Friday, January 02, 2015

Student, 13, Shares Lunch, Gets Detention

A 13-year-old boy at Weaverville Elementary School in California shared his school lunch — a chicken burrito — with his friend who was hungry. For this, he got detention. The food-sharing miscreant, Kyle Bradford, told KRCRTV:

    “It seemed like he couldn’t get a normal lunch so I just wanted to give mine to him because I wasn’t really that hungry and it was just going to go in the garbage if I didn’t eat it,” said Bradford.

    But the Trinity Alps Unified School District has regulations that prohibit students from sharing their meals.

    The policies set by the district say that students can have allergies that another student may not be aware of.

    Tom Barnett, the Superintendent of the Trinity Alps Unified School District says that hygiene issues also come into play when banning students from sharing meals.

    “We have a policy that prohibits students from exchanging meals. Of course if students are concerned about other students not having enough to eat we would definitely want to consider that, but because of safety and liability we cannot allow students to actually exchange meals,” said Barnett.

Maybe he knows more about those school lunches than we do. But he seems to know less about 13-year-olds, who would certainly understand their allergies by that age, and know enough to fend for themselves.

The rule treats teens like babies and lunch like crack. It also reinforces the lesson: Don’t do what’s right, do what the craven, liability-obsessed, compassion-free administration TELLS you to do.

For his part, Kyle said he would share his lunch again.


In other news, Jesus and several disciples are facing legal action after distributing loaves and fishes to several thousand people last week. “You can’t just go sharing food,” stated one onlooker. “What if someone was allergic to fish?” Publishers of Jesus’ popular book, “The Bible” have stated that they will revise future editions, removing several passages that seem to  suggest giving food to the hungry. “You just can’t be too careful,” said a spokesperson for the publisher.


UK: Labour is waging 'class war' against private schools when parents spend more moving into state school catchments, says top head

Labour has been accused of embarking on '1970s class war' with attacks on private education by one of the country's leading private school headteachers.  Alun Jones, principal of St Gabriel's in Newbury, argued that referring to independent schools as bastions of 'elite and privilege' is outdated.

And he claimed some parents pay far more by moving house or hiring private tutors to keep their children in state schools.

Mr Jones is the new president of the Girls' Schools Association (GSA), and the first man to be appointed to the post. Speaking before taking up the role, he warned against 'outdated' perceptions of private schooling.

Labour's education spokesman Tristram Hunt was accused of launching a class war last month after he warned public schools they must do more to work with state schools or lose tax breaks worth £70million by 2020.

He faced a furious backlash for turning education into a 'class issue', with even the headteacher at his old school condemning his 'offensive bigotry'.

Mr Hunt, 40, attended University College School in Hampstead, north London, where a place costs £17,835-a-year. He went on to study history at Trinity College, Cambridge and the University of Chicago.

His father, Lord Hunt of Chesterton, went to fee-paying Westminster School and is a former chief executive of the Met Office who was given a seat in the Lords by Tony Blair.

Critics accused Mr Hunt of trying to make it harder for others to have the choice that he and his parents had.

Mr Jones insisted that it is time to banish 'stereotypical, out-of-date' references to the independent sector.

'It's going back to the old 1970s class war, it's so outdated, the reference to the independent sector as that type of elite and privilege.'

He added: 'My school, like many, many other GSA schools, are real world schools where mum and dad are working very hard to prioritise their income to benefit their children.

'And it's funny, I would say 80 per cent of the social apartheid one sees in schools at the moment is actually because of geography, and some parents can access incredible education and incredibly successful schools because they can afford incredibly expensive housing in expensive areas of the country.'

There is a question over what is the greatest privilege - paying school fees or moving into an expensive area, Mr Jones said.

'Some parents will actually prioritise their household income in order to make significant sacrifices to send their children to independent school, other parents will choose to look at geographical locations of where to buy and will be able to afford incredibly expensive housing in what they consider to be a far better school area.  'They supplement this with tutors and extra lessons in all sorts of other activities.'

This does mean that some state schools 'can end up being more exclusive than many independent schools', Mr Jones said.

But Mr Hunt rejected the claims. 'There is more to be done to share facilities, insights and expertise between the state and private sectors. We would not be setting up any new quangos,' he told The Guadrian.

'We will ask the independent schools inspectorate to ensure that exactly the type of successful partnership St Gabriel's has developed is emulated across the sector.'


UK: Teacher parents who took their children out of school for year-long caravan tour of UK have no regrets... and they've already chalked up 2,600 miles on the road

They have cooked outdoors on the banks of a Scottish river, enjoyed adrenaline-fueled sports and explored some of Britain’s best known historical sites.

Ella Meek, 11 and her sister Amy, nine, were taken out of school in September to embark on a caravan tour of the UK after their teacher parents became disillusioned with the school system.

Father and mother, Tim and Kerry, sold their house in Arnold, Nottingham, to fund the 12-month, £20,000 ‘ed-venture’ - and with one term gone the family insist they made the right decision.

The youngsters have swapped the classroom for ‘road school’, travelling thousands of miles, packing in scores of daily learning activities and even meeting celebrities along the way.

Sleeping in the caravan, the family have travelled from Nottingham, up to the north of England and the Scottish borders, back down to London and across to Norfolk with the children learning as they go.

Among dozens of locations, they have visited windfarms in Derbyshire, a dormant volcano in Scotland and the spectacular coast of Norfolk. They have even tried their hand at sand yachting and paddleboarding.

Speaking from their caravan, Mr Meek, 45, told MailOnline: ‘We've got no regrets at the moment. It is certainly exceeding our expectations about how good it was going to be.

‘We thought it would be more of a challenge all being in a small space but we have coped ok and we have not had too much of a cold snap yet.

‘We have had a great time with the kids and they are learning and developing so it seems to be going really well.’

While Mr and Mrs Meek were not unhappy with their children’s school or their previous place of work, they are disillusioned with the school system.

They insist they do not blame teachers, schools or even local authorities for their disenchantment with conventional schooling.  Instead they say Government policies do not cater for the day-to-day needs of children and that youngsters are taught simply to pass exams.

They deregistered Amy and Ella from their school, which parents are entitled to do in England.  Instead, they have spent the last term adopting a more flexible approach.  ‘We wanted to rethink our work-life balance and decided to quit our jobs and sell our house and live in a caravan for a year.

‘We don’t really have a schedule and only plan about four to six weeks ahead. We wanted the whole thing to be flexible which allows for us to pick up on learning opportunities that might arise along the way.

‘We have not done this year in the caravan without having already spent three to four years of adventures and challenges and things that require working together.

Their highlights so far include watching salmon leaping as the children cooked chicken on their own stoves on the banks of a river near Selkirk, Scotland. But even this was an opportunity to learn, Mr Meek said.

The children have also met BBC news presenter Fiona Bruce when they travelled to London to learn about how the six o’clock news was created while the family also met ITV presenter Adrian Chiles.

They have spent almost every night in the caravan since September – apart from taking up on accommodation during occasional visits to their grandparents.

