Friday, March 27, 2015

A Retired LA Teacher Remembers The Black/Hispanic Race Wars In His School

I taught at an inner-city high in Los Angeles for over 20 years. The school was 90% Hispanic, 10% black in the latter years. There were constant fights. The school had 12 armed LAUSD policemen on site.

In the early 2000s the Mexican kids decided to get rid of the blacks. Race riots occurred at lunch with blacks taking the worst of it, losing parts of ears and noses to biting. No TV/radio station or newspaper made any mention of these riots. It didn’t fit in with the MSM pro-immigration message. Enrollment of black boys declined sharply after the riots.

On the daily drive home through the South Central LA neighborhood I often witnessed unprovoked attacks by blacks on Hispanics waiting for buses or what not. The adult population of the neighborhood around the high school was about half black. Most home owners were black. Often the apparently random unprovoked attacks mentioned above involved one adult black woman assaulting a Hispanic teenager or young woman.


Teacher Sued After Allegedly Calling Michael Brown A ‘Thug’

A teacher at a Los Angeles charter school has been removed from the classroom and hit with a lawsuit from the parents of a biracial student who claims he barraged his class with racial stereotypes and said that Michael Brown “got what he deserved.”

Other parents and students, however, claim the teacher is the victim of a preposterous witch hunt.

Steven Carnine has taught at Paul Revere Charter Middle School and Magnet School in LA for nearly 25 years.

The lawsuit was filed March 18, barely two months after Maggie B., the student making the accusations, began attending Carnine’s eighth grade history class. According to the lawsuit, Carnine handed out a questionnaire that asked about various racial stereotypes. The questionnaire was then used to drive a discussion on racial issues, during which Maggie claims Carnine made a host of offensive remarks.

“Black people are judged for not being smart because they are not smart. A lot of them are just athletes,” Carnine is alleged to have said, according to the Los Angeles Daily News. He also supposedly talked about the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., last summer, saying “the guy was a thug and he got what he deserved.”

Blacks weren’t the only victims of Carnine, according to the suit. He also is accused of saying that “We all know Jews like to hoard their money.”

The lawsuit says Maggie’s father complained to the principal, only to be told that Carnine was an “old school” teacher whom they should meet with privately to try resolving the issue.

Shortly after that complaint was made, the suit says that Carnine mentioned during a discussion on the Civil War that “people didn’t like Lincoln because he was a (N-word) lover.”

The parents say they have had to file a lawsuit because of the dismissive reaction from school officials, “hostile stares” directed at Maggie by Carnine, and because Maggie allegedly fears for her safety. The suit claims Maggie’s civil rights were violated and demands unspecified damages from the school district.

Other parents and students, however, have rallied to Carnine’s defense, saying he is an excellent teacher and that the lawsuit is preposterous.

“The students were talking about Abe Lincoln and the n-word,” one parent told the Los Angeles Times. “The n-word was spoken in class. They talked about how racism developed. He didn’t use the word against anyone in class. He was covering material in the syllabus for a U.S. history course.”

At a petition page launched to support Carnine, a person claiming to be a student from his class says his remarks on stereotypes and Michael Brown were taken totally out of context.

“Mr. Carnine said that [Brown] was a “t–g”, but he absolutely did NOT deserve to be harassed like he was,” said the student. “Mr. Carnine’s class is my favorite class. He is one of the best teachers I have ever had, and I know it is the same for many others … He does not deserve to be treated this way, after being a teacher for so many years. This will most likely ruin his career, which is absolutely unfair.”

Support for claims defending Carnine can be found on Carnine’s Rate My Teachers page. Prior to the lawsuit, he enjoyed consistently high ratings from students, and the vast majority of his negative ratings appear to have been spammed on March 20, shortly after the suit was filed.


British students told to wave 'jazz hands' at conference speakers - because whooping and clapping might be too scary

Young student union activists have asked other conference delegates to wave with 'jazz hands' instead of clapping or cheering speakers in case it 'triggers anxiety' among nervous members.

Hundreds were asked to wave in silence because other people found 'whooping' to be 'super inaccessible'.

The request was made at the National Union of Students' annual Women's Conference in Solihull, West Midlands, which started yesterday.

NUS Women's Campaign tweeted: 'Whooping is fun for some, but can be super inaccessible for others, so please try not to whoop! Jazz hands work just as well.'

They then followed that with: 'Some delegates are requesting that we move to jazz hands rather than clapping, as it's triggering anxiety. Please be mindful! #nuswomen15'.

Critics have said the messages had 'damaged feminism'.

Tara Hewitt tweeted: 'This damages real equality nothing from conference will make a difference today but "jazz hands" nonsense damaged feminism'.

Others lampooned the instructions online.

@JLat55 tweeted: 'Open palms can be triggering. Well, so can closed ones... you should just ban any outward expression of approval.'

The suggestions got more ridiculous and ironic with @BookGeek-T tweeting: '@nuswomcam @Little-G2 hi, jazz hands can be triggering because of the quick movement of the hands. I vote blinking rapidly instead. Thanks'.

Despite the jokes the NUS has said that it is important that they are inclusive. 

Nona Buckley-Irvine, General secretary at the London School of Economics Students' Union, said: 'Jazz hands are used throughout NUS in place of clapping as a way to show appreciation of someone's point without interrupting or causing disturbance, as it can create anxiety.

'I'm relatively new to this and it did feel odd at first, but once you've used jazz hands a couple of times it becomes a genuinely nice way to show solidarity with a point and it does add to creating a more inclusive atmosphere.'

LSE SU women's officer Gee Linford-Grayson added: 'As someone who is new to the NUS conference culture it surprised me at first, but actually within a few rounds of jazz hands applause it began to make a lot of sense, as loud clapping and whooping can be intimidating and distracting when you're speaking on stage.  'Plus who doesn't like jazz hands?!'

The annual event decides the female issues for the NUS to campaign on, and elects the campaign's representatives.

An NUS spokesperson said: 'The request was made by some delegates attending the conference.  'We strive to make NUS events accessible and enjoyable for all, so each request is considered.'


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Shining Spotlight on Bogus U.C. Berkeley “Think Tank” During National Sunshine Week

This week is National Sunshine Week, a time when many journalists across America publish stories on government spending and transparency. One organization that needs more sunshine is the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE) at the University of California at Berkeley, a union propaganda mill disguised as an academic think tank and financed with taxpayer dollars.

