Saturday, September 19, 2009

Back-to-School Patriotism

Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, American history is an irreversible force, ever-progressing and changing the course of human history. Within the past five years alone, America established the first modern democratic state in the Middle East and elected the first African-American president in history. Yet, as students made their way back into America’s classrooms this fall, studies show that our children are less interested in history than ever before.

In 2005, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough testified before the U.S. Senate that American history was the nation’s worst subject. Two years later, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (the “Nation’s Report Card”) confirmed McCullough’s findings.

And recently, Diane Ravitch of New York University said, “Every national assessment has shown that students don’t know history … scores for U.S. history are consistently the lowest of any subject tested; typically more than half of high school seniors score ‘below basic,’ the lowest possible rating. In no other subject do a majority of students register so little knowledge of a subject taught in school.”

It is a sad and telling diagnosis of America’s conscience. How can we expect the next generation of Americans to protect and defend the country’s legacy if they do not know their own history? Alexis de Tocqueville once wrote, “When the past no longer illuminates the future, the spirit walks in darkness.” Our country’s very freedom and future hinges on education. How can we ask our children to fight, and perhaps die, for a country they do not know?

America’s love for history has always been self-propelled. Long before the ivory towers of pedagogy there were the log cabins of self-education. Men like Abraham Lincoln were voracious readers, often going to great lengths to get their hands on, and minds around, the classics. Education wasn’t limited to five days a week, seven hours a day and nine months out of the year; it was an on-going process with children often spending their few spare hours of the day reading under candlelight.

Today, our textbooks are more intent on political correctness, dulled-down event reporting and universal appeal. The dramatic and realistic story of America is mostly absent in the study of American history. Text authors, publishers and higher education experts have desiccated the rich drama and conflicts of history and replaced them with dry narratives that read more like recipe books and less like thrilling, page-turning novels.

My goal, along with a group of award-winning teachers, is to reverse this precarious trend and reshape the future of history education in America. Known as Team HOPE (History Opens Eyes), we have begun incorporating “America: The Last Best Hope” and other curriculum materials into a comprehensive and compelling narrative about our country. “Last Best Hope” does not look or read like any other textbook. It is the story of a people inextricably linked by the common threads of freedom and virtue, a story of men and women who rallied a great people behind them throughout the course of our nation’s history. In “Last Best Hope,” history is more than rote memorization or tedious facts; it is drama, romance, comedy, mystery, action, tragedy and triumph. I believe in the “warts and all” version of American history—not “warts, and that’s all.” And because of this, our project has been positively reviewed by scholars from all ideological perspectives.

This revolution we are commencing is not limited to classrooms or textbooks. Remember parents: You are a child’s first and most important teacher and the single-most effective Department of Education. President Ronald Reagan said, “Let me offer lesson No. 1 about America: All great change in America begins at the dinner table.” As our children return to school this fall, let us actively engage and encourage their interest in history—from the dinner tables to the classrooms.

If we are to restore America’s love for its rich and great history, we must begin by telling the truth, not in a prosaic, tiresome fashion, but in a captivating and memorable way. Our story is one of great suffering and great triumph; it is what Abraham Lincoln called “the last best hope of earth.”

As we prepare for the new school year, let us remind our children of America’s true greatness, and in so doing, let us give them a true love story.


Once upon a time there was a subject called history . . .

A profound and pitiful ignorance of Britain's national past is the shameful legacy of so-called progressive educationalists, says Dominic Sandbrook

In April 1942, the Luftwaffe launched a series of night bombing raids against the historic cathedral cities of Exeter, Bath, Norwich, York and Canterbury. The targets had been picked out of the Baedeker Guide to Britain, not because they were militarily important or commanded crucial transport routes, but because they represented something vaguer but more profound.

The Nazis' aim was to smash Britain's moral and historical heritage – and, of course, they failed. More than 1,500 people were killed, but York Minister and Canterbury Cathedral still stood proud and unbowed amid the flames, symbolising the long centuries of England's past. Not even the might of the Nazi empire, it seemed, could break the thread of our national history.

What a tragic irony, then, that where Hitler's bombers failed, a generation of home-grown political meddlers and "progressive" educationalists have succeeded all too well. For to anyone with even a passing interest in the teaching, reading and writing of our national past, the Historical Association's massive new survey on history teaching in secondary schools reads like the report of some callous, devastating military barbarism.

Across the board, history teaching is in retreat. Seven out of ten teenagers say they enjoy the subject, yet barely three out of 10 study it to GCSE level. Among younger children, the hours set aside for history are being slashed to make way for supposedly vocational subjects. And almost unbelievably, 12-year-olds in half of Tony Blair's beloved academies study history for just one hour – one! – a week.

An entire generation, in other words, is leaving school ignorant of what their parents and grandparents once took for granted: the solid, reassuring knowledge of what we all once recognised as our national story.

Terrible as they are, the Historical Association's figures come as little surprise. A few years ago, when I was a lecturer at one of northern England's biggest redbrick universities, I quickly realised that it was a mistake to assume any prior knowledge of British history on the part of our 18-year-old students. Most had studied the Nazis and the American civil rights movement in great detail at A-level, but few had heard of, say, David Lloyd George or Stanley Baldwin, or could explain why Britain had won and lost a global empire.

They were bright and keen to learn, but had been betrayed by a system that fed them titbits of knowledge, and by a culture of continuous testing that left little time to appreciate the broad sweep of our national past. But by today's standards, they were lucky. For as the Historical Association points out, if the trend continues, history may well decline into virtual irrelevance as a school subject, overtaken by Media Studies and Beauty Therapy.

It is too easy to blame the students, who find themselves under intense pressure to get the best possible grades for their university applications – which inevitably means that they pick subjects that are seen as "easier" or that offer more "value". And it is too easy, I think, to blame their teachers.

Whenever I give sixth-form talks, whether in private or state schools, I am always struck by the sheer love of history shown by most teachers, whose attitudes often put academics themselves to shame. Only a few weeks ago, giving a lecture to a talented and engaging group of A-level students on the Isle of Man, I felt almost humbled by the enterprise and sheer commitment of their history teachers, a husband-and-wife team who might have been an advertisement for education as one of life's most enriching vocations.

But there is no doubt that something has gone badly wrong when seven out of 10 schoolchildren are no longer studying history at the age of 16, when two out of 10 think Britain was once occupied by the Spanish, and when some identify Sir Winston Churchill as the first man on the moon. And the blame lies at the very top, shared by politicians of both parties, who have been systematically cheating and betraying our children since the 1980s.

