Friday, April 29, 2016

Xenophobia in Connecticut: Plan for a Chinese academy stirs opposition

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — A year ago, the leaders of this quiet suburb found themselves faced with an unusual — and highly lucrative — proposition.

A Chinese company wanted to build an international academy in town, then funnel hundreds of students from the academy into local public high schools, where students would pay thousands in tuition to the district.

Local officials saw a potential windfall of private money and an antidote to the schools’ declining enrollment. As radical as the proposition was, it quickly moved forward.

Now, opposition to the uncommon arrangement is quietly growing. Last week local officials learned the Chinese company is under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security for possibly skirting federal visa laws in a similar program it runs in Michigan.

In addition, local residents have raised concerns about entangling public schools with a foreign company whose primary goal is profit. They also wonder how the arrival of several hundred foreign students might impact classes, athletics, and competition in college admissions.

“Public schools are a public resource,” said Christopher Barnes, a town councilor in West Hartford, a middle-class town of about 61,000. “They shouldn’t be for sale.”

In many ways, the controversial proposal underscores broader concerns about the thriving international education industry, which has made rich a network of intermediaries who connect US high schools and colleges with full-tuition-paying Chinese students hungry for American diplomas. Eager to pad their budgets, schools have been known to look the other way on common problems, including ghostwritten essays and rampant cheating by these students on the SATs in China.

But while Chinese students have poured into private high schools and colleges at record numbers for a decade, their arrival at public high schools is relatively new and governed more strictly by federal visa laws. Many public high schools in Massachusetts enroll some tuition-paying foreign students but nothing like the scope proposed in West Hartford.

The Chinese company, Weiming Education Group, educates 40,000 students on 42 campuses in China, according to a letter it sent West Hartford. In 2012, the company began sending some students to study at “partner” high schools in the United States. Students typically pay Weiming around $40,000, and the company pays districts about $10,000 per student.

The company’s West Hartford plan centers on its likely purchase of the University of Connecticut’s serene 58-acre satellite campus in West Hartford, which it would renovate into a school. Weiming has offered UConn $12.6 million for the property, and the deal is nearly final, although the town could still match the offer and buy it instead.

UConn, meanwhile, is hardly a disinterested seller. The university’s Neag School of Education is considering establishing a teacher training program with Weiming, and last month the company paid UConn $46,000 to fly seven university officials on a trip to China. A UConn spokeswoman said the property sale and the Neag School’s negotiations are separate.

The international academy would enroll perhaps as many as 500 students from around the world, said chief executive Tim DiScipio, who leads Weiming’s US subsidiary. Those students would ideally transfer into local high schools after two years at the academy, he said. Local teachers and students would also have the opportunity to do exchange programs in China, he said.

“It’s this kind of cross-cultural benefit that really gives a student a unique perspective,” said DiScipio, who joined the company less than two years ago after a career in education software.

Separate from its plan to build an academy, Weiming has already signed a three-and-a-half-year agreement with West Hartford for a pilot program that will bring as many as 30 Weiming students to the district this fall for two years of study.

The contract also says local school officials will help develop a curriculum that can be taught in Weiming’s schools in China and says the company may send its teachers to be trained in West Hartford. Last month, Weiming paid for an eight-day trip for West Hartford Assistant Superintendent Andrew Morrow and a colleague to interview its students in China.

School officials said they are excited for a chance to bring more diversity to their two high schools, which are about 40 percent non-white in their total student body of 3,000, and acknowledged the tuition revenue will help the district, which enrolls about 100 fewer new students each year than it graduates.

“I would love to place some of those students in our schools; so would the neighboring communities,” said West Hartford Superintendent Tom Moore.

Those students in the pilot program will live in dorms at nearby University of Saint Joseph, pay $13,000 annual tuition to West Hartford, and earn US diplomas, according to the contract. Local school officials are in talks with UConn for the university to sponsor students’ second-year visas as part of a dual enrollment program.

Yet such an arrangement is at the core of Homeland Security’s investigation into Weiming’s similar setup with the school district of Oxford, Mich., a township of 3,500 north of Detroit.

Under federal law, foreign students may attend a public school for only 12 months total and must reimburse the district the full cost of their education. In Michigan, students attend the high school for two years, enrolling the second year in a dual-enrollment program with a local college, which sponsors the second-year visas.

The Homeland Security investigation was launched last year after residents complained that Weiming and the district were violating the visa laws, according to e-mails reviewed by the Globe.

Additional problems have beset the program in Oxford. William Skilling had served as superintendent while he was also a paid consultant for Weiming and subsequently signed a contract between the district and Weiming, according to documents obtained through a public records request by local residents reviewed by the Globe.

The residents have pushed the district for more information and also learned that Oxford receives state tax dollars to educate the Chinese students, even though the students also pay the district $10,000 in annual tuition.

“They have to skirt the rules to make it lucrative,” said Kallie Meyers, a leader of the residents group in Michigan. She said West Hartford should also ensure its contract with Weiming prohibits conflicts of interest among local administrators.

“No meals, no trips, no perks, no sightseeing, no promos,” she said.

Moore, the West Hartford superintendent, said he has spoken with Michigan officials about their experiences. He learned about the ongoing federal investigation last week and is seeking more information, he said.

“My reputation is way too important for me to engage in anything that’s anything less than aboveboard,” Moore said Friday.

Oxford school officials said they are unaware of a federal investigation and reported only positive experiences with Weiming. DiScipio said the company is aware of allegations made to federal officials but unaware of an ongoing investigation or any wrongdoing.

Over the weekend, Weiming officials in Beijing said the company was assured by Oxford administrators that its program was a legal way to offer a second year of study, according to an e-mail sent on the officials’ behalf by DiScipio.

As more residents in West Hartford raise questions about the potential partnership with Weiming, a public forum has been set for May 2 when locals will hear from company officials. The town has until May 15 to match Weiming’s offer and buy the campus.

Some local officials, including the town manager, Ron Van Winkle, have expressed support for the proposal, but others are skeptical.

“I do not believe that public school education should become a commodity,” said Christopher Williams, a town councilor.

Resident Susannah Chen, whose daughter is in elementary school, shares Williams’s skepticism. She and her husband lived in Shanghai the past four years, and said they witnessed an education system often motivated by ruthless competition, with anything available for a price. She worries those values might also come to local schools.

Chen also worries her concerns will sound xenophobic, a criticism some in town have already put forth. But her hesitance, she said, would be the same no matter where students come from.

“What does racism have to do with privatization of a public resource?” she said.


Crowder Destroys Leftist Disruptors at UMass

In this video, rapidly going viral, Steven Crowder shreds leftist social justice “protestors” who try to disrupt Crowder’s seriocomic discussion of Political Correctness at UMass.

Like so many once classic-liberal bastions of tolerance and free speech, UMass now appears to be just another cookie-cutter leftist indoctrination center, funded by taxpayer dollars and massive student debt. UMass alumni must be so proud.

This event was called “The Triggering: Has Political Correctness Gone Too Far?”. Humor, satire, and parody are great ways to counter-attack the self-righteous left. It usually leaves them flummoxed!

Kudos to Crowder, truly a man for whom no thought goes unsaid!

(Warning — rough language — but well-deserved.)


UK: 'Outstanding' rural nursery is downgraded by Ofsted for not teaching toddlers about ethnic diversity and not having enough pictures of black and Asian people on walls

Angry parents have slammed Ofsted for downgrading an 'outstanding' rural nursery to just 'good' because it does not teach toddlers about ethnic diversity.