The IRLE receives money from the State of California to churn out shoddy and biased research timed to influence election results. It released two reports examining proposals to increase the minimum wage in San Francisco and Oakland before voters cast their ballots. Voters subsequently approved both wage hikes. The Oakland increase went into effect on March 2, a nearly 36 percent increase to $12.25 an hour. San Francisco’s hourly minimum wage increased to $11.05 on January 1, and will increase to $12.25 on May 1, matching Oakland’s rate.

Michael Saltsman, research director at the D.C.-based Employment Policies Institute, says the two IRLE reports provided misleading information before the voting:

"The new minimum wage in Oakland also means unintended consequences for employees and higher costs for consumers. Oakland small businesses like Homestead, Caffee Teatro, Johu Beach Club, The Half Orange, and 475 Café report planned price hikes of up to 20 present. These hikes are significantly larger than the 2.5 percent figure predicted by the embattled U.C. Berkeley research team, whose study on the minimum-wage increase effects preceding last year’s vote predicted big gains and little-to-no pain from a hike to $12.25.

This miscalculation follows a separate U.C. Berkeley study of San Francisco’s minimum wage that drastically underestimated the associated increase in labor costs, as evidenced by recent small business closures or near-closures. Such apparent mistakes mean that voters and policymakers should treat U.C. Berkeley minimum-wage studies with considerable skepticism, but such hindsight is of little solace now to Oakland’s small business community".

Shoddy, politically motivated research is nothing new for the IRLE. In 2003, Andrew Gloger and I were one of the first to expose the politically driven research agenda of the U.C. Institute for Labor and Employment (ILE), the U.C. umbrella group that coordinates these multi-campus propaganda mills of which the Berkeley IRLE is one. As we said in 2003:

"The ILE has a right in a free society to promulgate its anti-capitalism views and to fund research that strikes at the heart of a basic economic freedom in America – the right of employers and employees to freely negotiate compensation. But why should taxpayers be forced to bankroll ILE’s union propaganda?

Unions collect roughly $880 million in dues each year in California. Surely they can spare $4 million to support the ILE on their own and unburden state taxpayers."

These words are as true today as when first written in 2003. The ILE received the California Golden Fleece Award in 2003 for ripping off taxpayers.

The ILE, the coordinating umbrella group, has since switched its name to the U.C. Miguel Contreras Labor Program, but it still carries the unions’ water (its board must include at all times at least two labor representatives), and it has received millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies. Its primary role is to provide academic cover for the political agenda of unions and their allies.

Shining a spotlight on corrupt taxpayer-funded research is what Sunshine Week is about.


Free Schools: why shouldn’t we experiment with education?

Last week, UK prime minister David Cameron announced that if the Conservative Party is re-elected at the General Election, the free-schools programme will be expanded. Cameron has pledged a further 500 free schools, which would create 270,000 extra places within the school system, by 2020. Speaking in west London, Cameron announced that 49 more free schools have been approved. He spoke of the importance of raising school standards and providing a great education for children. He said the expansion of independent schools within the school system was integral to this process.

Free schools provide the opportunity for groups of parents, teachers, charities, existing schools or other organisations to open state-funded independent schools. They are free of interference from local authorities, and have greater freedom from central government than traditional educational institutions. The programme began in 2010. Championed by the then Tory education secretary, Michael Gove, the programme was aimed at diversifying the state-education system. Despite some teething problems at the beginning, 71 per cent of free schools are rated as either good or outstanding by the schools inspectorate, Ofsted, in comparison to 69 per cent of state schools. Research conducted by the think-tank Policy Exchange shows that free schools are driving up standards in the state-funded sector.

The programme has come under criticism from the Labour Party and shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt. Hunt claims that free schools have been a costly mistake, diverting money and resources away from areas that are in need of school places. However, according to the New Schools Network (NSN), an organisation that champions and supports those establishing or looking to establish free schools, this couldn’t be further from the truth. NSN reports that 75 per cent of mainstream free schools opened in 2013 are in areas which have a shortage of places. ‘Free schools’, it states, ‘are 10 times more likely to be located in the most deprived areas in England than in the least deprived’.

What the backlash against the free schools programme has shown is that Labour doesn’t believe in the ability of parents to make the choice about what’s best for the future of their children. Instead, it wants to impose its bland, conformist vision of education on everyone. Meanwhile, the demand for more choice has been shown by the success of free schools up and down the country.

After decades of dreary conformity in the education sector, the extension of the free-schools programme should be welcomed as an opportunity to try something new and interesting


True or False? Jeb Bush’s Education Reforms Boosted Florida’s Schoolchildren

While Bush was governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007, the state “made dramatic improvements in the academic outcomes of all its students,” a report from The Heritage Foundation concluded in 2010.

It said Florida also made “significant progress” in narrowing the nationwide achievement gap in grades K-12 between white students and minorities, particularly blacks and Hispanics.

The Heritage report by Matthew Ladner and Lindsey M. Burke credited parental choice, higher standards, and both accountability and flexibility for pushing the state’s black students to match or outscore the statewide reading average for all students in eight states, and for propelling Hispanics to do the same compared with 31 states.

Beginning in 1999, Bush and the state legislature implemented reforms emphasizing choice in public and private schools (including charter school and virtual education); annual tests and grading schools and districts A through F based on test results; requiring illiterate children to repeat third grade; performance-based bonuses for teachers; and making it easier for talented applicants to gain teacher certification.

In one of the most hotly debated aspects of the changes, any student at a public school that got an F twice in four years could get a voucher to move to a different public or private school.

The initiatives came against a national backdrop of ever-increasing per-student spending and reduced class sizes—federally supported policies preferred by teacher unions—that left academic achievement relatively flat and graduation rates stagnant, Ladner and Burke argued:

"Florida enacted a series of far-reaching K-12 reforms despite opposition by the teacher unions. The result was unique: The unions effectively lost control of K-12 policy in Florida".

And the state’s students went on to make the strongest gains in the nation on a test known as NAEP, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, since 2003, the first year that all 50 states used the exam.

Some conservatives regard Bush with deep suspicion because he has not renounced his early support for Common Core education standards even as they have faltered in implementation and been shaped by grants from the Obama administration.

Others see Bush’s refusal to abandon Common Core as a virtue, evidence that he would rather fix what’s broken than give up on an idea he believes in because it’s easier politically.

