Friday, December 23, 2016

Alumnus gives university £4m to "lead the charge against a “post-truth” world"

We read: "St Andrews will use the money to recruit world-leading staff to its school of English and school of philosophical, anthropological and film studies".  I must say that I don't think you will get much truth out of that lot

Scotland’s oldest university intends to lead the charge against a “post-truth” world with the help of a multimillion- pound donation from a former student.

Christopher Davis has given the University of St Andrews $5 million (£4 million), allowing it to establish a chair in philosophy and public affairs, as well as an endowed lectureship in American literature.

The university said that the windfall was an important boost to the enduring values of academia. The gift came after Sally Mapstone, the university’s new principal, used her recent installation address to issue a rallying cry to her colleagues in what she said was a climate of hostility to experts.

She characterised recent political developments, such as the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election, as “convulsions” in a “post-truth climate in which expertise is derided”.

The gift from Mr Davis, who graduated from the university in 1987 with a degree in moral philosophy and practical theology, is believed to be one of the largest single gifts received by a Scottish university. After leaving Fife, Mr Davis worked for the Episcopal Church in Paris before returning to his native United States, where he worked in investment management.

Mr Davis arranged the donation from the Shelby Cullom Davis Charitable Fund, which is named after his grandfather, an investment banker and philanthropist who died in 1994 after serving as American ambassador to Switzerland under the presidencies of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

Mr Davis said: “I owe more to St Andrews than I can say. The university’s ethos embodies values that are increasingly rare on campuses and in society: academic rigour, informed and open-minded debate, internationalism, good-willed collegiality and simple decency. In today’s world, what could be more deserving of support?”

“Post-truth” was named recently as word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries, an adjective defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”.

St Andrews will use the money to recruit world-leading staff to its school of English and school of philosophical, anthropological and film studies.

The creation of an endowed lectureship in American literature tightens St Andrews’ ties with the US. It was the first British university to teach American literature.


Colorado State Hires Counselor To Treat ‘Racial Battle Fatigue’

Colorado State University (CSU) has hired a counselor to assist students suffering from “racial battle fatigue,” the school announced Monday.

The hire was made last summer, but publicized Monday when the school published an update on its response to a series of student recommendations regarding diversity. The list of recommendations, which resemble a set of demands, were issued in November 2015 when student activists marched in solidarity with Concerned Student 1950, a black protest group at the University of Missouri. Since receiving the list, CSU says the requests have served as a “touchstone” for its actions over the past year

One of the recommendations called for the school to dedicate more resources to treating “mental health issues specifically dealing with racial oppression and racial battle fatigue.”

In its Monday announcement, CSU gleefully announced it had met this request.

“This summer, the Counseling Center hired a psychologist whose specialty is working with racial battle fatigue for students of color on predominantly white campuses,” the school said.

“Racial battle fatigue” is a concept coined by University of Utah professor William Smith. Smith argued that non-white people suffer an accumulation of fatigue from trying to overcome microaggressions, stereotypes, and misconceptions in their day to day lives. This accumulated fatigue supposedly causes headaches and exhaustion, which help to perpetuate the alleged systemic advantages of white people.

“This has been a great step, but we still have a lot of work to do,” Vice President for Student Affairs Blanche Hughes said in the school’s update. “Our plan over the next few years is to continue to increase staff and programming where needed to meet the needs of students and the university.”

The school boasted about other ways it is meeting last November’s demands. Several student senate seats have been allotted to specific groups and organizations based on “diversity,” and the school is also crafting a wider diversity plan with an eye towards increasing the overall population of “diverse” students. The school also says it is considering making Introduction to Ethnic Studies and Introduction to Women Studies required courses for all students, though it may find a broader means of increasing diversity within the curriculum.


Middle School Girl Gets Suspended for Possessing a Butter Knife

Who would have thought a butter knife could become the center of a school controversy?

Last month, officials at Silver Trail Middle School near Miami, Florida, suspended an 11-year-old honors student for violating a county policy strictly prohibiting weapons on campus. The girl’s weapon of choice: a butter knife fit for a toddler.

To highlight the dangers of having this dull knife on campus, the police noted to state prosecutors that the girl used it to cut a peach. Such is the folly of overcriminalization: Every minor mishap gets crammed into the criminal justice system when it could be easily resolved by other means.

In defense of their daughter, the girl’s parents explained that they gave her a set of utensils “made for children to learn how to eat properly.” But despite this educational purpose behind the possession, school officials pounced when the girl brandished the short, dull, rounded utensil, cut a peach in half, and shared it with a hungry friend during lunch time in the school cafeteria.

A commonsense response? Give the girl a gold star for sharing. But instead, the county’s zero tolerance policy toward weapons required punishment.

The zero tolerance policy prohibits possession of a Class B weapon on school premises. This includes such items as razor blades, nunchakus, shotgun shells, and knives—including “blunt-bladed table knives.” Possession of these weapons is considered a criminal incident and can trigger a host of consequences, including not only a minimum six-day suspension from school, but also a mandatory report to law enforcement.

That’s failure No. 1 by the adults in the room. A student using a butter knife is not an incident that requires the time and attention of law enforcement.

And here is failure No. 2: After examining the evidence—a single butter knife—the police department turned over the investigation to the local Florida state attorney’s office, which is now weighing whether to bring criminal charges against the student.

A spokeswoman for the school district maintains that the school followed district policy throughout the incident, while pointing out that the district is working with the family of the suspended student by agreeing to reduce her suspension from six to three days. Needless to say, the family is not satisfied with the ongoing investigation and has hired a lawyer to represent them in the matter.

