Friday, January 06, 2017

Bible students are may find the crucifixion too upsetting!

Religious snowflakes?

Theology students are being warned in advance that they may see distressing images while studying the crucifixion of Jesus, giving them a chance to leave if they fear being upset.

It is part of a trend at a number of universities for ‘trigger warnings’ issued by tutors to let students know about course content that might prove disturbing.

Advocates say it helps to protect the mental health of vulnerable students.

But critics say it is creating a generation of ‘snowflake’ students unable to cope with the harsh realities of the world.

The University of Glasgow, part of the elite Russell Group, confirmed that trigger warnings are issued to theology students studying ‘Creation to Apocalypse: Introduction to the Bible (Level 1)’.

According to university documents, a lecture on Jesus and cinema sometimes ‘contains graphic scenes of the crucifixion, and this is flagged up to students beforehand’.

Warnings are also given to the university’s veterinary students who work with dead animals, and those studying ‘contemporary society’ who will be discussing illness and violence.

Students of forensic science at Strathclyde University in Glasgow are given a ‘verbal warning… at the beginning of some lectures where sensitive images, involving blood patterns, crime scenes and bodies etc are in the presentation’.

A trigger warning for a gender studies course at Stirling University says: ‘We cannot anticipate or exclude the possibility that you may encounter material which is triggering [ie, which can trigger a negative reaction] and we urge that you take all necessary precautions to look after yourself in and around the programme.’

Students are told ‘you can, of course, leave a class at any time should you need to, but please check in… later that day to let us know how you are’.

Archaeology students at Stirling University are issued with a ‘warning in advance of one image in a PowerPoint, which is of a well-preserved archaeological body from an archaeological context’ because of the ‘risk it is found a bit gruesome’.

Scottish Tory education spokesman Liz Smith said: ‘Universities are meant to be a place of learning where concepts are challenged and tricky subjects debated.

‘That will become increasingly difficult if they go too far out their way to ensure everything survives the politically correct test. Some of the examples set out here are patently ridiculous.’

Glasgow University said: ‘We have an absolute duty of care to all of our students and where it is felt course material may cause potential upset or concern warnings may be given.’


New York Proposed Free College, but Not Everyone’s Buying It

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced an “aggressive” new plan to provide free college tuition to families earning up to $125,000 a year. Under the proposal, nearly a million families would qualify.

“We’re making college tuition-free for middle-class families,” Cuomo, a Democrat, said. “This is the most aggressive plan ever proposed.”

To participate, students are required to enroll full time at a state university of New York (SUNY) or city university of New York (CUNY) two- or four-year college.

Richard Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity and a professor of economics at Ohio University, called the proposal “extortionately inappropriate.”

“You’re taking money from the general taxpaying public—including some low- and middle-income people—and redistributing that to a group that will probably include a very significant part of a somewhat more affluent population,” Vedder told The Daily Signal. “It’s certainly not a redistribution to the poor; it’s a redistribution to the middle class—and a fairly affluent middle class.”

Cuomo is billing the proposal as “the first of its kind in the nation.” But while the plan appears to be the most far-reaching, it’s not the first time states have leveraged tax dollars to pay for at least some of their students’ college tuition. Oregon, Tennessee, Georgia, Michigan, and Louisiana have all done so in various forms, but not all of those programs have proven sustainable.

Louisiana, said Norbert Michel, an expert in financial regulations at The Heritage Foundation, provides a case study for why free tuition is “bad public policy.”

“It simply is not true that ‘everyone’ must have a college education,” Michel told The Daily Signal. “Pretending otherwise devalues the college degree, and it isn’t really free. Someone always ends up paying more for a college education when we pretend it’s free because we transfer tax dollars over to universities.”

Under the Louisiana college scholarship program, called the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS), any student earning a 2.5 GPA or above who scores at or above the state average on the ACT or SAT is eligible for money to cover the full tuition of any public university in the state, despite how much or little their family earns. Scholarships can also be applied to private schools, although they won’t cover the full cost.

Last March, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, said due to a historic budget shortfall, the state no longer had adequate money to fund the program. According to CNN, more than half of Louisiana State University’s 26,000 undergraduates receive state-funded scholarships, totaling “about $58 million.”

From 2000 to 2010, Louisiana saw a 20 percent spike in the number of high school students who headed to college in one year. But in the wake of the budget shortfall, thousands of students received notifications last year that the scholarship program would only cover 42 percent of tuition costs for the spring 2017 semester.

To address the costs of college affordability, Vedder of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity said he’d “do nothing.”

“I think we’re over-invested in higher education,” he said. “But if you’re going to do something—and maybe there’s a political case for doing something—I would reduce subsidies to the state universities that are already being given, and convert that money to vouchers and give it to the low-income students.”

Cuomo’s Excelsior Scholarship program aims to provide free tuition to students from middle-class families making up to $125,000 per year, which according to the governor, accounts for 80 percent of New York households. He estimates the plan will cost approximately $163 million per year.

In creating the plan, Cuomo took a page from Sen. Bernie Sanders’ playbook. Sanders, an independent from Vermont, appeared alongside the governor on Tuesday at LaGuardia Community College to announce the new proposal.

“If the United States is to succeed in a highly competitive global economy, we need the best-educated workforce in the world,” said Sanders, who campaigned on the issue of free tuition while running for president. “We must make public colleges and universities tuition-free for the middle-class and working families of our country.”

The program, called the Excelsior Scholarship, will be paid for “by leveraging New York State’s generous aid programs,” Cuomo’s press release reads. It adds:

Currently, the Tuition Assistance Program, or TAP, provides nearly $1 billion in grants to college students statewide and New York is one of only two states in the nation that offers this type of entitlement. Under the program, eligible students would still receive TAP and any applicable federal grants. Additional state funds would cover the remaining tuition costs for incoming or existing eligible students.

Average tuition costs for a bachelor’s degree fall between $6,000 and $7,000 at SUNY and CUNY.

Cuomo’s proposal still needs approval from the state Legislature. He and Sanders are hopeful if the measure passes, other states will follow.

“Mark my words,” Sanders said. “If New York state does it this year, state after state will follow.”


Make Government Schools Compete or Die

If you pay taxes and take responsibility for getting your own children to and from school, you may be interested in learning that the government spent $23,233,698,000 in the 2012-2013 school year transporting other people's children to and from public schools around this country.

