Friday, June 23, 2017

This School District Partners With LGBT Advocacy Group to Impose Transgender Policy

HOPEWELL, N.J.—Freshmen football players, changing in their high school locker room at the beginning of the school year, were startled to encounter a girl who said she identifies as a boy.

The  father of one of the players wrote to the school’s principal and athletic director to express concern about the “young lady” and the “comfort” of the boys, most of whom were 14 at the time and “wondering what was going on.”

“I think you are doing a disservice to the kids by not having at least a casual conversation with them regarding their comfort in the locker as well as treating others with the same respect they want while changing clothes,” the player’s father said in an email to Tana Smith, principal at Hopewell Valley Central High School, and Tripp Becker, the athletic director.

The father asked whether the high school’s football coach and district administrators had planned to provide the team with a “heads up” about the school district’s new transgender policy, adopted three months earlier by the Hopewell Valley Regional Board of Education, and were ready to field questions or concerns.

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The answer was no.

David Machin, coach of Hopewell Valley’s freshman football team, emailed team parents Sept. 20, 2016, to say there would be no public announcement clarifying school rules on gender. Machin wrote team parents:

I believe the district policy (which follows federal law) is that any student may use whatever locker room/bathroom that he/she identifies with. I believe that there is no requirement for a public announcement regarding this type of situation or even a ‘heads up,’ so to speak.

The reason for the silence, Hopewell parents who spoke with The Daily Signal said, is that a LGBT advocacy group appears to exercise significant influence on school board members and administrators in the Hopewell Valley Regional School District, especially Superintendent Thomas Smith.

Garden State Equality, headquartered in Asbury Park, New Jersey, describes itself as “a statewide advocacy and education organization for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.”

The Hopewell Valley school board adopted the transgender policy June 20, 2016, one year ago Tuesday.

The action came five weeks after the Obama administration warned local school districts to spell out transgender students’ access to the rest room and locker room facilities of their choice, or risk loss of federal dollars.

The incident in Hopewell Valley Central High’s locker room occurred just a few days after the 2016-2017 school year opened. It set off a chain of email communications, copies of which The Daily Signal has obtained through New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act.

Parents across the state should be concerned about how much influence Garden State Equality exerts over “key decision-makers” in local school districts at the expense of sound policy, Len Deo, executive director of the New Jersey Family Policy Council, told The Daily Signal in an interview.

While opposing sides should be heard in public forums, Deo said, he sees a danger that some transgender policies will infringe free speech:

Some of these policies have gender identity pronoun requirements, and we have to ask what the ramifications are if someone does not comply for reasons of conscience. Who is the authority and what are the ramifications? What does this mean for free speech? If a school district suddenly says that gender is fluid and it’s one thing today and another tomorrow, this leads to all kinds of confusion and different interpretations.

While it’s fine to accept input from advocacy groups, the onus is on school board members and superintendents to look out for the public interest instead of advancing narrow special interests, Deo told The Daily Signal

“Let’s not forget who is paying the taxes for these school districts,” he said, adding:

The parents are paying the taxes and they deserve to be heard instead of being silenced. I think one difference between us and Garden State Equality is we are not trying to manipulate school boards and superintendents. We are trying to give parents a voice.

The Hopewell Valley district serves about 4,000 students from preschool through 12th grade in suburban Mercer County about 10 miles south of Princeton.

The Hopewell Valley player’s father, who asked not to be identified, says he decided to press his point because taxpayers should be heard.

“I also went to meet with the principal and the athletic director to express my concerns,” the father said in an interview with The Daily Signal. “They insisted this student was not actually changing in the locker room, and I told them that they were wrong, because all of the kids told me otherwise. Instead of having an intelligent conversation where we can all address the concerns of students and parents, they just want to stonewall.”

He added:

"I’ve coached baseball for 14 years now, and I’m someone who understands kids. We are talking about something that’s occurring during their formative years, and it’s understandable that they would have questions. Honestly, I think they’ve been a lot more mature about this than our own school administrators, who are pushing their own policy agenda. [The administrators] seem to only be concerned with making one student comfortable in a locker room and not the rest. But I think there are ways to make everyone comfortable."