Surely, there must be someone along the chain of command with the requisite discretion to understand that an 11-year-old cutting a peach with a child’s butter knife is not the type of evil that a school weapons ban is intended to protect against.

The rigidness of a zero tolerance policy that requires taxpayer dollars to fund a criminal investigation into a student who simply cut a peach illustrates a systemic flaw in school discipline procedures.

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident, but yet another example of an overreaction to minor infractions due to a zero tolerance school weapons ban, which can have serious consequences.

In Ohio, 10th-grader Da’von Shaw gave a class presentation on how to make a healthy breakfast, which included an apple that he sliced in front of the class. Da’von received a five-day suspension for possessing a weapon on campus due to his demonstration.

In California, high school senior Brandon Cappelletti was not nearly as fortunate. He faced a misdemeanor charge after school officials discovered pocket knives left over from a family fishing trip in the console of his car, which was parked on school grounds. Cappelletti narrowly avoided expulsion due to community outrage against the disproportionate punishment.

Cappelletti’s football coach opposed the severity of potential consequences by sharing, “I’m willing to stick my neck out for these kids because they are the kind we want representing us in society … I hope their lives won’t change because of an innocent mistake.”

Criminal charges carry a multitude of collateral consequences, which could have prevented Cappelletti from following in his father’s footsteps and joining the Marines. He enlisted shortly after charges were dropped.

In all of the aforementioned incidents, schools relied on zero tolerance policies that can produce harmful and unexpected results. To be sure, schools must take weapons seriously, but in a way that requires educators to exercise discretion in evaluating what is in fact a weapon, as well as the nature of an offense.

This one-size-fits-all approach to discipline is a significant contributor to overcriminalization, which is the effort to punish every mistake and attempt to solve every problem through the use of the criminal law and penalties.

This ill-suited suspension and investigation into an 11-year-old with a butter knife is an apt opportunity for school districts and localities to use a little common sense and re-examine how to handle rules violations in a more constructive and equitable manner.


Thursday, December 22, 2016

Traditional Assigned-District Public Schools ‘May Be An Endangered Species’

Judging by the results of a parental satisfaction survey, traditional assigned-district public schools “may be an endangered species,” according to a new report from Education Next.

The first-of -its-kind survey, which was released Tuesday in Washington, D.C., compared parental satisfaction ratings for traditional assigned-district public schools, private/parochial schools, district schools-of-choice such as magnet schools, and publicly funded charter schools.

“Among the four sectors, parents of students attending assigned-district schools are the least likely to say they are ‘very satisfied’ with their child’s school,” according to the nationally representative survey of 1,571 parents, which was conducted between May 6th and June 13th.

But assigned-district school parents are generally more likely to say that their schools have “serious” behavior problems with students who miss class, fight, use drugs, and destroy property, the survey found.

It will take a strong political defense of the district-operated school system, which assigns children to the specific place where they are to be educated, to thwart an underlying trend toward greater choice that has gathered support among the families that are most directly affected“It will take a strong political defense of the district-operated school system, which assigns children to the specific place where they are to be educated, to thwart an underlying trend toward greater choice that has gathered support among the families that are most directly affected,” wrote the report’s co-authors, Harvard Government Professor and Hoover Institution Senior Fellow Paul Peterson and post-doctoral fellow Albert Cheng.

President-elect Donald Trump has nominated school choice advocate Betsy DeVos as secretary of Education and pledged to “repriortize existing federal dollars” to establish a new $20 billion federal program that expands school choice “to every K-12 student who today lives in poverty.”

DeVos, chairman of the American Federation for Children, is a pioneer of the school choice movement who helped pass Michigan’s first charter school bill in 1993. In 2010, DeVos and her husband founded the West Michigan Aviation Academy, a public charter high school.

Parents who opt out of the “free, more convenient assigned-district alternative” in favor of private, charter or magnet schools consistently report higher levels of satisfaction despite tuition payments and/or transportation challenges, the survey found.

Overall, school satisfaction is highest in the private sector, followed by the charter sector and then the district schools-of-choice sector, the survey found.

District-assigned public schools, which currently educate 75 percent of K-12 students in the nation, ranked the lowest in parental satisfaction.

Eighty-two percent of parents with a child in a private school reported being “very satisfied” with their school’s academic standards, compared to 68 percent for charter schools, 64 percent for district schools-of-choice, and 55 percent for assigned-district public schools.

Likewise, 83 percent of private school parents reported being “very satisfied” with their school’s disciplinary policies, followed by 66 percent of charter school parents, 63 percent of district school-of-choice parents, and 56 percent of parents whose child attends an assigned-district public school.

The same pattern held true when parents were asked their overall satisfaction level regarding their child’s teacher and the way the school staff interacts with them.

“Charters are a viable—and perhaps the preferred—option for those seeking to expand choice within the public sector,” the EdNext report noted. They are also more likely to enroll disadvantaged African American and Hispanic students who live in urban centers.

“Yet the high level of satisfaction with private schools provides encouragement for those who support school voucher initiatives, which increase access to the private sector by paying some or all of students’ tuition,” the report added.

Both high- and low-income parents reported being happiest with their children’s private schools.

“Averaging across all indicators, the difference in the share of low-income families who are ‘very satisfied’ with aspects of their child’s private school is 25 percentage points, which is similar to the difference of 22 percentage points among high-income families. This suggests that school vouchers or other programmatic interventions that expand families’ access to private schools have a good chance of boosting levels of parental satisfaction,” the report noted.

