Friday, June 28, 2013

Conservative may get anti-discrimination protection at Colo. college

College campuses are known for proudly proclaiming their refusal to tolerate discrimination against any minority group, but try telling that to a conservative.

Few would disagree that conservative professors are an endangered species on campus, which is why the University of Colorado Board of Regents is scheduled to consider Thursday a resolution that would prohibit discrimination based on “political affiliation or political philosophy.”

Regent James Geddes said the proposed policy change is aimed at bringing more diversity of intellectual thought to the university, which has a reputation as a bastion of liberalism in its faculty and student body.

“It’s my view that academic freedom is of paramount importance, and unfortunately in many disciplines at the University of Colorado, they end up with high-quality people who think alike,” Mr. Geddes said. “If the other side is not present, then the environment for a rich exchange of ideas is simply not there.”

The board also is slated to consider a resolution to conduct a survey on whether its campuses have implemented a previous resolution calling on them to “respect diversity in all of its forms, including diversity of political, geographic, cultural, intellectual, and philosophical perspectives.”

The liberal Boulder campus may be the last place anyone would expect to find a conservative revolt in academic thought, but the University of Colorado has drawn national attention for attacking liberal bias since Republicans gained a 5-4 majority on the board in 2011.

In March, the University of Colorado Boulder appointed Steven Hayward as the inaugural visiting scholar in conservative thought and policy in an effort to bring underrepresented ideas to campus.

The drive for more conservative voices on campus is encountering some resistance from faculty members, who say they worry that the effort amounts to intellectual quotas that could hinder the university from attracting top talent.

“The university should be trying to hire the best faculty, and that should be the only criterion,” said Oliver McBryan, professor of computer science emeritus at the Boulder campus. “If you start trying to interject other criteria, you’re not going to get the best candidates, and you may even drive some of them away.”

Mr. McBryan agreed that college professors tend to lean left — “There’s definitely a weighting toward liberalism at universities” — but said the reason may be that liberals are better suited for the world of academia, while conservatives are more at home in the field of business.

“Researchers are people whose minds are very open to new ideas, which means they aren’t conservative,” Mr. McBryan said. “Conservatives are more likely to prefer the status quo. … Professors are more likely to be liberal-oriented because they search for and are open to new ideas.”

Other faculty members are expected to testify Thursday both for and against the resolutions, including University of Colorado School of Law professor Robert Nagel, who has criticized the lopsided liberal majority in the humanities.

The proposed resolution on discrimination would apply to hiring and academic policies, and would include a “mechanism for investigating any complaints of discrimination based upon political affiliation or political philosophy.”

Mr. Geddes said he expects a spirited debate. “I’ve been a regent for 4½ years, and this is the biggest deal since I’ve been here,” he said.

University of Colorado Boulder has had a major ideological fight over a faculty member, but the professor was no conservative. In 2007, ethnic studies professor Ward Churchill was fired on charges of academic dishonesty in the aftermath of years of controversy over an essay on the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, in which he compared the World Trade Center victims to Nazi war criminals — “little Eichmanns.”


Teachers in England are some of the best paid in the world: They earn more but spend less time in the classroom

It needs high pay to entice anybody to work in Britain's mostly chaotic government schools

British teachers are among the best paid in Europe – but work fewer hours in the classroom, an international report found.

The average primary school teacher in England earned £27,832 in 2011, much more  than in France, Spain and Italy. Scottish primary school teachers take home even more  – £30,168.

Yet English primary teachers teach for just 684 hours a year, compared to 936 in France and 770 in Italy.

It means that while an English primary teacher earns £40.69 per hour spent in the classroom, a French teacher gets just £22.27.

Only three other countries in Europe have higher pay rates for primary school teachers.

The revelation comes in a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which represents industrialised nations.

It will add to concerns that public sector staff are hugely overpaid compared to their competitors.

Our GPs are also among the best remunerated in the world.Despite the findings, a poll yesterday by teaching union NASUWT revealed that 53 per cent of teachers say their job satisfaction has fallen over the last year.

Some 78 per cent said their biggest concern was workload and 45 per cent were unhappy with pay levels. Teaching unions are preparing for nationwide strike action before the end of the year.

The report, entitled Education at a Glance, shows that across the OECD, the average wage for a primary teacher with 15 years’ service in 2011 was £23,976.

English teachers fared much better, taking home £27,832 in 2011 prices. It put us far ahead of France (£20,843), Spain (£25,990), Italy (£20,728) – but behind  Germany (£36,881).

Across the OECD, teachers spend 786 hours teaching, compared to 684 in England.

It means an English teacher’s hourly rate of £40.69 is behind only Luxembourg, Germany, Denmark, the US and Canada. The OECD average is £30.50.

The study found that English teachers earn a great deal more at the start of their careers than the OECD average, although this lead falls behind the average as they reach the end of their career.

The report also shows that our teachers are among the youngest in the West. Almost a third are under 30, against an OECD average of 13 per cent.

Andreas Schleicher, the OECD’s deputy director for education and skills, said: ‘Primary school teachers in England are particularly well-paid compared to others, but in the UK class sizes are larger.

‘The English system is to give teachers tougher work because of larger classes, but gives them fewer teacher hours so they can give better lessons for larger groups.’

Last night a Government source said the OECD report showed the teaching unions were making unrealistic demands.

He said: ‘The teaching unions should stop damaging children’s education by calling strikes.  ‘Instead they should be demanding teachers spend more time teaching and focusing on the key academic subjects.

‘We can either start working as hard as the Chinese, or we’ll all soon be working for the Chinese.’


Australian children's education dropping further against world standards

THROWING money at schools is no guarantee children will do well, with Australian student performance declining on most international scales despite increased funding.

Despite enjoying a growth in public spending of more than four times the OECD average, test results across most rankings have fallen, according to a snapshot of world education released yesterday.

It comes as Julia Gillard used her final caucus meeting to confirm education reform will be a key focus of Labor's election campaign.

With Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia unlikely to sign on to Gonski before the Prime Minister's June 30 deadline this Sunday, heated debate over school funding is set to continue in the lead up to the September election.

The new data also reveals Australian teachers are among the best paid in the world.  Teachers' salaries are above the OECD average and have risen steadily, some 13 per cent since 2000 at all education levels.

This increase is below the OECD average salary rise of 17 per cent however, teachers in Australia earn 91 per cent of the salary of other workers similar age and education level, compared with an average of as little as 80 per cent.

The Education at a Glance report said spending on schools in Australia increased by 24 per cent between 2008 and 2010 - more than four times the average increase of five per cent.

Education experts said the data was proof "the system isn't working".

"When you have that sort of substantial increase in expenditure and you are not getting improved effectiveness or an increase in student outcomes, it's just clear evidence that we are spending in the wrong areas," Dr Ben Jensen, director of school policy for the Grattan Institute, said.

Dr Jensen said spending on "fads" such as laptops for every child had contributed to the problem.

"This is only partly to do with the federal government. This is also an issue for the state governments and the non government sector as well, which are wasting just as much money," he said.

The Prime Minister's national plan for school improvement, or Gonski reforms, pledge to restore Australian schoolkids to the top five countries by 2025. In the most recent international ranking, released last December, Australian Year 4 students came 27th in reading.