During the Thatcher years, it was meddling from the top that downgraded history from a compulsory to an optional subject at the age of 16 – which, because it was seen as "difficult", made it easy pickings for Mickey Mouse subjects such as Beauty Therapy. It was supposedly "progressive" interference, meanwhile, that did away with old-fashioned essay questions and replaced them with empathy exercises and multiple-choice quizzes that sacrificed any sense of intellectual depth or discipline.

And perhaps above all, it was in Westminster and Whitehall that officials designed our absurd Yo! Sushi approach to history, in which schools randomly pick unrelated historical topics like saucers from a conveyor belt, instead of studying our national story as a continuous narrative, which is how any sensible person sees it.

What makes this betrayal all the more depressing is that in society at large there is clearly such an eager appetite for historical narrative. Even now, 20 years after I was forced to do empathy exercises ("Imagine you are a housewife in Hamburg in 1932 …") as part of my history GCSE lessons, British readers devour more popular history than almost any other nation, helping to keep Andrew Roberts in silk pyjamas and Simon Schama in leather jackets.

With almost four million members happily forking out to visit its country houses, castles, factories and workhouses, the National Trust is the biggest membership organisation in the country. Even the latest Booker shortlist reflects our deep shared thirst for history, from A S Byatt's lovingly evoked Edwardian social landscape to Sarah Waters's haunting recreation of Attlee's Britain and Hilary Mantel's coruscating portraits of Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII. And, of course, it was the readers of this very paper who contributed £25,000 to the reprint of H E Marshall's Our Island Story, the children's history of England first published in 1905 that still gives a more entertaining overall account of our national story than most modern textbooks, even if it is a bit dated.

Any sensible government, recognising the extent of the popular enthusiasm for history, would have intervened long ago to restore the subject as a central, compulsory element of the national curriculum. Instead, Labour have flapped and floundered, bleating about Britishness lessons and citizenship classes instead of doing the one thing guaranteed to inculcate a sense of community and identity: teaching children their national history.

One reason that America has proved so successful as a melting pot for immigrants, after all, is that its schools give their children a solid and reassuring sense of themselves as Americans, embedded in a shared national past which is studded with patriotic landmarks from the Declaration of Independence to the Gettysburg Address. And we have only to look across the Irish Sea, where schools in the Republic patiently trace their national story from Ireland's first Christian missionaries to its bloody struggle for independence, to see that teaching your national history from start to finish is hardly rocket science. Nor is it necessarily reactionary or old-fashioned or even conservative, as its critics suggest. It is simply common sense.

"The past is a foreign country," L P Hartley famously wrote at the beginning of his great novel The Go-Between. "They do things differently there." Exploring that vast and impossibly rich continent ought to be one of the most exciting intellectual adventures in any boy or girl's lifetime: a chance not just to tread the fields of Hastings or Bosworth, or to see Shakespeare and Milton at work, but to encounter an enormously, uproariously diverse range of characters, to make lifelong acquaintances, to draw lessons and parallels, to meet humanity in the raw.

In any sane and decent society, that journey ought to be the centrepiece of the education system, a long and thoughtful expedition, not a botched and half-hearted day-trip to which most children are no longer invited. And one day, I suspect, we will look back and judge that our Government's ignorance and neglect of that wonderful, dazzling, irresistible country was among the greatest of its failures and the most unforgivable of its many betrayals.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Educational rot in DC

Instead of President Obama addressing school students across the nation, he might have accomplished more by focusing his attention on the educational rot in schools in the nation's capital. The American Legislative Exchange Council recently came out with their 15th edition of "Report Card on American Education: A State-by-State Analysis." Academic achievement in no state is much to write home about but in Washington, D.C., by any measure, it approaches criminal fraud. Let's look at the numbers.

Only 14 percent of Washington's fourth-graders score at or above proficiency in the reading and math portions of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test. Their national rank of 51 makes them the nation's worst. Eighth-graders are even further behind with only 12 percent scoring at or above proficiency in reading and 8 percent in math and again the worst performance in the nation. One shouldn't be surprised by Washington student performance on college admissions tests. They have an average composite SAT score of 925 and ACT score of 19.1, compared to the national average respectively of 1017 and 21.1. In terms of national ranking, their SAT and ACT rankings are identical to their fourth- and eighth-grade rankings -- dead last.

Washington's political and education establishment might excuse these outcomes by arguing that because most students are black, the schools are underfunded and overcrowded. Let's look at such a claim. During the 2006-07 academic year, expenditures per pupil averaged $13,848 compared to a national average of $9,389. That made Washington's per pupil expenditures the third highest in the nation coming in behind New Jersey ($14,998) and New York ($14,747). Washington's teacher-student ratio is 13.9 compared with the national average of 15.3 students per teacher, ranking 18th in the nation. What about teacher salaries? Washington's teachers are the highest paid in the nation, having an average annual salary of $61,195 compared with the nation's average $46,593. Despite the academic performance of Washington's students, they have a graduation rate of 61 percent compared to the national average of 70 percent. That suggests the issuance of fraudulent high school diplomas.

Currently, Washington, D.C. has an Opportunity Scholarship Program, which allows qualified low-income families to claim up to $7,500 per student toward a private education of their choice. Obama's Democratic Congress, acting on the behalf of the education establishment, has killed the program and there's the possibility that the 1,700 students currently enrolled will have to return to D.C. public schools.

The staunchest opponents of school choice are hypocrites. They want, demand and can afford school choice for themselves but for others not so affluent school choice it is a different matter. President and Mrs. Barack Obama enrolled their two daughters in Washington's most prestigious Sidwell Friends School, forking over $28,000 a year for each girl. Whilst senator from Illinois, the Obama's enrolled their girls in the University of Chicago's Laboratory School, a private school in Chicago charging almost $20,000 for each girl. A Heritage Foundation survey found that 37 percent of the members of the House of Representatives and 45 percent of senators in the 110th Congress sent their children to private schools. Public school teachers enroll their own children in nonpublic schools to a much greater extent than the general public, in some cases four and five times greater. In Cincinnati, about 41 percent of public school teachers send their children to nonpublic schools. In Chicago it is 38 percent, Los Angeles 24 percent, New York 32 percent, and Philadelphia 44 percent. The behavior of public school teachers is quite suggestive. It's like my offering to take you to a restaurant and you find out that neither the chef nor the waiters eat there. That suggests they have some inside information from which you might benefit.

