Friday, October 21, 2016

NOTE:  My normal posting time has come, only to find me  under the influence of both health and cable problems.  The cable problems seem by now to have been banished but too late for me to read much. There is a fair chance that I might be back in normal action by this time tomorrow.

My health problem is a post operative infection in the wound site -- most probably golden staph.  I am on 300 mg of clindamycin 6 hourly so that should help. I can control the pain with di-gesic pretty well but I have to be cautious about sepsis so my next recourse may have to be a vancomycin drip.

Either the infection or the remedies seem to be making me very drowsy so I sleep for long periods, which is probably a good thing on the whole.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

This Lawsuit Isn’t an Answer for Detroit Students Wanting a Decent Education

Detroit school students, represented by the Los Angeles-based public interest firm Public Counsel, filed suit last month against the state of Michigan, claiming a legal right to literacy based on the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

Ninety-three percent of Detroit’s predominantly black public school eighth-graders are not proficient in reading, and 96 percent are not proficient in mathematics. According to the lawsuit, “decades of state disinvestment in and deliberate indifference to Detroit schools have denied plaintiff schoolchildren access to the most basic building block of education: literacy.”

In terms of per-pupil expenditures, the state does not treat Detroit public school students any differently than it does other students. According to the Michigan Department of Education, the Detroit school district ranks 50th in state spending, at $13,743 per pupil. This is out of 841 total districts. That puts Detroit schools in the top 6 percent of per-pupil expenditures in the state.

Discrimination in school expenditures cannot explain poor educational outcomes for black students in Detroit or anywhere else in the nation. Let’s look at routinely ignored educational impediments in Detroit and elsewhere.

If the Michigan lawsuit is successful, it will line the pockets of Detroit’s teaching establishment and do absolutely nothing for black academic achievement.

Annie Ellington, director of the Detroit Youth Violence Prevention Initiative, reported that 87 percent of the 1,301 Detroit public school students interviewed in a survey last year knew someone who had been killed, disabled, or wounded by gun violence.

According to an article published by the American Psychological Association, 80 percent of teachers surveyed nationally in 2011 had been victimized at school at least once during that school year or the prior year. Detroit Public Schools are plagued with the same problems of violence faced by other predominately black schools in other cities.

In Baltimore, each school day in 2010, an average of four teachers and staff were assaulted. In February 2014, The Baltimore Sun reported that more than 300 Baltimore school staff members had filed workers’ compensation claims during the previous fiscal year because of injuries received through assaults or altercations on the job.

A 1999 Michigan law requires school districts to expel any student in sixth grade or above who physically assaults a school employee. The Lansing Board of Education ignored the law and refused to expel four students for throwing chairs at an employee, slapping a teacher, and punching another in the face.

It took a Michigan Supreme Court ruling to get the board to enforce the law. The court said the law was enacted “specifically [to] protect teachers from assault and to assist them in more effectively performing their jobs.”

Colin Flaherty, author of “Don’t Make the Black Kids Angry,” has compiled news stories and videos that show how black students target teachers for violence. He discusses some of it in his Jan. 12, 2015, American Thinker article, titled “Documented: Black Students Target Teachers for Violence.”

As a result of school violence and other problems, many teachers quit when June rolls around. Every year, Detroit loses about 5 percent of its teaching positions (135 teachers). According to a Detroit schools representative, substitutes, principals, and other staffers must cover classes, a situation not unique to Detroit. In California, signing bonuses of $20,000, “combat pay,” aren’t enough to prevent teachers from leaving altogether or seeking out less violent schools.

The departments of Education and Justice have launched a campaign against disproportionate minority discipline rates, which show up in virtually every school district with significant numbers of black and Hispanic students. The possibility that students’ behavior, not educators’ racism, drives those rates lies outside the Obama administration’s conceptual universe.

Black people ought to heed the sentiments of Aaron Benner, a black teacher at a St. Paul, Minnesota, school who abhors the idea of different behavioral standards for black students. He says: “They’re trying to pull one over on us. Black folks are drinking the Kool-Aid; this ‘let-them-clown’ philosophy could have been devised by the KKK.”

Personally, I can’t think of a more racist argument than one that holds that disruptive, rude behavior and foul language are a part of black culture.

Here’s my prediction: If the Michigan lawsuit is successful, it will line the pockets of Detroit’s teaching establishment and do absolutely nothing for black academic achievement.


British parent shares bizarre note from his child's Italian school telling children to bring their own loo roll

Pens, pencils, files... These are all normal things to expect a child to bring along on their first day at school. But one school in Milan is so short on funds it has started asking pupils to supply four rolls of toilet paper, according to a note shared by a bemused British parent.

William Hardy, whose child goes to Scuola Primaria Casati, a state primary school in the centre of the city, the wealthiest in Italy, was also asked to bring paper and cups.

He received the message at the start of the school year and shared it with The Local. It read: 'We've run out of toilet paper. So that this great friendship can continue we have to bring one packet of four rolls of toilet paper (each)!'

At the bottom was an image of a smiling poo and toilet roll.

Unfortunately, such desperate measures are not particularly uncommon among schools in Italy.  Marilena Lombardi, whose child goes to an elementary school in Campania, in the south of the country, was told to bring paper towels and soap.

She told MailOnline: 'We were asked to bring all these necessities to the school because of the cuts the government had on the schools from north to south.

'So we did, each one of us parents bought toilet paper, paper towels and soap for the school.

