Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Citing Disparities, Dem Wants to Sink $100B Into Dilapidated Public Schools

Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) on Wednesday introduced legislation that would invest $100 billion in crumbling public school infrastructure that he says is hurting students’ ability to learn.

Introduced on the 63rd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, the Rebuild America’s Schools Act and the Equity and Inclusion Act was crafted partly in response to a 2016 Government Accountability Office report finding that poor and minority students don’t have “full access” to educational opportunities compared to predominantly white schools. Scott’s office contended that the GAO report shows that American public schools are “re-segregating by race and class.”

“No child should learn, and no teacher should teach, in an unsafe or dilapidated learning environment,” Scott said in a statement Wednesday. “We know that poor school facility conditions impact teaching and learning and disproportionately plague schools that serve low-income and minority students.”

Scott pointed to a 2014 Department of Education study estimating that it will cost $197 billion to “bring all public schools into good condition.” Substandard infrastructure is a health and safety hazard to more than 50 million students and 3 million teachers, Scott added.

The GAO report, published in April 2016, found that the number of schools with poor populations, mostly black and Hispanic, increased from 9 percent to 16 percent between 2000 and 2014, based on Department of Education data. About 75 to 100 percent of the student bodies at these schools were eligible for subsidized lunch offerings, which the GAO referred to as “a commonly used indicator of poverty.” Further, GAO analysis showed that these schools offered fewer classes focused on math, science and college preparation.

Citing a 2006 Building Education Success Together report, Scott’s office provided statistics last week that show predominantly white schools “spend nearly 50 percent more on capital construction than those serving minority students, and wealthy districts spend nearly triple their high-poverty counterparts on capital construction.”

Gerard Robinson, an African-American education policy fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, said in an interview Wednesday that there are challenges, but the public school system is not segregated like it was 63 years ago. A Republican and former secretary of education for the state of Virginia, Robinson noted that there are hundreds of predominantly minority schools that the Department of Education has recognized in its National Blue Ribbon Schools Program, which distributes awards for academic performance.

The term segregation, Robinson said, is very real to lawmakers like Rep. Scott and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), who co-sponsored the legislation, “because they grew up at a time where they actually saw the segregation that Brown was fighting against.” But Robinson said the makeup of schools is the result of the communities that surround them.

“To say that 63 years later, if my children are in a public school, and somehow the kids have to look like them, that somehow that’s a decision of Jim Crow just basically says that you failed in 63 years to do something, and that’s simply not the case,” Robinson said.

Robinson commended the proposal to provide greater funding for public school infrastructure, noting that the system needs to work well because the majority of American students attend public schools. He suggested identifying high-poverty, high-performing Blue Ribbon schools, spending the money at those institutions and allowing the lessons learned to “spill over into the traditional public school system.”

The issue should be addressed using an education-focused approach, not an approach that emphasizes color-coding, Robinson said, adding that the money needs to be well-spent. He discussed Washington, D.C., which spends more money per student than the vast majority of states across the country. According to 2013 U.S. Census Bureau data, the district’s $17,953 in spending per pupil ranked No. 3 behind New York ($19,818) and Alaska ($18,175). Yet D.C.’s 69 percent graduation rate in 2016 falls well short of the national average, which was recorded around 82 percent in 2014. Still, the district’s 2016 rate marked a five-point improvement from the previous school year.

“In the District of Columbia, we have seen school renovation and redevelopment have a major impact on the lives of students,” Norton Holmes said in a statement. “The Rebuild America’s Schools Act would help ensure that we are meeting all the digital and physical infrastructure needs of students and teachers, which will improve student academic achievement.”


Tories accused of 'sleight of hand' on manifesto grammar schools data

A senior academic has accused the Conservatives of a "sleight of hand" over the justification of its grammar schools policy in its manifesto. Prof Alice Sullivan challenges the party's statement that selective schools have proportionately more pupils from "ordinary working class families" than non-selective schools.

She says families in the bottom third for income have been excluded from the calculation supporting this data.

The Tories stand by their manifesto. The party argues that increasing the number of grammar schools will improve social mobility as more poor bright children will be taught by them. It says that is because the achievement gap between rich and poor children closes to near zero in grammars.

However, Prof Sullivan, professor of sociology at University College London, said the main reason grammar schools were an "unlikely tool for promoting social mobility" is that working class children were far less likely than richer children to attend them.