When those students got off the bus, taxpayers spent even more money on them — for things other than education in a classroom.

For example, according to the Digest of Education Statistics published in December by the federal government's National Center for Education Statistics, the government spent $21,862,081,000 in the 2012-2013 school year on food services in public schools.

That included $10,110,833,000 on supplies for these food services, $6,607,701,000 on salaries for the people working in them, and $2,529,156,000 on their employee benefits.

Students in public schools today can get both a free ride and a free (or subsidized) lunch.

But taxpayers cover the costs.

In total, taxpayers spent $606,490,475,000 on public elementary and secondary schools in the 2012-2013 school year, according to Digest of Education Statistics. That worked out to an average of $12,020 per pupil — including $467 per student for transportation and $439 for food services.

What did taxpayers get in return for the ride, the lunch and the $12,020 per student?

In 2015, public school eighth-graders scored an average of 264 out of a possible 500 on the National Assessment of Educational Progress reading test, according to Table 221.60 of the Digest of Education Statistics. Only 33 percent were grade-level proficient or better in reading.

Public school eighth-graders scored an average of 281 out of 500 on the NAEP math test, according to Table 222.60. Only 32 percent were grade-level proficient or better in math.

Some jurisdictions spent more money than the average. Some had worse scores. Some did both.

In President Barack Obama's home state of Hawaii, the public schools spent $12,536 per pupil in the 2012-2013 school year, according to Table 236.75. But in 2015, only 26 percent of the eighth-graders in Hawaii's public school were grade-level proficient or better in reading. Only 30 percent were grade-level proficient or better in math.

In Vice President Joe Biden's home state of Delaware, the public schools spent $15,090 per pupil in the 2012-2013 school year. But in 2015, only 31 percent of the eighth-graders in Delaware's public schools were grade level proficient in reading. Only 30 percent were grade-level proficient or better in math.

In Washington, D.C., where President Obama sent his children to a private school, the public schools spent $26,670 per pupil in the 2012-2013 school year. But in 2015, only 19 percent of eighth-graders in the D.C. public schools were grade-level proficient or better in reading. Only 19 percent were grade-level proficient or better in math.

President-elect Donald Trump advocates school choice. His campaign website says his vision on education includes establishing "the national goal of providing school choice to every one of the 11 million school aged children living in poverty."

That may be a good start. But it is not good enough.

School choice programs should not become yet another avenue for government redistribution of wealth. They should aim at lifting the entire nation from the wreckage of the public schools.

Middle-class families who now pay taxes to subsidize a failing government school system should not be shut out of a school-choice program that can liberate their children from that system.

In the District of Columbia, where the federal Congress has jurisdiction, it should pass a law providing that every parent of every student — even former President Barack Obama — be given a voucher equal to what the government spends per pupil in the D.C. public schools. That voucher should be redeemable at any school the parent chooses.

And the government should be restrained from regulating the curriculum and the values taught at those schools.

If that means many D.C. public schools close while new private schools open, so be it. Make government schools compete or die.

The same law should provide for phasing out the federal Department of Education. Congress should tell states and local jurisdictions: You are on your own when it comes to primary and secondary education. Let your voters decide.

Those voters should do for their hometowns what Congress should for the District of Columbia: enact school choice.


Thursday, January 05, 2017

Mass. schools look overseas for competition

Natick High School has long taken pride in its English, math, and science programs and had the MCAS scores to prove it, ranking in the upper tier of schools in a state with the strongest academic performance in the nation.

But in an increasingly global economy, Natick High wasn’t satisfied with comparing itself only with its neighbors. Four years ago, the school started giving a new international exam through a trial program to see how its students stack up against peers around the world.

The results proved impressive. The high school trailed only the schools in Shanghai in math, reading, and science.

Natick High is among a growing group of schools in Massachusetts and across the United States that are turning to international testing to gain a broader perspective on how well their educational programs are preparing students for college and beyond, and what they might be able to learn from high-performing schools worldwide.

Previously, results on international exams typically generated only national or statewide averages, leaving schools wondering how their own students did. But now the new program that Natick participated in is generating school-specific data that administrators can use to draw conclusions about their own programs.

The schools in Massachusetts that have been taking the international assessments or that have signed up to take the next round are a diverse group that includes Billerica Memorial High School, Malden High School, Worcester Technical High School, and Sturgis Charter Public School in Hyannis, according to America Achieves, a national education organization in New York and Washington that is overseeing a global network of schools that are using the tests.

Jon Schnur, the organization’s chairman, said the testing data enable “schools to more deeply understand how they are progressing in helping their students succeed in key 21st-century skills and, more crucially, how to make improvement in their programs to advance success for all students.”

Rose Bertucci, dean of instruction, data, and student services at Natick High, stressed that scores on recent international tests were one of many measures the school uses to evaluate its performance. But she added that the results revealed the school has some big challenges if it truly wants to rank as high as Shanghai in all three subjects.

“More than 50 percent of the kids in Shanghai still scored higher than our students,” she said.

Natick’s interest in international testing follows in the footsteps of Massachusetts policy leaders, who over the last decade have made the state one of the few nationwide to take part in the most prestigious global testing programs.

Massachusetts has been a strong performer, scoring well above the US average and near or at the top among international peers. In results released in December from the 2015 Program for International Student Assessment, Massachusetts statistically tied for first in reading, came in second in science, and pulled in slightly less stellar scores in math.

The test that Natick and other schools nationwide are using is based on the PISA and was developed by the same group, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which consists of education leaders from industrialized countries.

To participate, schools need to test about 85 15-year-olds, based on a random sampling. Students and their parents have the right to opt out of the test, which has about 140 questions and lasts about two hours. The cost is $6,500 per school, but America Achieves is subsidizing the first 30 schools that sign up for this year.

Tim Piwowar, superintendent of the Billerica Public Schools, which recently signed an agreement to participate, said his school system needs to look beyond how it compares with the state average.

“For students to succeed in a global economy, we need to look more outwardly,” Piwowar said. “We don’t have the same socioeconomic advantages as other communities, but that doesn’t mean our expectations should be lower.”

Debate is emerging across the country about the wisdom of schools comparing themselves too much with those in other countries. Some researchers point out that customs and values vary among countries and can affect student achievement.

