Saturday, June 11, 2011

Silly report below about the need for more education waltzes around the fact that most of the High School dropouts are black

And until they recognize that blacks need programs that work for them specifically, there will be little progress

Some meaningful education beyond high school is now recognized as the gateway to middle-class life. Although national leaders from the public and private sectors have called for more Americans to earn college credentials, researchers, policymakers, and politicians remain divided on exactly how much and what kinds of higher education are really needed for both individuals and the nation to prosper. The report, Diplomas Count 2011: Beyond High School, Before Baccalaureate—Meaningful Alternatives to a Four-Year Degree, explores the pros and cons of new thinking about the educational and economic viability of postsecondary pathways between a high school diploma and a four-year degree.

The high-profile push to boost levels of college completion comes amid continuing concerns about the pace of improvements in high school graduation and the extraordinarily concentrated nature of the nation’s dropout crisis. Despite the marked progress highlighted in the report, nearly 3 out of every 10 students in America’s public schools still fail to earn a diploma. That amounts to 1.2 million students falling through the cracks of the high school pipeline every year, or 6,400 students lost every day. Most nongraduates are members of historically disadvantaged minority groups. Dropouts are also more likely to have attended school in large, urban districts and to come from communities plagued by severe poverty and economic hardship.

The report—part of an ongoing project conducted by the Bethesda, Md.-based Editorial Projects in Education—also tracks graduation policies for all 50 states and the District of Columbia and presents an updated analysis of graduation patterns for the nation, states, and the country’s 50 largest school systems. The new analysis focuses on the class of 2008, the most recent year for which data are available. Diplomas Count 2011 was produced with support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

The report’s journalism chronicles the space between a diploma and four-year college education, by exploring efforts to build meaningful pathways that may not end with a bachelor’s degree, including: next-generation high school programs that combine college-preparatory studies with updated career and technical education; early-college high schools geared to the local labor market; and community colleges, the key institutions linking many high school graduates to higher education and the workplace.

Policymakers and reform leaders increasingly make the case for aggressive measures to improve schools in both economic and educational terms, arguing that a more educated population leads to a workforce that is better prepared for the demands of a 21st-century global economy. To explore these dynamics, the EPE Research Center conducted an original analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, which collects information on 3 million individuals every year.

The report finds that about 39 million Americans, nearly one-third of the prime working-age population, have some postsecondary education but less than a four-year degree. The typical subbaccalaureate worker earned $30,000 in 2009, about $8,000 more than a high school graduate. More than a quarter of adults with an associate degree have annual incomes at or above the median level of four-year college graduates.

The center also characterized 469 distinct occupations based on the educational level of typical job-holders and identified 50 occupations in which the majority of workers have a subbaccalaureate level of postsecondary schooling. Median annual earnings within that segment of the labor market vary dramatically, from only $18,000 for massage therapists to $73,000 for managers in the firefighting and fire-prevention field.


School options truly liberate parents

Your editorial "Emancipation proclamation" (May 31) showed justifiable outrage over the 4-3 Georgia Supreme Court decision that invalidated a state-level alternative route for parents who had been frustrated by recalcitrant local school boards in their quest of independently managed charter schools for their children.

You are correct that it is a beautiful thing when charter schools can operate with considerable autonomy and offer families educational approaches and curricula not found in the standardized system. And, yes, it is a shame that the Supreme Court majority is effectively saying that parents now must go on bended knee in search of such within-the-system choice.

Yet, given that charter schools are, after all, public schools, it is wise to bear in mind that they will be subject on occasion to shifting political and ideological whims. To be truly liberated, parents need to be secure in their freedom to school their children at home, or to use vouchers to choose private schools free of governmental interference.


More than 5,000 British schools face special measures under crackdown by regulator

Up to 5,300 schools with below average test results could be failed by Ofsted unless they show improvement, it has been revealed. It will mean they are placed in the special measures category or given a notice to improve.

The only exceptions will be where they are ‘improving steadily and closing the gap with the national average for all pupils’.

The tougher inspection regime is being piloted this term in 150 schools and will be introduced across the country in January. An inspectors’ guide to the watchdog’s latest framework, which has been seen by the Times Educational Supplement, shows it will pay more attention to pupil attainment and levels of progress.

Schools could be hit if their results for a particular category of pupil – such as boys or children in care – are below average and not enough improvement is being made. The pressure on schools with below average scores appears to go beyond those seen as ‘coasting’, and takes in any that are not improving faster than the national rate.

Of the state primaries with Sats results last year, 3,883 – 39 per cent – were below the national average on the percentage of pupils achieving level four in English and maths. And 1,486 state secondaries – 48.6 per cent – were below average on the main five A* to C GCSE measure, including English and maths.

The guidance for inspectors shows that any of these schools not deemed to be ‘closing the gap’ will be given an ‘inadequate’ grade for achievement, which leads to an overall ‘inadequate’ rating.

Schools that are judged ‘inadequate’ are given either a notice to improve – where specific changes that have to be made – or put in special measures, which can lead to the head teacher or governing body being replaced and even closure.

The document states a condition of getting a ‘satisfactory’ grade or above in achievement is that ‘where attainment is below average overall, or below average for any group, it is improving steadily and therefore closing the gap with the national average for all pupils’.

William Parker School in Daventry, Northamptonshire, meets the GCSE target, but will fail its Ofsted inspection next year under the guidelines, unless it significantly improves its results this summer. Head teacher Jason Brook is responding by reluctantly introducing vocational BTEC qualifications to push up scores.

He told the TES: ‘Judging on national averages is crass and blunt. They need to take account of schools’ individual circumstances. ‘We were delivering the curriculum that we knew was right. But I can’t afford to do that any longer. I have got to join the game.’

Brian Lightman, of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: ‘What we don’t want is more perverse incentives to play the league tables. ‘Inspections should be looking at the overall quality of education.’

Russell Hobby, of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: ‘If a school achieves great progress with pupils that come in with low attainment then they are doing a remarkable job, even if the final results are below the national average.’

An Ofsted spokesman said it would ‘carefully consider’ the views of schools and inspectors following the pilot schemes, before publishing the framework in September. ‘Inspectors rightly look to see the difference the school is making for pupils so that they make progress from their starting points on arrival in school,’ he added. ‘For children and young people to succeed, this progress must be satisfactory at least, and should often be good or better.’


Friday, June 10, 2011

NYC schools must not be polluted by Christian services

A federal appeals court has ruled that New York City can ban churches from using public school facilities for Sunday worship services and does not violate free speech.

Thursday's 2-1 decision by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan overturned a lower court ruling that allowed the Bronx Household of Faith to hold services in a public school.

The justices said that it could unconstitutionally convert schools into state-sponsored Christian churches on weekends.

An attorney representing the church said they would appeal the ruling.

The ruling means that dozens of churches that rent public school buildings in New York City could face eviction by the end of June.

Department of Education said it’s reviewing how to implement the decision. The city said it has no intention of immediately evicting the groups. However, they may be asked to cease using school buildings by the end of June.

