Friday, September 09, 2016

American Flag Burned at School - and You Won't Believe How Students React

A reader alerted me to this incredible story of patriotism at a high school in Heber City, Utah:

Student Ben Schofield is known around Wasatch High School for his American spirit. He flies an American flag from the back of his red pickup truck.

"I think it's really important," Ben told Fox 13 in Salt Lake City. "It's not just the material part of the flag, it's the meaning behind it."

The other day someone set fire to Ben's flag in the school parking lot. Part of his truck was scorched by the blaze.

Some of his classmates saw what happened and rushed over to extinguish the fire. "They pulled into the parking lot and they saw it on fire so they stopped and got it out and then they went and told the office," Ben told Fox 13 in Salt Lake City.

Police and the school district are investigating - they believe another student may be responsible. The motive is unclear.

The following day - students at Wasatch High School - decided to take a stand. Several dozen young people rallied at a nearby Wal-Mart. They wore red, white and blue and most proudly flew Old Glory.

Samantha Emmanuel, one of the participating students, said she and the others were appalled at the vandalism. "There are thousands and thousands of soldiers (in) a couple different countries right now fighting for you to come to school and then you just burned (the flag) up like that?" student Samantha Emmanuel told television station KSL.

The young patriots boldly sent a message to those who might deface or desecrate the U.S. flag -- we will not be silenced nor will we be bullied.

And sure enough -- the day after his flag was desecrated, Ben showed up to school with the Star-Spangled Banner proudly waving on a post in the truck bed. "We're just showing that we can fly our flags and we always will," Ben declared.

President Ronald Reagan once said that "freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction."

We owe a debt of gratitude to the moms and dads and educators in Heber City, Utah for raising up a new generation of patriots willing to defend freedom.


UMass: Making Harambe Jokes Is Racist And Possibly A Title IX Violation

The University of Massachusetts Amherst just killed Harambe all over again. Harambe jokes, that is.

Since his most untimely death at the hands of a zookeeper in March after a toddler entered the gorilla enclosure, Harambe has become an internet sensation. He's been included in presidential polls, appeared on shirts, been the subject of song parodies, and presidential candidates have released statements about him. It's nearly impossible to go anywhere on the internet without seeing something Harambe-related.

However, none of this matters to two industrious resident assistants at the University of Massachusetts, who have emailed their "first years" (guessing "freshman" is too sexist too) warning them that use of Harambe memes or making Harambe jokes is racist and potentially constitutes sexual assault. (A popular offshoot of the Harambe meme is saying that a person is going to expose the slang word for male genitalia "for Harambe.")

According to the RAs, Harambe jokes are racist because there is a residential community for African-American students at UMass named "Harambee," which is a Swahili word. The RAs say that any joke concerning Harambe (the gorilla) is a "direct attack" on this community.

Granted, there's no way this puts a stop to Harambe jokes on campus. The Cincinnati Zoo politely asked people to cut it out with the jokes, and the internet responded by printing up more shirts and filming more videos and making more signs for ESPN'S College GameDay. This will probably have a similar effect.

Congratulations, college students: we've reached peak absurdity.


Australia: Transgender advocate fired for "Safe Schools" criticism

Everyone must think in lockstep on the Left

Prominent transgender advocate Catherine McGregor has been sacked from a high-profile role with human rights group Kaleidoscope Australia for speaking out against the controversial Safe Schools program.

Ms McGregor has revealed that she was removed as a patron of Kaleidoscope, a not-for-profit group that promotes the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, because of her views on the program.

Kaleidoscope, whose inaugural patron was former High Court judge ­Michael Kirby, is a staunch supporter of Safe Schools. Although designed to prevent ­homophobic bullying in schools, the program has proved divisive because of the sexualised nature of some resources and its promotion of the contested idea that gender and sexuality are fluid.

While Ms McGregor is not the only member of the LGBTI community to speak out against Safe Schools — federal Liberal MP Tim Wilson has also aired concerns, as has Victorian health advocate Rob Mitchell — she has faced a significant backlash.

Writing for Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph in May, Ms McGregor argued the program had been compromised by radical left-wing politics and was not the most effective way of supporting transgender children. She claimed the program might lead transgender youth down a “blind alley”.

The article prompted Margot Fink, a spokeswoman for the youth network ­Minus18 and a contributor to the Safe School’s curriculum, to ­accuse her of throwing Safe Schools “under the bus” to ­appear “more acceptable or ­appealing to hard-line ­conser­vatives”.

Ms McGregor, who was the world’s highest-ranking transgender military official and an Australian of the Year nominee, told The Australian she was disappointed by the reaction to her comments. It had cost her at least one speaking engagement. A Melbourne charity advised that it no longer wanted her to appear at an LGBTI event because it feared a hostile reaction.

Ms McGregor said she made no apologies for her views but she had decided to step aside from her ­remaining roles with LGBTI ­organisations, including The Pinnacle Foundation and Canberra’s SpringOUT Pride Festival.

She also has withdrawn from next year’s prestigious Joan Kirner Social Justice Oration, previously delivered by Waleed Aly and former prime minister Julia Gillard.

“I’ve always been very happy to support various causes within the LGBTI community because I truly believe that, as a transgender woman who has been able to achieve a lot in my career in the military and as a writer and broadcaster, that I can contribute a lot,” Ms McGregor said.

“But it’s quite obvious that my views are more conservative than sections of the LGBTI community are happy to accept. I’ve really just had enough.”

Kaleidoscope president Paula Gerber said Ms McGregor was ­invited to become a patron late last year, but the board had reconsidered the appointment after ­becoming aware of her comments on Safe Schools. “While she was free to hold those views, there was an incompatibility with Kaleidoscope’s own public support of the Safe Schools program, which we happen to believe is among the world’s best,” Professor Gerber said. “Cate was surprised by our ­decision ... but she seemed to ­accept it with good grace.”