'We were all willing to participate and didn't make a fuss, we want our children to have all they need in school but still we found it unfair that we had to do this


Freshers' week is now 'more like entering a convent': Professor says university crackdowns on student freedom stops them growing up

The freedoms once enjoyed by students are under threat from universities obsessed with micromanaging students' personal lives, a top academic has warned.

Frank Furedi, emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Kent, says starting university now resembles an induction course 'into a convent'.

Writing in his book, What's Happened to the University, Professor Furedi said universities are now infantalising students rather than treating them as adults.

Speaking to MailOnline, Professor Furedi said: 'University overall is becoming increasingly paternalistic. Increasingly, instead of being treated like young men and young women [students] are being treated like they are in nursery.'

Professor Furedi points to the widespread availability of counselling and support services available to students as part of the problem.

He said: 'There is an assumption that you have the psychological or moral resources of a youngster.

'Even before an exam there are all these resources, you can cuddle pets and cuddle soft toys. These are the types of thing I would do with my five-year-old.

He added: 'The university has become a clinic that assumes they are dealing with emotionally confused youngsters.'

Professor Furedi argues such services encourage students to turn to others when faced with even basic personal challenges such as homesickness.

He also warns such widespread use of these services threatens to trivialise the needs of students struggling with genuine mental health issues.  'In life, we have bad things happen to us, we are disappointed and those are not issues that need medical care,' he added.

This fixation on managing and protecting new students is also filtering down to Freshers' week, once the symbol of the freedom of university life.

Professor Furedi said: 'A lot of kids are still drinking dancing making new friends but there is a mean spirited culture which assumes that having fun means you are going to have disruptive behaviour in the future.'

He said the message is 'don't go drinking and dancing because things may go wrong', rather than encouraging students to explore their new environment independently.

He added: 'It's like coming into a monastery or convent, you almost have to choose not to let loose for that week.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Proof grammar schools boost poorer pupils: Youngsters are twice as likely to go to top universities as rich children at comprehensives

Poor pupils from grammar schools are almost twice as likely to get a place at an elite university as richer children at comprehensives, figures show.

When compared with other disadvantaged children in comprehensives, the difference is even more stark – with those at grammars more than three times more likely to attend a top university.

The Government statistics come amid a drive to increase the number of children from deprived backgrounds at the elite Russell Group universities.

In her maiden speech, Prime Minister Theresa May spoke of the injustice of white working class boys being the least likely group to attend university.

And yesterday’s data suggests selective schools multiply poor children’s chances of being able to parachute themselves into a better life.

Education Secretary Justine Greening said: ‘We want to build a country that works for everybody and that means an excellent education for every child. These figures show grammar schools open up fantastic opportunities for their pupils, no matter what their background. Too many children are currently held back from fulfilling their potential purely because of where they live or how much their parents earn.

‘We need to level the playing field and our proposals to create more great school places are a step towards this.’

The statistics show 71 per cent of poor sixth formers at grammar schools go on to university.

This is much higher than the 56 per cent of similarly poor children at comprehensives.

And 29 per cent of disadvantaged grammar school students go to Russell Group universities. This compares with just 9 per cent of poorer sixth formers and 15 per cent of better off ones at comprehensives.

The figures published by the Department for Education show the positive outcomes from grammar schools for children from all backgrounds. However, there are only 163 left in the country following a ban on new selective schools imposed by Tony Blair in 1998.

The Government is currently consulting on scrapping the ban on new grammar schools, and allowing them to open where parents want them.

In return, grammars will be expected to improve the education of pupils in other local schools, ensuring there is no return to the binary education system of the past.

The news came as the House of Lords debated the plans yesterday – with several peers voicing their support for the scheme.

Tory peer Lord Framlingham said teaching pupils of similar ability was the only way to deliver effective education. He said: ‘Children are stronger than we sometimes think and often understand better than we appreciate what the world is like.

‘Can our national educational policy really be that because some will not succeed none must try? How depressing.’

But Lord Blunkett, who was Labour education secretary when the ban was introduced, slammed the idea of new grammars. He said: ‘It’s morally wrong, it’s philosophically wrong, it’s practically impossible to implement.’


Millennials Are the School Choice Generation, New Survey Says

Millennials support equal opportunity and a society without borders. School choice delivers on both fronts.

Good news for supporters of school choice: millennials are just as likely as older generations to say that kids and parents should have more options when it comes to education.

For some aspects of school choice, such as voucher programs and education savings accounts, favorability rates are arguably strongest among millennials (albeit with some caveats that I'll get to in a minute).

That's according to a survey released by EdChoice (formerly the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice), a public policy organization that supports school choice.

Overall, 63 percent of millennial respondents were in favor of charter schools, and just 19 percent were opposed. The national average was 59 percent and 23 percent. This means that millennials were actually slightly more pro-charter than the average, though the difference is within the survey's margin of error.

That should be reason enough for school choice reformers to cheer, though some caution is still warranted: millennials held initially hostile views toward vouchers—just 33 percent supported them. But the survey asked the question twice: after it explained what vouchers were, support for them rose to 61 percent.

Indeed, lack of information about education policies might be the biggest obstacle to making millennials even more supportive of reform. Two out three millennial respondents said the country wasn't spending enough money on education. But according to the poll results, they badly underestimated how much money schools receive from the government. After being given the correct per-pupil funding numbers, some millennial respondents changed their minds. The percentage of respondents who thought per-pupil spending was too low dropped from 55 percent to 37 percent, and increasing percentages of respondents answered that current funding was "too high," "about right," or "didn't know."