The youngsters keep in contact with their friends using Skype and visit when passing through Nottingham.

To avoid arguments, the family have ‘daily gratitudes’ explaining what they are thankful for every day and try hard to be ‘tolerant and appreciative’.

‘We do lots of things like that - the upshot is that we are quite able to spend time together in a caravan that is small without it getting to us and it being a problem.  ‘The children really see the benefits of this.’

‘The journey is very much led by the children’s interest and their lines of enquiry.

‘On a daily basis we get people saying well done and we get lots of messages on Facebook saying it’s brilliant and to keep doing what we are doing.

‘Everyone has been in the educational system so this resonates with everyone.  ‘We have had very few people saying that what we are doing is not the right thing.’

Nottinghamshire County Council's education standards service director, John Slater, said previously that the authority had 'no concerns' about the Meeks' alternative education plan because both children were 'high attaining'.

As they embarked on their journey, Mr Meek said earlier this year: 'Education is becoming overly dominated with tests, assessments and targets, at the expense of rich, engaging and enjoyable learning.

'Children are not sausages in a sausage factory to be pumped full of facts and content ready for regurgitation at the end of some arbitrary Key Stage, when they take high-stakes assessments.

'We've given ourselves a minimum of an academic year but we are realistic and we know the girls will return to school at some point.


Thursday, January 01, 2015

Essays that champion educational freedom

Book review of "COMMON GROUND ON COMMON CORE", Edited by Kirsten Lombard

Over the last several years, Common Core education standards have become an increasingly important issue for parents and teachers, as they see how children are affected by the policy. Yet, the details of what exactly Common Core is, how it works and how it came to be remain hopelessly complex and difficult for the novice to understand. In the face of slick advertising campaigns by Common Core’s corporate backers and lofty speeches from politicians, the truth can be difficult to ferret out. With the new book, “Common Ground on Common Core,” we finally have a handy, one-volume resource that answers all these questions and more.

This collection of essays, edited by Kirsten Lombard, brings together voices from across the political spectrum — liberals, conservatives and libertarians — to expose the dangers of Common Core, revealing that opposition to top-down standards is not a partisan issue. Among the contributors are teachers, psychologists and data scientists, whose distinguished careers give their words the weight of authority needed for a serious policy analysis, yet in a style that is easy to read and understand by the lay person. The book also boasts a foreword by former Rep. Ron Paul, who has been one of the most vocal champions of education freedom.

“Common Ground on Common Core” is divided into sections, each of which tackles the policy from a different angle. The early part of the book is devoted to detailing the history and mechanics of Common Core, how it was crafted by nongovernmental organizations in order to exploit a technicality in the Constitution’s prohibition against federal control of education, and how the Department of Education bullied the states into complying by threatening to withhold funding.

Other essays offer a neuroscience perspective on why these standards — which were designed by people with little actual experience or qualifications — are biologically inappropriate for the level of brain development young children have acquired. Significant space is also devoted to dismantling the false talking point that totalitarian governments like China’s are providing superior education for their students. Essays also expose the folly of becoming overly dependent on data to determine our children’s futures.

While we’re on the subject of data, the issue of student privacy is extensively covered here. Many people don’t realize the extent to which student privacy is suffering under the new standards, with reports of personally identifiable biometrics, such as fingerprinting and iris scans, being used on students without parental notification or consent.

The book concludes with a series of personal stories about the psychological damage that the new standards are inflicting on children. Particularly heartbreaking is the account from a New York therapist, who saw student referrals spike dramatically with the introduction of Common Core. The increase in depression, anxiety and even self-harm (we are told of one girl carving the word “stupid” into her wrist after failing a Common Core-aligned test) is truly horrifying.

One anecdote has a young girl walking away from her Common Core homework, explaining that she has “more important things to do in life.” What a perfect summary. We all have more important things to do in life than waste time with arbitrary, inappropriate and harmful education standards imposed by clueless bureaucrats.

The depth of scholarship, diversity of opinion and precision of analysis presented here make Ms. Lombard’s book, quite simply, the best single resource for understanding, and fighting back against Common Core that exists. Any parent, teacher, activist or concerned citizen owes it to himself to pick up a copy and become educated on what is turning out to be a defining issue for our times.


Federal Student Loan Debt Tops $800 Billion

From November 2013 through November 2014, the aggregate balance in the federal direct student loan program--as reported by the Monthly Treasury Statement--rose from $687,149,000,000 to $806,561,000,000, a one-year jump of $119,412,000,000.
The balance on all student loans, including those from private sources, exceeded a trillion dollars as of the end of the third quarter, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

"Outstanding student loan balances reported on credit reports increased to $1.13 trillion (an increase of $8 billion) as of September 30, 2014, representing about $100 billion increase from one year ago," the bank said in its latest report on household debt and credit.

Seven years ago, in November 2007, the aggregate balance in the federal direct student loan program was only $98,529,000,000. Since then, it has grown by $708,032,000,000.

This is money that young Americans owe the federal Treasury--and that gives the federal government leverage over their lives.

"Under the DL program, the federal government essentially serves as the banker — it provides the loans to students and their families using federal capital (i.e., funds from the U.S. Treasury), and it owns the loans," explains the Congressional Research Service.

In fact, the program is a government-funded redistribution of wealth to colleges and universities. The question is: Who will ultimately pay for that wealth transfer?

In 2013, the National Center for Educational Statistics published a study of student aid in the 2011-2012 school year. It showed that 40.2 percent of students attending a postsecondary school had a federal student loan.

The percentages were higher for full-time students and those who attended four-year colleges. Fifty-five percent of students attending college full-time had a federal loan, 58.1 percent of those attending a four-year doctorate-granting institution had a federal loan, and 61.4 percent of those attending a four-year non-doctorate granting institution had a federal loan.

The average amount of a federal student loan during that school year was $6,500.

In 2012, according to the National Association of College and University Business Officers, the University of Texas System had an endowment of $18,263,850,000 — the largest of any state university system. In 2013, that endowment grew 12 percent — or $2,184,463,000 — to hit $20,448,313,000.

Yet, according to the College Board, an in-state student attending the University of Texas at Austin during this school year will pay $26,324 in total costs (including $9,798 in tuition; $11,456 in room and board; $760 for books; $2,280 in personal expenses; and $1,490 in transportation expenses).

The "average indebtedness at graduation" of a University of Texas student is $25,300, says the College Board. This is "the typical amount of loan money a student who attended this college must pay back." (The College Board does not specify how much of that indebtedness is owed to the federal government.)

In 2012, according to NACUBO, Harvard had and endowment of $30,435,375,000 — the largest of any American university.

In 2013, that endowment grew 6.2 percent — or $1,898,918,000 — to $32,334,293,000.

Yet, according to the College Board, the cost of attending Harvard this year is $62,250 (including $43,938 in tuition, $14,669 in room and board, $1,000 for books and supplies and $2,643 in personal expenses). The "average indebtedness at graduation" of a Harvard student is $12,560.