Denis Moriarty, organiser of the Joan Kirner Social Justice Oration, said he was saddened by Ms McGregor’s withdrawal. “As a gay person myself and a massive supporter of Safe Schools, I still think we should be proud to ­debate and listen to all sides,” he said. “Catherine is entitled to her views and sadly the politics of personalities has got in the way.”


Thursday, September 08, 2016

America’s Costly College Bureaucracy Bubble

Are American universities approaching “Peak Administrative Bloat”? Some might think so. Consider the following job titles and salary estimates: “Principal Assistant Chancellor of the Office of Strategic Dining Technology, $180,317”; “Associate Executive for the Task Force on Donor Climate, $368,186”; “Assistant Provost for Athletic Maintenance to the Subcommittee for Neighborhood Outreach, $415,314.”

Fortunately, those are just make-believe cases taken from the University Title Generator, but you get the point. The joke sounds plausible because it reflects the perception of an underlying reality: administrative bureaucracies and salaries have grown significantly, according to Independent Institute Research Fellow Vicki E. Alger, author of Failure: The Federal Misedukation of America’s Children.

Administrative bloat is one reason that college tuitions have climbed. Research costs are another—and reducing them would ease the student-debt burden. “Shrinking the ranks of nonteaching research faculty and putting professors back to work teaching would help undergraduates access the courses they need while saving them $2,000 to $3,000,” Alger writes.

With current student debt levels so high—$20,000 for about one-half of students completing an undergraduate degree, according to Alger—sensible cost cutting should be a priority for education policymakers. Many state policymakers agree, but that doesn’t always translate into lower tuition and fees. In Oklahoma, for example, state university regents claim to have saved more than $300,000 over the past five years. The darker truth, however, is that students, parents, and taxpayers are still victimized by higher university costs—and by policymakers’ refusal to implement serious reforms.


LA School Offers 'Restorative Interventions,' 'Healing Circles'

School punishment is out, and "restorative interventions" are in, according to a blog on the U.S. Education Department website.

The author, a "school culture specialist," discusses the effort to make the Camino Nuevo Charter Academy in Los Angeles "serve our community in a socially just way."

The school, which has a high percentage of disadvantaged students, uses state funding to hire full-time mental health practitioners and to train teachers and administrators "on trauma-sensitive instruction."

When students misbehave, "we begin a restorative justice process by understanding what happened, who was affected, and how we might resolve the situation in a non-punitive manner," the author writes.

"We confer with those involved individually before the larger community of students, families, and school staff are convened in a 'healing circle'. The healing circle provides the group a space to share how they were affected and to collectively decide how to respond to the incident. Healing and justice emerge from this community – fully supported and facilitated by our staff."

The "restorative justice" approach is credited with reducing the school's student suspension rate from 5.3 percent in 2012 to 1.4 percent in 2016.

The school also conducts home visits and teaches ethnic studies "to both affirm our relationships with students and to assist them in navigating life circumstances," the author writes.


Australia: Teachers are still whining about Federal grants to private schools

This has been going on since the days of Bob Menzies! Over 50 years ago

For many decades the Federal Government has been the primary government funder of non-government schools in Australia, while states and territories fund 85 per cent of government schools.

This is a long established fact and for the Australian Education Union to express surprise or alarm at this ongoing trend is disingenuous at best.

The AEU claims “new analysis showing [the Turnbull Government] funding plan would see 62 per cent of extra funding go to private schools”. This so-called new analysis is based on assumptions from negotiations that have not even commenced yet and a funding plan that will finalised by early next year.

Official government analysis of the current Gonski agreement – which is exactly as agreed by the previous Labor Government – from 2014 to 2017 showed the Commonwealth Government had committed 63 per cent of its funds to the non-government sector over the ‘Gonski’ years – more than that predicted in today’s report.

Politically motivated reports, like the AEU’s contribution today, provide nothing more than a distraction from the real conversation that we need to be having about how record Federal Government funding for schools is spent to ensure we are investing in evidence-based reforms that drive improved outcomes for Australian students.

The most recent NAPLAN results showed literacy and numeracy results had plateaued since 2013 while over the same period there had been a 23.7 per cent funding increase for students in both the non-government and government sectors, but even those facts haven’t changed some people’s misguided focus.

Labor and the AEU ought to stop being just one trick ponies claiming more funding fixes every problem in education.

The Turnbull Government has committed to working with states and territories and the non-government sector to establish a new funding deal post-2017 that is tied to evidence-based initiatives and will see funding distribution informed by need.

The Turnbull Government is determined to develop a new, simpler distribution model to replace the 27 different funding models that we inherited under Labor's so-called national approach, in which special deals distort real need.

Turnbull Government school funding will grow from already-record levels but will be tied to a range of evidence-based initiatives to support students by focusing on outcomes in literacy, numeracy and STEM subjects, helping lift teaching quality and better preparing our children for life after school.

Our new model will ensure funding is distributed according to need. Total school funding across Australia will grow from $16 billion in 2016 to $20.1 billion in 2020 and we will be working to ensure that funding is increased each year so that schools currently delivering valuable programs can continue to do so.

Federal Government press release

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Governments Shouldn’t Even Certify Schools, Much Less Run Them

In his famous 1955 essay, “The Role of Government in Education,” the venerated economist, Milton Friedman, proposed replacing our government-run system of schooling with a school choice voucher.  Although, Friedman argued, the public interest in an educated citizenry meant that the government had a compelling interest in funding education, it did not necessarily follow that the government should also operate the schools. 

Most critics of Friedman argued against his conclusion, preferring a centrally-planned school system to a market-based school system, but agreed with his argument that the government had a compelling interest in defining, mandating, and funding a minimum level of education. 

However, I don’t believe that government control of determining and funding this minimum level of education is economically favorable. Specifically, there are substantial costs for children and society as a whole tied to the attempt to reach a socially optimal level of education by force.