Parental satisfaction with charter schools is also higher than with traditional public schools.

“Both low- and high-income parents whose children attend charter schools are considerably more satisfied than comparable parents at assigned-district schools,” the report noted.

“Nina Rees,  president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, said during a panel discussion following release of the report that although charters receive only 70 cents for every dollar spent on district-assigned schools, parental satisfaction is higher because “a lot of charter schools have emulated the best practices of private schools,” including adopting a “no excuses model”.

Panelist Christopher Cerf, superintendent of Newark Public Schools, said that every child in his school district is given the opportunity to attend a school of their choosing, noting that 44 percent of Newark students attend charter schools.

“There’s no question that children who do not exercise choice have a deeper set of educational challengers,” Cerf said.  

But Howard Fuller, an education professor at Marquette University and chairman emeritus of the Black Alliance for Educational Options, said that some charter schools have focused “more on choice than accountability”.

Fuller also noted that “black parents have a more negative view of schools than any other race,” surmising that schools are “just another institution that they interact with that have let them down.”

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 75 percent of American K-12 students attend assigned-district public schools, 10 percent attend private or parochial schools, 9 percent attend non-charter district schools-of-choice, and 6 percent attend publicly funded charter schools.


Education Dept. Upholds Revoking of Embattled Accreditor’s Recognition

There is no doubt that some accreditors have abused their status

John B. King Jr., the secretary of education, on Monday upheld the U.S. Department of Education’s decision to revoke the federal recognition of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, an agency that had accredited for-profit colleges that suffered recent high-profile collapses.

The department revoked the accreditor’s recognition in September, after it was accused of lax oversight in its accreditation of two now-defunct for-profit educators, ITT Educational Services Inc. and Corinthian Colleges. After its recognition was revoked, the accreditor, known as Acics, appealed the decision.

In a written statement, the agency said it would sue to regain its recognition.

“Acics has acknowledged its shortcomings and worked diligently to correct them so that, together with Acics-accredited institutions, we can continue to work to help students achieve their academic and career goals,” said Roger Williams, the accreditor’s interim president, in the statement.

The accreditor’s loss of federal recognition, if not overturned by the courts or reversed by the incoming Trump administration, would require the hundreds of colleges Acics accredits to seek another accrediting body or lose access to federal student-aid dollars. They may continue to receive such financial aid for up to 18 months, but could face new restrictions from the department. Some are likely to close.


Australia: Less education is associated with more heart attacks, a lot more

This is just the old trilogy of IQ, wealth and health.  IQ is the key variable. Smart people are better at getting rich and  going far in education. High IQ also appears to be in most cases just one indication of general biological fitness.  The brain is just another part of the body, after all. So a well functioning brain and a well functioning heart tend to go together

The lower your education the more vulnerable you are to suffering a heart attack or stroke, according to a new Australian study.

The Sax Institute's 45 and Up Study, published in the International Journal for Equity in Health, found Australians who leave school without a school certificate are more than twice as likely to have a heart attack as those with a university degree.

Lead researcher Dr Rosemary Korda says the findings of the five-year longitudinal study are "disturbing but clear".

Researchers investigated the links between education and cardiovascular disease events - such as heart attack or stroke - by following more than 276,000 men an women in NSW aged over 45.

In adults aged 45-64 years, heart attack rates among those with no educational qualifications were more than double those with a degree.

The risk was about two-thirds or 70 per cent higher for those with some tertiary qualification, such as that obtained for a trade, just not a university degree.

The study shows just how much cardiovascular disease can be prevented. Dr Korda says a similar pattern of inequality existed between household income and cardiovascular disease events.

She also noted there are lots of complexities to this study and their findings could reflect a number of factors.

"It could reflect different lifestyle behaviours, so different levels of smoking in the community, different levels of obesity, so those risk factors that increase your risk of heart attack of stroke."

"It could reflect healthcare, so we know that there could be differences in the uptake of the use of preventative medication to reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke."

What these differences in cardiovascular disease rates between more and less disadvantaged groups show is just how much cardiovascular disease in the population can be prevented, said Dr Korda.

"With better education often you have better income and more resources to draw on so you are in a better position."

Heart disease is the single leading cause of death in Australia, with an average of one Australian dying every 27 minutes.

Heart Foundation NSW CEO Kerry Doyle says this research provides further opportunity to "unpack" the specific relationship between educational achievement and cardiovascular disease risk.

"We know that good education impacts long-term health by influencing what type of job you have, where you live and what food choices you make," Ms Doyle said.


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

School-leavers paying the price of Scotland's free university tuition

Scottish school-leavers are now far less likely than their peers from south of the border to get a place at a university in Scotland, according to new figures that lay bare the impact of SNP ministers’ free tuition policy.

Institutions in Scotland have a government cap on the number of home students they can accept because Holyrood funds the places. However, they can take in as many students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland as they want — and charge them up to £36,000 for a four-year degree.

A new report by Ucas, the university admissions service, found that “applicants from England and Northern Ireland are around 15 per cent more likely to receive an offer from a Scottish provider than applicants from Scotland”.

The analysis, published today, shows that in 2016 the offer rate to Scottish applicants was 59.6 per cent, a drop on last year. The offer rate to applicants from England was 68.5 per cent, which was an increase on the previous recorded high of 66.9 per cent in 2015.