“We are very pleased with the Court’s decision today in this longstanding case, which, reversing the lower court, upholds the Department of Education’s policy not to allow public schools to be used for congregational worship services,” said city attorney Jane Gordon in a written statement. “The Department is quite properly concerned about having any school in this diverse city identified with one particular religious belief or practice.”

Jordan Lorence, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, blasted the ruling and called it “very, very disappointing.”
“If we do not get an emergency stay, the churches could be thrown out by the school district,” Lorence told Fox News Radio.

“They might be meeting on the street.” Lorence said they hope the court will grant a longer stay so that churches can continue to rent public buildings. “The religious groups are not seeking special treatment, but equal treatment,” Lorence told Fox News Radio.

“It would be a tragedy if these churches that serve the communities would be tossed out and be made homeless by this anti-religious policy.” But the court determined that allowing churches to use schools resulted in an “unintended bias in favor of Christian religions” – since most Christian churches worship on Sunday.

“Jews and Muslims generally cannot use school facilities for their services because the facilities are often unavailable on the days that their religions principally prescribe for services,” Judge Pierre Leval declared. “At least one request(ed) to hold Jewish services (in a school building used for Christian services on Sundays) was denied because the building was unavailable on Saturdays. This contributes to a perception of public schools as Christian churches, but not synagogues or mosques.”

Judge Leval also took issue with the evangelical church’s membership. “Bronx Household acknowledges that it excludes persons not baptized, as well as persons who have been excommunicated or who advocate the Islamic religion, from full participation in its services.” Leval wrote.

But it all boiled down to a key point, the judges decided. “In the end, we think the board could have reasonably concluded that what the public would see, were the Board not to exclude religious worship services, is public schools, which serve on Sundays as state-sponsored Christian churches,” Leval wrote.

One of those churches that could be homeless is The Journey Church, an evangelical congregation of about 1,000 people that meets in four different public school buildings. “For us, it’s always been about having equal access that any other secular organization might have,” said Kerrick Thomas, one of the church’s pastors.

“I think the fear a lot of people have is that a church meets in the school and they’ll be proselytizing – and it’ll appear that the school is promoting the church. But that’s not the case.” The Journey Church was founded nine years ago and for many of those years, the congregation has worshipped in public school buildings. Thomas said churches are not given any favors. They pay thousands of dollars in rent – and must abide by the same rules as any other organization.

“There are no special benefits given to churches,” he told Fox News Radio. Nevertheless, Thomas said they’ve developed positive relationships with every school they’ve rented – and they’ve gone above and beyond to help students.

“Our commitment has always been to leave the schools in better shape than when we got there through any way we could help and support,” Thomas said, adding that in many instances they’ve assisted schools anonymously. In one case, the church provided school supplies and computers for under-privileged children.

Another wanted to perform a play but the school lacked theatrical equipment. So the church provided a sound and lighting system. “We just did that because we wanted to help out,” Kerrick said. “We believe in what the schools are doing.”

But the court determined that allowing churches to use public schools would send the wrong signal to the public. “When worship services are performed in a place, the nature of the site changes,” Judge Leval wrote. “The place has, at least for a time, become the church.”

Whatever happens, Pastor Thomas said they will continue to minister to the city. “We’ll find a place and we’ll work hard,” he said. “I’m confident we’ll find a home – but it’s going to be difficult.”


Why Cross-Examination Rights Matter in Campus Sexual Harassment Cases under Title IX

by Hans Bader

As part of its broader attack on safeguards against false accusations, the federal Education Department is urging colleges to strip students and faculty of the right to cross-examine their accusers in disciplinary proceedings over alleged sexual harassment. In an April 4 letter from Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Russlynn Ali, the Education Department said that it “strongly discourages schools from allowing the parties personally to question or cross-examine each other during the hearing.”

This is perverse, since the subjective nature of the legal definition of harassment means that there is no category of cases in which cross-examination is more useful or essential to ensure due process. To legally qualify as sexual harassment under Title IX, or racial harassment under Title VI, speech must be severe and pervasive enough to create a hostile learning environment for the listener, and interfere with the listener’s education, both in subjective and objective terms, according to court rulings like the Supreme Court’s 1999 Davis decision. Transitory offense is not enough. If the accuser admits on questioning that she did not really view the offensive speech as being a “big deal,” or was not shocked or surprised by it, that probably rules out the existence of a subjectively hostile environment. Indeed, a federal appeals court dismissed a racial harassment claim for just that reason in Newman v. Federal Express Corp., 266 F.3d 401 (6th Cir. 2001).

But a wrongly-accused person can’t establish that lack of a subjectively-hostile atmosphere without questioning the accuser, and may not be able to show that the accuser wasn’t greatly impacted by the speech without cross-examining the accuser about its alleged effect on her and her studies, such as whether she continued to enjoy her college experience after overhearing the allegedly “harassing” remarks.

There is a fine line between protected speech about unpleasant sexual topics and unprotected sexual harassment, and it is crucial that accused people be able to prove that their speech did not amount to sexual harassment. Even sexually vulgar speech on political issues is protected on college campuses, as the Supreme Court’s Papish decision illustrates. And perfectly civil, non-vulgar students have been subjected to disciplinary proceedings for sexual and racial harassment, in violation of the First Amendment, merely for expressing commonplace opinions about sexual and racial issues, like criticizing feminism or affirmative action, or discussing the racial implications of the death penalty. (See the examples cited in the Amicus brief of Students for Individual Liberty in Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, available at 1998 WL 847365.)

To fully defend themselves against sexual harassment charges over speech on sexual topics that doesn’t really amount to sexual harassment, people who are wrongly accused of sexual harassment will sometimes need to cross-examine their accuser to show that their speech did not really have any sexually harassing effect, and thus did not legally amount to sexual harassment, despite their accuser’s attempt to make a mountain out of a molehill.

The Education Department’s attack on cross-examination will lead to free speech violations, by resulting in students being convicted of harassment even when their speech did not create a subjectively-hostile environment, much less interfere with the accuser’s educational opportunities. If the speech has not created such an environment, it has not caused tangible harm, and cannot be banned merely because a hypothetical listener might have objected to it. One case illustrates this principle. In Meltebeke v. Bureau of Labor and Industries, 903 P.2d 351 (Or. 1995), the Oregon Supreme Court struck down a religious small-business owner’s fine for religious harassment because the state agency’s harassment rule violated religious-freedom guarantees. Justice Unis, in his concurrence, noted that the rule also violated free speech, and was unconstitutionally over-broad, because it only required that the speech create a hostile environment for a hypothetical reasonable person — not for the actual complainant, who did not need to experience a subjectively-hostile environment.

There is no uniform rule that people are constitutionally entitled to cross-examine their accusers in campus disciplinary proceedings in general (unlike in criminal prosecutions), but there are certain types of disciplinary proceedings where cross-examination can end up being constitutionally required. In cases like Donohue v. Baker (1997), judges have ruled that cross-examination was constitutionally required on due-process grounds when it was essential to test the credibility of the accuser.