The Externality Problem

The argument for public financing of education (which we should refer to as schooling; something that is much different from what an education can be) is that there may be positive externalities associated with educated citizens. 

In other words, without subsidization of schooling, individuals may consume schooling at an amount less than the social optimum. This may be true, but how can anyone determine what this “socially optimal” level is?  In attempting to reach this imaginary level, we may do more harm than good.  We may very well push consumption over this level and waste resources, especially since we compel all children to do so. 

More importantly, by forcing all children to consume schooling, we are denying them the ability to consume other types of education. Though some children may benefit from 13 years of primary and secondary schooling, they may benefit more from a different combination of schooling and other educational activities.

The positive (or negative) externality argument can be made for any type of good or service.  For example, I can argue that the automobile creates benefits that are experienced by the consumer and the rest of society. Society benefits from the automobile when I use the product since I can more-easily network with other individuals and spend my income on their goods. 

If I can move from place to place at a lower cost, I can spread my experiences and knowledge more easily. The rest of society benefits from that. Therefore, subsidize automobiles. But that same product damages the environment through pollution. Therefore, tax automobiles. 

Similar arguments can be made about any other product. Instead, we should accept the existence of externalities and consider the possibility that market failures may be more optimal than government failures. If any financing is to be publicly provided, it should be limited to the least-advantaged families. However, we should also realize that the education for the children from these families could also be financed voluntarily through charitable donations.

What is Minimum?

A forced “minimum level of education for all children” may sound good at first. Of course, children all deserve to have at least some minimum level of education. But how can we all agree on what that minimum level of education is? Since all children are diverse, some may require an additional focus on mathematics and behavior, while others may need to focus on reading and citizenship. 

Since all children are unique, we have an endless number of combinations of needs that bureaucrats must currently attempt to determine. Even with our best efforts put forth, we are guaranteed to come up with an extensive list of goals for this minimum level of education. In an attempt to make everyone happy, we provide all students the same type of comprehensive schooling. As a result, most children get a little bit of what they need (and a lot of what they don’t) at a monumental cost.

Friedman states that the government could certify schools that meet “minimum standards” as they do with restaurants for minimum sanitary standards. Since this process is a barrier to market entry, it restricts the supply of schools, further increasing the price of schooling. The procedure itself also costs money and guarantees that the government will have a monopoly. 

Since families are unique, even government employees with the best intentions will make approval decisions that are not optimal for all families. Instead, multiple private certification companies could determine the quality of schools. Ideally, we could then have families decide what schools best meet their unique criteria.

Even limited government intervention in the education system is not socially desirable. Though the limited intervention through finance and certification is well-intentioned, we should recognize the consequences of such policies. We should also recognize that the potential market failures may be more desirable than the current government failures in education.


Charter debate playing out in small races with big money

While the partisans in Massachusetts’ bitter charter debate are sinking millions of dollars into a high-profile ballot fight over whether to build more of the schools, they’re also spending sizable sums on bids to shape the state Legislature.

Democrats for Education Reform, which favors charter schools, and the Massachusetts Teachers Association, which opposes them, have set aside $200,000 each to influence a handful of this week’s Democratic primary races — sizable sums in often low-dollar contests.

Neither side is new to political spending. But their substantial outlays this election cycle underscore how much remains at stake even after voters decide the critical question, this November, of whether to lift the state cap on charter schools and allow for the creation of 12 new or expanded schools per year.

If voters approve the cap lift, the Legislature that convenes in January could alter the specifics of the law. Lawmakers also regularly consider other proposals critical to the operation of charters — measures addressing funding, teacher evaluation, and prickly questions about how charters discipline their students.

State Senator Patricia Jehlen, a Somerville Democrat and sharp critic of charter schools, is often near the center of these legislative fights. And her Democratic primary has become a major battleground for the outside groups.

Democrats for Education Reform has spent about $100,000 to oust her, according to the latest campaign finance filings. And last week, she challenged the director of the group’s Massachusetts chapter, Liam Kerr, to a debate.

“I said to myself, who is my real opponent here?” she said, sitting just a few feet from Kerr at the debate. “Who is spending more money than my opponent? I think my opposition is Democrats for Ed Reform, which is funded by dark money from New York — hedge fund managers.”

Kerr had some pointed questions of his own: mainly about the tens of thousands of dollars that the Massachusetts Teachers Association union has spent backing Jehlen. “Did you call on the MTA to stop?” he asked at one point.

Charter schools are controversial because they are often not unionized and have a freer hand with budgets and curriculum. Critics contend that they drain resources from traditional public schools, while supporters say they provide a vital lifeline for children in poor neighborhoods.

Democrats for Education Reform and the teachers association both say they have other education issues they care about, from standardized testing to funding for preschool.

“We’re not a charter-only organization,” Kerr said in an interview. “There’s a lot of different ways to stand up for kids.”

It’s clear, though, that charter schools are an animating concern in the proxy war the sides are fighting in the Democratic primaries, a war that spreads from Cape Cod to Roxbury.

In lower-profile House races, the spending can be quite small; in some cases, the teachers union isn’t spending anything at all — it’s just knocking on doors, without expenditures on mailings or signs.

But even a modest outlay can loom large in a small-scale race. In late August, Democrats for Education Reform reported that it had spent about $9,600 on a mailer for Chynah Tyler, a candidate to succeed retiring state Representative Gloria Fox in Roxbury.

Tyler’s own campaign had spent about $10,700 as of a week before, the last time she was required to report. One of her opponents, Monica Cannon, had spent about $7,600 by that point. The teachers’ union has spent almost twice as much supporting her.

The biggest spending, though, is in the Senate race pitting Jehlen, the Somerville Democrat, against Cambridge City Councilor Leland Cheung.

That battle has grown testy.

