Thursday, January 12, 2017

Australian Senator attacks credentialism -- to gasps of disbelief

The constant march towards more and more schooling for just about everything is mostly pointless.  The jobs concerned are not being performed noticeably better but uncritical people don't ask about that.  Teaching, for instance, was once just an on-the-job apprenticeship.  Now it requires a 4-year college course.  So have educational standards improved?  Quite the contrary. Education standards were MUCH higher in the past.

The one certain thing from it is higher costs to get anything done.  The Lion's Helm ( Senator  Leyonhjelm) is one of the few who are blowing the whistle on the stupidity and gullibility of it all.

The Project viewers were left stunned when Senator David Leyonhjelm described childcare workers’ roles as “wiping noses and stopping the kids from killing each other” in an interview on Tuesday night.

The Liberal Democrat Senator made several comments that outraged and offended childcare workers in an interview on the Channel Ten show about the Federal Government’s new $3 billion childcare reform package.

Senator Leyonhjelm said he would not support the package without amendments, criticising the bill for not reducing subsidies to higher income families.

He then suggested a way to reduce the cost of childcare would be to cut back the required credentials of workers, adding that women didn’t need training to take care of children.

“Apart from the fact you want to make sure there aren’t any paedophiles involved, you have to have credentials these days to be a childcare worker,” Senator Leyonhjelm said.

“A lot of women, mostly women, used to look after kids in childcare centres.”

“And then they brought in this national quality framework and they had to go and get a ‘certificate three’ in childcare in order to continue the job they were doing – you know, wiping noses and stopping the kids from killing each other.”

Senator Leyonhjelm said “a lot of women just quit” because of the introduction of minimum qualifications.

"The ones who got certificate threes said, ‘OK, I want more pay now that I’m more qualified’. All we did was drive up the cost because of this credentialism."

The panel appeared stunned by his flippant description of childcare worker's role.

Seeking to clarify, co-host Peter Helliar told the senator he thought a lot of people in childcare might be offended by his remarks.

"This is a very tough job that they do," Hellier said.

Senator Leyonhjelm maintained that workers did not need the credentials, saying there were no improvements in standards when the minimum standard of training was introduced.

"Yes it is, but there are an awful lot of people who are very good at it, but they didn't need a sheet of paper to say they were very good at it," he said.

"I don't think we corrected any errors, any errors, any problems, any deficiencies adversely affecting the kids when we brought in that national quality framework."

Panellist Scott Dooley joked with the senator, asking if his vision for the future of childcare was a "bunch of 30 kids on a leash drinking out of a saucer while a grandpa watches?"

Senator Leyonhjelm said that any dropping of qualification wouldn't see "a reduction in childcare standards".

Following the interview, co-host Gorgi Coghlan commented that the senator's benchmark seemed to be, "'Make sure they’re not a paedophile and then everything from there is OK'."

Coghlan also pointed out that mums feel confident leaving their kids in care when they know they are in qualified hands and more workers wouldn't be attracted to the industry if they weren't valued.

A clip of the interview was viewed on Facebook more than 183,000 times, garnering 1300 responses, mostly of anger and disbelief.

"Disgraceful to say this man is an elected member of the state? What an attitude," wrote one Facebook user.

"This is really quite unbelievable, how can you possibly believe that studying a subject of childcare won't and can't improve the care given to children?" commented another.

One user pointed out how "critical" the first five years of a child life were to their development.

"It takes education - knowledge and skill to learn and understand key child developmental needs to ensure a child grows to their fullest potential. Sure we can have anyone wiping a nose or stopping children from killing each other but is this all that children deserve?" she wrote.

Meanwhile, others agreed with the senator.

"It's childcare. It's not school, it's not college. It's literally group babysitting, and that's all I want it to be. I agree with the Senator's position," one user wrote.


Republicans Should Rethink Plans to Privatize Student Lending

Americans are concerned about rising college prices and student
debt levels, and the Republican Party has proposed a solution: bring the private market back into student lending.

Prior to 2010, most federal student loans were originated by private lenders under the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP). But Congress eliminated that program in 2010 and all subsequent loans were originated and administered by the U.S. Department of Education. Since that time, many Republicans have called for a return to market-based federal student lending.

But there’s just one problem with that: FFELP didn’t function at all like a market. Under FFELP, the federal government set the terms for how private lenders were to issue loans. Lenders did not screen borrowers based on creditworthiness and they did not offer better terms to borrowers who were more likely to repay their debts – two hallmarks of competitive lending. Instead, they offered loans to anyone who met prescribed eligibility criteria and offered terms that were dictated by legislation. In fact, the chance of being repaid mattered little to these lenders because the loans were guaranteed by the government such that they were repaid even if borrowers defaulted.

The lenders did all of this in exchange for a fixed payment from the Department of Education. The payment amount, which was pegged to a benchmark interest rate, was also set by legislation. Unfortunately, the payment amount was never quite right, which led to a number of problems so severe that they required a legislative fix.

During the years leading up to the Great Recession, the government payment to lenders yielded such significant profits that some lenders were offering kickbacks to financial aid officers in exchange for sending students their way. These abuses were stopped when the payment was adjusted downward in 2007, but that fix didn’t work for long. By the fall of 2008, FFELP lenders were in Washington asking for more money to keep them in the business of making these loans. The fallout of the early stages of the mortgage crisis led Congress to quickly pass legislation to keep FFELP lenders from quitting the program.