In China, for instance, students spend hours in specialized “cram schools” so they can do better on standardized tests and sit through math classes in their regular schools in a quiet and compliant way with few opportunities to participate, said Jon Star, a Harvard University education professor who specializes in math instruction.

“I’m not sure if US schools would want to teach math in that way,” Star said. “We generally value dialogue, expression, and creativity.”

But Star and other experts point out that debate over the effects of cultural norms can cut both ways. Singapore has had much success in luring the brightest students into the teaching profession, which is held in high esteem there, in contrast to the United States, where a culture of teacher-bashing persists, experts say.

“Learning from them doesn’t mean copying them,” said Marc Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy, a research and consulting group in Washington. “It means taking the best from countries getting the results you want and using what they do to create something unique in your own system.”

Martin Carnoy, a Stanford University education professor who has extensively studied international testing data, said he worries the growing popularity of the tests could devolve into an unnecessary horse race among schools to be No. 1.

He added that it is an even more pointless exercise in a state like Massachusetts, where strong test results and high academic standards are already positioning students for success.

“I find it very bizarre that schools would want to do this,” said Carnoy, who coauthored a report warning against basing educational policy on international test results.

But Natick High sees the international comparisons as a useful tool in making sure it is offering the best programs for its 1,600 students, and interest in the math and science fields runs strong in the town.

One recent afternoon in an 11th-grade biology class, three-quarters of the students raised their hands when asked whether they planned to pursue a career in the sciences. Nicole Yunes Perez, 16, said she wants to go into the environmental sciences and find ways to curb the effects of global warming.

“Even in middle school I liked the sciences,” said Yunes Perez.

Three of the students in the class took the international test and said having to take an additional test, which was voluntary, didn’t bother them.

“I knew we would rank high,” said Ian Fisher, 16, who just learned that day the school landed behind Shanghai. “But I didn’t think we would rank that high. It’s pretty cool to see how our school matches up internationally.”


Cambridge high school tackles gender climate head-on

I think this is pushing it uphill

Students who rallied outside this city’s public high school last spring described harrowing experiences: unwelcome sexual advances and other inappropriate behavior by male classmates and others.

They issued a two-page letter to administrators demanding changes to the school climate and to administrators’ handling of student reports of harassment or assault.
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More than eight months later, Cambridge Rindge & Latin School is preparing to address relations between students head-on, by asking boys to rethink their ideas about manhood.

One recent morning, nearly a dozen male educators gathered in a semicircle in a third-floor room at the school to begin examining their own notions of gender and of relationships between men and women.

The nine teachers, coaches, counselors, and administrators talked about the pressure for boys and men to be strong, assertive, and brave, to protect women, but also to sometimes view women as property. They discussed the fear of appearing vulnerable and ways that “soft” emotions like sadness or fear can be channeled into anger — an emotion that can be more socially acceptable for men to express.

Tommy Goldman, an English teacher and lacrosse coach, told his colleagues he tries to break down barriers that make his student-athletes uncomfortable expressing their feelings, a strategy he learned from Joe Ehrmann, a former NFL defensive lineman whose son was Goldman’s childhood friend.

“Particularly when traumatic things happen, but really all the time, I make a point of saying to my guys, ‘I love you guys,’ ” Goldman said. “And I know that’s a weird thing, and it freaks them out when I say it, but, ‘I love you guys, like you’re my brothers.’ ”

The educators are preparing for Rindge & Latin to become one of 18 schools across the country to introduce a curriculum called LiveRespect, which was developed by the violence-prevention organization A Call to Men.

The group’s cofounder, Ted Bunch, said the organization was born out of the women’s movement about 15 years ago, with a mission to reach not just men who would abuse women but also nonviolent men who would fail to intervene in domestic violence.

“We’ve been taught that women have less value than men,” Bunch said in a phone interview. “We see it every day. On any sports field that you go on, you can see a coach — a good guy, a wonderful guy — or a father or an uncle say to a boy, ‘You’ve got to throw harder than that, son. You throw like a girl.’ ”

The LiveRespect curriculum will join a series of other measures educators have taken since April’s student walkout to address relations between boys and girls.

The school has enhanced its training for recognizing and responding to sexual harassment, according to principal Damon Smith.

Smith also has met several times with the school’s feminist club and other student leadership groups to discuss changes to policies on reporting harassment or assault, he said, and posters explaining those policies now hang in every school restroom.

At their recent meeting, trainers from A Call to Men challenged educators to consider their own deeply ingrained beliefs. The discussion was candid and, at times, deeply personal, as the men discussed interactions with their own wives and children, and the ways women are depicted in pornography.

The discussion’s impact became clear by midmorning, when Goldman, the lacrosse coach, told the group he was reconsidering what constitutes domestic abuse.

“If you had talked to me two hours ago, I would definitely have separated mental, and physical, and verbal abuse,” he said. “Just since we started talking about how violence can be manifested in different ways — not just physical — an hour ago, I’ve kind of just been sitting here ruminating, like, I didn’t really think about that.”

While the educators embraced the curriculum and the tough questions it asks, Mike Tubinis, a guidance counselor, said he had concerns about how the school’s diverse population of students and their families might respond to it.

“This is cultural, some of this stuff,” he said. “This is really heavy-duty ingrained into what they believe, and it’s religious to some — like men are men, and this is what it is going to be.”

Smith, the principal, said parents with reservations will have a chance to opt their sons out of the curriculum, just as they do with sex education. In an interview a few days later, he pronounced the training a success and said the school is moving forward with plans to implement the curriculum.

“I think everybody left there feeling really positive about the opportunity that A Call to Men provided,” Smith said.

Bentley Sloane, a Rindge & Latin student who helped organized the April protest, said she has seen some change within the school, but there is much more to be done. She hopes the LiveRespect curriculum can be part of a broader change.

“It’s important to stop this idea that your masculinity depends on suppressing femininity,” she said.

Sloane said student activism will continue at the school, and a Take Back the Night rally is already planned. She has seen that a school cannot transform its culture overnight.

“Change takes a lot of time,” she said.


Australia: "Safe Schools" is not a return to the Cold War (?)

An amusing tilt at windmills by some young Yugoslav guy below.  I suspect that he hankers after Josip Broz Tito. The Cold War was a military confrontation so pointing out that an Australian school program is not a return to the Cold War is something that only Seb Starcevic would feel a need to do.

