Friday, November 06, 2015

Sorry girls, you CAN'T have it all

Top UK headmistress warns that women still need to decide between career or family because of their 'biological calendar'

A retiring headmistress claims that young girls need to choose between a career and a family in early life.  Vivienne Durham, head of Francis Holland Regent's Park expressed her opinion to the Telegraph ahead of her retirement in January.

Vivienne, who was awarded Tatler's Best Headteacher of a Public School last year, said she supports women who choose not to 'combine' motherhood and a career.

In the interview with Absolutely Education magazine she also said: 'I'm sorry, I'm not a feminist. I believe there is a glass ceiling – if we tell them there isn’t one, we are telling them a lie.'

She said: 'Young girls have massive options these days and some of them will make a decision that they don't want to combine everything and that is as valid as making the decision that you do want to combine everything.'

The headteacher of the £13,000-a-year school, which counts Cara Delevingne, Jackie Collins and Jemima Khan among its star-studded alumni, added that she believes that such a decision should be made as soon as possible for young women.

She continued: 'We all have a biological calendar and you have to make decisions about your entire working life, which probably goes up to about 77 now, but you have to make decisions about 40 per cent of your life early on.'

Vivienne added that the right career can be, for some women, as satisfying as starting a family.

'If you're lucky enough to find yourself in a job that you love, it could be very emotionally fulfilling. I am not saying it is as emotionally fulfilling as having children but [that love for a career] sometimes that means that the decision ends up being right.'

Her comments, which are bound to upset women who believe that they can be mothers and career women at the same time, come after one of Britain’s top NHS fertility specialists wrote to education secretary Nicky Morgan demanding that girls of school age are taught about the dangers of delaying motherhood.

In the letter, seen by The Mail on Sunday, consultant gynaecologist Professor Geeta Nargund wrote: ‘I have witnessed all too often the shock and agony on the faces of women who realise they have left it too late to start a family.

‘For so many, this news comes as a genuine surprise and the sense of devastation and regret can be overwhelming.  ‘And so often the cry will be “Why did no one warn me about this?”’

Fertility issues placed a ‘costly and largely unnecessary burden on the NHS’, she said, warning that the IVF bill ‘looks set only to increase’. Hundreds of millions is already spent on IVF, with each treatment ‘cycle’ costing around £5,000.

Arguing passionately for fertility lessons, she urged Mrs Morgan: ‘Information is power and the best way to empower people to take control of their fertility is through education.’

Prof Nargund said: ‘Ideally, if a woman is ready for a child, she should start trying by the time she is 30. She should consider having a child early because as a woman gets older, her fertility declines sharply.’

At the time a Department for Education spokesman said: ‘Sex and relationship education is compulsory in all maintained secondary schools.  ‘We also expect academies and free schools to deliver relationship education.

‘We trust schools to ensure the education they provide meets the needs of particular students. As such, they are free to talk about fertility or any other relevant issues.’


UK: Schoolgirl's satchel left behind in class in 1930 is found by teachers clearing out cupboards and its contents are a fascinating insight into a bygone age

Staff clearing out cupboards at a school were stunned when they stumbled across a dusty satchel containing exercise books from a pupil - dating back nearly 90 years.

The battered leather bag, which has the name Mona Stonyer written on the inside flap, had been untouched ever since it was left behind in 1930.

Inside were Mona's exercise books for history of arts, biology, religious studies, and geology, revealing a fascinating insight into how the subjects were taught almost a century ago.

The college was originally called Hereford High School for Girls and records show Mona was a pupil there from 1927 to 1930.

The 'beautifully presented' books contain pages of painstakingly neat notes and several detailed drawings of plants and wildlife.

Assistant head teacher Cal Hendry, 44 - who has taught at the school for 15 years - said: 'Other than the books, there was nothing in the satchel except her name and address. 'Nobody knows why it was left behind. It's a mystery.

'We've found out that Mona was born in November 1913. Her dad was an engineer and she joined the school in 1927 when she was 13.

'In 1926 her dad was killed in a motorbike accident. She had an older sister but there is nothing in our records about her mother.

'She worked as a personal secretary for a local land security company.

'Mona died in 1990 and apparently she was very reclusive in her old age.

'We held a school assembly about the bag two weeks ago where I gave a slideshow presentation, comparing Mona's work to that of our current pupils.

'The old books are in amazing condition and the presentation hasn't faded.

'All of her work is neatly handwritten. She took great pride in it and it is beautifully presented.

'By showing it to the children, I was trying to emphasise the value of focus and encourage them to take pride in their work like she did.

'Our science teachers also used them in lessons to show how different their teaching methods are now, compared to those in the 1920s.  'This whole experience has been a revelation for me.'

Mona's fourth cousin David Dewick, 66, from Stourbridge, Worcestershire, visited the school after a friend told him about the discovery.

He said: 'I've been researching my family history for 12 years.  'My great, great, great, great, great grandmother was also Mona's grandmother and my grandmother was a Stonyer.

'The family were originally millers by trade and came from Scotland.

'From what I've found out, Mona lived in the same house all her life. She never married and she was childless.

'When she was 13 she was travelling in a motorbike side-car with her older sister Ruby. Her mother, Ellen, was riding as a pillion passenger and her dad, William, was driving.

'They were just minutes from home when William had to swerve to avoid a cyclist and there was an accident with another car which was overtaking.

'He suffered severe head injuries and died and Mona suffered severe head and leg injuries but survived.

'It's remarkable that she was able to produce the quality of work she did so soon after being so badly injured and losing her father.

'I am always interested to find out more about the Stonyers so when I heard the school had found the satchel I was eager to see it for myself.

'What struck me was how precise and neat her work is. She was clearly a very intelligent girl.'

The historic books are now being kept in a display cabinet in the school reception.


Obama Demands School Let Boy Shower With Girls

In this liberal utopia we call America, Rachel Dolezal is black but Clarence Thomas is not (at least not an “authentic” black man); Bruce Jenner is a woman despite having male genitals; and gender is determined by feelings rather than by DNA. This has led to such bizarre developments as Bruce “Call Me Caitlyn” Jenner holding the title of Glamour Magazine’s “Woman of the Year” while simultaneously being one of the most decorated male Olympians of all time.

It’s one thing to watch such circus sideshows play out in popular culture, but it’s another thing entirely to have mental illnesses not only indulged by government but protected under the law. Yet that is exactly what is occurring under Barack Obama.

Earlier this week, the Obama administration issued an administrative ruling involving a dispute between Illinois' Township High School District 211 and a transgendered student, demanding the male student (born a male but “identifying” as a female) be allowed to use the girls' locker room to shower and change clothes, alongside actual female students. Failure to comply with this directive, the Obama administration threatened, will result in federal civil rights lawsuits and the loss of Title IX funding for the district.