Policymakers that want to inject more market discipline into federal student lending should find better ways to do so than returning to a failed policy that created more problems that it solved. We suggest three such ideas for Congress to consider when it takes up the overdue reauthorization of the Higher Education Act next year.

First, Congress could dramatically scale back the existing federal lending program to focus on undergraduate students. These are the students for whom guaranteeing access to postsecondary education is most important. But out of the roughly $100 billion of loans made by the government each year, $30 billion go to graduate students and another $10 billion to parents of undergraduate students.

Scaling back or eliminating federal lending to graduate students and parents of college students would create an opening for private lenders. This would almost surely reduce lending to students who attend graduate programs that are unlikely to produce a large enough economic return to justify the cost and risk. But such an outcome may be more desirable than taxpayers being on the hook for loans to graduate students that go unpaid or are forgiven under current policy.

Second, Congress could establish a regulatory framework to support innovation in alternative financial products such as income share agreements (ISAs), in which students agree to pay a share of their future income to investors that finance their college tuition. ISAs are likely to remain a niche product, but could play a role in expanding access to higher education financing for some students, such as those who need to borrow more than the federal limits. They could also substitute for federal lending to graduate students if the availability of loans to graduate students was scaled back.

Finally, Congress could improve the market for higher education by increasing the availability of data on college quality. If we want consumers to “vote with their dollars,” then we need to arm them with the information that they need to make good decisions, such as better access to information on the outcomes of previous students who attended particular programs of study. A market without information is no market at all.


Draining the Swamp to Help American Schools

Among the many hot topics since Donald Trump won the election is America’s education system. Once at the top of the nations of the world in educating its young, America has lost serious ground, and it’s time to rectify that.

Jon Guttman, Research Director of the World History Group, wrote in 2012, “As recently as 20 years ago, the United States was ranked No.1 in high school and college education.” Furthermore, “In 2009, the United States was ranked 18th out of 36 industrialized nations.” He attributes that decline to “complacency and inefficiency, reflective of lower priorities in education, and inconsistencies among the various school systems.”

This despite because of the unifying mandates of No Child Left Behind, Common Core, Race to the Top and whatever other repackaged program statists impose upon our education system. Not to mention trillions of dollars poured into the system.

In 2010 at a Paris meeting of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Barack Obama’s first secretary of education, Arne Duncan, who served from 2009 through 2015, said this:

“Before the 1960s, almost all policymaking and education funding was a state and local responsibility. In the mid-1960s, the federal role expanded to include enforcing civil rights laws to ensure that poor, minority and disabled students, as well as English language learners, had access to a high-quality education.
"As the federal role in education grew,” Duncan continued, “so did the bureaucracy.” In fact, he added, the U.S. Department of Education often “operated more like a compliance machine, instead of an engine of innovation,” and that it concerned itself with the details of formula funding, and not with educational outcomes or equity. The latter terms are leftist double-speak.

Duncan went on to say that the United States needed to challenge the status quo, and to close the achievement and opportunity gaps. Five years later, the U.S. still lagged behind many other countries.

The findings in the 2015 Program International Student Assessment (PISA), which is an international benchmark for education systems, finds the U.S. education system improved since the last assessment in 2012 in the areas of science, math and reading.

However, that alleged improvement still leaves American students ranked behind the students of 24 other countries, among the 72 participating nations. Teens in Singapore, Japan and Estonia led the more than half a million 15-year-olds in the 2015 assessment, the primary focus of which was science, with math as the primary focus in 2012.

Jimmy Carter signed the federal Department of Education into law in 1979, and since it became active the following year, American education has steadily worsened, as measured by these international assessments. President-Elect Donald Trump, like Ronald Reagan before him, has called for abolishing the Department of Education, citing the need to cut spending.

The Founders established only four cabinet level activities: foreign relations through the State Department; national defense through the Department of War (now Defense); taxation and spending through the Department of the Treasury; and enforcement of federal law through the Attorney General (now the Department of Justice).

The increase of federal agencies has arguably produced some benefits, but does their performance justify the costs incurred? They have produced tremendous growth in government control of our lives, and enormous expense, both direct and indirect. Today there are nearly four times as many cabinet level agencies as the Founders thought necessary.

The federal education effort has many sins on its list, but the primary one is the shifting of control of schools to Washington by dangling federal dollars in front of state school officials — dollars they can earn only in return for relinquishing control over their schools. Federal influences also contribute to the infestation of standardized testing, which in moderation can provide benefits, but when a typical student takes 112 mandated standardized tests between pre-kindergarten classes and 12th grade, that is over the edge. Eighth-graders, it is estimated, spend an average of 25.3 hours on standardized testing.

It’s in this context that Trump named Betsy DeVos to become education secretary. Her bio explains that in education she “has been a pioneer in fighting to remove barriers, to enact change and to create environments where people have the opportunity to thrive,” and that her political efforts are focused on advancing educational choices. She currently chairs the American Federation for Children.

Like all of Trump’s cabinet selections so far, the Left portrays DeVos as unqualified and criticizes her lack of experience. One particularly unflattering New York Times tome lamented that she has pushed to “give families taxpayer money in the form of vouchers to attend private and parochial schools, pressed to expand publicly funded but privately run charter schools, and [tried] to strip teacher unions of their influence.”

Perhaps the contrary is true, however. Given the lackluster performance of the Department of Education when run by supposedly qualified people, someone with other strengths just might be able to turn the department into a positive influence — or at least minimize the damage — on what is broadly considered a mediocre education system.

Schools are best operated by those closest to the students, so returning control to states and localities will be a good first step.


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