Put aside the ruckus in recent years over the federal government’s role in “incentivizing” the adoption of common academic standards, however, and Bush’s record in achieving what the Heritage report called “meaningful academic improvement” is the sort of story that heartens parents who harbor fears about their children’s future.

“It’s really difficult to argue that Florida is not much better educationally because of the reforms of the Jeb Bush administration,” said Winters, whose studies took him to the state for much of Bush’s second term and who also writes about education as a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. He added:

If minority children nationwide had made the same improvement as their counterparts in Florida, we would have closed the achievement gap nationally. It’s pretty impressive, I think. … Everything New York City was doing [in public school reform] they were doing because they were trying to emulate Florida.

Achievement Built to Last?

Eight years since Bush left the governorship, the Florida reform model called the A+ Plan for Education continues to be considered and adopted by other states—thanks in part to the marketing efforts of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, an outfit that Bush put together.

More to the point, education experts say, Florida schoolchildren keep gaining ground based on his reforms and others for which he set the stage.

But that’s not how the state’s largest teachers union, the Florida Education Association, sees it.

“After 15 years of this approach, students are a little better at taking tests,”  FEA spokesman Mark Pudlow told The Daily Signal, “but many of the subjects that get children excited about learning have been curtailed or eliminated so that they can spend more time on the tests, public schools are still chronically underfunded and teachers are left feeling underappreciated.”

Asked by The Daily Signal to update data in her report, however, Burke said the latest U.S. Department of Education statistics show the 2011 reading score for Florida fourth-graders was above the national average.

In addition, their 16-point gain from 1992 to 2011 was bigger than all other gains reported in large states as well as bigger than the national average.

“Florida has been a leader in education reform for well over a decade,” @lindseymburke says.

Black students in both Florida and California made greater gains than their peers nationally, Burke said. She also noted this finding: “Between 2003 and 2011, Florida students with disabilities and those eligible for free or reduced-price school lunch made greater gains than their peers in the nation.”

As for Hispanic students, the Ladner-Burke report predicted they could exceed the national average for white students. Checking the latest  raw numbers at the request of The Daily Signal, Burke said they show Hispanics in Florida tied the national average in 2011 and outstripped it by four points in 2013.

That means the average Hispanic fourth-grader in Florida reads better than the average American fourth-grader.

Burke, Heritage’s Will Skillman fellow in education, said the latest NAEP test scores also show “tremendous gains for low-income students.” Florida leads the nation in percentage of low-income fourth-graders (27 percent) who scored proficient or better on the reading test in 2013.  She told The Daily Signal:

Florida has been a leader in education reform for well over a decade. The Sunshine State has successfully married transparency of outcomes with choice – the key ingredient to empowering families to understand how their children are doing in school and to act on that information. Without the ability to exit underperforming schools, transparency of outcomes has no teeth.

Those who disagree with the Bush approach—often because they are allied with and financed by the teachers unions he took on—warn that the A+ Plan solutions are “corporate-backed” and aren’t in the best interests of  all children.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A liberal education in the 21st century

We haven't arrived there quite yet but it's getting close

British mother of six jailed for letting her children go to school when they felt like it because she thought they would learn more at the beach or woods

A mother jailed for allowing her children to ‘pick and choose’ when they went to school because she thought they would learn ‘more on a beach than in a hot stuffy classroom’ now admits [Or was bullied into saying] she was wrong.

Claudia Ward, 42, said prison was the wake-up call she needed and that her children all now had 100 per cent attendance records. Miss Ward said she initially wanted her six children to have ‘an amount of choice themselves’. She admitted that if her two older children were up late and ‘didn’t fancy’ going to school she would let them stay off.  On other occasions she said she had ‘just wanted some company’.

But their schools and her local education authority disagreed with her flexible approach and she was prosecuted five times before being jailed for five months.

Miss Ward admitted: ‘When I spent my first night in the cell, the enormity of what I had done hit home.  'I felt so guilty; my stubbornness had meant I was on a prison wing in Gloucester, miles away from my young and vulnerable children.

‘I accepted that my views on education were not correct and everyone must adhere to the same rules, or there would be anarchy. It was the wake-up call I needed.’

Miss Ward, who is single, has six children: Jack, 24, Amos, 21, Rudy 17, Annie, 16, Nia, nine, and Riley, six. They have four different fathers.

She was prosecuted in 2008 and then again in 2011 and 2012. But the court heard her children’s ‘attendance issues’ dated back to 2002.

‘If it was a sunny day and I thought one of my children would have been bored and sat staring out the window of the classroom wishing they were at the beach – I could not see the merit of them not being on the beach looking at rock pools,’ said Miss Ward, a freelance creative writer from Falmouth, Cornwall.

‘I thought they would gain far more from that. I thought they would be far better actually there experiencing it rather than sat in a stuffy classroom.

‘My ideas for education were always more outside the box and free-thinking,’ she added. ‘I was all about the children having an amount of choice themselves.

'This didn’t tally well with the national curriculum. It got to the point where there was no room for dialogue with the school and it was conflict all the way.’

During the 2012 court hearing – which Miss Ward failed to attend – magistrates were told that three of the children’s education was suffering through their absences and one had missed a GCSE exam.

Liz Mozeley, education welfare officer, told Truro Magistrates’ Court: ‘She felt they could pick and choose when they go.’

On that occasion, after a warrant was issued for her arrest, she was given a 12-week prison sentence suspended for 24 months.  But the truanting continued and she was jailed for 20 weeks in February 2013.

Cornwall Council said it has been working with her for a decade at a cost of about £15,000 and prosecution was a ‘last resort’.  Education welfare officer John Heath told the court: ‘Claudia is a capable woman but has a very odd outlook as far as education is concerned.’

The court heard that three of the children; Annie, Nia and Riley, missed more than a third of sessions between September and December 2012 – equalling 73 whole days.

Miss Ward served ten weeks of her 20-week jail term. She was released in April 2013. Her children were looked after by other family members.

She said: ‘I was shocked and did not for one second did I think they would give me a five-month sentence.’  She said she used her time inside to re-evaluate her principles.


Australia: Higher education reform is not simply all about universities
The drive to improve equity and choice in higher education must continue        

The Council of Private Higher Education (COPHE) has applauded the Federal Government's continued pursuit of higher education reforms despite the second rejection of the Bill in the Senate.