But Dr Kevin Donnelly from the Education Standards Institute said the return to the top of international rankings "won't happen without significant changes" to how schools are run.

"Just spending money for spending sake doesn't make sense. There is a lot of evidence that even with increased expenditure standards haven't gone up," he said.

"If you look at some of those countries that outperform Australia in testing, they spend a lot less money."

Improved curriculum quality, better teachers and a stronger focus on discipline were all contributors to student success, he said.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Progressive Hypocrisy to Make You Sick


To say that there are items that present in the news each day that make me roll my eyes would be to under-state the fact in a dramatic way. But every now and again -- and it is beginning to happen with more frequency, much to the detriment of the forces lending themselves to common sense -- there presents a story so outrageous, so infuriatingly hypocritical, so blatant in arrogance, that it conjures the forces of anger from within one's soul. The coverage of Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis' words to the City Club of Chicago is such a story.

Ever since the 1850s, when a founding faction of the Progressive Movement - an elitist faction consisting of anti-religious bigots - began to call for the government institutionalization of education in the United States, the American education system has "progressively" marched down the road of, not only ideological monopoly, but of political allegiance. Coincidentally, the level of achieved education in the United States has suffered a continuous and steady decline ever guessed it, the 1850s.

The Heartland Institute's president, Joe Bast, recently spoke about the state of American education at the Eighth Annual Wisconsin Conservative Conference. During his talk he touched on the topic of, "How the Left Destroyed Schooling in America," of which he noted:
"Once they had succeeding in kicking the Catholics out of K-12 education they campaigned to ban public funding for all religious schools. They placed Blaine amendments on the constitutions of 37 states, including Wisconsin.

"‘Progressives' and communists then joined the religious bigots to call for ending all public funding of private schools in America and to make schooling in government schools tuition-free. Teachers got on board because they saw it as a way to improve their wages and job security, and they were right, it did. Unions saw it as a way to make organizing teachers easier, and they were right, too, it did. Politicians saw it as a way to build a huge patronage army, and boy were they ever right.

"The adults who are paid to educate kids got what they wanted. The result is the system we see today: nearly all public money goes to government schools. Government owns the buildings, hires the teachers, dictates the curriculum, writes the tests, and even gets to decide whether or not it's doing a good job. It sets the standards.

"Not surprisingly, this system evolved in ways that benefitted the adults who are employed by the system - administrators and teachers - and not students. Teachers get tenure. Certification requirements erect barriers to entry, and pay becomes based on tenure and degrees rather than classroom performance. Kids are assigned to schools based on where their parents live because that's easier for the adults to know how many will enroll in a particular school next year.

"Control is centralized because that makes it easier for politicians and bureaucrats to enforce the rules on teachers, but it's not good for kids...or teachers."

It is important to note here that Mr. Bast speaks - or at least I believe he speaks - of the bureaucracy that the American education system has become, and, specifically, those haughty bureaucrats who rise to the top of this ideologically and politically charged apparatus. One cannot argue against the facts as they present, and one of the obvious facts is that the education system has become so bureaucratized that in many locations there are just as many "administrators" and staff as there are classroom teachers. This means more eyes looking over a teacher's shoulder, more "litmus test" evaluations focusing on theory instead of best practices, and an almost constant fear among teachers about their chances for retention. To wit, it is next to impossible for a good teacher to teach, when they feel they have to satisfy the unnecessary demands of bureaucrats over concentrating exclusively on the education of their students.

For the record, and this is an important point, there are many good teachers in the United States who would like nothing more than to be left alone to teach their students. But the system, being what it is, creates roadblocks and cumbersome administrative work that most often has nothing to do with the actual education of the child. To Mr. Bast's point, the "adults" got what they wanted...and what they wanted was good things for themselves; the child's education taking a backseat to community organizing and political agendas.

So, for almost 200 years the elitist bureaucrats of the American education system - the same system that bestows honors on radical domestic terrorists like Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn; a system that awards collegiate positions to their fellow Weather Underground members; the same system that allows children to advance from grade to grade without the mastery of core curriculum because it may harm the child's "self-esteem"; the same system that demonizes those who respect God and country - the elitist bureaucrats who cheer all of the above have been in control. And in a day when taxpayers facilitate over $10,560 per-pupil per-year nationally (New York, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia spent more than $15,000 per-student per-year on average in 2011), we still have one-percenter Progressive bureaucrats demanding more for the government trough - more for themselves, while blaming everyone but themselves for the disaster they themselves have created; a system that stands uniquely and exclusively responsible for the dumbing-down of America.

So, you can understand why I became irate when I read the words of Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis. The Daily Caller reports:
"In a scathing speech on Wednesday, the president of the Chicago Teachers Union charged that racism and 'rich white people' are to blame for the immense financial crisis facing the Chicago Public Schools.

"'Members of the status quo -- the people who are running the schools and advising the mayor on how to best run our district -- know what good education looks like because they have secured it for their own children in well-resourced public and private institutions,' the Dartmouth graduate charged.

"When will there be an honest conversation about the poverty, racism and inequality that hinders the delivery of a quality education product in our school system?' Lewis also asked in the speech. 'When will we address the fact that rich, white people think they know what's in the best interest of children of African Americans and Latinos--no matter what the parent's income or education level.'"

If Ms. Lewis were altruistic, I would have tempered by ire. But Ms. Lewis is a hypocrite of the highest order.

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed writes:  "So how come Lewis' salary is so secret?

"Explanation: Sneed inquired last week about her salary and was told ‘I don't know,' by top Lewis spokeswoman Liz Brown. Her salary is not publicly listed, and Sneed was told, ‘She doesn't have to do so.'"

This arrogant, ignorant, pathetic, race-baiting, disgrace of a human being collected -- for a partial year's work -- a salary of $71,330 as Chicago Teachers Union president. And because her predecessor commanded a salary of $211,119 annually, we must assume that Ms. Lewis' annual compensation is upwards of that amount.

Additionally, for 2012, Lewis also collected $64,157 from the IL Federation of Teachers, as well as $68,000-plus for her alleged teaching position. All told, for 2012, Ms. "Race-Baiter" Lewis pocketed $202,487-plus, putting her in the top 2% of all US earners.

Regular readers understand full well that I abhor name-calling, so I would like to explain that the above has nothing to do with name calling, rather, it has to do with brutal honesty.

Ms. Lewis is ignorant for not recognizing the damage that the system which she champions does to the children; for not recognizing that the system she defends puts "the adults" before the children.

Ms. Lewis is arrogant for her need to find a scapegoat, for her need to blame anyone but the bureaucrats themselves for a system that has been constructed to be vulnerable to bureaucratic largess, and perverted - with her assistance - from a quest to educate children into a teacher-destroying ideo-political organism hell-bent on preserving employee benefits - even as municipalities go broke under the strain of their demands - above the needs of their charges.

