills should not normally enter three-year undergraduate programmes, which are both costly and unsuited to the educational needs of those involved, while graduates with poor basic skills undermine the currency of an English university degree.'

These would-be students should be encouraged to take alternative, professional courses that will help to boost their levels of literacy and numeracy, while more needs to be done in universities to help students with intermediate levels in the basics to develop their skills.

It also suggests that preventing universities from graduating students that have low basic skills could help to raise achievement.

The report, based on an international survey conducted in 2012, goes on to warn that while England has more young people graduating from university than many other countries, many young people are not well-prepared for degree study as the basic skills of those teenagers who may go into higher education is much weaker than elsewhere.

Overall, a third of 16 to 19-year-olds are struggling with the basics - three times as many as in countries such as Finland, Japan, Korea and the Netherlands.

In 2012, in England, 70 per cent of youngsters in this age group were in education or training that would lead to a formal qualification, compared to almost all young people in many other nations, the survey says.

The OECD warns: 'In England, the weak basic skills of young adults compared with other countries can be traced back to a lower standard of performance at the end of initial education.'

'The priority of priorities is to improve the standard of basic schooling in England,' it adds.

The report notes that a raft of reforms have been introduced, including an overhaul of qualifications, raising the age that youngsters must stay in education or training to 18 and a decision that any teenager who does not gain at least a C at GCSE in English or maths must continue with the subject.

It is too early to assess the impact of these reforms, the OECD says, but adds that 'their objectives are clearly the right ones'.

The organisation does note that the move to lift the cap on university numbers could worsen the problem of students with low basic skills.

Overall, there are an estimated nine million working-age adults in England with literacy or numeracy skills, or both, the report says.

A Government spokeswoman said: 'Good English and maths skills are essential to success in later life, and thanks to our reforms thousands more students are leaving education with these vital skills.

'While we are pleased the OECD recognises the progress we have made, we are not complacent, and will maintain our relentless focus on literacy and numeracy so all young people have the chance to succeed.'


Rotten Academia: Professor Who Praises Jihadis Still Teaches, Jihad Critic Doesn't

To understand just how depraved today's college campuses are, compare the treatment of two professors - one defending a Western, pro-American democracy (Israel) and the other suspected of supporting this century's most gruesome Islamist terror organization, the Islamic State ("ISIS").

Julio Pino, an associate history professor at Kent State University, is under investigation by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security for potential ties to ISIS.

Pino's jihadist leanings and virulently anti-Israel rants on social media include possible threats against the U.S. government. In 2002, he praised a teenage Palestinian suicide bomber who had killed two people in Jerusalem, saying that the teen had "died a martyr's death in occupied Jerusalem, Palestine."

In a 2014 open letter to "academic friends of Israel," Pino published an unhinged and anti-Semitic invective: "I hold you directly responsible for the murder of over 1,400 Palestinian children, women and elderly civilians over the past month...[w]hile The Chosen drain the blood of innocents without apologies you hide behind the mask of academic objectivity, nobility of research and the reward of teaching to foreign youth - in a segregated university, of course." Pino closed the letter with: "Jihad until victory!"

Despite decades of hateful and extremist rants, Kent State reportedly gave Pino multiple awards, including the Faculty Excellence Award in 2010, 2003, 2000 and 1996, along with the Professional Excellence Award in 1999 and 1997.

Kent State remains comfortable with him in the classroom despite the over-the-top rhetoric and news of a federal investigation. The Kent Stater, the university's student newspaper, provided him with a video platform to defend himself, and the editorial board wrote that "it is too soon to make a judgment on the investigation..."

Contrast Pino's case with Connecticut College's treatment of professor Andrew Pessin for defending Israel in its 2014 war with Hamas (a State Department-designated terrorist organization).

Over half a year after Pessin's Facebook post critiquing Hamas, the student newspaper at Connecticut College launched a surprise character assassination by publishing three editorials condemning Pessin (including on the front page), without giving him a chance to defend himself against libelous accusations of racism.