COPHE CEO Adrian McComb said although the defeat of the bill was disappointing, it is clear from Education Minister Christopher Pyne that it was not all over.

"For the sake of all Australian students, the process of reform must continue. Reform is vital to ensuring Australia's higher education system is well placed to face the avalanche of change facing the sector globally," he said. "Maintaining the status quo takes us nowhere and frankly no one opposed has proposed any workable alternative."

The reforms announced in the Budget last year promised equitable treatment of students in the private sector. Under the current arrangements, students at private institutions are penalised.

"We applaud Minister Pyne for his tenacity in declaring he will continue to pursue the reforms. The sector needs to overcome the misleading scare campaign around $100,000 degrees," Mr McComb said. "And as we noted in our Senate submissions, the CEOs of our member institutions have indicated that they would pass on Commonwealth support received to their students. That and the removal of the 25% loan administration fee would make a big difference to non-university higher education students’ debt."

"Capping prices without any means of capping costs can only exacerbate decline in universities. Deregulation can deliver a top quality, resilient higher education system which better meets the needs of students," he said. "An independent oversight body can curb excesses."

The independent and minor party Senators that make up the cross benches have expressed continuing concerns in a deregulated environment about the possibility of universities charging excessive student fees for cross-subsidy of activity that is unrelated to teaching. Further policy approaches that would mitigate this have emerged and need to be considered in the revised legislation.

Senators have expressed concern about the process followed in introducing the reforms. We believe that a deregulated environment in the sector was always going to be difficult to pull off and 20/20 hindsight is easy.

“It is also disheartening to see that measures that would help the disadvantaged are now set aside particularly the higher education initiative that would have provided 80,000 CGS funded places for sub-degrees and pathways diplomas,” Mr McComb said. There is solid evidence that students with poorer school results, or those who are returning to study some years after school, who would struggle in their first year of a bachelor degree, can still achieve progression on par with students with much higher ATARS, if they have access to such pathways diplomas into the second year of bachelor degrees.

"There is too much at stake for this to be the end of any chance of change," Mr McComb said.

Press release

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

New Hampshire fourth-graders' hawk bill provokes abortion comment

A civics lesson took an unexpected turn for a group of New Hampshire fourth-graders when a lawmaker brought the abortion debate into their effort to name a state raptor.

The students from Lincoln H. Akerman School in Hampton Falls worked during class and on their own time to craft a bill to make the red-tailed hawk the official state raptor. They got a sponsor for it, got the bill through a House of Representatives committee and then watched from the House gallery last week to see if it would pass.

Rep. Warren Groen, a Republican from Rochester, rose to speak on the measure, which was defeated.

"It grasps them with its talons and then uses its razor-sharp beak to rip its victims to shreds, to basically tear it apart limb by limb, and I guess the shame about making this a state bird is it would serve as a much better mascot for Planned Parenthood," Groen said.

Principal Mark Deblois said Thursday that he has heard from parents whose kids asked what Planned Parenthood is and why it was invoked in a discussion about hawks.

"None of the kids got those (abortion) references," he said. "Fortunately they didn't, because it's such a disgusting reference. But certainly that led to questions about what did that mean."

Groen defended his comments and chastised critics for being outraged by his comments but not by abortion.

"The gallery is open to the public and there are children in the gallery every day," he said. "I don't know if we should limit free speech or limit the attendance in the gallery. It seems either one would be bad for transparency in government."

Other lawmakers joked that they were representing a constituent named "The Big Chicken" or ridiculed the bill as silly, saying the state would next be naming an official hot dog. Those comments affected the students more than the Planned Parenthood comment, Deblois said.

"Obviously, they were disappointed that their bill didn't pass, but it was just the manner in which they say the bill was debated, when they saw people stand up and say these just appalling things," Deblois said. "That (the abortion reference) was probably less than the gentlemen who stood up and made jokes. That was almost more upsetting to them because they understood those references. Why didn't they take us seriously? Why were people laughing?"


Pledge of Allegiance Read in Arabic, Causing Uproar at New York High School

Administrators at a New York state high school are apologizing after the Pledge of Allegiance was recited in Arabic on Wednesday morning, offending some students and their families.

In a letter posted online, officials at Pine Bush High School in the hamlet of Pine Bush explained that students were supposed to give the pledge in different languages to celebrate National Foreign Language week. But they acknowledged the controversy that has divided students because the pledge was not done in English.

"We sincerely apologize to any students, staff or community members who found this activity offensive," the statement said. "In our school District the Pledge of Allegiance will only be recited in English as recommended by the Commissioner of Education."

Schools Superintendent Joan Carbone did not immediately return a request for comment to NBC News on Thursday, but she told the Times Herald-Record that state education department regulations mandate the Pledge of Allegiance be recited in English.

She also said she fielded complaints from residents upset that the reading was in Arabic, including from Jewish parents and those who said they lost family members in Afghanistan, the newspaper said.

Andrew Zink, Pine Bush's senior class president, normally reads the morning announcements, and told NBC News that he consented when a teacher asked another student to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic. There were talks about having the pledge read in Japanese, French and Spanish this week as well.

Zink, 18, said Thursday that he was "fired" from doing the morning announcements but was not told why. "Even if I had said no to having it read in Arabic, they might have just done it anyways," Zink said.

"But I chose to say yes because it was about making a point: What makes you American is not the language you speak, but the ideas you believe in," he said, adding that he would "do it again."


Russian and Chinese pupils moving into Britain's State schools too

Private schools have long awarded places to foreign pupils to bring in extra income. Now it seems the same is happening in state education.

Around 1,000 youngsters from China and Russia are paying up to £15,000 a year to attend a handful of England's best state sixth-form colleges, it was claimed yesterday.

Dozens more such colleges are understood to be considering recruiting from abroad in the future.

While charging pupils to attend state schools is against the Department for Education's admissions code, different rules are thought to apply to standalone state-funded sixth-forms.

Some college heads say that without the extra income they would have to reduce teacher numbers because of a nationwide schools funding crisis.

But there are concerns that the practice will leave fewer places available for local pupils.

Alan Smithers, professor of education at Buckingham University, said: 'Some state schools are now behaving like businesses and taking advantage of the voracious ambitions of Chinese and other overseas students. 'The downside is that British students may be squeezed out of places that would be valuable to them.