Consider the insanity of this position. On one hand, government demands the anatomically accurate sex of each child born be shown on birth certificates, a characteristic that is genetically determined and easily identifiable to anyone with even the most rudimentary knowledge of human anatomy. On the other, it demands schools ignore these anatomical realities in the treatment of certain mentally ill students. Even the American Psychiatric Association acknowledges this truth in its own Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Speaking of gender dysphoria (previously “gender identity disorder”), commonly known as “transgenderism,” the APA states that it is a mental disorder in which a person is extremely uncomfortable with their anatomical sex, and strongly identifies with, and desires to be, the opposite sex.

By definition, the disorder acknowledges that sex is a distinct, natural characteristic, and that extreme discomfort with this reality is a mental disorder. Yet rather than do the compassionate thing and get these distraught, confused individuals the professional help they clearly need, Obama demands we indulge the disorder and pretend it’s natural.

The New York Times, reporting on the story (and erroneously and repeatedly referring to the mentally ill male student as a girl), notes that the student is taking hormone therapy, which begs the question. If the student is a girl, hormone therapy wouldn’t be needed. And if the student is not a girl, his delusions shouldn’t be indulged.

This mentally ill student has already been granted incredible accommodations by being allowed to play sports on the girls' athletic teams, called by his preferred feminine pseudonym and referred to as “she” by teachers and staff. Indeed, he is already allowed to use the girls' locker room. The school has asked only that the student change clothes behind a privacy curtain so as not to expose the female students to his naked body, or theirs to him. Changing clothes in front of members of the same sex can be daunting enough in high school, but no student should have to undress in front of the opposite sex, or be forced to be present when opposite sex students undress.

The absurdity is hard to understate. If a male student walked into the girls' locker room and stripped naked, then that student would likely be suspended or expelled, and possibly brought up on charges of indecent exposure, sexual harassment, etc. Yet if that same male student claims to “identify” as a female, he receives the full weight and power of the federal government crushing any dissent. But what of the rights of the far more numerous female students who don’t want to undress in front of a male student?

When personal feelings and “identity” are the standard by which to decide sex, how can we possibly keep dishonest, opportunistic and libidinous teenage boys from claiming they “identify” as female in order to be able to shower with young women with the protection of a federal mandate?

This lunacy of indulging a mental illness is not just asinine, it is dangerous. A young man can “identify” as a young woman all he wants, but that changes not one iota the fact that, as a male, he has denser bones and more muscle mass, significantly increasing the potential for serious injury to the smaller, lighter young women he plays against on the basketball court or the soccer or lacrosse field.

This type of danger was on full display when “transgendered” MMA fighter Fallon Fox in June incapacitated his female opponent with a TKO just over two minutes into the fight. Fox’s female opponent, Tamikka Brents, suffered a broken eye socket and a concussion. Brents would later state, “I’ve never felt so overpowered ever in my life, and I am an abnormally strong female in my own right.”

This followed Fox’s quick victory (just 39 seconds) in 2013 over Ericka Newsome, with the male Fox taking down his female opponent with a vicious knee to the head.

The threatening directive, issued by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, continues a long history of the Obama administration’s agenda of normalizing sexual deviance and mental disorders, as with its past efforts to expand “rights” for transgendered inmates and employees, including a push for taxpayer-funded “sex reassignment” surgery, hormone therapy and so forth.

This same push is occurring at the state and local level as well, as in Houston, where the lesbian mayor tried to force local churches and businesses to allow men to use women’s restrooms. After some backlash, voters had their say and handily rejected and repealed the measure.

It’s hard to imagine the Obama administration pushing in other directions for such “rights” based on identity. For tens of millions of Americans, their Christianity is an inseparable component of their personal identity, yet Obama actively persecutes and prosecutes those Christians who act upon that identity when it comes into opposition with his pro-LGBT or pro-abortion agenda. Yet we can’t recall a single instance of his using the bully pulpit to call out Muslims for their actual anti-LGBT bigotry, or pointing to the regular practice in many Muslim countries of torture and death for homosexuals.

For Obama, his administration seems to not only embrace the philosophy of Humpty Dumpty, but that of the power-hungry pigs in the George Orwell classic, “Animal Farm,” who condescendingly explained to the less worthy animals, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Clearly, Obama and his comrades are pigs.


Thursday, November 05, 2015

Discipline needed with disruptive students

A recent, widely publicized incident in which a policeman was called to a school classroom to deal with a disruptive student has provoked all sorts of comments on whether the policeman used "excessive force."

What has received far less attention, though it is a far larger question, with more sweeping implications, is the role of disruptive students in schools.

Critics of charter schools have often pointed to those schools' ability to expel uncooperative and disruptive students, far more readily than regular public schools can, as a reason for some charter schools' far better educational outcomes, as shown on many tests.

The message of these critics is that it is "unfair" to compare regular public schools' results with those of charter schools serving the same neighborhoods -- and often in the same buildings. This criticism ignores the fact that schools do not exist to provide jobs for teachers or "fairness" to institutions, but to provide education for students.

"Fairness" is for human beings, not for institutions. Institutions that are not serving the needs of people should either be changed or phased out and replaced, when they persistently fail.

Despite the painfully bad educational outcomes in many public schools in ghettos across the country, there are also cases where charter schools in the very same ghettos turn out students whose test scores are not only far higher than those in other ghetto schools, but sometimes are comparable to the test scores in schools in upscale suburban communities, where children come from intact families with highly educated parents.

Charter schools with such achievements should be celebrated and imitated, not attacked by critics because of their "unfair" exemptions from some of the counterproductive rules of the education establishment. Maybe such rules should be changed for all.

If the critics are right, and getting rid of the influence of uncooperative or disruptive students contributes to better educational results, then the answer is not to prevent charter schools from expelling such students, but to allow other public schools to remove such students, when other students can benefit from getting a better education without them around.

This is especially important in low-income minority schools, where education is for many their only chance for a better life.

Back in the supposedly bad old days, before so many people became so politically correct, there were schools and other institutions that were basically dumping grounds for students who endangered the education -- and often even the safety -- of other children.

Yet a front-page story in the New York Times last week dealt with how Success Academy, a high-performing charter school network in New York City's low-income and minority neighborhoods, has been accused of "weeding out weak or difficult students."

The Times' own story opens with an account of a child who was "not following directions," who "threw tantrums," was screaming, threw pencils and refused to go to another classroom for a timeout. Yet the headline declared that charter schools "Single Out Difficult Students."

"Singled out" usually means treating someone differently from the way others are treated for doing the same things. Are convicted criminals "singled out" when they are sent to jail?

The principal of a Success Academy school in Harlem was accused of telling teachers "not to automatically send annual re-enrollment forms home to certain students, because the school did not want those students to come back."