By doling out a net average of about $100 billion per year in student loans, the federal government allows even the nation's wealthiest universities to charge students more than they and their families can pay without going into debt.

That makes colleges richer and students poorer.

The federal government already has programs in place to forgive or payoff the student loans of Americans who engage in government-approved activities, or who do not do well enough financially in their after-college years to pay off their own loans.

"Loan forgiveness and loan repayment programs," says the Congressional Research Service, "typically are intended to support one or more of the following goals: Provide a financial incentive to encourage individuals to enter public service. Provide a financial incentive to encourage individuals to enter a particular profession, occupation, or occupational specialty. Provide a financial incentive to encourage individuals to remain employed in a high-need profession or occupation — often in certain locations or at certain facilities. Provide debt relief to borrowers who, after repaying their student loans as a proportion of their income for an extended period of time, have not completely repaid their entire student loan debt."

"Currently, over 50 loan forgiveness and loan repayment programs are authorized, and at least 30 of which were operational as of October 1, 2013," says CRS.

When the government forgives or repays a student loan, it becomes a redistribution of wealth from taxpayers to a person who attended college.


Australia: Work and pay prospects for graduates deteriorated in 2014, a survey shows

More evidence that a university education is now not worth it for many.  Catching up for years of lost earnings is now increasingly unlikely

Recent university graduates are more likely to be out of full-time work than ever before and starting salaries for graduates have stagnated, new figures show.

The latest annual survey by Graduate Careers Australia shows that full-time employment rates and the earnings advantage of completing a degree both hit record lows in 2014 for recent graduates.

Thirty-two per cent of university graduates who wanted a full-time job had not found one four months after completing a degree in 2014 - up from 29 per cent last year and topping the previous record set in 1992.

"These figures are really concerning," said Grattan Institute higher education program director Andrew Norton. "They are worse than the 1990s recession but without the recession."

Mr Norton said the decline was most likely due to the growing number of students enrolling at university and a reluctance among employers to take on new workers since the global financial crisis.

Undergraduate university enrolments have soared by 23 per cent, or 110,000 students, since 2009 following the uncapping of student places.

In 2008, before the global economic downturn, 85 per cent of university graduates had found a full-time job four months after finishing their degree, compared with just 68 per cent this year.

More than 100,000 recent graduates completed the Australian Graduate Survey (AGS).

"These figures indicate that the labour market prospects of new bachelor degree graduates, which fell in the 2009 AGS as a result of the global financial crisis and did not change notably between 2010 and 2012 before falling again in 2013, have again fallen," the report says.

Recent pharmacy, medicine and mining engineering graduates were most likely to have full-time jobs, whereas social sciences, chemistry and psychology graduates were among the most likely to be unemployed or underemployed.

Employment opportunities have deteriorated significantly for recent law graduates. A quarter of law graduates were seeking permanent employment in 2014 four months after finishing their degree, up from nine per cent in 2008.

The GCA report stresses that the medium and long-term job prospects for graduates remain strong despite the tough employment market for new graduates. Only 3.2 per cent of university graduates are unemployed compared to 8.2 per cent for those with no post-secondary qualifications according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data.

The latest figures also show that starting salaries for graduates have declined when compared to wage of an average Australian male.

The median starting salary for a bachelor degree holder aged under 25 was $52,500 in 2014 or 74 per cent of male average weekly earnings. This is the lowest proportion relative to the average male wage since records began in 1977 and is significantly down from the recent peak of 83 per cent in 2009.

The median graduate starting salary rose by just $50, or 0.1 per cent, from 2013 while the wage of an average male rose by $411 or 0.6 per cent.

The higher earnings potential for university graduates, which remains significant over a lifetime, has been a key selling point for the Abbott government in its bid to deregulate university fees. Education Minister Christopher Pyne has repeatedly cited the figure that university graduates will earn 75 per cent more over a lifetime than school leavers.

New male graduates earned a median salary of $55,000 in 2014 while new female graduates started work on a median salary of $52,000. The difference is largely explained by the fact men are more likely to choose degrees which lead to high starting salaries - such as engineering - than women, according to the GCA report.


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

U.S. schools Don't Teach Kids to Read

A high school English teacher at Rosemount High School in Minnesota, which was called a "top-ranked school" by the Minnesota Department of Education, given the Blue Ribbon School of Excellence Award by the U.S. Department of Education and named a top school in the nation for 2014 by Newsweek Magazine, just wrote a shocking letter alerting parents and the public that her high school juniors can't read. Her letter, published by the Minnesota Star Tribune on Dec. 4, was eloquent, so I quote it verbatim.

"We are in the midst of one of the greatest literacy crises ever encountered, and we are fighting an uphill battle. Every day I experience firsthand what it means to be illiterate in a high school classroom. Average students with average abilities can fervently text away, but they cannot read."

She said some of her students just sleep away an assigned unit. Others resort to depression or aggression. She gave them a not very difficult test, but they couldn't read the test.

When she assigns her students a book to read, they often don't even try to read it. Ask them why and they say, "It's boring." She wrote that this translates into "It's too hard to read." The teacher appeals to parents and the public, saying, "I need your help."

Don't count on the shift to Common Core to teach school kids to read. Common Core will change the assigned stories and books, but it won't change the fact that elementary school kids are only taught how to memorize a few dozen "sight," mostly one-syllable, words, but not taught phonics in order to sound out the syllables and then read the bigger words in high school and college assignments.

Students are not assigned or motivated to read whole books. In the name of "close reading," they are given short so-called "informational" excerpts to read over and over in class, almost until they are memorized. You don't find the students going to the library to take out and read the classics, and students don't acquire the vocabulary necessary to do college work.

Limited reading skill means that what the students read is tightly controlled. Common Core has rewritten the history of America's founding to present James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and other Founders to fit the leftwing narrative of gender, race, class and ethnicity, and students have neither motivation nor skill to seek out the true history of the Founders.

Common Core does, however, find space for stories that many parents find morally objectionable, such as "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison.

The change from teaching school children to read by phonics and replacing phonics with the so-called "whole word" or "look-say" method was fully debunked in the landmark book "Why Johnny Can't Read" by Rudolph Flesch in 1955. Unfortunately, the truth had no impact on public schools, which stuck with the new method because it was part of "progressive" education. It was brought to Teachers College at Columbia University with a $3 million grant from John D. Rockefeller Jr., who then sent four of his five sons to be educated by Dewey's progressive ideas.

Publishers responded eagerly to the opportunity to sell new books to all elementary schools, and the "Dick and Jane" series seemed much more attractive than the widely used McGuffey readers. Reading suddenly appeared to become easy because the Whole Word method teaches the child to guess at the words from pictures, to memorize a few dozen one-syllable words that are used over and over again, and to substitute words that fit the context.

The "Dick and Jane" books were full of color pictures and only a couple of short sentences on every page. A typical page showed Dick and Jane on a seesaw. The kids could easily "read" the two sentences below: "See Dick up. See Jane down."