And Ms. Lewis is pathetic and a disgrace to humanity, for the abuse of her position in advancing the epidemic that is race-baiting in the United States today. Chicago schools have had financial and performance issues long before Ms. Lewis came to be the mouthpiece for her labor union. Chicago public schools had issues with finances and performance under white mayors, a female mayor and two black mayors. Chicago schools have even had finance and performance issues with City Councils that have been all White, predominantly Black and otherwise diverse in culture. In fact, the only commonality found in the command-and-control bureaucratic apparatus of the Chicago Public School System - or in the Chicago political system which oversees the Chicago Public School system, for that matter - is that those elected to public office, as well as the school boards, have all been Progressives and Liberal Democrats. That is a fact that cannot be denied. And for this grotesque dishonesty, Ms. Lewis is a pathetic, race-baiting disgrace, unworthy of the charge that is the education of our children.

Dante has a special circle for race-baiters. He also has a special circle for those who abuse and use children for gain and satisfaction. But I really, don't know if Dante even wants to contemplate a circle for Ms. Lewis. And that says quite a bit.


You can’t teach history without imagination

Instead of nit-picking, academics should be welcoming Education Secretary Michael Gove’s new history curriculum

Over the past few months, the history profession has been convulsed by a fractious debate over Michael Gove’s new curriculum – which now sits in the in-trays of David Cameron and Nick Clegg, awaiting their marks in red pen.

Gove’s detractors accuse him of peddling a jingoistic, outdated version of British history, overly focused on “posh, white blokes”. He, in turn, has dismissed his critics as hot-headed Lefties. Yet a recent poll finding that only 4 per cent of history professionals welcome his new curriculum suggests he is a long way off winning over those whose job it will be to teach it.

Of course, education has long been an ideological battleground between those determined to imprint their vision on the next generation. Back in the Eighties, when Mrs Thatcher first proposed the national curriculum, she had a similar bust-up. For her, history was simply “an account of what happened in the past”; the French Revolution, for example, “only resulted in a pile of headless corpses and a tyrant”. She was naturally appalled when presented with the curriculum from the history professionals, with its “woolly” emphasis on “interpretation and enquiry”.

In Gove’s case, his preference for a chronological rather than thematic approach has been dismissed as “Whiggish”. This is unfair: even at university level, a clear narrative is the only way to ensure comprehension rather than confusion. Those denouncing his proposals as a “shopping list” are perhaps more accurate – the initial drafts did represent a pick ’n’ mix of the past, shaped by Gove’s own historical consciousness.

Yet the Education Secretary’s tactics have been those of any renegade academic proposing a bold thesis – to incorporate important caveats, but ensure his central argument remains. Bully-boy tactics have not helped his cause: not least attacking the Historical Association, which has been supporting the teaching of history for the past 100 years. Yet he has modified his plans in response to the complaints, airbrushing out the eminent Victorians and relegating the Iron Lady to the sidelines, while finding a place for Rosa Parks.

Indeed, Gove has been listening to teachers and historians more intently than reports suggest. One problem he is attempting to address is one of basic logistics – how to fit the teaching of history within an increasingly crowded school day, and come up with a primary-school course that can be taught by teachers who often have little experience of teaching the subject.

As for the specifics of his plans, history is all about context, so his greater emphasis on global history should be welcomed, as should the idea of dedicating more time to the medieval period. There will also be at least an attempt to take the national story outside the confines of Westminster.

Churchill remains, probably wisely. I recently gave a talk on the Second World War at a secondary school, after which a student informed me of her surprise on learning that he wasn’t a Labour man. “How can he be a national hero if he was a Tory?” she mused. Clearly, Gove has big challenges to overcome.

Above all, instead of nit-picking over whether the Education Secretary has given too much attention to the glories of the Empire and not enough to the immorality of the slave trade, historians could at least welcome an initiative that seeks to enhance the position of our subject on the curriculum – and within our culture.

All too often in Britain, history has been a victim, subject to fleeting desires, political agendas and fashionable causes. Yet the past does not provide a moral blueprint; nor should it be set at a romanticised and sanitised distance. It must be dealt with, in all its messy moral complexity. Indeed, while some semblance of coherence must be enforced in order to make sense of it all, history’s chaotic nature is what makes it so appealing.

And it is, of course, vitally important. My job is to teach the story of post-war Britain to a generation born long after the Berlin Wall was reduced to rubble. To them, the Cold War seems like overblown propaganda, with its eventual victor obvious throughout. They find it difficult to imagine a time when the head of the TUC was more powerful than the prime minister, when the state owned most industries, or fuel was rationed. So I can only imagine the challenge faced by primary school teachers having to teach the Stone Age to eight-year-olds.

In the end, what is required is not indoctrination, but imagination. If the past is another country, then a visit needs to broaden the mind as much as any jaunt to a distant land. History should be in our minds whenever we step into a museum, watch a period drama, or talk to our grandparents. Indeed, whatever the nature of the curriculum, what matters most is that what we learn in school should be a starting point, rather than an end.


French schools to teach 6-year-olds about Sex Education and Gender Equality

In the new school year, a new subject, mandatory sex education, will be introduced in all French schools. Children will be educated from the age of six. Sex education is intended to completely shift the perception of the traditional biological roles of males and females in the children’s minds, replacing them with the ideas about the so-called social gender.

France has become a field for growing new unnatural humanity. Hollande’s government has incredible perseverance in the introduction of gay marriage and allowing same-sex couples to adopt children, supplemented by systemic measures to educate the young generation who will have no concept of a man and a woman.

The democratic government provides no alternative. The subject will be introduced in all French schools, including private and religious ones. In February, the Commission of Cultural Affairs of the National Assembly approved a legislative amendment of the Socialist Party deputy Julie Sommaruga, according to which the mission of the school is “teaching gender equality.”

According to the amendment, elementary school students should be taught the theory of gender equality and shown that the differences between men and women are not natural, but rather historically and socially constructed and reproduced.

The amendment was supported by the President of the Commission, as well as Trotskyite-like leftists in the parliament – the Socialists, the Communists, and “environmentalists.” On March 19th, the National Assembly of France adopted the “gender law” in the first reading, paving the way for official corruption of minors in French schools.

The proposed concept includes a “Theory of Genres.” It is easy to understand what kind of genres they are talking about looking at the system of genders introduced today. Unlike the classic gender roles, today the same person can have multiple gender roles. In addition to “untrendy” traditional men and women there are homosexuals (gays and lesbians), as well as such “species” as bisexuals, transvestites, and transsexuals. That is, homosexuality that used to be considered a disease by the standards of history is served as one of the “genres” of sexual relations.

The very concept of “gender” was introduced into the French school textbooks in 2011. Gender ideology introduces a concept according to which gender is not determined biologically, but is a consequence of the cultural and social development of an individual in the society.

Driven to absurdity, these considerations in modern France have become “an excuse” to legalize same-sex marriages and allow perverts to adopt children. Judging by current trends, it will become the basis for institutionalized pedophilia and homosexual breakdown of the younger generation who from a young age will be instilled the idea of perverted sex as the underlying purpose of life.

When such an ideology is being implemented by the government in a public institution like universal education, there is no doubt that there is a realization of the global plan for the destruction of mankind by shifting the fundamental concepts of the generated evolution of human sexuality.