The report states: “Since 2015, offer rates by Scottish providers to English and Northern Irish applicants have been higher than offer rates to Scottish applicants. This contrasts to the period between 2008 and 2011, when applications from Scottish applicants were more likely to receive an offer than applications from English and Northern Irish applicants.”

The findings will reignite the row over the impact of free higher education. The SNP abolished the graduate endowment in 2008 and put the full burden for the cost of a degree on general taxation.

The cap on places will become even more important when universities are forced to make offers to students from the most deprived backgrounds with lower grades than their better-off peers. It raises the prospect of middle-class Scottish youngsters losing out on a degree because of their more affluent upbringing.

Responding to the report, Liz Smith, the Scottish Conservative education spokeswoman, said: “Once again we are seeing Scottish students losing out when it comes to being offered a place at university in Scotland.

“Despite having outstanding grades, many Scottish students are finding it increasingly difficult to get into universities because of the constraints applied via the capping policy.

“The SNP have been warned that their discriminatory higher education funding policy would lead to this, but they have so far failed to take any action to address it.”

Iain Gray, for Labour, said: “Because places for Scottish students are funded, they are capped. So, while universities have expanded their offer to students from elsewhere in the UK, they have not been able to do so for Scottish students because the SNP government has squeezed the funding available.

“Labour supports free tuition, but if we are to widen access to universities for more Scottish students then the Scottish government has to stop cutting university budgets and use the powers they now have to start increasing education funding.”

The report also shows that the entry rate for Scottish 18-year-olds from the most deprived areas is improving. It states that the entry rates from the least deprived areas are still 3.9 times as high as the entry rates from the most deprived areas — but this is an improvement on the 5.8 rate a decade ago.

Yesterday, the Scottish government said it would announce the identity of a new widening access tsar, who will be tasked with driving up the number of students from deprived backgrounds entering university, by the end of the year.

Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister, had said that the role would be filled over the summer. In early September, the government said an appointment would be made “within weeks”.

The government said that the delayed appointment process was finally close to completion. The new person will manage an annual budget and publish an annual report on reducing inequality. A spokeswoman said: “Good progress is being made and we expect to make an announcement shortly. We remain firmly committed to ensuring that tuition is free for first-time Scottish and EU-domiciled undergraduate students.”


Transforming K-12 Education

Whatever direction the Trump administration takes K-12 education policy, one thing is certain: American schoolchildren won’t become the best in math and science without a major shake-up of the educational status quo. Two leading measures of educational achievement—the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study and the Program for International Student Assessment—offer concrete evidence that recent large-scale efforts, including the introduction of Common Core, have fallen short of their goals, according to Independent Institute Research Fellow Vicki E. Alger, author of Failure: The Federal Misedukation of America’s Children.

“In 2015, compared to 35 developed countries, the U.S. ranked 19th in science, 20th in reading, and 31st in math,” Alger writes in The Beacon. Educational outcomes remain mediocre despite a huge increase in federal funding—more than $17 billion—for K-12 education since 2000.

To achieve world-class performance, the American educational system must learn the essential lesson of top-performers around the globe—namely, that “schools improve when they compete for students and their associated funding,” Alger writes. “If we’re serious about competing globally when it comes to academic performance, then we need to replace our top-down, one-size-fits all system with universal parental choice in education.”


Australia: James Ruse Agricultural High School tops the HSC for the 21st year running

The student body at James Ruse is almost entirely Asian.  They're smarter to start with and work hard as well

Selective school James Ruse Agricultural High School has taken out the first spot in the Higher School Certificate for the 21st consecutive year, with an extraordinary 73 per cent of exams taken at the school scoring in the highest band.

Perennial top 10 finishers Baulkham Hills in north-western Sydney came in second spot, while North Sydney Boys took out third, just pipping their neighbours North Sydney Girls.

Sydney Grammar was the top private school at No.6, while Cheltenham Girls was the highest ranked comprehensive public school in the top 100, coming in at No.53.

Within the top 20, independent girls school Wenona gained 17 places, Normanhurst Boys gained 14 places and Reddam House and Conservatorium both leapt nine places into this year's top 10.

The biggest falls in the top 20 this year went to PLC (Croydon), which plunged 16 places and Girraween, which dropped 12 places to fall out of the top 10, and Sydney Girls, which has historically come within the top five, but this year dropped 10 places, from third to 13th.

More than 67,000 students today received their individual marks in their Higher School Certificate, and a record 55,961 of them are eligible for an ATAR, which they will get tomorrow.

James Ruse school leader Justin Wu made the honour roll in five subjects. About 4 per cent of students did not meet the minimum standard and will not get their HSC this year.

About 80 per cent of students took a mathematics course, and 90 per cent took at least one STEM course.

Tom Alegounarias, the head of BOSTES, said the achievement of students receiving their HSC today was a positive counterpoint to the recent bad news around Australian student results in international sample tests like PISA and TIMSS.

"If you're a top achiever in the HSC you're regarded amongst the top achievers in the world, you will go direct from the HSC to places like Oxford, Princeton, Cambridge, Harvard," he said. "If you are outstanding in this credential, you are meeting the best standards in the world.

"That's why it's different to the sampling examinations, because there's no test effect, and everyone steps up to the HSC.

"You'll remember from your own experience, as do I, that you may have been uneven in your attentiveness between Years 7 and 9 and 10, but when you cross that line at the beginning of year 11, you know this is serious, you've got the senior uniform on and you're ready to show what you can do."