In a reportedly packed auditorium Connecticut College President Katherine Bergeron said that she was "disappointed by the language" of Pessin's post, which "seemed to show poor judgment," and she praised "the valor of the students who responded to these incidents by exercising their own right of free speech with confidence and intellectual acuity." These statements by Bergeron (as of this writing) continue to appear on the college's web site, long after a Washington Post column cited available evidence to make a compelling case that the allegations against Pessin were politically motivated lies.

More absurdly, Bergeron promised to "review our social media policies to ensure they include appropriate advisory language about respectful expression," even as her administration continues to allow the school's student newspaper to host libels against Pessin alongside anti-Semitic rants. As if public condemnation of Pessin weren't enough, the administration continues to display statements from scores of academic departments, school officials, student associations, and other college affiliates, denouncing Pessin on the official Connecticut College website. As of this writing, no other issue or speech is similarly scrutinized or condemned on the school's official web site.

At the same public forum last March, Bergeron also promised to update the school's "protocol for bias incidents so that those who come forward under these circumstances are well served by the process."

Too bad her lofty commitments proved empty after the bias incidents against Jewish students at the school last December, when Conn Students in Solidarity with Palestine ("CSSP") placed posters around campus bashing Birthright, a program that helps young people travel to Israel. The CSSP posters call the program a form of "settler colonialism" and demonize Israel.

As Phyllis Chesler reported, the administration's spinelessly neutral response was to "recognize CSSP's right to share its perspective [and] the right of members of the community to express their disagreement with the posters' characterization of the Birthright program."

Anti-Israel sentiment is therefore welcome on bulletin boards throughout Connecticut College's campus, regardless of whether it is true. But the "poor judgment" Andrew Pessin showed in a Facebook post merits his absence from campus for at least a year, especially in comparison with "the valor of the students" who refused to accept his apology and his immediate clarification that he was speaking only about the Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

It gets much worse. In her article attacking Pessin last March, Lamiya Khandakeradmits that she was Pessin's student but "never felt victimized in class," even as she claims in the same op-ed to "feel unsafe" because of a barely noticed Facebook post published eight months earlier. This led to protests, petitions and, finally, to Pessin's leave of absence, which continues today.

If Bergeron wants to review school policies to be sure people behave appropriately, she should start by reviewing Connecticut College's honor code. Khandaker's actions seem to violate several provisions.

She failed to "respect...the dignity of" Professor Pessin by publicly attributing repugnant views to him that he doesn't actually hold; and her actions, which viciously libeled Pessin, were neither "thoughtful" nor "ethical."

Nevertheless, Khandaker was apparently never sanctioned for defaming a faculty member or violating the school's honor system, and was allowed to keep her position as the student government chair of "equity and diversity" at Connecticut College.

Khandaker kept that position even though she reportedly scoffed at anti-Semitismand called for Israel's destruction on her Facebook page.

It's an elected position, school spokeswoman Pamela Serfes said last fall, and the administration "does not select or pre-qualify candidates, nor would it seek to remove duly elected office holders with whom it may disagree."

Would the same be true if a white student publicly dismissed concerns about racism and called for the destruction of a black-majority state?

Connecticut College did not respond.

Why not? Probably because the Connecticut College administration had doubled down on its support for anti-Semites and anti-Israel haters, by granting Khandaker the "Scholar Activist Award" last spring. They must understand how insane that looks because they also refused to comment about or even confirm giving her that award.

To recap, not only did the Connecticut College administration participate in the character assassination of a professor who did nothing more than criticize Hamas, it rewarded those behind the campaign to silence their school's only openly pro-Israel professor. Then, when CSSP spread its vitriol in anti-Israel posters with no effective voice on campus to counter their hateful propaganda, the administration issued a spinelessly neutral statement while students were on break.

Meanwhile, the school refuses to apologize to Pessin, who is still not on campus.