First, celibacy and principled approach to the strict regulation of sexual life in a family was targeted, then homosexuality was normalized, now ideas about multiple sex roles are being introduced that are the basis for the formation of physically sick and manipulated society.

The Russian State Duma adopted in the third reading a bill to ban propaganda of homosexuality among children and introduced administrative penalties for such actions in the form of fines. For the “ordinary” propaganda of homosexuality penalties of $4 thousand to five thousand rubles were proposed, while propaganda of non-traditional relationships in the media or the internet is punishable by the fines of 40 thousand to 50 thousand rubles, and for legal entities – 400 thousand to 500 thousand rubles. Foreign nationals convicted of propaganda of non-traditional relationships may be deported from Russia. The bill was introduced by the Legislative Assembly of the Novosibirsk region and adopted at the first reading on January25.

Next week, according to the speaker of the lower house of the parliament Sergei Naryshkin, the Russian parliament may amend the law that bans the adoption of Russian children by same-sex families abroad. Finally the actions of Russian legislators were timely, and despite the annoying squeals of some murky human rights activists at least some barrier will be installed to inhuman and unnatural homosexual wave from the West. Meanwhile they did a favor to the defenders and sources of sodomy and lesbianism, as in the absence of the law they would simply be beaten in the streets.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

20 Ridiculous Courses

Now that accumulated student loan debt stands at approximately $1 trillion, it’s time to take stock of what students have been learning over the years. While their technical expertise is undoubtedly surpasses that of previous generations, there are some courses that can only be described as a waste of time and money, according to Education Watch International, which recently published a list of “20 Ridiculous Courses.”
Among the most outrageous are:

1. “What If Harry Potter Is Real?” (Appalachian State University) – A course that explores how and if fantasy can reshape the way we look at history. “Students will examine issues of race, class, gender, time, place, the uses of space and movement, the role of multiculturalism in history.”

2. “God, Sex, Chocolate: Desire and the Spiritual Path” (UC San Diego) –

4. “Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame” (The University Of South Carolina) –

7. “The Science Of Superheroes” (UC Irvine) – Have you ever wondered if Superman could really bend steel bars? Would a “gamma ray” accident turn you into the Hulk? What is a “spidey-sense?”

8. “Learning From YouTube” (Pitzer College) – Students post comments about YouTube and also post their own videos. One class member “posted a 1:36-minute video of himself juggling.”

9. “Arguing with Judge Judy” (UC Berkeley) –

10. “Elvis As Anthology” (The University Of Iowa) – The class “focuses on Presley’s relationship to African American history, social change, and aesthetics.”

12. “Zombies In Popular Media” (Columbia College) – “This course explores the history, significance, and representation of the zombie as a figure in horror and fantasy texts.”

13. “Far Side Entomology” (Oregon State) – “A scientist at Oregon State University has used Gary Larson’s cartoons as a teaching tool — about insects.”

14. “Interrogating Gender: Centuries of Dramatic Cross-Dressing” (Swarthmore) – Do clothes make the man? Or the woman? Do men make better women? Or women better men? Is gender a costume we put on and take off? Are we really all always in drag?
15. “Oh, Look, a Chicken!” Embracing Distraction as a Way of Knowing (Belmont University) – The professor “reads aloud illustrated books The Simple People and Toby’s Toe to teach lessons about what to value by being alive. Students listen to music while doodling in class.”

17. “Cyberporn And Society” (State University of New York at Buffalo) Undergraduates taking Cyberporn and Society at the State University of New York at Buffalo survey Internet porn sites.

19. “Getting Dressed” (Princeton) Chart the major moments of your lives through clothes. “If you pop open your closet, can you recall your lives?”

20. “How To Watch Television” (Montclair) – “The aim is for students to critically evaluate the role and impact of television in their lives as well as in the life of the culture. The means to achieve this aim is an approach that combines media theory and criticism with media education.”

“Are you starting to understand why our college graduates can’t function effectively when they graduate and go out into the real world?”


Gun paranoia: How could this happen in schools of a conservative county?

By Rick Manning

People across the nation can learn from the wake-up call that residents of Calvert County, Maryland received in the last month — ignore your local elections at your own risk.

In the past month, two separate faux gun incidents have rocked this small Washington, D.C. exurban community that features a tobacco leaf on the county flag.  Ranked as the 13th wealthiest county in the nation as measured by median household income, Calvert’s population is under 100,000, and holds the distinction of having Republicans hold all five of its county commission seats.

This relatively conservative bastion in the midst of a state known for liberal extremism was hit hard when it became national news that a kindergarten boy, whose mom is a school teacher in Calvert County schools, was held for two hours, questioned intensely by his school principal, all because he brought a cap gun to school.  The school principal was later reported to have said that if the five year old had brought caps for the gun, he would have been punished all the more severely.

The follow up news that the child’s ten day suspension was not being lifted by the school district administrators at a time when cooler heads should have prevailed, has put the issue squarely in the laps of the elected school board.

Another similar issue erupted at the same time, as a fifth grader in Calvert County was suspended because he had the audacity to say that if someone were to attack his school, he would like to have a gun with him so he could save everyone.

Horrors! One kid disobeys his parents and takes an obvious toy to school and gets terrorized by the principal to such a degree that he pees his pants.  Do the administrators call the parents immediately, like any person with a lick of common sense would do?  No, they hold and traumatize the kid like a criminal for two hours with zero parental notification.

The other kid engages in a standard superhero fantasy, resulting in a county sheriff at their door demanding to know if they have any guns in the house.

How did a small, rural community where hunting and fishing are common, and motorcycles and tattoos even more common, end up with school administrators who are so far out of touch?

As a resident of Calvert County, this question is vexing and troubling.

The problem lies in the nature of elected school boards.  People know their kids’ teachers, and probably the principal at the school, but most don’t get too worked up over who gets elected to the school board.  In fact, in Calvert County, in spite of its heavily Republican leaning, the school board is dominated by Democrats, and it has been difficult to even find a Republican willing to run.

The painful lesson for everyone across the nation who believes that “it can’t happen here” is that it can.  It can if people ignore the importance of their local governance as they fight for limited government on the state and national levels.

If someone believes in local control, it becomes all the more important that they focus their efforts on making certain that the control in their localities reflects their own beliefs and standards.

The cruel lesson being taught through the tears of a five year old, and the fear imposed on an idealistic fifth grader is that eternal vigilance must start with city hall, the county administration building and yes, the local board of education.  Otherwise, you might find that one day you wake up, and no longer recognize the place you call home.


Cult of the school uniform

The weirder a school uniform is, the more loyalty it seems to inspire, says Janette Wallis

Christ's Hospital Tudor-style uniforms have stayed more or less the same since 1552

It may seem quintessentially Govian, but the cult of the school uniform long preceded the current government. Both Charles Clarke and Ed Balls have spoken warmly of the virtues of a smart school uniform. And now everyone’s at it. Even the Maharishi Free School has a tidy blue uniform – a good colour for transcendental meditation.

On the whole, today’s uniforms tend towards the undemanding – a polo shirt and crested sweatshirt usually suffices. But in our many years visiting schools for The Good Schools Guide we have discovered The Paradox of the School Uniform – the weirder it is, the more loyalty it inspires.

