Friday, March 17, 2017

Silencing of speakers far more common at colleges for the very privileged

The Brookings Institution has put together an interesting analysis of colleges where students have attempted to shut down or shout down speakers. Using some data gathered by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, Brookings made a chart showing a correlation between students from wealthier homes and the tendency to disinvite speakers. Here’s Brookings’ description of the chart:

In the figure below, we plot every university in America based on the proportion of students from families with incomes in the top quintile (vertical axis) and from the bottom quintile (horizontal). Marked in red are the “disinvitation colleges” described above. The pattern is clear: the more economically exclusive the institution, the more likely the students have attempted to hinder free speech.

Note that this is not measuring student performance on standardized testing or grades. This is purely looking at family income of the students attending these schools. It’s the most privileged kids who are most likely to be arguing for silencing views that aren’t sufficiently progressive.

There is an obvious irony here. The students shouting down speakers and demanding safe spaces are more likely to come from wealthy homes. And don’t suggest these students have rejected privilege because they know it is bad from their own first-hand experience. Remember, these are young adults who are currently enrolled in schools that cater to the wealthy. They aren’t criticizing privilege after having abandoned it. They are living it. That’s certainly the case at Middlebury College where, as I noted last week, tuition (plus room and board) costs about $65,000 a year.

Looking at this chart, you have to wonder if some of what is driving this campus shout down behavior on the left is simply guilt. No doubt these students really believe the things they say they do about income inequality, racism and intersectionality. And yet, many of them must be aware that, by their own lights, they are part of the problem. What is needed then is some form of progressive absolution, preferably one where someone else pays for their sins. That would certainly help explain the demi-religious character of these protests. These students aren’t just making a point, they are driving out a scapegoat.

No doubt there are many progressive students at other colleges, the ones that don’t cater exclusively to the wealthiest homes. Perhaps those schools can’t afford as many controversial speakers or perhaps the students there don’t feel the same need to prove their bona fides as the progressives from wealthier backgrounds do.


UK: Tory revolt forces rethink of education funding plans

Justine Greening, the education secretary, has been told by many MPs they cannot accept cuts to the budgets of schools in their constituencies

Plans to change the way that schools are funded are widely expected to be withdrawn by the government amid mounting protests from Conservative MPs.

A senior Tory MP told The Times that the scale of dissatisfaction among colleagues was so great that ministers would have to revise their proposals. They could backtrack within weeks.

Revising the funding formula would be controversial because it almost certainly would mean cutting additional funding for children from less well-off families, given that no extra money was announced in the budget.

Ministers have hosted a series of meetings with Tory MPs, who have told them that they cannot accept cuts to the budgets of schools in their constituencies. This month Justine Greening met MPs from the northwest, including George Osborne, the former chancellor, who told the education secretary wryly: "Now you see why I didn't do this."

The coalition government twice abandoned similar attempts to replace the system of giving block grants to local authorities to distribute money to schools with a national funding formula. Ms Greening already has delayed its introduction until next year.

In another blow to the proposals, the f40 group of largely semi-rural and rural local authorities, which claim to do worst under the existing system, attacked the formula, saying that it risked "replacing one unfairness with another".

"We are alarmed that so many schools are losers and we fail to understand why this should be the case when those schools were already poorly funded and well below the national average," 38 of the council leaders said in an open letter to Theresa May.

They included the leaders of large Tory councils such as Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, Kent, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and North Yorkshire.

Critics have long complained that London and other urban areas get more than shire areas under the present system, with Tower Hamlets in east London getting the equivalent of œ7,000 per pupil, while Wokingham in Berkshire gets œ4,000 per pupil.

The new national formula lowers the proportion of per-pupil funding from 76 per cent of total school revenue to about 72.5 per cent, to give greater weight to additional needs such as deprivation and low prior attainment. This is likely now to be reversed.

A consultation paper said: "The formula will recognise educational disadvantage in its widest sense, including those who will not be benefiting from the pupil premium but whose families may be just about managing."

David Laws, the former Liberal Democrat schools minister and chairman of the Education Policy Institute think tank, said: "Delivering a new schools funding system at a time when education budgets are under severe pressure is highly challenging politically. If the government seeks to pacify Conservative MPs by shifting money away from more disadvantaged areas, then this would undercut the government's stated intention to try to boost social mobility."

An education department spokeswoman said: "We are consulting on the factors that will make up the formula and we know it is important that we get this right. This second stage of the consultation will run until March 22."


Undisciplined Australian classroms holding kids back

I have been saying this for years -- JR

Things you would find in a classroom: a student pointing a replica gun at the teacher, an entire class deciding to ignore the teacher in silent protest, chairs thrown, threats and overturned desks.

Teachers came forward to tell the ABC about the biggest classroom disruptions they experienced.

It did not stop there. One teacher had three Year 9 boys skip her class and smear their poo all over the school gymnasium walls, while others had been cursed with the full spectrum of offensive profanities.

The list went on…and on.

Therefore, it would not come as a surprise that two global reports have revealed Australian classrooms are among the most disorderly of the OECD nations.

Australia has a "problematic situation" in terms of classroom discipline, according to the report on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

"About one-third of the students in advantaged schools, and about half of those in disadvantaged schools, reported that in most or every class there was noise and disorder, students didn't listen to what the teacher said, and that students found it difficult to learn," the report said.

Tasmania and New South Wales are problem areas

About 14,500 students from around 760 schools participated across Australia in PISA. Using science classes as a sample, it said on that average:

 *  More than 44 per cent of Australian students indicated there is noise and disorder

 *  Half of students in Tasmania and nearly half of students in New South Wales reported this problem occurring most frequently

 *  Students in Tasmania most frequently reported students don't listen to what the teacher says (48 per cent)

 *  In contrast, students in each of Victoria and Western Australia (30 per cent) and the Northern Territory (29 per cent) were least likely to report the teacher waits long for students to quiet down

Dr Sue Thompson from the Australian Council for Education and Research (ACER) said the environment is challenging for teachers.

"Level of noise and disorder reported in the classroom is one of the highest in the OECD [countries] and it's a problem at grade 4 and grade 8 level as well as at year 9 and 10 level," she said.

The respect is gone

The PISA report stated nearly 40 per cent of students in Australia attended schools where the principal indicated student learning was hindered by "teachers not meeting individual students' needs."

Principals also flagged inadequate infrastructure "hindered teacher capacity to provide instruction", with the issue identified by 25 per cent of principals of students from disadvantaged schools compared to 12 per cent from advantaged schools.

But one caller the ABC said there was another factor at play disrupting the learning process. "I think the respect [for teachers] has gone," she said.

She added that teachers often tried everything they could to engage students. "We split them up, move them around, try and put seating plans in place, engage them one to one. When you've got 30 of them in a class though you've got all different needs at once," she said.

Discipline is the issue

Dr Sue Thompson said the Trends in International Maths and Science Study (TIMSS) also revealed the impacts of classroom disruption.

According to the TIMSS there was "a clear relationship between the achievement of Australian students and principals' reports of school discipline problems, with fewer discipline problems associated with higher achievement".

The Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham said teachers and principals need more support, as well as parents playing their part in addressing the issue.

"Parents must be part of the solution this cannot be something that rests on the shoulders of teachers and principals alone because attitudes, respect are of course formed as much in the home environment and the rest of life as they are in the school community itself," he said.

He said he would examine whether policy needs improving, and discuss the issue with his state and territory counterparts.


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