At worst, Pessin made one statement that was subject to interpretation. He insists he never meant what Khandaker thinks, and neither she nor the faculty who piled on Pessin have come up with anything else on his record to merit the hysterical response.

Pino, on the other hand, is still teaching at Kent State and receives far more support from his school's newspaper. Taxpayer-funded Kent State has given Pino many teaching awards over the years, unlike Pessin, who has never received any award in his decade of teaching at Connecticut College (student ratings of Pessin's teaching average 4.2 out of 5; Pino's rating is 2.7). There was no campus-wide talk where Pino was condemned in front of the community and the media. A statement by President Beverly Warren seems primarily intended to reassure the community that there is no related terrorism or security threat.

In a 2014 video experiment, Ami Horowitz captured the bafflingly different campus attitudes towards Israel versus ISIS. Things have clearly gotten worse since then. If George Orwell were observing academia, he would remark that "All speech is equal, but anti-Israel speech is more equal than others."

As Hamilton Foundation president Christian Whiton notes, "Diversity to college administrators means a Benetton ad - an obsession with race and ethnicity - not true diversity of thought." Indeed, the worldview promoted by the tyranny of political correctness breeds a new generation of radicals friendly to Islamist regimes, values, and trends, and hostile to the U.S., Israel, and Western values in general.

This is the morally bankrupt climate in which America's future is being educated. We're in trouble.


Monday, February 01, 2016

Tennessee Common Core Teaches One Nation Under Allah

The perils of one-size-fits all top-down government-controlled education reared its ugly head once again with the news that TN Core, Tennessee’s version of the national Common Core, middle school students in the Maury County School District were required to recite and write, “Allah is the only god,” as part of a history project, as Breitbart News reported:

In the Maury County School District, students were assigned a Five Pillars of Islam project that included the translation of the pillar of “Shahada” as being, “There is no god but Allah; Muhammad is his prophet.”

Joy Ellis, the mother of a seventh-grader at Spring Hill Middle School, said that Christian children should not be instructed to write the Shahada.

“This is a seventh grade state standard, and will be on the TCAP,” Ellis said. “I didn’t have a problem with the history of Islam being taught, but to go so far as to make my child write the Shahada, is unacceptable.”

TCAP is the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program which evaluates the performance of students under TN Core and how well they’ve learned these standardized lessons. But judging from what is and is not being taught, TACP and TN Core seem to have as a goal, no child left unindoctrinated.

Another Tennessee middle school parent, Brandee Porterfield, appeared on “Fox and Friends” and objected to the fact that no other religion was being taught in this way, requiring the recitation of a central creed, such as the Lord’s Prayer or the Beatitudes:

"They did this assignment where they wrote out the Five Pillars of Islam, including having the children learn and write the Shahada, which is the Islamic conversion creed," she explained.

Porterfield said she spoke with the Spring Hill Middle School teacher and principal, who said there would not be similar lessons on Christianity and Judaism…

"They don't study any other religions to this extent... It is the state sponsoring religion in schools. They're not going over anything else. For the students to have to memorize this prayer, it does seem like it's indoctrination," said Porterfield.

Teaching about religions in a historical context is one thing. Actually teaching the tenets of a religion are quite another, certainly when liberals constantly reminding us of the separation of church and state -- which appears nowhere in the U.S. Constitution -- and objecting to things like a moment of silence to start the school day or reciting “one nation under God” as part of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Lesson plans developed under the auspices of Common Core have been developed to indoctrinate children on many ideological fronts, including one lesson plan Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) pointed out in 2013 painted President Barack Obama as nothing short of a Messiah himself:

A language-arts lesson plan for third-, fourth- and fifth-graders has been developed around the book "Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope," in which the author, Nikki Grimes, paints the 44th president as nothing short of a messianic figure. The description of the associated lesson plan by Sherece Bennett boasts that it is officially "aligned" with the Common Core State Standards Initiative, an attempt to standardize various K-12 curricula around the country that has drawn national opposition...

