Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Parkland Teacher Who Attacked Kashuv Gets Bad News

One Florida teacher is getting a lesson in accountability for adults.

Since the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the teenage “survivors” with politically acceptable points of view have gotten a taste of celebrity and liberal adulation many Democrat politicians spend their lives dreaming of.

But an apparently quick-tempered teacher at the school is finding out things can be a little different if you’re actually old enough to vote.

Greg Pittman, an American history teacher at Stoneman Douglas, is under investigation by the Broward County School District for remarks he allegedly made in class comparing pro-Second Amendment student Kyle Kashuv to Adolph Hitler, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Friday.

For a guy with apparently impeccable liberal credentials, the news that he’s on the receiving end of a school district inquiry has to be pretty devastating news. After all, the Sun-Sentinel describes him as an “outspoken gun control advocate” and his Twitter bio brags about joining in the students’ “March for Our Lives” demonstration last month in Washington. How could he be in the wrong?

But maybe he should have thought about the consequences before reportedly calling Kashuv the “next Hitler.”

At least three students said they’d heard Pittman make the remarks during a class discussion, the Sun-Sentinel reported. Kashuv was not in the classroom at the time.

According to Fox News, a junior who was in the class recalled the wording a bit differently, but did describe the discussion as “hate fest.”

“They were just saying means things about Kyle,” the student said. “He (Pittman) talked about how he was right, and how Kyle was making an ass of himself. He did say he ‘was the Hitler type.’ I don’t really know what that means exactly, but I think he was just being crazy.”

In a Twitter post Thursday, Kashuv pointed out one particularly disturbing aspect of Pittman’s comments.

“My grandfather was one of the only survivors of the holocaust out of his entire family, and now a teacher is calling me the next Hitler because I have different political views,” he wrote.

Both Fox and the Sun-Sentinel said Pittman did not respond to requests for comment, but the Sun-Sentinel confirmed the school district is looking into the situation.

“School leaders take all matters involving students and staff seriously,” Nadine Drew, a Broward Schools spokeswoman, told the Sun-Sentinel. “They are aware of the allegations and are looking into the matter.”

The irony here, of course, is that of all the teenagers who’ve been in the public eye since Parkland, Kashuv has exhibited the fewest characteristics of a budding fascist leader.

It hasn’t been Kashuv who’s been the subject of endless adulation by a bootlicking media. It hasn’t been Kashuv standing before throngs of people making proto-fascist salutes. It hasn’t been Kashuv calling for mass demonstrations and advertising boycotts against media personalities who fail to fall into line.

That’s been the other Parkland students who’ve become darlings of the gun control movement, particularly, of course, David Hogg. He’s been the kid who’s gotten a free pass from the media since he burst onto the scene after the Feb. 14 shooting, and started fulfilling gun grabbers’ fantasies about student rebellions in the cause of conformity.

Free passes are for kids, though. With word of the school district’s probe of the Pittman comments, it looks like one Florida teacher’s getting a lesson in accountability.


Attending a Dumbed-Down College Can Lead to Depression

With National Decision Day (May 1) fast approaching, guidance counselors throughout the country are ramping up their pressure on high school kids to choose the right college. It turns out that there may be more at stake than even guidance counselors know. A new study is claiming that choosing the wrong college can lead to depression.

The study, conducted by Noli Brazil and Matthew Andersson, uncovered that "depressive symptoms increase by 27% for students experiencing lowered peer ability across their college transition, relative to no substantial change in peer ability. In addition, heightened peer ability in college links to neither diminished nor enhanced student well-being across the transition. Overall, student well-being relates more closely to collegiate than high-school peer ability."

In non-peer reviewed journal speak, that finding can be translated that if students attend a college where the classes are less academically challenging than they're used to and where their peers are less academically focused than their high school classmates, the risk for depression rises substantially.

The study's authors discovered that 50 percent of high school students transition to a college that matches their rubric for "lower peer ability." Writing about their study, the authors assert, "This finding held even after we accounted for a number of other factors, including family income, parents' education and gender. We also took into account the high school-to-college transition itself."

Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, the authors combed through the responses from over 1,400 students representing 100 high schools across America. Within the study, the students were asked questions designed to measure their mental health as they transitioned from high school to adulthood. Brazil and Andersson then,

Measured school academic ability using average scholastic and cognitive aptitude tests. We then examined the effects of going to a college with higher, lower or the same average scores relative to high school on student depression and self-esteem levels.

Prior research has examined the consequences of school academic ability on a variety of outcomes, such as academic performance and self-image. From these studies, a clear finding emerged: equally able students have a lower academic self-image in high-ability schools than in low-ability schools, a phenomenon known as the “big-fish-little-pond effect.”

But because prior research had focused on specific schools rather than school transitions in general, researchers may have failed to detect that movement to a lower-ability school may be harmful to a student’s mental well-being. In particular, going into a lower ability academic setting may be viewed by the student as a failure. If such a student experiences elevated depression levels, it could be the result of unmet or frustrated expectations for achieving personal success and being around peers who share similar interests, habits and goals.

Most people recognize that transitioning from high school to college can be stressful. However, I doubt many people would have guessed that attending a less academically challenging college than your high school would be one of the causes of that stress.