There is a long and active thread on the Student Room website – running since 2005 – where former pupils compete, with touching bravado, on how they survived their school uniforms.

Few schools now want to venture into the dystopian no-man’s-land of the uniform-free school. But we know we’re wading in the deep end when we encounter the following:

Cloaks: Innocence, mystery and drama all wrapped into one useless garment. Yes, they still exist, from windswept Wuthering Heights cloaks for the girls at Lancing College to Falkner House London’s more urbane four-panel flared cape with contrasting collar.

Long blue coats: Don’t you just hate it when schools change their uniform too often? Never a problem at Christ’s Hospital School where the Tudor-style uniforms, with ankle-length blue coat, breeches and knee-length yellow socks have stayed more or less the same since 1552. Some of the other Blue Coat schools, like Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital in Bristol, still bring out the glad rags for high days and holidays.

Period costume: Waistcoats. Boaters. Wing Collars. Tails. Pin-striped trousers. Cravats. Fewer top hats and monocles these days, but Eton, Harrow and King’s Canterbury are among the firm adherents of the Brideshead Revisited look.

Kilts: The 50-strong pipes and drums band at Gordon’s, a state boarding school near Woking, is a sight to behold in its full regalia; the whole school parades in the Gordon’s tartan on Sundays. Boys at Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh wear their own individual kilts on special occasions.

The Bizarre: Is there a touch of cruelty in Hill House International School dressing thirteen year old boys in rust coloured corduroy breeches and mustard cable knit jumpers? Or teenage girls wearing floor-length kilts at St Mary’s School, Shaftesbury? Incidentally, the easiest way to kill a fashion stone dead is to co-opt it into an official school uniform (anyone remember the skort?) We have yet to see a uniform onesie, harem trousers or ugg boots but, pray god, some school will see to it.

Should these schools change to polo shirts? Perhaps. But the big question is, do uniforms maketh the scholar?

No. But they maketh the school run a bit earlier, the quarrel with the 15-year-old daughter over wearing pyjama bottoms to school a bit shorter, and the laundry a bit quicker. Count us in.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Qualified Teacher Status be damned: children want to be led by talent and enthusiasm

Stupid Leftist credentialism in Britain.  I taught High School successfully without ONE MINUTE of teacher training.  Enthusiasm for your subject is the best qualification -- JR

What makes a great school? It’s a question that obsesses parents, professionals and politicians alike, and there are all manner of theories bandied about. But, really, it’s rather simple: you must put your students first. And in order to do that, you must hire only the very best people to teach them.

At our Academy school, we don’t mind whether or not our staff is QTS (Qualified Teacher Status) trained – a basic freedom that private schools have long enjoyed. We have trained dozens of high-quality, enthusiastic men and women over the past few years and retained the best ones, qualified or not.

During this time our school, despite being based in the disadvantaged seaside town of Weston-super-Mare, has become one of the best in the UK. Our GCSE results have eclipsed those of schools in more leafy suburbs and placed us in the top few per cent nationally.

So it came as quite a shock to learn this week that if Labour wins the next election, some of our staff will be among the 5,000 untrained teachers to be told they must gain a formal qualification or face the sack.

This would be a disaster, for schools, students and for my “unqualified” teachers; it is a nonsense that you need QTS to teach. Union leaders may not like it, but schools such as ours have developed a successful model of getting the best staff because we are able quite simply to recruit people who are keen, ambitious and hungry for success. It works: our school has become a conveyor belt of the very best teaching talent.

Take one of our brilliant maths teachers, Melissa Harding. Mel started with us in 2008 as cover and she immediately shone with her refreshing motivational style and enthusiasm. It was clear we had an outstanding talent on our hands, so we made her a maths “teacher”.

Her students performed above expectations, which is surely a good indicator of success, and then, after only two years with us, she was graded highly during an Ofsted inspection. In fact, she received a higher grade than some qualified maths specialists. No one – parents, teachers, staff – could have guessed that Mel was non-QTS.

Of course we were monitoring her closely, as we do with all our staff, but the bottom line, surely, is results, and Mel’s results are superb. Our entrepreneurial vice-principal/head of the upper school, Jane McBride, still does not have QTS, but her teaching of business studies is outstanding.

A business graduate and former leader of an Asda sales team, her enthusiasm and motivation are the key reason why our school-leavers take away first-class results.

What good would it do to sack staff such as Mel and Jane?

The trouble is, the unions and certain other parties seem to think that QTS is a guarantee of success when it obviously isn’t. All head teachers and principals have seen their fair share of poor “qualified” teachers who drift into the profession and are almost impossible to shift out. If we can find excellent QTS staff, that’s all good, but in the current market we need to have the flexibility and creativity which thankfully Michael Gove has introduced.

Why should a great local chef not teach cookery? Why should a great local hockey coach not teach PE? How many graduates drift into teaching without a real passion for the job? Conversely, how many people have been put off teaching by the rigid system of QTS?

Academy freedoms have been long-awaited and we are using them to the full for the benefit of students. No creative and forward-looking school wants to be shackled by bureaucracy and rules. We have abolished “supply teachers” and instead use highly enthusiastic and motivated cover staff. Ironically, many of these after a year or two are now progressing on to QTS courses: this system itself is creating better QTS-trained staff.

To help improve education for thousands of children, I would urge heads and principals to use their new-found freedoms to develop the best teaching talent, and Stephen Twigg to ditch this regressive part of his plan.

And Mr Gove could do us all a favour by making it even easier to dismiss the few unsuccessful and unmotivated teachers and give their jobs to the unqualified talent that is eager to teach. This could be his greatest legacy.


NYU's 'Toxic' Expansion Prioritizes Marketing Over Debt-Saddled Students, Professors Say

In a time of growing alarm over soaring student loan debt, New York University -- which graduates the most indebted classes of students in the country -- has embarked on an ambitious real estate expansion that could make the school even more expensive.

A vocal group of professors has mounted a rebellion aimed at halting the university's plans, which call for the addition of 6 million square feet of new space over the next two decades. NYU's administration has refused to publicly disclose the cost, but faculty critics point to estimates that the build-out could run several billion dollars.

"The situation is so toxic right now," said Adam Becker, an associate professor of religious studies at the university, and a member of the faculty opposition movement. "People are angry at the place. We feel like we have been pushed into the corner."

Like many of its students, NYU will need to finance its ambitions through borrowing. The plan's critics argue that these costs will surely get passed along to future classes in the form of higher tuition and less financial aid.

"I think they should put more money back into scholarships for students instead of expanding," said Sashika Gunawardana, who graduated from NYU in 2012 with about $150,000 in student loans.

University officials say that NYU must amass more space in order to keep pace with other campuses that can offer faculty and students more room than their school, based on the urban island of Manhattan.

But to faculty opponents, these plans, known as NYU 2031, exemplify what is wrong on their campus and throughout much of American higher education: The post-graduate financial distress of graduates is exacerbated by undertakings like NYU's real estate ventures and an expensive arms race to recruit and retain elite faculty.

For the nation as a whole, concern over the rising costs of college has reached feverish proportions. Over the past five years, American college costs have soared 24 percent, according to the College Board, even as the financial fortunes of millions of families declined. Not coincidentally, borrowing has soared.