The education watchdog even penalised Town and Country Kiddies Nursery in Market Rasen, Lincolnshire, for not having enough pictures of black and Asian people on the walls.

In their report inspectors criticised the nursery - which caters for children aged from just eight weeks to 11 years as it also offers a kids' club - for failing to teach youngsters about other cultures.

It stated: 'Staff do not provide enough opportunities for children to develop a strong sense of belonging at the nursery and to learn about people who are different to themselves.'

As a result, the nursery was stripped of the 'outstanding' status it was given in 2012 and is now rated as just 'good'.

Around 97 per cent of the population in the town to which the nursery belongs are white.

One mother, who did not want to be named, said: 'Just because the majority of the kids are white shouldn't be used as a stick to beat the nursery with.

'The nursery does an excellent job, the atmosphere is inclusive and the staff break their backs to help every kid. This Ofsted report is a kick in the face for them and is yet another example of political correct nonsense.'

Clare Worrell, 36, who sends her 16-month-old twins Henry and Grace to the nursery, said: 'Ofsted have nothing to base this report on.  'I do not know one ethnic minority family in Market Rasen.

'How can the school be classed as not ethnically diverse when there's no call for it? 'There's only white people around here. It's a great nursery and they shouldn't be penalised for this.'

A father added: 'One word can be used to describe that report - wrong. What planet do these Ofsted inspectors live on? How can you teach two or three year olds about racism?

'Kids that young treat each other the same whatever their skin colour. They just see kids as kids and that's as it should be.'

Another mother, whose two-year-old daughter has been attending the nursery for a month, added: 'I wanted my daughter to come here as I had heard amazing things from other parents. 'The nursery has a brilliant reputation. I think Ofsted's comment that the nursery isn't ethnically diverse enough is pathetic. 'How can the nursery be ethnically diverse when there are hardly any ethnic minority families in the area?

'My daughter has lived her time at the nursery so far and I'm so pleased with the staff. 'Ofsted are being totally unfair. This is a brilliant nursery - I haven't got a bad word to say about it.'

Louise Davies, who owns the nursery, has also expressed her concerns over the Ofsted rating system.  She said: 'There are things they'd like us to do over and above - children having understanding of other people and different cultures.

'It comes with living in a community where there isn't a great deal of cultural and ethnic diversity.  'They're not seeing that on a day to day basis, unlike nurseries in London where they do.

'One of the things the inspectors said was that we needed to put more pictures of people from ethnic cultures on the walls of the nursery.'

Ofsted changed the rules on grading schools and nurseries last September meaning they now have to meet additional criteria to get an 'outstanding' rating.

Ms Davies added: 'There's a really strong focus in the new criteria that the whole workforce needs to be delivering exceptional practice. But it's unrealistic.  'It's an ideological view, and it is not commercially viable. We can't operate a team that's without exception.

'For us to continually strive towards the 'outstanding' would become more and more commercially unviable. 'At the end of the day it's all very well chasing something but it's an unrealistic criteria.  'We need to provide childcare for people to go to work and not worry about an ideology that Ofsted have.

'If anything, we're in a stronger position now than in the last inspection in 2012.'

Ofsted initially published their report from the inspection this week on their website - but bosses have now temporarily withdrawn it following a backlash from furious parents.

An Ofsted spokesman said today: 'The regional director is seeking to speak to the owner about her concerns, and we have withdrawn the report while we review the case.  'Following this a decision will be taken about next steps.'


Thursday, April 28, 2016

UK: Mature student, 61, awarded £750 compensation after claiming her university creative writing course was ‘sex obsessed'

She stood up against the "modern" way to teach English

A university has been ordered to pay £750 in compensation to a mature student who complained that her creative writing course was too 'sex obsessed'.

Mother-of-two Angie Marynicz, 61, from Pencader near Carmarthen in West Wales complained the way her creative writing course was being taught was 'very worrying' because of the focus on sex.

She had her initial complaint about the course's 'peculiar obsession with sex' rejected by the University of Wales Trinity St David - but it was partially upheld when she took the matter to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA).

Holiday cottage owner Mrs Marynicz complained that her male lecturer, quoting a female poet, told the class: 'All literature is about sex because sex is the most important thing in the world.'

She said head of cultural studies Dr Paul Wright was taking a poetry module on the BA Honours course when he quoted the poet.

She said: 'This is a quote from a woman named Blanche Bachelor, I believe, and I found it a very worrying statement to make in front of impressionable/vulnerable young adults when it is clearly not true.  'The majority of written word is not sexual but it seems that there is a most peculiar obsession with sex at Trinity St David.'

In another complaint about the course, delivered at the university's Lampeter campus, Mrs Marynicz wrote: 'One of the compulsory modules for the BA (Hons) Creative Writing course was Critical and Cultural Theory.

'The first lecture for that module was listening to the lecturer read aloud the Edgar Allen Poe short story The Black Cat, which is a graphic account of domestic abuse where the abuser puts an axe through his wife's head.

'As he finished reading the story, he giggled which I found very upsetting and offensive. I emailed him twice to tell him so, to which I received no reply.

'The second lecture in that module was the Freudian idea that Shakespeare's Hamlet had an Oedipus complex ie child sex abuse/incest. I was told by the Head of School, in no uncertain terms, that this was good art and they would carry on teaching it as such.'

Mrs Marynicz said she asked the Head of School whether she could just hand in written work and not attend lectures as she found the lecturer's 'ignorant and callous delivery of such sensitive topics' very distressing but was told she could not.

While the OIA rejected Mrs Marynicz's complaint about the content of the course itself on the grounds of academic freedom, it said the university 'should have considered whether it was reasonable to require Mrs Marynicz to attend the Critical and Cultural lectures in view of the content and delivery of the module which Mrs Marynicz had difficulties with.' It said the university should pay her £750 in compensation.

A university spokesman said: 'The university wishes to stress that the OIA found the student's complaint "not justified" in all of its main points, including those relating to course content and delivery.

'The complaint was deemed partly justified solely in relation to attendance for particular lectures and, in accordance with the recommendation of the OIA, a sum of £750 was paid'

Mrs Marynicz, who completed a foundation course before joining the second year of the creative writing course in September 2014, was unavailable for comment yesterday.

But her husband Ted, 62, said she was a ‘normal chick-lit loving person’ who included Marian Keyes among her favourite authors.

He said she had also been upset when a poem about a sex act was chosen for discussion from an anthology of sonnets and that she ‘came home in tears’ after the Poe lecture.

‘It wasn’t the story itself, it was the way she felt the lecturer delivered it,’ said Mr Marynicz, who added that his wife had given up the course.


Heartbroken father who 'told off' the bullies who made his children's lives hell for a YEAR after their school failed to intervene is to be PROSECUTED for 'intimidation'

A heartbroken father who confronted a group of bullies who broke his son's arm and repeatedly beat his daughter is to be prosecuted for 'intimidation'.

Christopher Cooper, 37, said his two youngest children Millie, 11, and Braiden, 9, were physically and mentally tormented by a group of children for a year.

He said he was forced to take action because neither the school or police would intervene to stop the attacks.  As such, he told the children himself in no uncertain terms to 'leave his kids alone.'

He has now been summoned by police to appear in court on a charge of intimidating a child.

Mr Cooper, a midwife, said: 'I am just bewildered by the whole thing. It is a crazy world we live in.'