The essence of his little rant is that the "Safe Schools" program is not Communist-inspired and is not designed to lead children towards Communism.  That is actually an extraordinary claim.  The authoress of the program, Roz Ward (the manlike figure in the red jacket giving the Communist salute in the picture above) is an openly-acknowledged  Marxist and has said that she intended to use the program to promote Marxist thinking.  Seb is in the grand tradition of Leftist liars

"Safe Schools" is a sexual indoctrination program, under the guise of “anti-bullying”, which asserts extreme fringe views of gender and sexual fluidity.  It is in the grand tradition of old Karl himself, who saw the normal family as an obstacle to the implementation of his ideas

Something amusing:  In a speech at the 2015 Marxism Conference, Ward argues, “LGBTI oppression and heteronormativity are woven into the fabric of capitalism” and “it will only be through a revitalised class struggle and revolutionary change that we can hope for the liberation of LGBTI people”.

Which stands truth on its head, in the usual Leftist way. Homosexuality was severely repressed in the old Soviet Union.  It is only in the tolerant capitalist societies that homosexuals have gained broad acceptance.  Try being queer in Africa or the Muslim lands.  Maybe Roz should take her evangelism there

After the USSR collapsed in the 1990s, critics of communism were momentarily assuaged by the knowledge that the greatest threat to the American hegemony had been tossed into the dustbin of history.

With the stranglehold of socialism lifted, the Kraken-like monster depicted in so many comics was finally slain. The West could breathe easy, meaning office-bearers had to find something else to harp on about. Or so it seemed.

Which brings us to today.

With the rise of Trump and resurgence of McCarthyism in 2017, the hard right have trotted out the socialist scapegoat once again, deploying anti-communist rhetoric that would be at home in US propaganda from the 1950s.

Look no further than the scandal surrounding the Safe Schools program which, according to Senator Cory Bernardi, hopes to “indoctrinate children into a Marxist agenda of cultural relativism”.

Similarly, LNP backbencher George Christensen slammed Safe Schools for “originating in an ideology of queer gender theory and Marxism.”

This sort of blatant, baseless fearmongering draws on the historical existential dread associated with the Reds.

Never mind that a program intended to create safe and inclusive environments for vulnerable young LGBTQI people has little to do with an economic ideology dreamt up by some now dead Russians. All that matters is slinging the right buzzwords to push the barrow.

Of course, this strategy is nothing new. Pairing the two undesirables together has worked well in the past, at least for McCarthy, who once conflated communists with “cocksuckers,” implying that his detractors were either Soviet sympathisers or homosexual fornicators — both socially unacceptable in the monochrome 1950s.

Indeed, traditionally the quickest and simplest way to destroy someone’s credibility was to infer that they subscribed to socialism, and this practice has carried into the present day.

Just ask Bernardi and Christensen. Or Reagan and Johnson. Or Trump.

But in reality, just as universal healthcare wasn’t a gateway to communism then, Safe Schools isn’t part of some sparkly socialist agenda now. Demonising it as such only shows a profound ignorance of history’s affiliation with anti-communist hate.

And that thought is much scarier than any imaginary Red Menace.


Wednesday, January 04, 2017

What do Trump’s signals mean for education in 2017?

Most students are still on winter break and not thinking about school. But for just about everyone else in education now is the time to prepare for the New Year. 

And there could be some big changes coming in 2017. President-elect Donald Trump has signaled he'd like to shake things up in education but we don't have many details yet.

Lizzie O’Leary spoke with Marketplace senior education correspondent Amy Scott for a look at the big education stories she'll be watching in 2017.

On what’s on her radar screen for 2017:

    I think one of the big things we’ll be watching is the Every Students Succeeds Act, which Congress passed actually at the end of last year. And it replaced the federal education law No Child Left Behind that had been in place for more than a decade. So this year there’s going to be a lot of work to implement that law. And one of the things it does is gives states more power to decide how they hold school accountable. States have to come up with at least one non-academic indicator. So, things like access to advanced coursework, attendance, school climate and the idea is is supposed to be a more fair measure of whether schools are doing a good job.

On what we know about the incoming Trump administration’s education priorities:

    Well he [Donald Trump] didn’t give a lot of details on the campaign trail, you know, education barely came up. But we do have some hints... During the campaign Trump proposed a $20 billion program that would give grants to states that would then allow low income students to use the money to attend the school of their family’s choice. Including private and religious schools. So basically a voucher program.

What about higher education?

    Many are expecting some of the Obama administration regulations targeting for-profit colleges to get scaled back. But others that I’ve talked to say we’re not going to go back to the bad old days of this aggressive recruiting and enrolling students who weren’t prepared to succeed because the market has just changed. There are just fewer people enrolling in college and especially at for-profit colleges, and partly because of that crackdown.


Scottish Universities profiting from ‘unfair’ fees for graduation

Graduates at Scotland’s universities are being hit by millions of pounds in “unfair” graduation fees that may be illegal.

Every year, the country’s higher education institutions receive a total of about £2 million in the charges, which are compulsory and demanded in advance of students receiving their degree whether they attend a ceremony or not.

Figures obtained by The Times also reveal that universities are raking in cash from lucrative sidelines associated with graduation ceremonies, such as photography, gown hire and DVD sales.

Typically, about £500,000 in income is brought in annually across the country through these services, prompting student leaders to accuse institutions of exploiting excitement and a sense of achievement among students and their families to boost revenue


Scotland:  Crisis in recruitment exposed as 1,200 teaching posts still unfilled

The scale of Scotland’s teacher recruitment problem has been laid bare by a secret survey showing more than 1,200 posts lying vacant, with dozens of the top jobs unfilled for months on end.

Figures provided by councils to SNP ministers show that just after the start of the school year, more than 100 schools were without a head teacher or deputy. Experts warned that it risked a “hugely detrimental” impact on classroom standards.

In primary schools, there were 91 senior posts vacant and a further shortfall of more than 400 full-time, part-time or temporary classroom teachers. In two council areas alone — Aberdeen and East Dunbartonshire — 21 primary school head teacher or deputy posts had been unfilled for three months or more.


Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Scottish Nationalist government ‘is failing poorest’ as student debt rises sharply

Students in Scotland are struggling under a growing mountain of debt, with cuts to grants and bursaries blamed for a steep rise over the past decade.

The amount owed by undergraduates and college students has soared by 42 per cent since 2007 and findings by impartial Scottish parliament researchers reveal that the sharpest increase has come in recent years.