Between 2004 and 2012, total outstanding student debt tripled to $1.1 trillion in the U.S., the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently calculated. The average debt load now exceeds $25,000 -- double the level of eight years ago. Some 13 percent of borrowers owe more than $50,000, and 4 percent owe more than $100,000, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

These forces are especially pronounced at NYU, the nation's largest private university. Even by the measure of private colleges, NYU is extraordinarily expensive, with the price of a typical four-year stay, including tuition, room and board, approaching $280,000.

Financial aid is relatively scarce, prompting many NYU students to gorge on student loans. The 2010 graduating class departed campus owing $659 million, according to Department of Education data, the highest sum of any class in the country (excluding a handful of for-profit colleges).

This borrowing spree has turned the financial life of many recent graduates upside down. Many are starting their careers owing an amount that would equate to a mortgage on a modest house. The debt burden is also forcing grads to live at home or on a shoestring budget. Some simply can't keep up and are defaulting, a financially ruinous outcome for young people further handicapped by strict laws that prevent discharging student debt through bankruptcy.

Gunawardana's debt saturation began in the weeks leading up to her freshman year in the fall of 2008. Her parents told her that their business had collapsed, leaving them unable to contribute to college. She signed off on the first of what would become a mountain of loans, telling herself that this was the price of admission.

"If you want to go to one of the top schools in the country, this is the sacrifice," she said.

She now works at a tech startup in New York and shares an apartment with two roommates. She declined to disclose her salary, but said the $1,000 each month she pays to her college lenders leaves her with barely enough money for groceries. She hasn't been able to afford a trip home to California to visit family in two years. She has shelved thoughts of graduate school for fear of taking on more debt.

On July 1, rates on new federally-backed student loans will double to 6.8 percent, unless Congress acts to prevent the increase.. Gunawardana may soon be forced to assume payments on a separate student loan her mother co-signed, which have been deferred until now.

Yet rather than confronting this burgeoning debt crisis among its alumni, or working to lower tuition costs for current and future students, the administration of NYU President John Sexton has instead prioritized a costly expansion funded by borrowed money, his critics maintain. The new expansion endangers future students, who will be forced to shoulder the cost, they say.

Last year, the university's prestigious Stern School of Business voted against the proposed expansion by a tally of 52 to 3, warning in a public letter that it would be "tremendously costly, amounting to several billion dollars." The borrowing-funded expansion will put "a significant strain" on the university's finances, and could lead to higher tuition rates, the school cautioned.

"Our widely-shared assumption is that the cost of debt-financed growth will inevitably fall on students in the form of rising tuition," said Andrew Ross, a professor of social and cultural analysis at NYU who is one of the leaders within the growing faculty opposition movement.


Parents banned from childrens' sports day by British school in case crowd 'stresses out pupils'

Furious parents have been banned from attending their own children's sports day for fear of causing their offspring stress.

Staff at Kenningtons Primary Academy in Aveley, Essex wrote to parents saying the annual sports day would be for 'children only' and that parents should not attend the event.

The letter from headteacher Miss Jo Sawtell said: 'Last year, we were not able to accommodate parents as the field was waterlogged and some of the activities took place inside.

'For lots of children, sports day is a very stressful occasion. This is invariably linked to being watched by a large crowd.  'All decisions are primarily taken with the interests of children at heart.'

But Sue Wilkinson, a spokeswoman for the Association for Physical Education, criticised the decision.  She said: 'We would like to see parents engage right across the educational spectrum. We would actively encourage parents to be part of their children's education.'

A group of mothers are angry at being barred from the event, with some threatening to ban their children from competing.  One mother, who did not wish to be named, said: 'Quite a few of us are upset about it. We are fuming.  'I have got friends who are teachers and they say they are crying out for parents that want to get involved.

'I did not realise wanting to get involved in the sports day would brand us bad parents.'

She added: 'I am keeping my children off school that day and I know other mums that are.  'We will recreate their sports day if needs be.

'The letter says sports day is very stressful for children because of the crowds watching.

"But they are inviting parents from other schools to see another sports day the next day - even though we are not allowed to our own kids' sports day.'

Parents have organised a meeting to discuss the ban.


Monday, June 24, 2013

Google Has Started Hiring More People Who Didn’t Go To College

After years of looking at the data, Google has found that things like college GPAs and transcripts are almost worthless in hiring. Following these revelations, the company is hiring more and more people who never even went to college.In an interview with The New York Times, Google’s Senior Vice President for People Operations Laszlo Bock revealed that the number of degree-less hires has trended upwards as they’ve stopped asking for transcripts for everybody but the most recent graduates. 

“What’s interesting is the proportion of people without any college education at Google has increased over time as well,” Bock said. “So we have teams where you have 14 per cent of the team made up of people who’ve never gone to college.”

Bock’s critique of higher education goes beyond debunking the GPA as a hiring metric. He says the academic setting is an artificial place where people are highly trained to succeed only in a specific environment.

“One of my own frustrations when I was in college and grad school is that you knew the professor was looking for a specific answer,” Bock says. “You could figure that out, but it’s much more interesting to solve problems where there isn’t an obvious answer. You want people who like figuring out stuff where there is no obvious answer.”

After two or three years, performance at college is “completely unrelated” to performance at Google, because the skills you learn are so different and you change so much, Bock says.

Of course, most of Google’s hires are still college graduates.

After all, college is still the surest way of learning advanced engineering and other stuff that gets you a job at Google. A college degree still provides some guarantee of intelligence and commitment. And at the end of the day, people with a college degree are far more highly employed and make more money than those who don’t graduate.   


California Schools to Train Kids to Sell ObamaCare

The Los Angeles Unified School District will use a state grant to train teens to promote ObamaCare to family members. Covered California, the state's health insurance exchange, announced grants of $37 million on May 14 to promote the nationally unpopular law.

LAUSD will receive $990,000. The district listed as a primary outcome for its project, “Teens trained to be messengers to family members.”

Covered California spokeswoman Sarah Soto-Taylor said staff have not questioned this goal. 

“We have confidence that the model LA Unified brought to the table will be successful in reaching our target population, which includes family members of students,” she said.

LAUSD will also use tax-paid staff to promote ObamaCare through phone calls to students’ homes, in-class presentations, and meetings with employees eligible for ObamaCare’s taxpayer-covered healthcare, the grant award says.

Unpaid Propagandizers

The district listed adult education students, part-time, and contract employees as its target population. Teens will be trained to be messengers not to those groups, but to their own families, to get more people enrolled in taxpayer-subsidized healthcare.

If the project is successful, Los Angeles families can expect more use of students to push government-preferred messaging.

“Teens are part of a ‘pilot’ program to test whether young people can be trained as messengers to deliver outreach and limited education to family and friends in and around their homes,” said Gayle Pollard-Terry, a LAUSD spokesman, in an email. “Teens will be educating adults that they already know (e.g., family or friends) and not other adults.”

‘Paid in the Rear’

Grant recipients like LAUSD will be held accountable by the state for fulfilling their promised activities for outreach, said Larry Hicks, another LAUSD spokesman.