For people in power to tolerate the Washington, D.C. school system is despicable. For a black president to do so might qualify as betrayal.


Straight Pride

by Mike Adams

Dear UNC-Wilmington PRIDE:

I am writing to express my interest in joining you during your appearances at UNC-Wilmington Resident Assistant (RA) training next semester. At the beginning of every semester, members of your UNC-Wilmington student group speak to all of our RAs. You describe yourself as an organization dedicated to the eradication of bigotry and the promotion of inclusion. But then you contradict yourself by saying you seek to "Improve the quality of LGBTIQA lives and increase understanding and acceptance of LGBTIQA individuals in the general university community."

Unfortunately, you've excluded a very important group of students on our campus. I would like to come join you to speak on their behalf. That group is, of course, the straight student population that refuses to join your political alliance in support of the gay "civil rights" agenda.

If I understand correctly - and, forgive me, as I've never taken the Queer Theory course offered by my department - LGBTIQA stands for the following: Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Trans-gendered, Inter-sexed, Queer, and Allies.

During the two and a half days of training concerning LGBTIQA issues I am told you made the following major points: 1) Heterosexist privilege is rampant in America; 2) Most people are guilty of heterosexism. You also passed out sheets defining certain terms such as "homophobia" and "inter-sexed." I'm glad you decided on one definition for those unable to decide upon one gender identity - those who seek to change genders, not to mention bathrooms, from one day to the next.

I am told that the president of your group spoke at RA training and that others shared their "coming out" stories. I would like to speak to you about my own coming out story, which was the day I decided I was opposed to endless gay indoctrination. People stopped talking to me (read: excluded me) after I came out. I'm sure that's happened to others on our campus. Therefore, I would like to pass out "Straight Pride" stickers at the end of my talk - that is, if you are in favor of intellectual diversity, tolerance, and inclusion.

You may or may not know that - shortly after RA training was over - there was a small fire in one of our dormitories. The RA in charge of evacuating the students was unsure of what to do but he managed and no one was hurt. His uncertainly was due to the fact that there was no training for fire evacuation. Although not taught about fire evacuation procedures the RAs are taught about hate crimes. I think we might want to consider protecting all students from fires, which actually happen on campus, instead of protecting a tiny fraction from hate crimes, which never happen on campus.

Although hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation never happen on our campus there is a problem with homosexual harassment. I'm not talking about harassment of homosexuals. I'm talking about harassment by homosexuals.

At the end of training, all RAs are asked to become "allies" who will put a little bookmark on their door and offer their rooms up as "safe spaces." Over the course of these last few years some RAs have told PRIDE members and university officials that they would prefer not to be "allies." The response has been to recommend more LGBTIQA training - as if two and a half days were not enough. One student was even told "You really need to talk to someone" as if he were suffering from an illness.

But disagreeing with the gay agenda is not a disease. It is a different point of view. And it should be respected.

PRIDE and UNC-Wilmington will be quick to point out that RAs are not forced into becoming allies or forced into making their dorm rooms "safe spaces." But there is no need for a mandate when people abandon their principles.

Unfortunately, after people abandon those principles they feel a sense of shame and remorse. I want to do something about that. I want them to feel proud of who they are and willing to stand up and articulate what they believe.

So, in conclusion, will you consider including me in your RA training sessions? I can do it in less than two and a half days. I can even show them how to put out fires that are real.


Australia: Useless Victoria police do nothing while "refugees" destroy Australia's Indian education industry

You are not allowed to mention it these days but in the past there was more open acknowledgement that the street thugs are mostly African refugees. That means, of course, that the police are hamstrung by political correctness

India has urged Australia to quickly put in place promised measures to protect its citizens after new assaults last weekend in Melbourne. India's foreign ministry confirmed two Indian nationals and two other persons of Indian origin were assaulted in Australia on September 12. "It would help if various measures being contemplated by the Australian side, in addition to those already announced, are put in place at the earliest, to prevent reoccurrence of such incidents in the future," said a statement from the foreign ministry.

Victorian Premier John Brumby said incidents such as the weekend attack on four Indian men will make his mission to repair damaged relations between Australia and India all the more difficult. Mr Brumby leaves Australia for India next Monday for a trip designed to promote Melbourne as a safe destination for Indian students to study. [What a laugh!]

"I don't think there is any doubt at all that some of the events over the last few months have damaged our brand and the Australian brand in India," he told reporters on Wednesday. "It will make that task (promoting Melbourne as a good place to study) difficult. I think it makes the trip to India even more important."

A series of attacks on Indian students since May has strained diplomatic ties between New Delhi and Canberra and each new attack prompts wide media coverage here.

The Australian government has promised to increase police patrols and weed out suspect education and migration agents after revelations that foreign students were falling victim to sub-standard courses and visa scams. "We are concerned at the recurring attacks on Indians in Australia and we hope that the latest incident is investigated with care and the culprits are dealt with," the statement said.

The attacks have cast a shadow over the Australian education industry for foreign students which is worth $15.53 billion. About 95,000 Indians are studying in Australia after a university publicity blitz targeting the country's growing middle class. The ministry said it had taken note of assurances given by the Australian authorities but now expected some action.


Some excerpts from another report about the pathetic police handling of the most recent attack:

Police have defended a four-day delay in releasing details about a racist attack on four men in Melbourne’s north-east that has sparked outrage in India. The Times of India today reported that up to 70 people were involved in the bashing of Sukhdip Singh, 26, his brother Gurdeep Singh, uncle Mukhtair Singh and nephew Indpal Singh, 20.

But Victoria Police acting Senior Sergeant Glenn Parker said the attack had been exaggerated in Indian press reports and denied there had been a cover-up by police. Acting Senior Sergeant Parker today denied Indian media reports that up to 70 people had been involved in the assault. He said 15 to 20 people were believed to have watched the assault and were yelling racial abuse when police arrived...

A Victoria Police spokeswoman said because four men were arrested following the assault there had been no "operational reason" for police to publicise the incident. The four arrested men, aged between 20 and 30, were later released without charge. Police are now seeking witnesses.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Critical thinking? You need knowledge

THE LATEST fad to sweep K-12 education is called “21st-Century Skills.’’ States - including Massachusetts - are adding them to their learning standards, with the expectation that students will master skills such as cooperative learning and critical thinking and therefore be better able to compete for jobs in the global economy. Inevitably, putting a priority on skills pushes other subjects, including history, literature, and the arts, to the margins. But skill-centered, knowledge-free education has never worked.