Hopewell Valley’s nine-member school board approved the policy on “Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students” at its regular meeting one year ago, on June 20, 2016.

School Board President Lisa Wolff joined six other members to OK the policy, while one member abstained and another was absent. The vote occurred little more than a month after the Obama administration mandated such policies for schools that wanted to keep getting federal dollars.

The Hopewell Valley policy says students are responsible for determining their own gender identity, except  “in the case of young students not yet able to advocate for themselves”—and then a parent or guardian will make that determination. The policy doesn’t specify any ages.

So long as administrators determine that a student is sincere, the school should accept that student’s “asserted gender identity,” the policy says.

Werner Graf, a former school board member with two daughters in the school system, was the only resident who showed up at the meeting last June to speak out against the transgender policy and the manner in which the system implemented it.

“I took the three minutes the board allotted me to make points about legal liability, privacy, and safety, and suggested the policy be sent back to a larger committee for review,” Graf recalled in an interview with The Daily Signal.  “It wasn’t a radical request, especially since the debate thus far was apparently void of any input from concerned parents.”

During time set aside for public comment, Graf warned the school board of the “bad optics” of the LGBT advocacy group’s involvement,  given that the school board is supposed to be nonpartisan:

You’ve allowed this Garden State Equality group to come in, and Garden State Equality is clearly a partisan organization. They are a self-described advocacy group for a set of people.

The board gave Garden State Equality “preferential treatment” that “sets a very bad precedent” for how public policy decisions are made in the school district, Graf added.

More HERE 

Our Public School System Isn’t Producing Education Equality

And it never will.  No education system ever does

All across America, preparations are underway for high school graduation. It’s a glorious time, representing both a milestone and a gateway to adulthood.

But missing from this year’s ceremonies are more than one million kids who dropped out and will not be attending graduation day.

The future those high school dropouts face is chilling. They will have a much harder time getting a job and will earn much less than those who did graduate. They’re also more likely to commit a crime and more likely to be the victim of one.

In short, many of them face a life that will be so much more difficult—all because they could not or chose not to finish high school.

The consequences of this crisis are especially evident in my community. Today, more than half of all African-American students in many large U.S. cities don’t graduate from high school. Think about that.

And those kids aren’t just dropping out—they’re escaping.

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, schools that serve majority-minority communities have the worst performance, the highest crime rates, and the largest achievement gaps.

In cities like Detroit, more than nine in 10 black students can’t even read or do math at grade level.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

In 1954, the Supreme Court issued its landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, ruling that school segregation is unconstitutional. “Massive Resistance” soon followed as many states launched an all-out effort to block integration.

My home state of Virginia was one of them, and anti-reform forces there mobilized to prevent black students from going to whites-only schools. They succeeded for a while but, in 1960, the first contingent of brave black students changed all that.

I was a member of the second contingent and, in 1961, was one of 26 black students assigned to integrate John Chandler Middle School in Richmond.

As the first day of school approached, we heard ominous threats of “blood flowing in gutters.” Thankfully, that didn’t happen. Instead, the only blood I saw was mine.

For the first month at Chandler, I never made it through the packed hallways between classes without at least one white student pricking me with a pin.

Sometimes, I was stuck so many times I had to press my dress against my body to keep the red streams from dripping down my legs.

It was awful, but it was worth it. In my own little way, I knew I was fighting for our equal right to get a great education.

Little did I know that more than half a century later, other girls and boys would still be fighting for education equality. Many of those kids are African-American like me, and the families many of them come from are poor and broken, like mine was.

But I was able to attend a better school, and they aren’t. Instead, anti-reform forces are blocking them from going to better-performing public charter and private schools.

Today, the nemesis isn’t the old Massive Resistance crowd, but a similarly determined cartel of unions, bureaucrats, and politicians. They make a great deal of money from the current system in the form of union dues, salaries, and political contributions.

As a result, they view education equality as a threat and anyone seeking it as their enemy.

Just ask Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Appearing before Congress recently, DeVos testified that her goal is “ensuring that every student has an equal opportunity to receive a great education.”

But rather than be hailed for seeking the equality promised decades ago, she’s being attacked by those who want things to stay just as they are.