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Obama’s Education Secretary: ‘We Should Welcome Good Public Charter Schools’

During one of his final weeks on the job, President Barack Obama’s secretary of education called for education leaders to unite around support for charter schools.

“If we believe that public schools will always be the bedrock of American democracy and opportunity—as I do—we should welcome good public charter schools as laboratories for innovation that can benefit all of education,” Secretary of Education John King said at an event Wednesday hosted by the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C.

“Now is the moment to set aside policy differences that divide us,” he added.

Since their inception more than two decades ago, charter schools have been a major point of contention between politicians, educators, policy experts, special-interest groups, and others.

In recent weeks, liberals have attacked President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for education secretary, Betsy DeVos, for her support of charter schools. DeVos played a major role advancing charter schools in Michigan since the 1990s and encouraged her husband to start a charter school in Grand Rapids.

“Charter schools are another choice—a very valid choice,” DeVos said in a 2013 interview with Philanthropy magazine. “As we work to help provide parents with more educational choices, it is always with the assumption that charter schools are part of the equation.”

Charter schools are public schools that are open and free to all students. They operate with a mix of local, state, and federal funding, based on student enrollment.

In exchange for more freedom to be innovative with decisions involving curriculum, culture, budgeting, hiring, and firing, charter schools are held to a greater accountability for performance.

Instead of being managed by a traditional school board, the majority of charter schools are run by a nonprofit, while 13 percent are managed by a for-profit company.

Recently, they’ve come under increased attack by civil rights groups including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Black Lives Matter, who see them as part of a greater attempt to privatize public education.

In October, the NAACP called for an immediate moratorium on charter school expansion, arguing that charter schools divert money at the expense of public schools and don’t have to abide by the same level of transparency and accountability standards as public schools.

King, however, called the fight between charter and public schools “a false choice.”

“Let’s also resist a false choice between allowing public charter schools and supporting traditional district public schools,” he said, adding:

Our primary concern shouldn’t be the management structure of schools, it should be whether schools serve all students well. Some of the best schools in places like Newark, Los Angeles, and the Rio Grande Valley are public charter schools that are closing achievement gaps and preparing graduates to finish college.

Instead of fighting, King said traditional public schools and charter schools should join forces.

Already, he added, this is happening in some parts of the country, where charters and district schools are forming partnerships, “allowing them to learn and be inspired by one another.”

Charter schools in many urban areas have shown a remarkable ability to outperform traditional public schools and close the achievement gap between white and black students. But not every charter school succeeds, and for those that don’t, King said, they must be shut down.

“Supporters of public charter schools, myself included, must recognize the grave threat that ineffective charter schools pose to the entire sector. We must demand that charter authorizers set a high bar for granting a charter, rigorously monitor the academic and performance of charters, and close failing schools,” he said.

Just as important of a task, he added, is turning around ineffective district schools.

We must be equally rigorous in monitoring the performance and working to turn around the performance of ineffective district schools. Supporting public charter schools and supporting district schools means demanding quality for both.

King was born in Brooklyn to African-American and Puerto Rican parents who both died before he was even a teen. He has credited his teachers in New York City with stepping in and helping him succeed.

Before working under Obama at the Department of Education, King was heavily involved in the charter school world, having co-founded Roxbury Prep in Boston and Uncommon Schools, which now has nearly 50 charter schools in six regions.

Instead of attacking charter schools, King said, “We’ve got to lift up examples of schools that are doing the right thing … and say that’s where we need the charter sector to go.”


University of Pennsylvania Students Rip Down Shakespeare’s Portrait for Diversity’s Sake

After a vote by faculty, inclusion-deluded kids replace iconic portrait with that of a black lesbian poet

Let us count the ways privileged college students on American campuses are whining — still! — about the results of the presidential election. At The University of Pennsylvania, even the esteemed Shakespeare is taking a hit.

A group of students removed a portrait of the legendary playwright — widely regarded as the greatest writer and dramatist the world has ever known — and replaced it with a photo of Audre Lorde, a self-described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.”

In her poem, “The Brown Menace or Poem to the Survival of Roaches,” Lorde “likened blacks to cockroaches, hated, feared, and poisoned by whites,” wrote Poetry critic Sandra M. Gilbert remarked that “it’s not surprising that Lorde occasionally seems to be choking on her own anger.”

So in the name of safe spaces and political correctness — actual education at American universities is once again trampled.

Students took the large Shakespeare portrait from the walls of Fisher-Bennett Hall and delivered it to the office of Penn English professor Jed Etsy, after an English Department town hall meeting on Dec. 1 in which students voted to remove the portrait.

The portrait has resided over the main staircase of Fisher-Bennett — home to Penn's English Department — for years, according to The Daily Pennsylvanian. Esty emailed English majors and minors on Dec. 8 with a statement.

"We invite everyone to join us in the task of critical thinking about the changing nature of authorship, the history of language, and the political life of symbols," Esty wrote.

When are parents going to stop paying for colleges that don't have the strength of any convictions? The adult educators in colleges and universities are there to contextualize current events for students, and to teach their chosen subject matter. They're not preparing students for the adult world by kowtowing to them.

College sophomore and English major Katherine Kvellestad said replacing Shakespeare with Lorde sends a positive message. "You don't necessarily need to have a portrait of Shakespeare up," Kvellestad said. "He's pretty iconic."

Following that logic, should we then take down our monuments to Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson? They're pretty iconic, too. (Alas, some of these have been taken down.)