Obvious disclaimer: This poll was produced by a pro-school choice organization. That said, I'm not at all surprised to learn that millennials are just as excited about school choice as older generations—if not more excited. They're against arbitrary borders (zip codes, in this case), deeply concerned about structural racism in public institutions (like police departments and traditional public schools), and motivated by principles of fairness and equal opportunity. School choice delivers on all these fronts.


Surrender? US schools to REQUIRE Muslim indoctrination

I'm not an alarmist but I will present hypocrisy when I see it. There are many who've labeled a recent action in Kansas City as some sort of submission to Islamic supremacy. I don't see it in such an alarmist fashion, but I am rather perplexed by the liberal progressive socialist hypocrisy.

As reported by, "One of the nation's largest school districts has adopted a resolution banning "hateful speech" against Muslim students while accusing America of having "a long history of racism and xenophobia."

The controversial resolution, unanimously approved by the Kansas City Board of Education on Sept. 28, states that there are 30,000 Muslims living in the greater Kansas City area, "making invaluable contributions to our economy, our social and political life, and our culture."

It goes on to state that discrimination on the basis of religion, "and against Muslims in particular, is deeply embedded within our country's long history of racism and xenophobia."

The Sept. 28 meeting was reportedly packed with local Muslims seeking to show their support for the resolution. Shaheen Ahmed of the Crescent Peace Society, a Kansas City interfaith organization, requested the board adopt the resolution and the Muslims were hoping that other school districts would follow the lead of Kansas City and adopt similar resolutions, according to a post on social media by Mahnaz Shabbir, an adviser to the Crescent Peace Society who also attended the meeting. More from the "anti-hate" resolution is quoted below:

WHEREAS there has been an unprecedented backlash since the September 11th attacks in the form of hate crimes and employment discrimination toward Arab and Muslim Americans and those perceived as Muslims; and WHEREAS Muslims, Muslim Americans, and those perceived as Muslims, are frequently the targets of abusive and discriminatory police practices sanctioned by the state including surveillance in their neighborhoods and places of worship."

The document further resolves that Kansas City school "condemns all hateful speech and violent action directed at Muslims, those perceived as Muslims, immigrants and people of color." The board promises to provide special training for teachers and staff to make sure they have right attitudes toward Muslims, and it also commits to "instituting school policies and setting an educational curriculum that reflects the values expressed in this resolution via training of staff and teachers, the inclusion of diverse resources to supplement in-class curricula, and the creation of safe spaces for students to address in-school bullying."

The resolution was passed with an 8-0 vote and one board member absent. It is signed at the bottom by Superintendent Mark Bedell and Board Chair Melissa Robinson."

Now, if this is something the Kansas City School Board wants to do, fine. However, what's rather hypocritical to me is that we have this concerted effort by secular humanist groups to eradicate Christianity from our schools and our public spaces.

As well, Christians are persecuted for their safe spaces for them. Why is it that Christians are deemed hateful when they wish not to participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies? Yes, consider the Christian bakers in Oregon who have lost their business. They were savagely assailed and fined by the state - as was the Christian photographer who declined to do portraits of a same-sex marriage because of her Christian faith.

I just have to ask, will there be any special training for anyone in these cases? Oh yeah, it'll be for the Christians who NEVER denied anyone service because of sexual orientation, they just wished to not be a part of a certain ceremony.

Christians cannot pray openly in our schools, we have a football coach in Seattle attacked and condemned by the school board there because he prayed with his players. At West Point, the superintendent expressed a "valid concern" about the coach asking for a team prayer.

Now, does anyone consider this to be a violation of separation of church (mosque) and state? Seems to me there's a blatant violation of the First Amendment right to freedom of religion and free exercise thereof - yet we have a state - governmental - agency establishing specific policies and protections for certain citizens based on religion.

Can you just imagine what would happen if a school board voted 8-0 for a resolution that promoted "instituting school policies and setting an educational curriculum that reflects JUDEO-CHRISTIAN values?"

No, I cannot. Doggone, the Freedom from Religion Foundation in Madison Wisconsin sent a letter to my alma mater, the University of Tennessee, to cease and desist giving a prayer before our home football games. In our military, our men and women in uniform are not allowed to openly display a Bible on their desks.

So when are we having special training to make sure there are the "right attitudes towards Muslims?" First of all, who defines what are "right attitudes?"

What type of educational curricula meets the values expressed in this resolution, and who develops this curriculum? Furthermore, what type of external resources are needed to compliment this curriculum? Seems to me the Kansas City School Board is advocating for specific and favorable religious indoctrination for Muslims. Does that mean revisionist history and erasing any references to Islamic terrorism?

This is right along the lines of UN Resolution 16/18 sponsored by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) criminalizing any language deemed "offensive" to Muslims. Again, I'm not alarmist but I have to ask, are we moving towards a declaration of Muslims as a protected class? Could it be that one day, if I say "radical Islam," I can be carted off to "reeducation training" to make sure I have the "right attitude" towards Muslims?

Why is it that some folks are just so anxious to declare all things are bad about America - a "history of racism and xenophobia?" And can someone please quantify this "unprecedented backlash" since 9-11? Just off the top of my head: Ft. Hood, Texas,; Boston marathon; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Moore, Oklahoma; St. Cloud, Minnesota; San Bernardino; Orlando and James Foley...not to mention the foiled Islamic terrorist plots on our tell me about the "unprecedented backlash" against Muslims in America since 9-11.

Maybe it's just me, but I'm growing really tired of the American people, the victims of Islamic terrorism, being portrayed as the attackers. Here we cannot utter the words "radical Islamic terrorism" because that will upset the Ummah, and spread the recruitment of Islamists worldwide. So what we must do is take a position of submission, subservience, and acquiescence and accept the blame upon ourselves...instead of looking at the Muslim community and demanding accountability and responsibility for these actions.