Sexual harassment cases commonly turn not only on such credibility disputes, but also on the complainant’s alleged subjective emotional state, which makes cross-examination far more essential than in the ordinary campus discipline case. (By contrast, other kinds of disciplinary cases often turn solely on objective events that can be verified without any cross-examination of the accusing witness.) So the Education Department’s attack on cross-examination in sexual harassment cases may well result in many violations of the Constitution’s Due Process Clause, in addition to exceeding its legal authority under Title IX.

Even if it did not violate the Constitution, the Department of Education’s assault on cross-examination would still be unjustified, since cross-examination has justly been called “the most powerful engine for the discovery of truth ever devised by man.” In sexual harassment cases brought in court, the defendant invariably has the opportunity to cross-examine the accuser, because courts recognize that cross-examination is useful in exposing false allegations.

The erosion of due process safeguards will also have a negative effect on sexual misconduct cases in general. Discipline based on false accusations is already much too common. As former Massachusetts ACLU leader Harvey Silverglate notes, many universities, such as Stanford, the University of Virginia, Brandeis and Washington University, have altered their disciplinary procedures in sexual harassment and assault cases under pressure from the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights. But “even before” that, “a number of students around the country were found guilty in campus tribunals on sexual assault charges, only to be later vindicated. At George Washington University, a student found guilty of sexual assault — despite the eyewitness testimony of his three roommates that the encounter was consensual — is now suing the school for $6 million in damages. The University of North Dakota found a student guilty of sexual assault, but refused to reopen the case even after state authorities charged his accuser with filing a false police report.” I earlier discussed why the Education Department was wrong to force schools to alter the burden of proof in sexual harassment and assault cases.

Cato Institute attorney Ilya Shapiro and FIRE lawyer Greg Lukianoff argue that the erosion of due process protections resulting from the Education Department’s pressure on schools will interact with broad campus sexual harassment policies to undermine basic principles of free speech.


British Exams watchdog demands review of all A-level and GCSE questions after more blunders revealed

All exam questions are to be inspected for mistakes after errors were found in several papers, putting thousands of pupils’ grades in jeopardy. The watchdog Ofqual has ordered exam boards to review GCSE, AS-level and A-level papers being sat this month after a deluge of complaints about ‘disappointing and unacceptable’ blunders.

Six separate papers are under investigation already. Each contained an impossible question that could not be answered correctly.

Biology, maths, geography, computing and business studies exams were all affected. One of the incorrect questions was worth up to 11 per cent of the paper.

Although examiners have pledged to take into account the mistakes found on papers, students have complained that they wasted vital time on these questions – and so couldn’t complete other parts of the paper.

The National Union of Students has warned that the errors will affect some students’ chances of gaining university places.

Ofqual has taken the unprecedented step of writing to all exam boards in England, Wales and Northern Ireland about the mistakes. Glenys Stacey, the watchdog’s chief executive, said: ‘The recent run of exam errors is disappointing and unacceptable. There have been a number of question papers that have included errors. ‘I am calling on awarding organisations to take steps now to protect students from further disruption and anxiety.’

The majority of blunders were in exams set by AQA, Britain’s biggest exam board.


* A geography AS-level exam by AQA asked students to identify the fastest part of a river. But the diagram was wrongly labelled, so they could not answer.

* A question in an AS-level maths exam sat by 6,800 students, worth 11 per cent of the total mark, asked students to find the shortest route along a network of tracks in a forest. The route was supposed to be equal to an equation set out in the test paper – but the OCR exam board didn’t calculate the length properly.

* In an AS-level biology exam from the Edexcel exam board, 17,000 candidates were supposed to find the correct DNA sequence from a series of combinations shown – but the right answer was missing.

* For an AS-level business studies paper set by AQA, 41,400 students were asked about a fictitious chocolate company’s profits. But the firm’s adjoining profile information failed to show what its profits actually were.

Shane Chowen, of the NUS, said: ‘More needs to be done to reassure those who sat the erroneous papers that they will not have their future prospects placed in jeopardy. ‘Those students confronted with unanswerable questions may have had their performance in the rest of the exam affected. ‘The only fair solution is to give those that want it, the option to re-sit the exam.’

Each exam board marks the tests that it sets. Ofqual monitors the boards and ensures their accuracy. It also moderates a sample of papers. But errors found in exam questions will raise fears that more mistakes will be made when papers are marked.

Dr Jim Sinclair, of the Joint Council for Qualifications, which represents exam boards, said: ‘Students should be assured that no one will be disadvantaged as a result of these mistakes.’


Thursday, June 09, 2011

CA: An education Dept. SWAT raid???

SWAT teams have become America's Taliban. They can brutalize you without trial and on suspicion only. Now even the Education Dept. is deploying them

A federal education official Wednesday morning offered little information as to why federal agents raided a Stockton man's home Tuesday. The resident, Kenneth Wright, does not have a criminal record and he had no reason to believe why what he thought was a S.W.A.T team would be breaking down his door at 6 in the morning.

"I look out of my window and I see 15 police officers," Wright said. As Wright came downstairs in his boxer shorts, he said the officers barged through his front door. Wright said an officer grabbed him by the neck and led him outside on his front lawn. "He had his knee on my back and I had no idea why they were there," Wright said.

According to Wright, officers also woke his three young children, ages 3, 7, and 11, and put them in a Stockton police patrol car with him. Officers then searched his house. "They put me in handcuffs in that hot patrol car for six hours, traumatizing my kids," Wright said.

As it turned out, the person law enforcement was looking for - Wright's estranged wife - was not there.

Wright said he later went to Stockton Mayor Ann Johnston and Stockton Police Department, but learned the city of Stockton had nothing to do with the search warrant.

U.S. Department of Education spokesman Justin Hamilton confirmed for News10 Wednesday morning federal agents with the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), not local S.W.A.T., served the search warrant. Hamilton would not say specifically why the raid took place except that it was part of an ongoing criminal investigation.

Hamilton said the search was not related to student loans in default as reported in the local media.

OIG is a semi-independent branch of the education department that executes warrants for criminal offenses such as student aid fraud, embezzlement of federal aid and bribery, according to Hamilton. The agency serves 30 to 35 search warrants a year.

"They busted down my door for this," Wright said. "It wasn't even me."

The Stockton Police Department said it was asked by federal agents to provide one officer and one patrol car just for a police presence when carrying out the search warrant. Police officers did not participate in breaking Wright's door, handcuffing him, or searching his home.

"All I want is an apology for me and my kids and for them to get me a new door," Wright said.


NJ: Gov. Christie to unveil public-private school partnership plan

Gov. Chris Christie will announce legislation Thursday to create public-private partnerships to run some schools in New Jersey, three people with knowledge of the plan said tonight. The governor is scheduled to make the announcement at noon at the Lanning Square Elementary School in Camden.

Two of the sources said Christie will be appearing with Camden Mayor Dana Redd, a Democrat who has worked with the Republican governor on education issues.