College junior Mike Benz, also an English major, thought the portrait switch was "bold and admirable." "It is a cool example of culture jamming," the millennial told The Pennsylvanian. Benz also said college curriculums typically focus on European and Western ideals, and other works can sometimes be ignored or set aside.

That's because they are not part of the curriculum — but let's not let that little fact get in the way of student outrage.

Both Benz and Kvellestad said they were pleased that the English department voted to remove the portrait, despite the fact that it was ultimately the students who took it down.


Teach for Australia: Turnbull government provides new funding to extend controversial program

This is a clone of an American programme.  The American version has had some success in getting bright university graduates into teaching

A program that parachutes "career changers" and high-achieving university graduates without teaching degrees into disadvantaged high schools will continue for at least another four years thanks to a funding boost from the Turnbull government.

The government will announce in Monday's mid-year economic and fiscal outlook (MYEFO) that it will spend $20.5 million to fund another two cohorts of the Teach for Australia program.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham said there was growing evidence that the Teach For Australia program is making a ...
Education Minister Simon Birmingham said there was growing evidence that the Teach For Australia program is making a positive impact on and in schools.  Photo: Wayne Taylor

Launched by the Gillard government in 2009, the highly competitive program provides non-teachers with 13 weeks of intensive training before they begin a two-year classroom placement at a regional or low-socio-economic school. While teaching, the participants work towards a master's of teaching degree.

The program has proved controversial since its inception with teachers' unions decrying it as an "expensive distraction" that undermines the teaching profession. Victoria, Western Australia, the ACT and the Northern Territory have signed on to the program but NSW, the state with the country's biggest teaching workforce, has steadfastly refused to join.

The new funding, which runs until the 2020-21 financial year, will allow up to 300 more new teachers to participate in the program.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham said: "There is a growing body of evidence that the Teach For Australia program is making a positive impact on and in schools.

"The data shows that after two years in the classroom almost 90 per cent of principals considered TFA graduates to be more effective teachers than other graduate teachers with the same level of classroom experience."

Senator Birmingham said the program focuses on intensive mentoring, classroom observation and professional development – the key features of high-ranking schooling systems of Hong Kong, South Korea, Shanghai and Singapore.

Melodie Potts Rosevear, chief executive of Teach for Australia said: "This funding means we will be able to continue the program and get hundreds of excellent people into where they are needed most."

Teach for Australia received more than 1500 applications for just 130 positions in its most recent round of offers.

Ms Potts Rosevear said participants were evenly split between those who had recently finished university, young professionals and "career changers" who decided to become teachers late in life. Participants come from a wide range of backgrounds including aerospace engineering, atmospheric physics and zoology. There is a particular focus on graduates with science, engineering, technology and mathematics skills given Australia's poor performance in these areas in recent international studies.

Ms Potts Rosevear said 65 per cent of those who complete the program remained in classrooms as teachers in the long term.

She said she hoped NSW would join the program and that it would become truly national. NSW Board of Studies president Tom Alegounarias has said the state opposes the program because student interests should not be "compromised for the convenience of short-term packaged approaches".

The government has commissioned an evaluation of the program which is due to report next year.

A recent review by the Australian Council for Educational Research found Teach for Australia was "generally successful", had a high retention rate and that participant schools had been "very positive" about the calibre of the associates assigned to them. But it found the program was "very costly given the very small numbers of associates involved".


Monday, December 19, 2016

Gov't to Parents: We Need Your Kids Earlier

Universal pre-K at age 3? Try eight weeks.

When Philadelphia’s Democrat Mayor Jim Kenney took office earlier this year, he made universal pre-K one of his policy priorities. Now, children as young as three can begin their government indoctrination in the City of Brotherly Love.

But, oh Mr. Mayor. How far behind the times you are. Three years old? To truly get ahold of our kids and mold them into tiny state subjects, government must start much earlier.

Not surprisingly, that’s exactly what some are suggesting.

As The Federalist’s Joy Pullman reports, a new research paper co-authored by Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman suggests eight weeks old is about the right age to hand children from low-income households or born to unmarried parents over to the government. Eight weeks. It turns out that shipping four-year-olds off to the state for pre-K isn’t quite doing the trick.

Heckman blames the failure on the fact that by the time kids hit pre-K, it’s already too late to affect their language development. This is a predictable cop-out for the abject failure of pre-K programs to deliver the educational utopia promised. In fact, Pullman notes that “the most recent research shows mass early childhood programs have even made more kids hate learning and commit more crimes.”

Even more, the push toward infant indoctrination is a predictable shift in strategy to achieve the true goal of government education: Advancing the philosophy of the state to produce global citizens who fully embrace a humanist ideology devoid of objective truth.

Those who scream “alarmist” at this claim have their heads stuck in the sand or in another bodily crevice. Just consider the move toward “social emotional learning” (SEL) standards, already in use in several districts across the country, including Atlanta, Austin and Chicago. As if Common Core weren’t disastrous enough, SEL standards measure kids from kindergarten (or one might say as early as eight weeks old if “experts” like Heckman get their way) through high school on “non-cognitive” factors, including self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.

Yes, government now wants to psychoanalyze our children and, of course, store this analysis in government databases. What could go wrong?

A lot, say American Principles Project’s Jane Robbins and pediatrician Dr. Karen Effrem. “Who might want to get their hands on that data? Would a college or employer be interested in whether a particular applicant shows curiosity or ‘grit’? Would a prosecutor like to know if a young suspect lacked ‘relationship skills’ in high school?” In no universe is it sane to invite the government into a child’s psychological development.