'Chinese pupils are remarkably successful. Whether it's because they are driven on by tiger mothers or a fear of job insecurity ... they have the ambition and work ethic to get excellent exam results and enter our top universities.'

James Kewin, deputy chief executive of the Sixth Form Colleges Association, which represents nearly 100 sixth form colleges in England, said foreign pupils produced much-needed money.

He told the Sunday Times: 'In terms of the income it is phenomenal and a lot of schools that have been hit by public sector cuts are seduced by that.'

Richard Huish College in Taunton, Somerset, which was recently rated 'outstanding' in an Ofsted inspection, told the newspaper it has about 60 overseas pupils in the sixth form, most from mainland China.  The college is understood to be building a new boarding house to allow the number to increase to 120.

Principal John Abbott, said the school received £4,560 a year for a British pupil from state funding but charged £12,000 for overseas pupils, a sum that will rise to £15,000 next year.

He said: 'They provide wonderful additional financial income. We have not been immune to the public sector cuts. Their academic results are fantastic too, especially in maths, science and economics — better than those of the British students.'

Peter Symonds Sixth Form College in Winchester, Hampshire, which sends a large number of pupils to Oxford, is reportedly considering enrolling overseas pupils from 2017. It is understood families of foreign pupils would be charged about £15,000 a year.

The college said: 'Like other schools we are cash-strapped and charging for overseas students would help a lot.'

Figures published last year showed 24,391 non-British pupils whose parents lived overseas were enrolled in the 1,257 schools that were members of the Independent Schools Council.

Of those, 19 per cent were from Hong Kong and 18 per cent were from mainland China.

The Department for Education said that some colleges, depending on their status, were allowed to admit and charge overseas students.

In February, David Cameron admitted that state school spending per pupil would fall in real terms under a future Conservative government.

Mr Cameron said that while the overall amount spent on schools would rise, spending per pupil would not increase in line with inflation.

Campaigners say the money schools receive has not kept pace with inflation over the past five years and many areas of England receive inadequate levels of funding due to an outdated formula of allocations.

According to ASCL, over the next 18 months their budgets will be stretched further by a rise in costs of about 4.5 per cent because of increases to pension and national insurance contributions, and pay rises.


Monday, March 23, 2015

The Devil and the Dongle

The Adria Richards story below is a true story.  See here.  It's the story of an attention-seeker who ended up getting more attention than she bargained for

The question every tempter and junior devil in Hell asks himself as he is toasting on the flame, wailing and gnashing his teeth in the darkness, and hoping to snare one or more sons of Adam to share his misery, is this: How do you make a happy man volunteer to be miserable?

How do you turn a wise, brave, intelligent and compassionate man into a blind and willing slave of the Darkness?  How do you trick him into selling his soul, an infinitely precious treasure, and getting nothing in return, nothing at all?

The answer, as it so happens, is remarkably simple. Two examples out of countless will suffice. The first is Donglegate.

A young professional man with a wife and three kids was in the audience for a conference of tech developers, and he and his friend were making silly pun on the words ‘fork’ and ‘dongle’ and giggling. In tech jargon: to fork means to make a second copy parallel to the software in the version control library; a dongle is any small hardware attached to a computer to enable separate functions.

A black jewess named Adria Richards seated ahead of them stood and took their photo. She complained of sexual harassment, getting them first upbraided by the conference organizers, and eventually she got the man fired from his job.

When asked, Miss Richards described the incident this way:

“Have you ever had an altercation at school and you could feel the hairs rise up on your back… [I felt I was in ] danger. Clearly my body was telling me, ‘You are unsafe.’”

When asked what possible danger she might be in, surrounded by two thousand bystanders, she replied:

“Have you ever heard that thing, men are afraid that women will laugh at them and women are afraid that men will kill them? He’s a white male. I’m a black Jewish female. He said things that could be inferred as offensive to me. And those people [the bystanders] would probably be white and they would probably be male.”

Can you see what is missing from her account? More likely than not, a modern man will answer in the negative, and see nothing missing.

She is describing an offense to good taste, an off-color joke, as a murder, a physical assault.

She is like a Victorian matron who calls for the smelling salts. (Except, of course, the Victorian matrons of the modern age hector and slander their victims, instead of merely pretending to faint.)

Now it is very unlikely that she actually was afraid of being murdered by a geeky middle-class Caucasian engineer with a wife and three children. The number of times geeky middle-class family men, without premeditation and without motive, have murdered a perfect stranger before the eyes of more than a thousand witness is, statistically speaking, too rare to be expressed without the use of scientific notation.

To be afraid of that is less rational than to be afraid of dying in an elevator crash exiting the conference, which might actually happen. It is on par with being afraid that the CIA is beaming messages into your brain from low-orbiting brainwave-satellites shaped like pumpkins.

Let us assume the lady in question is not a confirmed psychotic who has suffered a total break from reality. Why, then, would she think it wise to speak as if she were, and to a newspaper reporter, no less?

For the answer to this, let us turn to a second example:

It seems that Common Core standards, as well as nearly all modern scholastic instruction, when asking students to distinguish between facts (something that can be tested and proved) and opinions (what someone thinks, feels, or believes), place the answer to the question ‘Is it wrong to cheat on your boyfriend or girlfriend?’ in the category of opinion.

The Common Core institute provides a helpful page full of links to definitions, lesson plans and quizzes to ensure that students can tell the difference between facts and opinions here: And see here, question six.

A conclusion that Don Juan cheating on Anna, Elvira, Zerlina and one thousand other Spanish lasses is less praiseworthy than the fidelity of Penelope for Ulysses is classed as precisely the same as preferring vanilla to chocolate: a mere matter of arbitrary opinion.

Heroes and villains are the same, saints and sinners are the same. And therefore preferring happiness to misery, or success to failure, is likewise merely arbitrary.

Logically, if asked whether to cheat on the worksheet questions about fact and opinion is wrong, the student must answer that this is a matter of opinion, because wrongness is not a matter of fact.

This putrid nonsense is being taught to the unsuspecting youth of our nation (ironically) as a fact, not as opinion. If they answer that moral imperatives are not opinion, the question is marked wrong, not marked that is an interesting opinion.

But the answer to our first question is here: you get a happy youth to volunteer to be miserable by teaching him that there are two and only two categories of statements: facts, which are objective, and opinions, which are arbitrary.