He also claimed a year since he first tried to report the attacks on his children to police, his son and witness have not even been interviewed by police.

Mr Cooper and his wife Tracy said they had taken their children out of North Walney Primary School and they were now settled in a new school, although Braiden was 'still traumatised' by the ordeal.

They have also complained to Cumbria Council Local Education Authority about the conduct of the school.

Mr Cooper, from Barrow, posted a heartrending account of his children's year-long ordeal at the hands of the bullies in a Facebook post that was shared 211,855 times.

He said the attacks had been so savage his son's arm has been broken and his daughter, who was repeatedly kicked and punched in the ribs, is on the verge of developing an eating disorder.

On another occasion, he said, his son was held in a crucifix position with his arms stretched out to the side, so another child could punch him in the stomach.

His daughter Millie, who was thrown to the ground and attacked, also had drinks poured over her at a party whilst wearing her party dress in order to humiliate her.

In a separate incident, she removed her glasses to wipe away her tears and the bullies' allegedly told a younger child to stamp on them.

But when he asked the school to intervene - he claimed he was told nothing could be done as it was 'outside school grounds'.

Likewise, he said, Cumbria Police told him it was down to the school to address. 

Taking matters into his own hands, he admitted he told his daughter to stand up to her assailants.

When she refused, fearing repercussions, he told the children himself in no uncertain terms to 'leave his kids alone.'

Following that he was investigated by officers for confronting the bullies and he will now appear in court on May 26.

A spokesperson for Cumbria Police said she could confirm a man has been reported to court following a public order incident on March 3.  She said: 'This incident relates to a verbal altercation between an adult and a child, where threats were made.'

North Walney Primary, Nursery and Pre-School  - which was rated 'good' in its latest Ofsted report - said it fully accepted there have been a number of incidents involving the children over the last six months.

A spokesman added: 'Bullying is not acceptable at North Walney Primary, Nursery and Pre-School and we fully accept that there have been a number of incidents involving Mr Cooper's children over the last six months and recognise the distress they have caused.

'But in responding to those incidents the safety and welfare of the children has always been our first priority, and as such, we do not recognise or accept the description of the school's actions.

'All incidents have been properly investigated and appropriate actions taken, ranging from whole class talks, workshops from the local police officer and changes to the school routine, through to specific child focussed action plans to prevent any further incidents.

'At all times we have kept Mr Cooper involved and aware of what was being done to support his children. Our understanding to date was that while he was understandably angry that incidents had occurred, he was satisfied with the actions of the school and the plans put in place, including a detailed plan discussed at the start of March.  Whatever they did, it was not successful

'We want North Walney Primary School to be a place where all children thrive and achieve and we continue to work to that end.'

According to the school's latest Ofsted report, North Walney is a 'happy and welcoming school' and children are keen to learn and work well together'.


Liberal Loon Professor Explains Why She Was Fired

Remember Melissa Click? She was the nutty University of Missouri Media Studies professor(video above) who was fired after she confronted a student journalist and then asked for "muscle" to prevent him from exercising his First Amendment rights. This week, Click explained why she was fired:

    Infamous former University of Missouri professor Melissa Click suggested in a newspaper profile published Sunday that she was fired because of her race.

    “This is all about racial politics,” Click said in the Chronicle of Higher Educationarticle. “I’m a white lady. I’m an easy target.”

    Click was fired from her position as an assistant professor of communications in February, and her appeal of the decision was denied in March. She achieved national attention after video footage of her assaulting a student journalist went viral. Later, video emerged of her yelling profanities at a police officer.

    “I’m not a superhero,” Click told The Chronicle. “I wasn’t in charge. When it got out of control, I was the one held accountable.”

    Her incident with police in October, during a protest at the university’s homecoming parade, was caught on an officer’s body camera.

    “Am I going to be one of those people who stands and watches another brutal moment against black people, or am I going to step in and make sure they’re safe?” Click said she asked herself before stepping between the police officer and a protester.

This is about as nutty as it gets. These are the sort of critical thinking skills Missouri students paying up to 25,000 and 40,000 dollars a year were getting for their money.

And what was Click protecting black students from, presumably? Rigorous debate with fellow student journalists about the merits of their protest? It sounds like Click is insinuating that black students were incapable of  engaging with student journalists on their own. This is not only racist, it's an abdication of academic purpose. A journalism professor, of all people, should know that rigorous debate and exchange of ideas are essential parts of developing a well rounded intellect. That's what universities are for. The students at Missouri are lucky to have one less Melissa Click on staff.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Death to "Safe Spaces"

The 1994 film "PCU" is a tale of a senior in high school who visits Port Chester University (otherwise known as Politically Correct University) over a weekend. In error, the admissions department sets the student up to stay with Droz, a 7th year senior. Living with Droz in a place called "the Pit," it makes for an interesting weekend.

Droz and his friends begin the weekend by disrupting a protest. They throw meat on a group of vegans and make enemies with a variety of other groups on campus including a bunch of stoners, radical feminists (the "Womynists"), and an Afrocentrist group. The president of the fictional university is positively obsessed with "sensitivity awareness" and multiculturalism. Among a variety of other policies (suggesting, for example, that Bisexual Asian Studies be given their own building) she proposes changing the school’s mascot from a potentially offensive Native American character to a whooping crane.

The rest of the film centers around Droz and his cohorts fighting to keep their living space on campus by throwing a massive keg party (while simultaneously locking the Board of Trustees in a room with the song "Afternoon Delight" playing loudly on repeat).

In a recent episode, the show South Park took up the topic of political correctness and college campuses, discussing the prevalence of and continuous push for "safe spaces." The episode culminated in the townspeople hanging the only thing questioning their safe spaces—a man named Reality.

While both this movie and the episode of South Park were particularly humorous, they reflect a scary trend in academia. Free speech is dead on many campuses, as is the ability to reflect upon and grapple with difficult subjects. This became clear last year at Yale, when someone dared to question the university-wide email calling on students to be cautious in choosing their Halloween costume (because God forbid anyone should be offended). Students were outraged, calling for the offending faculty member to be fired, even surrounding him outside a building to yell at him. Students at Emory University are apparently unable to cope with a chalk image of presidential candidate Donald Trump.

What have we come to that young adults attending some of the most elite educational institutions have the emotional capacity of toddlers and intellectual skin as thin as puff pastry?

The fact of the matter is, college is supposed to be a place where you get offended! I tell my students that if they aren’t being challenged in their classes they aren’t getting what they ought to be getting. I tell them that, "if you don’t question the opinions that you hold, you cannot claim them as your own." Too often people take with whatever they hear in school or on the news as gospel.

That’s the definition of ignorant.

To not challenge our students does them a grave disservice. As opposed to growing as individuals, who have been exposed to, thought about, and grappled with tough issues, they become what my mother would call "hot house flowers." That is, they require an inordinate amount of care and highly precise conditions lest they shrivel up and die.

Such individuals don’t do well in the "real world." I hate to tell Emory students, for example, that if their future coworker has a political bumper sticker, claiming that makes you feel threatened makes one look like a petulant child and a complete idiot (impressive in all the wrong ways). In the workforce, people aren’t always nice. They don’t bend over backward to ensure you’re fragile psyche is never offended. If students have failed to learn how to stand firmly as individuals, to take criticism and interact with all kinds of people, they’re in for a tough road.