The party's manifesto says: "Contrary to what some people allege, official research shows that slightly more children from ordinary, working class families attend selective schools as a percentage of the school intake as compared to non-selective schools."


Australia: Principals under pressure to enrol children with disabilities without support

This is a result of the manic Leftist committment to "all men are equal".  Kids with disabilities must be placed in mainstream schools instead of the old system of special schools.  The result is mayhem with the disabled not given the special attention they need and mainstream classes being disrupted by the special needs students

A lack of support and resources to teach children with disabilities or special needs has resulted in unsafe classrooms for teachers and students, a survey has revealed.

The survey of principals of more than 200 primary schools in south-western Sydney also found breaches of disability discrimination laws "occur on a regular basis".

Eighty-nine per cent of principals rated the funding for students with a disability or special needs was either poor or very poor, according a submission from South Western Sydney Primary Principals to a NSW parliamentary inquiry into students with a disability or special needs in NSW schools.

Their submission contained examples of how inadequate resources had left schools unable to cater for some children with disabilities and special needs, including one student whose high anxiety led to outbursts of physical aggression.

"He has bitten, kicked, strike out at teachers and students on at least 15 occasions in two weeks," the submission said. "He will abscond from the classroom. This student does not attract any funding."

Another student attracted funding for a teachers' aid for only three hours a day despite requiring "full toileting assistance".

"She requires a [teachers' aid] to support her with changing and if she requires showering of a full change she requires two [teachers' aids] at times," the submission said.

The submission said funding was often only provided for a child's "primary disability", and not for other special needs: "Schools may undertake a laborious process to apply for additional funds. The result is usually tardy and inadequate."

Inflexible staffing arrangements and excessive class sizes resulted in "inadequate" learning opportunities for children with disabilities and special needs.

"Principals are sometimes placed in a position whereby they feel compelled to enrol a child with a disability/special needs knowing that they are not able to provide the necessary supports and resources that a child requires to fully access the curriculum," the submission said.

"The pressure to do so from NSW Department [of] Education personnel is significant."

It also said parents were "compelled" by education bureaucrats to complete requests for resources that were "totally inadequate" for their children.

"Parents are sometimes forced to accept enrolment placements that they know are not sufficient for their child due to a lack of special placements available," the submission said. "They are usually given no better alternative."

A majority of principals reported school counselling services were inadequate, with one counsellor per 1500 students: "Some of the students with greatest needs (e.g. emotionally disturbed/mental diagnosis) have access to a school counsellor less than one day per week."

The safety concerns expressed by the principals of schools in south-western Sydney were echoed in the submission from the NSW Primary Principals' Association.

"Principals are struggling to keep staff and other vulnerable students safe," the submission said. "Staff are being injured at alarming rates. Many staff in [Schools for Specific Purposes] come to work expecting to be hurt."

Chris Presland, the president of the NSW Secondary Principals' Council, told the inquiry there had been an increase in physical threats, assaults, verbal threats and abuse towards staff and students.

Mr Presland also said there was a growing number of students with disabilities being integrated into mainstream schools: "Teachers put the education of their students first, but they are finding it more and more difficult to cope with the many students with disabilities or special needs in their classes."

The inquiry, chaired by the Liberal Party's Lou Amato, received more than 400 submissions from teachers, parents, government agencies and disability organisations. It will conduct its next public hearing in Tamworth on June 8.

A spokesman for the NSW Department of Education did not answer specific questions but issued a statement that said more than $1 billion was provided directly to schools or through specialist programs and services to assist students with a disability.

"In 2017, more than $237 million of needs-based funding has been allocated to schools in south-western Sydney for principals to use flexibly to support the learning needs of all students in their schools," he said.

He added: "The department also works with schools to ensure the environment for students and staff is conducive for effective, safe learning and takes action to address situations brought to its attention where this may not be the case."

David Roy, a lecturer at the University of Newcastle's School of Education, expressed concerns about placing children with disabilities in special schools.

"Often the argument is that the students are happier," he said. "If we replaced the words disability with 'black' or 'Muslim' or 'gay' then the discriminatory aspect of this is apparent. That is not withstanding the educational reasons that it is harming not only the students isolated but also the wider social cohesion of the whole school and community."

Mr Roy also said research indicated mainstream students were not adversely affected if students with disabilities were in their class: "In fact, those very same 'diverse' students often bring new ways of thinking to the whole class. We need to stop seeing disability as a deficit, but as also having assets attached."


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