The same ideas proposed today by the 21st-Century Skills movement were iterated and reiterated by pedagogues across the 20th century. In 1911, the dean of the education school at Stanford called on his fellow educators to abandon their antiquated academic ideals and adapt education to the real life and real needs of students.

In 1916, a federal government report scoffed at academic education as lacking relevance. The report’s author said black children should “learn to do by doing,’’ which he considered to be the modern, scientific approach to education.

Just a couple of years later, “the project method’’ took the education world by storm. Instead of a sequential curriculum laid out in advance, the program urged that boys and girls engage in hands-on projects of their own choosing, ideally working cooperatively in a group. It required activity, not docility, and awakened student motivation. It’s remarkably similar to the model advocated by 21st-century skills enthusiasts.

The list goes on: students built, measured, and figured things out while solving real-life problems, like how to build a playhouse, pet park, or a puppet theater, as part of the 1920s and 1930s “Activity Movement.’’ From the “Life Adjustment Movement’’ of the 1950s to “Outcome-Based Education’’ in the 1980s, one “innovation’’ after another devalued academic subject matter while making schooling relevant, hands-on, and attuned to the real interests and needs of young people.

To be sure, there has been resistance. In Roslyn, Long Island, in the 1930s, parents were incensed because their children couldn’t read but spent an entire day baking nut bread. The Roslyn superintendent assured them that baking was an excellent way to learn mathematics.

None of these initiatives survived. They did have impact, however: They inserted into American education a deeply ingrained suspicion of academic studies and subject matter. For the past century, our schools of education have obsessed over critical-thinking skills, projects, cooperative learning, experiential learning, and so on. But they have paid precious little attention to the disciplinary knowledge that young people need to make sense of the world.

For over a century we have numbed the brains of teachers with endless blather about process and abstract thinking skills. We have taught them about graphic organizers and Venn diagrams and accountable talk, data-based decision-making, rubrics, and leveled libraries.

But we have ignored what matters most. We have neglected to teach them that one cannot think critically without quite a lot of knowledge to think about. Thinking critically involves comparing and contrasting and synthesizing what one has learned. And a great deal of knowledge is necessary before one can begin to reflect on its meaning and look for alternative explanations.

Proponents of 21st-Century Skills might wish it was otherwise, but we do not restart the world anew with each generation. We stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. What matters most in the use of our brains is our capacity to make generalizations, to see beyond our own immediate experience. The intelligent person, the one who truly is a practitioner of critical thinking, has the capacity to understand the lessons of history, to grasp the inner logic of science and mathematics, and to realize the meaning of philosophical debates by studying them.

Through literature, for example, we have the opportunity to see the world through the eyes of another person, to walk in his shoes, to experience life as it was lived in another century and another culture, to live vicariously beyond the bounds of our own time and family and place.

Until we teach both teachers and students to value knowledge and to love learning, we cannot expect them to use their minds well.


British education unions don't like incentive pay

It offends against their Leftist obsession with equality

The bonus culture is creeping into state schools as a result of market values being imported into the public sector, unions warned today. Education union representatives told the TUC that the public sector risked a rise in the very culture of the finance sector that had contributed to the economic crash.

Unions want current measures that allow school leaders to receive unlimited additional pay on top of their salary to be switched in favour of clearly defined limits, with criteria set down for any additional payments made.

Hank Roberts, from the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, warned of the perils and told delegates how he was temporarily suspended for whistleblowing after he discovered the headteacher at his school was receiving thousands in bonuses on top of his salary of more than £100,000, backed by the chair of governors, who said he was "worth every penny".

In one year alone, the head had been paid more than £400,000 – more than twice what the prime minister earns. He also said other payments to a tiny handful of staff brought the total to almost £1m.

Roberts said the root of the problem was that state schools are responsible for their own budget. "If you set up a system that multiplies the opportunities for graft and corruption, you will get more graft and more corruption," he said.

The proliferation of rising pay differentials was part of the privatisation agenda infecting state education, he added. "There have to be limits on the pay of public servants or they will no longer have it as their priority to serve the public interest, but will substitute it for the serving of their own."

Ed Balls, the schools secretary, has previously backed bonuses for headteachers if linked to their performance.

Brian Cookson, from the NASUWT, said there was "no place" for the bonus culture in the public sector. "It allows individuals to abuse the system and put self interest at the expense of children," he said. "We need to learn the lessons from the behaviour which contributed to the global financial crash. We need to be clear the bonus culture has no place in the state education system."

Unions also backed calls of a government review of the financial accountability for schools, including academies [charter schools].


Australia: Dumb official attempt to stop school bullying

They are "developing a plan" Big deal!

An autistic boy being bullied at his Ipswich primary school was given a "stop" sign which he waved at his tormentors, sparking outrage from his mother. The eight-year-old boy was armed with the sign by staff at Ipswich West State School after he said he had been pushed down a staircase by bullies and even dangled over a second-storey veranda.

Far from deterring the attacks, his mother said the sign only made him a target for more bullying. “My son is terrified of going to school and no-one is helping him. He’s totally on his own,” she told The Queensland Times. “The situation is atrocious and I think that giving my son a card to wave at these bullies is completely inappropriate."

An Education Queensland spokesman said: “Ipswich West State School implements a range of programs, including one that uses alternative communication methods, to help children – in particular to support students with a disability.”

But the department denied the boy was given the card to show bullies. A spokeswoman said he had been given the card as a prompt for himself, not others. "This student was taking part in a specialist support program called `Stop, Think, Do' which encourages students to stop and think about their own actions before they act or make decisions,'' she said. "This card serves as a prompt for the student to think about his own actions. "This was implemented as part of the student's individual support plan in consultation with specialist staff. The student's parent was aware of the plan. "The school is in the process of developing a new support plan for this student, in consultation with his parents and the specialist staff.''