The categorization is false, as false as if one were to say that there are four colors rather than seven. To be sure, there are languages which make no distinction between blue and green. We are not discussing an absurdity but a depravation, a blindness. The lad whose language cannot distinguish between blue and green will be disadvantaged at the Army-Navy game, since he will have no way, except by an awkward circumlocution, to distinguish between the two uniforms of the servicemen. The lad will see the one hue is a different shade than the other, but he will have no word for it.

The false categorization leaves the happy youth with no category in which to put statements about virtue and vice, imperatives about what one ought or ought not to do.

Virtue is difficult on the surface, demanding self-restraint, but offers tranquility, peace, and joy in the depth; whereas vice is not only pleasant on the surface, it is glamorous and alluring, as alluring as tinsel. It offers only misery in the depth, endless misery, and even the shallow and animal pleasures of wine, women, and song lose their pleasure, and the only thing left is the slavery of addiction.

Now, to be sure, the fisherman puts a real worm on the hook, nice, fat and juicy, which indeed contains nutriment for the fish and is no doubt a delight to his piscine taste buds. Vices are always pleasant at first. But once the barbed iron hook is in the fish’s mouth, the pleasure is unlikely to continue.

So, all the junior devils in Hell needs to do to get the fish to volunteer to place the iron hook willingly in his mouth is to get him to categorize all things into two categories: tasty and non-tasty.

The crucial distinction, the distinction on which the fish’s life and happiness depends, in fact, is whether the worm is on or off the hook, and this is the one distinction not being made. The category should be (at least) threefold: tasty bait, tasty worm, and non-tasty.

Likewise here. Miss Richards, if she is typical of the modern intellectual, has only two categories of morality in her empty head: fact and opinion. All opinions are completely subjective and have nothing to do with reality. All facts are physical things that can be measured. Whether or not a joke is offcolor is a matter of opinion, ergo had nothing to do with reality. Murder is a physical fact where no opinion is involved: either the body is laying on the floor dead, or not, and any objective observer will see the corpse.

Hence, the only way open to her limited mind to express the moral outrage a Victorian matron by rights must feel when overhearing an offcolor joke, is to scream bloody murder.

Merely saying ‘Ladies are present; guard your tongue’ will not do.

By modern standards, there are no ladies, since refined behavior cannot be held to be superior to vulgar behavior, and there are no women, since to distinguish between the way to treat women and the way to treat men is forbidden as politically incorrect. This, despite that in this case, the woman was indeed too sensitive to be subjected to overhearing a vulgar joke. But the categories of vulgar and refined, male and female, must all be eliminated. All that is non-fact: It goes in the box falsely labeled opinion.

You see, the real Victorians, and every other civilization before the current generation, had more than two categories. There were seven or eight categories at least: there was objective fact, established empirically; there was rational deduction, established by logic, as with a legal argument or proof of geometry; there was moral truth, established by its own self evident nature; and there was good taste, which came from trained aesthetic judgment; good sense, which came from prudence; there was conventional wisdom, which came from communal experience; divine revelation, which came from God; and private opinion, which was subjective and arbitrary.

But the modern mind is deprived of the categories of reason, morality, good taste, good sense, convention, and revelation. It can reason about none of these matters.

It cannot reason about matters of opinion, since those are arbitrary, and it cannot reason about matters of fact, since those are objective, not to be changed by reasoning.

The modern mind knows, because it is one of those truths no human being can prevent himself from knowing, that offenses against morality are outrages.

But the only outrage political correctness allows as factual are outrages against persons, that is, assault and murder. Even insults are considered insulting on the fictional grounds that it increases the physical danger of the insult victim, as if a mob of Nazi Klansman are waiting to jump out of the broomcloset as soon as some black woman is called a dongle.

The answer to our second two questions follow simply from what has been established. You turn a wise, brave, intelligent and compassionate man into a blind and willing slave of evil by the same method. You forbid him from using the words that distinguish between wisdom versus folly — these, as if by magic, become matters of opinion — courage versus cowardice — opinion — intelligence versus ignorance — opinion — compassion versus hatred — also opinion, all opinion, nothing but opinion.

How to forbid him? Use his own desire to be wise and compassionate against him. Tell him it is unwise and heartless, even unscientific, to mistake facts for opinions, or to impose your opinions on others as if they were facts. Tell him there are no facts, no morality, no truth, no sanity. Tell him that these are illusions, merely illusions, and he is gullible if he believes.

To render a man lower than the beasts, you steal from him the divine gift of speech.

If he can no longer use words like good and evil or true and false or fair or foul (because these are all matters of opinion, and it is wrong to condemn another man’s opinion as wrong) then he can no longer reason about the good, the true, and the beautiful. He can no longer see God, and he can no longer see himself as a being with an immortal soul. He is merely a physical body, no different from a hairless ape, or a clever automaton like Disney’s Meet Mister Lincoln.

If you rob a man of his moral vocabulary, then you rob him of his ability to say what is good and what is evil. You rob him of the ability to categorized reality according to realistic categories.

At that point, he can no longer cling to the good and avoid the evil. He can no longer cling to anything. You do not need him to sell his soul in a formal contract like the devils in times gone by did with Faust. He will give it away, leave it in a gutter, drop it without noticing it, tear it to bits to feed to the pigeons in an idle moment of absentmindedness.

Once the gift of speech is gone, the tempters lure a man into throwing his soul away with both hands, because he will no longer be able to recognize it, not see its value, not see it at all, not even so much as to see that it exists.


Should Teachers Be Paid Based on Student Performance? What This New Study Shows

There are long term benefits to paying teachers by how well students perform in the classroom, according to a new study released by Israeli economist Victor Lavy.

The author analyzed current income and demographic data for a set of students who graduated from high schools that were part of a trial program that paid teachers according to their students’ performance on standardized tests during 2000 and 2001. Lavy compared the educational attainment and yearly earnings of students in schools who participated in the program to their peers at comparable schools who did not.

The pay-for-performance program raised tests scores. It also apparently helped students in other ways. Graduation rates rose, and college enrollment rates were 5.5 percentage points higher. The number of years of post-secondary education completed by students in the trial program was 63 percent higher than among their peers in the control group.

As adults, the students from pay-for-performance schools earned 7 percent more than the control group. They were also 2 percent less likely to need unemployment benefits during the measurement period.