Beyond tracking children’s mindsets, SEL gives the government greater ability to shape kids' views on issues ranging from climate change to gender and sexuality. Robbins and Effrem note, for example, that one of SEL’s major financial backers is the NoVo Foundation, whose mission includes “changing social attitudes, relationships, and institutions that perpetuate injustice.” Last year, NoVo launched a five-year initiative with the Arcus Foundation to “improve the lives of transgender people.”

Now, consider that NoVo hopes SEL will “play a significant role in shifting our culture of systemic inequality and violence toward a new ethos.” Did you catch that? NoVo wants SEL to help change cultural views. It’s hardly a stretch to realize this includes views on so-called “LGBT” issues. As Robbins and Effrem write, “[M]ight a student’s ‘relationship skills’ be deemed deficient if, in keeping with the influence of his family and faith, he rejects the LGBT agenda such as same-sex marriage and normalization of gender dysphoria?” Indeed, one sample lesson given by an SEL partner urges students to “take action toward transgender equity.”

Where are the parents in all this? Not interfering, if the government has its way.

Parents may think school standards are purely academic, but they would be dead wrong. Communist Dictator Vladimir Lenin wasn’t kidding when he said, “Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.”

Leftists want your kids from Day One to plant their seeds. And far too many parents are handing their children over without a second thought.


Colorado School District to Allow Teachers to Arm Themselves

A rural Colorado school district decided to allow its teachers and other school staff to carry guns on campus to protect students.

The Hanover School District 28 board voted 3-2 Wednesday night to allow school employees to volunteer to be armed on the job after undergoing training.

The district's two schools serve about 270 students about 30 miles southeast of Colorado Springs, and it takes law enforcement an average of 20 minutes to get there. The district currently shares an armed school resource officer with four other school districts.

Board member Michael Lawson backed the idea not only as way to protect students from a mass shooting, but also as protection against possible violence connected with nearby marijuana grows, which he believes are connected with foreign cartels, the Gazette of Colorado Springs reported ( ).

He said it will take months to work out the details and to train employees.

School board President Mark McPherson said a survey showed the community was split on the issue. While staffers would get some training, the retired Army officer said he didn't think it would be enough to help them respond effectively to an active shooter. He worries what would happen if they fired and missed in a classroom.

"Our rooms are supposed to be locked and secure. We have cameras. We have a very vigilant staff," he said. "We are authorizing teachers to pull a weapon and kill a human being, and I cannot support that."

He said he is only aware of one marijuana growing operation within about 5 miles of the schools, and he thinks comments about cartel involvement in the area are just rumors at this point.

Some other school districts in Colorado as well as in Texas, Oklahoma and California have also backed allowing teachers to carry weapons following the attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012.

An undisclosed number of teachers and other employees at a one-school district in Colorado's sparsely populated Eastern Plains are currently being trained after the school board approved the move in July largely out of concern for how long it would take law enforcement to respond.

All had concealed weapons permits and volunteered for the duty, Fleming School superintendent Steve McCracken said. They all must undergo an initial 46 hours of training, including live fire training, plus yearly training and undergo a psychological examination. The firearm training costs a total of $3,000, and the district will also have to spend an unknown amount of money to buy firearms and ammunition. But McCracken said that it still makes more financial sense than trying to hire an outside security officer to protect the school.

The latest Colorado vote came on the fourth anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre. McPherson said the proposal has been in the works since June and the timing of the final vote was coincidental.


Australia: Pro-homosexual "Safe Schools" program to be overhauled and Marxist founder Roz Ward removed

The Andrews Government will overhaul the Safe Schools program and cut ties with its controversial founder Roz Ward amid a public backlash that was set to intensify ahead of the Victorian election.

In a bid to protect the anti-bullying initiative, the education department will be in charge of delivering Safe Schools from next year, ensuring that the government is solely responsibility for rolling it out to every state secondary school by 2018.

Safe Schools co-founder and academic returns to work at La Trobe University after being suspended over comments made on a private social media account.

The move is a significant shift for a program that was co-founded by Ms Ward almost seven years ago and has been delivered through her employer, La Trobe University, ever since.

But in recent months, Safe Schools has come under sustained attack by critics who claim it promotes "radical gender theory" or believe Ms Ward's history as a hardline Marxist is too extreme.

"I think the campaign against Safe Schools has been quite disgraceful from people who should know better and do know better, but are using it as a political tool," said Victorian Education Minister James Merlino, who wrote to La Trobe on Friday to inform the university its contract would be terminated six months early.

"But Safe Schools has always been about more than just one person; it's about stopping the bullying and harassment of young people who are same-sex attracted and gender diverse. We know that it works – and we know that it saves lives."

The Safe Schools Coalition began as a trial under the Brumby Government in 2010, after teachers asked for a specific set of resources to help them support students who were "coming out" as same-sex attracted or gender diverse.

Since then, about 60 per cent of schools in Victoria have signed up, but the government is keen to significantly scale up the program with minimal controversy over the next two years in order to fulfil its election commitment.

Under the new structure, teachers will continue to have access to the same lesson plans to support LGBTI students, but the department will have the scope to review and enhance the material if required in future. "This is about making it better and stronger," Mr Merlino said.

Despite receiving bipartisan support, Safe Schools ran into controversy earlier this year when Malcolm Turnbull initiated a review at the behest of conservative forces within his ranks.