“At a minimum, grantees will be required to submit to Covered California monthly, quarterly, and annual reports on their activities and progress towards agreed upon outcomes. If project benchmarks are not met, grantees may be required to submit additional ad hoc reports upon Covered California’s request. Grantees will also be required to report any proposed adjustments to their approved outreach and education plan using the information management system… Additionally, field monitors will be assigned to grantees to verify their progress,” Hughes said.

Pollard-Terry said the district is familiar with running grants like this one and federal ones of similar size: “This grant is ‘paid in the rear,’ so the funding will come based on performance. The district front-funds positions and we have the ability to start using existing staff for the most part.”


Eminent Victorians dropped from history curriculum in British U-turn

Eminent figures from the Victorian era including William Gladstone, Benjamin Disraeli and Florence Nightingale are set to be removed as compulsory elements of the new history curriculum for schools after a U-turn by Michael Gove, the Education Secretary.

The pair of prime ministers and the “Lady with the Lamp”, who tended to victims of the Crimean War, figured prominently in a planned shake up of history teaching unveiled by Mr Gove earlier this year in an attempt to ensure children had a solid grasp of Britain’s past.

However, he has been forced to redraft the plans in the wake of a campaign of opposition from teachers and prominent academics which saw the proposals branded “insulting and offensive”.

More emphasis will now be placed on world history rather than a concentration on British events and figures. The new draft is understood not to insist on the study of a range of figures, also including Clive of India, Isaac Newton and Baroness Thatcher, all of whom featured in the original proposals.

Winston Churchill, however, will still feature as a compulsory element of the new-look curriculum after the wartime leader won a late reprieve. An education department source said: "There will still be a strong narrative of British history."

The latest revision of the plans is now awaiting the approval of David Cameron and Nick Clegg, Mr Gove has signalled. Schools are likely to be given more freedom in what to teach, while the planned history curriculum for primary schools is being scaled down.

Instead of being forced to learn about Newton and Christina Rossetti, the Victorian poet, five-to-seven year olds may learn about more modern figures - including Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the internet, and Rosa Parks, the US civil rights activist.

Secondary school pupils, meanwhile, may learn about Charles Darwin along with lessons on immigration and Islamic history.

The first draft of the history curriculum, published in February, was backed by some historians, including Anthony Beevor, Niall Ferguson and David Starkey. Others, however, panned it.

Simon Schama, speaking at the Telegraph Hay Festival last month, attacked it even though he had been a member of the group which helped the Department for Education (DfE) draw it up. He dubbed it “Insulting and offensive,” “pedantic and utopian”, and accused Mr Gove of constructing a “ridiculous shopping list.”

Malorie Blackman, the new children’s laureate, said the original proposals were “dangerous” and warned that pupils could become “disenchanted with education” if they felt what they were being taught was not relevant.

Under the first draft, children aged between seven and 11 were expected to be taught British history in chronological order, from the Stone Age up until the Act of Union in 1707 - with a series of 48 bullet points mapping out compulsory events and personalities for teachers.

History for secondary school pupils aged between 11 and 14, meanwhile, was to cover the period between 1707 and 1989.

A new draft presented to history teachers by civil servants sees extra topics from world history included while the prescriptive bullet-point regime has been turned into a series of suggestions.

The original plan said five-to-seven year olds should be taught the “concept of the nation”. This appears to have been dropped - with a new section suggesting they should be taught about “changes within living memory.”

Pupils in key stage 2 (those aged between seven and 11) and key stage 3 (between 11 and 14) will under the latest plans have to be taught a world history topic and “local history” alongside learning about British events and personalities. Primary school pupils could learn about “early Islam” or the culture of Benin in west Africa.

The Crusades, meanwhile, could be studied by younger secondary-school children.

Clive of India appears to have been dropped after Prof Schama described him as a “sociopathic, corrupt thug” who would be a compulsory part of a curriculum which was like “1066 and all that, but without the jokes.”

Other figures no longer expected to be compulsory for key stage 2 children include Newton, the scientist who formulated the theory of gravity, Christopher Wren, the architect of St Pauls’ Cathedral, Adam Smith, the Scottish philosopher and economist, and Olaudha Equiano, the anti-slavery campaigner. A list of prime ministers, including Thatcher, Gladstone, Disraeli and Clement Attlee no longer features.

Churchill was removed from the late draft - but sources said he would definitely be in the final version of the curriculum after last-minute discussions between ministers.

One of the few personalities included in the new draft is Charles Darwin, who laid the foundations of the theory of evolution. Instead of specifying major historical figures, teachers will be told to focus on topics including World War II, the “development of the British Empire” and the slave trade. The imperialistic sounding phrase “Britain and her empire” has been replaced with “the British Empire”.

For primary-school children, Newton and Nightingale are not expected to feature in the final version of the curriculum - and neither are Rossetti and Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the Victorian engineer.

However, Armstrong, Parks and Berners-Lee are set to be mentioned, along with LS Lowry, the artist famous for his paintings of stick-like people, and Emily Davison, the sufragette.


Sunday, June 23, 2013


Three pontifications below from Britain's chief inspector of schools.  He is sound on some things but seems to have veered off into dreamland lately

Private schools must do more to help state pupils, says British school chief

Leftist nonsense.  It is not playing fields that make a difference.  It is what is in the brain -- including character and personality

Sir Michael Wilshaw demanded that independent schools fulfil their moral "duty" to the rest of society by allowing state pupils to attend their classes, use their sports facilities and receive coaching for Oxbridge interviews.

Ofsted’s chief inspector said he was issuing a “direct challenge” to independent school head teachers to shed their “splendid isolation”. He suggested that more private schools should enter formal partnerships with state comprehensives.

Sir Michael’s broadside, delivered at a conference at Wellington College, a highly regarded independent school in West Berkshire, provoked dismay from private school heads, who said they were already doing many of the things that he wanted.

Sir Michael, formerly the head of a state academy in east London, said the gulf in exam results between children of the rich and the poor was “depressingly persistent”.

“The independent sector must do more to help meet the national imperative to raise standards,” he told The Sunday Times Festival of Education, hosted at the college.

“I’m issuing a direct challenge to independent school heads. You have got to talk much more about supporting your counterparts in the state sector than you do already – and translate that talk into action.”

Sir Michael dismissed the argument that parents paid good money for the best private education.

“To those who say, ‘parents pay £30,000 a year for the privilege’, I’d ask if they really want their children marooned on an island of privilege that does not reach out to the mainland?” he said.

Private schools such as Eton and Wellington have led the way in engaging with state funded schools to raise standards, and both have sponsored the government’s academies, he said.

However, the independent Repton School opened a new branch in Dubai when it should have considered supporting state education on its doorstep in Derby, the chief inspector said.

“The conferment of privilege should not denote exclusivity, but an implied duty to help the wider community,” he said. “A fundamentally unequal society is no good for any of us in the long term.

“What does it take to put two children from the comprehensive down the road into science classes at an independent school?

“What does it take for the coaching and support for applications to our most prestigious universities to be spread more widely?”

Sir Michael’s comments were attacked by the Independent Schools Council, representing more than 1,200 private schools across the UK.