The book notes Obama's struggle with his identity and uses it to slip in a biblical reference, one that would violate the left's definition of the separation of church and state. Late in the book, Obama dramatically changes his name from Barry to Barack.

"One morning, he slipped on the name he'd been born with. The name of his father, Barack. For the first time in his life, he wore it proudly -- like a coat of many colors," the story goes, an obvious reference to Genesis 37:3, in which Joseph, the favorite son of Jacob, receives a "coat of many colors."

Worksheets that were developed by Common Core for its national English Standards asked students to rewrite sentences that IBD noted contained “subliminal messages”:

…subliminal messages in a worksheet that asks students to rewrite sentences to make them "less wordy." Sentences like, "The commands of government officials must be obeyed by all."

The worksheets, published by New Jersey-based Pearson Education, ask fifth-graders to edit such sentences as "(The president) makes sure the laws of the country are fair," and "The wants of an individual are less important than the well-being of the nation."

That last sentence sounds suspiciously like the old Marxist axiom "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs."

The TN Core middle school requirement to learn the teachings of Islam is just the latest examples of how the nation that achieved greatness with the proverbial “little red schoolhouse” as the norm has allowed its schools to be transformed into liberal reeducation camps where children are taught what to read, not how to read, and even what to think.

This is why we need school choice and vouchers, so that students don’t have to check their beliefs with someone standing in the schoolhouse door and forcibly be indoctrinated as to what to believe by agents of the state. You can teach the three Rs without using schools as tools for social engineering.


British schools regulator tells school leaders a return to the grammar system would be ‘economic suicide’ for England

His ideal of excellence for all has been in vogue for decades now.  It has been an acknowledged failure.  What makes Wilshaw still think it can work?  He's dreaming

The chief inspector of schools has said a return to the grammar school system in England would be 'economic suicide'.

Ofsted head Sir Michael Wilshaw told a conference of Catholic school leaders in London that dividing students by academic ability was not what the country needs anymore.

Grammar schools were a key part of the education system in this country in the 1960s and 1970s which gave an education to the most academically gifted 20-25 per cent of pupils.

According to the Guardian, Sir Michael said: 'What we need – because the economy is now so different from when I started teaching – is for more young people to do better than ever before.

'I’m a big supporter of comprehensive education. It can work, one size does not have to fit all – if schools have great leadership it can work.'

Speaking at the Catholic Association of Teachers Schools and Colleges annual conference, he added: 'Unless we raise the performance of disadvantaged pupils in general, and the white working class in particular, we stand little chance of becoming a more economically productive nation or a more socially cohesive one.'

It comes after a grammar school in Kent was granted permission by the government to open a selective satellite school in Sevenoaks last October.

The move could open the door for a new wave of grammars, and at least eight more regions are preparing applications for extensions at local schools, according to The Daily Telegraph.

Labour passed a law in 1998 banning the creation of new grammar schools, but an existing school can expand if it can prove there is sufficient demand.

Sir Michael also moved to reassure faith schools that they have 'nothing to fear' from Ofsted's new plans to inspect how a school is preparing pupils for life in modern Britain.

As reported, he said society is becoming increasingly 'secular and materialistic', with 'seemingly ever greater intolerance of other people's beliefs'.

Young people can easily 'have their heads turned and lose sight of what really matters' while in other parts of the world, such as the Middle East, Christians are suffering 'brutal persecution' simply for 'what they believe', he argued.

But schools can help to instill good morals and values such as tolerance and compassion, the Ofsted chief suggested.

Sir Michael was brought up in a Roman Catholic household in south London in the 1950s and was headteacher of St Bonaventure's Catholic Comprehensive School in Forest Gate, East London, before becoming executive principal of Mossbourne Community Academy in nearby Hackney.


Statue of Cecil Rhodes will remain at Oxford University's Oriel College

Campaigners calling for a statue of 'racist' Cecil Rhodes to be pulled down have vowed to fight on after Oxford University's Oriel College decided not to remove it amid fears it could lose £100million in donations.