You see in the land of progressive socialists, we are to blame, America is bad, and the real threat are Christians, the true hate mongers. You know, not baking a cake or taking pictures of a same-sex wedding are so threatening to our domestic and global security. The regular response from the left when it comes to Islamic terrorism is the moral equivalency argument that Christians are just as bad - yep, right, and that's exactly what I heard at St. Louis University from students there.

This resolution says Muslims are "frequently the targets of abusive and discriminatory police practices sanctioned by the state including surveillance in their neighborhoods and places of worship." Folks, it's called "trend analysis" and if there were Islamic terrorists living in Jewish retirement homes, guess what, the police would conduct surveillance there. However, let's not talk about the problem in Minnesota in the Somali refugee, community which has seen some nine Islamic terrorist convictions in the past two years...and a series of military-aged males leaving the area to fight for Islamic jihadists overseas.

I know there'll be the normal accusations of "Islamophobia" but I will not cower to any psychological intimidation by a Muslim Brotherhood associated organization such as CAIR. If there's one thing I will say about the Kansas City School Board, it's that they're Islamapologists who fail to see the insidious nature of this resolution. I'm waiting for the day when America has a leader who will declare our American citizens a protected class and finally eradicate the scourge that is Islamic terrorism from our shores, and destroy their global sanctuaries.

Oops, there's a knock on the door. Looks like it's time for my reeducation and sensitivity training...


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Sacré bleu! English now de rigeur at Ecole Polytechnique

Defenders of the French language have always been keen to protect it from the scourge of English infiltration.

Unfortunately, they have lost a key battle. In a move that would have Robespierre rotating in his grave, one of France’s most esteemed universities has announced that it will teach courses in English for the first time.

Ecole Polytechnique was a product of the French revolution, founded in 1794 to train up a generation of engineers and officials (after so many had come to an unfortunate end at the hands of the sans-culottes).

Napoleon Bonaparte granted the institution military status and gave the school its motto, “Pour la patrie, les sciences and la gloire” — for the nation, science and glory. Although foreign students began attending in 1798, and today come from 60 different countries, they have always been taught only or mostly in French.

Now the institution, France’s leading university of science and technology, is launching new academic programs taught exclusively in the language of les rosbifs. Five new graduate degree programs are starting this academic year and an undergraduate degree will begin next autumn.

The use of another teaching language is likely to horrify the Academie Francaise, which has for years warded off insidious anglicisation and the adoption of modern words and phrases, such le cashback, le weekend and le email (or courrier electronique, as they would prefer).

The president of the university said that English-taught degrees were being introduced so that it could become more diverse and compete globally.

“It’s a business consideration,” Jacques Biot said. “We want to gain a market share of the best students in the world. And if we want to do that, we have to adapt to these sort of customers, and need to have an offer fitting what the best students in the world would expect.”

The university already has some courses taught partly in English but they would be inaccessible to those unable to speak French.

Mr Biot said: “With the new courses we will recruit and teach in English. We will, however, teach them French language and culture.”

He said that the introduction of the English-taught courses had the full support of the government, but added: “I expect some people at some stage will protest about it — being French, I wouldn’t discard the possibility.”

The five new graduate degree programs are two years long and offer high-level scientific training for graduates wanting to lead tech companies.

Students on the courses are from Italy, Germany, Britain, Scandinavia, Russia, Asia and Africa.


British Secondary schools are being 'crippled' by a baby boom fuelled by migration as applications for places soar by 50 per cent

More than half of England's secondary schools are now oversubscribed as they are 'crippled' by a baby boom fuelled by high migration, new figures show.

The proportion of secondaries with more applications than pupil places rose to 50 per cent this year for the first time in a generation, according to research by the FindASchool website.

And the rate – which stood at just 43 per cent two years ago – is expected to get worse still, due to the bulge in secondary pupil numbers over the next five years.

Headteachers are already complaining of the 'struggle' that schools face because of oversubscription.

They warn taking on more pupils will cause a lack of funding and a shortage of teachers in key subjects.

There are also fears that staff rooms and offices will have to be converted into extra classrooms for the extra children.

Rob McDonough, headteacher of the West Bridgford School in Nottinghamshire, told the Times Educational Supplement that the costs of being oversubscribed were 'extraordinary'.

He said: 'What's crippling me is funding the pupil expansion. That's worrying me now because [the reserves are] gone.'

The FindASchool study analysed the admissions arrangements of 87 per cent of England's state secondaries.

Data is still missing from some schools that control their own admissions, but the researchers expect the proportion of oversubscribed institutions to rise above 50 per cent when all the figures are in. And they say that changing demographics will worsen the situation for secondaries in the future.

Ed Rushton, founder of FindASchool – a school-checking service run with – said: 'Our figures, which, incidentally, the government does not collect, suggest the problem is getting worse.

'Given the large bulge in primary school numbers, this trend is likely to continue unless lots of extra schools are opened and more school places are added where they are most needed.

'Over the next five years, there will be more of a crunch because of the bulge. I would say it is likely that this is the first time it has gone above 50 per cent.'

The analysis reveals that the problem is most acute in London, where two-thirds of secondaries are oversubscribed - but the difficulties extend nationwide, with at least half of secondaries oversubscribed in the West Midlands, East of England, the North West and the South East.

Malcolm Trobe, interim general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: 'The overall planning has never been brilliant in getting the right number of school places in the right place at the right time.

'Schools often cannot quickly expand to deal with an increase in numbers.'