Australian PM backs education report calling for a move from mass learning to tailored education

Gonski is a lawyer and a notable networker. He has no experience as a teacher or educationist.  His report is an expression of conventional pious hopes and nothing more.  It's all old hat to real educationists.  The devil is in the detail.  How do you make it happen?  Nobody knows.  Most British private schools achieve something like it but they cost a bundle.  They need to charge like that to get the low staff-student ratios required.

So even to attempt to carry out its recommendations in government schools would take at least a doubling of teacher time.  Where do we get the extra teachers?  How do we pay them? 

Turnbull is safe in endorsing it as he won't have the job of implementing it.  The States will. The State governments will regard this as just a Chinese puzzle and do very little in response to it. It's just a pipe dream

David Flint comments: "Gonski- more of the same. More reviews, more money, poor discipline and a national disaster- constantly falling standards in education. As usual, Canberra  succeeds in only making the problem worse"

The Prime Minister has thrown his support behind what he's described as a blueprint to lift Australia's lagging educational performance, laid out in a report by businessman David Gonski.

Malcolm Turnbull has urged state governments, teachers and parents to back the recommendations in Mr Gonski's report on achieving excellence in Australian schools.

Mr Gonski's second major review into Australian education said the country must urgently modernise its industrial-era model of school education and move towards individualised learning for all students.

Too many Australian children are failing to reach their potential at school because of the restrictive nature of year-level progression, the report said.

It calls for the implementation across states of a new online assessment tool that teachers would use to diagnose the exact level of literacy and numeracy a child has achieved.

Teachers could then create individual learning plans for students that would not be tied to what year group they are in.

If formative online assessments were established and reported nationally, it would downgrade the intense focus on the yearly NAPLAN tests in favour of continuous, real-time measurement of student progress.

The Federal Government has agreed to implement all of the report's recommendations, and it hopes to use it to develop a new national schooling agreement.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham said he would enter into talks with the states and territories about how to implement Mr Gonski's recommendations.

"We want to see a system out of this report where each student is stretched to the maximum of their capabilities each and every year over the 12 or 13 years of their schooling," Senator Birmingham said.

"It really is essential that teachers know and are able to chart where their students are up to in terms of what they're learning, how they're progressing and that parents are fully engaged as part of that process as well."

Mass education model holding back students

The report was commissioned by the Federal Government last year after the passage of its amended schools funding legislation.

Mr Gonski said in his report that the structure of Australian schools reflected "a 20th century aspiration to deliver mass education to all children".

The report recommended shifting from that industrial education model to one where schools focused on achieving each individual student's "maximum potential growth in learning each year".

It found current assessment tools in schools did not provide teachers with "real-time or detailed data on a student's growth".

"In our report we're suggesting: let's take some time to allow teachers to have more time to improve their art — and not to improve it because it's not good, but to keep up-to-date with all that's happening around the world and in their profession."

While tests like NAPLAN and the international sample test PISA provided "a useful big picture view of student learning trends across Australia and the world", they provided limited assistance to teachers at the classroom level, the report said.

It also said the current "rigidity of curriculum delivery, and assessment and reporting models" were holding Australia back.

Several state governments lodged submissions to the Gonski review, pointing out that current assessment tools used by teachers were not uniform across all schools.

The Victorian Education Department described current assessment tools in its state as "idiosyncratic".

Mixed-ability classes preferable

Many schools rely on gifted and talented programs to extend bright students but the report said evidence showed that mixed-ability classes were preferable.

It said streaming children by ability "has little effect in improving student outcomes and [has] profoundly negative equity effects".

It recommended overhauling the curriculum to focus on "learning progressions" that extended all students, regardless of ability.

Other key recommendations included:

    Setting up a national inquiry to review curriculum and assessment in years 11 and 12

    Establishing a national educational research institute

    Implementing greater principal autonomy

    Providing more rewards for high-performing teachers

    Overhauling the current A-E grading scale to instead measure progression gains

    Introducing a "unique student identifier" for all students that allows progress to be tracked across time, even if a student changes schools or moves interstate

A special meeting of the Education Council will be held on Friday to discuss the recommendations in the report, titled Through Growth to Achievement: Report of the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools.

Mr Gonski was commissioned by the Gillard government in 2011 to compile a major report on school funding.

The review formed the basis for what is known as the Gonski legislation that created a baseline resourcing standard across all schooling sectors.

Findings 'not supported by research', 'lack detail'

But the report has not been welcomed by all in the sector, with the Centre for Independent Studies (CIS) describing it as a failure.

Senior research fellow at the CIS, Jennifer Buckingham, said the report offered no clear guidance to schools and did not meet the review's terms of reference.

"Many of the findings are not supported by research, and lack detail about implementation," Ms Buckingham said.

    "For example, the disproportionate attention to policies that facilitate 'growth mindset' have no evidence-basis in terms of impact on student achievement.

"Likewise, the pre-occupation with increasing the focus on general capabilities has no support in rigorous research about curriculum design and how children learn."

The Australian Education Union said it was concerned the report was coming at a time when the Federal Government was cutting funds to public schools over the next two years.

Union president Correna Haythorpe said it was about properly resourcing disadvantaged schools and students.

"We do have outstanding teachers across Australia who are delivering a very high-quality curriculum, but the reality is that they are missing out on the resources needed to close the student achievement gap," she said.


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