I refuse to play into this with my students. In reality, there are people from all kinds of places, different racial, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds. People think differently and hold different ideals. You often don’t get to decide whether or you interact with these people, but your ability to function as an adult depends on whether or not you can work with these individuals successfully. Since college is supposed to be preparing students for the real world, they better get used to differing opinions.

My classroom is indeed a safe space—for students and ideas. I write into my syllabus that we will discuss controversial topics. I require them to treat each other with respect. Attacking a person for the opinions they hold is not acceptable. However, questioning someone’s ideas or opinion is, and should be, done frequently and without hesitation.

I find that once students learn it’s OK to disagree with someone, they feel more comfortable engaging. Sometimes, when discussing a policy issue like the minimum wage, human organ sales, child labor, or environmental regulation, students will ask for my opinion. I always reiterate what it is that economics tells us. But I always follow it with something to the extent of, "my opinion may or may not go along with that." I always tell my students that, when answering questions about a policy on an assignment, or discussing it in class, the credit they will receive has absolutely nothing to do with the opinions they hold. I’m concerned with how they argue for their stance and the economic reasoning they use to justify it.

Students should reflect on their held beliefs and have their existing ideals challenged. If we are truly concerned about critical thinking and cultivating the next generation of leaders, we owe it to out college students challenge them.


The Department of Education Extortion

Despite Barack Obama’s repeated public statements identifying his primary regret while in office as not "healing the divisions" in Washington, he has done more to cause the problem than anyone. Take for example his recent actions rewriting a bipartisan education law. In short, he’s proving that South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson was accurate when he interrupted Obama’s 2009 State of the Union Address to thunder, "You lie!"

In what has happened only a few times during Obama’s tenure, bipartisan legislation was passed — this time to rewrite No Child Left Behind (NCLB) in December 2015. Obama declared at the signing that the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was "a Christmas miracle." Further, Obama noted, "Today, I’m proud to sign a law that’s going to make sure that every student is prepared to succeed in the 21st century."

Well, he was mighty proud until it became apparent his unelected federal bureaucrats couldn’t make demands of your state education departments and your local school districts through the extortion of funding. And now the Obama Department of Education is rewriting rules to circumvent the law to return to their previous modus operandi: "Do what we say to get your money."

The ESSA, while emphasizing the need for standards and testing, placed that responsibility and the specific details with the states, versus a federal set of rules driven by a glut of student testing and Common Core. The law requires that states use their own "college-and-career ready standards" to measure mastery and preparedness for postsecondary education, with an intervention protocol for areas of concern. ESSA also leaves the process of testing, as well as how the scoring is interpreted, up to state governments.

The biggest disruption to any reign of political or bureaucratic power is to change its role in appropriating money — to remove the marionette strings. And ESSA significantly altered the status quo of the education dollar returned to states. Forget the fact that the average funding from the federal government back to individual states comprises only about 12% of direct education expenditures. This coveted sum is always sought by the never-ending needs (and "needs") of education.

Education Week opined, "Congress has redefined the federal role in elementary and secondary education. And it’s done so in a way that aims to enhance the authority of states and school districts that had long chafed at the strictures of ESSA’s predecessor, the No Child Left Behind Act."

Simply, ESSA now dictates a supplement-not-supplant use of federal funding. It equalizes funding to low-income and "disadvantaged" schools through the states‘ administration of Title I funding. According to The Heritage Foundation, that funding has been increased from "$14.4 billion to an authorized level of $15 billion in 2017, and to $16.2 billion by 2020."

Yet, citing civil rights concerns that states would fail to fully fund certain schools, the newly-but-barely-confirmed Secretary of Education John King (parroting Obama’s talking points) was clear — he supported Obama’s disregard for the law. King’s 49-40 confirmation vote on March 14 demonstrated the forgotten bipartisan approach to education reform from just three months prior.

King argued that the revisions of ESSA presented by the Department of Education were meant to ensure that a Title I school "receives at least as much in state and local funding as the average non-Title I school."

Now, let’s break this down into its most essential ingredients. If the Education Department ignores ESSA, it intends to fully fund schools that fit an income and racial designation regardless of merit of a school and its students. Ever hear of the term "funding failure?"

The law intentionally left criteria in place to require states regarding comparability but never intended performance measures to be stripped away.

While the legislative attempt was made to send block grants back to the state to put the education of students closer to the parent and teachers in the classroom, it is abundantly clear that two problems remain in Washington, DC. One, we have a president who not only disregards the law, but his crony collaborations reveal a lack of integrity and honesty. Two, the only way to allow states to control the education of their students is to dissolve the U.S. Department of Education.

There is no area of government or policy that Obama and his band of militant progressives have left intact that could possibly restore the confidence of the America public that their government works for them. Our Republican Congress must now rise to immediately change the appropriations of the Department of Education via the power of the purse.

It’s apparent these educrats live by the power of extortion. So, Republican Congress, speak their language and tighten their strings.


What Pro Abortion Radicals Did At This University Will Make You Sick

Liberals like to tell us how much they love freedom of expression. Stomping on the American flag, they say, is just a political statement. Dunking a crucifix in urine? Art. Those who don't stand up for free controversial expression are just fascists or worse, they say. If you don't like it, just ignore it. That's what "they" would do, right?

Wrong. Time and again, liberals show that they only support the sort of free expression they agree with, the kind of controversial speech that supports the causes they believe in. This past week, they proved their hypocrisy once again. At SMU, campus liberals sent the world a message: we only support free speech that advances our liberal agenda. Here's what happened:

    The Mustangs for Life, the Students for Life group at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, set up close to 3,000 crosses in a main area of campus as part of the common display that memorializes the number of babies that will be aborted that day this week. Sometimes it causes more controversy; other times it doesn’t. This situation is the former.

    The pro-life students spent hours setting up the display and accompanied it with signs explaining what it was all about: "There are 2,904 abortions per day in the USA" and "Memorial of Innocents: 1 Cross = 1 Life Lost to Abortion Today".

    Mustangs for Life jumped through all the hoops at the school to make sure they were allowed to do this and granted proper permission.

    The display was set up on Sunday evening about 7:30pm and done by 9pm. Only a couple hours later, in the middle of the night, all of the crosses had been vandalized and torn down. All of them.

    One of the members got a call from someone who said that she saw all the crosses were kicked down. The members ran over to the display where indeed the display was vandalized.

What happened? Liberals just hate being reminded that their "choice" to have an abortion is a decision to terminate a human life. So instead of respecting the free expression rights of pro life students, or engaging pro life students in debate and trying to persuade them, liberals committed an entirely infantile act of vandalism.

Should we even be surprised?


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Boston Leftists obsessed with race in their schools

Boston Latin school is a highly selective school.  So few blacks can make the grade there.  What else is new about black educational limitations?  Why obsess about the inevitable?  But the race-obsessed Left cannot let it go

When some black students spoke out about their sense of isolation within Boston Latin School this year, it should have surprised exactly no one.

Black students have been disappearing from Boston Latin School since racial quotas were first challenged in court two decades ago.

Though a minority recruiting program for a time helped stanch the losses, Boston public school officials abandoned those efforts after a few years and let their premier school become overwhelmingly white and Asian — just as the judge who heard the 1995 legal challenge had predicted it would.

Today, Boston Latin looks nothing like the rest of the Boston public school system to which it belongs.