Nelson Rockefeller, who became governor of New York and ran three times for U.S. president, described his reading handicap in The Reading Teacher in March 1972: "I am a prime example of one who has had to struggle with the handicap of being a poor reader while serving in public office."

Rockefeller hired expensive speechwriters, but he said that many times he threw away the speech and told the audience he was just going to give his "spontaneous thoughts." He confessed that the real reason was that he could not do an adequate job of reading the speech prepared for him.

If parents want their children to be good readers, parents will have to do the teaching as I did with my six children. When the book I used was allowed to go out of print and its publisher went out of business, I wrote "First Reader" to teach phonics to my grandchildren at ages 5 or 6 (now available at and "Turbo Reader" for kids over age 8 (available at


Margaret Thatcher feared news middle school qualifications would lower school standards

She was right

Files released by the National Archives show the then prime minister believed exam results would be distorted by “biased” teachers helping teenagers with coursework
Margaret Thatcher attempted to put off the introduction of GCSEs because she feared the exams would lead to lower standards and a “can’t fail” mentality among pupils, newly released files show.

In comments which are likely to be seen by Conservatives as a further vindication of their sweeping reforms of the exams, the then prime minister said the system would allow results to be distorted by “biased” teachers helping teenagers with coursework.

Previously unseen papers show Mrs Thatcher warned six months before GCSEs replaced O-levels in 1986 that she did not “like the sound of the new exam”, and asked for its introduction to be delayed.

However she eventually concluded that to intervene would amount to a public “contradiction” of Keith Joseph, the education secretary and a close friend, and appear as if she was taking the side of teaching unions, which wanted more time to prepare for the new system. She therefore had “no option but to go ahead”, she told aides.

Her previously unknown concerns are revealed in official papers from 1986 released by the National Archive in Kew, west London.

Her fears appear to chime with the views of Conservatives about the GCSE system today - almost 30 years later.

Michael Gove, who was education secretary until the summer, is said to believe that the introduction of the exam was a “historic mistake” that has led to a dramatic fall in standards. Before stepping aside to become Chief Whip he set in train an overhaul of the curriculum which he said would address “the pernicious damage caused by grade inflation and dumbing down”.

GCSEs were eventually introduced in September 1986 with Kenneth Baker, now Lord Baker of Dorking, as education secretary, after Mr Joseph stepped down in May - weeks after his clash with Mrs Thatcher over the exams.

Mr Joseph had insisted that the new scheme was intended to better stretch teenagers, creating a tougher, “clearer and fairer” system. Under the old system, as part of which more academic teenagers took O-levels and others took CSEs, individual grades were awarded largely based on the relative performance of competing candidates.

GCSEs were intended to ensure a focus on “how much or how little pupils understand, know and can do”.

Mrs Thatcher, herself a former education secretary, raised her concerns about GCSEs with Mr Joseph in the spring of 1986. However on March 6 Mr Joseph wrote to her insisting she was “misleading herself” about the exams.

He insisted that the new system would “inject more rigour” and “use-able learning” and would be “a key instrument for improving standards”.

Mrs Thatcher marked his three-page briefing note with a series of hand-written annotations, complaining about his use of “an awful lot of high language” and questioning a number of his claims.

Mr Joseph said that under the O-level and CSE system pupils were “simply ranked in merit order, with little regard to how much or how little pupils understand, know and can do”.

But in a hand-written annotation to his letter Mrs Thatcher said: “This is not a correct judgement of the present examinations system. We were taught to think and apply 50 years ago.”

Mrs Thatcher was advised by the No 10 policy unit to postpone the new system until it was clear that it was “workable”. In one briefing note she was warned that “GCSE is an exam nobody will fail” and “does little for the lowest 30 per cent of students”. Implementing the new system in September was a “hopelessly unrealistic” prospect, an official said.

In a summary of Mrs Thatcher’s concerns, dated March 18 1986, Mark Addison, then her private secretary for home affairs, said the prime minister believed the new approach would lead to “lower standards; a shift away from the traditional approach to learning in favour of a ‘can’t fail’ mentality; assessment by the pupils’ own teachers with the consequent risk of introducing more bias.”

Mrs Thatcher had not, Mr Addison added, been impressed “by the jargon-soaked justifications” of the exam produced by Mr Joseph’s department.

She asked for implementation of the exam to be postponed for at least a year, in line with the demands of many teachers, to help ensure the syllabuses were “sufficiently rigorous” and the coursework “properly assessed”.

However in early April she acquiesced with Mr Joseph’s insistence that the Government should hold its course, agreeing with Tim Flesher, another of her private secretaries, that to back down would “look like taking the side of the unions”. “I agree - no option but to go ahead,” she said.

Asked about the disclosures, Lord Baker told the Telegraph: "She was concerned ... because she always felt that whenever you change anything in education it might be for the worse."

However, he added: "In defence of Keith I don't think she fully appreciated that the great thing about GCSEs is it did away with CSE, which was virtually valueless."

The standard of GCSEs was initially "high", Lord Baker added, saying there had been a "degeneration" in grades over time.


Australian teachers suffering under bureauracy and an old-fashioned industrial relations regime

Teachers in Australia's schools are suffering under an old-fashioned industrial relations regime and an out-dated salary structure according to new research published today by the free market think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs.

“Teachers are paid according to a ‘one size fits all’ model that pays the best and the worst teachers the same,” says John Roskam, Executive Director of the IPA.

“Promotion is based on time-served and the completion of box-ticking exercises rather than on the quality of teaching in the classroom.  For example, under existing regulations a Nobel Prize-winning scientist who wants to be a teacher must be paid the same as a 22 year-old inexperienced graduate.”

“The industrial relations regime that teachers work under means they sacrifice salary in exchange for more time off work.  For example, a teacher earning $75,000 a year has 11 weeks away from work and 17.5% holiday leave loading.  On a ‘standard year’ of 48 weeks work this equates to a salary of over $95,000 a year,” says Mr Roskam.

The report Freedom to Teach by IPA Research Fellows Vicki Stanley and Darcy Allen documents the 600 pages of regulations that stifle schools, teachers and principals.

“Teaching in Australia is managed as an industry according to systems established in the nineteenth-century.  If we are to provide young people with the best possible education we must think of teaching as a profession in which teachers are rewarded on the basis of their ability,” says John Roskam.

Key recommendations from the report include:

·       removing restrictions limiting the maximum amount classroom teachers can be paid

·       removing restrictions limiting the number of hours teachers can teach

·       allowing schools to make incentive payments to attract teachers to hard-to-staff schools


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Top British universities 'ignoring final High School grades' in race to sign up bright students

Leading universities have been accused of undermining A-levels by accepting students before they sit their final exams in a “desperate” rush to fill places.

Research by the Telegraph shows universities are preparing to make increasing numbers of “unconditional offers” to sixth-formers next year.

Top research institutions including Birmingham, Lancaster, Nottingham, Leicester, Sussex and Queen Mary, University of London, will admit students en masse in some subjects without waiting for results in August.

Numbers are expected to significantly exceed the 12,000 unconditional offers made across the UK this year, with one university alone saying it will make 10,000 in 2015.

