Thursday, August 31, 2017

University of Tampa professor fired after tweeting Hurricane Harvey is 'karma' for Texas voting Republican

Don't mess with Twitter. A University of Tampa assistant sociology professor got taken to school after he suggested Hurricane Harvey is retribution for Texans who voted for the GOP in a tweet Sunday night, theTampa Bay Timesreports.

In the since-deleted post, Kenneth L. Storey stated, "I don't believe in instant karma but this kinda feels like it for Texas. Hopefully this will help them realize the GOP doesn't care about them."

Along with a barrage of acerbic messages aimed at him online, including some from those purporting to be fellow Floridians and University of Tampa students, the school itself took a strong stance against his views, firing him as of Tuesday, according to a statement posted on the University's website.

"We condemn the comments and the sentiment behind them, and understand the pain this irresponsible act has caused," university spokesman Eric Cardenas said in a statement to the Tampa Bay Times. "As Floridians, we are well aware of the destruction and suffering associated with tropical weather."

After deleting his original message, the former Orlando Weekly writer went back to Twitter to apologize Monday.

"I deeply regret a statement I posted yesterday," he tweeted. "I never meant to wish ill will upon any group. I hope all affected by Harvey recover quickly."

Ironically, Harris County, which includes the devastated city of Houston, went for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, along with the counties of Dallas, Bexar, Travis, El Paso, Hidalgo and Fort Bend. The Mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner, is also a member of the Democratic Party.


Localize, Don’t Federalize, Educational Choice

Parental choice in education has many advantages, as we see in the growing majority of states with choice programs. Yet using the federal government to expand educational choice is risky, as The Heritage Foundation’s Linsdey Burke, The Cato Institute’s Neal McCluskey, and I explain in our Washington Post editorial.

The Trump administration has made clear that it wants to support school choice. In his February address to Congress, the president called education “the civil rights issue of our time,” and he has pledged to direct $20 billion to advance choice. He also picked school choice stalwart Betsy DeVos as his education secretary.

Trump deserves credit for seeing the need to weaken a government monopoly, let parents choose the best education for their unique children and leave educators free to teach as they see fit. But there is great risk in federalizing choice: He who pays the piper calls the tune, and federal control could ultimately impose the same regulations on once-independent schools that have stifled public institutions.

Consider higher education. Today federal aid amounts to around $158 billion, up from about $16 billion in the early 1970’s, and close to three-fourths of undergraduates now receive some form of federal funding to pay for college. Think all this money comes without strings? Think again:

Attached to all that aid are volumes of regulations that have increased in scope and intrusiveness for years. There are rules eroding core legal protections for students accused of sexual misconduct and blunt measures of school quality that fail to account for even basic variables such as the composition of a school’s student body or big state subsidies. And colleges deal with a student body of adults—imagine the rules that could be instituted for children, who are not assumed to be capable of caring for themselves.

Not even tax credits for college expenses are immune from federal meddling via the accreditors the feds regulate. There’s no reason to believe K-12 tax-credit scholarships would be immune.

It is likely that a federal K-12 tax credit would start with a similar thicket of requirements for accreditation or eventually end up there. If something were to go wrong at even one or two schools accepting scholarship students, choice opponents and “accountability” hawks would likely head right to the regulatory presses.

Of course, such regulation can happen at the state level. But that is where federalism—states and Washington controlling different matters—can help. States are “laboratories of democracy.” They can try different policies, and do so without exposing everyone to possible failure. States also compete for residents and businesses, creating a much greater incentive to care about efficient and effective policy than Washington has.

If the federal government delivered choice through a new nationwide model, it would likely swamp these democratic labs and snuff out competition among differing choice policies, including vouchers, education savings accounts and other ideas of which no one has yet dreamt.

So is there anything the federal government should do to expand parental choice in education? Yes.

[The Trump administration] can put the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program on a permanent and expanding footing. During nearly every budget cycle over the past eight years, the Obama administration attempted to zero out funding for choice in the District, a place where the feds actually do have constitutional authority to govern education. Thousands of low-income children could finally feel assured of their places in safe, effective, chosen schools.

The administration could also propose expanding choice to military families and children attending Bureau of Indian Education schools — the latter deemed the worst-performing schools in the United States.

Those offer major opportunities to create choices where few or none exist. Along with use of the bully pulpit to promote state-level choice, they would go far to advance the cause of educational freedom and opportunity.


Three of Britain's leading independent schools caught up in an exam 'cheating' scandal

Three of Britain’s leading public schools were last night embroiled in an exam “cheating” scandal amid accusations that pupils were told about questions that would feature in test papers.

The Daily Telegraph has learned that Winchester College has suspended its head of art history amid accusations he gave pupils "advance knowledge" on two exam papers.

Laurence Wolff, 56, son of the distinguished scientist Professor Heinz Wolff, was suspended with immediate effect after he was found to have given students “prior information on exam questions on two papers”.