A mother in Brooklyn complained about her son's being suspended repeatedly, and her being called repeatedly to come to school to pick him up early. She admitted that he was "hitting, kicking, biting and spitting at other children and adults."

After he was transferred to another public school, "he was very happy and had not been suspended once." How happy others were to have him in their midst was not reported.

It would be wonderful if we could develop ways to educate all students, despite whatever kinds of attitudes and behavior they had. But how many generations of other youngsters are we prepared to sacrifice to this hope that has never yet been fulfilled?


UK:  Tough new tests for primary schoolchildren to be reviewed as education chiefs come under pressure from headteachers

Rigorous new tests for primary school pupils will be reviewed as education bosses come under pressure from headteachers to scrap them.

Tests in maths, science and English are due to be made harder next year as part of a drive to raise standards and help pupils gain a better grasp of basic skills before starting secondary school.

But teachers and unions have raised concerns over the assessment of young children, saying this will put both pupils and staff under too much stress.

Under the new scheme, children will be given a baseline assessment when they are five from which their progress can be measured, a further assessment at seven, and a tough new version of the SATs exams for 11-year-olds.

The idea is to ensure that children who show aptitude at five are still achieving when they leave primary school, and is intended to test the school, rather than any individual child. 

On Tuesday, education Secretary Nicky Morgan is set to reveal in a speech to think tank Policy Exchange that the means of testing primary pupils will be reviewed,The Sunday Times reports.

The newspaper reports that the review has been prompted by concerns that headteachers would be reluctant to work in schools which performed badly in the new tests out of fear they could be sacked.

'Our children are over-tested at all stages of our education so I welcome anything that will reduce the current stressful arrangements for them,' Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Lecturers told the Sunday Times.

Last month, headteacher and key government adviser on primary education Dame Alison Peacock, revealed that children at Wroxham School in Hertfordshire, where she teaches, would not be assessing five-year-olds.

Another 3,000 headteachers are also understood to be planning to keep their school's own methods of assessing Reception children instead of the new system, while the NUT union has threatened a boycott of the tests for five-year-olds.

'We are not doing the baseline,' Dame Alison told TES. 'We already have a very comprehensive way of assessing the children: we do it through observation and talking to the children.'

The new tests are designed to be a similar level to those taken by pupils in the highest-performing countries in the world. The UK has failed to make the top 20 in rankings for maths, reading and science, based on the international Pisa tests for 15-year-olds.

Earlier this year it was claimed that one in three 11-year-olds were expected to fail the new tests, with almost 200,000 primary pupils set to be told they were not properly prepared for secondary school after the exams next summer.

Around 85 per cent of children who sit the current Year 6 Sats achieve at least a level 4B – the standard expected of an average 11-year-old.

But the failure rate for the new tests is expected to be twice as high, putting headteachers at risk of being sacked. 

Any child who fails the tests for 11-year-olds, will have to resit them in their first year at secondary school.

In her speech, Morgan is expected to announce that she is setting up a committee including Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), to review the new assessment system.

A Whitehall source told The Sunday Times: 'Nicky Morgan wants to end the football manager syndrome of headship, the idea that heads get six months and if they have not improved their school enough by then they are out. She wants to get good head teachers into the worst schools.'

A spokesman for the Department for Education told MailOnline that the assessments and tests for children would remain whatever the outcome of the review.

The new baseline assessments will not be scrapped,' he said. 'All primary school assessments at five, seven and 11 will remain, indeed we are looking at ways to make them more rigorous.'


Blitz on schools that fail white working classes: 1,500 elite teachers will be drafted in to help as part of new drive to increase standards

An elite group of 1,500 teachers will be parachuted into weak schools as part of a new drive on standards, Nicky Morgan will announce today.

The National Teaching Service will target poor performing schools – many of which are in white working-class areas – with teams of talented teachers and heads.

It is part of a determined push to create opportunities for children from poorer backgrounds, whom the Education Secretary says have been written off in the past.

In a major speech, Mrs Morgan will accuse Labour politicians and their union allies of pushing working class children into subjects such as ‘nail technology and study skills’.

Labour ministers were guilty of ignoring the academic potential of children from working-class homes, while at the same time making sure their own children studied key academic subjects, she will say.

Education experts believe many children in poorer white communities, especially in rural areas and coastal towns, are failing to make enough progress.

In future, secondary schools will be evaluated by the standards watchdog Ofsted on how many pupils take, and pass, the ‘EBacc’ of English, maths, science, history or geography, and a foreign language at GCSE, Mrs Morgan will announce.

Astonishingly, in 2010 only 22 per cent of pupils studied all those subjects. The figure now stands at 40 per cent, but ministers want nine in ten pupils to take them.

Mrs Morgan will say that too many children are not being give a ‘fair shot to succeed because of where they live’. The National Teaching Service will see the ‘brightest and best’ teachers recruited to work in poor performing areas.

They could receive extra cash, and be fast tracked to senior jobs in return for spending two years in a struggling school. The scheme has echoes of the ‘Teach First’ scheme used by Labour to push talented graduates into weak urban schools. A pilot project is being launched today in the North West and the target is for 1,500 recruits by 2020.

In her speech to the Policy Exchange think-tank, Mrs Morgan will accuse Labour and its union allies of ‘tacit snobbery’ and ‘a fatalistic lack of confidence in human potential’.

Their ‘world view’ was that ‘kids from poorer homes could never succeed academically’.

‘Nothing exposes that snobbery more than the fact that these politicians and policy makers were never thinking about their own children,’ she will say.

‘They weren’t going to allow their 14-year-olds to settle for study skills or nail technology; they weren’t going to let them narrow their scope at 14 by filling their timetable with BTECs and NVQs. On the contrary. They made sure their children would study “key” academic subjects, which they told everyone else weren’t essential.’

There are 20 council areas where the majority of pupils still do not get five good GCSEs in any subject. Among them are Knowsley, Salford and Rochdale, all in the North West.

Mrs Morgan will announce details of five new sponsors for academy schools in the region, which have been given grants totalling £5million to try to improve school performance.


Wednesday, November 04, 2015

UK: Semi-literate teachers 'hold back pupils' grammar and vocabulary'

Semi-literate teachers are hampering attempts to improve pupils’ grammar and vocabulary, a new report has suggested. Many are still struggling with the basics and lack the confidence to teach youngsters about proper use of English such as accurate punctuation and spelling.

The findings have been revealed by the National Literacy Trust which has urged schools to invest in greater training for teachers to help boost pupils’ attainment.

It surveyed 2,326 teachers from 112 primary and secondary schools in the United Kingdom about current requirements in the national curriculum.

These require schools to embed the teaching of literacy across all subjects between Key Stage One in primary school and Key Stage Four at secondary level, the charity stressed.

Teachers of all subjects are expected to develop pupils’ spoken language, promote reading for enjoyment and emphasise accurate spelling, grammar and punctuation in written work.