The move coincides with a government decision to abolish all restrictions on student recruitment in England for the first time in 2015 – creating a free market in undergraduate admissions.

It has led to intense competition between universities to sign up the most talented sixth-formers before they are attracted to opposing institutions.

In most cases, admissions tutors will make places available to candidates based on past performance in GCSEs and their predicted A-level grades, meaning students will win places even if they go on to fail their summer exams.

Universities insist the move is intended to reward students with potential while taking the pressure off teenagers in the final year of the sixth-form.

But there are fears that it will lead to a dramatic dip in performance in the last few months of school as students effectively “give up” on their A-levels.

A recent study by admissions experts warned that the system may provoke an “environment of reduced effort” where students “might stop trying hard”.

It was also claimed it could lead to "loss of credibility" at top universities and the sense that academics are "desperate to fill places".

One student told researchers: “If I was given an unconditional offer I wouldn’t bother working for my A-levels”.

According to UCAS, just over 20 universities made a record 12,000 unconditional offers between them to students starting courses this autumn. It represented a dramatic four-fold rise in just 12 months.

In 2012, Birmingham became the first institution to use the practice in a coordinated way by making 1,000 offers across 12 courses. This year, unconditional offers will be made to some 3,000 students – one-in-10 of the university’s total – in more than 50 separate subjects.

This includes chemistry, economics, English, geography, history, maths, modern languages and sociology.

For the first time this year, Lancaster has introduced a co-ordinated unconditional offer scheme, promising talented students places on 18 courses. It followed a trial in two departments last year.

Other institutions adopting unconditional offers in a systematic way in 2015 include two Russell Group universities – Nottingham and Queen Mary – along with Aston, Leicester, Sussex, Leeds Beckett and Birmingham City.

Most students have to make universities their “firm choice” on UCAS application forms as a condition of accepting an offer – effectively tying them into a place up to six months before courses start.

Aston said it was piloting an unconditional offer scheme “to reward academic excellence based on past performance and predicted grades” in one or two subjects in 2015.

Leicester said its unconditional offer programme was “not a short-cut and does not mean you can sit back and ignore your A-levels”, adding: “We will only make unconditional offers to students who we are absolutely certain will work hard and achieve excellent grades.”

Sussex said it offered unconditional places in all subjects other than medicine but insisted only the brightest 10 per cent of applicants were chosen based on previous GCSE results and AS-levels.

The move towards unconditional offers has been made as the government abolishes all controls on student recruitment for English universities in 2015.

It has already led to a more intense competition between institutions, with universities offering scholarships worth up to £10,000 and lucrative inducements such as free iPads, sports club membership and cheap accommodation to attract applicants.

But the unconditional offer system has been criticised by academics.

A report from Supporting Professionalism in Admissions – a university advisory group – suggested the system could have benefits, including acting as a way to increase student numbers and taking the pressure off sixth-formers as they approach their exams.

But it also listed a series of “threats” posed by the system. This included “perceived loss of credibility and face” and the possibility that universities’ “league table position may suffer if grades lower”.

It also said it may encourage an “environment of reduced effort” in the sixth-form.

Around 75 per cent of students and teachers responding to a SPA survey admitted the system meant sixth-formers “might stop trying hard” in the final year. Almost four-in-10 said universities making large numbers of unconditional offers were “desperate to fill places”.

One teacher told researchers: “I have seen students drop out of our programme once an unconditional offer has been received as they feel that it is pointless carrying on; they have nothing to gain.”

But another said: “It would take the pressure off students during their A-level year, which might mean they’d perform better anyway.”

Prof Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, said: “There is a real danger that this will lead to the final year being wasted. If final results no longer carry the weight you thought they would it is inevitable that many students are going to coast.”

But David Willetts, the former Universities Minister, and architect of the new admissions rules, said: “It all makes for a more competitive system and it’s to be welcomed. Students have much more choice than they had the in the past.”


Calls to open a large number of selective schools in Britain

Grammar schools should be brought back en masse to ensure that they do not become the “preserve of the middle classes”, the headteacher of a leading private school has said.

Responding to news that Britain’s first new grammar in 50 years is likely to be approved next month, Andrew Halls, the headmaster of King’s College School in southwest London, said he was “indifferent” about the idea of opening a small number of grammar schools.

He said he would support the opening of a large number of grammars, alongside well-resourced secondary schools and technical colleges, fulfilling the “vision” of the 1944 Education Act.

However, he admitted that the reintroduction of the original legislation –drafted by Conservative politician Rab Butler – was “never going to happen” due to the lack of political support.

Nicky Morgan, the Education Secretary, looks set to approve a new grammar school in the town of Sevenoaks, officially an “annexe” of the existing Weald of Kent school nine miles away.

Mr Halls told The Daily Telegraph: “The problem with grammar schools is that they have become so rare, which means that they are now very much the preserve of the middle classes.

“If you look at the statistics, the average grammar school has fewer than three per cent of candidates on free school meals.

“They are fantastic schools and I

would not wish them gone, but if they are going to come back, they ought to come back in vast numbers, not just in privileged boroughs.

“Grammar schools only make sense if you are also looking after less academic children well – that is what the Education Act was trying to create, although it is not what it created.” Mr Halls went to Shenley Court School, a Birmingham comprehensive, recently rebuilt as Shenley Academy.

His father was the headmaster of Saltley Grammar School, now Saltley School, which was recently embroiled in the “Trojan horse” affair, a plot to spread Islamist teaching in a number of state schools in the West Midlands.

Mr Halls spoke of the “working-class community” supported by his father’s school, which now finds it difficult to access similar institutions due to competition from middle-class parents, who inflate property prices and pay for costly tutoring.

King’s College School, which charges nearly £20,000 per year, was named The Sunday Times independent school of the year, with the judges praising its dedication to music, sport, drama and community service alongside academic work.

Mr Halls approved of Nicky Morgan’s plans to invest £3.5m in extracurricular activities as a “step in the right direction”, but noted that the money “would not go very far”.

He also lauded university technical colleges, which offer a skills-based curriculum, describing them as the best way of including vocational education in the UK schools system


Australia: Queensland teaching graduates heading to UK after failing to land job locally

QUEENSLAND teaching graduates are heading to the UK in droves, with nine out of 10 failing to get a job with the state’s education department.  About 230 teaching graduates this year have been offered and accepted a permanent position with the Department of Education — despite more than 2080 applying for a job.

Almost 590 of the graduates from 2014 were offered and accepted temporary positions.

But recent reports out of England have suggested there could be a deficit of almost 30,000 teachers in 2017 with Queensland teachers rushing to fill the positions.

Mitch Jones, who recruits Australian teachers to work in the UK, said there was a rush to attract not only experienced teachers but also new graduates.  “The demand for relief teachers are also so high we can guarantee every teacher regular relief work each week,” he said.  “Some teachers also choose to work casually so they can spend more time travelling through Europe.”

The agency, Protocol Education, works with about 4000 public, religious and private schools across England, and currently sends over about 500 Australian teachers each year.