The Massachusetts Teachers Association has spent about $115,000 to date, according to campaign finance filings, including thousands on a website attacking Cheung for backing charter schools and associating with Democrats for Education Reform, which the union calls “a national front for the ultraconservative effort to privatize public education.”

Democrats for Education Reform has been supported by hedge fund executives and large foundations. But Kerr says said the group is pushing the “Obama education agenda.” And he blasted the teachers’ union for going negative in the campaign.

The combined $215,000 the two advocacy groups have spent on the Jehlen-Cheung race so far is more than the roughly $150,000 the candidates themselves had spent by late August, the last time they were required to disclose their campaign spending.

It’s enough to make the outside spending a campaign issue in and of itself. Jehlen points out that Cheung was on record opposing charter expansion just a couple of years ago and suggests he came out in favor of the ballot initiative to accommodate Democrats for Education Reform.

Cheung denies that he was trying to curry favor with the group, saying he backs the specific proposal before voters in November because it offers a preference to charter school proposals in the lowest-performing districts.

He also criticizes Jehlen and her fellow legislators for providing inadequate funding for all public schools, charter and traditional alike. “People need to be talking about the Legislature’s failure to invest in education,” he said.

Before long, the outside groups will know whether their efforts made a difference. The primary is Thursday. In November, voters will weigh in on lifting the cap on charter schools.

Then it’s a new legislative session, battles over education policy, and come election time in 2018, if the past is any guide, the sides will be trading campaign mailings — and rhetorical jabs — once again


Australia: Increased spending in education is failing to lift student results, a new report has found

A familiar story.  The U.S. and U.K. experience is the same.  What is needed is a return to the time when kids DID learn a lot from their education: Strict discipline, chalk and talk methods and teaching phonics.  It worked in the past; It can work again.  Only Leftist theories stand in the way of it

DESPITE substantial increases in education funding, student performance at Australia’s schools has stagnated or worsened, a new report has found.

A draft inquiry by the Productivity Commission into the nation’s education sector released today said reforms including performance benchmarking had failed to achieve “the desired gains in education outcomes”.

And recommends overhauling Australia’s privacy laws to allow for better sharing of student data between states and territories.

The report, commissioned by Treasurer Scott Morrison, also found student performance had “stalled or, in some cases, declined” and recommended focusing on teacher quality to improve results.
There has been a recommendation to overhaul Australia’s privacy laws to allow for better sharing of student data between states and territories. Picture: Supplied.

There has been a recommendation to overhaul Australia’s privacy laws to allow for better sharing of student data between states and territories. Picture: Supplied.Source:ThinkStock

“Research has found that only a small share (typically about 20 per cent) of variation in individual student outcomes is explained by differences between schools,” it said.

“The majority (about 80 per cent) is explained by differences between students within schools.

“Furthermore, there is a substantial body of evidence suggesting that teachers have the greatest impact on student performance outside of students’ own characteristics, and that directing attention to higher quality teaching can have large positive effects on outcomes across the board.

“All of this suggests that looking within the classroom, particularly at teaching practices, can be more effective at providing insights into how to improve education outcomes across schools and students.”

As well as calling for an “Education Agreement” between the Federal Government and states and territories to ensure good governance over data collection, the Commission also recommends changing Australia’s privacy laws.

It claims schools were being overly burdened by data collection.

“Differences in federal and jurisdictional privacy acts, as well as education Acts impose excessive limits on the ability of education data custodians to release data that contains personal information,” the report said.

“These differences can prohibit entire data collections from being accessed or prohibit disclosure of component cohorts of the same dataset.

The report said the Turnbull Government should amend the Privacy Act to “extend the arrangements relating to the collection, use or disclosure of personal information without consent in the area of health and medical research to cover public interest research more generally.”

“Greater uniformity of privacy laws would go some way toward reducing the regulatory complexity that contributes to the risk averse behaviour of data custodians.”

The report also partially backed the introduction of student ID numbers, claiming there had been “limited progress towards this goal” since it was identified by the Government in 2009.

And called for the funding of a new longitudinal study of Australian children.


Tuesday, September 06, 2016

College Profs Tell Students To Drop Out If They Don’t Believe In Global Warming

They can't hack dissent and debate, in a complete abandonment of science and scholarship

Three University of Colorado professors told students to drop out of class if they did not believe in man-made global warming, stressing in an email there will be no debates on the subject in class.

"The point of departure for this course is based on the scientific premise that human induced climate change is valid and occurring," reads the email from UC Colorado Springs professors to their students obtained by The College Fix.

"We will not, at any time, debate the science of climate change, nor will the ‘other side’ of the climate change debate be taught or discussed in this course," reads the email sent after some students voiced concern about their future in the class after the first online lecture on global warming.

"Opening up a debate that 98% of climate scientists unequivocally agree to be a non-debate would detract from the central concerns of environment and health addressed in this course," the professors wrote in their email.

"If you believe this premise to be an issue for you, we respectfully ask that you do not take this course, as there are options within the Humanities program for face to face this semester and online next," they wrote.

The three professors teach the online course "Medical Humanities in the Digital Age," but also delves into global warming and even the "health effects of fracking," according to the course syllabus. There’s also a lecture on "our relationship with the natural world and its healing power."

The lecture on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, relies on sources from environmental activists that want to ban the drilling technique despite federal and state studies finding little to no evidence it contaminates water or negatively impacts human health.

Professors even encourage students to measure their own carbon footprint, reports the College Fix, which notes the teachers even banned challenging global warming on online forums unless they cite research reviewed by the United Nations.

Public schools have also taken up the climate crusade. The Portland Public Schools Board voted in June to "abandon the use of any adopted text material that is found to express doubt about the severity of the climate crisis or its root in human activities."


Warmists force revision of Irish science textbook

Skeptical view purged

Ireland’s largest publisher of school books has revised a chapter in its sixth class school geography book after environmental group, An Taisce, raised concerns about what the book says about global warming.

