Saturday, September 17, 2011

Racial Preferences in Wisconsin

The campus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison erupted this week after the release of two studies documenting the heavy use of race in deciding which students to admit to the undergraduate and law schools. The evidence of discrimination is undeniable, and the reaction by critics was undeniably dishonest and thuggish.

The Center for Equal Opportunity (CEO), which I founded in 1995 to expose and challenge misguided race-based public policies, conducted the studies based on an analysis of the university's own admissions data. But the university was none too keen on releasing the data, which CEO obtained through filing Freedom of Information Act requests only after a successful legal challenge went all the way to the state supreme court.

It's no wonder the university wanted to keep the information secret. The studies show that a black or Hispanic undergraduate applicant was more than 500 times likelier to be admitted to Wisconsin-Madison than a similarly qualified white or Asian applicant. The odds ratio favoring black law school applicants over similarly qualified white applicants was 61 to 1.

The median SAT scores of black undergraduates who were admitted were 150 points lower than whites or Asians, while the median Hispanic scores were roughly 100 points lower. And median high school rankings for both blacks and Hispanics were also lower than for either whites or Asians.

CEO has published studies of racial double standards in admissions at scores of public colleges and universities across the country with similar findings, but none has caused such a violent reaction.

Instead of addressing the findings of the study, the university's vice provost for diversity, Damon A. Williams, dishonestly told students that "CEO has one mission and one mission only: dismantle the gains that were achieved by the civil rights movement." In fact, CEO's only mission is to promote color-blind equal opportunity so that, in Martin Luther King's vision, no one will be judged by the color of his or her skin.

Egged on by inflammatory comments by university officials, student groups organized a flashmob via a Facebook page that was filled with propaganda and outright lies about CEO wanting to dismantle their student groups. More than a hundred angry students stormed the press conference at the Doubletree Hotel in Madison, where CEO president Roger Clegg was releasing the study.

The hotel management described what took place in a press statement afterward: "Unfortunately, when escorting meeting attendees out of the hotel through a private entrance, staff were then rushed by a mob of protestors, throwing employees to the ground. The mob became increasingly physically violent when forcing themselves into the meeting room where the press conference had already ended, filling it over fire-code capacity. Madison police arrived on the scene after the protestors had stormed the hotel."

But the outrageous behavior didn't end there -- and it wasn't just students but also faculty who engaged in disgraceful conduct. Later the same day of the press conference, Clegg debated UW law professor Larry Church on campus. The crowd booed, hissed, and shouted insults, continuously interrupting Clegg during the debate.

Having used Facebook to organize the flashmob, students and some faculty extended their use of social media and tweeted the debate live. Even with Twitter's 140-character limit, you'd think participants would be able to come up with something more substantive than the repeated use of the label "racist" to describe Clegg and his arguments against racial double standards, but hundreds of tweets exhibited little more than hysterical rants and personal attacks.

Perhaps the most offensive tweet was posted by Sara Goldrick-Rab, an associate professor of educational policy studies and sociology. After announcing that she was "Getting set to live blog this debate between a racist and a scholar," she tweeted that Clegg sounded "like the whitest white boy I've ever heard." The only racism in evidence came from the defenders of the university's race-based admissions policies, such as Professor Goldrick-Rab.

You'd think that a responsible university would denounce the intimidation and lack of civility by its students and faculty. Instead, Vice Provost Williams told the student newspaper, "I'm most excited about how well the students represented themselves, the passion with which they engaged, the respectful tone in how they did it and the thoughtfulness of their questions and interactions."

It appears that not only are the university's admissions policies deeply discriminatory, but also that university officials applaud name-calling, distortion and outright physical assault.


Bring back the cane, say half of British parents as Cameron pledges to restore order in schools following riots

Almost half of parents would be happy to see the return of the cane to restore discipline in the classroom, a survey suggests today.

It found 49 per cent of parents – and 19 per cent of pupils – believe caning or smacking should be used to punish ‘very bad’ behaviour.

In more general cases of ill discipline, 40 per cent of parents and 14 per cent of children favour corporal punishment.

While 53 per cent of parents and 77 per cent of children are against the cane, the poll found nine out of ten parents – and two thirds of pupils – want teachers to have more power to crack down on bad behaviour.

The survey, conducted by YouGov, comes just a week after David Cameron pledged to restore order and respect in schools in the wake of last month’s riots.

Education Secretary Michael Gove continued the tough line yesterday when he said: ‘Parents and students know we have to give teachers more authority. Strong discipline is vital for effective teaching.

‘In some of our most challenging areas there are profound problems, as the events of last month underlined. That’s why we need to give teachers more power to keep order and emphasise that adult authority should be respected and teachers obeyed.

‘Every child deserves to be taught properly. This right is currently undermined by the twisting of rights by a minority who need to be taught an unambiguous lesson in who is boss.’

Corporal punishment ended in state schools in 1987, and in the fee-paying sector in 1998.

The YouGov researchers, commissioned by the Times Educational Supplement, polled 2,014 parents with children at secondary school and 530 secondary-age pupils between August 19 and August 30.

While significant numbers favoured corporal punishment, sending pupils out of the class was the most popular method of dealing with indiscipline, chosen by 89 per cent of parents and 79 per cent of children.

Other popular ways of cracking down on bad behaviour were lunchtime or after-school detentions and writing lines.

More than four in five parents (84 per cent) and nearly two thirds of children (62 per cent) backed expelling or suspending naughty pupils.

The survey raises parents’ concerns that behaviour in schools is worse now than when they were young.

More than four fifths of parents (85 per cent) said teachers are given less respect by pupils now than when they were at school, with 86 per cent saying teachers need to gain more respect to discipline youngsters properly.

Nine in ten (91 per cent) said they were concerned that teachers have become more fearful of their pupils.


British mother-of-four threatened son's bullies with baseball bat after 'school did nothing to help'

A mother threatened her son's bullies on a school bus with a baseball bat because she felt his school and the police 'did nothing' to help the youngster. Natasha Hayley, 30, resorted to extreme measures after her 11-year-old's tormentors assaulted and robbed him.

A judge said although she had been 'incredibly stupid', he said he was not going to deprive her children of their mother by sending her to prison.

Recorder James Mulholland QC, at Maidstone Crown Court, in Kent, was shown footage of the incident caught on security cameras on the bus.

He heard how Ms Hayley from Dartford, Kent, acted on November 29 last year over her 11-year-old son being bullied at Wilmington Academy.

Michael Smalley, defending, said Hayley's son was the victim of an assault by a group of pupils on the school bus at the beginning of November. He said Ms Hayley had tried contacting the school and the police without any success. Kent police say they did act on the mother's complaints.

Although he was reluctant to return to school, Mr Smalley said the boy's mother made him go and there he was robbed in a classroom and bullied. But after informing the school she thought nothing would be done, which is why Ms Hayley says she took matters into her own hands.

When arrested, she told police she had got onto the bus to stop the bullies and took the bat in case she was 'rushed', after calls to the school and the police had failed to bring any action.

Mr Smalley said Miss Hayley, who admitted affray: 'She accepts she went over the top. She has remorse and regret. She says she was stupid.' Her son had since left Wilmington Academy and has settled at a new school.

Miss Hayley received a six-month sentence suspended for 12 months and ordered to do 150 hours' unpaid work and was handed a curfew. She said her punishment was 'unfair'. Speaking at her home in Dartford, Kent, she said: 'Nothing had been done about my son being bullied. 'If my son was to be robbed in the street that's robbery but because it was in the classroom he did not even get questioned. I am now planning to sue the school for misconduct.

'My son was the victim in the beginning of this - he had barely turned 11. All I wanted to do was to get to their parents.' Speaking about the incident on the bus, the single mother said: 'The people who beat my son up should never have been allowed on the bus. 'I should never have got on the bus with the baseball bat. I should have gone to the parents' house and spoken to them. 'If the school and police had done their work I would never have had to do it.'

The vigilante mother also claims she never intended to use the bat. She added: 'I know you can't touch children - they're children for God's sake. 'Not one parent I know would accept [their son being beaten up]. I do not feel like I am wrong because I feel like I had to do something to stop my son being bullied.

'I would never touch a child. I'd never dream of it in a million years. I hope [what my son went through] never ever happens to any one of my children. 'My son was a victim and all of all of a sudden that was ignored. My son then had to deal with people thinking I was a bully and I'm not a bully. 'I do not send my children to school to be bullied - I cannot believe the school allowed it. I think it's atrocious really.'

Recorder Mulholland said he sympathised over the 'horrific' bullying but Miss Hayley had 'gone off the scale'. He added: 'It is so far removed from what one would hope a parent would do.'

But chief Inspector Mark Arnold said the matter had been resolved: 'Kent Police was contacted in relation to an assault which occurred on 15 November 2010. The matter was fully investigated and regular contact was made with the victim's mother.

'The matter was dealt with by the school and was resolved without further police involvement, at the agreement of those involved and in line with the Kent County Council and Kent Police Schools Policy.

'Advice was provided that should further issues arise or a satisfactory outcome not be achieved, officers should be contacted. No further allegations were made to police by the victim or his family.'


Friday, September 16, 2011

Idaho School Shut Down Over 'Religious Texts'

To school teacher Isaac Moffett, the Bible is not just a religious document. “It’s so much more,” he said. "It’s a primary source of history. It’s a primary teaching source of actually people who lived during the time period.”

Moffett is making his case as he walks across a dirt field in Nampa, Idaho. “This used to be our campus,” he said. “This is where the classrooms were. Everything was right here.”

That was last year. This year it’s all gone, and all because Moffett and his fellow teachers used the Bible and other “religious texts” in their classrooms.

It’s a shocking set of circumstances that has one of the most conservative states in the country defending one of the most liberal views of the Constitutional separation between church and state.

At issue is the Nampa Classical Academy, a charter school, founded by Moffett in 2009. One year later, Idaho’s Board of Education shut the school down, citing its use of “religious texts” inside classrooms. Moffett says he only used the texts to teach history and is now suing the Board in federal court.

His lawyer calls it a blatant violation of the U.S. Constitution. “I suspect the Supreme Court is going to eventually write the final book of this case,” David Cortman predicted as he too walked across the abandoned field that was once Nampa Classical.

Cortman is from The Alliance Defense Fund, an Arizona-based group that defends Christian causes. “The Supreme Court of the United States has held for decades now,” he explained, “that it is Constitutionally permissible to objectively teach the Bible in public schools for history or comparative literature.”

And he says that is exactly what Moffett and fellow teachers were doing in Nampa. “This was not a religious school,” he said

No one from the Idaho Board of Education would comment citing the pending litigation. But in a 2009 memorandum, Idaho’s Attorney General’s office explained the state’s position: “...Use of any religious texts within Idaho's classrooms, would likely violate the Idaho State Constitution," it said.

Surprisingly Idaho’s Constitution has one of the most liberal views about Church/state separation. For instance, Title IX reads, "No Sectarian or religious tenants or doctrines shall ever be taught in the public schools."

Cortman said that line was written to prohibit Idaho’s religious groups from spreading their particular doctrines within public schools and not to banish the Bible altogether. “This is a misrepresentation,” he said. In any case, he adds the Federal Constitution always trumps state constitutions. “We feel we are on very firm ground on this one,” he said


British schools go back to basics with return of phonics tests for six-year-olds

Long overdue

Every six-year-old will be tested on their ability to read words such as ‘cat’, ‘zoo’ and ‘pride’ as part of a return to traditional teaching. Schools minister Nick Gibb will today announce that every six year old will be screened with a 10-minute test during one week of June from 2012.

The tests will be based on phonics – where pupils learn the sounds of letters and groups of letters before putting them together. It is a move away from the ‘trendy’ teaching methods which have been blamed on the decline of youngsters’ grasp of the 3Rs.

Around one in six seven-year-olds and one in five 11-year-olds fail to reach the levels expected of their age group in reading, according to official statistics.

Ministers hope the test will enable teachers to pinpoint any child struggling with reading at an early stage – so they can be given extra help.

The announcement follows the successful completion of a pilot scheme in 300 schools this summer. A report, published today, shows almost half of teachers, 43 per cent, discovered pupils with reading problems of which they were not previously aware.

It is therefore hoped that the national tests will flag up the needs of thousands of struggling youngsters each year.

Mr Gibb, said: ‘There is no doubt we need to raise standards of reading. Only last month we learnt that one in 10 boys aged 11 can read no better than a seven-year-old. ‘The new check is based on a method that is internationally proven to get results and the evidence from the pilot is clear – thousands of six-year-olds, who would otherwise slip through the net.’

At present, pupils in England are assessed in Year 2 by their teachers in English, maths and science.

Phonics focuses on sounds rather than, for example, having children try to recognise whole words. In analytic phonics, words are broken down into their beginning and end parts, such as ‘str-’ and ‘eet’, with an emphasis on ‘seeing’ the words and analogy with other words.

In synthetic phonics, children start by sequencing the individual sounds in words – for example, ‘s-t-r-ee-t’, with an emphasis on blending them together. Once they have learned all these, they progress to reading books.

Mr Gove has said he believes that it is impossible for schools to drill pupils to pass the new test. Some teachers are unconvinced by the move, believing reading is best taught using a mixture of methods.


Assistant head who 'shoved' 15-year-old pupil who swore at him is cleared of assault

An assistant head teacher, who was accused of assaulting a 15-year-old pupil, has been cleared. William Stuart, 47, was today found not guilty of assaulting the girl at Graham School in Scarborough following a two-day trial.

After the verdict was read out the court erupted into cheers largely from dozens of Mr Stuart's supporters from the local community. The teacher's wife, Sarah, who had been anxiously sitting in court, burst into tears at the news.

Mr Stuart, who has 23 years of unblemished experience, was charged after the girl, who cannot be named, claimed the science teacher shoved her to the ground and against some coat pegs.

It was alleged that Mr Stuart had become angry and 'out of control' after the pupil ignored his instructions to stay behind when food was smeared on the wall of the school canteen.

But chairman of the bench Paul Osborne said the girl's evidence was inconsistent and did not tally with that of two other pupils who gave evidence for the prosecution.

Ian Glen QC, defending, had earlier told the court 19 incidents were detailed in the school’s bad behaviour log from September 2009 to July 2011 about the girl’s poor attitude in class and on school grounds. The court also heard the girl has already been excluded this term after assaulting another pupil.

Mr Osborne said her terrible school record did nothing for her credibility, especially as she tried to tell the court she was a good pupil.

He said: 'Mr Stuart's evidence was credible and convincing. 'He has a 23-year unblemished teaching record across several schools.'

Speaking after the hearing, Anne Swift, from the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said the strain of the case has had an 'enormous impact' on Mr Stuart's family. She said teachers accused in this way should be granted anonymity until they are convicted by a court. Mrs Swift said: 'He (Mr Stuart) was made to feel a criminal before anything was found.

'It's too easy for youngsters and their families to make false accusations. There should be consequences for those who make false allegations.'

Mrs Swift said both his children went to the school where he teaches and, because of the accusation, he was not able to see his daughter's final concert before she left. Asked how she would describe Mr Stuart, she said: 'An excellent teacher. A man of a good character. A pillar of the community.'

Mrs Swift said she also believed a matter like this should never have involved the police at all and should have been dealt with internally.

Asked whether Mr Stuart would return to his job, she said: 'It would be a great loss to his profession to have an experienced teacher decide they can't face it any more.'


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Class Warfare, Pandering Dominate Phone Call Between Biden, Teachers Unions

Ridiculously false choices and rhetoric ruled the evening when the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers hosted a closed-media conference call with Vice President Joe Biden to inform their members about the latest government school and teachers’ union bailout.

In a recording obtained exclusively by, Biden explained the administration is seeking to spend $30 billion to create a “Teacher Layoff Prevention Fund.” He also said that many schools today are “deciding whether or not to heat the school or keep a teacher.”

Like school stimuli-past, Biden said schools would not be able to bank the money, but would be required to spend it. “It’s to be able to keep you at work and even rehire teachers,” he told the unions. So the Obama administration – yet again – is setting up a situation where the problem will be the same next year and the administration will have to propose another bailout or the school sky will fall in and even more kids will graduate unable to read.

Obama’s proposal includes $10 billion for the 100 “largest, high need public school districts” to use for renovations. So just prior to the election, the administration is proposing to spend $100 million in communities that traditionally vote for Democrats. Coincidence?

It’s vitally necessary and these jobs (no really, these jobs) truly are “shovel-ready,” Biden contends. In some schools, students “must often dodge falling ceiling tiles and scattering roaches and bathrooms that are missing.” Not just missing doors, but completely gone!

In others, “raw waste spews into the halls after the sewage line burst, 29 kids squeezing into rooms built for 20, etc.” Biden said.

But there is resistance and skewed priorities, according to Biden. (You wouldn’t think a call with the Obama administration and the teachers’ unions wouldn’t be complete without a little class warfare rhetoric, would you?)

“The corporations are fat with money out there” and the reason they aren’t spending it to create jobs is because “they don’t think there are going to be customers to be there to buy because they don’t have jobs or they have stagnant incomes…”

Naturally, it’s the businesses’ fault. The reality is business owners are unsure of the tax, regulatory and ObamaCare liability environment, so they’re sitting tight. Businesses are cautious when there is instability, which the Obama administration has created.

Nevertheless, Biden, like the typical liberal, sets up false choices. “As the president’s said, you know, we have to have priorities. It’s not that we are against people getting tax breaks who are wealthy, I mean, it’s just about being fair.”
“Thirty billion dollars to hire back or keep a total of 280,000 teachers employed. We can either do that, or we can continue to give a $37 billion tax break…to the oil companies, who are doing incredibly well, don’t need our help, said they didn’t, but our Republican colleagues and a few Democrats have said they’re going to continue that tax break – that loophole – for gas and oil. It’s not needed.

“We can spend $37 billion continuing this loophole or $30 billion for 280,000 teachers in the classroom.”

The others on the leftist list of boogeymen didn’t escape unscathed.
“We can modernize our 35,000 schools or we can keep letting hedge fund managers – and they’re not bad guys – but hedge fund managers pay at 15 percent tax. You guys pay at 28 percent or higher. And it’s a $20 billion a year tax break allowing them to avoid ordinary income taxes. … It’s just not fair.

“What do you want to do? Keep that tax loophole that costs $20 billion a year or modernize 35,000 public schools and put people to work?”

Oil companies? Check. Hedge fund managers? Check. Who’s left? Oh yeah, corporate jet owners.
“We can either keep cops and firefighters on the job, which we do in this bill – there’s a total of $5 billion for them combined – or you can give corporate jet owners a special tax break. … That costs $3 billion, that one tax loophole, for corporate jet owners. They’re not bad guys, I don’t care if they have jets, but why in God’s name are we going to spend $3 billion to give them that tax break…?”

Another apparent injustice is the paltry fee for corporate jets to file a flight plan, according to Biden. It’s supposedly much cheaper than for a commercial airline to do the same. Biden contends $12 billion can be raised by increasing the fee to $100.

NEA president Dennis Van Roekel fawned all over Biden. “The NEA, we are proud to stand with this administration. We recognize the unwavering commitment you have made to working families and students,” said in response.

AFT president Ranid Weigarten assured Biden the unions would be there for the Obama administration. “…The president has put together a very granular, very concrete bill…to actually put people back to work.”
“Now it’s for us to try to get this done. Create the pressure we know educators can do to say, look – we can’t, you know – there’s an election in 14 months from now but this is an opportunity to get this done, paid for with shared sacrifice – shared responsibility – of those who happen to be more fortunate than most people on this call and this is that opportunity.

“And speaking for the AFT, Mr. Vice President, then I’ll stop, we will do whatever we can to help create the…advocacy to do this.”

So on behalf of the administration, the NEA and AFT will begin the work of selling yet another bailout for government-run schools. A bailout, of course, which would produce $35.4 million in dues for the NEA and $13.1 million for the AFT.


'Outstanding' British schools that should only be rated average: Education Secretary wants focus on standard of teaching

More than half of secondary schools and nearly one in four primaries officially rated ‘outstanding’ do not deserve the accolade, the Education Secretary has warned.

Michael Gove highlighted the shame of Ofsted inspections, revealing 410 schools were rated ‘outstanding’ when the quality of their teaching is not.

Disturbingly, they have been given a reprieve from the dreaded inspections unless one is triggered by a dramatic slump in grades – reducing incentives to raise teaching standards.

Inspectors rank schools on 18 factors, some of them woolly and only one of which refers to ‘quality of teaching and learning’.

These include ‘the extent to which pupils adopt healthy lifestyles’, ‘the extent to which pupils feel safe’, and ‘the effectiveness with which school promotes equal opportunity and tackles discrimination’.

Some 150 secondary schools were given the top rating by inspectors last year – even though they failed to score high marks for their teaching. And 260 primaries were similarly trumpeted after inspectors found their teaching was just ‘satisfactory’, or ‘good’.

Under Ofsted, nearly one in ten secondaries, 9 per cent, are ranked outstanding. But Mr Gove has pointed out that the true percentage is just 4 per cent.

And for primaries, Ofsted figures claim 7 per cent are outstanding, while just 5 per cent actually have outstanding teaching. The revelation means 410 schools could be downgraded from ‘outstanding’ to ‘good’.

The stark warning reveals tens of thousands of parents – who fight to ensure they secure the best possible education for their children – are being misled. And it highlights the devastatingly low level of excellent teaching in schools.

Mr Gove’s comments coincide with a report, by exam board Pearson, which shows a resounding 97 per cent of parents believe quality of teaching is the most important factor about a school.

The Education Secretary, in a damning indictment of inspections, has called for an urgent review.

‘It is a worry to me that so many schools that are still judged as “outstanding” overall when they have not achieved an outstanding “teaching and learning”, he told the National College’s Teaching Schools conference in Nottingham. ‘I intend to ask the new Chief Inspector to look at this issue and report back to me with recommendations.’

The method of inspecting schools was introduced by Labour in 2005. They are given an overall ranking by Ofsted following an inspection – outstanding, good, satisfactory or inadequate. It is this ranking that is widely published to parents and plastered over websites.

Last night Rob Bristow, president of exam board Pearson, said inspections must be brought in line with the concerns of parents. ‘When our report asked parents what the most important factors were in choosing their child’s school, an overwhelming 97 per cent told us that their impression of teaching quality was important,’ he said.

‘Parental choices aren’t based solely on exam performance and league tables. ‘They want to be sure that their child receives the very best teaching, to help them reach their potential. This needs to be reflected in the information parents receive.’

The shameful over-inflation of hundreds of schools was also damned by former chief inspector of Ofsted, Christine Gilbert, before she stepped down in June.

The most recent Ofsted annual report highlights the shocking lack of good teaching. It states: ‘The quality of teaching is still too variable.’

Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, said: ‘It’s concerning that quality of the teaching is hidden beneath the outstanding rating especially as those schools are not due to be re-inspected. ‘I hope the Government will rethink its decision not to inspect outstanding schools to ensure they are achieving the highest possible levels of teaching quality.’


British teacher on trial for allegedly pushing and hitting 'rude and defiant' pupil who swore at him

An assistant headmaster was put on trial today accused of assaulting a ‘rude and defiant’ teenage girl. Science teacher William Stuart, 47, was angry that the 15-year-old pupil ignored his instructions to stay behind after food was smeared on the wall of the school canteen, a court heard.

He is accused of following her into a corridor where allegedly he grabbed her arm and caused her to fall over before pushing her against coat pegs. She then swore at him. The teenager complained to police five days after the incident at Graham School, Scarborough, in March. Three days later, Stuart was suspended.

He denied a charge of assault at the town’s magistrates court. He has an unblemished career spanning 23 years and five schools, and if convicted he could be forced to quit teaching.

The girl, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, told the court a friend had smeared icing from a sticky bun on the canteen wall. When the group went to leave, she said she heard Stuart shouting: ‘Get back into the hall you three.’

She told him: ‘No, I’m not coming back because I’m not involved,’ and walked away. The girl claimed the teacher was ‘really angry’ and said: ‘How dare you walk away from me?’ But she said she ignored him and went upstairs.

‘He was coming up behind me quite fast, he was still angry and shouting,’ she added. ‘He came up beside me, put his arm on the banister and wouldn’t let me get past. ‘I turned to get away, but he kept trying to get in front of me to block my path. He was still shouting, “Stop, don’t walk away from me.” ‘I was scared because he wasn’t shouting like a teacher, collected and calm, trying to get the situation under control.’

The teenager said she managed to get up the stairs and into a corridor. ‘He lunged at me with his hand, grabbed my upper right arm and pulled me towards him. I spun round, hit a wall and fell down. ‘I was shocked because I know teachers aren’t supposed to make that sort of contact with a student. I felt scared and wanted to get away. He then grabbed my right arm again and forced me to my feet.’

The teenager claimed Stuart ‘used force and aggression’ to pull her up, adding: ‘We were facing each other and he grabbed my shoulders and pushed me backwards into coat pegs. It really hurt my back when I hit the pegs.’

The girl said she then swore at him and pushed him out of the way. Prosecutor Jessica Strange also told the court the teacher hit the girl ‘again in the back before she ran away down the corridor’.

The pupil went to the school office and reported the incident before being taken home by her mother.She claimed she was left with red marks the size of 50p pieces on her lower and upper back and her right arm.

Ian Glen QC, defending, accused her of telling lies about what happened and ‘exaggerating grossly’. He told the girl: ‘You were out of control that day with anger and defiance weren’t you?’ She replied: ‘No.’

Mr Glen told the court 19 incidents were detailed in the school’s bad behaviour log from September 2009 to July 2011 about the girl’s poor attitude in class and on school grounds. The court also heard the girl has already been excluded this term after assaulting another pupil.

She admitted defying a rule not to wear hoodies at school. She has also been involved in incidents of throwing food and Plasticine and was repeatedly described by different teachers as ‘rude and defiant’.

Colleague David Thompson said of Stuart: ‘He upholds standards in the school and will not tolerate disobedience or misbehaviour, but will work with students to overcome difficulties.’


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Too Much Higher Education

Too much of anything is just as much a misallocation of resources as it is too little, and that applies to higher education just as it applies to everything else. A recent study from The Center for College Affordability and Productivity titled "From Wall Street to Wal-Mart," by Richard Vedder, Christopher Denhart, Matthew Denhart, Christopher Matgouranis and Jonathan Robe, explains that college education for many is a waste of time and money. More than one-third of currently working college graduates are in jobs that do not require a degree.

An essay by Vedder that complements the CCAP study reports that there are "one-third of a million waiters and waitresses with college degrees." The study says Vedder -- distinguished professor of economics at Ohio University, an adjunct scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and director of CCAP -- "was startled a year ago when the person he hired to cut down a tree had a master's degree in history, the fellow who fixed his furnace was a mathematics graduate, and, more recently, a TSA airport inspector (whose job it was to ensure that we took our shoes off while going through security) was a recent college graduate."

The nation's college problem is far deeper than the fact that people simply are overqualified for particular jobs. Citing the research of AEI scholar Charles Murray's book "Real Education" (2008), Vedder says: "The number going to college exceeds the number capable of mastering higher levels of intellectual inquiry. This leads colleges to alter their mission, watering down the intellectual content of what they do."

In other words, colleges dumb down courses so that the students they admit can pass them. Murray argues that only a modest proportion of our population has the cognitive skills, work discipline, drive, maturity and integrity to master truly higher education. He says that educated people should be able to read and understand classic works, such as John Locke's "Essay Concerning Human Understanding" or William Shakespeare's "King Lear." These works are "insightful in many ways," he says, but a person of average intelligence "typically lacks both the motivation and ability to do so." Mastering complex forms of mathematics is challenging but necessary to develop rigorous thinking and is critical in some areas of science and engineering.

Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, authors of "Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses" (2011), report on their analysis of more than 2,300 undergraduates at 24 institutions. Forty-five percent of these students demonstrated no significant improvement in a range of skills -- including critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing -- during their first two years of college.

According to an August 2006 issue brief by the Alliance for Excellent Education, student "lack of preparation is also apparent in multiple subject areas; of college freshmen taking remedial courses, 35 percent were enrolled in math, 23 percent in writing, and 20 percent in reading." Declining college admissions standards have contributed to the deterioration of the academic quality of our secondary schools. Colleges show high schools that they do not have to teach much in order for youngsters to be admitted.

According to Education Next, an August Harvard University study titled "Globally Challenged: Are U.S. Students Ready to Compete?" found that only 32 percent of U.S. students achieved proficiency in math, compared with "75 percent of students in Shanghai, 58 percent in Korea, and 56 percent in Finland. Countries in which a majority -- or near majority -- of students performed at or above the proficiency level in math include Switzerland, Japan, Canada, and the Netherlands." Results from the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment international test show that U.S. students rank 32nd among industrialized nations in proficiency in math and 17th in reading.

Much of American education is in shambles. Part of a solution is for colleges to refuse to admit students who are unprepared to do real college work. That would help to reveal the shoddy education provided at the primary and secondary school levels. Here I'm whistlin' "Dixie," because college administrators are more interested in numbers of students, which equal more money.


College May Be Dangerous for Men

College is a dangerous place for men. They are not only a minority, but they are victimized by discriminatory and unconstitutional anti-male rules.

In another striking proof that the Obama administration is totally manipulated by feminists, the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights sent out a 19-page "DCL" (Dear Colleague Letter) to colleges and universities that should make men fear attending college at all. The letter adopts the feminist theory that in all sexual controversies or accusations, the man is guilty unless he proves himself innocent.

This DCL carries the force of law, since it purports to be an additional implementation of Title IX, the 1972 federal law that bans sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal assistance. But the DCL was never legislated by Congress, and it was not even launched as a regulation that requires posting for comment in the Federal Register.

The DCL is just a federal order, issued by a feminist bureaucrat named Russlynn Ali, which colleges and universities must obey under threat of losing their funding. Colleges have dutifully fallen in line by spelling it out in their fall orientations under the rubric of making campuses friendly to women and requiring sensitivity about offensive words and ideas.

The most unconstitutional part of Ali's impertinent DCL is that it orders colleges to reject use of the criminal justice standard of proof. The DCL rules that an accused man doesn't have to be judged guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt," or even the intermediate standard of "clear and convincing" proof.

Instead, Ms. Ali instructs colleges that they must judge an accused man based on "a preponderance of the evidence" standard. That means the campus disciplinary board (which may include feminist faculty from the Women's Studies Department) only has to believe that the female accuser is 51 percent likely to be truthful and accurate.

Furthermore, the DCL "strongly discourages" colleges from permitting an accused man "to question or cross-examine the accuser" during the hearing. And appeals must be available to both parties, which subjects the guy to double jeopardy.

The punishment of a man convicted under these DCL rules will far exceed what the campus disciplinary committee may hand out. He will likely be expelled, barred from graduate or professional school and some government jobs, suffer irreparable damage to his reputation, and possibly be exposed to criminal prosecution.

The feminist apparatus is constantly grinding out phony statistics about sexual assault and harassment, accusations that men are naturally batterers, and that women never lie or make errors in sexual allegations. The feminists are unrepentant about the way they and the prosecutors (toadying to the feminists) accepted and publicized lies that destroyed the reputations of the Duke lacrosse men and of Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Another monster that hangs over the heads of college students is the increasing evidence that college is a bad financial investment that will saddle students with debt they can never escape. Pro-college ads from organizations like How To E-D-U and KnowHow2Go are seductive: "College graduates can make a million dollars more in their lifetimes than those who don't go to college."

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS, 17 million college-educated Americans are now working jobs for which they are overqualified. The BLS reports that hundreds of thousands of college graduates are working as waiters, secretaries, receptionists, laborers or janitors, all respectable occupations but not jobs that will enable them to repay their five- or even six-digit college loans.

The current student loan debt, now $830 billion, is bigger than credit-card debt and growing at the rate of $90 billion a year. Only 40 percent of that debt is actively being repaid, and students are not permitted to escape that debt burden through bankruptcy, so we may be headed for a student-loan bubble like the housing bubble.

The one project that received an increased appropriation in the bipartisan deal to raise the debt ceiling was more money to subsidize students to go to college. Loaning taxpayers' money to students to go to college makes no sense and is hurtful even to the students who get the money.

If students were working a 48-hour-a-week night job, as I did when I worked my way through college, they wouldn't have time to get into the mischief referenced by the recent DCL or to attend drinking parties, and they wouldn't accumulate the indebtedness that will burden their lives for decades.

For encouragement, they can read Zac Bissonnette's helpful book, "Debt-Free U: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships, or Mooching Off My Parents." Alternatively, students can get a job that doesn't require a college education.


British schools 'axing traditional science experiements', warn MPs

Children are being forced to study science “second hand” as schools dump traditional experiments in favour of teaching from textbooks, MPs warned today.

The Commons science select committee said that exaggerated fears over health and safety were occasionally used as a “convenient excuse” for avoiding practical work. In a report, it was claimed that this often disguised a lack of confidence among physics, chemistry and biology teachers.

MPs insisted that a decline in experiments and fieldwork was actually down to weak teacher training, a lack of lab technicians, the poor quality of science facilities and crowded timetables.

The conclusions came as a separate international study showed the amount of time children spend in conventional lessons during the school day had a direct bearing on their chances of securing decent grades in science.

Andrew Miller, the committee’s Labour chairman, said: “This is worrying. “If the UK is to be confident of producing the next generation of scientists, then schools - encouraged by the government - must overcome the perceived and real barriers to providing high quality practicals, fieldwork and fieldtrips.”

MPs took evidence from dozens of organisations as part of a review of science experiments and fieldwork in English schools.

The study said high-quality science lessons were needed to enable students to study the subject at college and university. But it was claimed that pupils “cannot and should not do this exclusively second hand, through books without direct practical experience both in and out of the classroom”.

The study found “no credible evidence” to support the claim that health and safety rules got in the way of practical work in the subject. However, the committee was told that it “may be used as a convenient excuse” for avoiding serious science experimentation in some schools.

Teachers may cite health and safety when they are “unsure of their ability to carry out a field trip or believe that the volume and nature of paperwork will outweigh any benefits of taking on the trip”, MPs said.

The committee criticised the poor standard of teacher training, saying that there was “no requirement for student teachers to demonstrate their ability to lead and carry out a field trip” as part of their induction.

Today’s report acknowledged that the Government was attempting to address weaknesses by giving student teachers more on-the-job training in schools and bursaries of up to £20,000 to attract the brightest science and maths graduates into the profession.

But it said schools also needed “fit for purpose facilities” and the support of qualified and experienced technical staff.

MPs heard evidence that some schools were sacking technicians to save money and the design and standard of science labs was “poor”.

“High quality science facilities and qualified and experienced technical support are vital,” said the report. “A career structure for technical staff should be provided and the Government should ensure schools provide science facilities to match its aspirations for science education.”

The conclusions came as a major international report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found that a focus on the basics helped boost standards in science.

The study – based on evidence from 37 nations – found that providing one additional science lesson a week was a cheaper and more effective way to raise achievement than extracurricular clubs, homework and visits to museums and galleries.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

All the Wrong 9/11 Lessons

Michelle Malkin

Are your kids learning the right lessons about 9/11? Ten years after Osama bin Laden's henchmen murdered thousands of innocents on American soil, too many children have been spoon-fed the thin gruel of progressive political correctness over the stiff antidote of truth.

"Know your enemy, name your enemy" is a 9/11 message that has gone unheeded. Our immigration and homeland security policies refuse to profile jihadi adherents at foreign consular offices and at our borders. Our military leaders refuse to expunge them from uniformed ranks until it's too late (see: Fort Hood massacre). The j-word is discouraged in Obama intelligence circles, and the term "Islamic extremism" was removed from the U.S. national security strategy document last year.

Similarly, too many teachers refuse to show and tell who the perpetrators of 9/11 were and who their heirs are today. My own daughter was one year old when the Twin Towers collapsed, the Pentagon went up in flames and Shanksville, Pa., became hallowed ground for the brave passengers of United Flight 93. In second grade, her teachers read touchy-feely stories about peace and diversity to honor the 9/11 dead. They whitewashed Osama bin Laden, militant Islam and centuries-old jihad out of the curriculum. Apparently, the youngsters weren't ready to learn even the most basic information about the evil masterminds of Islamic terrorism.

Mary Beth Hicks, author of the new book "Don't Let the Kids Drink the Kool-Aid," points to a recent review of 10 widely used textbooks in which the concepts of jihad and sharia were either watered down or absent. These childhood experts have determined that grade school is too early to delve into the specifics of the homicidal clash of Allah's sharia-avenging soldiers with the freedom-loving Western world.

Yet, many of the same protectors of fragile elementary-school pupils can't wait to teach them all the ins and outs of condoms, cross-dressers and crack addictions.

We pulled our daughter out of a cesspool of academic and moral relativism and found a reality-grounded, rigorous charter school where no-nonsense teachers refuse to sugarcoat inconvenient facts and history. Many of the students are children of soldiers and servicemen and women who -- inspired by the heroes of 9/11 -- have voluntarily deployed time and time again to kill the American Dream destroyers abroad before they kill us over here.

There's no better way to hammer home the message that "freedom is not free" than to have your kids go to school with other kids whose dads and moms are gone for years at a time -- missing births and birthday parties, recitals and soccer practice, Christmas pageants and Independence Day fireworks.

But instead of unfettered pride in our armed forces, social justice educators in high schools and colleges across the country indoctrinate American students into viewing our volunteer armed forces as victims, monsters and pawns in a leftist "social struggle."

A decade after the 9/11 attacks, Blame America-ism still permeates classrooms and the culture. A special 9/11 curriculum distributed in New Jersey schools advises teachers to "avoid graphic details or dramatizing the destruction" wrought by the 9/11 hijackers, and instead focus elementary school students' attention on broadly defined "intolerance" and "hurtful words."

No surprise: Jihadist utterances such as "Kill the Jews," "Allahu Akbar" and "Behead all those who insult Islam" are not among the "hurtful words" studied.

Middle-schoolers are directed to "analyze diversity and prejudice in U.S. history." And high-school students are taught "Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs" - pop-psychology claptrap used to excuse jihadists' behavior based on their purported low self-esteem and oppressed status caused by "European colonialism."

It is no wonder that a new poll released this week showed that Americans today "are generally more willing to believe that U.S. policies in the Middle East might have motivated the 9/11 terror attacks on New York and the Pentagon," according to Reuters.

To make matters worse, we have an appeaser-in-chief who wrote shortly after the jihadist attacks a decade ago that the "essence of this tragedy" derives "from a fundamental absence of empathy on the part of the attackers: an inability to imagine, or connect with, the humanity and suffering of others." A "climate of poverty and ignorance" caused the attacks, then-Illinois state Sen. Barack Obama preached. Never mind the Ivy League and Oxford educations, the oil wealth and the middle-class status of legions of al-Qaida plotters and operatives.

9/11 was a deliberate, carefully planned evil act of the long-waged war on the West by Koran-inspired soldiers of Allah around the world. They hated us before George W. Bush was in office. They hated us before Israel existed. And the avengers of the religion of perpetual outrage will keep hating us no matter how much we try to appease them.

The post-9/11 problem isn't whether we'll forget. The problem is: Will we ever learn?


AZ: Teacher accent scrutiny halted

Facing a possible civil-rights lawsuit, Arizona has struck an agreement with federal officials to stop monitoring classrooms for mispronounced words and poor grammar from teachers of students still learning the English language.

Instead, the task of testing teachers' fluency in English will fall to school districts and charter schools as part of federal and state legal requirements.

The state's agreement with the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education allows it to avoid further investigation and a possible federal civil-rights lawsuit.

The investigation began after unnamed parties filed a civil-rights complaint in May 2010 alleging that the state's on-site monitoring reports led to teachers being removed from classrooms based on their accents.

In November, federal officials told Arizona that its fluency monitoring may violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by discriminating against teachers who are Hispanic and others who are not native English speakers.

Under the agreement, the Arizona Department of Education will remove the fluency section from the form used by its monitors who visit classrooms. It also will require schools and districts to file assurances with the state that their teachers are fluent. The state did not admit any wrongdoing.

As a result, federal officials determined there were insufficient facts to establish a civil-rights violation and closed the case.

Despite the agreement to drop fluency from the form, John Huppenthal, Arizona superintendent of public instruction, said his office will continue to instruct state monitors to talk to districts about individual teachers whose English pronunciation or grammar is flawed.

"We still are going to be conscious of these articulation issues," Huppenthal said. "Students should be in a class where teachers can articulate."

State monitoring

Each year, state monitors visit a sampling of classrooms to determine compliance with state and federal laws covering how schools teach children still learning English.

The monitoring of teacher fluency began in 2002 after passage of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

A concern was the low proportion of English-learning students who pass the state's standardized test in reading, writing and math, called AIMS.

Monitors have reported infractions such as teachers instructing in Spanish, using Spanish-language teaching materials or hanging Spanish-language posters on their classroom walls, which are prohibited by Arizona's English-only law.

Monitors also reported that some teachers did not have proper credentials to teach English learners.

The monitors also noted what they considered unacceptably heavy accents that caused some teachers to mispronounce words and teachers using poor English grammar.

In 2007, The Arizona Republic examined reports from the 32 districts monitored that year. State officials found teachers with unacceptable pronunciation and grammar in nine districts.

Examples of concerns included a teacher who asked her English learners "How do we call it in English?" and teachers who pronounced "levels" as "lebels" and "much" as "mush." Last year, federal officials found monitoring reports that documented teachers who pronounced "the" as "da" and "lives here" as "leeves here."

In recent years, the state has monitored up to 60 districts a year and has notified between five and 10 districts of concerns regarding fluency issues, said Andrew LeFevre, spokesman for the state Department of Education.

After monitors documented the mistakes, the state required districts to develop and implement "corrective-action plans" to improve a teacher's English.

Arizona has never suggested a teacher be removed from a classroom or fired because of improper use of grammar, syntax and punctuation, LeFevre said.

"It was certainly brought up to the district but never in a fashion that this teacher should not be teaching this class," LeFevre said.

Instead, state officials would suggest helping the teacher take additional English-language classes or work with a fluency coach, LeFevre said.

The monitoring did lead to transfers of some teachers.

After a visit from a state monitor in the 2006-07 school year, the Creighton Elementary School District received a list of about 10 teachers who monitors said had problems speaking English fluently, said Susan Lugo, the district's director of human resources. Lugo said the 10 teachers were very skilled at their jobs and their students made academic progress.

"We offered them assistance with classes for grammar and pronunciation," Lugo said. The classes were free. Five of the teachers continued to struggle, and Creighton transferred them out of English-learning classes and into regular classes.

"Nobody lost pay," Lugo said. "Nobody lost a job. Keeping them in the district was a good move for us."

The Arizona Education Association, the state's largest teachers union, investigated several complaints that teachers were removed from classrooms for fluency reasons, union President Andrew Morrill said.

"We followed up on initial complaints that they themselves or someone they knew in their building were being harassed, receiving undue scrutiny and having their fluency called into question because of their accent," Morrill said. No evidence was found that it was widespread.

Morrill said the union never heard of a teacher being fired because of the monitoring reports.

Federal concerns

Federal officials found Arizona's approach to determining fluency was unacceptable because findings were subjective and based only on brief classroom visits. That was the case even when targeted teachers had passed more extensive English-fluency exams administered by districts.

During the 2010-11 school year, the state monitored 1,000 classrooms "and most visits were for at least 15 to 20 minutes," LeFevre said.

Arizona defended its actions, saying the classroom visits were effective and the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 required the state to monitor fluency.

The state agreed to change the monitoring form by removing the fluency sections.

The state instead will accept a district's or school's assurance that a teacher tested as fluent on a more complete, objective exam.

But Huppenthal said he will continue to find ways to regain state power over determining the fluency of English-language teachers.

He plans to explore requiring a fluency test when teachers are licensed by the state and seeking direct authority to monitor fluency through the state Legislature.

"We're going to want explicit authority from the Legislature so we can have regulatory power over these issues," Huppenthal said. "That's how we're going to resolve this issue.


Bring back grammars schools! Selective schools must be set up wherever families demand them, leading Tories tell PM

New grammar schools should be set up to boost academic achievement, senior Tories have told David Cameron.

In the latest in a series of challenges to the Prime Minister ahead of the party conference, a leading backbencher called for an increase in academic selection.

Graham Brady, chairman of the influential 1922 Committee, says: ‘We should end the “Henry Ford” approach to school choice by which we allow parents to have whatever kind of school they want as long as it is a comprehensive. ‘Selective schools should be available in the state sector where there is demand for them.’

The Tory MP made his remarks in a book – being serialised by the Daily Mail – which calls for a return to traditional Conservative policies. Twenty-six MPs and advisers on the centre right of the party have contributed essays that reflect their growing unease at the power and influence of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

John Redwood, a former cabinet minister, calls for lower taxes while others press for more conservative policies on the European Union and law and order.

Mr Cameron’s refusal to back the opening of more grammar-style schools made for one of the most toxic rows of the early years of his leadership and culminated in the resignation of Mr Brady from the Tory frontbench in 2007.

The fact the MP has raised the issue again shows that Tory backbenchers are increasingly confident of trying to steer Mr Cameron down a more traditional path. Although there are no Government plans to add to the country’s 164 grammar schools, Education Secretary Michael Gove is encouraging other types of selective school.

Mr Brady, a former Tory education spokesman, called for fully selective grammar schools or partially selective schools to be set up where parents want them. He says academies should be allowed to select 20 per cent of their pupils on the basis of academic ability – and even more with Government approval.

In the book, called the The Future of Conservatism, Mr Brady says: ‘If we really believe in giving more autonomy to schools and more freedom to parents and communities, it follows that we should allow the creation of selective or partially selective schools where there is local demand for them. ‘These opportunities should be provided wherever parents want them and should be available within the state sector – not just for those who can afford to pay.’

He said one in four families in the London borough of Camden goes private because local schools are so bad. In Bromley, a wealthier borough in the capital’s south, the figure is nearer one in 11.

‘Research shows that academic selection can raise standards in the selective schools and in neighbouring non-selective schools,’ Mr Brady added. ‘We now have 40 years of evidence showing that, while it is possible to achieve good results in comprehensive schools, areas with selective schools as a whole tend to perform better.’

David Davis, who helped plan the book, said the goal was to draw up ‘a distinctively Conservative point of view both as a foundation for fighting the next election and as a basis for debate in formulating policy’.

An internet tool that allows parents to compare their local schools has gone online. Available on the Department for Education website, it draws on a range of previously hidden data, including spending per pupil, staff salaries and school meal budgets. It also carries the more familiar Ofsted ratings and exam results so that schools can be judged against local, regional and national averages. Up to five can be compared against each other through a postcode search.

Education Secretary Michael Gove says the initiative is the ‘educational equivalent of Go Compare’, which helps families shop around for everything from insurance to mortgages.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Public Schools and Online Free Speech: A Status Update

Does the First Amendment cover public school teachers and students on Facebook? The Internet age has brought a new spin to old civil liberties debates.

Three recent cases underscore the complexities. The Missouri State Teachers Association is suing to challenge the “Amy Hestir Student Protection Act,” a state law restricting public teachers and students from interacting on social media. The law, named after a student who was molested by a teacher, is said to violate the teachers’ freedom of speech and association. One practical consideration: teachers can easily abuse their authority over students without the Internet. If Facebook makes the abuse more likely, it probably also makes it easier to detect.

Meanwhile, officials in Lake County, Florida, have reassigned a teacher for airing controversial views on his Facebook. Jerry Buell condemned same-sex marriage, thundering that “God will not be mocked.” District policy penalizes employees for “[p]osting as a citizen about a non-job related matter of public concern . . . and making comments that negatively affect the district’s effectiveness.”

Also this month, a federal judge ruled that an Indiana school was wrong to punish students for posting suggestive photos taken at a slumber party. The school code prohibiting displays that “discredit or dishonor . . . yourself or your school” was too vague and a violation of the First Amendment, the court decided, intoning that “[t]he case poses timely questions about the limits school officials can place on out-of-school speech by students in the information age where Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, texts, and the like rule the day.”

Americans take different sides on these controversies, but each poses distinct questions. Moreover, these issues are politicized not because of social media but because of government-run schools themselves.

A private school can legitimately set standards for behavior outside class. It could forbid teachers and students from being online friends, ban teachers from voicing religious or political opinions online, and penalize students for posting crude images. Its ultimate recourse would be firing the teacher or dismissing the student.

Public schools complicate the picture. Mere association between teachers and students should be legal. But insofar as the Missouri law sets rules for school district policy, there may be no perfect answer on First Amendment grounds. Most parents, who must finance the system, expect some guidelines on school personnel. Any policy is bound to alienate some people.

The Florida case is not a simple free speech issue, either, especially since the teacher does not face criminal penalties. Real censorship involves fines or jail time, not simply losing a job or being reassigned. Civil libertarians could still object to a tax-funded institution enforcing speech codes on Facebook. But is there no limit to what public teachers can spew online, while representing the public? This is only such a difficult issue for a public school. There is no constitutional problem when a private school reassigns a teacher.

Matters are perhaps different concerning students. They and their parents can choose private schools at great expense, but taxes and attendance laws make them captive customers of public schools. One could argue that public schools can legitimately set standards for outside conduct among their employees, but students and their families are forced to patronize the system. Americans were understandably outraged last year to learn that a Pennsylvania school was using laptop cameras to spy on students at home. Whereas public teachers don’t have a “right” to a job without restrictions, students are compelled to attend and should have an expectation of privacy at home. Their parents, not their schools, should determine any discipline over slumber party hijinks.

All these cases pose difficult questions and involve the troubling specter of speech police reaching into students and teachers’ lives. Yet the complications all arise due to public schooling. Similarly, whether schools teach evolution or intelligent design, birth control or abstinence, Keynesian or free-market economics, is impossible always to resolve so long as the general public is taxed and supposedly served by a monopoly school system.

This is an argument for moving away from a school monopoly supported through taxes and forced attendance. In the meantime, all who value civil society should be wary of any speech codes affecting students and teachers in their time off, while recognizing that teachers working under an employment contract’s terms could be reprimanded or fired for their off-site behavior without it necessarily qualifying as outright censorship precluded by the First Amendment.


Unruly British pupils' parents should be told: Work with school or lose your benefits, says influential think-tank

Parents with unruly children should have their benefits [welfare payments] taken away if they fail to co-operate with schools, according to an influential report published today.

Respected think-tank the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has found that schools expel pupils too regularly because parents will not work with them to improve their children’s behaviour. As a result, a staggering 22,000 pupils aged five to 16 are sent to pupil referral units (PRUs) – a doubling since Labour came to power in 1997. And the direct burden to the taxpayer is £308million, as it costs £14,000 a year more to educate a child in a PRU than in normal lessons.

The CSJ will today launch its new publication 'No Excuses: A review of educational exclusion' with a keynote address from Nick Gibb MP, Minister for Schools at the Pimlico Academy in London, close to Westminster.

The report, written by a number of education experts, calls on the Government to embark on ‘radical reform’. It believes schools should be handed stronger sanctions to coerce irresponsible parents to co-operate with their child’s school to tackle their behaviour. These include the axing of benefit and welfare payments to parents who will not accept the help of their school.

At present, schools can fine parents up to £100 or, in extreme cases of truancy, get them jailed. But only a handful of parents have been convicted and jailed, and just 20,000 fines a year are paid.

Meanwhile violence, bad behaviour and truancy are endemic in England’s schools. Children turn up at primaries wearing gang colours and youngsters as young as seven have been found carrying knives, the report found.

Some children stop attending because they fear for their safety, or even their lives.


Australia: Teacher sued for insult to dad

A choofer is a type of camping stove known to be rather smoky and noisy -- so the word is used as a derogatory term for a marijuana user. It seems unlikely that the teacher made the allegation without knowing it to be true so the case should only hinge on whether truth is a defence. It seems likely however that Victoria's anti-discrimination laws will be dragged into it

A TEACHER who allegedly told a student his father couldn't get a job because he was a "choofer" who smoked drugs is being sued in possibly a Victorian legal first.

An Aboriginal father and son have hired top lawyers to sue the teacher and the State Government for defamation, seeking tens of thousands of dollars.

Legal sources said it was probably the first action of its kind and could set a precedent that could affect any teacher who ridiculed a student in public.

The father and son from Swan Hill are not only seeking damages, but also "aggravated" damages because as Aborigines they suffered extra humiliation.

Queen's Counsel Jeremy Ruskin is appearing on behalf of the boy, with barrister and Williamstown Football Club president Trevor Monti. In a writ lodged in the Supreme Court, the teenager claimed the teacher ridiculed him in front of others in class on June 29, saying the boy's father was "a choofer".

"Does (the boy's) dad have a job? He won't get a job if he keeps doing what he does," the Swan Hill College teacher allegedly said. "(His) dad smokes weed (and) goes into (the boy's) room and gives him weed."

The writ said the teacher's comments could be understood to mean the boy's father was a drug user who could not work because of his addiction and who gave drugs to his son.

It claimed the comments were spoken with a "reckless indifference to the truth", knowing they would cause significant humiliation to the plaintiffs because they were Aboriginal.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Chicago mess continues

The drumming for a longer school day in Chicago Public Schools grew in volume yesterday with City Council joining Mayor Emanuel and CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard in calling for extending the length of classroom time. With many of the aldermen in the Council backed by organized labor, the stand against the Chicago Teachers Union on the subject of a longer school day is seen by some as more than a token gesture intended to curry favor with the mayor.

14th Ward Ald. Ed Burke, one of organized labor's staunchest allies, said he's finding it harder to back CTU and their opposition to a longer school day.
"I’m starting to get embarrassed at the attitude of some leaders of organized labor,” Burke said.

“... The union is not trying to figure out a way to get this accomplished. They seem to be obstructing the end goal that so many people agree needs to happen.”

Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) said extending the school day by 90 minutes isn't enough and called for an even longer day to allow working parents to pick up their children without having to leave their jobs early.

The teachers union responded to City Council's move by formally filing a complaint with the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board, charging the four schools who waived their CPS contracts in exchange for a 2 percent pay raise and 90 more minutes of classroom time amounts to tampering. CTU President Karen Lewis said Emanuel's actions were a "declaration of war."
"This is an attempt to take down and make irrelevant the Chicago Teachers Union because if the CTU goes, they can roll over every union in the city.’’

The complaint calls for canceling the waivers of the contracts at STEM Magnet and Skinner North (Burke has four grandchildren attending Skinner) on the grounds non-CTU members were allowed to vote in "sham elections." A press release from the union sent out after City Council's statements repeated CTU's position they're in favor of a longer school day, but not solely for the sake of having one.
“The Chicago Teachers Union supports a longer school day if it’s also a better school day. Our concern is about quality not quantity. We do not want our teachers and paraprofessionals coerced and bullied into signing away their contractual rights in order to get the resources they sorely need,” the statement continued.

“The longer school day campaign is nothing more than a political gimmick based on lies, misinformation and half-truths,” the statement said.

The piling on CTU didn't stop with City Council. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, a former CPS CEO, said the school system deserves a "badge of shame" for having such a short school day and expressed his wishes for extending it when he was in charge. Duncan said he couldn't because the system "couldn't afford it" during his time as CEO.

CTU has been asking all along how CPS can move to extend the school day and give the teachers who break the contract with the school system raises if they can't afford their negotiated pay raises.


British couple send their kid to school in Albania -- because the local British school discourages learning of basic subjects

A couple have taken the extraordinary step in sending their six-year-old son to study in Albania - 1,321 miles away. Petrit and Juliette Muca are sending their eldest son Aleks to school in Eastern Europe - because he will have a better chance to master maths, science and reading there.

Mr Muca is originally from Albania while his wife is from Northampton where their son was born.

The couple, who now live in Sunderland, had enrolled their son at the nearby Benedict Biscop Primary which was described in an Ofsted report as 'good and improving.' However when their boy returned home from his first year at school, his mother Juliette noted that having initially loved books that he 'went backwards,' and hadn't made any progress in his quest to read.

She revealed: 'My complaint with the system - it's all about being creative. But children need to learn science, maths and reading.'

Britain is trailing in the World Economic rankings, and is now sat in 43rd place, but that comes as no shock to Mrs Muca who insisted: 'It doesn't surprise me. Labour created a system where kids get 10 A stars at GCSE - but what does that mean if everyone gets them.'

And now young Aleks will live with his father Petrit's parents and will study in Tirana where schools follow a more traditional set-up.

The couple who own a shop in the North East will spend £1,500-a-year on school fees as they bid to prevent their son from failing. Juliette added: 'It's a major sacrifice but we have to do what's best,' with Aleks set to return to England during the holidays.


Dumb Australian teachers: Errors in Queensland Core Skills test highlighted by students themselves

EUROPE is not a country! That's just one of the duh! messages a fed-up student has sent in a letter to the creators of the Queensland Core Skills tests who claim their tests are "world-class".

More than 30,000 Year 12s across the state recently sat the tests, which are used to help calculate overall position (OP) scores.

Infuriated by the "appalling standard" of testing, the student who declined to be named, insisted the Brisbane-based authority take a closer look at how many countries there are in the world. A multiple choice question claims there are 188. Much less than the current widely accepted 196.

One part of the student's complaint to the Queensland Studies Authority reads: "The unit included a graph plotting the 'number of countries' against 'global GHGs (%)'. The graph not only claims that there are 188 countries in the world but classified Europe as a country.

"Europe is a continent. It is widely accepted that there are about 196 countries in the world. Even if the whole of Europe is classified as one country in this graph, Europe has more than eight countries in it. It was frustrating to have to lower myself to the appalling standard of calling Europe a country in order to calculate an appropriate response."

These are just some of gripes in the long letter, which also questions the use of the word quote as a noun and argues the difference between the meaning of the word tone and tonality.

Social blogging site Tumblr was red hot last week with student post mortems on the tests.

A QSA spokesperson said in a statement that the QCS tests were of a world-class standard. He confirmed the graph used was 12 years old. The QSA statement said: "We have not been contacted by any school about perceived errors in the 2011 QCS Test."