The governing body of the college has ruled out taking the controversial statue down, after it was claimed that £1.5 million of gifts had already been cancelled and Oriel could miss out on more money if it bowed to the campaign to remove it.

Furious organisers of the Rhodes Must Fall student campaign today vowed to fight the 'outrageous' decision to keep the statue in place, as the college maintained the decision was not down to financial reasons.

Oriel said it received an 'enormous amount of input' when it consulted on whether to keep the statue, including the Rhodes Must Fall petition, signed by more than 2,000 people.

A small but vocal group of protesters led by Ntokozo Qwabe, who himself benefited from the Rhodes scholarship, argued that the statue should be toppled because the imperialist was a racist.

Reacting to the announcement that the statue would stay, Rhodes Must Fall said in a statement: 'This recent move is outrageous, dishonest, and cynical.

'This is not over. We will be redoubling our efforts and meeting over the weekend to discuss our next actions.' The group added: 'The struggle continues.'

Mr Qwabe wrote on his Facebook page: 'The decision by Oriel College to unilaterally reverse its public commitments on Rhodes, without any consultation, basically reminds us that black lives are cheap at Oxford.  'Oriel has basically said: f*** all the black people. Who cares about black lives & the concerns of BME (black and minority ethnic) Oxford students anyways?' 

According to the Daily Telegraph, had the Rhodes Must Fall movement been successful it could have left the college - which is a charity and needs donations to help balance the books - in financial ruin.

The paper reported that the money under threat comes from the will of a single donor – it is understood that donors were astonished that the college was considering launching a six-month consultation over whether the statue of the college’s biggest benefactor should be taken down.

But Oriel College denied that money fears were behind the decision, and a spokesman said the college 'does not depend on donations to fund its operations'.  'The financial implications were absolutely not the overriding consideration - not even a major factor in the decision that was made,' he said.

In a statement to the Telegraph, the spokesman said: ‘Following careful consideration, the College’s governing body has decided that the statue should remain in place.'  The college added: 'The overwhelming message we have received has been in support of the statue remaining in place, for a variety of reasons.

'The college's governing body has decided that the statue should remain in place and that the college will seek to provide a clear historical context to explain why it is there.'

However, it was claimed that after months of indecision the college was forced into a corner by the financial might of its modern-day benefactors, but the delay has already cost them over £1million.

The governing body was reportedly told that since the start of the campaign, ‘at least one major donation of £500,000’ that was expected this year has been cancelled.

A ‘potential £750,000 donor’ was also said to have stopped responding to messages from the college, and several alumni have written to Oriel to say ‘they are disinheriting the college from their wills’.

The row has also triggered a wider row about free speech in universities and whether students need to be protected from offence.

Significantly, one donor who was said to be ‘furious with the college’ is believed to have a legacy worth in excess of £100million.

The Telegraph also reported last night that the cuts in donations is already having an impact as the college prepares to make redundancies among its staff because of the collapse in donations.

And it has cancelled an annual fundraising drive that should have taken place in April - it could now make an operating loss of around £200,000 this year.

Sean Power, Oriel’s development director who is in charge of fundraising, wrote in a report to the governors: ‘The overall reaction has been significant, much more than any in the College predicted. 'It has also been overwhelmingly negative of the College’s position and its actions.

‘The likely long-term impact on development and fundraising, assuming our current course of action regarding the statue, is potentially extremely damaging…our alumni do not need many excuses not to give, and for many this will be such an excuse for years to come.

‘The current situation is generating a media storm that is right at the limits of what the University can deal with, and support us in.’

Paul Yowell, the University’s Associate Professor of Law, told the governing body that it was unlikely they could obtain legal permission to remove the statue.

He added that as a charity the college is obliged to ‘avoid undertaking activities that might place the charity’s endowment, funds, assets or reputation at undue risk’.