The Queensland Education Department has an active applicant pool of 13,917 seeking employment for next year, the number a combination of graduates from Queensland, interstate, overseas and general experienced teacher applicants.  More than 2080 of the applicants are straight out of university.

Teaching graduate Kristen Doherty is heading to Milton Keynes in the UK next year after studying a Bachelor of Primary Education, specialising in middle years.  “I am so excited, it’s going to be so good,” she said.  “I wanted to do a bit of exploration for me.”’

She said she was extremely nervous about the move but had studied up on the curriculum for her future Year 6 class.

Queensland Teachers Union president Kevin Bates said graduates were often lured overseas for a taste of adventure.  “Some people are finding it’s difficult to get work and not willing to move outside the southeast corner,” he said.  “The other reason is that people, particularly Gen Y, are very much into this idea you go and work overseas for a few years — it’s a rite of passage.”

Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek said Queensland schools were under a strong plan.  “We are working hard to make Queensland the best place to live, work and raise a family,” Mr Langbroek said.

“There is always demand for high-achieving professionals to teach in our state schools.  “We appoint a large number of teachers each year and have a range of initiatives to attract the best teachers to our schools, including those in remote locations.”


Monday, December 29, 2014

British headteachers' chief says after-school tutoring is 'child abuse' and youngsters should be allowed to play with their friends instead of being forced to do extra learning

Sending children to tutors for up to two hours after school is 'child abuse' and they should go and play in the park instead, according to the leader of a head teacher's union.

Gail Larkin, president of the National Association of Head Teachers, said children were being forced to sit through hours of unnecessary tuition by pushy parents competing with one another.

She added that instead of two or three hours spent in more classes after school, children would benefit from joining a swimming club, taking up ballet, or playing in the park instead.

She also took a swipe at parents, saying part of the drive for extra tuition was down to adults being unwilling to help their children with homework.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, she said: 'I have children in tears because it is the day that they go to their tutor and they don't want to go.

'Putting your child in there for two or three hours after school, I think "You poor thing". The parents think they are doing something really worthwhile. I think it's child abuse.'

'It is part of parenting to help your children with homework, even if you're not very able yourself. We are too busy absolving parents of their responsibilities instead of supporting them.'

Mrs Larkin, a former primary school headteacher in Surrey, singled out Explore Education, which has opened branches in Sainsbury's and shopping centres, for particular criticism.

She said parents taking their children straight from school and leaving them there while they went shopping were torturing the youngsters.

Private tuition has boomed in popularity in recent years as parents coach their children through tough school entrance exams.

More than half of children are being tutored privately as parents fight to get them into the best schools, a study suggested last year. Some are as young as two.

Mrs Larkin has previously criticised parents who use forward-facing push chairs for depriving their children of social contact as they went for walks.

She said children were arriving at school struggling to talk because parents were not having conversations with them because they were too busy talking on their phones instead.

She also attacked 'runny mummy' prams, designed to be pushed along by parents while they jog along behind it.

She also shot down Nick Clegg's policy of free school meals for pupils aged between four and seven, saying the idea was a 'nice soundbite', but in practice it was 'ridiculous'.


The Year the Crusade Against 'Rape Culture' Stumbled

The movement capitalized on sympathy for victims of sexual assault to promote gender warfare, misinformation, and moral panic.

The Rolling Stone account of a horrific fraternity gang rape at the University of Virginia, which many advocates saw as a possible "tipping point"—a shocking wake-up call demonstrating that even the most brutal sexual assaults on our college campuses are tacitly tolerated—has unraveled to the point where only a true believer would object to calling it a rape hoax.

But some of the blame must go to the movement that encouraged her in turning her fantasy of victimhood into activism—especially when that movement is so entrenched in its true-believer mindset that some of its adherents seem unable to accept contrary facts.

Katherine Ripley, executive editor of the UVA student newspaper, The Cavalier Daily, continued to post #IStandWithJackie tweets for days after the "Haven Monahan" story broke. Two other UVA students made a video thanking Jackie for "pulling back the curtain" on campus rape and praising her "bravery."

Meanwhile, even as the UVA saga unfolded, the "women's page" of the online magazine Slate, Double X, published an outstanding long article by liberal journalist Emily Yoffe examining the excesses of the campus rape crusade—from the use of shoddy statistics to hype an "epidemic" of sexual violence against college women to the rise of policies that trample the civil rights of accused male students.

The piece was retweeted nearly 2,500 times and received a great deal of positive attention, partly no doubt on the wave of the UVA/Rolling Stone scandal. Some of Yoffe's critique echoes arguments made earlier by a number of mostly conservative and libertarian commentators. But, apart from the extensive and careful research she brings to the table, the fact that these arguments were given a platform in one of the premier feminist media spaces is something of a breakthrough, if not a turning point.

Just days after the publication of Yoffe's article, the Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics released a new study boosting her case (and based on data she briefly discussed). The special report, "Rape and Sexual Assault Victimization Among College-Age Females, 1995–2013," shows that not only are female college students less likely to experience sexual assault than non-college women 18 to 24, but the rate at which they are sexually assaulted is nowhere near the "one in five" or "one in four" statistics brandished by advocates.

The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), from which the BJS derives its data, found that approximately 6 out of 1,000 college women say they have been sexually assaulted in the past year. Over four years of college, economist Mark Perry points out, this adds up to about one in 53. Still a troubling figure, to be sure, but it does not quite bear out claims that the American campus is a war-against-women zone.

Journalists who embrace the narrative of campus anti-rape activism, such as The Huffington Post's Tyler Kingkade and's Libby Nelson, have tried to rebut claims that the new DOJ report discredits the higher advocacy numbers. Kingkade asserts that the NCVS "doesn't look at incapacitated rape," in which the perpetrator takes advantage of the victim's severe intoxication or unconsciousness. Nelson argues that because the survey focuses on crime victimization, respondents may underreport acquaintance rapes which don't fit the stereotype of the stranger with a knife jumping out of the bushes.

But neither criticism holds up. The standard question used in the NCVS to screen for sexual victimization is, "Have you been forced or coerced to engage in unwanted sexual activity by (a) someone you didn't know before, (b) a casual acquaintance? OR (c) someone you know well?" In other words, respondents are explicitly encouraged to report non-stranger sexual assaults—and, while they are not specifically asked about being assaulted while incapacitated, the wording certainly does not exclude such attacks.

Kingkade also suggests that the numbers are beside the point, since the effort to combat campus sexual assault is about people, not statistics—specifically, "about students who said they were wronged by their schools after they were raped." Of course every rape is a tragedy, on campus or off—all the more if the victim finds no redress. But if it happens to one in five women during their college years, this is not just a tragedy but a crisis that arguably justifies emergency measures—which is why proponents of sweeping new policies have repeatedly invoked these scary numbers. (Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, has now had the one-in-five figure removed from her website.) And while the stories told by students are often compelling, it is important to remember that they are personal narratives which may or may not be factual.  Only last June, Emily Renda, a UVA graduate and activist who now works at the school, included Jackie's story—under the pseudonym "Jenna"—in her testimony before a Senate committee.