Dealing with appeals for places has become another significant problem for schools, alongside building work, squeezed budgets and staff shortages. Burnt Mill Academy, in Harlow, Essex, had more than 100 children on its waiting list last year and receives about 40 appeals annually.

Last month, new government statistics revealed that there were 62,301 appeals made by parents in 2016, compared with 54,600 the year before – a rise of 14 per cent.

A Department for Education spokesman said: 'We are delivering good-quality school places to ensure that every child has an excellent education that allows them to reach their full potential.

'Our latest data shows that nearly 600,000 additional pupil places were created between May 2010 and May 2015, and we are investing £7 billion in new places up to 2021. Thanks to that hard work and investment, 1.4 million more pupils are now in good or outstanding schools than in 2010.'


Stop whining and just do your exams: Why a lot of kids these days need to suck it up

Comment from Australia

IT’S HSC [Higher School Certificate] time and I’ve never been happier to not be involved in something. Not because of the studying or the stress of exams, but because of the Facebook groups.

I’ve just lost an hour of my life trawling the posts and comments on “HSC Discussion Group 2016.” And while there are the usual notes of encouragement, musings about exams frustrations and memes that make me realise I’m completely out of touch with the next generation, there’s also some pretty disturbing comments in there.

Here are some of the kids who need to suck it up and grow up.


One girl wrote a lengthy essay suggesting to the Board of Studies that HSC students should be provided with free counselling for having to endure the “wrath of the HSC”, an extra hour to complete the paper and the requirement that all HSC teachers sit the exam themselves before teaching the course.

Might I suggest that if you believe the Board of Studies should be providing free counselling for the “wrath of the HSC” you may as well lock that therapist in for a standing appointment, because life outside school is going to be a real wake up call.

Surely we’ve been through this enough to realise the HSC is difficult. It’s supposed to be, it’s an exam. I doubt there’d be a single person who wouldn’t have wanted more time, but even if the Board of Studies granted an extra three hours people would still be complaining.

Oh, and everyone who teaches HSC subjects HAS taken the exam. That’s how they ended up in the privileged position of teaching someone who thinks they’re the only one who’s ever been through it. Lucky them.


A young man posted a photo of himself smiling with his arm in a sling with the comment “How to get out of HSC 101: Break your wrist after the first exam ends by jumping off a moving car.”

This post was followed by almost 3000 likes and comments that were mostly versions of the word “LEGEND!”

If this kid ends up building an app that makes $30 billion, I give up.


To anyone stupid enough to post the question “How can I cheat on the HSC?” with your real name on a public page, or provide a genuine answer to that question, there is little to no hope for you.


And now we get to the less amusing and more disturbing comments. Most of them aren’t fit to write and include horrible digs at other kids whose only crime appears to be that their memes weren’t funny enough.

One of the most disturbing posts was a screen shot of a direct message sent to Board of Studies director, Tom Alegounarias that reads: “You’re about to cop a f***‘in left right goodnight from about 70 000 angry c***s yeah the boyz.” Again, cleverly posted from this kid’s personal Facebook page.

This kind of behaviour is so pathetic I don’t even know where to start. The idea that it’s applauded by other students in the comments and that people are jumping on the bandwagon by sending their own messages is even worse.

Is the HSC a punish? Yes. But from my experience the people who find it most difficult are often the ones who didn’t spend enough time preparing and are looking for an excuse to blame anyone but themselves for their own lack of discipline.

Unfortunately life isn’t all about posting on Snapchat and hanging out with your mates. If you want to do something with your life other than whinge about how everyone’s out to get you, you’re going to have to put in a little hard work.

The whole reason the HSC is difficult is because it’s the way we control competition for university placements.

Are there potential flaws in the system we’ve got? Of course. Are there other ways to do what you want if you don’t get the mark you hoped for? Absolutely.

But is there anything wrong with being asked to dedicate a couple of months of your life to preparing for an exam, regardless of what you decide to do with the mark at the end of it? No.

The idea that the HSC is some kind of conspiracy cooked up by the establishment to break defenceless teenagers and make their life a misery is ridiculous. Exams aren’t meant to be easy. If they were, there’d be no point.

While they’re frustrating and stressful, they prepare you for the harsh reality that if you want to achieve anything in life you need to work for it. And if you spend your entire existence whining on Facebook you’re not going to get very far.

With more exams to go might I advise students who are spending most of their time trolling the Board of Studies and whingeing about the injustice of it all that your time might be better spent focusing on a book with some actual pages in it.

Oh, and one more thing …. grow up.


Monday, October 17, 2016

53% of College Students ‘Feel Intimidated’ When Disagreeing With Their Professors

Slightly more than half (53 percent) of U.S. college students reported feeling “intimidated” when they expressed ideas or beliefs that differed from their professors’, according to a national survey commissioned by the William F. Buckley, Jr. Program at Yale.

Last year, slightly less than half (49 percent) of college students felt that way, the survey found.

“Freshmen and sophomores in 2016 report feeling slightly more intimidated than juniors and seniors,” the Classroom Intimidation Index found.

However, 51 percent of students reported feeling less intimated by their classmates when they spoke up about controversial issues, compared to 55 percent who felt that way last year, according to the survey.

The survey was conducted between September 17th and 25th by McLaughlin & Associates, which polled 800 full-time undergraduates at four-year public and private colleges and universities across the country.

By a two-to-one margin, students reported their campuses to be “generally more tolerant to liberal ideas and beliefs” (39 percent) compared to schools that were “generally more tolerant to conservative beliefs” (18 percent).