It's unclear exactly how the public-private partnerships would work, and the sources said it would start as a pilot program. They declined to speak on the record in advance of the public announcement. One source said individual districts would need to opt into the pilot program and approval from local school boards would be required.

Christie’s acting education commissioner, Christopher Cerf, has experience in public-private school partnerships. He previously led Edison Schools, a for-profit company that became the largest private-sector manager of public schools. Cerf left the company, now called EdisonLearning, in 2005.

Since Christie's campaign for governor two years ago, he has criticized the state of urban education in New Jersey, saying public schools and teacher unions have perpetuated a failing system.

Angel Cordero, who helped create the Community Education Resource Network, an alternative school for dropouts, applauded the plan for public-private schools. "It’s time we think out of the box and break up the monopoly" of the teachers unions, he said. "This is the perfect storm right now. People are ready."

Christie was in Camden for the Community Education Resource Network's graduation ceremony on Friday, where he and other political leaders called for a shakeup in the public school system.

Steve Baker, a spokesman for the New Jersey Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, expressed skepticism about the partnership proposal. "Anything that turns public schools over to private operation, and reduces public accountability, would be very problematic," he said tonight.

Christie has enraged the NJEA with his push for more charter schools and a voucher program. The voucher proposal, called the Opportunity Scholarship Act, has stalled in the Legislature despite support from both sides of the aisle as some Democrats have pushed to downsize it.


British school to ban parents from sports day for first time in 130 years amid fears of children 'mixing with strangers'

It is often one of the proudest moments for any parent to see their child compete, but Upwell Community Primary School in Norfolk is considering holding the event behind closed doors because of a safety row.

Many parents have been left furious at the decision and say they may keep their children off school on that day in protest. It would be the first time in the 130-year-old school's history that it has barred mothers and fathers from its sports day.

The row stems from a small group of parents who boycotted a children’s art event at the school that members of the public could also attend. A number of parents did not send their children to school on that day and headteacher James McBurney is concerned the same thing would happen on its sports day.

'It is with the greatest and sincerest regret that all staff have decided, in light of recent events, that sports day is likely to take place without parents being invited,' he wrote in a school newsletter. 'We understand that we have many supportive parents and we would like to offer our heartfelt apologies for this decision. 'We have deliberated over this at great length but feel that many day-to-day routines have been misinterpreted or misunderstood.

'The present climate is affecting the well-being of all children and staff morale. 'However, we are prepared to postpone sports day until June 29 and decide nearer to the time whether parents will be invited.'

One unhappy parent who received the newsletter from the school said she did not know why Mr McBurney had made this decision, saying 'It is just going to upset parents even more.' She added if the ban on parents attending was upheld, several would not send their children to school on that day as a 'protest'.

But the head believes the move could be for the best. He said: 'We have the highest regard for the safety and well-being of all of our children and staff and want to ensure sports day is the best day possible for children and their parents and carers.

'However, we have concerns that some parents may not be supportive on the day and we have therefore decided to postpone the event while we seek assurances from parents. This was not an easy decision but was one taken by all of the school's staff.

'There will also be visitors on site during sports day and we therefore need to make sure that everyone is satisfied with how the day is run so that attendance levels can be maintained and the day is able to run as smoothly as possible.'


Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Arm your children with skepticism about authority

For those of you with children now and those who will have children in the future, guard them. As precious as a child is to a parent they are equally so to the state. Children are the future, as the old saying goes. Most parents will judge the success of their child based on their child’s success in the dominant paradigm. One is raised to obey and behave, as their parents were taught. The state sees a tax base, ever growing.

All parents will pass on lessons to their children. The large majority of these lessons will be passed unconsciously. A father who grew up being yelled at will, in turn, yell rather than speak to his children when any stressful situation arises. A young girl criticized at every turn will grow up to be a mother who finds fault in all that her child does. Parents who accept arbitrary edicts from any authority will raise children to do the same.

There is a perpetual war for the minds of the young. These prized lives we fight for are the very weapons of battle. When we, as parents, do not teach our children to question, to analyze, and to think critically, we send them into the world unarmed, to be slaughtered and enslaved.

This, for me, was recently driven home at a local middle school talent show. I took my daughter to see her cousin perform. What we witnessed was a performance of a more sinister nature. During each act on stage the kids would be texting each other or holding up back lit phones much as my generation did lighters at a concert. But the assistant principal would make rounds collecting all of the students’ phones. I took out my own phone and texted as well, making sure that he saw me. The man approached, then retreated. To my disgust he would not speak to an adult but would only accost the younger and weaker of the crowd. The children would, when demanded, turn over their phones. Most had an air of indignation but did not resist.

Enter my nine year old daughter. At intermission she approached the tyrant and, in full view and sound of many others, began to question him. She pointed out that these phones were private property. The assistant principal told her that, just like at the movies, cell phone should be off. Then told her that the school prohibited use of cell phones by students. She countered that the phones could not be taken at the movie theater. My daughter went on to explain that the kids were not in school at this time. The show was at 7:00 pm and the public was invited. This was not a function of the school, but a function at the school. She added “taking the kids’ phones and not the adults’ is just bullying kids because that’s all you can bully.” I choked with pride.

So please, teach your children to think for themselves. Let them ask questions. If you do not know the answer be honest about it and help to find the answer. And never end with “because I said so.” Do not disarm your kids before sending them out into a hostile world bent on enslaving them.

A friend or co-worker may roll their eyes at you when you speak of the current state of things, but your child will listen when you have shown honesty and consistency. They will grow with free minds, unable to understand the pride of those who wear their chains as tight as possible without choking to death. In the future our children will be the shining beacon on the hill for others to look to when confused and broken. Weaponize their minds with logic, armor them with rationality, then loosen them upon the world we hope to someday see free.


Students face degree crisis: Troubled British universities may axe courses before they're completed

Thousands of students are applying to universities that may axe their course before they have gained a degree. Researchers looked at 125 UK institutions and found that 50 are facing financial ruin. Up to two-thirds of these universities, most of which are former polytechnics, are loss-making, according to the study by consultancy firm the Parthenon Group.

There are already up to ten universities on an ‘at risk’ register held by university funding watchdog the Higher Education Funding Council for England. Business Secretary Vince Cable has said many are ‘effectively broke’, and should not be propped up but allowed to close.

Yesterday a report by the Public Accounts Committee warned that some institutions ‘may fail’ when fees rise to £9,000 next year.

Margaret Hodge, chairman of the committee, highlighted the risk and called for HEFCE to name the universities in trouble. The Labour MP said: ‘HEFCE doesn’t tell the public about any institution that has been in financial difficulty for three years. If you are a student risking your money to go to that university you have a right to know because if a university were to fail you would have put your money up front, you wouldn’t get your education and wouldn’t get your degree. ‘I don’t think the Government will stand behind a university that falls into financial difficulty.’