In an urban district that is overwhelmingly Latino, black, and poor, Boston Latin stands out: Just over a quarter of its students are poor, and more than three-quarters are white or Asian. Of the 2,430 students enrolled at Boston Latin this year, 514 come from a single neighborhood — West Roxbury, the Boston neighborhood that most resembles a suburb. Roxbury, the heart of the inner city, is home to just 67.

And unlike most other public schools, Boston Latin has well-heeled supporters looking out for its interests: An alumni association, founded in 1844 by an act of the Legislature, boasts a $39 million endowment, largely restricted to funding prizes and scholarships for Boston Latin graduates heading to elite colleges.

Though its sterling reputation puts it more in league with Phillips Academy than West Roxbury Academy, Boston Latin is a free public school — the best education money can’t buy, as some say. All Boston students have a shot at admission if they have the exam scores, grades, and savvy to compete for one of the 480 seats available each year. As a result, a disproportionate share of the city’s hopes are invested in Boston Latin. The lure of a Boston Latin diploma sustains many middle-class families through the years they might otherwise flee the uneven urban school system for suburban pastures.

“It keeps families anchored to this city,” said Peter G. Kelly, president of the Boston Latin School Association, the alumni and friends group that supports the school. “It’s a place of aspiration for the pipefitter and the baker and the social worker’s kids. That’s my own story, as the son of a nurse and a civil servant.”

It’s a romantic notion, to which alumni cling, but it’s being challenged by today’s black students, who wonder why they are so outnumbered. The racial gap, visible for years in the halls of Boston Latin and in the demographic data kept by school officials, raises uncomfortable questions in a city already uncomfortable about race.

Why are so few of the children of pipefitters and bakers and social workers accepted to Boston Latin today black? What does it say about a city school system that its most celebrated school is so unrepresentative of the city?

Change has never come easily to Boston Latin, whose founding in 1635 makes it the nation’s oldest school, “antedating Harvard College by more than a year,” as its website proudly notes. Of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, the school boasts, five went to Boston Latin.

As the most competitive of the city’s three exam schools, outpacing Boston Latin Academy and O’Bryant School of Math and Science, it claims the top tier of students who take the entrance exam each year. But it’s the only one of the three that has seen minority enrollment plummet.

A Globe review of Boston public schools data from the 1995-1996 school year to the current year revealed the following:

 *  The number of white students enrolled at Boston Latin today is almost exactly the same as it was 20 years ago — 1,156, down from 1,198 — even though the number of white applicants during that time fell 40 percent.

 *  Black enrollment plummeted 60 percent though the number of black applicants dropped much less precipitously, 33 percent.

 *  Asian students claimed the spaces once filled by black students and now make up 29 percent of the student body, up from 17 percent.

 *  Latinos’ numbers remained roughly steady over 20 years, though their applications surged 88 percent, more than any other racial group. They had almost nothing to show for it.

Broader demographic shifts played a part, of course: The city’s school-age population dropped more among black students than among whites during that time. The black students who stayed in Boston opted, in greater numbers, for the charter schools that began opening in 1995. Private schools recruited some standout students of all races who received free test preparation training through programs like the nonprofit Steppingstone Academy.

Today, black and Latino students make up 63 percent of the school-age children who live in Boston but leave its public schools for alternatives — whether in private, parochial, or charter schools, or special education or Metco programs in suburban public schools.

But none of that fully accounts for the changes at Boston Latin.

Twenty years after the courts invalidated the racial set-asides that had lifted black and Latino enrollment to 35 percent, Boston Latin’s student body of roughly 2,400 is now 11.6 percent Latino, 8.5 percent black, and 47 percent white. Districtwide, the Boston public schools are 42 percent Latino, 32 percent black, and 14 percent white.

That pattern is not unique to Boston. New York and other cities with similarly competitive public exam schools also saw minority admissions decline after affirmative action programs ended.

And the trend does not reflect diminished interest in Boston Latin compared with the other exam schools. It remains the top choice of students of every race who take the exam, a Globe review found. Since Boston Latin is the hardest of the three schools to get into, most students aim for it, even if they end up at another.

All of which leaves Boston public school officials in the same quandary they faced when race-based admissions were invalidated: If they aren’t allowed to consider diversity, how can they promote it? Boston Latin School accepts only the best of the best students, without regard to race.

“You can’t question a meritocracy,” said Michael Contompasis, the former Boston Latin School headmaster who led the school through the era of lawsuits in the 1990s. “What you can question is, does every kid have a fair shake in the district to sit for the exam and hopefully gain admission to an exam school if they choose to go?”

“The thing that’s concerning to me,” Contompasis added. “is that the number of black and Hispanic kids who choose to go there is lower than it was. The school should be doing something to encourage kids to come. . . . How do we get the message out that this is an opportunity for kids? How do we increase the number of kids that choose to go there when they have a tremendous amount of options?”


Radical!  Florida School Wants To Make Entire Campus A Free Speech Zone

As we continue to hear about the legions of precious cupcakes fighting to keep differing opinions, especially those that veer off the progressive path, from being tolerated on campus, on Florida school is pushing back. They’re fighting the snowflake hordes of Mordor. Florida Atlantic University has a free speech zone, but the local student governing body recently passed a resolution to make the current free speech zone encompass the entire campus. No safe spaces, but you, your ideas, and whether you have the maturity to defend them. I’m sure these cupcakes will be afraid that some of their peers are Trump supporters. Yes, you are free to pick the presidential candidate of your choice without fear of retribution. Some might be pro-life—yes, a sizable portion of the country, about half, view abortion as infanticide (they’re not wrong). Some people might have differing opinions on marriage. And a few students might–dare I say–support Second Amendment rights. Deal with it.

My friend and fellow blogger Bethany Bowra attends FAU, and wrote about the resolution that passed last week. Oh, and it wasn’t like the Obamacare vote–it passed with 91% of student government:

Enter Florida Atlantic University, where students are taking a stand for free speech and are ready to take their opinions to our administration. Our Student Government passed a resolution last week that would eliminate our free-speech lawn and define the entire campus as a free-speech zone.

I attend FAU and am politically active on campus. More than once, I’ve run into difficulty in putting on events because of the university’s restriction of political events to a designated free-speech lawn, tucked away on one side of campus. This lawn must be reserved at least ten business days in advance and its use approved by the administration; failure to reserve it results in your inability to use it. Its location makes it difficult to reach the greatest number of students, since only a few buildings are close enough to it to make it visible to passersby.
Thomas De Maio is a graduate student at FAU and serves as a member of Student Government. He authored a resolution that would eliminate our free speech lawn and allow free speech on all campus grounds, excluding only recreational and athletic buildings as off-limits. Below is a copy of the resolution, which passed by 91% of the student legislative body.

Bowra interviewed De Maio about the impetus for this resolution, where he said, “I think it is important for universities to protect student’s constitutional rights. Too often students are afraid to express themselves on college campuses, especially those who have political views that may not be popular with professors. I want students to feel comfortable expressing themselves throughout all college campuses.”

This is great. I wholeheartedly support any student, school, or institution that makes such declarations of free speech. It's holding the line against the nonsensical drivel coming from the snowflakes– folks who just can’t stand why everyone can’t be like them, think like them, or bow down to their dictatorial standards of how we should behave in America. This is a great country–let’s not turn it into North Korea. Sadly, in some schools, that’s the atmosphere. Hopefully, FAU will deliver a dome shot to that hellish left wing ethos.


UK: Rural primary schools at centre of academy battle are promised more cash

Small rural primary schools have been promised a major cash boost as part of an effort from the Education Secretary to win over Tory MPs who are in revolt over the government’s academy plans.

New figures from the Department for Education show 700 small schools in England are being deprived of the cash they need in an “unfair” funding system.

These schools in remote areas currently receive no extra resources to cope with the pressures of serving sparsely populated communities.

Many of these schools struggle because, while their classes are not full, they still have to employ the same numbers of teachers and support staff as if the school rolls were full.

Heating, lighting and cleaning services must also be funded to keep classrooms open even if there are far fewer pupils attending lessons than in urban areas.

If these schools closed, pupils would be forced to travel long distances to classes elsewhere.

Nicky Morgan, the Education Secretary, pledged to re-write the government’s rules on school funding to provide extra cash for primaries – and a few secondaries - in sparsely populated areas of England.

She told The Sunday Telegraph that rural primaries were vital for “village life”.

“I want every school to get the funding it deserves and to ensure that we help small rural schools keep their character, independence, values and everything that makes them unique,” she said.

“Many rural schools have been underfunded for years through a system that is unfair and out of date. We are taking steps to deal with the unique issues they face.”

The Department for Education could not provide details of how the new funding system would work. A public consultation on reforming the national funding formula closed last week and officials are now analysing the responses.

The new arrangements are expected to take account of the “sparsity” of the communities that the schools serve. The schools that benefit will be those with fewer than 22 pupils in each primary school year group.

Mrs Morgan said the new funding formula, which will be launched next year, would "underpin the sustainability and future success of rural schools, ensuring they remain at the heart of the local community”.

The plans will be seen as an attempt to win support among Conservative backbench MPs, who are threatening to rebel over Mrs Morgan’s plan to force all state schools to become semi-independent academies.

Mrs Morgan, David Cameron and George Osborne want to remove all state primary and secondary schools from local council control in what they say will be a completion of years of reforms to give headteachers more powers over teachers’ pay and school timetables. 

Mr Osborne has said all schools in England must convert to become academies by 2020 or be committed to converting by 2022. Any school that does not convert will be forced to do so by ministers using radical new powers to intervene.

However, Tory MPs fear that remote rural schools which rely on support from their councils could lose the support they need or be forced to close by the executives running national chains of academies.


Monday, April 25, 2016

No "safe spaces" for men?

Feminists are very righteous about providing "safe spaces" for women only and lots of universities now have such places.  But if we can have women-only places why not men-only places?

The motivation for such unjust arrangements is truly weird.  They want women to get closer to men because that will reduce sexual harassment?  How improbable can you get?

It's just feminist hate.  They want to take away from men a facility they enjoy.  Freud would probably call it "penis envy"

HARVARD SEEMS poised to take a major step toward cracking down on sexual assaults on its undergraduate campus by forcing its all-male social clubs to admit women. That’s a big deal at the tradition-bound Ivy League school, and the fact that Harvard is taking action now is as strong a sign as any that the nationwide push to reduce campus sexual assaults is translating into substantive improvement at even the most change-resistant of colleges.

Fraternities may not be a problem at every college, but their equivalent institutions at Harvard certainly are. The college’s so-called “final clubs,” which are mainstays of campus social life but generally admit only men as members, have been an embarrassment for decades. Now a campus task force has confirmed that they aggravate unhealthy gender dynamics, and contribute to an atmosphere that makes sexual assault more likely.

The fact that Harvard is finally addressing a problem that has existed since the college went co-ed — and which its administrators once claimed they had no power to change, because the college does not control the clubs — is visible proof that the Obama administration’s demands that colleges do more to uproot sexual assault is forcing them to confront sacred cows. The final clubs have alumni, and the alumni have money, but Harvard is acting anyway.

The college’s dean, Rakesh Khurana, is reportedly considering disciplining students who join the clubs, which has produced a panicked reaction from their defenders. Club members say that students should have the right to free association, but free association at a private college doesn’t entail a right to participate in organizations that have been shown to endanger classmates.

It helps that the organizations — exclusionary clubs dressed up as pillars of tradition — have shown themselves to be deeply unsympathetic. That much was clear when Harpoon beer president Charles M. Storey, an alumnus of one of the clubs, waded into the controversy with a tin-eared defense of excluding women. If clubs were forced to admit women, he said, it might actually increase the odds of sexual assault — logic that would seem to suggest that women should have to lose opportunities simply because some men can’t restrain themselves. Though he quickly apologized, Storey damaged his own reputation, that of his club, and that of his company.

Storey’s not the first Harvard graduate to suffer from his association with the final clubs; recall how Governor Deval Patrick had to face questions about his membership in a different club after it proved an embarrassment during the 2006 campaign. It would be nice if the social and professional consequences of belonging to such backwards groups made enough Harvard men think twice about joining them so that they faded away on their own.

Until then, though, the college has a responsibility to do everything it can to force them to integrate — or disappear. Harvard isn’t the first to confront the problem posed by all-male groups on campus, and it shouldn’t be the last.


Home schooling can be a lot of work

Probably not for most single mothers

Every morning, as Sara Hanley drops off her three children at the gates of their village primary school in Oxfordshire, she performs the same ritual.

A loving kiss for each of them - Lucy, 11, Max, nine, and Korben, six - a quick wave goodbye and then, as she turns on her heel, she exhales a deep sigh of relief. Many parents do the same, but Sara has more reason than most to be thankful to see the school gates closing behind her brood.

In July 2014, like many middle-class mothers, she made the fateful decision to remove her children from school and educate them herself at home. It was a bold and drastic - some might even say foolhardy - decision, yet it's one many desperate parents will be seriously contemplating this week as thousands of children across the country miss out on their preferred school places.

Many will opt out due to perceived falling educational standards or concerns about bullying.

Yet whatever the motivation, home-educating is something that Sara, an articulate, capable and highly motivated 31-year-old, would advise parents to think very carefully about.

It was, she says, a decision that put her under enormous strain and pushed her relationship with her children to the brink.

Confined to the kitchen table at their three- bedroom home, day after day, trying to motivate three bored and bickering youngsters, all of them were soon struggling - the children, academically and socially (they missed their friends), while Sara started comfort eating through stress and gained two stone in weight. She was left 'a shell of my former self, with no bounce or sparkle'.

Sara, who is separated from her children's father, shudders as she remembers those difficult days. 'I was under no illusions that home educating would be extremely challenging, but I wasn't prepared for just how punishing being teacher, as well as Mummy, would be. It sapped everything from me.'

Her decision to home school wasn't a knee-jerk one. After Lucy was bullied, she began to consider her options. After months of research, plus the approval of her husband, she decided to take the plunge.

'I wanted to give them a more relaxed, natural and playful education, rather than condemning them to the national curriculum obsession with exams from a young age,' she says.

Not surprisingly, some of her friends thought she was bonkers. 'Some reeled off the reasons why I would fail. Another told me 'Your children will grow up to hate you', which I found very upsetting.'

Undeterred, shortly before the end of the 2014 summer term, her children bid farewell to their primary school.

Sara threw herself into it. She admits she 'lived and breathed home schooling'. And an education welfare officer who visited her at home was 'impressed' with the lesson plans she had in place.

Initially, it was the idyllic experience Sara hoped for. On warm days they'd explore local woodland with her children and there were memorable trips to educational and science centres.

'But I quickly discovered that it's impossible to continually repeat days like that due to the cost. The daily need for enthusiasm and ideas began to wear me down,' she says.