'Unlocking Geography', published by Folens, quotes a fictional meteorological researcher, who suggests that global warming is caused by nature and that humans are not to blame.

The book was published four years ago and has been used for sixth class pupils in primary schools ever since.

In chapter ten of the book, 'Barry' a fictitious climate scientist outlines the effect that human activity is having on the environment.

He is followed by 'James', a fictitious meteorological researcher, who disagrees. James says "Most of the things that have led to Global Warming were caused by nature itself".  He goes on to say that "Humans are not to blame because we have very little control over nature.

The chapter asks children to discuss these points of view.  It quotes from blogs that state "All this talk of Global Warming is silly", and "Those scientists are always trying to scare us!".

The book came to the attention of An Taisce when the daughter of one of its members alerted her parents to its arguments. Following representations from An Taisce, Folens agreed to revise the chapter. Today a new booklet was sent to schools, replacing chapter ten of the book.

This new section was drawn up in conjunction with An Taisce and scientists. The fictitious meteorological researcher, and his arguments against global warming, are gone.

Folens has told RTÉ News that the original content reflected the "balanced opinion" on climate change which was prevalent a number of years ago.

Managing Director John Cadell said that scientific opinion had now changed and the company was happy to update its book. Folens has written to primary schools today asking them to replace chapter 10 with the new booklet that the publishers has issued.

Folens said it would be too expensive to republish the entire book.

An Taisce has welcomed the revision. Its Climate Change Spokesperson, John Gibbons, told RTÉ News it was incredibly important that children and their teachers were armed with the most accurate information.


Blinded by beauty: Good-looking pupils get better marks at university and school because teachers are biased towards attractiveness

Students could be failing classes because markers are penalising them for their race or looks, new research suggests.

Academics claimed grading bias among markets in all levels of education could give students with 'unfavourable characteristics' up to five per cent less.

These include being unattractive, belonging to a certain ethnic group or gender, being labelled with a learning disability, or poor past results (a 'halo effect').

Teachers may also give higher marks to better-looking students, those of the same race, or those they know to be hardworking or 'gifted'.

In a study published in the Australian Journal of Education, University of New England associate professors John Malouff and Einar Thorsteinsson conducted a meta analysis of 20 studies on grading biases involving 1,935 markers.

They found the biases were consistent across the studies and resulted in students with supposed negative traits receiving four to five fewer marks - which could be the difference between passing and failing.

The researchers said the studies did not explain why the bias happened, but hypothesised that they would affect a marker's expectations.

'When the grading has subjective elements involving opinions as to quality based on characteristics external to the assessment piece, these expectancies may colour the work of the student enough to affect assigned scores,' they wrote.

Grading bias was largely irrelevant in objective studies like maths, or in exams with multiple choice questions.

Dr Malouff said teachers did not wanted to be biased and it was likely to be unconscious.  'They would swear in a court of law that they did it fairly but they just would not know,' he told The Age.

University of New England associate professors John Malouff (L) and Einar Thorsteinsson (R) conducted a meta analysis of 20 studies on grading biases involving 1,935 markers

He started studying grading bias when he found it difficult to mark a the essay of a friendly and hardworking student whose life story of suffering and abuse he was aware of. 'It was very hard for me to put all that aside – that she was such a pleasant hardworking person bringing herself up,' he said.

The researchers suggested blind marking could help minimise grading bias, as they noted was done at University of Melbourne and La Trobe University.

This was where students' work was kept anonymous and ideally marked by someone from another class.


Monday, September 05, 2016

British students, quit the whining and seize the day

Today’s graduates like presenting themselves as victims of the 2012 tuition-fee hike. Two weeks ago, the National Union of Students said that graduates are worried about their hefty student debt and are struggling to move out of their parents’ homes. Yet the latest employment figures paint a different picture.

In 2015, the first cohort of £9,000 fee-paying students graduated from university and started new jobs on an average salary of £23,700 – hardly a figure to be scoffed at. A year on and the future is even brighter for graduates, with the number of job vacancies finally surpassing the pre-recession peak.

Some leading UK employers are offering graduates an average starting salary of £30,000, and, with the right degree and credentials, graduates could earn £40,000 per year in some of the top law and consulting firms. It’s not as if these positions are in short supply, either. This year, graduate vacancies in accounting are expected to rise to 5,000, and to almost 2,000 in investment banking. These numbers have been increasing for four years running.

A job in the city isn’t for everyone, but the job market is looking bright across the board. The number of jobs in the public sector are up by over 10 per cent from this time last year. The government is also undertaking a big recruitment push to train young teachers – Teach First has almost 2,000 graduate vacancies on offer this year.

The number of work placements for students is also on the rise. Almost every top UK graduate employer offers paid work experience for students. Internships that had previously been reserved for students going into their penultimate year at university are being opened up to students at all stages of their university career. The number of opportunities for students to experience the world of work has reached unprecedented levels: there are thousands of placements on offer every year for students, many of which no longer require a commitment to long, unpaid hours.
Related categories

Now, paying £27,000 for a university degree won’t automatically get you a good job. Getting a job takes effort and determination. But, in a market with so much on offer for graduates, things aren’t as difficult as we’ve been led to believe.

If we can’t expect graduates to be proactive, what can we expect from them? It’s high time my fellow students found experience in the world of work and had higher expectations of themselves. Above all, graduates need to rid themselves of this false belief that adulthood has nothing good to offer millennials. Students, the world really is there for the taking – you’ve just got to grab it.


UCLA Student President Leaves Due to Anti-Israel Harassment

After a long, tedious struggle with anti-Israel harassment from administrators and student members of the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) movement at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), a former graduate student body president has decided to leave his UCLA education behind, in his quest for a less hostile learning environment.