However, one in five – 21 per cent – admitted they are not confident they have the ‘subject knowledge’ to teach the new curriculum, according to the research. And six in ten – 63.3 per cent – claimed that ‘their colleagues would benefit from improving their own literacy’.

Almost half – 45.1 per cent – said that ‘quality of teaching and learning’ was a barrier to children’s overall literacy attainment.

Most teaching staff – 95.2 per cent - across subject areas said it was their job to teach and promote literacy. But 51.7 per cent cited ‘lack of knowledge of how to support literacy’ as the main barrier to improving pupils’ standards in their own schools.

This was followed by lack of time for literacy promotion (51.2 per cent); lack of understanding of the importance of literacy (30.6 per cent) and other priorities (29.3 per cent).

National Literacy Trust director Jonathan Douglas said: ‘Our research shows that teachers recognise how vital it is to teach and promote literacy and want to do so.

‘However, the new national curriculum has highlighted a gap, reflected in our survey, between what is required of teachers and what they feel able to deliver.’

He added: ‘Literacy must now be taught by every teacher even if their specialism is in maths or science.  ‘A changing education landscape over recent years means that some teachers will not have been trained to teach literacy and other teachers may not even have learnt literacy at school themselves but are now required to teach it.

‘There is a clear need for literacy to be embedded in continued professional development plans to equip teachers with the knowledge and confidence that our research shows they feel they lack to meet the literacy requirement.’

Liz Robinson, headteacher at Surrey Square Primary School in Southwark, London, said: ‘This research highlights that it is a shared responsibility for teachers across all subjects to teach literacy skills.

‘This shouldn’t be seen as a separate task, but part of the work they are already doing. ‘Teachers need to be more confident in their own abilities to teach literacy as they know more than they think.’  [Really??]


No More Common Core in Arizona

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas made national headlines last year for standing up for parental rights in education and opposing Washington, DC-driven Common Core standards.

This morning, Superintendent Douglas motioned the state education board, the entity responsible for adopting Common Core in Arizona back in 2010, to vote on the standards, which were defeated. As KTAR News reports:

    "The Arizona State Board of Education in a 6-2 decision voted to repeal the Common Core State Standards Monday morning.

    Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas brought the motion to the board to reverse the 2010 adoption of the standards.

    In a letter addressed to board President Greg Miller, Douglas wrote, “It is hereby moved that the actions of the State Board of Education (SBE) on June 28, 2010 to adopt Common Core, now referred to as the Arizona College and Career Ready Standards, as the standards for language arts and mathematics be reversed and that all links to Common Core be severed.”

Elsewhere, ABC 15 News (Phoenix) reported that the 45-minute debate became heated:

    “The board is just saying, ‘We can take care of Arizona’s children and this is a very proud day for Arizonans,” said Douglas.

    “This will send a clear message to the citizens of Arizona and the nation that Arizonans are smart enough, engaged enough, and collaborative enough to control the education of our own children.”

The existing standards will stay in place for the time being, but Arizona now has the freedom to enact standards its citizens think are best.

The challenge will be not to repeat the mistakes of the past, with seemingly rigorous standards on paper, but shamefully low passing scores for students to be deemed performing. (See here and here, too.) And that’s the problem once we put politicians in charge of academics.

No matter how well-intentioned elected officials and their appointees may be about education, there’s always powerful pressure to make it appear as though they’re “doing something”—and no politician wants student scores to go down on his or her watch.

Cases in point. In response to political pressure from Washington, DC, to make 100 percent of students proficient during the Bush II No Child Left Behind era, the overall rigor of Arizona state standards went from a B- in 2003 to a D+ in 2009. One year after Common Core was adopted by the state board—but had not yet been implemented—Arizona standards moved up to a C in 2011.

So in less than a decade with politicians in charge, the rigor of Arizona’s standards declined overall—at a cost to a generation of students that can never be fully quantified. The monetary cost to their parents and taxpayers, however, can.

In a nutshell, Arizonans have spent close to $400 million implementing Common Core, but we only got $25 million of our hard-earned tax money back from the feds to implement it.

Superintendent Douglas was elected last year by a majority of Arizona voters who want Washington, DC, and politics out of children’s classrooms. She’s stayed true to her promise to work to empower parents over their children’s education—because parental choice, not more government mandates or empty standards—is the best way to ensure a top-quality education for all students.


International Baccalaureate exams begin in Australia and around the world

It is the exam so secret that not even teachers know what it contained until a day after students put down their pens.

Tamper-proof packaging, investment bank-style encryption and invigilators are all part and parcel of the International Baccalaureate, which began around the world on Tuesday.
"A bit of banter between the groups," says Alexandria Smith, left, with Annabelle McMahon.

"A bit of banter between the groups," says Alexandria Smith, left, with Annabelle McMahon. Photo: Janie Barrett

At St Paul's Grammar in Cranebrook, two-thirds of the year 12 cohort took the IB over the HSC this year but, unlike their HSC classmates, none of them could talk about the English exam they had just finished.

Globally, 77,000 students from 400 schools in 148 countries take the transnational certificate that is an alternative to the HSC.

The worldwide nature of the examinations means that students must wait 24 hours before discussing the tests with anyone.

It is a longer wait than most for Australian pupils, who are some of the first in the world to hear the examiner call "pens down" at 11:30am.

"It gives me time to make peace with myself," said 17-year-old Annabelle McMahon. "It's better for me because I get really nervous when I ask people about the exam."

Annabelle's St Paul's classmate, Alexandria Smith, echoed her sentiments. "I'm more happy not knowing anything. We can't improve it now. It is just more stress."

Along with 60 of their classmates and more than 350 other NSW students, the pair will sit up to 12 exams between now and November 24, almost twice as many as their HSC counterparts.

Overall, there are more than 80 IB exams in subjects as diverse as global politics, philosophy, English and maths, with a curriculum that focuses more on breadth than specialisation and has a compulsory community service component.

The IB diploma goes for two years compared to the HSC's one.

"You can be tested on day one of year 11," said Alexandria.

The teenagers said that finishing their IB almost a month after the majority of the rest of state's year 12 students was worth the wait.

The last of the state's 77,000 HSC students will finish their HSC exams when  the Visual Arts exam concludes at 3:30pm on Wednesday.

"There is always a bit of banter between the groups," said Alexandria. "We have had six weeks to prepare and be better equipped for our exams."

"For our HSC friends we are a bit jealous that they do get to go on to holidays now, but my HSC friends said I'm going to be jealous of your ATAR'."

Last year Australian students dominated the International Baccalaureate exams, performing well above the global average and claiming a high proportion of the top marks despite the relatively small cohort.

Overall they made up 10 per cent of the top scores, despite accounting for less than 3 per cent of all students.

The national average of 34.22, which equals an ATAR of more than 90, was well above the global average of 29.95.

Antony Mayrhofer, the Director of Learning Services at St Paul's, said that the IB was becoming increasingly popular as an accreditation for Australian universities.

"But there is not a huge jump into the IB diploma in NSW," he said. "One reason is because the HSC is such a strong credential".

The IB continues on Wednesday with Economics, English and Classical languages. 

The HSC finishes with Visual Arts, Food Technology, French Extension and Modern Greek Extension.


Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Academia’s Rejection of Diversity

Arthur Brooks makes good points below but seems not to realize that Leftists have no principles. If it suits them to advocate diversity they will but only because it persuades others, not because they have any real belief in it.  So appeals to general principles will not influence them.  Only what feeds their hates of the day will influence them.  If you understand that Leftism is hate, everything falls into place. They can be defeated but rarely converted.  Age is usually the only thing that mellows them

ONE of the great intellectual and moral epiphanies of our time is the realization that human diversity is a blessing. It has become conventional wisdom that being around those unlike ourselves makes us better people — and more productive to boot.

Scholarly studies have piled up showing that race and gender diversity in the workplace can increase creative thinking and improve performance. Meanwhile, excessive homogeneity can lead to stagnation and poor problem-solving.

Unfortunately, new research also shows that academia has itself stopped short in both the understanding and practice of true diversity — the diversity of ideas — and that the problem is taking a toll on the quality and accuracy of scholarly work. This year, a team of scholars from six universities studying ideological diversity in the behavioral sciences published a paper in the journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences that details a shocking level of political groupthink in academia. The authors show that for every politically conservative social psychologist in academia there are about 14 liberal social psychologists.

Why the imbalance? The researchers found evidence of discrimination and hostility within academia toward conservative researchers and their viewpoints. In one survey cited, 82 percent of social psychologists admitted they would be less likely to support hiring a conservative colleague than a liberal scholar with equivalent qualifications.

This has consequences well beyond fairness. It damages accuracy and quality. As the authors write, “Increased political diversity would improve social psychological science by reducing the impact of bias mechanisms such as confirmation bias, and by empowering dissenting minorities to improve the quality of the majority’s thinking.”

One of the study’s authors, Philip E. Tetlock of the University of Pennsylvania, put it to me more bluntly. Expecting trustworthy results on politically charged topics from an “ideologically incestuous community,” he explained, is “downright delusional.”

Are untrustworthy academic findings really a problem? In a few high-profile cases, most definitely. Take, for example, Prof. Diederik Stapel of Tilburg University in the Netherlands, who in 2011 faked experiments to show, among other things, that eating meat made people selfish. (He later said that his work was “a quest for aesthetics, for beauty — instead of the truth”).

This kind of ideologically motivated fraud is mercifully rare. As a social scientist working in universities and think tanks, I have never met a colleague who I believe has engaged in this sort of misconduct.

These concerns aren’t a modern innovation. In one classic experiment from 1975, a group of scholars was asked to evaluate one of two research papers that used the same statistical methodology to reach opposite conclusions. One version “found” that liberal political activists were mentally healthier than the general population; the other paper, otherwise identical, was set up to “prove” the opposite conclusion. The liberal reviewers rated the first version significantly more publishable than its less flattering twin.

The World Bank has found a similar phenomenon at work among its own staff. In a recent exercise, the organization presented identical data sets to employees under two different pretexts. Some employees were told the data were measuring the effectiveness of a skin rash cream, while others were told the same data measured the effects of minimum wage laws on poverty. The politicized context of the second question led to more erroneous analyses, and the accuracy of left-leaning respondents plummeted when the data conflicted with their worldview.

Improving ideological diversity is not a fundamentally political undertaking. Rather, it is a question of humility. Proper scholarship is based on the simple virtues of tolerance, openness and modesty. Having people around who think differently thus improves not only science, but also character.

Many academics and intellectuals see their community as a major force for diversity and open-mindedness throughout American society, and take justifiable pride in this image. Now they can be consistent and apply those values to their own profession, by celebrating ideological diversity.


Obama Weighs in on Virginia Bathroom Battle

Lawyers for the departments of Education and Justice filed a legal brief Wednesday coming to the defense of a transgendered student who’s suing her school district to use the boys' bathrooms. Gavin Grimm, 16, was told by the Gloucester County School District in Virginia that, no, she could not use the boy’s restroom.

The case made it to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals before Barack Obama’s lawyers filed an amicus brief. Prohibiting this student from using the boys' bathroom would violate Title IX of the 1972 Education Act, Obama’s lawyers argued. “Treating a student adversely because the sex assigned to him at birth does not match his gender identity is literally discrimination ‘on the basis of sex,’” they wrote.

This case is among a handful of bathroom battles playing out across the nation, like the San Francisco school that declared its elementary school bathrooms gender neutral, or the case of the Missouri high school student who wanted to use the girls' bathroom after gym class.

This filing shows that the Obama administration isn’t simply content to let this matter work its way through the courts. Instead, it must insert itself into the situation and try to effect top-down change. And you thought Obama was content to use his phone and pen.

When there’s a conflict involving religious liberty, governments are compelled to find a reasonable workaround — which in these situations would be a unisex bathroom. Forcing schools to allow a boy that identifies as female into the female locker rooms (or vice versa) is not.


Free Stuff Can Turn Out to Be a Bad Buy

Free college! That’s what the Democratic candidates were offering in their presidential debate. And it’s likely that, if the subject had come up, they would have offered something like free home mortgages as well, to judge from Hillary Clinton’s statement that she had urged Wall Street to stop mortgage foreclosures. Sounds a lot like free houses!

Free stuff sounds good to many people, and it’s not just Democrats who promise it. Republican candidates have been talking about reducing college costs, too, and George W. Bush was as passionate a supporter as Bill Clinton of encouraging home ownership for blacks and Hispanics.

Such policies are not necessarily examples of political demagoguery, though some are. They are based on observations of undisputed facts. College graduates over the years tend to make more money than non-graduates. Homeowners over the years tend to accumulate wealth and to build communities more than renters.

From these observations policymakers have drawn the following conclusion. If we just get more people — especially minorities — into college, they will make more money. If we just get more people — especially minorities — to become homebuyers, they will accumulate more wealth. And what easier way to do that than to make these things free, or close to that?

This argument has special appeal to those oldsters born in the 1940s — Bernie Sanders, Bill and Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush, Donald Trump. Back then most Americans did not own homes, and only a small minority graduated from college.

These politicians saw how public policies such as the FHA and VA home loans and the GI Bill of Rights, together with unexpected postwar prosperity, changed that. By 1960 more than 60 percent of Americans were homeowners. By the 1970s most high school graduates were going on to some form of higher education. If old public policies could increase college attendance and homeownership, shouldn’t new public policies be able to increase them still more?

Over the last quarter-century we have had such policies, with some unhappy results. By 2007, 69 percent of American adults were homeowners. In 2009, 70 percent of young Americans went on to some form of higher education. But those numbers have slipped down since.

Government grants and subsidized loans have enabled many people to afford higher ed. But they haven’t guaranteed that recipients graduate or that graduates find satisfactorily remunerative work. The availability of government subsidy has prompted colleges and universities to raise tuitions far more rapidly than inflation, with much of the proceeds going into administrative bloat. That has left many borrowers with enormous debts that they cannot shed in bankruptcy.

Government policies, aided and abetted by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, promoted low- or no-down-payment mortgages for buyers, especially Hispanics and blacks, previously considered not credit-worthy. Policymakers, lenders and buyers all assumed that housing prices would always rise so that homeowners could always refinance any money problems away.

Oops. Housing prices fell sharply starting in 2006, and financial firms ended up with mortgage-backed securities that regulators classified as safe but for which they suddenly could find no buyers — and the economy crashed. Mortgage foreclosures soared, and by my estimate about one-third of those foreclosed on were Hispanics in California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida, whose recent low- or no-down-payment mortgages left them deep underwater when prices plummeted.

In response, many politicians, mainly Democrats, are calling for iatrogenic policies: more of the medicine that caused the malady. Free college (actually, just free tuition) falls in this category, giving colleges and universities a more direct pipeline to government funds but not guaranteeing better results for students. Junior college is already largely free, but most enrollees don’t graduate.

And the Obama administration is seeking to reinstate Clinton and Bush administration policies providing low- and no-down-payment mortgages to blacks and Hispanics who do not meet traditional credit standards. What could go wrong?

Recent experience should tell us that college and homeownership are not for everyone. Many people lack the cognitive skills for higher education but have other abilities that can make them productive and successful adults. Many people, like those who move frequently, are better off renting than paying the transaction costs of buying a home.

Maybe policymakers got causation backwards. Increased college and homeownership, they thought, would upgrade people, and for a long while it did. But we seem to have reached the point of diminishing returns, when making things free will hurt the intended beneficiaries more than help.


Monday, November 02, 2015

WA: High School Football Coach Suspended for Post-Game Prayer

Like Islam, Leftism is a religion that hates rival religions -- so the Leftists in the Washington State educational system are doing their best to attack Christianity

It’s like straight out of a movie.  High school football coach Joe Kennedy, inspired by the Christian faith-based film “Facing the Giants,” walks to the 50-yard line after games to thank God for the players he has the opportunity to coach.

As of Wednesday, Kennedy has been suspended and is no longer able to participate in football program activities because of his post-game prayers.

A letter sent to Kennedy by the school district informed the coach that he has been placed on paid administrative leave.

“We tried to meet with the school officials in-person but they refused to meet,” Hiram Sasser, deputy chief counsel for Liberty Institute, said in a statement. “We were only able to have a brief hour and a half call with their lawyer, and the result was a letter banning private prayer just a few hours before last Friday’s game. It is unfortunate this school district is choosing litigation instead of a simple meeting.”

Kennedy’s tradition started seven years ago when he thanked God for the game and the players after coaching his first game at Bremerton High School.

A few games into his private practice, students began to ask the coach what he was doing.

“I was thanking God for you guys,” Kennedy remembered saying to his players, according to a Liberty Institute statement. “Then a couple said they were Christians and asked if they could join. I responded, ‘It’s a free country, you can do whatever you want to do.’”

On Sept. 17, the superintendent of the school district issued a letter to coach Kennedy to inform him that he was going against the policies of the school district.

In the letter, Superintendent Aaron Leavell pointed to a policy that includes the following statement:

"As a matter of individual liberty, a student may of his/her own volition engage in private, non-disruptive prayer at any time not in conflict with learning activities. School staff shall neither encourage nor discourage a student from engaging in non-disruptive oral or silent prayer or any form of devotional activity."

Kennedy was informed in the letter of standards that he is expected to adhere to, like not participating when students are engaged in religious activity as to not show “endorsement of the activity.”

He is free to provide “motivational, inspirational talks” to the students, but this does not include “religious expression” such as prayer. Facts about coach Kennedy’s post-game verbal prayers:

He does not pray to a specific religion or deity.

He does not say “amen” after the prayers.

Students voluntarily congregate near Kennedy while he prays.

“Coaches, students, and teachers don’t lose their religious freedom the second they step onto school grounds,” said Melody Wood, who works in the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation. “School bureaucrats should stop discriminating against people of faith engaging in completely voluntary prayer.”

On Oct. 14, Liberty Institute sent the school district a demand letter to inform the district that coach Kennedy is not in violation of any law. It states that Kennedy would continue to pray post-game.

“The school district violated federal law by denying Coach Kennedy’s request for religious accommodation,” Mike Berry, senior counsel for Liberty Institute, said in a statement. “Their violation of the law cannot go unanswered.”

The school responded to Liberty Institute by stating that the request to allow Kennedy to pray could not be met due to a “potential liability.”

Despite the order to cease prayer, on homecoming night, Oct. 16., Kennedy walked to the 50-yard line as he always does post-game.

“I’m going to do what I’ve always done and I will do my prayer,” KIRO-TV reported Kennedy stated.

Locals news outlets provided coverage of the post-game prayer as Kennedy found himself surrounded by Centralia Tigers football players—the opposing team—kneeling down with their rival coach.

“If the school is concerned that the coach’s prayer may be interpreted as government speech, there is an easy solution: The school district can simply say that the coach’s prayer is his own speech,” said Sasser. “Then they should stand back and let him pray.”

The school district does not agree. “Any further violations will be grounds for discipline,” an Oct. 23 letter from Superintendent Leavell reads.

Kennedy continued his tradition by kneeling on the field to pray following football games on Oct. 23 and Oct. 26.

Kennedy and his legal team at Liberty Institute began to initiate legal proceedings against the Bremerton School District on Oct. 26.

In a letter sent to the school district this week, 47 members of Congress showed their support for the “admirable and respectable” actions of Kennedy, “as they represent his commitment to the welfare of the young  men on his team.”


UK: Migrant pupils should ditch their accent and learn to speak received pronunciation, says trailblazing black TV presenter Floella Benjamin

Leftists outraged of course.  They refuse to see that she has herself had great success in doing so.  RP is Britain's prestigious accent, associated mostly with the upper middle and upper classes and known outside the Home Counties only among those who have been to "Public" (independent) schools

A former children's TV presenter from Trinidad sparked outrage after telling migrant children to pronounce words properly if they want to succeed in life.

Floella Benjamin OBE moved to Britain aged 11 and became one of the most famous faces among Britain's children as the presenter of Play School.

But she has recently revealed that when she first moved to south London, a teacher called her guttersnipe because of her thick West Indian accent.

The former presenter, now a prominent equality campaigner, has now invited other migrant children to adopt more 'received pronunciation'.

Baroness Benjamin, now 66, said: 'That teacher did me a huge favour. If someone's seeing you like that, you must prove them wrong.

'After that, I was the idol of her class. You have to be able to adapt to the situation and you have to be able to communicate,' she told The Times Educational Supplement.

However, her comments have sparked outrage among some who have suggested that the comment encourages discrimination.

Kauser Jan of the National Union of Teachers said: 'Because a black person is saying it, we think it's OK? It's almost giving a green light to people: "By being racist, you're helping me".'

It's a surprising move for the former presenter, who is a prominent campaigner for equality, has an OBE for her contribution to broadcasting and was appointed a Liberal Democrat life peer.


Australia:  Christian school exercises its freedom of religion

Christian school told homosexual his daughter, seven, could not talk about her parents because they did not want her to 'promote' homosexuality, which is well within the teachings of scripture (See Romans Chaps. 1 & 2, for instance, where Paul condemns Roman sexual practices, including sodomy)

A private school has publicly announced that children of same-sex parents are not welcome to attend, after it was discovered that a Year One pupil at the school has gay fathers.

A school parent is accusing Western Australia's Foundation Christian College of discriminating against his family due to his homosexuality, according to the Mandurah Mail.

Brendan, who would prefer not to disclose his surname, claims the school forbade his seven-year-old daughter from discussing her two fathers or the topic of homosexuality with her classmates.

The Mandurah school principal Andrew Newhouse responded to the controversy by openly confirming that children of same-sex parents will not be allowed to enroll at the Christian school.

Mr Newhouse – a former Family First candidate in the 2013 Federal election – has allegedly accused Brendan of 'fooling' the school during the initial interview and says Brendan's daughter would never have been accepted if they'd known she had two fathers.

The conflict was instigated by a conversation the little girl had with her classmates in which she mentioned she has two fathers, the Mandurah Mail reports.

'(My daughter) got talking about Tony Abbott and gay marriage and mentioned that her dad is with (my partner) and she was shut down by her teacher and then the teacher had to explain to the class what 'gay' is,' Brendan told the publication.

The girl's parents were called into a meeting with the school, who informed the parents that the student could not mention having two dads or broach the topic of homosexuality, as the school doesn't promote 'gay'.

Brendan is living with his male partner while sharing custody of his daughter with his ex-wife, according to the Mandurah Mail.

After another confrontation with the principal, Brendan chose to remove his daughter from the school. The ordeal has left the little girl confused and upset, according to her father.

'She doesn't like it that they don't like her dad,' said Mr Newhouse. 'Why does my daughter have to go through this and lose her best friends due to the person I am? 'I carry a lot of guilt and I hate that my daughter has to deal with her dad not being accepted.'

Mr Newhouse released a statement in the wake of the controversy to stand by his actions.

'The Board has a clearly enunciated Christian world view which all parents are made aware of before enrollment is confirmed,' said Mr Newhouse.

'Recently, a father withdrew his Year 1 (sic) daughter from the college as he came to understand the College was unable to support his worldview.

'A same-sex world view is not congruent with our Christian world view.'

'While we respect the rights of others to hold different world views, the College has an obligation to the parents to maintain the Christian worldview in all aspects of the college.'


Sunday, November 01, 2015

Detroit Public Schools: 93% Not Proficient in Reading; 96% Not Proficient in Math

In the Detroit public school district, 96 percent of eighth graders are not proficient in mathematics and 93 percent are not proficient in reading.

That is according to the results of the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress tests published by the Department of Education’s National Center for Educational Statistics.

Only 4 percent of Detroit public school eighth graders are proficient or better in math and only 7 percent in reading. This is despite the fact that in the 2011-2012 school year—the latest for which the Department of Education has reported the financial data—the Detroit public schools had “total expenditures” of $18,361 per student and “current expenditures” of $13,330 per student.

According to data published by the Detroit Public Schools, the school district’s operating expenses in the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2014 amounted to approximately $14,743 per student.

Nationwide, only 33 percent of public-school eighth graders scored proficient or better in reading in 2015 and only 32 percent scored proficient or better in mathematics.

In 2015, 21 large urban school districts participated in the NAEP tests in reading and mathematics as part of what the Department of Education calls its Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA). Among these 21 districts, the Detroit Public Schools had the smallest percentages of eighth graders scoring proficient or better in reading and math.

In reading, the Cleveland public schools were next to last among the large urban school districts with only 11 percent scoring proficient or better. Baltimore and Fresno were tied for third worst with only 13 percent scoring proficient or better; and Philadelphia ranked fifth worst with only 16 percent scoring proficient or better.

The Cleveland public schools also ranked next to last in math, with only 9 percent of eight graders scoring proficient or better. Baltimore and Fresno were also tied for third worst in math, with only 12 percent scoring proficient or better; and Los Angeles ranked fifth worst with 15 percent scoring proficient or better in math.

The Department of Education has published fiscal information on the Detroit public schools for the 2011-2012 school year. That year, the Detroit Public Schools had total expenditures of $1,231,375,000, equaling $18,361 per student. That included $13,330 per student for current expenditures, $3,182 for capital outlays, and $1,737 for interest on the school system’s debt.

$271,358,000 of the school district's funding for the 2011-2012 school year came from the federal government.

The $13,330 for “current expenditures” included $515,473,000 for “instructional expenditures,” $133,282,000 for “student and staff support,” $97,800,000 for “administration,” and $147,411,000 for “operations, food service” and other expenses.

The Detroit Public Schools’ Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2014 says the school district served “an estimated 48,905 students” during that fiscal year. “Of the District’s total operating expenditures of approximately $721 million, 48 percent or approximately $346 million, was spent on instruction for the year ended on June 30, 2014,” said the report.

The approximately $721 million in total operating expenditures the school district reported for fiscal 2014 equaled approximately $14,743 for each of the district’s 48,905 students.


Is Planned Parenthood Targeting Schoolchildren?

Why is Planned Parenthood interested in a local school board election in the battleground state of Colorado?

That is what parents and voters are asking themselves in Jefferson County, Colo., this week after Planned Parenthood waded into a local recall election aimed at ousting three Republican school board officials in the middle of their terms.

Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado, a non-profit 501(c)4 organization, has sent letters to voters asking them to become involved in the school board recalls by first signing the petition to recall their elected officials, then volunteering for the effort to oust their local school board members.

The Planned Parenthood affiliated organization has also endorsed some of the candidates who are running to replace the current school board members in an announcement titled, “Vote in the Election on November 3rd for Real Sex Ed!”

The message is contrary to the one being pushed by recall proponents—which is that the recall campaign is about educating kids.