The spokeswoman also didn't deny that the boy had used the card incorrectly as a defence against bullies.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Harvard offering a degree in education propaganda

They are trying to teach more effective ways of pushing the same old Leftist nostrums, it would seem. You can bet your bottom dollar that not one of their graduates will be pushing for all education to be privatized (vouchers etc.). "How to become a good little Soviet apparatchik" will be more like it

Starting next academic year, Harvard’s Graduate School of Education will offer a new tuition-free doctoral degree program that aims to better equip 25 graduates each year with skills needed to transform the U.S. education system, school officials announced today. The three-year Doctor of Education Leadership Program will be led by faculty at the School of Education, the Harvard Kennedy School, as well as Harvard Business School, and is being billed as the first of its kind in the nation.

Doctoral students at the School of Education currently graduate with an Ed.D.—essentially a research degree not specifically designed to prepare them for shaping education policy, said School of Education Dean Kathleen McCartney. “We really needed to think about a practice doctorate like a J.D. in law or an M.D. in medicine,” McCartney said. “We have to think about how to have a greater impact on education policy and practice, since we already have a huge impact on education research.”

The program is designed for students who already have a few years of work experience and possibly an “entry-level” leadership position in the workplace. It offers a year-long residency program at a Harvard-approved education organization—including Teach for America, well-developed urban school districts across the country, or the Massachusetts Department of Education—during their third year.

Instead of writing dissertations, which McCartney said do little to train future education policymakers and leaders, students enrolled in the new program will receive hands-on training and lead a “capstone project” at the partner organization where they do their residencies. “This program is a big experiment on our part,” McCartney said. “If it’s successful, we hope it will become a model for other education schools.”

The School of Education plans to raise $77 million to support the program—roughly $1 million per student—and the school has currently raised $34 million through a combination of re-purposed funds and donations, most notably, a $10 million grant from The Wallace Foundation, which “seeks to support and share effective ideas and practices that will strengthen education leadership, arts participation and out-of-school learning,” according to its Web site.

Planning for the new degree program first started in December 2005, and McCartney, then the school’s acting dean, asked The Parthenon Group, a consulting firm with an office in Boston, to conduct a market research study to determine what skills employers would be looking for in an Ed.L.D. graduate.

With guidance from the study’s findings, faculty from the three participating schools designed a “modular-based”—rather than a traditional course-based—curriculum, with emphasis on three areas, including learning and teaching, leadership and management, and understanding and transforming the education sector.

The experimental program sparked considerable discussion among faculty when first introduced, McCartney said, and school administrators will be closely monitoring faculty and student feedback for the program.

Arthur E. Levine, the president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and former president of Teachers College at Columbia, expressed his support for the new leadership program. Levine published a study surveying education schools across the country a few years ago, concluding that the majority of programs offered do not adequately prepare aspiring teachers for the classroom. “Admission standards were low, curricula weren’t tied to any skills people needed in their jobs, and field experience was weak,” Levine said. “I looked around the country for an exemplary program and couldn’t find one.” But the “innovative” elements of the School of Education’s new leadership program show promise, Levine said.

Levine, who taught at the School of Education roughly two decades ago, pointed to the “richness” of the third-year residency program as well as the school’s collaboration with faculty at the Kennedy School and the Business School in particular as strengths. The real challenge, Levine said, is whether the School of Education is able to implement the program as planned. “What stands out now is the creativity, the boldness, the coherence of the plan,” Levine said. “But every one of those parts need to be implemented.”


Australia: Unruly students 'should be sent to brat class'

VIOLENT and unruly students would be isolated in special classes to cool off under a bold plan to tackle worsening violence in our schools. Public school principals fed up with a lack of resources to deal with troublesome kids who endanger others and disrupt classes have called for the changes in a submission to the Victorian State Government, the Herald Sun reports.

Victorian Principals Association president Gabrielle Leigh yesterday said a network of student development centres staffed by specially trained teachers and welfare workers were needed as schools struggled to cope with extreme behaviour. "It starts at primary level and that's why those schools need the support," she told the Herald Sun. "If the behaviour is being exhibited in year 1 or 2 why can't we do something about it rather than wait for it to become a more serious issue later on in schooling?"

Last year, more than 16,000 public primary and secondary students were suspended in Victoria and more than 200 were expelled. In its submission to the Government, the VPA says the centres would provide an alternative to suspending misbehaving students and hopefully enable them to return to normal classes. Students would be sent with the agreement of principals, parents and department officials.

Ms Leigh said the existing system of dealing with troublemakers was inconsistent and lacked resources. "There are centres, but they are few and far between," she said. "A review into the issue has been going on for months, but nothing has happened and in that time students are being lost to our system."

Youth worker Les Twentyman said the idea was long overdue. "We need to give troubled kids another means of learning. We need to keep them in classrooms and out of court rooms," he said.

Ms Leigh said only one-in-two primary schools had full-time welfare officers. "We want one in every primary school," she said.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

British homeschoolers protest at government inspections of children

Thousands of parents are prepared to go to court over plans to limit home schooling, The Times has learnt. Parents whose children are educated at home do not have to register with their local authority and are not inspected. But proposals being considered by the Government would change this and threaten parents’ ability to choose the curriculum for their children, campaigners say. “We have a lot of problems with inspectors because they know schools and that model of education isn’t very useful when you are teaching a small number of children,” said Leslie Barson, who is organising a demonstration this week against the plans.

The home-educated child dictated what they learnt, she added. “It doesn’t matter what they learn about, as long as they think it’s a fantastic world out there. The beauty of home education is its flexibility. This would be outlawed by the local authority.”

The Badman report, published this year, recommends that home educators should be made to register with councils annually and set out in writing their plans for educating the child for the next year. They would also be inspected. Graham Badman, the author of the report, said that home education as it stood lacked “the correct balance between the rights of parents and the rights of the child either to an appropriate education or to be safe from harm”. Ed Balls, the Children’s Secretary, has said that he backs Mr Badman’s findings.

Opponents will gather in Central London tomorrow to demonstrate against the plans and have begun a petition on the No 10 website, which already has almost 3,000 signatories, asking the Prime Minister to reject the proposals. They claim that implementing the plans will cost councils £150 million a year and put extra pressure on already oversubscribed schools. Campaigners are also planning to march on Westminster next month.

“We are hoping to get it stopped at this early stage,” Dr Barson said, “But this is a fight to the death. There are people talking about civil disobedience. We would take it to the highest court that we could,” she added. It is not known how many children are home-educated because they do not have to be registered. Supporters of the plans argue that they will help to protect children who are targets of child trafficking or forced marriage.