In the past two years the average loan for a Scottish student has gone up by almost a third to £10,500.

The SNP has maintained free tuition north of the border since coming to power but critics say that the price of the flagship policy has been cuts to non-repayable grants targeted at helping the most disadvantaged students enter higher education.

Since 2006-07, the number of bursaries paid to full-time students has dropped by 15 per cent, with the total amount of cash distributed falling by more than a third. Meanwhile, reliance on loans — which must be repaid — has increased significantly.

The new analysis shows that borrowing rose among all students by 29.5 per cent since 2014, when the Scottish government brought in reform of student support in a move that it said was designed to simplify the system. The rise has come despite the SNP being elected in 2007 with a manifesto commitment to eradicate student debt.

Iain Gray, Labour’s education spokesman, said: “The SNP came to power promising to abolish student debt, but instead it has rocketed on its watch.

“The SNP’s decision to slash support grants, and bursaries available to students from poorer backgrounds, means more and more students have to turn to loans to get through their studies.

“Labour supports free tuition — but students need the financial support to get through university when they get there. Today in Scotland it is the poorest students who rack up the highest debt. Those who start with the least end up owing the most. That’s not fair and it stops far too many young people getting a degree.”

The Scottish government has ordered a review of student support. It is due to issue its report next autumn and will consider whether the poorest students are being effectively supported.

Mr Gray added: “The student support review will not be able to fix the SNP’s broken promise — but it can suggest a better system for the poorest students in Scotland.”

Shirley-Anne Somerville, the minister for higher education, said Scotland continued to have the lowest average debt per student in the UK.

She added: “This government firmly believes that access to higher education should be based on the ability to learn, not the ability to pay, which is why we remain committed to ensuring Scottish students studying in Scotland benefit from free tuition.

“We also recognise that appropriate financial support while studying is essential and will always take the opportunity to improve student support where we can, which is why in 2016-17 we increased the household income threshold for the maximum bursary from £17,000 to £19,000.

“In addition to this we have announced an independent review of student support to ensure that the entire system is equitable, fair and supports all students throughout their learner journey. Work on the review has commenced and will conclude in autumn 2017 and I look forward to receiving its recommendations.”

Vonnie Sandlan, NUS Scotland president, said: “It’s right that we’ve maintained free education in Scotland — but that can’t just be about the price tag, and we must tackle the wider cost of studying.

“Without access to the necessary financial support, students are forced to turn to commercial debt, take on unreasonable amounts of part-time work, or even drop out of education altogether. That’s simply a huge waste of potential for students, and for Scotland as a whole. Looking ahead, we shouldn’t be timid in going further and reforming the support system for all students, in a bold and ambitious way.”



How ESAs Expand Educational Opportunity And Hold Education Providers Directly Accountable To Parents

From the Executive Summary:

In order to foster a variety of innovative and high-quality education options for all students, universal access to education savings accounts (ESAs) should be the goal of policymakers in every state.

ESAs are flexible spending accounts that parents can use to purchase a wide variety of educational goods and services, including private school tuition, tutors, textbooks, homeschool curricula, online courses, educational therapy, and more. Parents can also save unused funds for later educational expenses, such as college tuition.

This Special Report explores how ESAs expand educational opportunity and hold education providers directly accountable to parents; it also explains several common types of regulations that can undermine the effectiveness of the program and how they can be avoided.

The potential of ESAs to foster innovation and improved quality depends on a robust market in education. Increasing demand will require a critical mass of potential students, so ESAs should be made available to all families. A robust education market will also require education providers to have the freedom to innovate and parents to have the freedom to choose the providers that best meet their child’s needs. International research comparing different types of education systems has found that the most market-like, least regulated systems consistently outperformed more centralized and regulated ones. Policymakers therefore should avoid well-intentioned but misguided regulations such as open admissions requirements, price controls, state testing mandates, and excessive reporting requirements. Although intended to guarantee access and accountability, these regulations produce unintended consequences that can reduce the effectiveness of ESAs and even undermine their intended goals.

The best way for policymakers in Texas and elsewhere to expand access to a high-quality education for all children is to provide all families with ESAs that give them the maximum possible freedom to choose the education providers that work best for their children.


Shakespeare study turns into a comedy of errors

Jonathan Bate

Just like Freud, modern academics clearly don’t let the facts get in the way of a good theory

Sigmund Freud was the first to admit that his psychological theories owed much to the great works of literature, particularly Greek tragedy and Shakespeare. The Oedipus Complex might just as well have been called the Hamlet Complex: Freud believed that the real reason why the Prince of Denmark had a mental block about killing the uncle who had murdered his father and slept with his mother was that he
subconsciously wanted to do those things himself.

What was more, Freud thought, Shakespeare wrote the play shortly after his own father’s death in September 1601, so he was clearly working through his grief and anger.

But then someone discovered a note by a Cambridge don called Gabriel Harvey probably written in 1600 that praised the play. So Hamlet came before Shakespeare’s father’s death! Freud was not the kind of man to let a fact get in the way of a theory. He concluded that the play must therefore have been written by someone else, whose father was dead: step forward Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, who had just been proposed by a man named Looney as the true author of Shakespeare’s plays.

In today’s Times, the energetic Shakespearean scholar Gary Taylor has announced that Freud’s original idea was right: Hamlet was indeed written after Shakespeare’s father’s death. It must, Taylor seems to think, have been written after the death of Queen Elizabeth in 1603, because it’s “a play about someone coming from the north and establishing a new dynasty. So Fortinbras [the Norwegian soldier who takes the crown at the end] is in many ways James I.”

Really? It’s always seemed to me that Hamlet is a slightly problematic play from the point of view of the court of King James. His majesty liked nothing more than to hang out at his hunting lodge in Royston. The real theatre-lover in the family was his wife, Queen Anne of Denmark, who would not exactly have been flattered by Shakespeare’s representation of Queen Gertrude of Denmark bedding her late husband’s brother with such abandon quite so soon after her bereavement.

Although the so-called Second Quarto text of Hamlet, on which Taylor bases his claim, did not appear until 1604, it was registered for publication on July 26, 1602.