Last night the school confirmed that results for two exams sat by around 13 students had been nullified and grades would be estimated based on coursework and previous exams.

Charterhouse school has also confirmed that it has been investigated by the exam board amid claims that pupils were aware of upcoming questions on an exam. The school added that it had voluntarily reported its concerns to the exam board.

The exam board, Cambridge International Examinations (CIE), said last night that there was no evidence of wrongdoing by Charterhouse or any of its pupils.

It comes after Eton College dismissed its head of economics, Mo Tanweer, following allegations that he had shared confidential information about an upcoming economics paper.

Last night the Department for Education commented on the scandal for the first time and said that Ofqual, the exam regulator was now involved in the investigation.

A spokesman said: "Parents and students must be able to have faith in the exam system. Any suggestion of malpractice is concerning and should be looked into.

"Cambridge International Examinations board are dealing with the incidents ‎and have made the exam regulator Ofqual aware."

Robert Halfon, a Conservative MP and chairman of the Education select committee, said: "To have one example is bad enough but to have two in some of Britain's top private schools is more worrying.

"Questions need to be asked about whether this is more widespread and whether there is a conflict of interest over this practice."

In the Eton and Winchester cases both teachers were also working as examiners at CIE, the body which sets questions for the 'Pre U' exams - the A Level equivalents taken by independent school pupils ahead of entry to university.

Education experts last night said the dual role was a clear conflict of interest and called for ministers to close the loophole, which often allows teachers to supplement their income and bolster their CVs.

Sir Anthony Seldon, the former headmaster at Wellington College said the incidents were “deeply concerning” and called into question the way in which the exams were devised.

“There needs to be an iron wall between the setting of these exams and the way they are marked.

“There are immense pressures on schools to meet these very marginal frontiers in exams, and the system has to be water tight. People assessing and designing these papers should not under any circumstances be involved in teaching them. It’s an impossible situation.

“Even if most people behave correctly there is always a danger.”

The exam scandal began last week when it emerged that Eton pupils studying economics had their results for the paper in question nullified and instead given estimated grades based on their results on two other papers.

Teachers also had to write to universities to assure them that the boys who took the exam were in no way culpable.

It is understood that the controversy at Winchester College came to light after a female student at Downe House, another independent school, informed her teachers that boys from Winchester had been discussing the contents of the upcoming exam online.

Teachers at the school then pursued the matter with Winchester College and the exam board, resulting in the latter launching a formal investigation.

There is no suggestion that any pupils or other members of staff at any of the schools are guilty of any wrongdoing.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, a source at Winchester said: “At the end of May 2017 a girl at Downe House found out on social media that the boys at Winchester had advance knowledge of which four of the possible forty works of art on the syllabus were going to be on the pre U paper.

“By the middle of June, pupils were saying that they had been told that their scores on Paper 1 would be disregarded - strong candidates, who had prepared all forty works of art properly knew that they would now not get the highest grade that their work deserved. The boys were furious, as were many people in Common Room.”

Tim Hands, headmaster at Winchester College, said: “The College has treated this matter very seriously, and has worked closely with the examination board throughout.

"It greatly regrets what has happened. No boy was to blame for the exam irregularity, and the board used standard procedures to award final grades.

“One teacher was suspended and has now retired from the school, and all those boys holding university offers dependent on a grade in Art History have now had those offers confirmed by their first or second choice university.”

The school has also circulated a letter to parents informing them of the investigation and its findings.

Mr Wolff was unavailable for comment, despite repeated attempts by this newspaper to contact him.

A spokesperson for Cambridge International Examinations said: "Protecting the integrity of our exams is our priority and we take very seriously our duties to ensure that all of our examinations are fair, and that all students receive an appropriate and valid grade.

“We can’t provide any detail about the investigation, as this would compromise the privacy and data of individuals, but we can assure you that our investigations are robust and thorough.

“We sympathise with the students who have been affected through no fault of their own."

Charterhouse was investigated by CIE after it passed on concerns to the exam board that pupils had been passed details of an upcoming paper via a external contact on social media.

However, Charterhouse strongly denies that any student was involved in malpractice.

A spokesman for the school said: "Charterhouse staff were made aware of concerns raised by pupils and referred the matter to Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) at the time.

“We have been assured by CIE that our pupils have not been affected. All Charterhouse pupils who sat the CIE Pre-U Economics examinations were awarded their marks for the papers in the normal way."

The disclosures have prompted concern among education experts, who warned that the incidents had exposed a  “conflict of interest” which threatened the integrity of the exam system.

Professor Alan Smithers, head of education at Buckingham University said: “I think this is the tip of the iceberg, because what you’ve got here is a situation in which these academics have had massive temptation placed in front of them.

“You would hope that people in positions of trust like this would not abuse their power. It is also a serious issue if teachers are promoting themselves not only as educators but also administrators of the exams their students sit. That seems to me to be a huge conflict of interest, both for the school and the employee.

“I think the exam board needs to review its procedures and recognise that there will be people who are open to this breach of trust. “


No comments: