Friday, March 15, 2013

University to Hold Controversial ‘White Privilege  Conference’

This is pure racism

The University of Colorado-Colorado Springs (UCCS) is offering students up to four college credits if they attend the public university’s 14th annual “White Privilege Conference,” Campus Reform reports.

The event, which is organized by UCCS, will focus on teaching whites that they are born with an inherent privilege over other races. A stunning promotional video for the event provides an idea of what the White Privilege Conference is all about.

“I am privileged,” reads black text on an all white background. “I can if I wish arrange to be around people of my race most of the time.”

The video continues:

    “I can go shopping fairly assured I won’t be followed or harassed.”

    “When I’m told about our national heritage or about ‘civilization’ I am shows that people of my color made it what it is.” ...

    “I can, whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, count on my skin color not to work against my appearing financially reliable.”

    “I don’t have to educate my children to be aware of systemic racism for their own daily protection.” ...

    “I can choose blemish cover or bandages in ‘flesh’ color and have them more or less match my skin.”

“I cannot be blind to the invisible system of privilege I am a part of,” the video concludes.

Students will receive one college credit for each day of the three day conference that they attend if they write a brief journal entry summarizing what they learned, according to an online syllabus on the UCCS website.

The UCCS sociology professor in charge of organizing the conference, Dr. Abby Ferber, has authored several books, including “White Man Falling: Race, Gender and White Supremacy.”

“According to the conference’s website, the credit can be attained by any student in attendance and is “widely transferable” to other academic institutions,” The Leadership Institute’s Campus Reform notes.

The University of Michigan and the University of Minnesota are among the four other institutions helping sponsor the controversial conference, which is set to take place in Seattle on April 10-13. Seattle is roughly 1,300 miles from Colorado Springs, Colo.


The School Staffing Surge: Decades of Employment Growth in America’s Public Schools

America’s K-12 public education system has experienced tremendous historical growth in employment, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. Between fiscal year (FY) 1950 and FY 2009, the number of K-12 public school students in the United States increased by 96 percent, while the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) school employees grew 386 percent. Public schools grew staffing at a rate four times faster than the increase in students over that time period. Of those personnel, teachers’ numbers increased 252 percent, while administrators and other non-teaching staff experienced growth of 702 percent, more than seven times the increase in students.

That hiring pattern has persisted in more recent years as well. Between FY 1992 and FY 2009, the number of K-12 public school students nationwide grew 17 percent, while the number of FTE school employees increased 39 percent. Among school personnel, teachers’ staffing numbers rose 32 percent, while administrators and other non-teaching staff experienced growth of 46 percent, 2.3 times greater than the increase in students over that 18-year period; the growth in the number of teachers was almost twice that of students.

The two aforementioned figures come from “The School Staffing Surge: Decades of Employment Growth in America’s Public Schools.” This companion report contains more state-specific information about public school staffing. Specifically, this report contains:

    Each state’s percentage change among students and administrators and other non-teaching personnel from FY 1992 to FY 2009 (Table 1).

    The actual and “extra” number of administrators and non-teaching staff in each state. “Extra” is defined as the excess non-teaching staff hired beyond the rate of change in each state’s student population over the past generation, FY 1992 to FY 2009 (Table 2).

    Each state’s cost savings if the increase/decrease in administrators and other non-teaching staff had been the same as the increase/decrease in students from FY 1992 to FY 2009 (Table 3).

    Each state’s cost savings per 25 students if the increase/decrease in administrators and other nonteaching staff had been the same as the increase/ decrease in students from FY 1992 to FY 2009 (Table 4).

    The increase in teacher salaries that would be possible if the change in employment in non-teaching personnel had not exceeded the change in the student population from FY 1992 to FY 2009 (Table 5).

    Each state’s ratio of students to non-teaching staff in FY 2009 (Table 6).

    A comparison of the ratio of students to non-teaching staff and the ratio of students to teachers in each state in FY 2009 (Table 7). The 21 “Top-Heavy States” that employ fewer teachers than other non-teaching personnel are highlighted in Table 7.

    For the 21 “Top-Heavy States,” the difference between the number of other staff and teachers in FY 2009 (Table 8).

    The actual ratio of students to all public school employees in FY 2009 (Table 9).

This report also contains a response to criticisms of the 2012 report. It is worth noting that the critics do not dispute that Long-Term Trend scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) have remained the same or have fallen since 1992 and employment growth has surged in America’s public schools.

Highlights of this report’s findings include:

    Nationally, states could have saved—and could continue to save—more than $24 billion annually if they had increased/decreased the employment of administrators and other non-teaching staff at the same rate as students between FY 1992 and FY 2009.

    Fully one-fourth of those savings come from Texas, where public schools would have saved almost $6.4 billion if they had not increased the employment of administrators and other non-teaching staff more so than their increase in students. Texas public schools hired 159,228 additional non-teaching personnel, above and beyond its growth in student enrollment during FY 1992 to FY 2009.

    Virginia would have had an extra $29,007 to spend per teacher if it had limited the growth of administrators and other non-teaching staff to its growth in students from FY 1992 to FY 2009. Maine would have had an extra $25,505 per teacher, and the District of Columbia would have had an extra $20,472. Those funds could have been spent on salary increases for teachers or some other worthy purpose.

    There are very large differences in the employment of non-teaching personnel across states. For example, whereas Vermont has only 8.8 students for every administrator or other non-teaching employee and Maine has only 9.4 students per non-teaching employee, Rhode Island has 20 students per every administrator or other non-teaching employee. Wyoming has 9.9 students per every non-teaching employee, whereas Idaho has 22.7 students per nonteaching employee. Those differences are much larger than the differences in the employment of teachers.

    Twenty-one “Top-Heavy States” employ fewer teachers than other non-teaching personnel. Thus, those 21 states have more administrators and other non-teaching staff on the public payroll than teachers. Virginia “leads the way” with 60,737 more administrators and other non-teaching staff than teachers in its public schools.

    There are significant differences in total employment ratios across states. Vermont, Maine, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia each have fewer than six students per public school employee. That compares to more than 10 students per public school employee in Idaho, South Carolina, Arizona, California, Utah, and Nevada.

As was discussed in the original “Staffing Surge” report, the increases in public school employment since 1992 do not appear to have had any positive returns to students as measured by test scores and graduation rates. Some likely will try to cherry-pick an individual state and point out that a particular measure of student achievement increased at the same time that public school employment grew dramatically; however, such an approach is misleading because, across all states, public school employment surged, while student achievement did not measurably increase. If student achievement increased in a certain state, why did it not increase—or why did it decrease—in other states when public school employment increased? Perhaps there were other reasons student achievement increased in any particular state.

Readers should keep in mind the concept of opportunity cost when making determinations for their individual states. One should ask whether the significant resources used to finance employment increases could have been spent better elsewhere. Would those taxpayer funds have gone further via vouchers or taxcredit scholarships, which enable students to attend schools better suited to their needs? Would raises for teachers have been a wiser investment? Perhaps letting taxpayers keep those funds may have been more effective. Those questions need to be asked and analyzed in every state capitol—inside by lawmakers and outside by parents, education reformers, the business community, and others. The burden of proof is now on those who still want to maintain or even increase the dramatically larger staffing levels in public schools.


Educational Rot

Walter E. Williams

American education is in a sorry state of affairs, and there's enough blame for all participants to have their fair share. They include students who are hostile and alien to the education process, uninterested parents, teachers and administrators who either are incompetent or have been beaten down by the system, and politicians who've become handmaidens for teachers unions. There's another education issue that's neither flattering nor comfortable to confront and talk about. That's the low academic preparation of many teachers. That's an issue that must be confronted and dealt with if we're to improve the quality of education. Let's look at it.

Schools of education, whether graduate or undergraduate, tend to represent the academic slums of most college campuses. They tend to be home to students who have the lowest academic achievement test scores when they enter college, such as SAT scores. They have the lowest scores when they graduate and choose to take postgraduate admissions tests -- such as the GRE, the MCAT and the LSAT.

The California Basic Educational Skills Test, or CBEST, is mandatory for teacher certification in California. It's a joke. Here's a multiple-choice question on its practice math test: "Rob uses 1 box of cat food every 5 days to feed his cats. Approximately how many boxes of cat food does he use per month? A. 2 boxes, B. 4 boxes, C. 5 boxes, D. 6 boxes, E. 7 boxes."

Here's another: "Which of the following is the most appropriate unit for expressing the weight of a pencil? A. pounds, B. ounces, C. quarts, D. pints, E. tons." I'd venture to predict that the average reader's sixth-grader could answer each question. Here's a question that is a bit more challenging; call your eighth-grader: "Solve for y: y - 2 + 3y = 10, A. 2, B. 3, C. 4, D. 5, E. 6."

Some years ago, the Association of Mexican American Educators, the California Association for Asian-Pacific Bilingual Education and the Oakland Alliance of Black Educators brought suit against the state of California and the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, charging that the CBEST was racially discriminatory. Plaintiff "evidence" was the fact that the first-time passing rate for whites was 80 percent, about 50 percent for Mexican-Americans, Filipinos and Southeast Asians, and 46 percent for blacks. In 2000, in a stroke of rare common sense, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit found CBEST not to be racial discriminatory.

Poor teacher preparation is not a problem restricted to California. In Massachusetts, only 27 percent of new teachers could pass the math test needed to be certified as a teacher. A 2011 investigation by Atlanta's Channel 2 Action News found that more than 700 Georgia teachers repeatedly failed at least one portion of the certification test they are required to pass before receiving a teaching certificate. Nearly 60 teachers failed the test more than 10 times, and one teacher failed the test 18 times. They also found that there were 297 teachers on the Atlanta school system's payroll even though they had failed the state certification test five times or more.

Textbooks used in schools of education might explain some teacher ineptitude. A passage in Marilyn Burns' text About Teaching Mathematics reads, "There is no place for requiring students to practice tedious calculations that are more efficiently and accurately done by using calculators."

New Designs for Teaching and Learning, by Dennis Adams and Mary Hamm, says, "Content knowledge is not seen to be as important as possessing teaching skills and knowledge about the students being taught."

Harvey Daniels and Marilyn Bizar's text Methods that Matter reads, "Students can no longer be viewed as cognitive living rooms into which the furniture of knowledge is moved in and arranged by teachers, and teachers cannot invariably act as subject-matter experts." The authors explain, "The main use of standardized tests in America is to justify the distribution of certain goodies to certain people."

With but a few exceptions, schools of education represent the academic slums of most any college. American education could benefit from slum removal, eliminating schools of education.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Government-Funded Preschool Is a Failure that Obama Wants to Spread Nationwide

Oklahoma and Georgia are held as models but show few results

President Obama has announced a cure for the country's social ills: universal preschool. It would help children "read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, form more stable families of their own," and also reduce teen pregnancy and violent crime, he said in his State of Union address. As evidence for these remarkable claims he pointed to Oklahoma and Georgia, the early adopters of universal preschool. But the real evidence from those states suggests that preschool doesn't deliver on even its most basic promises.

Oklahoma implemented its program in 1998 and is the pet of universal preschool activists because it's a red state that has diligently applied their playbook. It spends about $8,000 per preschooler, about the same as on K-12. Its teachers are credentialed, well-paid, abundant (one per 10 children) and use a professionally designed curriculum. Georgia expanded a pre-K program for high-risk children to all 4-year-olds in 1995.

Both programs are voluntary and involve the private sector. Oklahoma pays churches and other community providers for the children they enroll. Georgia effectively hands parents a $4,500 voucher for a qualified preschool. Both states have participation rates well above the 47 percent national preschool average, and Oklahoma's 75 percent enrollment rate is the highest in the country.

Yet neither state program has demonstrated major social benefits. The first batch of children who attended preschool in Georgia, in 1995, are now turning 22, so Obama's claim that they are better at "holding jobs" and "forming stable families" can't be true.

But what about, say, teenage girls staying out of trouble? Teen birth rates have declined in the past 10 years in Georgia and Oklahoma (as they have nationwide), but both states remain far above the national average. In 2005, Georgia had the eighth-highest teen-birth rate and Oklahoma the seventh-highest, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Now Georgia has the 13th-highest, Oklahoma the fifth-highest. Many states without universal preschool have a far better record.

Preschool activists counter that this disregards shifting demographics and loosening sexual mores. They also claim there might be "sleeper effects" of preschool that don't show up in studies. But the logic of universal preschool is that social pathologies such as teen births can be addressed by positioning children for success in school. And there is little evidence that this is true.

Consider graduation rates: Oklahoma has lost ground and Georgia is stagnant. Oklahoma ranked 24th in 1998 but 25th when its first batch of universal-preschool children graduated last year, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics compiled by the United Health Foundation. Georgia's high-school graduation rate was 46th from the top in 1995. It dipped to 47th in 2009, the year its first batch graduated, before rising to 45th in 2012.

The preschool case also isn't helped by scores from the National Assessment for Educational Progress—the national report card. The average NAEP reading score for Oklahoma fourth-graders dropped four points between 1998 and 2011—although it went up nine points for Georgia. Yet none of the three states with fully realized universal pre-K (Florida, which began its program in 2005, is the third) was among the top-10 highest scorers on the NAEP reading test in 2011. Oklahoma remains below the national average and Georgia has just reached the national average.

As for black students, fourth-grade math and reading NAEP scores in Georgia and Oklahoma were above the national average of black students in other states when Georgia and Oklahoma embraced universal preschool. Now the scores are at the national average. Only Florida was among the top-10 scorers in reading for disadvantaged children in 2011.

More revealing, the NAEP reading gap between black and white children in Oklahoma was 22 points in 1992. In 2011, it was also 22 points. Georgia had a 28-point spread in 1992. In 2011? Twenty-three points. NAEP called Georgia's results "not significantly different."

William Gormley of Georgetown University and other preschool activists dismiss the ho-hum academic progress of Oklahoma and Georgia on the grounds that building effective programs takes time. But consider Gormley's most recent studies of Tulsa's "early cohort" children who participated in pre-K in 2000-01 and "late cohort" children who participated in 2005-06, released by Georgetown's Center for Research on Children in the U.S. He found that the initial reading and math gains of the early cohort had completely vanished by third grade. This is consistent with studies of Head Start programs, but he attributed it to the infancy of Tulsa's program.

What about late-cohort children? The reading gains for all subgroups—girls, boys and minorities—also evaporated by third grade, but this finding was buried in Mr. Gormley's fine print. The only lasting gain among the late cohort was in the math ability of boys, which the study trumpets.

The math improvement among third-graders who had been to preschool—combined with the initial (though transitory) gains of pre-K in making children "school ready"—is enough of a fig leaf for advocates to declare that universal pre-K "works" and is a "good return on investment." A more realistic report card for the two states:

Lowering teen births: Oklahoma, Fail; Georgia, C.

Raising graduation rates: Oklahoma, Fail; Georgia, Fail.


SD gov signs into law that teachers can be armed

South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed into law Friday a measure allowing the state's school districts to arm teachers and other personnel with guns, the first of its kind since the Connecticut school shooting.

Supporters say the so-called sentinels could help prevent tragedies such as December's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., in which 20 students and six teachers died. The law will go into effect July 1.

The bill's main sponsor, Rep. Scott Craig, R-Rapid City, said he started working with federal law enforcement officials on the measure in early November, and the Connecticut tragedy weeks later "only affirmed the rightness of this bill." He said the measure does not force a district to arm its teachers or force teachers to carry a gun.

"There's no mandating of anything. It's provisional. It's a take-it-or-leave-it bill," he said.

South Dakota doesn't stand alone on this issue. For a dozen years, Utah has allowed teachers and others with concealed carry licenses to wear a gun in a public school. A couple of school districts in Texas have been given written authorization to allow guns in schools. And legislatures in other states, including Georgia, New Hampshire and Kansas, are working on measures similar to South Dakota's.

Several representatives of school boards, school administrators and teachers opposed the bill during committee testimony last month. They said the measure could make schools more dangerous, lead to accidental shootings and put guns in the hands of people who are not adequately trained to shoot in emergency situations.

Rob Monson, executive director of School Administrators of South Dakota, said his group opposes the bill because it fails to address key issues, such as school building safety, mental health and fire and emergency response.

"We were really hoping that they would look at doing a more comprehensive study of school safety overall, and not sort of jump right into arming people in our schools and thinking that is the answer to it all," Monson said.

But Craig said a number of school board members and administrators voiced support for the bill.

"There are plenty of school districts that let us know that they've wanted this, and they've wanted this kind of provision for quite some time," he said.

On Monday, the South Dakota House voted 40-19 to accept the Senate version of the bill, which added a requirement that a school district must decide in a public meeting whether to arm teachers and others. Another Senate amendment allowed school district residents to push a school board's decision to a public vote.

Craig said he couldn't say how a typical district would implement a sentinel policy, as those decisions will be made locally.

"They get to work out the details in the days ahead," he said. "They've just kind of been waiting and watching to see if this even would pass."

Monson said school districts are going to want to know how the bill's passage will affect them.

"Our biggest challenge right now will be answering all the questions that school boards and administrators are going to have about liability issues and all the other pieces that haven't been put in place yet," Monson said.


British government now plans £150m boost for primary school sports in wake of widespread criticism over proposed funding cuts

Ministers are preparing to plough up to £150million into primary schools to help them improve sports.  Downing Street is expected to make an announcement in the next few days on a new scheme to give schools thousands of pounds which must be spent on sport.

The money will help ensure that children will continue to have access to specialist sports teaching at least once a week, with a focus on competitive sports.

National sports’ governing bodies will be encouraged to provide expertise and coaches to work alongside teachers.

It follows widespread criticism of the government for making cuts in schools sports.

In 2010, Education Secretary Michael Gove provoked an outcry by abolishing £162million of ring-fenced funding for the national School Sport Partnerships.

The BBC said the Football Association, England and Wales Cricket Board, Lawn Tennis Association and other organisations, inluding Olympic bodies funded by the taxpayer, will be briefed on the plans tomorrow.

The new funding is being drawn from across government departments, including education health and sport.

It comes after widespread calls for more investment in school sport to help build on the legacy potential of the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics.

Lord Coe, who was chairman of the Game' organising committee, is understood to have been a key advisor when the plans were drawn up.

Last year Education Secretary Michael Gove stopped ring-fencing school sports funding and scrapped £162million of annual funding for competitive school sport.

Lord Coe - who remains the only man to win gold in the 1500m at successive Olympics - has urged the Government to plough more cash into sport at schools.

Last night, a source told The Daily Telegraph: 'This is a good package, with extra money, which should help ensure the lasting legacy from the London Games. It is the last piece of the legacy jigsaw.'

Dame Tessa Jowell, the former Labout Olympics minister, has called for a cross-party 10-year programme to guarantee funding for school sport.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wisconsin Education Officials Want Students to Wear ‘White racism armband

Sounds pretty racist!

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction runs several programs that heavily emphasize racial issues in public schools, has been finding.

Some feel that one of those programs – an Americorps operation called VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) – may go a bit overboard by encouraging white students to wear a white wristband "as a reminder about your (white) privilege.”

Geared towards high school students, the program “seeks to build capacity in schools and districts serving low-income families to develop an effective, sustainable, research-based program of family-school-community partnerships,” according to its Facebook page.

That sounds reasonable enough.  But the program’s approach becomes a bit suspect when one reads the Gloria Steinem quote on the top of its webpage: “The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn.”

The webpage also offers a series of suggestions for high schools students to become more racially sensitive. They include:

* Wear a white wristband as a reminder about your privilege, and as a personal commitment to explain why you wear the wristband.

* Set aside sections of the day to critically examine how privilege is working.

* Put a note on your mirror or computer screen as a reminder to think about privilege.

The Wisconsin DPI also sponsors several similar programs, including CREATE Wisconsin, an on-going “cultural sensitivity” teacher training program which focuses largely on “whiteness” and “white privilege.”

EAGnews will be exposing more about that program in a film documentary titled, “RE-CREATING AMERICA: Cultural Sensitivity in Wisconsin Schools,” along with a two-day written series on the same topic, beginning Wednesday.

Will DPI’s obsession with race and “white privilege” actually translate into better educational outcomes for all students? Not likely.

But it will continue to divide the state by race and income status, and allow bureaucrats to make a case for more government funding so they can create a different type of America.

Wisconsin taxpayers really ought to be paying more attention to how their education dollars are spent.


Sex-ed for kindergartners mandated in Chicago

A new sexual health program in the Chicago Public Schools mandates that a set amount of time be spent on sex education in every grade, beginning in kindergarten. The program also will discuss sexual orientation and gender identity for the first time.

Under the new policy, approved by the Chicago Board of Education Feb. 27, kindergarteners and first graders will focus on topics such as anatomy, healthy relationships and personal safety, the Chicago Tribune reported.

In second and third grades, the focus will be on growth and development. Fourth graders will learn about the physical, social and emotional aspects of puberty, along with the causes of HIV transmission, the Tribune reported. After fifth grade, the program will include discussions about human reproduction, healthy decision-making, bullying and contraception.

"They're very much pushing an extreme agenda across the board, both to normalize sex and begin the conversation earlier, and in total the K-12 curricula is explicit and not in the best health interests of the young people," Valerie Huber, executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association, told Baptist Press.

Stephanie Whyte, chief health officer for Chicago Public Schools, told the Tribune the overhaul was motivated by the fact that more students are sexually active.

"Fifty-two percent of our students have had sexual intercourse," Whyte said, referring to the most recent school system data.

The policy also was designed to align with the standards in President Obama's national HIV/AIDS strategy, unveiled in 2010, according to ABC News.

The vision for that strategy states that the "United States will become a place where new HIV infections are rare and when they do occur, every person, regardless of age, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or socioeconomic circumstance, will have unfettered access to high quality, life-extending care, free from stigma and discrimination."

Parents or guardians of students may opt out of Chicago's new sexual health education program.

Huber said she is "vehemently opposed" to starting sex education in kindergarten.

"I think it really goes back to how we define age appropriate. The groups who are promoting those standards would essentially define age appropriate as anything that can be cognitively understood even though it's not developmentally appropriate," Huber told Baptist Press. "So really there are no limits to what you can share as long as you make the vocabulary elementary enough.

"We think that does not make it age appropriate. It breaks down barriers of modesty. It also opens up topics long before the curiosity and the understanding of the child is there, and we think that if there are specific questions, certainly those should be asked, but they should be asked of parents, not in our kindergarten classrooms," she said.

Nate Adams, executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association, said it's his view that sex education is best handled in the family.

"I would certainly personally be very cautious about entrusting to the public school system -- especially in a time when the culture's view of sex is so different from the Bible's in so many ways. We would certainly believe that the family is a more appropriate place for that to take place," Adams told Baptist Press.

Chicago has the third-largest public school system in the United States, and Huber said their actions could influence other communities.

"They are not unique, but they are a very large school district in a very large city," she said. "So I think the fact that they are doing this could bring other more reticent communities along the way."

The new Chicago policy comes just weeks after the Massachusetts Department of Education issued a directive saying boys and girls who identify as the opposite sex now are allowed to use whichever school restroom and locker room they prefer.

"There is a coarsening of our culture, obviously, and we've said for a long time that young people are growing up in one of the most highly sexualized times in American history," Huber said. "It's troubling."

The National Abstinence Education Association commissioned a survey of parents late last year that found parents are not supportive of current sex education policy in U.S. schools.

"They are supportive of sexual risk avoidance abstinence education, the way we cover topics, and they want their children to wait until they're married to have sex. They want them to know that there are limitations to condoms and that sex plus a condom doesn't equal safety," Huber said of the parents in the study.

"They want them to know about healthy relationships and all of those sorts of things, and I think that most parents -- and this was Republican, Democrat, black, white, Hispanic parents -- were pretty much in unanimity," she said.

Policymakers in some schools and in some communities, and even at a national level, Huber said, "are totally out of step with what parents want and certainly what's in the best interest of young people, whether they're kindergartners or teenagers.

"I can't look into their minds and know what their motivations are. All I can say is their decisions are wrong-headed," Huber said. "They're out of sync with what research tells us is best for young people, out of sync with what parents want, and it would be interesting to get inside their heads and see because they're terribly off track."

The new sexual health program in Chicago will not be implemented until 2016, so an opportunity exists for parents and concerned citizens to make their opinions known.

"It will be interesting to see this unfold, and I have hope that the parents in the Chicago Public Schools will rise up in defense of the sensibilities of the community and protection of their own children and voice their disapproval before this policy is actually implemented," Huber said.



What Teachers Really Want to Tell Parents

This summer, I met a principal who was recently named as the administrator of the year in her state. She was loved and adored by all, but she told me she was leaving the profession.

I screamed, "You can't leave us," and she quite bluntly replied, "Look, if I get an offer to lead a school system of orphans, I will be all over it, but I just can't deal with parents anymore; they are killing us."

Unfortunately, this sentiment seems to be becoming more and more prevalent. Today, new teachers remain in our profession an average of just 4.5 years, and many of them list "issues with parents" as one of their reasons for throwing in the towel. Word is spreading, and the more negativity teachers receive from parents, the harder it becomes to recruit the best and the brightest out of colleges.

So, what can we do to stem the tide? What do teachers really need parents to understand?

For starters, we are educators, not nannies. We are educated professionals who work with kids every day and often see your child in a different light than you do. If we give you advice, don't fight it. Take it, and digest it in the same way you would consider advice from a doctor or lawyer. I have become used to some parents who just don't want to hear anything negative about their child, but sometimes if you're willing to take early warning advice to heart, it can help you head off an issue that could become much greater in the future.

Trust us. At times when I tell parents that their child has been a behavior problem, I can almost see the hairs rise on their backs. They are ready to fight and defend their child, and it is exhausting. One of my biggest pet peeves is when I tell a mom something her son did and she turns, looks at him and asks, "Is that true?" Well, of course it's true. I just told you. And please don't ask whether a classmate can confirm what happened or whether another teacher might have been present. It only demeans teachers and weakens the partnership between teacher and parent.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Untested National School Standards Stifle Local Voices

As soon as someone tells you something will save education, hide your children, hide your wife and check your back pocket.

Because education deals with children and the American dream, it’s a land of magical thinking. The latest unproven fad is called Common Core.

No one ever field-tested it, but 45 states, including Indiana, adopted it, believing its mental sugar pills will make all U.S. kids “college- and career-ready.”

The Core defines what K-12 children must know in math and English, and forms the basis of forthcoming national tests.

The people who wrote it are not teachers, nor are they from Indiana.

Indiana’s Senate just passed Senate Bill 193 in a bipartisan vote.

Republicans sponsored the bill, and Democratic State Superintendent Glenda Ritz supports it.

The bill would pause Common Core while the state Board of Education gets public input in all nine congressional districts and commissions a financial analysis. Most states didn’t check the costs before signing on.

Why should they? Everyone’s doing Common Core. It must be brilliant.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has whipped conservatives into agreement: It “will prepare our students for success in college and their careers,” he wrote. It will help close the achievement gap between rich and poor children, supporters insist.

Its tests will “redeem assessment in the hearts and minds of teachers and parents,” said David Coleman, one of the Core’s four chief writers.

Next they’ll be telling us it multiplies bread and walks on water.

President Obama said by financially rewarding states for adopting the Core, he “convinced almost every state to develop smarter curricula and higher standards.”

Odd. Three laws prohibit the federal government from influencing curriculum.

Core supporters keep insisting states spawned it, although foundations and the federal government paid all the bills. No one will name which state leaders, exactly, made which decisions. No matter: It’s for the children.

Anyone who disagrees or questions, even left-leaning researchers who found education standards don’t increase learning, hates children.

The nationwide initiative, operational this year in Indiana only in kindergarten and first grade, has prompted “lots of sycophantic cheerleading,” complains Andy Smarick, a Common Core supporter.

Rick Hess, a think tanker in touch with state superintendents, lawmakers and school leaders across the country, called their “eerie confidence” in something no one has tested the “Common Core Kool-Aid.”

Remember the last time lawmakers prophesied an education miracle? It was called No Child Left Behind.

All that accomplished was to increase federal education spending 64 percent, occupy schools with 6,680,334 more hours of paperwork, and infuriate teachers and parents by its ridiculous pretense that a law can phantasmagorically eradicate refusal to learn, poor parenting, children’s different intellectual abilities and so forth.

Fort Wayne parents and teachers, like others across the country, have voiced plentiful concerns. For one, states are building massive databases to house student information from the tests, including health records, behavioral analyses, family income and more, which the feds recently decided it could share with anyone without notifying parents. Common Core tests, which its promoters expect will fail great numbers of children, are tied to Indiana teacher pay and job security. Curriculum experts say the standards are worse than Indiana’s previous standards and not internationally competitive or supported by research.

Worst of all, Common Core removes local voices in education. When centralized, unelected administrators control curriculum and testing, where do parents and teachers go with concerns?

Let’s raise such questions with our elected representatives while we still can.

The bill’s next stop is the Indiana House. Tell them no more Common Core Kool-Aid.


British children aged 10 who are good at maths earn £2,000 more by the time they turn 30

Children who are good at maths aged 10 go on to earn ‘significantly’ more in their thirties than classmates who are just average in the subject, government funded research shows.

They rake in an extra £2,100 a year while those with top reading skills end up earning an additional £550 per annum.

The findings, published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), illustrate the huge importance of children getting a good grasp of the three R’s at primary school.

Researchers analysed data from the British Cohort Study, which tracks more than 17,000 people born in April 1970 throughout their lives.

This group was tested on their maths and reading skills aged ten during the longitudinal study which also collected data on gross weekly earnings and number of hours worked per week.

IFS researchers examined the link between reading and maths scores aged ten and earnings at ages 30, 34 and 38 on around 6,000 people from the study.

They discovered that a child who was in the top 15 per cent of maths scores aged ten was likely to earn 7.3 per cent more aged 30 - an extra £2,100 per year - than an otherwise identical child who achieved a ‘middle ranking’ maths score.

This was even after controlling for additional factors like parental income and education and the highest qualifications the individual went onto obtain such as A-levels and degrees.

A similar pattern was detected at ages 34 and 38. Reading skills were also important for future earnings, but less so than maths.

A child who was in the top 15 per cent of reading scores aged ten was likely to earn around 1.9 per cent (£550) more per year aged 30 than their classmate who achieved a middle ranking result.

The study suggests that while reading ability earns some return in the labour market, employers seem to value maths skills more highly.

They are willing to reward people with higher wages, indicating there ‘may be a shortage of such skills’.

Claire Crawford, one of the authors of the report, said: ‘Our research shows that maths skills developed during primary school continue to matter for earnings 20 to 30 years down the line.

‘Moreover, they seem to matter more than reading skills and over and above the qualifications that young people go on to obtain. This highlights the importance of investing in skills, particularly maths skills, early.’

Dr Crawford, who is programme director of the skills sector at IFS, added: ‘In general, we might think that there’s a generally lower level of proficiency in terms of maths so employers are particularly willing to reward those who do have those skills more highly.’

Researchers plan to carry out additional work to see if people with good maths skills are going into careers that are particularly well rewarded financially such as engineering.

The study was carried out by IFS researchers working for the Centre for Analysis of Youth Transitions - a Department for Education sponsored research centre.

Meanwhile a study from London’s Institute of Education revealed last month that England’s brightest primary school children are almost two years behind their high achieving Far Eastern counterparts by the time they take their maths GCSEs.

They make less progress between the ages of 10 and 16 than the most able youngsters in Taiwan and Hong Kong despite almost matching their ability at primary school.

Education Secretary Michael Gove recently launched a new back to basics national curriculum, which sets out the topics teachers in English state schools should cover between the ages of five and 14.

In maths, five-year-olds will be introduced to basic fractions such as recognising and finding a half of a specified length. Currently, fractions are only introduced around the age of seven.

By the end of Key Stage Two, when children are 11, they will be expected to do sums with fractions.

They will need to learn their 12 by 12 tables age nine, instead of the current 10 by 10 tables by age 11, and use methods such as long division.

Schools Minister Elizabeth Truss yesterday said that the IFS research ‘clearly shows why mastering the basics in maths at primary school is so important’.

She said: ‘That’s why our draft maths primary school curriculum focuses on raising standards in arithmetic, including efficient calculation methods such as long and short multiplication and division, and fractions. The calculation of fractions, volume, and area will be introduced earlier.

‘We are also banning calculators from 11-year-olds’ maths tests. Children must able to tackle algebra and statistics by the time they reach secondary school.’


Almost 80% of NYC High School Graduates Need Remedial Classes Before Attending Community College

Put another way, only about 20 percent of students who graduate high school in New York City are academically prepared to take -- and presumably pass -- college courses. This should be a wake-up call, America (via CBS New York):

"Nearly 80 percent of New York City high school graduates need to relearn basic skills before they can enter the City University’s community college system.

The number of kids behind the 8-ball is the highest in years, CBS 2's Marcia Kramer reported Thursday.

When they graduated from city high schools, students in a special remedial program at the Borough of Manhattan Community College couldn’t make the grade.

They had to re-learn basic skills — reading, writing and math — first before they could begin college courses.

They are part of a disturbing statistic."

So what is the solution? We can continue to throw all the money we want into the New York City public school system (even though taxpayers already spend nearly $7,000 per student on transportation alone), but I doubt that will fix the problem. The issues facing public school students are systemic and too numerous to mention in a single blog post.

As social conservatives have argued for years, I think it all starts with the breakdown of the traditional family. As a personal (albeit unscientific) example, one of my good friends teaches eighth grade Social Studies in the New York City public school system. She often tells me that one of the greatest challenges she faces is dealing with kids from broken homes. The vast majority of her students are raised by single moms in government-subsidized housing, and thus don’t have the time -- or perhaps the inclination -- to force their children to do their homework after school or study for tests when they get home. They’re simply not around a whole lot.

And so we as a nation can have a spirited debate about, say, the best methods or policies that could, in theory, fix our broken education system, but until we resolve this issue -- an issue that is staring us blankly in the face -- the vast majority of students in our inner-cities will continue to graduate high school without the requisite skills they need to be successful.

I admire inner-city public school teachers very much. I believe most -- not all, but most -- work hard because, if nothing else, they want to see their kids escape a life of poverty and dependence. But children brought into the world in less-than-ideal circumstances -- as Marco Rubio once said -- are going to struggle to make it. And until we recognize that this is at least part of the problem, we’ll never be able to come up with serious solutions worthy of our kids.


Monday, March 11, 2013

School Offers Counseling to Kids "Troubled" by Gun-Shaped Pastry

By now you've probably heard about the seven-year-old Maryland boy who was suspended for chewing a breakfast pastry into the shape of a gun. What you might not have heard about is the school's conscientious effort to ensure that no kids were traumatized by a glimpse at the weaponized Pop-Tart.

From a letter sent home to parents:

"During breakfast this morning, one of our students used food to make inappropriate gestures that disrupted the class. While no physical threats were made and no one was harmed, the student had to be removed from the classroom....

If your children express that they are troubled by today’s incident, please talk with them and help them share their feelings. Our school counselor is available to meet with any students who have the need to do so next week."

To be fair, the phrasing leaves open the possibility that the students would be "troubled" not by the imaginary gun but by the suspension, and by the ensuing realization that they're powerless pawns in a vast, incomprehensible game run by madmen.


School Confiscates Cupcakes Decorated with Toy Soldiers

A Michigan elementary school is defending its decision to confiscate a third-graders batch of homemade cupcakes because the birthday treats were decorated with plastic green Army soldiers.

Casey Fountain tells me that the principal of his son's elementary school called the cupcakes "insensitive" -- in light of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

"It disgusted me," he said. "It's vile they lump true American heroes with psychopathic killers."

Fountain's wife made a batch of 30 chocolate cupcakes for their son Hunter's classmates at Schall Elementary School in the town of Caro. The 9-year-old helped decorate the treats with plastic figurines representing World War Two soldiers.

The following morning Fountain said his wife delivered the cupcakes to the front office. The secretary complimented her on the decorations and then took the cakes to Hunter's class.

"About 15 minutes later the school called my wife and told her the couldn't serve the cupcakes because the soldiers had guns," Fountain said. "My wife told them to remove the soldiers and serve the cupcakes anyway -- and I believe she may have used more colorful language."

The school complied and confiscated the soldiers -- sending them home with Hunter in a bag.

"I was offended," Fountain said. "I support our soldiers and what they stand for. These (plastic soldiers) are representations of World War Two soldiers - our greatest generation. If they aren't allowed in our schools -- who is?"

Principal Susan Wright released a statement to local media defending the decision.

"These are toys that were commonplace in the past," she wrote. "However, some parents prohibit all guns as toys. In light of that difference, the school offered to replace the soldiers with another item and the soldiers were returned home with the student."

"Living in a democratic society entails respect for opposing opinions," she stated. "In the climate of recent events in schools we walk a delicate balance in teaching non-violence in our buildings and trying to ensure a safe, peaceful atmosphere."

Fountain said it was beyond outrageous to compare American soldiers to deranged mass murderers.

"In our politically correct society they can't separate the good from the bad," he said. "I'm sure hammers are allowed in schools -- although a lot of people are killed by hammers."

Principal Wright explained in her statement that she meant no disrespect to the military.

"By not permitting toy soldiers on cupcakes at school, no disrespect for our military or for the brave men and women who defend our rights to have our differences was intended," she wrote. "Our commitment is always to our children and creating a safe place for them to learn, grow and have respectful dialogues about their differences."

Fountain said his little boy is aware of the controversy but doesn't quite understand what all the fuss is about.

"He's nine-years-old," Fountain said. "He was just glad to get his soldiers back."

"It's not about a toy," he said. "It's not about a cupcake. It's what the toy represents -- and we're just taking political correctness too far."


More wisdom for schools

Top British university awards places irrespective of final A-levels

One of Britain’s top universities has become the first institution in the country to award large numbers of places to bright students irrespective of their final A-level grades, The Daily Telegraph has learnt.

Birmingham – a member of the elite Russell Group – will distribute up to a quarter of undergraduate places this year based on teachers’ own predictions of pupils’ performance.

It is making 1,000 “unconditional offers” to students expected to score straight As in exams as part of a large-scale pilot programme.

The university insisted the move was intended to reward students with the most potential and take the pressure off teenagers in their final year.

But the policy underlines the scale of the competition between universities to recruit bright students in a bid to drive up standards and ensure places do not lie empty.

Students taking up an unconditional offer on one of 12 courses at Birmingham will be expected to name the university as their “firm choice” on UCAS application forms.

It comes after a drop in the number of undergraduates starting universities nationally last autumn amid a backlash over the near tripling of tuition fees and radical changes to Government policies regulating student numbers.

One vice-chancellor warned that Russell Group universities had started the academic year with around 11,500 vacancies.

The competition for students has now led some universities to offer scholarships worth up to £10,000-a-year for bright students starting degrees in 2013.

Prof David Eastwood, Birmingham's vice-chancellor and Russell Group chairman, insisted the university’s applications were up this year, adding: “I think the issue here is less about filling our quotas and more about attracting the best possible students to a highly-selective university.”

Universities such as Oxford and Cambridge have traditionally made a number of unconditional offers, dependent on students scoring highly in their own entrance exams. But this is believed to be the first time the policy has been adopted en masse by a university.

In an interview with the Telegraph, Prof Eastwood insisted the move was intended to make pupils perform even better in end-of-course A-level exams.

“It’s a time when there are lots of pressures on young people and we are trying to take some of those pressures off,” he said. “We believe that the effect of this is that they will do better in the summer. They have already got very strong performance in the bag… and we think there is no danger of them coasting.

“After all, their A-levels will be with them for the rest of their lives – their future employers will be very interested in them – and these are intensely serious young people.”

Students normally apply to university using teachers’ predictions, which are based on prior performance in GCSEs and AS-level exams.

Universities usually make offers of places that are conditional on teenagers scoring certain grades in final exams sat in May and June.

But Birmingham said it was making 1,000 unconditional offers to students who are predicted to score at least three As in their exams – irrespective of final performance. In total, 4,300 students are accepted each year.

Twelve courses will be involved: classics, maths, modern languages, philosophy, sociology, economics, materials engineering, political science, accounting and finance, business management, international relations and European politics, society and economics.

Pupils taking up maths places must be predicted to score three elite A* grades.

Prof Eastwood said: "These are very good students with a range of [course] choices. Some other universities will be trying to attract them with discounted offers on accommodation and with scholarships."


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Homosexual  Activists Bully Tebow, Christian University

Gay rights activists are demanding Tim Tebow back out of a speaking engagement at Liberty University just two weeks after pressuring the New York Jets quarterback to cancel a speaking engagement at the First Baptist Church of Dallas.

Tebow is expected to speak this weekend at Wildfire – a men’s conference hosted by the conservative Christian university. His remarks will be closed to the general public.

The professional football player is well-known for sharing his faith in Christ – but in recent weeks he’s come under fire from the national media and gay rights activists for speaking in churches that follow biblical teaching.

Huffington Post called Liberty a “notoriously conservative private college with an anti-gay reputation.” And more than 10,000 people have signed a petition launched by Faithful America calling on the quarterback to cancel his speech.

“Liberty University isn’t just another conservative Christian college,” the group stated. “its ground-zero for a global assault on the legal rights of gays and lesbians – and a symbol of everything that’s wrong with the religious right.

A Liberty University spokesman refused to comment.

Faithful America said Tebow would give his “Christian faith a bad name” by speaking at the university founded by the late Jerry Falwell.

Several weeks ago Tebow canceled a speaking engagement at the First Baptist Church of Dallas – citing “new information” he had received.

He never elaborated on his comment – but sources close to the church told Fox News he backed out in part over the uproar surrounding the church’s position on traditional marriage – and salvation.

Pastor Robert Jeffress has been an outspoken leader in the nation’s culture wars – affirming from the pulpit traditional marriage and salvation through Jesus Christ.

The national media labeled the pastor as anti-gay and anti-Semitic – charges that were vehemently denied by the church and the many national religious leaders.

“To me, the real issue here is the controversy this has generated,” Jeffress said at the time. “It’s amazing that a church that believes faith alone in Christ is what saves a person and that sex should be between a man and a woman in a marriage relationship – that somehow those beliefs are considered hate speech? That is historic Christian doctrine for the past 2,000 years.”

Right Wing Watch suggested Liberty University was actually more extreme than FBC Dallas and listed a litany of alleged offenses.

They claimed Liberty University bans gay students and shut down its College Democrats chapter over the party’s views on gay rights. They also alleged the university hosted anti-gay conferences and that professors have made anti-gay comments.

Again, the university declined to address the controversy.

“If Jeffress’ anti-gay remarks were too extreme for Tebow, they pale in comparison to the things regularly said by representatives of Liberty University,” Right Wing Watch stated. “Perhaps it is time for Tebow to take another look at some of this ‘new information’ about Liberty.”

Huffington Post wondered if Tebow was giving hints about his position on homosexuality by making an appearance at Liberty.

“Due to Liberty University's reputation for intolerance toward the LGBT community, some might interpret the athlete's appearance as a tacit acknowledgement of similar values,” they opined. Peter LaBarbera, of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, is urging Liberty University and Tebow to stand firm – and warned that homosexual activists cannot be appeased.

“Their goal is to marginalize and to discredit Christians,” he told American Family News. “If he cancels this appearance at Liberty University under pressure from the gay lobby, I think his credibility is going to suffer a ton.


Minnesota Bill to Ban K-12 Speech That Denies Fellow Students a “Supportive Environment”

That’s H.F. No. 826, which requires schools — including private schools that get any “public funds or other public resources” — to ban, among other things, “bullying” at school, defined as

use of one or a series of words, images, or actions, transmitted directly or indirectly between individuals or through technology, that a reasonable person knows or should know, under the circumstances, will have the effect of interfering with the ability of an individual, including a student who observes the conduct, to participate in a safe and supportive learning environment. Examples of bullying may include, but are not limited to, conduct that:

places an individual in reasonable fear of harm to person or property, including through intimidation;

has a detrimental effect on the physical, social, or emotional health of a student;

interferes with a student’s educational performance or ability to participate in educational opportunities;

encourages the deliberate exclusion of a student from a school service, activity, or privilege;

creates or exacerbates a real or perceived imbalance of power between students;

violates the reasonable expectation of privacy of one or more individuals; or

relates to the actual or perceived race, ethnicity, color, creed, religion, national origin, immigration status, sex, age, marital status, familial status, socioeconomic status, physical appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, academic status, disability, or status with regard to public assistance, age, or any additional characteristic defined in chapter 363A of a person or of a person with whom that person associates, but the conduct does not rise to the level of harassment.

First, what does interfering with “the ability of an individual ... to participate in a ... supportive learning environment” mean, exactly? Say that students are talking over lunch about how a classmate committed a crime, cheated, said racist things, treated his girlfriend cruelly, or whatever else, which causes people to feel hostile towards the classmate. That interferes with his ability “to participate in a ... supportive learning environment.” Presumably that’s now forbidden, right?

Second, what on earth does “creat[ing] or exacerbat[ing] a real or perceived imbalance of power between students” mean? What kind of power? Social power? Financial power? Power within student-run institutions, such as clubs or businesses that students set up?

Third, what does “violates the reasonable expectation of privacy of one or more individuals” mean? The disclosure of private facts tort doesn’t really tell us, because it is by design limited to speech said to a large group. Would a girl telling a friend that her ex-boyfriend has an STD violate the ex-boyfriend’s reasonable expectation of privacy? (What if the boyfriend is hitting on the friend?) Would revealing a secret qualify? Revealing an acquaintance’s religious or political beliefs, if the acquaintance views them as a private matter?

Fourth, “relates to the actual or perceived race, ethnicity, color, creed, religion, national origin, immigration status, sex, age, marital status, familial status, socioeconomic status, physical appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, academic status, disability, or status with regard to public assistance, [or] age ... of a person or of a person with whom that person associates” would require restrictions on a vast range of speech.

Condemning illegal aliens, Scientologists, people who marry too young, people who are flunking out of school, or people who are on welfare would have to be forbidden as “bullying.” That’s true whether one says this about a student, about the students’ family members (“person[s] with whom that person associates”), or presumably about the group as a whole: After all, even a general condemnation of illegal aliens might interfere with the ability of an illegal alien student who “observes the conduct” to “participate in a ... supportive learning environment.” (It’s not very supportive when people think that people like you should be deported, no matter how strong the case for deportation might be.)

Now public schools have broader authority to restrict student speech than does the government acting as sovereign. But even public schools’ authority is limited (see here for more details); and a public school policy that’s this broad would, I think, be unconstitutionally overbroad and thus invalid on its face, see, e.g., Saxe v. State College Area School Dist. (3d Cir. 2001) (Alito, J.). The government’s use of funds for private schools — even funds that amount to a small fraction of the school’s budget — as leverage to suppress a wide range of speech at those schools is even more constitutionally problematic, see FCC v. League of Women Voters (1984). And beyond that, the proposal’s overbreadth is bad policy as well as being unconstitutional.

For more on this topic, see my 2011 testimony before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights about possible problems with restrictions on supposed “bullying” in K-12 schools.


British primary school bans cops and robbers because of the 'harmful effects of imaginary weapons on young minds'

A primary school has come under fire after banning its pupils from playing cops and robbers or any playground game which involves 'imaginary weapons'.

School chiefs at Worcesters Primary School in Enfield, north London, outlawed the games over a fear that they will upset other children.

But parents at the 470-pupil school have reacted with outrage, saying that playing cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians was 'part of growing up'.

Father Mark Ayers said his seven-year-old son came home last week after being told off for playing with a pretend gun.

The 38-year-old, of Enfield, said today: 'This is just completely over the top. We all grew up playing cops and robbers and my son loves playing pretend army games - all kids do.  'This just seems like a huge overreaction.'

Mr Ayers also spoke out after his son had a fun-size pack of Maltesers confiscated by teachers after it was spotted in his lunch box.

My Ayers said: 'I put the Maltesers in as a weekly treat, but the school confiscated them for some reason.

'The school should be concentrating on other things rather than banning children playing games and taking their chocolate away.'

Another parent, who asked not to be named, said: 'My son was told that he was not allowed to play with imaginary guns or weapons in the playground by his teacher.

'He's nine years old and plays cops and robbers at home with his brothers, so he finds it quite strange to be told it's not allowed to do the same at playtime with his friends.'

Headteacher Karen Jaeggi defended the policy this week, saying: 'We actively discourage children from playing violent games or games involving imaginary weapons in the playground by explaining to them what it represents.

'Some children can be easily frightened by violent play which is often influenced by computer games and we feel that such games can have a harmful effect on young minds.'

Speaking about the ban on chocolate snacks, the headteacher added: 'At Worcesters we promote healthy eating habits since we recognise the problems of childhood obesity in the borough and want to do our best for the children attending this school.'