A descendant of Alfred Mosley, who in 1906 erected a plaque stating where Cecil Rhodes had lived said he ‘does not believe it is ours to remove’, a confidential memo to the governing body said.  It warns that ‘it is possible she will become involved in the application to have the plaque listed’. 

Rhodes served as prime minister of the British Empire's Cape Colony, including South Africa, in the early 1890s and has been linked to apartheid-style policies.

But it had been argued that taking the statue down would be an attempt to rewrite history. 

South Africa's last white president, F.W. de Klerk, wrote to The Times last month calling the plan 'folly' and adding: 'If the political correctness of today were applied consistently, very few of Oxford's great figures would pass scrutiny.'

And in a speech earlier this month, Oxford's chancellor, Chris Patten, said: 'Our history is not a blank page on which we can write our own version of what it should have been.'

The college spokesman said the presence of the statue was 'an important reminder of the complexity of history and of the legacies of colonialism still felt today'.

Oriel College leaders said they would seek expert opinion on how to give context to the statue and a nearby plaque to Rhodes, which they will also keep in place.

But they admitted the campaign had raised the issue of discrimination on the campus.

The spokesman added: 'The campaign to remove Oriel's statue of Rhodes has highlighted other challenges in relation to the experience and representation of black and minority ethnic students and staff at Oxford. Oriel takes these very seriously and, as previously announced, is taking substantive steps to address them.'

Rhodes was a student at Oxford and a member of Oriel College in the 1870s. He left money to the college on his death in 1902.

A scholarship programme in his name has so far been awarded to more than 8,000 overseas students.

But the college has distanced itself from his views, saying in a statement last month: 'Rhodes was also a 19th-century colonialist whose values and world view stand in absolute contrast to the ethos of the Scholarship programme today, and to the values of a modern university.'

The decision comes after the University of Cape Town last year decided to remove a similar statue of the man, following a student protest.

Asked whether Oxford graduate David Cameron backed Oriel's decision, a Downing Street spokesman said: 'I think he would welcome the fact that this was the university making a decision.

'It is for them to make a decision. It is for them to have a debate and a discussion and then make that decision.'


Australia: Is it time to turn your back on university?

This seems to be becoming a widespread view -- not before time

ACCESS to higher education used to be considered one of the things that made Australia great, but as demand drops and degrees become less valued, it seems that era is well and truly over.

University enrolment numbers have flatlined, graduate employment last year hit an all time low and employers are going cold on degrees.

Combine this with climbing first year drop out rates and uncertainty over university fee reforms thanks to a stalling government, it seems like there’s never been a better time to turn your back on university.

The Australian Department of Education and Training’s selected higher education statistics, released earlier this week, showed the overall number of new university increased by only 0.1 per cent.

Universities Australia Chief Executive Belinda Robinson said the results had been "anticipated", indicating growth had plateaued, evened out following a surge of "unmet demand".

In interviews, Ms Robinson suggested the Rudd-Gillard government’s university funding scheme had pushed demand for universities beyond their capacities, and that the current government’s campaign around $100,000 degrees may have helped to reduce demand.

It’s not just students that are backing away from university degrees. Earlier this month, international publishing house Penguin Random House joined the ranks of major consulting firms Ernst and Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers, dropping degrees as a requirement for job applicants.

In Australia, some smaller employers are shifting away from hiring graduates or university students altogether, believing kids are coming out of university with "no real skills" or simply being taught the wrong things.

In an earlier interview with Australia Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive officer Kate Carnell said employers found 20-somethings were more qualified than ever before. Graduates were showing up to work with degrees from universities that were "disconnected with the workforce", she said.

"A number of our members consistently tell us they’re seeing students come out of university or training programs and they might have the academic or theoretical skills, but no skills to work at all. It makes them really hard to employ," she said.

And just as employers are being turned off graduates, students are seeing very little incentives to complete their studies with university graduate salaries going down.

The shift in demand for university education is sending a message to institutions and heralding change for career-seekers and employers.

