Sunday, February 27, 2011

Live free or die … but you can’t vote

The Dartmouth College Republicans and the Dartmouth College Democrats have teamed up to fight a New Hampshire bill that seeks to disenfranchise students who attend college outside of their hometown. The bill, sponsored by Gregory Sorg (R-Grafton) specifically prohibits students attending "institutions of higher learning" from acquiring domicile for voting purposes in their college community unless they lived there prior to matriculating.

The new speaker of the House, William O'Brien (R-Mont Vernon) made public comments supporting the bill. He explained that he does not think the constitution allows for anyone to have "instantaneous" residence in the state or a particular community. He continued, "That's what kids do. They don't have life experience and they just vote their feelings. And they've taken away the town's ability to govern themselves. It's not fair."

Thus, for example, a student who moves from Manchester (or another state) to Durham to attend the University of New Hampshire will not have the option of voting as a resident of Durham, regardless of the student's intentions about where he or she might live in the future. The student's only option would be to return to Manchester (or the home state) to vote, or to vote there by absentee ballot.

The student could live (and work) in the community, pay local taxes, support local businesses, and become involved in any number of ways, but never be allowed a voice in community concerns. To ban college students (who usually live in their college communities for four years or more) from voting is simply ridiculous.

This is not the first time student voters have come under attack. The issue, however, was resolved by the federal courts more than 30 years ago. In 1979, the Supreme Court upheld without comment a Texas district court holding that students must receive the same presumption of residency as other citizens. In other words, it is unconstitutional to deny someone the right to vote based solely on his or her status as a student.

What's more, as early as 1972, the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire ruled that a student (or anyone) can claim residency for voting purposes even if he or she intends to leave in the future. In that case, after a student at Dartmouth College told elections officials he intended to leave Hanover when he finished school, they denied his voter registration because New Hampshire's traditional test for residency required an intention to stay in the community permanently or indefinitely.

Recognizing that, "[i]n this day of widespread planning for change of scene and occupation," the state could not justify a permanent residency requirement, the U.S. District Court held New Hampshire's test unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment.

So why, in 2011, would New Hampshire legislators find it pressing to restrict the voting rights of students, ignoring established constitutional principles in the process? Well, for one, it's a partisan thing. House Speaker William O'Brien recently remarked to residents that college students are "basically doing what I did when I was a kid and foolish, and voting as a liberal."

Fortunately, it doesn't take an ideological rival to see the injustice in this approach; as Dartmouth College Republicans President recently noted, "Whether every college student is liberal or every college student is conservative, every vote gets to count, and you can't change that."

College students can be as much a part of the community in which they live as any other resident. In addition, they bring business to the community, pay taxes, and are subject to its rules and regulations. Students may or may not have ideas about where they would like to live after graduating from college, but if they currently consider their college town their home, students have a right to have their voice heard along with every other resident.


Goggles banned at school swimming lessons in Britain

Children have been banned from wearing goggles during school swimming lessons for fears they could hurt themselves. Pen-pushers have slapped the ban on the swimming aids amid "fears" a pair could "snap" onto a child's face too hard, injuring them.

Parents branded the ruling by Oxfordshire County Council's healthy and safety brigade as "nutty" and "extreme."

However, bureaucrats defended its no-goggle policy claiming that it reflected national guidance provided by sports bodies. Children will now need a medical reason for them to be allowed to wear the protective eye wear in the pool during school lessons.

Teenage swimmer Danni McFadden, aged 13 years, said: "It hurts my eyes if we swim without them and I go in the water." Her mother Carmel Ryan added: "I remember being a child and I thought it was great swimming underwater. "It makes swimming more fun. "The professional swimmers wear goggles. "It's a bit nutty. "If they think someone is messing around with them, they should correct it. They do protect the eyes."

Zilah Grant, aged 24 years, of Wantage, Oxon., takes her son Khian, three, swimming regularly as it helps him with his disabilities. "I do not think it is very wise of them to do it. "Goggles bring the fun into swimming as you can see each other under water."

Last year Prime Minister David Cameron announced plans to tear up health and safety regulations which "have become a music hall joke."

Oxfordshire is not alone in banning goggles. Last year, Leicestershire County Council advised schools of the "dangerous" eyewear which it said could snap back in childrenâ s faces, or make them bump into one another due to reduced peripheral vision. Hertfordshire County Council has done the same.

A spokesman for Oxfordshire County Council refused to divulge the specific reason why goggles had been banned from its swimming pools. "This local authority, like others throughout the UK, reflects to schools the national guidance provided by various governing sport bodies on this issue," he said.

"These organisations include The Amateur Swimming Association (ASA), the Swimming Teachers Association (STA), the Association for Physical Education and the Institute of Sport and Recreation Management."

The ASA said it did not have a strict policy on goggle use, but offered guidance to pool operators and parents.

The STA said children should be encouraged to not wear goggles in swimming lessons, but recognised they may be necessary for medical or other reasons. It added that goggles should meet British standards and fit correctly.


Australia: "The skull" is still a bonehead -- repeating the failed Latham hostility to private schools

The genius himself

Mark Latham's attack on private schools is generally regarded as a major factor in his 2004 election wipeout. Around 40% of schoolkids in the swing State of Queensland go to private High Schools so that's a big demographic to piss off. The Green/Left Peter Garrett was a huge liability as an environment minister. Looks like he is still as thick as a brick and doomed for more follies in education

THE Federal Government is set to launch a new war with private schools this week as pressure intensifies on the country's richest education establishments to reveal their assets. Education Minister Peter Garrett told The Sunday Mail that he wanted to force public and private schools to reveal their true wealth, including assets, reserves and profits.

The launch of the revamped My School website on Friday will reveal financial information including income through private fees for the first time, but not assets.

The website will also show that wealthy private schools are spending 50 per cent more to educate each student than the average spend on a child at a public school. But some high-performing, low-fee Catholic and independent schools are spending a similar amount per student to comparable public schools, when private and taxpayer-funding is combined.

The launch of the site was delayed after private schools complained some of the complex data used to arrive at a per student spend was misleading. The average government school recurrent cost for a high school student is about $12,000.

"This is all about fair dinkum transparency," Mr Garrett said. "This is all about giving people information that they deserve to have. "And it's about providing that information in a way that allows them to make valid and reasonable comparisons."

Mr Garrett will take his proposal to extend the financial disclosure requirements of My School to include assets to the next meeting of state education ministers in April this year. Some private schools securing millions of dollars in taxpayer funding have retained earnings or assets of $100 million or more. But there is no current requirement for many schools to disclose their assets, profits or financial information.

For the first time, the new version of the My School website will provide information on funding from fees and donations to public and private schools. But Mr Garrett stressed it was "not about ranking".

My School 2 will also reveal for the first time which schools are showing improvements in literacy results for children in their care and which schools are falling behind.


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