Former UCLA law student and Graduate Student Association (GSA) president Milan Chatterjee has been the object of bullying and framing ever since he refused to allocate campus funding to an event that either promoted or rejected support for the State of Israel. Chatterjee’s “viewpoint neutrality” policy stated that topics surrounding Israel were irrelevant to the nature of campus politics and thus, campus funding should not be directed to taking sides on such measures.

The Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), an anti-Israel hate group responsible for leading the smear campaign against Chatterjee, responded with a plethora of threatening legal documents, administrative pushes, and media allegations painting Chatterjee as a biased student body president and calling for his apology and resignation. SJP leaders Rahim Kurwah and Yacoub Kureh, two UCLA grad students, enlisted the help of Palestine Legal (PL) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to send lawyers after Chatterjee to intimidate him, as well as push UCLA’s figurehead administration to launch a detailed investigation into his actions.

These allegations were easily debunked time after time, but that did not stop hateful anti-Israel activists from attempting to publish falsehoods and make them a supposed reality. Worse, the UCLA administration did nothing to stand by the GSA neutral policy and defend Chatterjee for doing his job. Instead, Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Jerry Kang aided the SJP by taking part in the investigations and harassment directed at the student president.

Finally, Chatterjee has had enough. Not only was his reputation being constantly tarnished with cruddy lies and hateful spews; he was fighting to not fall behind in his schoolwork, his health, and his sanity. In a letter to UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, Chatterjee revealed his decision to complete his final year of law school at New York University (NYU) in Manhattan. He wrote:

Dear Chancellor Block, 

I write to inform you that I have decided to complete the final year of my UCLA School of Law program at a different institution. The hostile and unsafe campus environment I am facing at UCLA has left me with no choice but to move away from this university at great additional expense to me and my family.

Since November 2015, I have been relentlessly attacked, bullied and harassed by BDS-affiliated organizations and students. The smear and harassment campaign started with the false accusation that I (an Indian-American Hindu) was not “viewpoint neutral” when allocating funds, in my capacity as Graduate Student Body President, to a diversity event. What really occurred is that my administration and I abstained from supporting either a pro- or anti- BDS agenda. This condition was explicitly approved by a UCLA administrator. The event took place on November 5, 2015 and a variety of campus viewpoints were actively represented, including both sides of the issues raised by the BDS movement. Dean Erwin Chemerinsky-- one of America’s leading constitutional law scholars-- and four legal organizations concluded that my administration and I acted in a viewpoint neutral manner.

Subsequently, BDS activists wrote defamatory articles about me and led a grassroots campaign against me on the UCLA campus. They even tried, on multiple occasions, to remove me as Graduate Student Body President. I reached out to senior members of your administration-- many times-- for guidance and support to defuse this situation. Furthermore, I believed that these administrators would be especially sensitive given the public outcry caused by similar BDS-led efforts against UCLA students Rachel Beyda, Avi Oved, Lauren Rogers, and Sunny Singh. I could not have been more mistaken. Your administrators were non-responsive and unhelpful.

In fact, when Palestine Legal and the ACLU circulated a legal letter defaming me on the Internet, had their attorneys write a libelous article about me in the Daily Bruin, and sent lawyers to Graduate Student Association meetings to attack me personally, I contacted the Interim Vice Chancellor of Legal Affairs many times for help. Not only did she decline to provide me with the necessary legal support, but she told me that I needed to get my own attorney. Finally, I was connected to the American Jewish Committee, who found the situation serious enough to refer me to a pro-bono counsel.

In late February 2016, my new attorney, Peter M. Weil, of Glaser Weil LLP, sent you and several senior members of your administration, a lengthy letter detailing the constant bullying harassment and attacks to which I was being subjected. Your administrators chose to not take any action or even investigate this matter.

To make matters worse, at the behest of pro-BDS organizations, the Vice Chancellor of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) launched a three-month-long investigation of me. His office wrote a defamatory, 27-page report which has been heavily condemned by seven major organizations.

In reality, this report was an attempt by your administration to publicly scapegoat me for their systematic failure to adopt and implement University of California policies, and provide the necessary guidance to me and other student organizations when we approached them for help. Your administrators fell asleep on the job and decided to blame me-- a student-- for it.

But the desire to vilify me did not stop there. Although the Report was designated as “Confidential,” no reasonable safeguards were adopted to preserve the report’s confidentiality. It was readily forseeable that pro-BDS organizations-- whom your administration freely made this “Confidential Report” available to-- could and would leak it. No efforts were made to prevent this and, of course, this is precisely what occurred.

In violation of confidentiality and retaliation policies, Students for Justice in Palestine openly and unlawfully leaked the EDI report onto the Internet. When I filed a complaint about this violation, your administration declined to investigate it. Worse yet, the Vice Chancellor of EDI, on his blog, urged the public to read this leaked confidential report, and gave them access to it. As recent as August 22, 2016, there was a scurrilous op-ed piece in the Daily Bruin attacking me and relying extensively on the so-called Confidential Report.

UCLA is one of the finest universities in the world. It is unfortunate, indeed that your administration has not only allowed BDS organizations and student activists to freely engage in discriminatory practices of its own against those same students. Whether you choose to acknowledge it or not, the fact is that the UCLA campus has become a hostile and unsafe environment for students, Jewish and non-Jewish, who choose not to support the BDS movement, let alone support the State of Israel.

I implore you to acknowledge the reality of this regrettable situation and take corrective action that not only remedies my grievances but addresses the current hostile and unsafe campus climate generally so that other students are not forced to leave UCLA. It is too late for me, but I sincerely hope that it will not be too late for those students who follow me.

I will be returning to Los Angeles as often as necessary in order to pursue the discrimination grievance that I filed pursuant to UCLA Procedure 230.1


Milan Chatterjee


Australia: Parents furious after Catholic school teacher reads out sections of the KORAN before class prayers - but principal insists it was just an 'academic exercise'

Parents have been left fuming after discovering a history and geography teacher has been reading excerpts of the Koran to their children at a Catholic boy's high school.