Of course this is not to suggest that most such accounts are fabricated; but they are also filtered through subjective experience, memory, and personal bias. Yet, for at least three years, these stories been accorded virtually uncritical reception by the mainstream media. When I had a chance to investigate one widely publicized college case—that of Brown University students Lena Sclove and Daniel Kopin—for a feature in The Daily Beast, the facts turned out to bear little resemblance to the media narrative of a brutal rape punished with a slap on the wrist.

Now, in what may be another sign of turning tides, the accused in another high-profile case is getting his say. The New York Times has previously given ample coverage to Emma Sulkowicz, the Columbia University student famous for carrying around a mattress to protest the school's failure to expel her alleged rapist.

Now, it has allowed that man, Paul Nungesser, to tell his story—a story of being ostracized and targeted by mob justice despite being cleared of all charges in a system far less favorable to the accused than criminal courts. No one knows whether Sulkowicz or Nungesser is telling the truth; but the media have at last acknowledged that there is another side to this story.

Will 2015 see a pushback against the anti-"rape culture" movement on campus? If so, good. This is a movement that has capitalized on laudable sympathy for victims of sexual assault to promote gender warfare, misinformation and moral panic. It's time for a reassessment.


‘I Wouldn’t Eat It Either’: These Wyoming Schools Abandoned Federal School Lunch Guidelines

Seven Wyoming schools have said “no” to the federal school lunch guidelines — and the money that comes with them

According to Wyoming Public Media, seven schools have decided to forego the federal standards instituted by the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act and decide what to feed their students themselves.

The district’s business manager, Jeremy Smith, told WPM the move was necessary.

“Universally, it was, ‘We are starving. We are hungry. This isn’t enough food for us,’” said Smith. “But we couldn’t blame them, because I looked at that school lunch and said, ‘I wouldn’t eat it either.’”

School districts that abandon the federal guidelines are financially penalized for doing so. Wyoming Public Media reports that “most schools simply can’t afford to abandon the federal subsidies. In Smith’s district, it meant walking away from about $50,000.”

Despite the high cost, Smith said there were “too many complaints,” and he knew he had to make a change.  “We knew we had to make it up,” Smith told Wyoming Public Media. “We said, ‘How are we going to do it?’ Two ways: One, you can increase prices, or two, you can increase participation.”

The district did both: The number of food options increased and prices were raised. But, according to Wyoming Public Media, participation in the school lunch program went up 20 percent and “the district is making more money than it was under the program last year—even without the federal money.”

Absent the federal guidelines, the schools are now free to make their own decisions about what’s served for lunch.

Haydon Mullinax, a student at one of the affected schools, told Wyoming Public Media he is happy about the change.  “I actually enjoy it,” said Mullinax. “I wouldn’t enjoy lunch, and now every time I get into the lunchroom, I’m actually happy to get lunch.”

Dennis Decker, a food service director at one of the schools, told Wyoming Public Media that “the federal lunch standards are well intentioned,” but he’s happy he can do his “own thing.”

“A one-size-fits-all program doesn’t work everywhere,” said Decker. “And I also think that food is a little too personal to make a law. You can tell someone they can’t speed, but I don’t you can tell everybody what they have to eat every day.”

Decker told Wyoming Public Media the federal calorie guidelines were insufficient for students who are “athletes” or who “go home and work on a ranch.”

Tamra Jackson, nutrition supervisor for the Wyoming Department of Education, told Wyoming Public Media the federal standards “were set by some of the country’s best pediatricians and nutritionists.”

“We’re trying to lay a foundation for kids to make healthy choices when they get older,” said Jackson. “It amazes me that people are mad that we’re serving them healthy food.”

The Daily Signal has previously reported on the skimpy school lunches brought about by the federal standards, and students’ distaste for them. We recently reported on pictures of lunches students shared with the viral hashtag #thanksmichelleobama and our readers’ reaction to that story.


Sunday, December 28, 2014

‘Public Education’ Should Fund Any Education, Not Just Government-Run Schools

“Are you saying public education is just a funding mechanism? … Is all education now public [and parents] can just choose?” asked Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Nancy Rice during oral arguments over the constitutionality of Douglas County’s Choice Scholarship Pilot Program.

The case has brought forth a question that has been at the forefront of state and national debates over school choice: What is the definition of “public education,” anyway?

“It is important to distinguish between ‘schooling’ and ‘education.’ Not all schooling is education nor all education, schooling,” wrote Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman. “The proper subject of concern is education. The activities of government are mostly limited to schooling.”

School choice separates financing of education from delivery of services. Educational opportunity through school choice empowers parents with the ability to direct education funding toward a schooling option that best fits their child. Education is publicly funded, but parents can choose from a variety of delivery options.

School choice programs make sense: They operate with the conviction that every child is unique and has unique learning needs, and one-size-fits-all government-run schools have their limits and can’t always meet the needs of every student.

Although education choice is spreading rapidly–more than 300,000 children are now benefitting from private school-choice options–some states and school districts, such as Douglas County, Colo., are facing lawsuits over the constitutionality of school choice.

When the Douglas County Board of Education unanimously voted to create the Choice Scholarship Program in March 2011, it enacted the first district-level school choice program in the nation. Voucher programs are traditionally approved by state legislatures, but in Douglas County, the local district supports the funding and administration of the program. Subject to annual renewal, the program provides 500 tuition vouchers to students who are residents of Douglas County and have been enrolled in a Douglas County public school for at least one year. Eligible students can apply for the scholarships through a lottery system.

But in June 2011, the scholarships were rescinded when the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, the National ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State and others filed suit, claiming the scholarship program violated the Public School Finance Act and six provisions in the Colorado constitution, including the establishment clause.

The ACLU won a preliminary injunction in district court. But in March 2013, the Colorado Court of Appeals overturned the ruling, rejecting the plaintiffs’ establishment clause claims. The appellate court applied the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Colorado Christian University v. Weaver, 534 F.3d 1245 (10th Cir. 2008) which held the First Amendment was infringed when financial aid was provided to students attending sectarian institutions but not to students attending “pervasively sectarian” institutions.

According to the decision, “In assessing facially neutral student aid laws, a court may not inquire into the extent to which religious teaching pervades a particular institution’s curriculum.” In other words, asking how “religious” a school is that receives funding is itself a form of anti-religious discrimination.

Now to the Supreme Court of Colorado

The Supreme Court of Colorado has a chance to uphold the first locally established school choice program in the country, but it also has a chance to reaffirm what the U.S. Supreme Court has already upheld: that public education is about educating students, not the physical space in which that education takes place. Above all, it’s about parents being empowered to choose options that are right for their children.

Other courts have decided this question already.

In Zelman v. Simmons-Harris (2002) the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of Ohio’s Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program, holding that a state-sponsored voucher program is not per se unconstitutional when the program is neutral with respect to religion and the “money follows the child.” This is so even where parents themselves choose to use the voucher monies to send their children to religious schools.