Ms Ward – an active member of the Socialist Alternative – has also repeatedly come under the spotlight over her politics and private antics. In June, for instance, the university educator almost lost her job at Latrobe after describing the Australian flag as racist on Facebook. And last month, she made headlines once again by being photographed trying to remove the cap from a Donald Trump supporter during an anti-Trump rally in Melbourne, while holding copies of the Marxist newspaper, Red Flag.

But on Friday - after hearing the news during an end-of-year lunch with her team - she said she was "shattered" by the government's decision, insisting that the bringing the program "in-house" would do little to end the attacks by critics such as the Australian Christian Lobby or the Murdoch press.

"I don't think backing down helps, it's like giving a drop of blood to a bunch of sharks," Ms Ward said.

"Four people are losing their full time jobs. They have been told they are getting sacked a week before Christmas. We've spent the last six years building relationships with schools in Victoria. We've worked with 280 schools, and with families that rely on and value the trust we had with them, and we don't think that can be replicated."

Equality Minister Martin Foley said making the education department responsible for Safe Schools would strengthen the program in the long term, ensuring that more same sex-attracted and gender diverse students could get access to much needed support.

But opposition education spokesman Nick Wakeling said the Premier should have scrapped the program altogether.

An LGBTI reference group co-chaired by Gender and Sexuality Commissioner Rowena Allen and education parliamentary secretary Judith Graley will also be expanded to include principals, students, parents and anti-bullying experts. The reference group would, in turn, support the education department to deliver the program.

La Trobe vice chancellor Professor John Dewar said in a memo to staff that the university was disappointed by the government's decision but was committed to ensuring a smooth transition "to reduce any negative impact on young people in schools."


Sunday, December 18, 2016

Are these radicals teaching your kids?

Everyday I hear stories about professors who attack and target conservatives, promote liberal propaganda, and use their position of power to advance liberal agendas in their classroom.

Turning Point USA is saying enough is enough.  It's time we expose these professors.

Today, Turning Point USA is proud to announce the launch of, a website dedicated to documenting and exposing professors who discriminate against conservative students and promote anti-American, left wing propaganda in the classroom.

Meet some of the professor's we profiled....

Dr. Charles Angeletti is a tenured professor at Metropolitan State University Denver. He required students to recite a pledge that describes a racist, sexist, homophobic America: "I pledge allegiance to and wrap myself in the flag of the United States Against Anything Un-American and to the Republicans for which it stands, two nations, under Jesus, rich against poor, with curtailed liberty and justice for all except blacks, homosexuals, women who want abortions, Communists, welfare queens, treehuggers, feminazis, illegal immigrants, children of illegal immigrants, and you if you don't watch your step."

Dr. Mireille Miller-Young is an Associate Professor of Feminist Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Miller was sentenced to three years' probation after violently attacking a 16-year-old pro-life activist on campus. She was convicted of assault, theft, and destruction of property, but the University of Santa Barbara never fired her.

Dr. Brittney Cooper is an Assistant Professor at Rutgers University. Cooper stated that white racism is to blame for Brexit. She tweeted "White nationalism gone be the death of all of us. #Brexit" and went on to say. "The only thing I know that makes white folks vote against their own economic interest is racism. #Brexit." In another interview to Salon she stated that white people need to start recognizing that they are "the face of the oppressor." Cooper has also stated that Christian conservatives worship a "white supremacist Jesus."

Dr. Julio C. Pino is a tenured professor at Kent State University in Ohio. Dr. Pino is currently under investigation for having ties to the well known terrorist group ISIS, and allegedly recruiting students to join the Islamic State. The professor once shouted ""Death to Israel!"" at a public lecture by a former Israeli diplomat, and has been a featured columnist for several anti-Semitic and pro terrorism publications. 

These people are teaching our students!!

Throughout the next 120 days, Turning Point USA will be running ads to make sure students, faculty, and administrators see that these professors made the Professor Watch List.


Top British university lowers entry grades for state school students

How to reduce your intellectual standards in one easy lesson

One of England’s leading universities is to lower its entry grades for disadvantaged state school teenagers.

Bristol University will drop entry requirements by two grades for applicants from the worst-performing state schools, it said yesterday.

For many degree courses with entry standards of A*AA, for example, applicants from qualifying schools would need grades of AAB to take up an offer. Schools will qualify if they are in the bottom 40 per cent in terms of A-level results and sending students on to higher education.

Bristol has one of the lowest proportions of state-educated students in Britain, with almost 40 per cent of its undergraduates having attended independent schools. Only Oxford, the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester and St Andrews have more privately educated students.


Leftist teachers in Australia politicize year 3 students at Sydney school

The education department is investigating teachers at a Sydney school after Year three students were made to launch a petition against child refugees in detention.

The NSW Department of Education is investigating a petition from Year 3 students at Helensburgh Public School, south of Sydney.

In the petition sent to politicians students as young as nine-years-old said they were heartbroken after being told of 'trapped' children living in 'detention like-like conditions,' The Daily Telegraph reported.

The letter from class 3L signed 'Friends of Children in Detention' reads: 'There are more than one hundred children on Nauru, who are living in detention-like conditions, trapped, with no hope for a better life.'

The children also wrote handwritten messages and drew pictures of children behind bars.

The education department has confirmed it was investigating if staff were involved in the matter.

One politician sent the letter, Independent Senator David Leyonhjelm, wrote to NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli asking for an explanation.

'What we've seen is a decline in education standards. What's obvious is teachers are being diverted from teaching useful things to politics,' he told The Daily Telegraph.

The principal at the school, Chris Connor is a councilor at Wollongong Council and a former Labor deputy mayor