Matt Robb, who conducted the Parthenon Group research, pinpointed 50 universities classed as ‘general teaching universities’. These institutions, such as De Montfort and Salford, focus on courses like business studies, design, IT and education. At each, as many as two-thirds of all courses are loss making.

London Metropolitan University, which is on the ‘at risk’ register, has said it is to axe 400 courses.


British regulator warns of 'weak' vocational qualifications

Pupils are being awarded top grades on "weak" vocational courses that leave them with a poor grasp of business, Government inspectors warned today.

Ofsted said an analysis of lessons and written work “brings into question” the claim that courses sat by thousands of schoolchildren are comparable with mainstream GCSEs. In a damning conclusion, the education watchdog said pupils taking vocational business courses were often given good marks despite being left with poor knowledge and understanding of the subject. Courses were often “narrow and simplistic” in an attempt to improve students’ grades in written tasks without properly developing their skills, it was claimed.

Currently, schools can use vocational qualifications such as BTECs as an alternative to GCSEs. They can be worth as much as four mainstream qualifications and critics claim they have been used in the past to inflate schools’ positions in league tables.

But in today’s report, Ofsted questioned whether these courses should be equivalent to GCSEs, saying some were defined by an “atomistic approach to the development and demonstration of knowledge and understanding, which took no account of the quality of learning”.

It comes less than two years after Ofsted raised similar doubts over the value of vocational qualifications in information and communication technology (ICT).

Ministers have already announced plans to review practical qualifications and reform school league tables to stop heads using them as “equivalents” in official rankings.

Christine Gilbert, Ofsted’s chief inspector, said: “Vocational qualifications provide a valuable route to employment and further study for many learners. “However, the report highlights the need to review the equivalency of vocational business qualifications that are assessed wholly or mainly by internally set and marked assignments with more traditional GCSEs and A-levels.”

In the latest study, inspectors analysed standards in economics, business and enterprise subjects over a three-year period. The study – based on visits to 161 English schools and colleges – found the overall effectiveness of education was good or outstanding in more than three quarters of secondaries. But even when provision was good, Ofsted found a number of “common weaknesses”, including a lack of opportunities to work directly with local businesses.

The number of pupils taking a GCSE in business studies dropped from 78,300 in 2007 to 68,700 in 2010. Evidence suggests this was “due in part to schools switching to alternative vocational courses” such as BTECs and OCR Awards, which enable students to gain a qualification equivalent to as many as four GCSEs, according to Ofsted.

“Despite good results, the quality of students’ work, their knowledge and understanding, and their ability to apply learning to unfamiliar contexts and to demonstrate higher level skills, were often weak,” the report said. It added: “Evidence from lesson observations, scrutiny of written work and discussion with students brings into question the case for claiming that such courses are equivalent to between two and four single award, traditionally examined GCSEs.”

Earlier this year, a Government-commissioned report by Prof Alison Wolf, from King's College London, found up to a third of post-16 students were taking vocational courses that failed to prepare them for the world of work.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: "Good vocational education is crucial to boosting our economic growth. This report raises serious concerns about the quality of some courses taught in our schools. “All young people should have access to high-quality qualifications that lead to employment, further or higher education – as Professor Alison Wolf made clear in her review. This summer, we will be carrying out a consultation on the characteristics of high-quality vocational qualifications so we can ensure that only those qualifications that meet the criteria are taught in our schools. "We also plan to do more to encourage industry experts to teach in schools – providing students with a better understanding of how the business world works."

A spokeswoman for Pearson, which owns the exam board that runs BTECs, said: “We’re pleased that Ofsted found many excellent examples of BTEC courses helping young people to gain real world business and enterprise experience. "As the report points out, when vocational courses are taught well, 'students developed skills valued in employment and higher education – such as enterprise and work-related skills, and ICT, presentation, investigation, research and organisational skills – which were not always well-developed in more academic courses'. “Pearson believes all schools and colleges should be aiming to build better links with employers and give young people a better understanding of enterprise. We strongly believe that this type of vocational learning, when done well, is vital for the health of the UK economy."


Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Tennessee Trumps Wisconsin: Kills Teacher Collective Bargaining

To fix public schools, you have to control public schools. And there’s little control when teachers unions, with their self-serving agendas, question every cost-cutting proposal and reform on the table.

That’s why so many state governments have taken swift action to limit the power of organized labor in public schools. Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Idaho and Michigan were the first, and Tennessee added itself to the list on Wednesday.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam affixed his signature on House Bill 130 and Senate Bill 113, ending collective bargaining and giving local school boards the full authority to operate their districts in the manner they choose.

That doesn't mean the unions are shut out of the discussion. The new laws create a process called “collaborative conferencing,” where the school board, administrators and union officials will be forced to sit and discuss many of the normal issues, including salary, insurance, grievance procedures and working conditions.

If the two sides agree on any number of issues, they can sign binding “memorandums of understanding,” that will serve the same purpose as collective bargaining agreements. But any issues that are left unsettled will be the sole domain of the school board, with no appellate procedure available to the unions.

School boards will also have the option of not entering into any sort of agreement with the union. In that case they would have full authority to deal with all issues in an arbitrary manner.

Nobody elected the unions

Tennessee lawmakers were careful to leave a few key items off the discussion table, including personnel and staffing decisions, how to use grant money, the evaluation process for employees and whether or not payroll deductions can be made for political purposes.

That means the end of the road for the treasured union concept of seniority, particularly when it’s applied at layoff time.

Basically, lawmakers allowed the unions to keep their bark, but wisely took away their bite. And if school boards get tired of the barking, they will be allowed to close the windows, pull the shutters and go about their business.

Democrats in the legislature, outnumbered in both chambers, have been fuming about the legislation.

“This bill does nothing except take away every part of professional negotiation, every single part,” House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh told “Don’t be fooled.”

Actually, we’re not fooled at all. And we kind of like the unique process created by collaborative conferencing.

There are certainly thousands of great teachers in Tennessee, and they’re the soldiers on the front lines. School boards would be stupid to ignore their input when making major decisions.

On the other hand, it was necessary to take away veto power from the teachers unions, due to their stubborn opposition to money-saving contract concessions and education reform efforts.

School boards are elected by the public to run public schools. Nobody elected the unions.


At last, an Oxbridge for those who can’t get into Oxbridge

A private university that will take on the cream of the rejects is a simply brilliant idea, writes Boris Johnson

A few years ago, I met a man who was almost in tears of rage at the injustice that had been done to his son. I was trying to sneak out of some drinks party when he started telling me about this prodigy. His A-level scorecard was perfect; he held colours for rugby; he had been captain of the school debating team, keeper of the philately club, editor of the magazine – and yet he had been turned down by the dons of virtually every top university in the country.