More than a third (38 percent) reported that their schools are “equally tolerant” of both liberal and conservative views.

The survey also found signs that the nation’s undergraduates are becoming more aware of their First Amendment rights, with 84 percent this year agreeing that it is “an important amendment that still needs to be followed and respected in society” - up seven points from 2015.

Conversely, while 17 percent of students said last year that the First Amendment is “outdated and needs to be changed,” only 10 percent felt that way this year – a seven-point decline.

A larger number (82 percent) of students could also identify the rights guaranteed under the First Amendment this year than last (76 percent), the survey found.

The vast majority of freshmen (83 percent) said they support free speech campus-wide, compared to 74 percent of all students and 22 percent who feel it should be limited to “free speech zones”.

The Buckley program’s “mission is to promote intellectual diversity at Yale University”, including “open political discussion and intellectual engagement on campus.”

The program hosts an annual “Disinvitation Dinner” featuring speakers considered too politically incorrect to be invited to speak on the nation’s college campuses, or whose invitations to speak were withdrawn after somebody complained. This year’s winner was former New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.


Chaos in South Africa

A set of protests against fees has turned into general riots, with burning of libraries, attempted murder of security guards, and general mayhem. Most universities have just given in and closed, leaving students unable to write their final year's exams

South Africa’s student protests have become scenes of teargas, arrests, and burning buildings

For weeks, learning has given way to mayhem on South Africa’s university campuses. Clashes between students protesting for free education and police have become increasingly intense, marked in recent days by arrests, destruction of property, and the discovery of undetonated petrol bombs on university grounds.

The protests began last year after the government announced a mandatory fee increase at universities. Under the banner #FeesMustFall, demonstrations were relatively peaceful, and students were placated after the proposed fee increase was dropped. So when the government again announced fee increases this September (albeit capped at 8%), students were enraged.

Demonstrations began to take place almost daily at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. The unrest spread to other campuses, in some cases becoming violent, and a number of schools closed to avoid further confrontations. Scenes of riot police lining up against stone-throwing students have dominated the news.

In response to the protests, president Jacob Zuma established a task team of eight cabinet ministers, including police, intelligence, defense, and state security. But the task force left out the finance minister and treasury for reasons that are unclear. A government-appointed commission tasked with reviewing tuition at public universities continues with public hearings, isolated from the chaos surrounding universities.

Fees protests continued at universities across the country with private security companies being employed to keep order. Some eight students have been arrested this week by South African Police Services.

On Wednesday (Oct. 12), students arrested in Johannesburg on charges ranging from public violence to assault, appeared in court under heavy guard before being released on bail. On the same day in Pretoria, police fired rubber bullets as a student march through the city center turned violent.

At the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, protesters set fire to the university’s main entrance, the information center and security vehicles. The university opened a case of attempted murder after two security guards were locked inside a burning building. Nineteen other students from the Cape Peninsula University were also arrested.

At the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Durban campus, students clashed with police, while in Pietermaritzburg students were arrested for setting fire to a building. At the Vaal University of Technology, south of Johannesburg, students allegedly threw a petrol bomb at police. The University of Cape Town and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth remain closed.

Higher education minister Blade Nzimande and other political leaders from the ruling African National Congress have accused the student movement of becoming politicized, in light of opposition party support for the cause. “This is no longer about fees anymore. This is about trying to cause discontent. It’s about regime change, to be quite honest,” Nzimande told news station eNCA.

Student leaders have come under increasing fire for the violent nature of the protests in some places, and their resolute demands that all fees be waived, and that campuses remain closed until an agreement is reached. Female and LGBTQI students have also accused the movement of reneging on their commitment to inclusivity in the demonstrations.

Talks between the government, university management and student leaders have yet to yield a solution, with neither side willing or able to meet the other’s demands. After nearly a month, an impasse does not appear likely to end soon, with protests only likely to become even more intense.


Australia: Lessons on ‘male privilege’ in $21.8m Victorian schools program

As usual, feminists think that demonizing men will help women.  It is more likely to make men angry and thus hurt women.  But logic and evidence doesn't come into it for feminists.  Only their hatreds matter to them

Victorian students will be taught about “male privilege” and how “masculinity” encourages “control and dominance” over women, as part of a mandatory new school subject aimed at combating family violence.

The Victorian government will push ahead with the rollout of its $21.8 million respectful relationships education program, despite claims the program fails to consider the multiple and complex drivers of family violence, ignores male victims and amounts to the brainwashing of children.

Evidence has emerged the program risks alienating men — by presenting all men as “bad” and all women as “victims” — a point highlighted in a report evaluating a pilot of the program in 19 schools last year.

As part of its broader campaign against family violence, the Andrews government has released a series of new resources aimed at kindergarten through to Year 12 classes designed to complement a “whole-of-school” approach to violence prevention.

The Resilience, Rights and Respectful Relationships learning materials aim to encourage gender equity in relationships and challenge gender stereotypes, which are key drivers of ­violence against women, it is claimed.

While the program refers to “gender-based violence”, the overriding emphasis is on men being the perpetrators of violent acts. Proposed lessons will introduce students to the concept of “privilege”, which is described as “automatic, unearned benefits bestowed upon dominant groups” based on “gender, ­sexuality, race or socio-economic class”.

“Being born a male, you have advantages — such as being overly represented in the public sphere — and this will be true whether you personally approve or think you are entitled to this privilege,” states guidance for the Years 7 and 8 curriculum,” it says.

By Years 11 and 12, students are asked to examine their privilege and ways that “equity” can be encouraged, such as catch-up programs, special benefits or entitlements for those who are not considered privileged.