The benefits cited here were measured across students from the entire trial-program school, not just those whose teachers won the performance bonuses.

Lavy’s study shows long-run benefits of paying teachers by how well they teach. The results are supported by economic theory and prior research. In a 2010 paper, Eric Hanushek found that good teachers dramatically improve the lifetime earnings of their students. Lavy’s new work shows that paying teachers according to student results helps students learn more in the short term and increases their economic prospects in the long run.


‘Unsubstantiated’ child neglect finding for free-range parents

The Maryland parents investigated for letting their young children walk home by themselves from a park were found responsible for “unsubstantiated” child neglect in a decision that has not fully resolved their clash with authorities over questions of parenting and children’s safety.

Danielle and Alexander Meitiv hoped the nationally debated case — which has lit up social media and brought a dozen television film crews to their Silver Spring home — would be dismissed after a two-month investigation by Montgomery County Child Protective Services.

But the finding of unsubstantiated child neglect means CPS will keep a file on the family for at least five years and leaves open the question of what would happen if the Meitiv children get reported again for walking without adult supervision.

The parents say they will continue to allow their son, Rafi, 10, and daughter Dvora, 6, to play or walk together, and won’t be swayed by the CPS finding.

“We don’t feel it was appropriate for an investigation to start, much less conclude that we are responsible for some form of child neglect,” said Danielle Meitiv, who said she and her husband plan to appeal and worry about being investigated again by CPS.

“What will happen next time?” she asked. “We don’t know if we will get caught in this Kafkaesque loop again.”

The case dates to Dec. 20, when police picked up the two Meitiv children walking in Silver Spring on a Saturday afternoon after someone reported them. The parents said that they gradually let the pair take walks on their own and that their children knew the area, which is along busy Georgia Avenue.

The Meitivs said they would not have allowed the one-mile outing from Woodside Park to their home if they did not feel their children were up to it. The siblings made it halfway before police stopped them.

The Meitivs’ decision letter, dated Feb. 20, said the CPS investigation had been completed and would be closed. It cited a finding of unsubstantiated child neglect and made note of an appeals process.

Montgomery County Child Protective Services officials referred calls Monday to state officials. Paula Tolson, spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Human Resources, said the state cannot comment on specific cases because of confidentiality requirements.

Tolson said as a general practice, CPS officials in Maryland reach one of three possible findings after neglect investigations: ruled out, unsubstantiated or indicated.

An unsubstantiated finding is typically made when CPS has some information supporting a conclusion of child neglect, or when seemingly credible reports are at odds with each other, or when there is insufficient information for a more definitive conclusion, she said.

Tolson said a conference involving a CPS supervisor is the first step of the appeals process in cases of unsubstantiated neglect. It can often resolve some issues, she said.

Asked how authorities would respond if the children were reported again for walking unsupervised, she said CPS would become involved if a complaint was made about the safety of the children. In such cases, “if we get a call from law enforcement or from a citizen, we are required to investigate. Our goal is the safety of children, always.”

The Meitivs’ case has produced strong reactions about what constitutes responsible parenting, how safe children really are and whether the government overstepped its role.

The Meitivs, both scientists by training, embrace a “free-range” philosophy of parenting, believing that children learn self-reliance by being allowed to make choices, build independence and progressively experience the world on their own.

Though children have played unsupervised for generations, the so-called “free-range” movement goes back to 2008, when New York journalist Lenore Skenazy wrote a piece titled “Why I Let My 9-Year-Old Ride the Subway Alone.”

Skenazy, who developed a following for pushing back against what many see as a culture of helicopter parenting, said Monday that the Meitiv case follows others that raise similar issues but that it became the “walk heard round the world.”

“I think it has shifted the national narrative,” she said, suggesting that people have reacted with more concern about government intrusion and less focus on predator danger.

“The go-to narrative in the last 20 or 30 years for parents was, ‘Take your eyes off your kid for even a second and he’ll be snatched.’ What the Meitiv case did was pivot the story to: ‘Give your kid one second of freedom and the government will arrest you.’ ”

Russell Max Simon, co-founder of Empower Kids Maryland, created just after the Meitiv case became public in January, called the CPS decision “flat-out ridiculous” for holding parents responsible for an unsubstantiated claim.


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Parents' anger after British school bans pupils from watching the eclipse for 'cultural and religious' reasons - but the headteacher refuses to say what they are

Pupils at a primary school were banned from watching today's once-in-a-generation eclipse because of 'religious and cultural reasons', it has emerged.

Parents of children at North Primary School in Southall, London, said they were 'outraged' by the decision and claimed it showed a triumph of 'religious superstition' over scientific education.

Phil Belman, whose seven-year-old daughter goes to the school, met with interim headteacher Ivor Johnstone who said he was unable to elaborate on the decision because of 'confidentiality'.

'It's just going back to the dark ages really. My child went in having spent an hour preparing and making up her pinhole camera,' said Mr Bellman.

'This is an issue about scientific matters versus religious superstition. I am outraged — is it going to be Darwin next? We will be like mid America.

'I asked the headteacher to elaborate which religions and which cultures? But he said it had to be confidential. He referred us to the formal complaints procedure.

'What is the head's future after all of this? I consider this totally unacceptable. I think he should be considering his position.'

Many parents voiced their concerns at the fact they had not been informed of the 'last-minute' decision by the school.

Khairoe Islam, whose son goes to the school, said: 'I'm Muslim myself and in my religion it doesn't say we can't watch it.

'I don't know anything about it but if they say it's because of religion maybe they could have spoken to those people who had a problem and let the other kids enjoy it. 'It shouldn't be spoiled for the rest of the school.'

Harpreet Kaur, whose siblings go to the primary school, said: 'The school didn't say anything to us.  'They told the children it was for religious and cultural reasons and they were told they couldn't see it outside.

'I don't think it was made very clear, even to the teachers. A friend of mine who is a teacher at the school said she didn't understand it.  'I think it was quite a last-minute decision.

'It's a shame because even though it was cloudy there is still the excitement of going outside and having a look.

'There's quite a large Muslim community in the school and someone said it has something to do with that.  'I did some reading up on it but couldn't find anything. Maybe it's some obscure reason.'

Mr Johnstone admitted pupils had been prevented from watching the first solar eclipse of this century after 'religious and cultural concerns associated with observing one directly' were raised.