I am increasingly coming to think that the most useful new discoveries about Shakespeare are the negative ones
To sell books in the crowded Shakespearean marketplace you always have to come up with a new idea. Full disclosure: I did this myself when creating a Complete Works for the Royal Shakespeare Company a decade ago. Rather than pointlessly replicating the efforts of generations of previous editors who had flitted between different early printings of the plays, we decided to do something different and edit a single great book, the First Folio prepared by Shakespeare’s fellow actors after his death.

Gary Taylor has form. Thirty years ago he publicised the previous The New Oxford Shakespeare by claiming for the Bard a (third-rate) little poem called Shall I Die? Shall I Fly? It is good to see that in the latest edition this is relegated into a section called “Poems attributed to Shakespeare in seventeenth-century miscellanies”.

Fashions change in Shakespeare studies. In the 1980s, the big thing was treating the plays as scripts for performance. The Oxford team, led by the distinguished scholar Sir Stanley Wells, sought to recover the moment of first performance as opposed to that of Shakespeare penning the words.

Now the vogue is for whizzy computer-assisted attribution studies. Thanks to “big data”, scholars can crunch the whole corpus of surviving Elizabethan and Jacobean drama in the hope of finding the stylistic fingerprints of each author.

Thus The New Oxford Shakespeare gives us Christopher Marlowe as co-author of the Henry VI plays, Thomas Middleton as reviser of Titus Andronicus, Shakespeare as co-author of The Tragedy of Master Arden of Faversham and reviser of The Spanish Tragedy, and even “The Tragedy of Sejanus: A Lost Version by Jonson and Anonymous (Shakespeare?)”.

I envy Gary Taylor his confidence. I am increasingly coming to think that the most useful new discoveries about Shakespeare are the negative ones. For example, his absence from a recently discovered list of players at court in 1607 suggests that he gave up acting early in King James’s reign.

When I was working on the 2012 British Museum exhibition Shakespeare: Staging the World, Dora Thornton, the curator, asked me to investigate the often-told story of how Hamlet was performed by a group of sailors on board a ship called the Red Dragon off the coast of Sierra Leone in 1607. It is, understandably, a narrative beloved of post-colonial literary scholars. The trouble was, an archival investigation revealed that the whole story was a 19th-century fabrication. There was something rather satisfying about putting that one to bed.


Monday, January 02, 2017

The Saga of the Nutty Professor and Drexel University

On Christmas day, Drexel University Professor George Ciccariello-Maher was caught with a twitchy tweet finger by American Thinker Editor Thomas Lifson, who published the professor’s Christmas message:

All I Want for Christmas Is White Genocide  -- George Ciccariello (@clccmaher) December 25, 2016

Lifson had the presence of mind to capture an actual screen shot of Ciccariello’s tweet before it was removed:

But wait -- there’s more. On Monday, Mr. Ciccariello-Maher walked back his comment, indicating it was merely satirical, per an article by Reuters: "To clarify: when the whites were massacred during the Haitian revolution, that was a good thing indeed."

Say what? Perhaps a little background on the Drexel professor will elucidate the matter. Here is some contextual history on Mr. Ciccariello-Maher along with an official Drexel response from Alex Pfeiffer of The Daily Caller:

Ciccariello-Maher, who describes himself as a communist, joined Drexel University in 2010. Drexel University said in a statement Sunday afternoon: “While the University recognizes the right of its faculty to freely express their thoughts and opinions in public debate, Professor Ciccariello-Maher’s comments are utterly reprehensible, deeply disturbing, and do not in any way reflect the values of the University.”

“The University is taking this situation very seriously. We contacted Ciccariello-Maher today to arrange a meeting to discuss this matter in detail,” the statement said. Ciccariello-Maher did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ciccariello-Maher also reportedly tweeted in September 2016 a purported exchange between him and his son: “Son: If I was a slave, I’d bake a cake & put a potion in it & the white people would steal it. Me: What would the potion do? Him: Kill them,” Ciccariello-Maher wrote.

One would hope that the university is taking the professor’s comments seriously. Still, this disturbing saga persists even today. Now backed into a corner, Ciccariello-Maher has apparently decided the best defense is a good offense. Again, from the Reuter’s report:

“Ciccariello-Maher said in an email on Monday that the tweets were only aimed at poking fun at white supremacists and that he and Drexel had become targets of a smear campaign.

He said that the concept of ‘white genocide’ was used by white nationalists to denounce everything from interracial relationships to policies aimed at promoting multiple cultures.

"It is a figment of the racist imagination, it should be mocked, and I'm glad to have mocked it," Ciccariello-Maher wrote. Access to his Twitter account had been restricted on Monday.

He has drawn online support, with a petition backing him, generating almost 3,000 signatures by Monday.

"Let Drexel know - in the midst of the deafening, organized troll-storm - that racist trolls deserve no platform in dictating academic discourse, let alone the off-duty tweets of academics," the petition said.

You can’t make this stuff up, folks. When all else fails, the left always finds a way out by name-calling. Those who disagree with the professor’s comments are reduced to “racist trolls.” They have no place “dictating academic discourse,” as if promoting white genocide (even in satire) is genuine academic dialogue.

So, that brings us to where we are today and the real issue:  The ideological overhaul of our nation’s colleges and universities by academic Marxists. Parents of students shelling out a little more than $65K a year for tuition and living expenses to attend this fine institution may want to take a second look at exactly who is teaching what to their child.

In what has become a virtual political invasion of extreme leftist thought, conservative minded parents must not capitulate, must not surrender to this hostile occupation of college campuses like Drexel.

But make no mistake, Drexel is but one illustration in a paragon of academic hostility with respect to conservative beliefs found on college campuses. For more on that, read Scott Greer’s skillful exposition of the issue in the Daily Caller.

So, the question remains: Is this leftist academic discourse influencing students attending college? I’m not certain of the aggregate numbers, but a personal mini-survey might give us some clues.

A friend of mine recently mentioned that her conservative-minded niece who went away to college came home a raging liberal. Two staunchly conservative parents lamented over dinner that both their children who went away to Brown University came back home espousing leftist doctrine. And another mother practically sobbed in her salad that her conservative son is no longer conservative after four years at an institution of “higher learning.”

Admittedly, a small sample, but with professors like Mr. Ciccariello-Maher, is it any wonder?

Sad to say, but parents who send Billy off to college are being conned. Case in point, here’s what’s written on Drexel’s own web page:

“Mr. Drexel envisioned an institution of higher learning uniquely suited to the needs of a rapidly growing industrial society and of the young men and women seeking their place in it — core values that continue to guide the University in its modern era.”