'I'd spend evenings marking their work and planning the next day's lessons or activities, which was exhausting. With three young children, I didn't have a bountiful social life anyway, but being a home schooler certainly didn't help matters.

I gained weight and stopped taking pride in my appearance. The most stressful moments were when the children's father would come home from work - we were still together at the time - and pick holes in everything.

If the house was untidy because I'd been teaching the children at home that day, he'd complain. But if it was immaculate, he'd question whether I'd done anything with them.

'Frequently, one child would be interested and two would be bored. The age difference between them was an issue, too, as it was very difficult to tailor the lessons to suit all their needs.'

Sara describes her own eight GCSEs and an art and design qualification as 'basic'. 'I suffered from terrible self-doubt, too - were the things I was teaching them even correct? They'd ask me questions and I'd have to Google the answers.

'I realised what skill being a professional teacher requires and how much time goes into it.'

By early 2015, Lucy was falling behind in maths and spelling, Max desperately missed his school friends and squabbled with Korben constantly.

'I began to worry what the hell I'd do when Lucy needed to study for her GCSEs, which home-educated children sit by registering directly with the local examining board.'

Eventually, Sara admitted defeat, in part because she needed to work more hours as a private nanny to contribute to the family coffers - and she says she will be forever grateful to her children's old school for managing to squeeze her children in again when she pleaded for their help last May.

All three are thriving. As is Sara.

Yet, the recent figures show there has been a 65 per cent increase in home-educated children in the past six years, with 37,000 taught by their parents.

There is no legal obligation for parents to send their children to school, but it is their responsibility to ensure they get a 'suitable education' at home should they opt out.

While a significant number choose to go it alone due to factors such as bullying, research shows more than 3 per cent of home-educating parents do so because they couldn't get their child into their preferred school.

Home education expert Dr Helen Lees, of Newman University, Birmingham, warns: 'It is not a quick fix and it takes time for a family to 'grow into' as it's a vastly different educational world.

'Typically, home education will fail if the parents are not well enough informed, don't connect with other home educators and their children, and don't get out to libraries, museums and sports centres.'

Despite the stress of it all, Sara says there were a few positives from the experience - most importantly that her daughter's problems with bullying came to an end. But the long-term effects of the lost year still reverberate among the children.

'While Lucy has made some lovely new friends, she is still behind in several subjects, including maths,' says Sara.

'Max can be lazy, but hates the idea of ever being home educated again because he was so bored and missed his friends dreadfully, so he applies himself at school. Korben has blossomed into a smart little boy who's excelling in maths.

'I have a new respect for teachers and the skill and time it takes to deliver effective lessons.'


British teachers are accused of brainwashing children with politically correct lessons on attitudes to homosexuality --  with union chiefs warning it is leading to 'difficult situations' in schools

Parents are sending angry messages to teachers online accusing them of 'brainwashing' their children with discussion of homosexuality, it has been claimed.

The National Association of Head Teachers said its members have received 'unacceptable emails and posts on social media' after talking about the topic in class.

The union, which represents 28,500 school leaders, said it welcomed 'legitimate' objections but warned some parents had taken it too far by going on Facebook and Twitter.

Many parents still object to their children taking part in some aspects of sex and relationships education until they reach a certain age.

It came as teachers renewed their call to make personal, social, health and economics education (PSHE) compulsory in schools.

Headteachers argue the move would protect them from threats from parents who object to being taught what they deem as 'controversial' topics at school.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT, said: 'We don't think you need to make it statutory to make teachers do it, you need to make it statutory to protect teachers when they do it, otherwise they're vulnerable to accusations that they are pursuing a personal agenda.

'We've seen really difficult situations where parents who disagree with the philosophies that are being promoted saying 'you're doing this, you're brainwashing our children'.'

He said parents are accusing teachers of teaching 'controversial' topics to their children and parents are threatening to withdraw pupils from lessons as a result.

He said: 'If you deal with topics related to homosexuality in a lesson, and a parent from whatever background might disagree with that and say 'I don't want my children taught about these issues'.  'They have accused schools and teachers of doing that sort of thing.

'These are controversial topics which our society doesn't wholly agree on and teachers have to be quite brave sometimes in doing that and we should have their back when they do that and don't leave them to have challenges.'

Mr Hobby said that apart from aggressive threats, parents are emailing teachers to pressure them to stop teaching certain topics in sexual education classes.

He said: 'Children learn best when there's a strong bond between the home and the school. This bond can sometimes be strained, particularly when schools want to educate children on contentious issues.

'Technology has allowed these objections to be expressed in many new ways, including emails and social media.

'Legitimate objections from parents are fair enough and easily addressed but the strength of feeling sometimes means school leaders have to deal with unacceptable emails and posts on social media.'


Sunday, April 24, 2016


Three current articles below

Teach for (some of) Australia

The credentialism idiocy is keeping able people out of teaching.  Requiring a 4 year teaching degree before you can teach is chrome-plated imbecility. It's not long since a one-year diploma was deemed adequate.  And I successfully taught in Australian High Schools for two years without one second of teacher training. My students got excellent exam results too

Over the past few months, attention has been drawn to low entry standards for teacher education courses in Australian universities. NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli has been one of the strongest voices advocating for higher entry standards for teaching degrees. In NSW, new teachers can be registered only if they have achieved results of at least a Band 5 (there are 6 achievement bands) in at least three subjects -- including English -- in the Higher School Certificate, or an equivalent qualification.

Given Minister Piccoli's evident understanding of the importance of encouraging highly capable people to become school teachers, it is curious that some of the brightest and talented new teachers in Australia are not allowed to teach in NSW schools.

The Teach for Australia (TFA) program has been recruiting high achieving people to teach in disadvantaged and hard to staff secondary schools since 2010. The average ATAR of TFA 'associates' is a very high 95. Only 6% of applicants enter the classroom. In contrast to the trend throughout the rest of the teacher education sector, 47% of TFA associates were qualified as science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) teachers.

One of the criticisms of TFA's approach is that TFA associates start teaching before they have completed post-graduate teacher education. Instead, they complete an intensive six-week course and then continue their studies while teaching part-time. Bear in mind that the associates already have at least an undergraduate degree in their subject area (almost half had advanced degrees in 2016) as well as professional work experience.

Unfortunately, like the rest of the teacher education sector, there is little objective data showing the educational impact of TFA associates on student performance. A report from TFA states that 90% said that TFA associates had a greater impact on student achievement than other graduate teachers after two years of classroom teaching. Survey data is not ideal, but there is evidence from TFA's sister programs -- Teach for America and Teach First (UK) -- that teachers recruited and trained by this method are at least as good if not better than traditionally-trained teachers.

TFA associates currently teach in Victoria, the ACT, Northern Territory and Western Australia. It is time for the other states to get on board. They have little to lose and everything to gain.


Does Australia have one of the most unequal education systems in the OECD?

The Left-leaning article below answers 'No' to that question but still searches for something to whine about.  They are up against it however -- as they concede that "Australia’s level of equity was not particularly different to that of many other OECD countries. New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom, Belgium, France and Germany". 

What they look at is how big is the achievement gap between well-off and poor kids.  And in the Australian case they admit that the gap is not due to lack of "resources" (mostly meaning money spent per pupil).  So insofar as the gap is largeish in Australia, it is probably due to Australia's huge network of government-subsidized private schools.  40% of Australian teenagers go to private schools.  And there is no doubt that such schools do have some beneficial effect on exam performance and other indications of educational achievement.  Well-off kids get better schooling in Australia

Is that unjust?  Maybe it is but it is not beyond remedy. Australian government schools for many years modelled their curricula and procedures on famous British private schools such as Eton.  I was one product of that system (including compulsory Latin!) and the excellent education I got from it has definitely helped make my life easier and richer.  I shudder at the impoverished and propaganda-laden curricula of today.