It is not yet clear exactly what these concerns are, but Christian ministers have raised fears that this eclipse could signal the end of the world, or a judgement from God.

Some Hindu scriptures say that an eclipse makes believers impure.  

And fundamentalists believe that they need to bathe immediately after an eclipse and chant the name of God to overcome the forces of darkness.

The headteacher said: 'The school made this decision when we became aware of religious and cultural concerns associated with observing an eclipse directly.

'Although we are sorry for any disappointment, pupils were still able to watch the eclipse on screens in classrooms. However, the overcast conditions in West London today meant they would not have been able to see it live in any case.'

Ealing Council confirmed the pupils were not allowed out of their classrooms but said they were able to see the eclipse on TV screens.

A spokesman said the council was currently investigating the claims and asked the school for further clarification about why the children were prevented from watching the eclipse.

North Primary, which is not a faith school, describes itself online as 'multicultural with a welcoming ethos'.

In the summer of July 2014, complaints made by a number of teachers led to an investigation by governors of the school.

Sometimes known as Little India, Southall is a diverse community in west London with a large Hindu population.

The school has 407 pupils on roll and around 97 per cent speak English as an additional language.

A substantial minority of them are refugees and there are a few pupils from traveller families.

The news from Southall comes after it emerged that school children across the country were forced to watch the eclipse on TV due to safety fears.

The decision by head teachers angered parents, who wanted their children to experience the rare celestial event without sitting in front of a screen.

Oldway primary school in Paignton, Devon, is one of the schools which came under fire for keeping children inside.

Head teacher Jane Smythe said she had 700 children to look after and she 'could not guarantee that they would not look at the sun'. 

Isabel Stevenson, a mother-of-four from Glasgow, added: 'So not happy about secondary school my kids go to doing NOTHING for solar eclipse tomorrow! Livid and furious. I'm on a mission today.'


Hashtagging Education in Missouri

Social media is a platform for discussion, and education policy is a popular topic. In a recent study, researchers looked at the Twitter hashtag, #commoncore. Over a six-month period, there were 25,000 to 35,000 tweets per month using the CCSS hashtag. Not surprisingly, researchers found that the discussion more often surrounded larger political issues rather than the standards themselves.

I looked at two popular Missouri education hashtags: #moedchat and #motransfers from March 9 to March 11. Using arguably less sophisticated methods, here are a few interesting things I found.

On just one of the days, most of the Twitter users participating in discussions were educators, administrators, or fell under an “other” category. At a glance, these were usually tech specialists or professional development representatives. Looking at only the #motransfers hashtag, there were seven Twitter users participating (including myself, Show-Me Distinguished Fellow James Shuls, DESE, and state house reporter Alex Stuckey).

Over a three-day period, several issues were discussed. The content was related to technology, teaching and learning, policy, and testing.

The more popular hashtag is #moedchat, despite recent legislative actions concerning interdistrict choice. From my very short and quick dive into the data, I found that Missouri educators use Twitter to find out about professional development events, as well as connect with other educators to share ideas. The area that receives the most action is teaching and learning, but connecting and promoting is second.

I’m glad to see Missouri educators engaging in Twitter. Technology is a useful tool both in and out of the classroom, but if this small glimpse is any indication of social media participation among all educators in Missouri on a daily basis, there is room for improvement.

More teachers should participate in policy conversations—140 characters can go a long way.


Let girls be girls and boys be boys for as long as possible

Single-sex schools, contrary to the stereotypes, are good for children, says Helen Fraser   

My first experience of the benefits of single-sex schooling came when I was 11, when I moved from my local primary in Leicester – where the boys pulled my plaits and generally despised me – to a girls’ grammar school. A great sense of peace and tranquillity came over me: no more playground bullying and, all of a sudden, lots of like-minded girls to talk to and play with.

When I arrived at Oxford – in the days before co-ed colleges – I again relished the sense of calm and ability to concentrate that came with living and studying in a women’s college. There were plenty of young men climbing over the walls, so it was hardly a nunnery, but I was always able to find time and space for myself.

But it’s not just girls who can benefit from single-sex education. Tony Little, the headmaster at Eton, has just said that single-sex schools are of huge benefit to both boys and girls, allowing them to enjoy childhood for longer.

Unsurprisingly, anything that keeps our otherwise ubiquitous atmosphere of precocious sexuality at bay for a few more precious years comes as a huge relief to parents, and they repeatedly tell me so. But an environment that nurtures the innocence of childhood is also incredibly important to the boys and girls themselves.

When I started to think about how I would like my stepdaughters and daughters to be educated, the obvious choices were all girls’ schools. They thrived from the age of five to 18 in a succession of schools such as Bute House, St Paul’s and South Hampstead High School. Even so, it was only in 2010, when I took up my role as chief executive of the Girls’ Day School Trust – a network of 24 schools and two academies educating 20,000 girls – that I specifically began asking myself the question: “Why single sex?”

Girls face huge pressures in their lives. They feel pressure to look beautiful, to perform well (and they are performing well, outstripping boys at every age and stage of education), to be talented and demonstrate their abilities under the watchful eye of peers and parents. In particular, they feel pressure to grow up – fast.

It is sad but true that being young and childish seems to fall out of favour by the age of 10. I remember one colleague, whose daughter, like me, had been at a mixed primary and then at a girls’ secondary, saying it was extraordinary how, after the move, the girl suddenly “didn’t need to wear nail polish for school any more”.

Critics complain that single-sex schools reinforce gender insecurities: boys feel doubly pressured to misbehave; girls to look good. But in my experience the reverse is true. Our girls throw themselves into sport and are happy to get hot and sweaty. They love it and they don’t care what they look like doing it – just like the wonderful women in Sport England’s “This Girl Can” campaign. It is a brilliant thing to see a bunch of 13-year-olds throw themselves on the floor after a particularly energetic gym session, exhausted and happy.

Head teachers in single-sex schools are experts in what makes boys and girls tick. They are sensitive to unhappiness, quick to spot any social problems and really understand what works best in the classroom. I remember one junior head commenting that a research study showed many girls who do maths “feel alone – as if they were in the middle of a huge empty space”. On the back of this, she put girls studying maths together in pairs and results soared.

Exam league tables are top-heavy with single-sex schools and prove that they achieve extraordinary things. Let girls be girls and boys be boys and we will all benefit.