What was going on, wailed my friend. This kind of thing never happened in his day, he said; and he went on to speculate that there was some kind of secret Pol Pot-style persecution of the children of the bourgeoisie. Since then I have heard many similar complaints about university admissions procedures (and I bet you have, too), and after one particularly harrowing conversation with a disappointed mum I had an idea for a brilliant business venture – a new institution that would be both socially responsible and immensely financially lucrative. I would found Reject’s College, Oxbridge. That is to say, I would find investors for a new elite academic institution, aimed squarely at the wrathful parents – many of them Oxbridge graduates – who simply could not understand how their own offspring could rack up three A-stars and grade 8 bassoon, and yet find themselves turned down.

In my mind’s eye I could see exactly how it would work: we’d get some dusty old goods yard at the back of Oxford or Cambridge. We’d turn it into a gorgeous neo-classical quadrangle, designed by Robert Adam or someone like that. We would have a prospectus full of the Reject’s College arms (Floreant Rejecti) and the lawns with snaggle-toothed lecturers leering at their pupils over a bottle of chilled white wine.

We would vindicate the principles of academic freedom, as famously outlined by Justice Felix Frankfurter, of the US Supreme Court, in 1957. That is to say, we – and I saw myself as provost or master – would decide what should be taught, how it should be taught, and whom to admit for study, and we would decide all these things on academic grounds and academic grounds alone.

Apart from that, I am afraid I was a bit vague about how exactly Reject’s College would work. So you can imagine my joy yesterday when I saw that someone had not only had my idea, but had gone one better: he had found the cash and the backing to make it happen. “Top dons to create new Oxbridge” was a headline to gladden the heart of many a grieving parent and frustrated academic. In fact, the whole thing is such unambiguously good news that I scarcely know where to begin.

It is the brainchild of Prof A C Grayling, who certainly looks and writes like a philosopher (I seem to remember some good stuff on Russell and Wittgenstein), but who turns out to have a Bransonesque practical flair. Together with Richard Dawkins, Niall Ferguson, Sir Christopher Ricks and various other academic superstars, he is setting up a New College of the Humanities, based in Bloomsbury.

They have found the premises, they will start taking applications from next month, and the first one-on-one Oxbridge-style tutorials will take place in autumn 2012. They will ultimately have 1,000 undergraduates, all of whom will be expected to achieve a minimum three As at A level to get in; and since this will mean a whole new higher education institution for London, so lengthening our lead as the university capital of the world, I thought it would not be too pompous if I rang up Prof Grayling to congratulate him.

He explained that the idea had first occurred to him years ago, when he was tutor for admissions at an Oxbridge college. “For every person we admitted, we turned away 12, each of whom could have done outstandingly well at the university,” he said. The trouble with Britain today, he said, was that we simply didn’t have enough elite university provision – and especially not in the humanities subjects, where teaching budgets are under such pressure.

It was absurd, he argued, that so many of our young people are going off to America to do their degrees, and he is surely right. The shortage of places in top universities is now so acute that we have 10,000 UK school leavers a year who are spending $60,000 a year on Animal House-style frat parties on the Podunk Liberal Arts Campus or other American colleges. That cash could be going into the hard-pressed British system.

Which brings us to the key question. Prof Grayling’s New College for the Humanities is going to charge a staggering £18,000 for tuition alone, and that is before we have come to the accommodation costs. How on earth are people going to afford it? He has a ready answer, in that he and his colleagues want to see 30 per cent of undergraduates receive some help with their fees, and a large proportion will have full scholarships, funded either charitably or from the fees of those who can afford to pay. It is this strong commitment to attracting students from disadvantaged families that has earned the project the support of such famous lefties as Prof Linda Colley and Sir David Cannadine.

This is not an attempt to replace the existing taxpayer-funded system or to “privatise” the universities. It is about getting more cash into the teaching of the humanities, and about additional elite provision. It is about creating a new and different model for university education, side by side with the existing system. If well handled, it could be just as successful in widening “access” as any of the current outreach programmes being pursued by other universities. It is the boldest experiment in higher education since the University of Buckingham was founded in 1983, and it fully deserves to succeed and to be imitated.

If academics are fed up with the tyranny of the Research Assessment Exercise; if they are demoralised by endless government attacks on their admissions procedures; if they feel they are being scapegoated for the weaknesses of the schools, then the New College for the Humanities shows the way. Three cheers for A C Grayling.


Quis magistros ipsos docebit?

Australian teacher graduates face a test before registration

ASPIRING primary school teachers are expected to face questions about animal groupings, energy and literacy processes in Queensland's controversial teacher test.

Sample questions of what teaching graduates could face in the nation's first teacher pre-registration exam have been placed on the Queensland College of Teachers website.

The test, which hopeful primary school teachers will be required to pass before they can attain registration in Queensland from the end of this year, will examine a graduate's literacy, numeracy and science skills.

One sample question asks graduates to place a kangaroo, tadpole, echidna, emu and lizard into its right animal grouping - fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds or mammals.

Another in the science category requires graduates to use their knowledge of sound and heat energy to answer a question.

Under numeracy, graduates are asked when a train is scheduled to arrive if it leaves Mount Isa at 1.30pm on Monday and the trip takes 20 hours and 40 minutes.

In literacy, one question asks which word is a preposition and another asks graduates to sequence the typical behaviours of a child learning to read.

It will also test their knowledge of course content and teaching.

The test follows a recommendation by Professor Geoff Masters in a review of how to lift Queensland students' literacy and numeracy standards, after the state came second last in the first national tests in 2008.

The Queensland Teachers Union and Queensland Deans of Education Forum initially said the tests were offensive to universities and a double-up of what was already being taught.

QDEF chair Professor Wendy Patton said extensive consultation had been undertaken on the exams and while there were still some concerns, they were waiting to see the actual tests before making any further judgment.

The Queensland College of Teachers (QCT) website reveals aspiring primary school teachers will face two 90-minute exams with 60 questions each on literacy and numeracy and one 60-minute science test with 40 questions.

The computer-based exams will take place in designated testing centres across Queensland at the end of the year. Teaching graduates will be able to sit the exam as many times as needed to pass and attain registration.

"The purpose of the QCT pre-registration test is to ensure that aspiring primary teachers meet threshold levels of knowledge about the teaching of literacy, numeracy and science and have sound levels of content knowledge in these areas," the QCT website states.

QCT director John Ryan said the tests would not be a panacea for proficiency but would ensure graduates teaching in Queensland schools met a minimum standard.


Monday, June 06, 2011

New for-profit colleges regs: Double backlash

The Obama administration's crackdown on for-profit colleges is drawing backlash from conservatives and liberals alike.

On Thursday, the Education Department released the final regulations aimed at what are known as career or vocational schools, which train medical technicians, chefs, welders, electricians and the like. The regulations will cut federal aid to programs that don't lead to "gainful employment."

"These new regulations will help ensure that students at these schools are getting what they pay for: solid preparation for a good job," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said. "We're giving career colleges every opportunity to reform themselves, but we're not letting them off the hook, because too many vulnerable students are being hurt."

Under the regulations introduced Thursday, a program would meet standards if at least 35 percent of former students are repaying their loans and the estimated annual loan payment of graduates doesn't exceed 30 percent of their discretionary income or 12 percent of their total earnings. The first year programs would be deemed ineligible is 2015.