Ridicule and hatred are routine hurdles for women rejecting the leftist emphasis on Australian university campuses

Note for non-Australian readers: The major conservative party in Australia is called the Liberal party, which actually makes a lot more sense than the American usage, where "liberals" are big-government devotees, not champions of individual liberty

At the start of her Sydney University orientation, Sasha Uher checked out the political clubs. She found the Socialist Alternative, the Greens, the Marxists, the anti-war party, the Labor Left, the Labor Right. ''I knew university would be more left-leaning but the extreme nature of some of these clubs really concerned me.'' She wondered why the choice was between soft left, mid-left, hard left, far left, lunar left. The Liberals, so important in national politics, seemed not to exist, but Uher eventually found them tucked away in a corner, and decided on the spot to join them.

The abuse started soon after. ''Liberals cop a lot of abuse from the Socialist Alternative, a radical leftist group on campus,'' she told me. ''They label us racist, sexist, homophobic. During an election campaign one socialist came up to me and said 'I campaign against scum like you every day'. There is a particularly strong anti-Israel bias, crossing into anti-Semitism. An insult I've often heard thrown at Liberal students is that we are 'dirty, war-mongering Jews'.

''This is why I am such a passionate advocate for voluntary student unionism. It is a matter that has rallied the Liberals. We strongly believe in individual responsibility … not expecting the government to be the solution to all problems.''

A commerce student, she is president of the university's Liberal Club. Hate speech, Uher says, is not the biggest problem in campus political life because most students are apolitical and steer away from the obsessives and zealots. More insidious, she believes, is the ideological bias of the faculty, and the subtle pressure to conform. ''Lecturers and tutors are predominantly left-leaning and this bias is often reflected in course material and in the way in which class work is marked.''

Every young Liberal woman interviewed for this story said the same thing. ''Unfortunately the only acceptable view within the mainstream of university politics is that of the left,'' said Sarah Constable, 20, an arts student at Sydney University. ''Of course, there is a minority of those who share Liberal values but we are often ostracised. It is pretty tough on campus for us because the minute someone realises you are a Liberal, you are automatically branded a heartless extremist.

''I cannot quantify the countless times I have been called a fascist because I'm a Young Liberal. Tutorials are some of the toughest times. Politics tutorials in particular are filled with people who, if the name John Howard is mentioned, go into some sort of a frenzy. The worst part is that the tutors are often even more extreme. ''At first I thought it was just the Socialist Alternative-types who were extreme; however I have had to sit through countless America-bashing tutorials.''

She joined the Liberal Club after returning from an extended period living in Britain. ''Growing up under an ineffective Labour government just served to reaffirm my Conservative values. I want to see Australia grow and prosper, so I'll work to see the Liberal Party re-elected.''

Prue Gusmerini, 26, studied law at the University of NSW, was apolitical at university, but came to the conclusion she was being fed rubbish by her teachers after two years of volunteer work for poor children. The work led her, after graduation, to her current job as campaign manager for Give Us A Go, a coalition of indigenous groups from Cape York. The campaign is headed by the Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson.

''I worked in some of toughest neighbourhoods in Australia in an effort to understand how the world really worked,'' she said. ''And let me tell you, that reality rarely accorded to the lessons being taught in university halls. ''The predominance of leftist thinking amongst the arts/law faculty was so strong that it took me almost two years to shirk some of its core teachings. I wasn't political at university, but I realised that the emphasis on leftist ideas divorced students from the political realities at play in the outside world.''

Ideological pressure and unreality within universities is a serious issue, but most universities pretend the problem does not exist. An outspoken exception is the vice-chancellor of Macquarie University, Steven Schwartz. ''Universities once had clear ethical purposes but over the years we have lost our moral direction,'' he said in a speech last month. ''The central ethical premise of universities has changed fundamentally … Postmodernists sneered at the achievements of the West and universities slowly sank into the morass of moral relativity.''

Schwartz believes that theory-dominated universities are divorced from practical realities. He is implementing a radical measure to require all students to undertake volunteer work off campus.

He could talk to Prue Gusmerini: ''My first gig in the real world was tutoring children at the Police Citizens and Youth Club at Waterloo, where most of the children were indigenous or the children of recently arrived migrants. From the get-go, it was obvious to me that there were massive institutional barriers to progress.''

She said she later joined the Liberal Party ''because the party's values complement my own conservative disposition, which is in part an extension of my childhood experiences and an extension of my experiences in indigenous politics and communities''.

She was also offended by the left's sneering attitude. ''Within the left there was a group of Howard haters who had no interest in fighting for a strong set of ideas or principles, which I respect, but were motivated by a deep hatred of and contempt for John Howard. It was this group that irked me the most. They stood for nothing.''

Being a Liberal at university can be politically very lonely. Courtney Dunn, 19, has never knowingly met another Liberal at the two University of Western Sydney campuses where she studies for a combined arts and law degree. ''The most visible political students on campus are the hard left, who the average student doesn't relate to, which is further reason why voluntary student unionism is such a positive thing.

''Our assigned reading materials clearly reflect ['progressive'] views. Texts can be so blatantly biased it can be frustrating. One of my lecturers even had the nerve to claim that Anzac Day is a celebration of war and touted it as a strange tradition. One textbook I had this year criticised the Howard government in almost every chapter and did not question a single Labor policy. It is obviously quite intimidating to challenge the views of your peers and ultimately the views of those marking their papers.''

Dunn's family is largely working-class and Labor-voting. She grew up in Campbelltown, and joined the Liberal Party at 17, much to the dismay of Labor-voting uncles.

''I think one of the dangers facing upcoming generations, including my own, is that we are developing an attitude of 'what will the government do about it?' I think the Rudd Government is sending the wrong message to Australians that we can't function without the Government's help in each area of our lives and I feel that this is fundamentally wrong.''

She expects ridicule for being a Liberal at the University of Western Sydney, but adds: ''No-one should be ashamed of being a member of a political party in a country like Australia, which is a democracy and is supposed to be a fair country. Universities are meant to be centres of critical thought.''


Monday, September 14, 2009

The Quietest Trillion

Congratulations. You're about to own $100 billion a year in student loans

The furor over President Obama's trillion-dollar restructuring of American health care has left his other trillion-dollar plan starved for attention. That's how much the federal balance sheet will expand over the next decade if Mr. Obama can convince Congress to approve his pending takeover of the student-loan market.

