Thursday, March 02, 2017

DeVos Slams ‘Education Establishment,’ Touts School Choice

The U.S. “education establishment has been blocking the doorway to reforms, fixes and improvements for a generation,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday.

And despite the $7 billion spent on school improvement grants during the Obama administration, the system is still failing too many children.

“How do we know that?” DeVos asked. “Our nation's test scores have flat lined, 1.3 million children drop out of school every year.”

DeVos said the Obama administration tested its model -- “and it failed miserably. “Now this is not an indictment of teachers,” she added. “Good teachers deserve to be honored and compensated accordingly.”

DeVos blamed the rigid “education establishment” and touted school choice as the solution. She also urged conservatives to “engage” and “be loud.”

So let me ask you, do you believe parents should be able to choose the best school for their child regardless of their ZIP Code or family income? Me too and so does President Trump.

We have a unique window of opportunity to make school choice a reality for millions of families. Both the president and I believe that providing an equal opportunity for a quality education is an imperative that all students deserve.

So, now let me ask you, how many of you are college students?

Well, the fight against the education establishment extends to you too. The faculty, from adjunct professors to deans, tell you what to do, what to say and more ominously, what to think. They say that if you voted for Donald Trump, you are a threat to the university community, but the real threat is silencing the First Amendment rights of people with whom you disagree.

As secretary, I don't think the Department of Education in Washington, D.C. should have more power over your decisions than you do. I took this job because I want to return power in education back to where it belongs, with parents, communities, and states.


More Leftist racism: No More Music Composed by White Guys for School Band:

I have some bad news for all of you Burt Bacharach fans. The Spring Lake Park High School in Minnesota has decided to stop purchasing music composed by white guys — at least for the time being. “We made a commitment this year to only buy music from composers of color,” marching band director Brian Lukkasson told National Public Radio. And, well, the truth is Burt Bacharach is about as white as a jar of Duke’s Mayonnaise.

The marching band also pledges to toot their horns to at least one musical selection composed by a lady. Apparently, some of the teenage musicians were terribly offended and downright disturbed because they were performing music composed by white folks. “There’s a kind of an ideological segregation of who can and cannot be in band, based on who the composers are, and what the music is like,” student Kia Muleta told the radio network partially funded by your tax dollars. “I really, really want other students of color to be able to feel like they are welcomed and appreciated anywhere, that they don’t have to check themselves at the door,” she added.

I have no idea what that means — but whatever. “The more you practice talking about race, culture and ethnicity, the more comfortable you are,” band director Nora Tycast said. It sounds to me like racism disguised as diversity. Mr. Holland’s opus it is not.


Plea to fix ‘girl-friendly’ bias in Australian testing

The headmaster of Australia’s oldest independent school, the King’s School, has called for an overhaul of the national numeracy and literacy tests, arguing the current assessment favours girls over boys.

Tim Hawkes said four of the five domains in NAPLAN, the ­National Assessment Program — Literacy and Numeracy, were ­focused on literacy and the exam was “substantially a test of literacy and that’s a traditional area of strength with girls, who typically enjoy a word-rich learning style’’.

About 50 per cent of students sitting NAPLAN, he said, were ­typically stronger in STEM ­(science, technology, engineering and maths) than they were in literacy and, coupled with fewer numeracy questions, this was “massively ­disadvantaging boys’’.

“There would be very few ­serious educators who would not conclude that the existing ­NAPLAN exam is much more girl-friendly than it is boy-­friendly. It is time this bias was corrected,’’ Dr Hawkes said.

Last year’s NAPLAN results showed girls in Years 3, 5, 7, and 9 outperformed boys in literacy but the tables were turned for all grades in numeracy.

Australia Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority chief executive Robert Randall said the NAPLAN tests were ­designed to be fair to boys and girls, and any difference in achievement could be the result of a range of factors, including levels of ­engagement or teaching.

“NAPLAN test development process and analysis includes checking all test items for gender bias and removing any items that appear to favour either gender from test analysis,’’ he said.

Dr Hawkes’ critique from the prestigious Parramatta school in Sydney’s west comes as another leading principal, Paul Browning from the co-educational St Paul’s School in Brisbane, warns Australia is in danger of losing sight of what an education worth having really is. He blames a highly politicised “culture of fear’’, which he says is forcing some schools to “teach to the test’’ instead of ­inspiring creativity and entrepreneurial skills.

“We’re not saying that testing isn’t important — students need to learn how to read and write — but this fixation on standardised testing as the ultimate measure of a ‘successful’ education is not healthy,’’ Dr Browning said.

“Nobody is talking about the correlation of when we started to report and create leagues tables of our schools’ performances and the decline in our international standing in the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) results.’’

Dr Hawkes, who backs ­NAPLAN as a diagnostic tool and believes results should be publicly reported, said “fortunately, our NAPLAN results at King’s are good, but I feel for boys’ schools in general because they are being compared with co-ed and girls’ schools who traditionally do very well in literacy-based tasks”.

Mr Randall said: “NAPLAN tests the important skills of literacy and numeracy. The assessment of these skills, through the NAPLAN domains or subjects of reading, writing, language conventions and numeracy. has been agreed by Education Council. Any changes to the domains assessed as part of NAPLAN would require approval of ministers.’’


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