Is it even imaginable that Mr. Drexel’s core values constituted white genocide – even satirical genocide—which, by the way, isn’t exactly funny. To paraphrase the words of the president-elect, what the Hell is going on here? 


New WILL Study Shows $500 Million Economic Benefit of Milwaukee Parental Choice Program

The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program has a nearly $500 million realized economic impact on the state, city, and students, according to a newly released study from the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty. The first-of-its-kind study in Milwaukee used data from other academic studies showing higher graduation rates and lower criminality rates associated with the MPCP and ran economic modeling on that data to arrive at their conclusion.

Says WILL’s Education Policy Director, Will Flanders, Ph.D., author of the study, “The debate over school choice is almost always focused on the so-called costs.  What we want to show is the other side of the ledger, the economic benefits of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, and how higher graduation rates and lower criminality is associated with earning a better job and being less reliant on government programs and welfare.”

The study is also co-authored by Corey DeAngelis, a doctoral fellow at the University of Arkansas.

Among the conclusions of the study:

    By 2035, because of higher high school graduation rates, students who use a voucher in the MPCP will generate $473 million economic benefits to Wisconsin more than similar students at MPS. Graduating from high school is associated with being more likely to earn a higher income throughout life – which results in more tax revenue, less likely to need expensive, government-funded medical care, and a lower likelihood of being reliant on welfare.

    By 2035, in total, because of less crime committed, students who use a voucher in the MPCP will generate $26 million more economic benefit than similar students at MPS. By 2035, because of fewer felonies, students who use a voucher in the MPCP will generate a $24 million benefit and because of fewer misdemeanors, students who use a voucher in the MPCP will generate $1.7 million more economic benefit to Wisconsin. Less crime committed is associated with fewer police officers hired, less crime victims and the costs associated with crime victimization, and less resources spent on the criminal justice system such as incarceration.

    High-performing schools also create a substantial economic benefit to Milwaukee. In the next 20 years, children at St. Marcus Lutheran Schools will generate an aggregate benefit of about $7 million due to the school’s low incarceration rate and $64 million due to their high graduation rate. The use of the Lee facilities would have doubled that benefit. Other high quality schools —both in and out of the MPCP — have significant economic benefits as well.

“These are exciting numbers to see,” remarked WILL president and general counsel, Rick Esenberg. “It is further evidence that policymakers in Madison, if they want to improve education in Milwaukee, should focus on expanding the number of seats at high-performing schools and children in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program.”


UK: Schools crisis as hundreds of heads quit

Britain is facing a crisis in recruiting head teachers, with hundreds complaining of high pressure and insufficient pay as they quit and retire early.

One in ten schools is losing its head teacher each year, research by The Times reveals. Schools have been left without a head for up to three years, while one school employed six heads in five years and another had to advertise a vacant post seven times before finding a suitable candidate.

Some councils have seen more head teachers leaving in the past five years than the number of schools in the area.

Schools are blighted by a revolving door of head teachers as many of them retire or take early retirement


Sunday, January 01, 2017

Is college a scam?

By Natalia Castro

Millennials are quickly realizing college is not all it’s cracked up to be, or rather, all it’s priced up to be. College was meant to assist students to enter the workforce with a competitive edge which would drive up higher employment, instead Millennials are failing to enter the labor force, often returning home to their parents with nothing but debt.

Billy Williams became social media famous for dropping out of school after his 4.0 first semester, in his Facebook post he claimed, “Yes I have dropped out after finishing my first semester (with a 4.0 GPA). And it’s one of the best choices I’ve ever made. Not because I am averse to learning, but actually the exact opposite.” He explains that college is a scam, forcing students to pay outrageous prices for classes which aren’t providing the same returns.

And he is not completely wrong.

College graduates are finding themselves unable to put their degrees to work, LeAndre Martinez of the Huffington Post explains that “I am 23 years old. I’ve got $60,000 in debt from student loans. I make around $10 an hour working as a cook, and I live off of about $20 a week after I cover rent and other expenses. Since I graduated, my degree has been pretty much useless. When people see that I have a degree, it’s like it doesn’t even mean anything. Every job that I’ve done, it’s kind of been by personal relation or word of mouth.”

Martinez is not a lazy millennial, but a product of a weak economy and a diminishing labor force.

Investors Business Daily of Dec. 2016 explains, “40 percent of [Millennials] still live with their parents, a 75-year high. They can’t afford to live on their own… This may well be the challenge of the coming decade — to re-skill and retrain younger workers so that they can find better, higher paying jobs and move out of their mom and dad’s house and into their own digs. They’re just bearing the brunt of decades of failed economic policies that have cut U.S. economic growth from 3 percent-plus to below 2 percent, and caused family incomes to stagnate.”

The economic stagnation of the last decade could well result in economic devastation for the next several decades as the Millennial unemployment problem tears a gigantic hole in the overall workforce.

Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows labor participation for 25-34 year olds has dropped from an annual, unadjusted average of 84.6 percent to 81.6 percent since 2000, accounting for 1.3 million millennials who never entered the labor force on a net basis if labor participation had remained at the same rate.

This is matched with a growing population among this generation, the population of 25-34 year olds has increased an additional 4.8 million since 2000 to 43.5 million, but the labor force has only increased 2.7 million to 35.5 million, an absorption rate into the labor force of a miniscule 56.7 percent for the additional population.

Millennials are now the largest and most college educated generation in American history, yet just over half of them appear to be entering the workforce. This is creating an unsustainable drag on the American economy.

However, the problem extends past this alarming drop in labor participation, because for many who aspire to pursue high level careers, a college degree is still a necessity.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also tells us that without a college degree it is significantly more difficult to obtain any level of employment. While finding employment is becoming increasingly difficult for younger Americans as is, without a college degree it is even harder. Not because of the degree’s worth, but the stigma surrounding a lack of a degree.

This pressure has pushed Millennials to attend college, garner high levels of student loans, and when they fail to find good jobs, then return home to their parents.

The idea of the American dream proposed that each generation should be more successful and have more opportunities than the last, but with diminishing employment opportunities and escalating levels of student debt, the current economic climate is ruining this possibility. In the New Year, all Americans should hope the Trump administration will be able to turn around the economic tide that has burned our nation with slowing growth the past 16 years. An entire generation depends on it.