The Obama plan calls for the U.S. Department of Education to move from its current 20% share of the student-loan origination market to 80% on July 1, 2010, when private lenders will be barred from making government-guaranteed loans. The remaining 20% of the market that is now completely private will likely shrink further as lenders try to comply with regulations Congress created last year. Starting next summer, taxpayers will have to put up roughly $100 billion per year to lend to students.

For decades, loans carrying a federal guarantee have been the most common way of borrowing for college. After raising money in the private capital markets, lenders made the loans, paying a fee to the government for each one. The government covered most of the cost of defaults while allowing the private lenders to make a regulated return.

The system broke down after Congress in 2007 legislated a return so low that no private lenders could make money holding these assets. To keep the money flowing to student borrowers, the government began buying the loans from private originators last year. But this larger federal role was intended to be temporary, with an expiration date next summer. The news from Washington now is that rather than scaling back federal involvement, the pols want the U.S. Department of Education to be the exclusive banker to America's college students.

It's not a popular idea on campus. Loans directly from the feds have been available for decades, but the government's poor customer service has resulted in most borrowers choosing private lenders. This week three dozen college administrators, representing schools from Notre Dame to Nevada-Reno, signed a letter urging a longer transition period to this "public option." The fear is that the bureaucrats will not be able to pull off a takeover in just eight months. "Any delay in getting funds to schools on behalf of students will result in our needing to find resources at a time when credit is difficult to obtain," warns the letter.

Tough luck for the Irish. Democrats have already greased this fall's budget reconciliation to pass all of this on a mere majority vote. They are helped by rigged government accounting that disguises the cost of making below-market loans to unemployed 18-year-olds. Democrats have claimed their plan "saves" $87 billion in mandatory spending by cutting out the private middlemen, and the Congressional Budget Office has dutifully "scored" $87 billion in mandatory "savings" (or a net of $80 billion after subtracting administrative costs).

But in a remarkable letter to Senator Judd Gregg, CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf admits that government accounting is bogus. He writes that the statutory methodology "does not include the cost to the government stemming from the risk that the cash flows may be less than the amount projected (that is, that defaults could be higher than projected)." Mr. Elmendorf further notes that the government's accounting system is specifically skewed to make direct loans from the government appear to cost much less than guaranteed loans made by private lenders. He says the real "savings" are only $47 billion, even though, in a deception that would be criminal fraud if it weren't mandated by Congress, the official estimate remains at $80 billion.

Even the unofficial number is dubious. The government has been claiming lower default rates than private lenders, but most government loans have been to students at four-year colleges. The private lenders have serviced a higher percentage of students at community and two-year colleges, where defaults are more common regardless of lender.

If the feds are now making and owning all such loans, expect default rates to soar. When the government hires contractors to collect on its loans, it pays them for simply calling the borrower, regardless of the result. Private lenders, on the other hand, make money from a performing loan and have a greater incentive to do careful underwriting and aggressive collection.

The government will nonetheless start spending these illusory "savings" immediately, and this spending is certain to top official estimates. The Obama plan also adds a CBO-estimated $46 billion in new spending over 10 years to enlarge Pell grants. Ominously for the federal fisc, starting in 2011 these grants will automatically rise each year by the consumer price index plus 1%. Not that students will actually benefit from this subsidy explosion. Colleges have reliably raised prices to capture every federal dollar earmaked for education financing.

Rep. John Kline (R., Minn.) decided the cost estimate for Pell grants was too low, so he asked CBO to take a second look. Along comes another enlightening letter from Mr. Elmendorf. This week he wrote that Mr. Kline is correct —it looks like they will cost another $11 billion. Unfortunately, the earlier estimate must remain the official score under budgeting rules, even though the official scorekeeper says it is wrong.

All of this is certain to pass the House, and the only chance for stopping it is in the Senate. If it passes, parents will soon have no choice beyond a Washington bureaucracy to borrow money for their college-bound children, and taxpayers will pay a fortune for the privilege.


“Inconsistent” British degrees to be overhauled

Universities are to face a reform of their marking systems after accusations that some are awarding too many first-class degrees. Vice-chancellors announced yesterday at their annual conference in Edinburgh that they had decided to review their marking to ensure consistency. It comes a month after MPs attacked universities for having wildly different degree standards.

In a separate move, the Government will expect universities to give more information to students about how many lectures they will have and their employment prospects.

In a combative speech to vice-chancellors at the event, organised by their representative body, Universities UK, David Lammy, the Schools Minister, said: “Even if you aren’t complacent about quality, you sometimes appear to be. I think you have to recognise that and deal with it. “Clear and accurate information must be a big part of that. Learners need to know what their courses will involve, how much teaching they’ll get and how they’ll be assessed.”

Announcing the evaluation of degree standards, Professor Steve Smith, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Exeter and the new president of Universities UK, told the conference: “We will lead a UK-wide review of external examiner arrangements to ensure that it is a robust system that delivers on expectations.”

The move comes after a highly critical report by MPs on the Innovation, Universities and Skills Select Committee saying that vice-chancellors were guilty of “defensive complacency” and were unwilling to address problems with degree standards. It said: “There needs to be a change of culture at the top in higher education. We found no appetite to investigate important questions, such as the reasons for the steady increase in the proportion of first-class and upper second-class honours degrees over the past 15 years, or the variation in study time by students taking the same subjects at different universities.”

Mr Lammy also told vice-chancellors at the conference that they must be more responsible for raising money, rather than relying on the taxpayer in the recession. He announced a new era of funding, with universities forced to compete for cash and concentrate on improving their own “economic outcomes”. He said: “In funding terms, universities have had it good for more than a decade. Nevertheless, current levels of public investment are unlikely to be sustainable in future.

“The sector’s future prospects depend on how you face up to the financial challenges that are coming. Not least, that includes taking a disciplined approach to pay and pensions. “But there are also more positive steps you can take, like continuing to diversify your sources of income by encouraging endowments or providing bespoke training [for companies]. “Private investment in universities has not kept pace with the huge increases in public spending that the last decade has brought. Any sensible analysis can only conclude that you need to find new ways to leverage more private money into the system.”

Mr Lammy said that a greater proportion of the public money awarded to universities in future would be “contestable”. Institutions would have to bid for it and the best bid would receive more, rather than being awarded a grant calculated according to their size. This contestable funding would favour maths, science and engineering.