In an interview with ABC radio, deputy vice chancellor of Deakin University and fellow of the Australian Learning and Teaching Council, Beverley Oliver, said tertiary education providers were getting the message, and adjusting their courses to meet new expectations from students and the changing workforce.

"I think the sector has made great changes over the last 15 years, particularly making sure the degree is a signifier of more than just marks and grades," she said.

"I don’t think it’s an indictment, I think it’s a signal and we should use it to improve what we do. We can always improve what we do and of course employers can as well."

Advocates of alternative educational pathways like apprenticeships and workplace learning are cheering at the apparent shift away from reliance on universities.

For those who are continuing to pursue a university education, the federal education minister has a word of advice.

"Australians must think carefully about the courses they enrol in to ensure they are entering a course that they are not only passionate about but that has a job at the end," senator Simon Birmingham said.

While encouraging new figures show those who found work four months out of university had grown slightly on last year’s, about one-third of graduates did not immediately find a job.


Sunday, January 31, 2016

What School Choice Advocates Have to Celebrate

National School Choice Week has just kicked-off, and there is much to celebrate this year. National School Choice Week will feature over 16,000 events across the country this week, ranging from school pep rallies in support of school choice, to policy panels exploring the many school choice options that are now available to families.

Over the past two decades, choice in education has seen dramatic gains. From the nation’s first school voucher program in Milwaukee, Wisc. in 1991 (although Vermont and Maine have had proto school choice options via “town tuitioning” programs since 1869 and 1873, respectively, allowing children to enroll in public or private schools outside of their neighborhood if there is no public school to attend) to the more than 56 private school choice options that operate in 28 states and Washington, D.C. today, school choice has been on the march.

Over the past decade alone, from 2004 to 2014, the number of children exercising private school choice has increased by over 257,000, more than tripling to over 350,000 total students. And in 2011, Arizona broke new ground by becoming the first state to offer education savings accounts (ESAs) to eligible families.

Education savings accounts enable families to have a proportion (90 percent in the case of Arizona) of the money that would have been spent on their child in their public school deposited instead into a parent-controlled savings account.

Families can then use those funds to pay for private school tuition, online learning, special education services and therapies, individual courses at their local public school or charter school, and private tutoring, among other things.

Families can even roll over unused funds from year to year, and can roll funds into a college savings account. Five states now have education savings accounts in place, including Nevada, which in 2015 became the first state to enact a near-universal option.

Creating school choice options in the states has been a welcome change for families. A growing body of empirical evidence suggests school choice can significantly improve academic attainment outcomes for participants, and can have positive impacts on academic achievement. School choice also confers positive benefits to the public school system, which responds to the competitive pressure placed on it by surrounding private schooling options.

In a meta-analysis of the existing school choice literature, researcher Greg Forster found that to date, 12 empirical analyses employing random assignment methodology have examined the impact of school choice on the academic outcomes of participating children. Of the 12 studies, 11 found that school choice improved academic outcomes, with one study found no impact.

In addition to the positive impacts on academic outcomes, Forster also found that 23 evaluations of the impact of school choice on public schools have been conducted to date, using a mix of methodologies.

Twenty-two of the 23 studies found that choice improved educational outcomes for students in the public schools that faced competition because of school choice policies, while one study was unable to detect any impact. In addition to the positive impacts of choice on educational outcomes and public school performance, researchers have conducted six empirical evaluations of the fiscal cost of school choice, all finding school choice creates savings for taxpayers.

As National School Choice Week kicks-off, here’s hoping 2016 will be the best year yet for choice in education. Several states are currently considering options such as tuition tax credit scholarships and education savings accounts, meaning its likely that by this time next year, thousands of additional families could be experiences the benefits of educational choice, enabling them to craft learning options that are as unique as their individual children.


School bans chocolate for all children and teachers because one boy is allergic to it

A school has banned chocolate for all children and teachers - because one little boy has a super-sensitive intolerance.