And in a landmark state ruling last year, the Indiana Supreme Court upheld the state’s voucher program stating that the program did not violate the state’s prohibition against using state funds to benefit religious institutions because the primary beneficiaries of the vouchers were the families who used them.

Hundreds of families in Douglas County, Colo., have waited three years to use their scholarships because of this suit. The Colorado Supreme Court has a chance to give those families the opportunity to direct their child’s education.


The 11 Most Politically Correct Moments on College Campuses in 2014

That thing you thought you liked? It's rape culture

There are almost too many to choose from, but here are eleven of the most politically correct moments on college campuses in 2014:

1. Princeton University students launched a microaggression-reporting service.

In December, Princeton students relaunched “Tiger Microaggressions,” a service that takes other students’ reports of microaggressions and publishes them on its Facebook page. According to the operators, absolutely anything can qualify as a microaggression since “there are no objective definitions to words and phrases.”

2. College students invented a roofie-detecting nail polish — only to be told that that’s actually also rape culture.

In August, college students invented a nail polish that changes color if it comes into contact with date-rape drugs — only to incite rage from feminists who insist that anything that might help women protect themselves actually promotes rape culture by acknowledging that we live in a world where rapes happen. (FYI: We do.) Or, as feminist activist Rebecca Nagle eloquently put it: “I don’t want to f[***]ing test my drink when I’m at the bar. . . . That’s not the world I want to live in.” The fact that fear of whether or not someone could be wearing the polish might deter potential rapists from drugging women’s drinks (whether or not they themselves were actually testing their f***ing drinks or not) was not addressed.

3. Students hosted an anti-rape-culture rally only to be told that’s — yep — actually also rape culture.

In October, an Arizona State University rally against rape culture was slammed for promoting rape culture because it encouraged men to respect women — and respect for women should be “a given” and not have to be encouraged. Come on, you guys!

4. A school campaigned against “offensive” language such as “wuss,” “you guys,” and “derp” because it has an “oppressive impact on culture.”

Oops. I guess I accidentally oppressed some people with the way I ended No. 3 — at least according to the “More Than Words: Inclusive Language Campaign” launched at Macalester College this past summer. It included videos featuring student explanations and posters covering the campus walls that dispensed politically correct instructions — such as telling students to stop using words such as “crazy” or “derp” and replace them with “person with a mental health condition” or “person with a learning or cognitive disability” (even though those arguably kind of maybe sound even more offensive.)

5. Students opposed a female-to-male transgender candidate for class diversity officer because he’s a white man.

“I thought he’d do a perfectly fine job, but it just felt inappropriate to have a white man there,” the anonymous student behind the so-called “Campaign to Abstain” at the all-women’s Wellesley College said.

6. A school told its orientation officers not to use the word “freshman” because it promotes rape.

In November, Elon University instructed its orientation officers to use the term “first-year” instead of “freshman” because the term “freshman” is sexist and actually suggests that women might make good rape victims.

7. A liberal group demanded the school teach a mandatory transgender-sensitivity class to right the wrongs of colonial America.

In June, more than 700 students, professors, and faculty at the University of Minnesota ordered the school to admit it’s just a product of the evil actions of colonial Americans and must fundamentally alter its structure to make it up to marginalized communities — starting with forcing all students to take a transgender-sensitivity class.

8. A student newspaper’s editorial board wrote a whole piece about how racist bras are.

In September, the student editorial board at the University of Oklahoma wrote an article all about how bras are racist because they come in colors named “nude” and not everyone is that color when they’re nude. They also said that Band Aids were an example of white privilege.

9. The War on Tacos.

A sorority at California State University, Fullerton, got in serious trouble in September for hosting a Taco Tuesday event because some attendees wore “culturally insensitive attire” (read: sombreros and mustaches.). A similar thing happened in April at Dartmouth University, where backlash forced a fraternity to cancel a fundraiser — yes, fundraiser — for cardiac patients because one student complained that the “fiesta” theme was offensive. Although the fraternity was careful to warn students to definitely not wear sombreros to the event, they did plan to serve virgin frozen drinks, salsa, guacamole, and — gasp! — burritos, so apparently Mexican food is offensive in itself.

10. The War on Coconut Bras.

In May, the student government at the University of California, Irvine, demanded that the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity be punished because they hosted a fundraiser — yes, again, fundraiser — where students wore grass skirts and coconut bras. That’s apparently racist against Pacific Islanders. A group of students even released a statement that said stuff like “tell members of your organization to stop wearing our traditional/cultural attires, they don’t know jack s[***] about its cultural significance.”

11. Harvard University was about to stop buying water machines from the Israeli company SodaStream because they might be a microaggression.

The school’s dining services also planned to remove the labels from all of the existing machines just to make sure no student has to see one and be traumatized. But to end the year on a good note: At the request of the university president, the school is reconsidering its decision.


Traditional haircut forbidden in British school

I wear such a haircut to this day -- JR

A 13-year-old schoolboy has been told he must stay in isolation until his short back and sides haircut grows out, which could take months.

Kyle Gibbs was separated from his classmates and told he would not be allowed to socialise with his friends after teachers ruled that his traditional style flouted the school's strict hair length rules.

The Year 9 pupil at Churchdown Academy, Gloucestershire, must now work on his own in a classroom from 8am until 5pm until his hair grows to an 'acceptable length'.

His father Colin, from lmbridge, Gloucester, said the school's decision was 'madness' and insisted the young footballer's haircut is 'neat and tidy and totally unremarkable'.

'The school called and I asked what he had done wrong and when they said it was his haircut I thought they were joking,' he said.

'I was shocked. I cut his hair and he has a neat short back and sides. It is grade 0.5 at the back and longer on top, in an old fashioned style like every boy used to get at the barbers. I couldn't believe it.

'The school said he would have to stay in isolation, on his own in a classroom from 8am until 5pm until his hair grows back. It is not his hair that is doing his reading and writing for him. This is madness.

'It is not like he has a Mohican or strips shaved into the sides. I could understand that might be a distraction to other pupils in class, but his haircut is neat and tidy and totally unremarkable.'

Kyle has been told school policy states his hair can't be any shorter than a grade two.

There is no legislation relating to pupils' uniform or appearance, which is left up to school's governing bodies to decide.

But schools often impose bans on 'extreme' haircuts or colours as part of their broader uniform policy.

The Department of Education does advise that pupils who don't comply to uniform rules can be disciplined in accordance with the school’s published behaviour policy.

'I have been into the school to speak with the head teacher,' said Mr Gibbs.  'He said it was school policy and he was backed by the governors. Kyle doesn't feel comfortable in school and I'm not going to let the teachers dictate my son's hairstyle.'

Head teacher Christopher Belli took over at the school in September and said in a welcome address that there would be a 'relentless focus on high standards'.

The uniform policy states hair should be: 'Natural colour and words or emblems should not be shaved in hair'.

Churchdown School Academy has declined to comment.

Schools across the country have been enforcing strict uniform policies in the past few years in an attempt to raise standards.