Progressive groups say the new regulations aren’t strong enough, while others say they go too far. "Given the overwhelming evidence that the worst for-profit colleges are abusing students and taxpayers, the rule isn't strong enough, but it's still an important reform that could, over time, help millions of students," said David Halperin, director of Campus Progress, the youth arm of the Center for American Progress.

"We believe that, collectively, the rules issued by the administration, ongoing investigations by state attorney general, and increasing scrutiny by Congress and the media will ultimately compel for-profit schools to clean up their act or else shut their doors."

The National Black Chamber of Commerce called for Congress to derail the implementation of the gainful employment rule because it says it unfairly targets only for-profit schools, doesn't address the excessive cost of higher education and it may be illegal. "It is the result of a biased rule-making process that essentially targeted only one sector of post-secondary institutions," Harry Alford, president chief executive of the chamber, said in a statement. "Moreover, it is beyond the department's legal authority to regulate in such a broad, new policy-making fashion."

For-profit students represent 12 percent of all higher education students, 26 percent of all student loans and 46 percent of all student loan dollars in default, according to the Education Department. More than a quarter of for-profit schools receive 80 percent of their revenues from federal student aid.

"While for-profit schools have profited and prospered thanks to federal dollars, some of their students have not," Duncan said. "This is a disservice to students and taxpayers, and undermines the valuable work being done by the for-profit education industry as a whole."

A half dozen Democratic lawmakers blasted the rule — Reps. Alcee Hastings of Florida, Carolyn McCarthy of New York, Donald Payne of New Jersey, Edolphus Towns of New York, Tim Holden of Pennsylvania and Ted Deutch of Florida. "It is deeply troubling that an administration supposedly committed to increasing college completion in the United States would propose a regulation that restricts minority access to higher education and limits job opportunities for those who need them most," Hastings said.

The Heartland Institute also ripped the rules. "Attacking the industry most responsible for popularizing higher education among the disadvantaged seems to be at odds with the Obama administration's goal of getting more kids into college," said Marc Oestreich, a legislative education specialist at the institute.

Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in Senate, also didn't give the rule a ringing endorsement. "This rule may stop the worst violators among the predatory for-profit schools but it will not protect thousands of young students who are being burdened with debt by many worthless diploma mills," he said in a written statement. "If we are serious about protecting taxpayers and students, we should view this rule as the starting point."

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers gave the rule a lukewarm reception. "While this rule is a step in the right direction – accomplished amid intensive lobbying against it – there is more work to be done," she said.


LA: Creationism law skirting US ban survives challenge

The Louisiana law allows teaching contrary to evolution on the grounds it promotes critical thinking. The successful defense last week of a three-year-old Louisiana law is casting a spotlight on how conservative groups are seeking to circumvent a federal ban on the teaching of creationism in public schools.

The Louisiana Science Education Act, which allows teaching contrary to science on the grounds it promotes critical thinking, is increasingly serving as an inspiration to religious conservatives in other states. Its defenders decry the “censorship” of nonscientific ideas and advocate allowing teachers to teach “both sides” on certain scientific theories.

So far in 2011, similarly worded legislation was introduced in Florida, Texas, Missouri, Kentucky, Oklahoma and New Mexico, but all failed at the committee stage. However, a bill in Tennessee passed the state House in early April and is awaiting a Senate vote in the 2012 session.

In Louisiana, the challenge to the Science Education Act was defeated last Thursday in the Senate Education Committee by a 5-to-1 vote. State Sen. Karen Carter Peterson (D), who authored the bill to repeal the 2008 law, said she received letters of support from more than 40 Nobel Prize-winning scientists.

Senator Peterson told the Associated Press on Tuesday it was “fundamentally embarrassing” for her state to have the law remain on the books, adding that it would further damage Louisiana’s ability to attract top talent in the sciences.

The 2008 law gives elementary and secondary school teachers the right to bring materials into science classrooms as supplements to textbooks on matters “including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming and human cloning.”

The scientific community has long advocated that allowing anything but science in the teaching of evolution will be intellectually harmful. [Leftists hate ANY alternative views] In an e-mail sent to the Associated Press, Harold Kroto, a Nobel Prize winner for chemistry in 1996, said voting against the repeal creates a situation that “should be likened to requiring Louisiana school texts to include the claim that the Sun goes round the Earth.”

While evolutionary biology is based in the work of Charles Darwin, which shows how humans evolved through natural selection, creationism is rooted in a fundamental reading of Biblical texts that say mankind is the product of a divine maker.

With the law intact, Louisiana is the state that has gone the furthest in approving legislation that opens the door to allowing alternatives to science taught in its schools.


40 UK universities are now breeding grounds for terror as hardline groups peddle hate on campus

England's universities have become a breeding ground for extremism and terrorist recruitment, according to a disturbing government report.

Officials have identified 40 English universities where ‘there may be particular risk of radicalisation or recruitment on campus’.

A soon to be published Whitehall report – seen by the Daily Mail – will point to a string of examples of students going on to commit terrorist acts against this country or overseas.

Alarmingly the Prevent review says that ‘more than 30 per cent of people convicted for Al Qaeda-associated terrorist offences in the UK . . . are known to have attended university or a higher education institution.

‘Another 15 per cent studied or achieved a vocational or further education qualification. About 10 per cent of the sample were students at the time when they were charged or the incident for which they were convicted took place.’

The report, prepared by Home Office officials, warns of hardline Islamic groups specifically targeting universities which have large numbers of Muslim students in order to peddle a message of hate.

Students are even ‘engaging in terrorism or related activities while members of university societies’.

But it says the universities are not doing enough to respond to this threat to national security. Fewer than half of universities are engaged with the police.

Home Secretary Theresa May will demand universities do more to confront this threat. She also wants more action to deport preachers of hate.

The universities which have given places to fanatics include some of our most prestigious institutions.

The report will say that terrorists who have attended English universities include Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly, the Stockholm suicide bomber who had a BSc in sports therapy from the University of Luton, now the University of Bedfordshire.

The alleged Detroit underpants bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, studied mechanical engineering at University College London between 2005 and 2008.

Two of the fanatics convicted of the transatlantic liquid bomb plot – ringleader Abdulla Ahmed Ali and Assad Sarwar – attended City and Brunel Universities respectively.

The review says the Department for Business, which is in charge of universities, has identified about 40 English universities where there may be a particular risk.

Some now have a dedicated police officer to advise on tackling radicalisation.The document raises particular alarm about the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS). It says there are ‘several examples of students engaging in terrorism or related activities while members of university societies affiliated to FOSIS.

Such extremists must have no part in any organisation that wishes to be recognised as a representative body.’

The finger of blame for radicalising students is pointed at Hizb-ut-Tahrir, which David Cameron promised to ban in opposition, and off-shoots of a fanatical group once run by preacher of hate Omar Bakri.