Jesse Pittard, who teaches both subjects at Christian Brothers' High School, in Lewisham in Sydney's inner-west, has come under fire from parents for reading out sections of the Koran to his year seven students at the start of the day during home room and before classes.

Parents and students told Daily Mail Australia Mr Pittard began reading excerpts to students at the beginning of the semester in July and claimed he has since read 'more than half' the Koran to them.

Parents are particularly angry they were not told about the Koran readings and questioned why the Muslim holy book needed to be read outside of religion classes.

One mother said her son revealed during a conversation that Mr Pittard was reading the Koran to him before his geography class.

'We don't send our kids to an Islamic school to listen to the Koran and it's not a religion lesson, it's a geography lesson, so how does that relate to geography?' she said.

Mr Pittard has chosen not to comment on the matter. 

The school's principal, Brother Paul Conn, confirmed Mr Pittard had read passages from the Koran before several year seven classes, and said he had received three emails and one phone call from concerned parents asking for him to investigate the matter.

But he denied the readings had been going since the beginning of the school semester and had only happened 'for a couple of days' and were 'supposed to be an academic exercise'.

'Unfortunately, due to the timing of the exercise being with the normal beginning of [Catholic] lesson prayer, some confusion did exist,' he said.

Mr Conn has since spoken to concerned parents. He said further discussion of the Koran in class has stopped.

'I ... clarified to all concerned that as a Catholic school, we are one hundred percent committed to our Catholic faith, and that our strategic plan and Religious Education Program has the Catholic faith as its core,' he said.

'Being a culturally diverse school, we are open to informed and balanced discussion on all faiths, but our commitment in terms of faith education is to the Catholic Faith.

'I spoke to the teacher concerned, who is a Christian, and he now understands that all beginning of lesson prayer at CBHS Lewisham is Catholic.

'He never intended to do anything differently, but his timing did cause some confusion. No further discussion on the Koran will be happening as no further need exists.'

The all-boys school caters for students from year five to 12 and prides itself 'in keeping with its rich faith-filled past' and only does Catholic prayers in their religion classes.

One of Mr Pittard's students said the teacher had read the English version of the Koran before geography class. 'We don't even listen, because it's so long,' the year seven student said.

'We only do [Catholic] prayers in religion classes, but for one geography lesson we were waiting for about seven to ten minutes while he was reading the Koran.'  'He gives us a demerit if any of us tell him not to read it ... He has read more than half the Koran,' another student said.

However, the principal denied any student had received demerit points for asking to not listen to the Koran.

'One of the parents who contacted me was concerned about the issuing of a demerit. It was clarified that this was definitely not for anything to do with the reading of the Koran but for a completely separate classroom behaviour issue.


Sunday, September 04, 2016

Loving Homes Can Help Solve the African-American Male School Adaptability Crisis

At the core of the problems that African Americans face is what I call the African-American male school adaptability crisis. I believe this is the failure of African-American male students to adapt to various school requirements, which prevents African-American males from having stable families. 

When I was dean of students at Bronx Community College, I sought to do something about this issue. I conceived and administered an experimental grant program called the Minority Male Career Pathway Program. Participants had a statistically significant higher retention rate and credit accumulation than their control counterparts. One group showed a statistically significant increase in their self-esteem.

I pursued these promising results upon retirement. I set up a private foundation to create an enhanced version of this program called the African-American Male Career Pathway Program to address various social problems. Central to my endeavors was the question of why do we have this issue.

In my opinion, essential to a solution is collaboration among the school as well as the home community. Without this partnership, the problem cannot be solved.  I believe that many see our students as victims.  As victims, the students are thought to have no role in the solution because being victims they are held blameless. In my opinion, the blame instead is being placed on the school and the system.

According to an article in The New York Times, the psychologist Angela Duckworth found that “the most successful students weren’t always the ones who displayed a natural aptitude; rather, they displayed something she came to think of as grit.”

Therefore, had our students acquired a feeling of security and love at home, especially during the first three years of life, rather than having character deficits, they would likely have sound character.  I believe that the home is responsible for having a decisive role in students’ success. A bad home environment leaves the students unhinged with a guidance void.

To fill the void, I have concluded that black male leadership and participation is required.

As for what should be done, I believe that the African American Male Career Pathway Program offers a template. This is a successor to the Minority Male Career Pathway Program mentioned above. Mainly, professional black males would staff the program. This would enable students to discover and pursue a career pathway to address their needs and daily concerns through a loving environment to establish nourishing connections.  

My proposals pertaining to the collaboration of school and community would draw upon the use of black males and would focus on career and character.

Daunting as I believe this problem is, it can be solved if our advantaged black males are willing to lead the way.


Georgetown University plans steps to atone for slave past

Nearly two centuries after Georgetown University profited from the sale of 272 slaves, it will embark on a series of steps to atone for the past, including awarding preferential status in the admissions process to descendants of the enslaved, officials said Wednesday.

Georgetown’s president, John J. DeGioia, also plans to offer a formal apology, create an institute for the study of slavery, and erect a public memorial to the slaves whose labor benefited the institution, including those who were sold in 1838 to help keep the university afloat.

In addition, two campus buildings will be renamed — one for an enslaved African-American man and the other for an African-American educator who belonged to a Catholic religious order.

So far, DeGioia’s plan does not include a provision for offering scholarships to descendants, a possibility that was raised by a university committee whose recommendations were released Thursday. The committee, however, stopped short of calling on the university to provide such financial assistance, as well as admissions preference.

DeGioia’s decision to offer an advantage in admissions to descendants, similar to that offered to the children and grandchildren of alumni, is unprecedented, historians say. The preference will be offered to the descendants of all the slaves whose labor benefited Georgetown, not just the men, women, and children sold in 1838.