“An awareness of the existence of male privilege is critical in understanding why there is a need for feminist perspectives, and education on gender at all,” the curriculum guide points out.

It also introduces students to the term “hegemonic masculinity”, which is defined as the dominant form of masculinity in society that “requires boys and men to be heterosexual, tough, athletic and emotionless, and ­encourages the control and dominance of men over women”.

Jeremy Sammut, a senior ­research fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies, criticised the program, calling it ­“taxpayer-funded indoctrination” of children.

“The idea behind this program — that all men are latent abusers by nature of the ‘discourse’ — is an idea that only cloistered feminist academics could love,” Dr Sammut told The Australian. “A lot of evidence suggests that like child abuse, domestic ­violence is a byproduct of social dysfunction: welfare, drugs, family breakdown.”

Kevin ­Donnelly, a senior research fellow at the Australian Catholic University, said the program was biased and lacked objectivity and balance. “There’s no doubt that women are overwhelmingly the victims of domestic violence and more needs to be done,” Dr Donnelly said.

“The royal commission found that 25 per cent of victims of family violence are men and there’s little, if anything, in there that acknowledges the impact of violence on men and young boys.”

Hannah Grant, a spokeswoman for Our Watch, which ­man­aged the pilot and carried out the evaluation, acknowledged there had been tension in some schools and statistics demonstrating the gendered nature of violence often prompted challenging ­discussion. “Feedback suggested that the whole-school briefing had a varied impact within and across schools,” she said.

Education Minister James Merino dismissed concerns over the program. “We will not stand by while one woman in Australia is killed every week through domestic violence,” Mr Merlino said.  “It’s ­astounding anyone could think teaching our kids about respect for other people is a bad thing.”


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Group Claims YouTube Is Restricting PragerU Educational Videos

PragerU, an institution that, according to its website, “presents the most important ideas in free, five-minute videos,” is currently being restricted by YouTube. YouTube has restricted 21 of the organization’s videos.

Videos are restricted on YouTube based on vulgar language, violence and disturbing imagery, nudity and sexually suggestive content, and portrayal of harmful or dangerous activities, according to YouTube. Videos that are age-restricted “are not visible to users who are logged out, are under 18 years of age, or have restricted mode enabled,” according to YouTube.

The list of restricted videos include, “Are The Police Racist?,” “Why Don’t Feminists Fight for Muslim Women?,” “Why Did America Fight the Korean War?,” “Who’s More Pro-Choice: Europe or America?,” and “What ISIS Wants.”

“Over the last several months, PragerU and YouTube have been in communication regarding a number of PragerU videos that YouTube has listed under ‘restricted mode,’” Jared Sichel, PragerU’s communications director, said in a statement provided to The Daily Signal. “That number has since grown to 21 videos.

Restricted mode is something that many parents and schools use so that children don’t watch explicit adult and sexual content—not so they can’t find animated, educational videos on topics ranging from history and economics to happiness and philosophy.”

YouTube was bought by Google in 2006 and is a subsidiary company of the search engine giant. According to a PragerU press release, PragerU filed a complaint with Google executives but received a generic response.

“In response to an official complaint PragerU filed, Google specialists defended their restriction of our videos, and said, ‘We don’t censor anyone,’ although they do ‘take into consideration what the intent of the video is’ and ‘what the focus of the video is,’” the press release said.

The Daily Signal contacted YouTube about the restrictions on PragerU’s videos, but they did not respond.

Sichel said that in an effort to protest and end YouTube’s restrictions, they have launched a petition for viewers to sign.

“After months of official and back-channel communication with YouTube and Google led nowhere, PragerU released [yesterday] a petition against YouTube to stop restricting these 21 videos. That petition already has over 15,000 signatures, and it’s growing fast,” Sichel said. 

“Based on our review of YouTube’s policies and user guidelines, none of our videos meet the requirements of being inappropriate, sexually explicit, or hate speech,” Elisha Krauss, director of outreach at PragerU, told The Daily Signal in an email. “Some places of employment and many libraries and schools use restricted mode to prevent vulgar and inappropriate content. So we know students and adults are being prevented from doing research and using our videos as a source.”


Why This Black Lives Matter Supporter Still Wants Charter Schools

Twenty minutes outside the U.S. Capitol, 10-year-old Aniyah Maddox gets ready for school in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the District of Columbia.

She puts on her uniform—a pleated skirt that falls below her knees, socks, shoes, and a white collared shirt—and says goodbye to her 8-month-old sister, whom she begged her mother to have.

At the charter school Aniyah attends, she’s not a student, but a scholar, and already has big dreams of becoming a fashion designer, a singer, or a lawyer. Right now, she can’t decide.

Smiling on the playground with a red bow on her head, Aniyah is oblivious to the challenges she faces growing up in a historically disadvantaged urban neighborhood.

Her mother, Shadija Maddox, is just the opposite. She’s aware that the median yearly income in Ward 8, cluster 39, hovers around $30,000, and that less than 20 percent of residents hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. For that reason, she doesn’t cut Aniyah any slack.

“She has to go to college,” Maddox said, with a serious tone in her voice. “What you decide to do after that, hey, travel the world. But you have to make sure you complete your education so you can get to college and do it well.”

Maddox, a native of Prince George’s County, holds a bachelor’s degree and expects her children to do the same. She never intended on enrolling Aniyah in a charter school, but with Ward 8’s poor achievement records, it was the only option.

“The public school systems just need to be revamped,” Maddox told The Daily Signal, sitting in a glass conference room at Achievement Preparatory Academy in southeast Washington.