One section warns: ‘We believe there is unambiguous evidence to indicate that some extremist organisations, notably Hizb-ut-Tahrir, target specific universities and colleges (notably those with a large number of Muslim students) with the objective of radicalising and recruiting students.’

Universities UK says that universities ‘are places where ideas and beliefs can be tested without fear of control’, and that they act as a safeguard against ideologies that threaten Britain’s open society.

The worries about the lax attitude of some universities is combined with concern about the student visa route. Ten of the 11 Pakistani nationals seized on suspicion of plotting an atrocity in the North-West in 2009 had student visas.

The alleged ringleader of this plot – Abid Naseer – was a computer studies student at Liverpool John Moores University.

Mrs May is determined to crack down on the abuse of the student visa route.

However, she has faced opposition within government from Michael Gove’s Education Department and Business Secretary Vince Cable.Meanwhile, Whitehall officials are said to be concerned that Mr Gove’s flagship ‘free schools’ policy – where parents can obtain state funding to open and run their own schools – could be targeted by extremists.

Security officials working in a dedicated unit are expected to vet the backgrounds of all would-be applicants for evidence of extremism or radicalisation.

The Prevent strategy is said to have caused behind-the-scenes rows within the Government.

Mr Gove is understood to have argued that the Government should not engage with groups which hold any extremist beliefs – even though these are the ones most likely to attract would-be terrorists.

Four months ago, in a major speech in Munich, the Prime Minister signalled an end to ‘passive tolerance’ of extremist Islamic organisations which foster hatred against the West and radicalise young Muslims.


Sunday, June 05, 2011

FIFTH grader arrested for breaking teacher's nose in California

An 11-year-old California boy at an alternative school for at-risk students is accused of punching his fifth-grade teacher in the face and breaking her nose.

San Bernardino County sheriff's investigators say the teacher was attacked around 9 a.m. Thursday at the Adelanto Community Day School in Adelanto, about 85 miles northeast of Los Angeles. The teacher was taken to a nearby Mojave Desert hospital for treatment.

The boy was arrested for assault with injuries and was taken to the High Desert Juvenile Detention and Assessment Center. He has not been named because of his age.

Investigators tell the Victorville Daily Press that the boy became upset when the teacher asked him to move to another seat in the classroom. The boy allegedly refused to move and yelled at the teacher before getting up and punching her.

The alleged incident was said to take place in one of the classrooms in the school, which is located at 11824 Air Expressway.

Christine McGrew, spokeswoman for the county Superintendent of Schools, told Victorville Daily Press: 'There was an incident that took place at the Adelanto Community Day School. 'At this time, my understanding is that the teacher’s nose is broken'.

Initial reports incorrectly stated the boy was in the fourth grade, as school officials later confirmed he is a fifth grader.

Ms McGrew told the paper the Adelanto Community Day School is an alternative school for at-risk students, many of whom may have been expelled from other institutions, had attendance issues or were otherwise not doing well in traditional settings. The classrooms are smaller to foster more individual attention.

Ms McGrew said: 'This is a rare and isolated incident. Some of the programs have security officers on site and that’s dependent on the number of classrooms. 'This is a rare occurrence that this would happen'.

It is not known if any security personnel were on school grounds during the alleged incident.


Gormless British graduates need more time at the university of life? They lack basic workplace skills, claims study

Employers believe too many graduates are unfit for the workplace, according to a study. They lack skills in communication, problem solving, presentation, customer relations and even punctuality.

Bosses believe all universities should be required to teach employment skills as part of degree courses, say researchers.

Universities were also urged to set up more work experience placements and internships for students to ensure they don't join the dole queue when they graduate.

The study, commissioned by the education charity Edge and carried out by Glasgow University, highlighted a 'notable majority' unable carry out duties in the workplace.

It warned of a systematic failure to 'promote employability across higher education.'

The report follows the publication of statistics which show the number of jobless graduates rocketed to a 15-year high in 2010.

A fifth were out of work in the third quarter of last year which was double the number when the recession began.

The latest study shows one in six employers is unhappy with graduate 'skills and competencies' when they apply for jobs.

It says:'Employers are frustrated that higher education courses do not meet their needs,' says the report.

'Employers expect graduates to demonstrate a range of skills and attributes that include team-working, communication and often managerial abilities or potential.'

Around 40 universities run programmes where students gain official recognition if they complete 100 hours of voluntary work, job placements or carry out extra-curricular activities.

The report says degrees should be more tailored towards the needs of businesses.


New British university to rival Oxbridge will charge £18,000 a year

Subtext: A way for rich families to buy a university place for their kids

A group of the world's leading academics have launched a new British university which they hope will rival Oxford and Cambridge, it was announced today.

New College of the Humanities (NCH) will charge fees of £18,000 a year and offer the "highest-quality" education to "gifted" undergraduates, according to its creators.

The privately-funded independent seat-of-learning will be based in Bloomsbury, central London, and open in September 2012. It will initially offer eight undergraduate humanities degrees taught by some of the globe's most prominent intellectuals, college officials said.

Professor AC Grayling, the philosopher who will be the college's first Master, secured millions of pounds of funding from investors to set up the institution which has been likened to America's elite liberal arts colleges. He said: "At NCH we believe in the importance of the humanities and excellence in education. "Our priorities at the College will be excellent teaching quality, excellent ratios of teachers to students, and a strongly supportive and responsive learning environment. "Our students will be challenged to develop as skilled, informed and reflective thinkers, and will receive an education to match that aspiration."

The college claims to offer a "new model of higher education for the humanities in the UK" and will prepare undergraduates for degrees in Law, Economics and humanities subjects including History, Philosophy and English literature.

Students will also take three "intellectual skills" modules in science literacy, logic and critical thinking and applied ethics. Practical professional skills to prepare them for the world of work including financial literacy, teamwork, presentation and strategy will also be taught.

College chiefs say students will receive a "best in class education", with one-to-one tutorials, more than 12 contact hours a week and a 10/1 student to teacher ratio.

Prof Grayling said that budget cuts and dwindling resources are likely to limit both quantity and quality of teaching in the UK, leaving the fabric of society poorer as a result. He hopes the college - a registered charity - will counteract this. "Our ambition is to prepare gifted young people for high-level careers and rich and satisfying lives," he added.

The 14 professors behind the project include evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and eminent historian Sir David Cannadine. All will teach.

NCH chairman Charles Watson said: "Higher education in the UK must evolve if it is to offer the best quality experience for students and safeguard our future economic and intellectual wealth. "New College offers a different model - one that brings additional, private sector funding into higher education in the humanities when it is most needed, and combines scholarships and tuition fees."

He added: "As well as securing the highest-quality education for hundreds of students, we believe an independent university college, established right in the heart of London, will contribute to the long-term economic welfare of the capital, attracting students and professors who are contributing to the local economy as well as equipping our graduates for jobs in the service economy, such as the financial sector, professional services, the media and the creative industries, all of which are such vital contributors to the UK economy."

Prospective students can apply immediately, with the college offering assisted places to more than 20% of the first year's intake.