Matthew Burgess, General Secretary of the Independent Schools Council said:

“Sir Michael appears disappointingly out of touch with the breadth and depth of partnership activity between the sectors.

“More than 90 per cent of all ISC schools are already living up to his challenges of cross-sector professional development, opening up lessons and facilities to pupils outside the independent sector and supporting children aspiring to go to our best universities.”

Ofsted, the government's education watchdog, inspects all state schools in England and some independent schools.

However, the majority of established private schools are monitored by an independent inspectorate.

Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, backed Sir Michael’s argument, telling the same conference that while some private schools have helped raise standards in the state sector, “more should”.

“Independent schools are free institutions. They must decide themselves. But in the same way that you're free to make a decision, I'm free to make a judgement about how you exercise the responsibilities that come with privilege,” he said.

“They have a leadership role now in helping to support the state education system.

“I just think that to use a vogue internet phrase, people should check their privilege.”


Ofsted warns top schools to do more to help deprived children or face being downgraded in assessments

This is garbage.  There will be some low IQ children in all areas

Outstanding schools in leafy suburbs and other affluent areas will be stripped of their status unless they do more to help deprived children.

The warning was issued by chief schools inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw, who said thousands of disadvantaged pupils - an ‘invisible minority’ - are being ignored by the education system.

It means over-subscribed schools that are otherwise deemed highly successful by inspectors could be downgraded to ‘good’ or even ‘requires improvement’ - the third lowest of four ratings.

The Ofsted boss accused them of ‘complacency’ by focusing on more able students while cultivating ‘low expectations’ in others.

Inspectors would ‘visit and revisit’ them until there was improvement, he warned.

Sir Michael said under-achievement was no longer a problem among ethnic minorities in inner-cities.

Instead, it is now most pronounced among white working class boys and girls - who make up two-thirds of all schoolchildren receiving free school meals (FSM), a key indicator of deprivation.

Most of these under-performing pupils are in suburbs, market towns and seaside resorts where they are being let down by ‘timid’ school leaders and local authorities.

‘Often they are spread thinly, as an “invisible minority” across areas that are relatively affluent,’ he said.

‘These poor, unseen children can be found in mediocre schools the length and breadth of our country. They are labelled, buried in lower sets, consigned as often as not to indifferent teaching.

‘They coast through education until, at the earliest opportunity, they sever their ties with it.’ In a radio interview earlier in the day he confirmed top schools were also letting pupils down.

‘The problems now are in schools, good schools, outstanding schools, in county areas, with small proportions of poor children that are doing extremely badly,’ he said.

He singled out West Berkshire, which has the worst record for pupil attainment in the whole country at primary level.

The area, which includes Wokingham and Newbury, is also second worst for secondary schools and in the bottom three local authorities for qualifications at 19.

Other prosperous parts of the country that need improvement include Norwich, Hastings, Shropshire and Herefordshire.

Sir Michael’s speech accompanied a report, Unseen Children: Access and Achievement, which revealed 15 local authorities where only a quarter of children on FSM achieved five good GCSEs.

Nationally, 59 per cent of children reach that level, compared to 36 per cent on FSM.

The former headteacher set out eight recommendations to close the gap, including removing a school’s outstanding rating if FSM pupils fall significantly behind others and increasing the number of inspections it has.

Even those with small numbers of deprived pupils would be affected.

He also called for top teachers and heads to be centrally employed as National Service Teachers who could be parachuted into failing schools or areas.  In return, they would receive large pay rises and promotions would be fast-tracked.

Regional schemes where excellent headteachers would share their expertise with less successful schools were also needed, he said, and assessments of reception year pupils and post-16 students should be extended.

‘There are stark consequences for our nation if we do not act with sufficient urgency,’ Sir Michael added.  ‘We will continue to lose our place as a competitive nation and hear great economic costs of failure.’

Ofsted has produced the reports every ten years since 1993 but the next report will now be produced in 2018.

Unions welcomed the focus on children from deprived backgrounds but questioned the chief inspector’s conclusions.

NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said: ‘Ofsted’s repeated fault-finding and insinuation that the challenges faced by the education system are largely the result of teachers’ low expectations for their pupils are wholly unjustified.’

Shadow Education Secretary Stephen Twigg said Labour would ‘ensure all schools work together to raise standards for every child’.

The Coalition government has introduced the pupil premium - an extra payment to schools per pupil on FSM - to close the achievement gap.

The Department for Education said it would be looking at the recommendations.


Ofsted calls for major change in primary school tests

Wilshaw is on a whole crusade of nonsense.  Ability testing has some power at the beginning of school education but not much.  Age 11 is about the earliest practicable

Children should be tested in basic language and literacy skills before they even start formal education, the head of Ofsted has said.

Sir Michael Wilshaw warned that the assessment of pupils' grasp of the current nursery-age curriculum is “too broad” and comes “too late” at the end of the first year of primary school.

He called for a “major change” in the way young children are tested, with more external moderation, and the publication of results showing how well pupils progress.

Sir Michael, Ofsted’s chief inspector, even raised the question of a return to externally marked Sats for all seven year-olds in England to restore rigour to primary education.

However, he acknowledged that this was unlikely to win political support from ministers.

Sir Michael’s blueprint for a new testing system in primary schools is aimed at closing the gulf in achievement between the poorest children, who are often from working-class, white British families, and their more affluent classmates.

Evidence suggests that children growing up in deprived homes start to fall behind their peers by the age of five and the gap widens in later years.

In a speech in London, Sir Michael said testing children at the end of their first “reception” year in primary school was “too late”.

“Children may have lost a vital year of learning by then,” he said. “Major change is necessary in our approach to assessment in the early years.

“Children who fall behind in the early years of their life struggle to catch up. If by seven, children cannot read, the odds are stacked against them,” he said. “The bad news is that many children still don’t get the support they need to make a secure start. This is particularly true of children from our poorest families.”

Sir Michael said the current nursery curriculum, known as the Early Years Foundation Stage, was too broad.

Assessments cover physical coordination, and social development, managing feelings, self-confidence, and using technology, as well as basic English and maths skills.

In the best schools, children are tested earlier and the assessments focus on “key skills” that pupils will need in order to learn, such as communication, language and literacy, Sir Michael said.

Teachers assess children for these purposes by observing child-led activity as well as work that staff themselves initiate.

By the age of five, children are expected to be able to write sentences of phonetically plausible words, with some spelt correctly, as well as to count from one to 20.

Sir Michael demanded more external moderation of assessments in early primary school.

Externally marked national tests for seven year-olds have been replaced by teacher assessments. But grades should be more rigorously aligned across schools, he said.

Children's progress rates between the ages of four and seven should be published, he suggested. Results could be compiled into school league tables.

Lord Knight of Weymouth, a former Labour schools minister, expressed reservations over the reform. He said monitoring children’s physical and social development was “really important” in building the resilience of children from deprived homes.

In his speech, Sir Michael announced that “outstanding” schools which fail their poorest children could be stripped of their top rating.

Some of the country’s best state schools in affluent areas, such as West Berkshire and Shropshire, are achieving good results for middle-class pupils but are giving those from the poorest homes a “raw deal”, he warned.