Bars, sweets and even biscuits containing traces of chocolate are forbidden for the one child who could fall ill if he comes into contact.

Teachers are even barred from chocolate biscuits in the staff room in case particles of the food are passed 'airborne' to the young boy.

Parents were today fuming over the blanket ban of all chocolate from the 260-pupil school.

The boy - who has not been named - could fall ill just from being in the same room as where chocolate is present.

Education bosses at Alltwen Primary School, near Swansea, South Wales, have banned the sweet treat from the canteen, staff room and playground.

Head teacher Owain Hyett wrote to parents saying: 'Unfortunately one of our pupils has been diagnosed with a chocolate intolerance and can become very ill if in contact with chocolate.

'Sadly the pupil is also highly sensitive to chocolate if it is airborne or being eaten by another pupil.

'To maintain the safety of this pupil our school will be adopting a no chocolate policy for all pupils and staff. All areas of the school will be chocolate-free including the staff room and office.

An allergic reaction is caused by the body creating histamines and antibodies to fight the proteins in chocolate which create the problem.

The Food Standards Agency warns businesses involved in food preparation of the dangers of cross-contamination through the air.

Its advice is to use dedicated extraction fans and air conditioning units in areas where there is a possibility of cross-contamination to try and lower the risk.

'The catering department are working with the school to amend our dinner menu by replacing any chocolate products. We also ask that you ensure that there are no traces of chocolate in our pupils' packed lunches or school bags.'

The super-sensitive intolerance can cause respiratory distress, dizziness, burning sensation in the throat, swelling in the mouth and around the face, anxiety, behavioral problems, vomiting and diarrhea.

But one parent, who asked not to be named, said the ban 'would deprive' other children at the school.  She said: 'I feel sorry for pupils with allergies but banning chocolate for all children is not right, whatever next?

'What happens when the child who is allergic goes outside of school? Do they ask everyone not to eat chocolate? What if I have chocolate in my pocket in the yard at pick up time? Will we have chocolate police at the gate?

'Will this lead to staff wasting their time inspecting all the lunch boxes? How will this make my children feel?  'There must be another way of safeguarding the allergic child without depriving mine and other children of chocolate.'

But another woman said: 'My daughter attends this school and I agree with the head if I were to disobey school rules and gave my daughter chocolate and she went near the pupil myself and my daughter would feel terrible if that child fell ill or ended up in hospital.'


11-Year-Old Tells Teacher He Likes Trump, Gets Sick Surprise the Next Day

An 11-year-old boy from Raleigh, North Carolina, got to see liberal hate firsthand when he expressed support for billionaire businessman Donald Trump during a class assignment.

The student, only known as “Matthew,” called conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh Thursday and told him he attended a very liberal private school and one of his assignments last week was to answer the following question: “Beside Martin Luther King, who are some visionaries who are in the world?”

While others wrote down such answers like Rosa Parks and Abraham Lincoln, Matthew said he wrote down Donald Trump’s name. The next day, Matthew said the teacher pulled him aside and told him to erase the comment. When he asked why she asked, “What good has he done for this world?”

Matthew said he told his teacher Trump has “created his businesses, and he’s built magnificent buildings in many countries in the world, and he’s actually running for president while he’s actually stating his ideas.”

The teacher still insisted Matthew erase his comment. The boy told Limbaugh he “got mad after that.” But that wasn’t the end of his problems. After that incident, Matthew said he had become target at school with schoolmates telling him, “Donald Trump’s sucks and you do too.”

He admitted he didn’t know what to do, telling Limbaugh, “I don’t exactly like backing down that much and I was kind of disturbed by that.”

Limbaugh explained to Matthew that how liberals operate and that his classmates and teacher were jealous of him and they felt they could pick on him because the teacher called him out.

It’s shameful that a teacher, who is supposed to foster children’s ideas and growth, would do such a thing to a child.

But we are talking about liberals, who believe in indoctrinating children as young as they can.