More than a dozen universities — including Brown, Harvard, and the University of Virginia — have publicly recognized their ties to slavery and the slave trade. But Craig Steven Wilder and Alfred L. Brophy, two historians who have studied universities and slavery, said they knew of none that had offered preferential status in admissions to the descendants of slaves.

Wilder, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said DeGioia’s plans to address Georgetown’s history go beyond any initiatives enacted by a university in the past 10 years.

“It goes farther than just about any institution,” he said. “I think it’s to Georgetown’s credit. It’s taking steps that a lot of universities have been reluctant to take.”

But whether the initiatives result in meaningful change remains to be seen, he said. Wilder cautioned that the significance of the preferential status in admissions would rest heavily on the degree to which Georgetown invested in outreach to descendants, including identifying them, making sure they are aware of the benefit’s existence, and actively recruiting them to the university.

“The question of how effective or meaningful this is going to be will only be answered over time,” Wilder said.

DeGioia’s plan, which builds on the recommendations of the committee that he convened last year, represents the university’s first systematic effort to address its roots in slavery. Georgetown, which was founded and run by Jesuit priests in 1789, relied on the Jesuit plantations in Maryland — and the sale of produce and slaves — to finance its operations.

The 1838 sale, worth about $3.3 million in today’s dollars, was organized by two of Georgetown’s early presidents, both Jesuits. A portion of the profit, about $500,000, was used to help pay off Georgetown’s debts at a time when the college was struggling financially. The slaves were uprooted from the Maryland plantations and shipped to estates in Louisiana.

DeGioia said he planned to apologize for the wrongs of the past “within the framework of the Catholic tradition,” by offering what he described as a Mass of reconciliation in partnership with the Jesuit leadership in the United States and the Archdiocese of Washington.

“We know we’ve got work to do, and we’re going to take those steps to do so,” DeGioia said in an interview Wednesday.

The two buildings being renamed originally paid tribute to the Rev. Thomas F. Mulledy and the Rev. William McSherry, the college presidents involved in the 1838 sale. Now one will be called Isaac Hall to commemorate the life of Isaac, one of the slaves shipped to Louisiana in 1838, and the other Anne Marie Becraft Hall, in honor of a 19th-century educator who founded a school for black girls in Washington.

“It needs to be a part of our living history,” DeGioia said.


Most British boys leave grade school without basic numeracy and literacy skills

The majority of boys leave primary school without having reached basic standards in reading, writing and maths, government figures reveal today.

This year 11-year-olds faced tougher SATs exams after a government drive to improve standards.

 Girls rose to the challenge with 57.1 per cent reaching the expected standard compared to less than half of boys.

For the first time pupils needed to achieve 100 in the Key Stage 2 exams rather than a level 4 under the old system.

Department for Education data released showed 50.46 per cent of boys – or 149,872  of the 296,988 males who sat the exams - failed to meet the new standard.

Meanwhile 42.89 per cent of girls did not reach the bar – representing 122,276 of the 285,028 who sat the exams.

Widening gap

There was a roughly eight per cent difference in success between the genders – the largest since 2012 when 29 per cent of boys and 21 per cent of girls failed to get level 4s under the old system.

Experts said girls outperform boys at a young age as they tend to be more eager to please and there are fewer male role models for boys to aspire to.

Nick Gibb, the school standards minister, said fresh efforts to raise standards through a new ‘rigorous curriculum’ meant most students "performed well" in this year’s tests.

The proportion of all students achieving the expected standards went from 80 per cent to 52 per cent under the new system as the National Union of Teachers (NUT) branded the new tests "deeply flawed" and threatened to boycott them.

New grading system

The new 100 mark is seen as equivalent of the old level 4b.

But the DfE argues the marks are “broadly similar but are not equivalent to an old level 4b.”

“However, given the curricula differences, there is not a direct equivalence between the new expected standard and level 4b there is not a direct equivalence between the new expected standard and level 4b in previous years.

“When a new curriculum and tests are introduced, evidence suggests that  results will initially be lower but that they are likely to rise more quickly than normal for a few years after their introduction while pupils and teachers become familiar with the new material,” the DfE said in a report on the KS2 results.

Boys need single sex education in primary

Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said the gap between boys and girls was a ‘major cause of concern’ and partly explained by too much focus on ‘Hermione Granger’ type girls and female dominated classrooms in primary.

The former headteacher said: “The gap between boys and girls is of major concern. It is starting at an early age and it is evident all the way through to university.

“Girls tend to mature more quickly and they also tend to dominate more at primary schools. They tend to get more encouragement for their way of learning in environments where the vast majority are female teachers.

“A lot of primary schools are dominated by Hermione Granger-type girls – a delight to teach and eager to please. But this is happening at the expense of boys.”

 He said single-sex education in primary schools at state level could be a key to closing the gap.

Mr McGovern explained: “Boys and girls develop at a different rate and this could play to boys advantage and narrow the gap.”

Kevin Courtney, general secretary of the NUT, said: “The case for a complete rethinking of assessment in primary schools is overwhelming – this deeply flawed system must not be allowed to do further harm to pupils and to teachers in 2017.

“The National Union of Teachers calls for the suspension of current > arrangements for testing, and for the development of alternatives which can command public and professional support.

“If the government is not prepared to make the changes needed, then the Union is prepared to work with other unions to boycott both KS1 and KS2 SATs.”

Raising standards

 Nick Gibb, schools standards minister, said: "We want to build a country that works for everyone so that all children, regardless of background or ability, have the opportunity to fulfill their potential.

"That's why we have introduced a more rigorous curriculum, raised the standard we expect pupils to achieve by age 11 and placed more emphasis on phonics in the teaching of reading.

"Thanks to this focus on raising standards and the hard work of teachers, the majority of pupils have performed well in this year's tests.

"We will continue working with the sector to build on that success and further develop the primary assessment system."