Achievement Prep is one of the District’s highest performing public charter schools serving 1,000 students in preschool through the eighth grade. Built on top of a hill overlooking Ward 8, the new, beautifully designed campus stands as a beacon of hope in a place where at times, it feels like there is none.

Achievement Prep consists of two buildings, the Wahler Place Elementary School and the Wahler Place Middle School. For security reasons, the entire campus is surrounded by gates. Crime and violence in Ward 8 are rampant, and half of all children live in poverty.

As a public charter school, Achievement Prep is run with public funds and is tuition-free for all students. Its operators, however, are private and are given the freedom to be more innovative with decisions involving curriculum, culture, budget, hiring, and firing.

Students—or scholars, as they’re formally called—outperform traditional public schools in Ward 8 by as much as 40 points on standardized tests. Overall, test results are competitive with students in the city’s most affluent neighborhoods, such as Georgetown.

In other urban areas such as Boston, Newark, and New York City, charter schools have shown a remarkable ability to outperform traditional public schools and close the achievement gap between white and black students.

However, not every charter school is the same, and some can’t boast such accomplishments. Fort Worth, Phoenix, and Las Vegas charter schools, for example, are all struggling to outperform their district counterparts, according to one study.

Nationally, black students make up 27 percent of enrollment in charter schools, compared with 16 percent of enrollment in traditional public schools. At Achievement Prep, where Aniyah attends, 99 percent of students are African-American and 89 percent qualify for free and reduced price lunch.

But despite these statistics, groups like the NAACP and Black Lives Matter are saying charter schools are hurting African-Americans, and that they should cease to exist.

This summer, both the NAACP and Black Lives Matter called for a moratorium—or an immediate halt—on all charter school growth across the U.S.

“Budget cuts, standardized tests, and rabid charter expansion places black students in buildings that are falling apart, creates unhealthy learning environments (physically and emotionally), and robs them of the futures—graduating unprepared for college, career, or community,” reads the Black Lives Matter official platform.

“These same students, instead, are subject to increased police violence, disproportionate suspensions and expulsions, and are likely to be pushed out of school all together. Generations of black students are sent out into the world, unprepared for the realities of a shrinking job market, increasing gentrification of the neighborhoods, and the high costs of higher education.”

In July, the NAACP called for a “moratorium on the proliferation of privately managed charter schools,” arguing that charter schools have “weak oversight” and put schools in low-income communities “at great risk.” This month, the group’s board members will vote on whether to make that policy final.

The anti-charter school platforms have put these groups at odds with some African-Americans. Nationally, a study has shown that 82 percent of African-American parents with school-aged children support charter schools.

Those who are against charter schools argue they take away much-needed funding from public schools that desperately need it, and are part of a national attempt to privatize education.

Already, black community leaders have pushed back, asking for the NAACP and Black Lives Matter to reverse their positions.

On Sept. 21, a coalition, organized by the Black Alliance for Educational Options and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, sent a letter to NAACP board members on behalf of “700,000 black families choosing to send their children to charter public schools, and the tens of thousands more who are still on waiting lists.”

Shortly after, black charter school parents have launched their own letter urging the NAACP to change its mind.

Chris Stewart, a charter school advocate from Minneapolis, is one of the 160 black education and community leaders to organize against the NAACP’s anti-charter school policies.

“I think we’re witnessing a great organizing effort on the part of the folks who are really trying to defend traditional public schools from any type of competition,” Stewart told The Daily Signal on the phone. “That organizing effort has been going on for years, it’s starting to take root now in these types of high-profile, public media spectacles.”

Stewart blames teachers unions, their allies, and their “billionaires” for co-opting a platform he doesn’t think truly represents the needs or wants of black families. “If you look at almost everybody connected, they’re grantees of a very specific set of funders, unions, and organizers.”

The Daily Signal requested interviews with Black Lives Matter and the NAACP, but neither organization responded.


Competitive forces in Australian school education
Jennifer Buckingham

Funding changes are not the only threats non-government schools will need to have on their radars in the next decade. School enrolment data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that after four decades of relentless growth, the proportion of students in independent schools has slowed substantially.

The number of students in the independent sector has continued to increase, but the other sectors have begun to regain some territory. The patterns are different for primary and secondary schools. At primary level, government schools have had an uptick in enrolment share for the first time since the 1970s, whereas secondary school growth has been greatest in Catholic schools.

This is arguably a good thing. For competition to be beneficial -- either by raising quality or lowering costs, or both -- it has to work in both directions. Growth in one sector alone over a long period of time creates stagnation; the waning sector is not responding effectively, and the prevailing sector becomes complacent.

Independent schools have been able to maintain their respected and valued position as educational leaders through a combination of strong and visible achievement and, for some schools, a large element of prestige.

But parents are becoming savvy consumers of education. Thanks to the My School website and various other sources of information about comparing schools, parents are able to weigh up school performance in NAPLAN versus the cost commitment of school fees. Of course, NAPLAN is not the only measure of school value, but it provides a hitherto missing piece of the puzzle.

There are also other potential disruptors. The success of free schools and academies in England is arousing the interest of policy makers, and the example of New Zealand's Partnership Schools has been instructive. Free schools and Partnership Schools were inspired by charter schools in the US. They are privately-operated schools that are fully publicly funded. They cannot charge fees and are usually not selective. This combination of independent management (with a high level of accountability) and the absence of fees will be an appealing prospect for many parents.

A healthy and high quality non-government school sector is an important part of the education landscape. But it should not be assumed that the circumstances of the past will be continued into the future.