However, the Planned Parenthood group boasts of advancing “Colorado youths’ rights to real sex education and reproductive health care.” The group still opposes the state’s Parental Notification Act passed by the legislature in 2003 that requires parents of school-aged children under the age of 18 must be notified within 48 hours prior to abortion.

So what exactly does Planned Parenthood stand to gain from involvement in a local school board race?

Access, for one thing.

It turns out that Planned Parenthood is selling sex kits to local schools—including schools in the county in question—which Planned Parenthood’s own national website calls “Birth Control Training Kits.”

According to Planned Parenthood’s website, each of the kits contains 10 male condoms, two “female condoms,” one intrauterine contraceptive, one package of oral contraceptives, one “dental dam,” two samples of “water-based lubricants,” “cycle beads” for natural family planning purposes, one “Today” contraceptive sponge, one “syringe” containing a Depo Provera shot, and two vaginal contraceptive spermicidal films.

At least one local official in Jefferson County familiar with the kit reports that it includes a faux “Plan B” pill to familiarize school-aged students with “the morning after” pill.

In a statement given to The Daily Signal, Cathy Alderman, vice president of public affairs at Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, said:

    "Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado generally takes interest in school board races especially when extreme politicians attempt to block or restrict access to accurate, sound curricula including curricula related to the provision of complete, age-appropriate, medically-accurate, and culturally-sensitive sexual health education."

At $125 per kit per student, it stands to reason that Planned Parenthood may view access to schools not simply as an opportunity to educate, but rather as a lucrative business opportunity.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the population of children enrolled in school is expected to increase 6 percent through the school year 2024-2025—from 49.8 million to nearly 53 million.

In border states and near-border states, the increase is even higher at upwards of 10 percent and 15 percent growth. In Nevada, the increase in population growth of school-aged children is even higher, at 26 percent.

Not a bad business model, if you can get it.

Thus, as the population of schoolchildren grows in America and as Planned Parenthood seeks to educate schoolchildren about sex at increasingly younger ages, the opportunity exists for a long-term profit center for the organization, as well as a “cradle-to-grave” institutionalized dependence upon Planned Parenthood.

And that’s where the really big money comes in.

Each year, American taxpayers send an estimated $540 million in annual federal funds to Planned Parenthood affiliates.

While Planned Parenthood claims that those taxpayer funds are not used for abortions, the organization is demonstrably utilizing those funds to market their goods and services to schoolchildren.

It is not unreasonable to suggest that eventually, services provided to schoolchildren could include referrals for on-demand abortion services should the above-mentioned “Birth Control Training Kits” fail.

Think it couldn’t happen?

In politics, one needs only to “follow the money” to see why a national pro-abortion organization is so interested in a local school board recall election.

Does Planned Parenthood presume that if conservatives on a local school board were to fulfill the terms to which they were elected, they might eventually call into question Planned Parenthood’s active presence in local schools? Perhaps require that taxpayer funds no longer go toward sex education pushed by the group?

It certainly appears that way.

It appears that in addition to sex education, recall proponents are concerned about a number of other liberal issues. On their official website, proponents list upcoming battles like a laundry list of progressive fights such as “charter school accountability, religious school vouchers, AP U.S. history curriculum, discrimination and bullying [as it relates to transgender individuals, per Colorado law], sex education, confidential health services, collective bargaining agreements, vaccinations, STEM funding, and local control and national education standards.”

While the debate over Planned Parenthood funding continues around the country and on Capitol Hill, one thing is certain: the state’s local school board elections to be held in this swing state next Tuesday raise sincere questions about the involvement of Planned Parenthood and their liberal agenda inside our public schools.

Perhaps the most important question of all is, if Planned Parenthood succeeds in the battleground state of Colorado, which state’s schoolchildren will they attempt to influence next?


Will Obama’s New Guidelines Actually Reduce Testing in Schools? Probably Not Much

The Obama administration responded to stacked complaints about excessive testing in schools, announcing new guidelines over the weekend that would scale back ballooned emphasis on standardized tests.

Though President Barack Obama said Saturday that the Department of Education would work “aggressively” with states and school districts to curb testing, his plan is expected to affect students only slightly.

Lindsey Burke, an expert in education at The Heritage Foundation, said that until the administration releases full guidance in January, the impact of its plan on schools cannot be entirely assessed, but she predicted that the guidelines will do “very little” to reduce excessive testing.

She pointed to “rigid” federal testing mandates along with the constraints of No Child Left Behind, which she said extended Washington’s role in setting testing schedules leading to the avalanche of standardized tests students are required to take.

“Much of the over-testing parents dislike will not be corrected, it seems, by this latest action on the part of the administration,” Burke said. “Unless Congress eliminates the annual testing mandate in No Child Left Behind, students will still be tested annually in grades three through eight and again in high school in the core subjects. And many states remain in Common Core, adding to the testing burden.”

Obama announced the plan in a video message posted to Facebook, vowing to work with school districts to ensure that students are taking only tests that supplement quality teaching and learning.

“Our kids should only take tests that are worth taking—tests that are high-quality, aimed at good instruction, and make sure everybody’s on track,” Obama said.

“Learning is about so much more than just filling in the right bubble.”

The Department of Education conceded that the administration is partly to blame for “unnecessary” testing, recommending in its “Testing Action Plan” that schools cap the amount of time students spend on taking exams to no more than 2 percent of classroom time.

The department also called on Congress to “reduce over-testing” after lawmakers voted last summer to reauthorize No Child Left Behind, the nation’s Bush-era education standards that poured a wave of federal programs and testing standards onto U.S. public schools.

Burke said the “most impactful” piece of the plan is that it limits “double-testing” for students in eighth grade who, for example, passed an advanced placement math test but then have to additionally take the ninth-grade state math test.

While the plan offers suggestions for school districts to follow, the guidelines are nonbinding.

The administration said it would issue detailed guidance in January advising states and districts on how to use federal money to assess the quality of their testing procedures. It will also provide advice on how schools can best use testing as an effective learning tool.

The administration’s announcement came the same day as a Council of the Great City Schools report that evaluated testing in the U.S.’s largest urban school districts.

The study found that the average student will take roughly 112 standardized tests before high school graduation—about eight per year. Those numbers exclude “optional tests, diagnostic tests for students with disabilities or English learners, school-developed or required tests, or teacher designed or developed tests.”

Notably, the study discovered “no correlation between time spent testing and improved math and reading scores.”

Union groups that have fought against mounting testing requirements and the use of test scores to assess teachers backed the administration’s plan.

“It’s a big deal that the president and the secretaries of education—both current and future—are saying that they get it and are pledging to address the fixation on testing in tangible ways,” Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, said in a statement.

Weingarten called the plan “common sense” but stipulated that “the devil is in the details.”