With their constant imposition of unproven and unsuccessful educational theories, the Left have destroyed the old system.  But it shows what is possible.  Government schools CAN provide a high quality education.  All you have to do is to go by what works

As the debate around public and private schooling in Australia rages on, writer and social commentator Jane Caro told the Q&A audience that Australia has one of the most unequal education systems in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Is that right? When asked for sources to support her assertion, Caro referred The Conversation to a 2015 report published by the Australian Council of Educational Research.

The report analysed results from the 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) among countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and noted: "the general relationship between the overall level of schools’ educational resources and the resources gap between socioeconomically advantaged and disadvantaged schools. Where resources are high, the gap tends to be low, and where resources are low, the gap tends to be high"

    The OECD analysis also showed that, contrary to the general pattern, Australia has a high level of resources as well as a high level of inequity in the allocation of those resources. Australia’s overall level of schools’ educational resources is above the OECD average, yet it is ranked fifth among 36 participating countries in resource disparity between advantaged and disadvantaged schools.

Caro also sent The Conversation an article published by the Save Our Schools organisation titled OECD Report Highlights Education Inequity in Australia, and the PISA 2009 results report published by the OECD.

What the data shows is that Australia is not the worst or nearly the worst when it comes to equality and our education system.

However, it is true there is a great deal of evidence that Australia’s education system is very unequal. The level of equity is not getting better and if anything, it is getting worse.

What do we mean by ‘unequal’?  The best tool for understanding how equal or unequal the Australian education system is compared to other OECD education systems is the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

Equity in PISA refers to how well students do on cognitive tests according to their socioeconomic background (SES).

Socioeconomic background is measured in PISA by taking into account parental occupation and education, access to home educational and cultural resources, family wealth, and books in the home.

According to PISA’s measure, “unequal” means there are large differences in the outcomes of high SES and low SES students. In other words, it’s when kids from wealthy or well-off households consistently get better test results than kids from poorer families.

In the 2000 PISA report, Australia’s performance in PISA reading literacy was indeed referred to as “high quality – low equity”. In other words, Australia’s achievement was higher than the OECD average but in terms of equity, Australia was below the OECD average.

In reading, in particular, Australia continues to fall into the category of high-quality - low or average equity.

In mathematics and science – subjects that less likely to rely on parental involvement and resources than reading literacy – this is not the case.  In these subjects, Australia falls into the high-quality - high-equity quadrant.

‘Among the worst’? While Australia’s performance in PISA reading literacy has been classed as low equity, Australia’s level of equity was not particularly different to that of many other OECD countries. New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom, Belgium, France and Germany (among others) were also classed as low equity when it came to reading literacy.

Saying we are “among the worst” may stretching it a bit – but this is splitting hairs. The data supports the overall point that Caro was making: Australia does have a schooling system that is not equitable.

Based on data from PISA:

    There is a gap of about 2.5 years of schooling in mathematical literacy between students in the highest SES quartile and those in the lowest quartile.

    Low achievement is strongly associated with low SES. In both mathematics and reading literacy, low SES students comprised about 45% of all low performing students while students from the second lowest quartile accounted for a further 29%. Just 10% of students of low performers were from the highest SES quartile.

    Australia shows a high level of variation in reading literacy performance due to SES differences between schools

    A recent re-analysis of the PISA 2012 data found that a socioeconomically disadvantaged student in Australia was six times more likely to be a low performer than an advantaged student. After taking account of several other factors influencing school performance such as gender, immigrant and language background, family structure, urban or rural location, pre-primary education and grade repetition, a socioeconomically disadvantaged student is still five times more likely to be a low performer than an advantaged student.

    While all Australian schools report adequate educational resources, schools with a large proportion of low performing students report much lower levels of these resources than schools with a large proportion of high performing students.

    Between 2000 and 2009, Australian secondary schools became more differentiated in reading achievement. That differentiation became more strongly linked to the average socioeconomic context of the school.

Verdict: Australia doesn’t have one of the most unequal education systems in the OECD.  However, there is good evidence that our schooling system is not equitable.


Australia: Happy student campers told to queer their ideas

Government schools have promoted a gay school holiday camp that teaches young teenagers to "queer their ideas".  The Camp Out organisation is hosting the camp in Sydney this week for 13 to 17-year-olds who are gay, straight, intersex or simply "curious and questioning" their sexuality.

Camp Out — which describes itself as a "collective guided by queer politics" — sent registration packs to schools across NSW. It encourages children to "reach out to queer communities".  "Helping campers to queer their ideas about the future is a key goal," Camp Out says on its ­website.

"For us, one of Camp Out’s central missions is helping campers to imagine what their futures might look like outside of compulsory heterosexuality — to introduce them to ideas and people that ­better fit their own conceptions of their sexualities and gender identities.

"Camp Out aims to skill LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Asexual) in reaching out to queer communities, drawing support from those communities, and also in forming their own communities."

Marking its five-year anniversary on Facebook last month, Camp Out stated: "On this important day in our activist history, help us continue to build generations of queers who are proud, resilient, creative and fabulous!"

Camp activities yesterday included "queer sex ed, feminism and dancing workshops".

The Wollongong High School of Performing Arts, on the NSW south coast, promoted the five-day camp in a "roll call notice" for teachers to read to their classes last month.

The nearby Warrawong High School advertised the camp on a poster, and Camp Out’s Facebook page shows a photo of a regis­tration pack arriving at Chatham High School in Taree, on the NSW north coast.

The camp is staffed by volunteers older than 21 who have "working with children" checks.

"We use the term ‘camp crew’ intentionally to emphasise that we are not trying to take the place of a counsellor in any way," the Camp Out website states.

"While the health and safety of our campers — physical, mental and emotional — are our utmost responsibility, we do not profess to be counsellors or crisis support."

The camp is drug and alcohol- free and has an "ask to touch” ­policy which "means that any kind of sexual or non-consensual touch is not allowed at camp".

"A huge and very valid concern for parents is for the safety of their child attending Camp Out," its website says.

The independent Camp Out group is backed by Twenty10, a NSW and federal government funded counselling service for LGBTI children, teenagers and adults in NSW.

News of the "queer camp" follows an uproar over The Australian’s revelation yesterday that Victoria’s new family violence curriculum asks Year 8 students to study sexualised personal ads and write their own ads seeking the "perfect partner".

One of the ads, to be analysed by students as young as 12, includes a "lustful, sexually generous" person "seeking sexy freak out".

Victoria’s opposition spokesman on education, Nick Wakeling, yesterday said parents had a "right to be concerned".

He said Premier Daniel ­Andrews "must stop treating our schools as his opportunity to ­impose his social agenda" on children.

"Parents should never have to learn about what their 12-year-old child is being taught on the front page of the newspaper," he said.

Victorian Education Minister James Merlino said he understood parents’ concerns but they could not "stick their head in the sand".

"I understand those concerns and I know they are challenging ­issues," he said. "But we can’t as a society stick our heads in the sand and think our kids aren’t exposed to these issues.

"We trust the professional judgment of our teachers to choose the resources that are ­appropriate for their students."