Rep. Meadows targets campus rape rule as unfair to 'often-innocent accused'

Incoming Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows recommended that the Trump administration roll back 2011 campus sexual assault guidelines that “deny the often-innocent accused basic due process rights.”

The North Carolina congressman issued a report this month on 230 rules that should be targeted for repeal or change in the first 100 days of the Trump administration, then published an updated version last week with more than 70 additional rules.

One new entry is an April 2011 guidance document from the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights setting out standards for how universities should handle sexual harassment and sexual violence complaints.

Meadows’ updated report says the guidance “has pressured colleges to spend hundreds of millions of dollars and to create vast campus bureaucracies” to investigate sexual assault and date rape — “the incidence of which may be overstated.” The guidance “virtually
dictates one-size-fits-all procedures which provide less protection to the accused,” the report claims, and denies the rights of “the often-innocent accused.”

Meadows' office did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Sofie Karasek, director of education at End Rape on Campus, said Meadows' assertions are dubious at best. “There is a huge amount of evidence that campus sexual assault is a problem,” she said, and little evidence of false rape accusations. Karasek said, “The number of false rape accusations is between 2% and 8% — on par with the rate of false accusations for other crimes.”

As far as the suggestion that universities spend “hundreds of millions of dollars” on new bureaucracies to address sexual assault, Karasek said, “I think that’s a mischaracterization at best and just plain false at worst.” What is true, she said, is “there are certainly many schools that are using their resources to address this problem — they are using resources in order to keep their students safe and ensure they have equal access to education.”

Meadows is not alone in his concern about the Department of Education guidance. Last year, Mollie Benz Flounlacker, vice president of the Association of American Universities, told a Senate committee that the guidance created significant confusion among colleges. The guidance established the expectation that campuses would adjudicate sexual assault allegations based on the “preponderance of evidence” — a lower bar than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard that applies in criminal cases. The guidance was not developed with public input, and universities were confused about what it required, “but it took OCR more than three years to issue further clarification. In the interim, campuses were forced to intuit what OCR wanted them to do," Flounlacker said.

Though the guidance was not issued through a formal rulemaking process, it is treated as “compliance requirements under the law,” Flounlacker said. “It is essential that all stakeholders, including colleges and stakeholder groups, be allowed to comment on and inform policies.”

The AAU does not doubt the prevalence of sexual assault on campuses. The group published a survey of 27 campuses in 2015 that found nearly 25% of female undergraduates reported some form of sexual assault or sexual misconduct.

An advocacy group called the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has argued for years that the Education Department guidance violates students' due process rights. By reducing the burden of proof for sexual assault cases, the guidance by definition reduced the amount of certainty needed to issue punishment, said legislative and policy director Joe Cohn. "It is uncontroversial that there are both people who get away with things that they have done and there are innocent people who are getting expelled," Cohn said. In response to the department's guidance, campuses are "actively reducing due process protections, which is increasing the margin of error."

Cohn said "it is perfectly appropriate to repeal" the 2011 guidance "as long as they really do go through the process of trying to view this from both sides" and adopt policies that protect the rights of both the accusers and the accused.

Meadows' report carries the logo of the House Freedom Caucus, but it is not an official Freedom Caucus report because the other members of the group have not voted to adopt it. Alyssa Farah, the caucus communication director, told USA TODAY last week, "While the Freedom Caucus strongly supports undoing President Obama’s harmful regulatory regime, the group did not assist in the drafting of this report and has not yet taken an official position in support of it."


Strict classroom discipline improves student outcomes and work ethic, studies find

The debate over the relative benefits of Eastern and Western styles of school education has been kicked off again by two new studies which find evidence that strict discipline in the classroom produces better academic outcomes and a stronger work ethic in students, in results that could have implications for Australia's sliding academic performance internationally.

The lead author of both studies, associate professor Chris Baumann from Macquarie University, said the findings suggest Australian classrooms should return to the more strict discipline approach that was pushed out by "permissive" education in the 1970s.

In the newest study, "School discipline, school uniforms and academic performance", published in the International Journal of Educational Management, the researchers crunched OECD data on classroom discipline, finding that strict, high-discipline countries were the highest performing countries academically. They also found uniforms correlate with better discipline in the classroom.

"The argument does not mean that we have to be super strict, of course we have to care for our students and have a loving approach," said professor Baumann, "but it does seem that discipline has been overlooked a bit."

And the related study, "Work ethic formed by pedagogical approach", published this year in the Asia Pacific Business Review found that in all the Asian countries studied, strict discipline was a statistically significant driver of a strong work ethic, defined as a positive attitude to work.

Most Western countries are falling behind East Asian countries in education outcomes. Australia's performance in the OECD's latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) results means that an average 12-year-old Korean student's maths and science problem-solving abilities are equivalent to that of an average Australian 15-year-old.

East Asian education systems are heavily influenced by the ancient Chinese tradition of Confucianism, with its emphasis on respect for elders, harmony and collective values.

In practice, this was likely to mean clear and enforced classroom rules, a focus on manners, punctuality, respect for teaching staff, consequences for poor performance or incomplete homework and an enforced dress code, professor Baumann said.

Western education, on the other hand, was less concerned with formalities, respect for teachers and collective discipline, instead focusing on the individual child.

The often-heard counter argument is that Western systems are better at promoting play, creativity, innovation and questioning authority, which might have harder-to-measure benefits. But professor Baumann is sceptical about this.

"The likely outlook is that Western countries may sooner or later aspire to a balanced pedagogic approach to education, where the playful elements remain, but discipline might be tightened up again since the successes in Asia suggest strict discipline and a focus on academic performance 'pay off', and the results of our study point in that direction."

Dr Jennifer Buckingham, education researcher from the Centre for Independent Studies, said it was important to "be cautious in making those broad comparisons when the demographics and the context is really different – it's so hard to ascribe cause and effect when there are so many other factors at play".

She suggested a key overlooked factor may be the high use of private tutoring in countries like Korea and Singapore, which could have a bigger role than the school systems in driving student outcomes.

However, "there's not much doubt that families' cultural emphasis on education is really important in terms of academic success", she said.

"The value that's placed on academic achievement that is seen in east Asian families is certainly a factor when you're looking at the demographics of selective schools [in NSW] for example."

The countries studied in the work ethic research were Australia, China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Britain and the US, using surveys of at least 500 respondents per country.