But the secretary isn’t just right—she’s echoing the Supreme Court’s 1954 ruling which declared education to be “a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.”

Today in America, that right is conditional. If you are wealthy, white, connected, or elected, your child probably goes to or graduated from a great school.

But if you are African-American or Latino and living in a poor urban neighborhood, your child is much more likely to go to a failing school, a school where more than half of all students can’t read or write well, have low math scores, face the daily threat of bullying and violence, and won’t graduate.

Do these sound like “equal terms” to you?

In place of the equality mandated by the Supreme Court, we have disparities that are so shocking they defy belief.

Right now, America’s public school system includes outstanding institutions where students get an excellent education, use the best academic, athletic, and cultural facilities tax dollars can buy, and go on to college and promising lives.

And the same school system also includes failure factories where students don’t learn, spend their days in dilapidated and crime-infested buildings, fall further and further behind, and often drop out.

Now, which of these schools do you think is most often found in poor minority neighborhoods?

The reality, as House Speaker Paul Ryan has put it, is that the current system is effectively quarantining poor and minority children in failure factories.

For the sake of all those high school dropouts who will miss out on this month’s graduations, our nation needs the proponents of education equality to prevail.

Every single child—no matter their race, income, gender, or address—has the equal right to receive an excellent education. And every day in which that right isn’t a reality is a day in which we are losing more of these precious children.


A New Twist on Teaching Economics

Walter E. Williams

Greg Caskey is a 27-year-old Abington, Pennsylvania, native who is a social sciences teacher at Delaware Military Academy. The academy is a thriving charter high school in Wilmington, Delaware, that was founded in 2003 by two retired military officers, Charles Baldwin and Jack Wintermantel. Students from all socio-economic backgrounds attend the school, which is doing a stellar job of teaching reading, writing and arithmetic and, just as importantly, moral character and self-discipline.

Mr. Caskey is one of the school's standout teachers. He has developed an innovative way of teaching the principles of economics to the school's students — a curriculum that he calls "HipHoponomics," in which he uses original rap music as the basis for his lesson plans. His favorite rap artists are Nas, Eminem, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur.

Being in my 82nd year of life, I don't generally find hip-hop music or its lyrics that attractive. Part of the reason for my distaste is that it's difficult for me to decipher what the performers are saying, not to mention the constant annoying boom boom. I've been told that I benefit from not understanding what they are saying. But given my background in economics, Caskey's HipHoponomics music is largely decipherable to me. But much more importantly, it appears to be an excellent technique to excite and enlighten younger people, who may have alien and hostile minds to learning free market economic principles. That's vital, given all of the anti-freedom indoctrination that so many of our young people receive.

Caskey, who likes to refer to himself as M.C. Caskey, is in the process of making his work available for all to see and hear on his website, at, and SoundCloud. He's developed an album centered around the 18th-century Scottish philosopher Adam Smith, who is known as the "Father of Economics." Smith is much-maligned. People often see him as an advocate for selfishness. But to the contrary, Smith saw laissez-faire as a moral agenda and free markets as a tool to protect the rights of natural law. So the prelude "Who Was Adam Smith?" starts out with a short discussion by my colleague Dr. Russ Roberts and ends with lyrics highlighting Smith's arguments, all set to a hip-hop beat.

Then there's discussion of what's called the emergent order. It begins with a highly understandable statement by the greatest 20th-century economist, Nobel laureate Milton Friedman. After that, Caskey puts Friedman's ideas to hip-hop music and talk. These ideas serve as the foundation for more HipHoponomics music — on principles such as free trade and comparative advantage, which most economists accept as advantageous to a nation.

Among important economic titles set to Caskey's HipHoponomics music are "Free Enterprise System," "New Deal or Raw Deal?", "What's up with the Fed?", "The 20s Were The Good Dayz" and "Demand & Supply Bars," and more are in the works. He has even set to hip-hop music a title called "Debatin' the Wage," which features yours truly and Bernie Sanders on the minimum wage. I should note that I had zero involvement with it, but I understand that it's pretty good.