Professor Smith, however, said that ministers should spend more public money on universities because of the recession. “Universities are fundamental to achieving social and economic progress and to establishing the kind of country that can compete and prosper in the future,” he said. “But for the UK to win the race to the top the university sector needs investment.” He admitted that it would be unrealistic for all of the investment to come from the taxpayer.

A review of tuition fees is due to begin this autumn and is expected to recommend lifting the £3,000 annual cap on fees, which would bring in more income from students.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Real Education Outrage

Protesting D.C. parents ignored by the media

President Obama's speech to students this week got plenty of attention, and many conservatives looked foolish by fretting about "indoctrination." They would have done far more good joining those who protested on Tuesday against the President's decision to shut down a school voucher program for 1,700 low-income kids in Washington, D.C.

"It's fundamentally wrong for this Administration not to listen to the voices of citizens in this city," said Kevin Chavous, the former D.C. Council member who organized the protest of parents and kids ignored by most media. Mr. Chavous, a Democrat, is upset that the White House and Democrats in Congress have conspired to shut down the program even though the government's own evaluation demonstrates improved test scores.

The nationwide black/white achievement gap has grown in recent years, and it's significantly wider than it was two decades ago. Yet the Obama Administration, in deference to teachers unions that oppose school choice, is shuttering a voucher program that is narrowing the racial learning gap.

"The D.C. voucher program has proven to be the most effective education policy evaluated by the federal government's official education research arm so far," writes the Education Department's chief evaluator Patrick Wolf in the current issue of Education Next. "On average, participating low-income students are performing better in reading because the federal government decided to launch an experimental school choice program in our nation's capital."

Democrats had pledged that if the D.C. Council supported the voucher program, they'd revisit it. "The government of Washington, D.C., should decide whether they want [the voucher program] in their school district," declared Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, who sponsored the provision to kill the program. Well, a majority of the D.C. Council has since sent lawmakers a letter expressing support. Yet Democrats are still preventing Congress from living up to its end of the deal and voting to restore funding. Meanwhile, Mr. Obama sends his own daughters to the best private school in the District.


OECD study puts Australian education policy in perspective

By Jennifer Buckingham

This week, the OECD released its annual Education At A Glance report which provides country comparisons of spending, participation, completion, performance and various other aspects of education. At 475 pages, it contains much useful information, but for those who can’t bring themselves to read the whole report, here are some highlights.

As usual, Australia is ranked fairly close to the OECD average in terms of overall spending on education with the exception of pre-primary education, where we are right at the bottom.

The federal government has chosen to blow steam about this figure out of the thousands of possible figures, but this report suffers from the same flaw as all other OECD publications on early childhood education and care. The expenditure figure is misleading because it only includes direct spending on pre-school education and government programs and administration. It does not include the enormous household subsidies for child care in this country, which form a large part of the early childhood education sector.

There are some interesting figures relating to school education. Although public spending on school education is below OECD average, private investment in school education in Australia as a percentage of GDP is exceeded by only two other countries – Korea and Chile. [i.e. LOTS of Australian families send their kids to private schools -- especially for High School]

Australia is among the countries with the highest number of instruction hours, with an average of 962 hours a year for 12 to 14 year olds. This compares with an OECD average of 892 hours per year. The countries that outperform us in the PISA literacy, numeracy and science assessments have much fewer instruction hours per year– Sweden (741), South Korea ( 867) and Finland (777) – but devote proportionally more compulsory instruction time to these core subjects. Australia only devotes 13% of compulsory instruction time to reading, writing and literature, which is the lowest in the OECD.

New analyses of the 2006 PISA results show that socioeconomic disadvantage has a relatively low impact on performance in Australia compared with most other OECD countries. In the science component of PISA 2006, 39.4% of ‘strong’ performers (with scores in the top two performance bands) were students with a socioeconomic status index below the national average.

Figures provided in OECD publications are often accepted as Gospel, but they should always be viewed with caution and considered in light of each country’s policy context. The above figures, while interesting and informative, are no exception.

The above is part of a press release dated Sept. 11 from the Centre for Independent Studies. Enquiries to Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590. Telephone ph: +61 2 9438 4377 or fax: +61 2 9439 7310

Australia: A school run by castrati

But they have not been physically unmanned. They have been castrated by Left-inspired anti-discipline laws. Once upon a time a 10 year old waving a small stick would have GOT the stick and that would have been the end of it. Now they have to call police

ANOTHER Ipswich school has been placed into lockdown, after a 10-year-old boy carrying a stick threatened the safety of staff and students. Police were called to Churchill State School yesterday morning after a young student began abusing classmates and teachers before picking up a stick and threatening to attack staff. The boy's parents picked him up before police arrived and no one was hurt during the incident.

The parents of a student at the school said their child also saw the boy hitting classroom windows with his scooter. “My kids said he was rolling along on his scooter and then using it to try and break windows,” a parent said.

The Ipswich Child Protection Investigation Unit said the child lashed out because he did not like being told what to do. Police later spoke to the boy and warned him about his aggressive behaviour.

The lockdown, which lasted for 10 minutes, was the third time an Ipswich school had been closed due to the threat of violence in the past 12 days. Ipswich State High School was in lockdown for an hour late last month after a gang of females invaded the site, threatening students and staff. Brassall State School was placed in lockdown the next day when an Ipswich State High student was chased from that site into the primary school across the road. The fleeing teenage student had to hide in Brassall State School's administration office while police were called.

Education Queensland (EQ) said the incident at Churchill State School was handled swiftly. “The acting principal acted calmly and professionally. The lockdown was put in place as a precautionary measure and it proceeded smoothly and without incident,” an EQ spokesman said. “A student became aggressive towards staff and students on the school oval. The student picked up a small stick and made general threats.”

When a school is in lockdown, students must remain on the ground while all classroom doors are locked and a bell is sounded. After the incident, Churchill State School teachers handed students a letter to pass to their parents explaining what had happened.

A parent who spoke to The Queensland Times said the lockdown was excessive. “I think it was over the top,” the parent said. “You would imagine a 10-year-old kid with a stick could be handled by teachers.”

Education Queensland said lockdowns were necessary for a wide range of incidents. “Lockdowns can be used in any situation that may threaten the safety of staff and students. This can include gas leaks near the school, external police operations or on-site altercations,” an EQ spokesman said.

Most parents The Queensland Times spoke to said the school looked after their children well and the site had not been on lockdown before. “It's a good school, my kids don't cop much stick from other students,” a parent said.