Caskey's goals are ambitious and laudable. He is inspiring great interest in economics among young people, who typically have little interest in such a rigorous academic subject. Caskey's goal is to reach the urban student with the relevance of the economic way of thinking. He says, "I want to inspire zeal for the discipline of economics among young people, but particularly among urban young people, a historically underserved population, especially in the educational sense."

By the way, high schoolers are not the only people who can benefit from the lessons of HipHoponomics. I'd recommend it to our political leadership on both sides of the aisle, media people and teachers. What Greg Caskey's put together is a nonthreatening approach to economics for the novice — and for those who believe they are beyond the novice level.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

UK: How you could be too middle class to work at a top firm: Almost half of big companies now ask employees if they went to a private school

People tend to work most easily with people similar to themselves so putting people of heterogeneous backgrounds together will almost certainly reduce esprit de coeur and efficiency. 

But it's all just shadow boxing.  Accent is overwhelmingly important in Britain so people with the "right" accent will almost always get preference -- mainly meaning people with a "public" (private) school accent.  It would actually be painful for most upper class people to work with someone who spoke in a Cockney accent

Almost half of top firms are now asking their employees whether they went to a private school as part of a drive to boost social mobility, a major new study has found.

Data gathered from 100 companies by the Social Mobility Foundation (SMF) revealed many are also requesting information on economic background, parents’ jobs and area in which they grew up.

Around one in five – 17 per cent – of the firms taking part now set targets on social mobility as part of their business strategy.

The information is collected anonymously from employees after they have joined companies and is used to review workforce demographics.

The SMF said that a low proportion of workers from state schools or deprived backgrounds could indicate class bias in the recruitment process.

Factors such as accent and whether the candidate has travelled widely can sometimes cause unconscious prejudice, they said.

Companies can use the data to alter their recruitment processes to make sure underrepresented groups are not disadvantaged.

The study, which is believed to be the first ‘social mobility index’, ranks employers on the efforts they are making to provide opportunities for those from poorer backgrounds.

It comes after the Prime Minister Theresa May made disadvantaged youngsters a key priority and pledged to help the ‘just about managing’ (JAM) families.

Research has shown that people from more affluent backgrounds take a disproportionate number of the best jobs.

Some parents of private school pupils have previously voiced disquiet at any sort of ‘social engineering’ which could mean a disadvantage for their own children.

But yesterday, Education Secretary Justine Greening praised the companies taking part in the study and urged others to adopt similar measures. She said: ‘No-one should be held back because of their background or where they come from. ‘This index shows the positive steps that some firms are taking to ensure everyone can go as far as their talents will take them.

‘These trail blazing organisations need to become the norm, and that is the collective goal we must all have if we are truly to tackle poor social mobility.

‘We are committed to making sure that everyone can get a world-class education which prepares them for a successful career.’

The study found 41 per cent of the companies ask new and existing employees the type of school attended, and 26 per cent ask if an employee received free school meals.

Meanwhile 39 per cent ask if employees were the first in their family to go to university and 7 per cent ask about parental occupation.

It also found 11 per cent ask workers about the postcode where an employee grew up, as this can indicate if they lived in an impoverished area.

The Index, which will be annual, is a joint initiative between the Social Mobility Foundation, a charity, and the government’s Social Mobility Commission, in partnership with the City of London Corporation.

It ranks Britain’s employers for the first time on the actions they are taking to ensure they are open to accessing and progressing talent from all backgrounds.

Nearly 100 employers from 17 sectors, who collectively employ just under one million people, submitted entries about their practices and procedures in areas such as work with young people, recruitment, selection and progression.

The top ten firms named are Grant Thornton UK LLP, KPMG UK LLP, Skanska UK PLC, Standard Life, Deloitte UK, J.P. Morgan, PwC, Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP, WM Morrisons Supermarkets Plc and Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

Nearly three quarters of the organisations – 72 per cent – are offering apprenticeships.

However, 77 per cent are at Levels 2 and 3 – GCSE or A level equivalent – which have been shown to offer lower returns for the apprentices.

And although 96 per cent of firms say they accept degrees from any university, 61 per cent of successful applicants attended one of the country’s most selective 24 universities.

David Johnston, chief executive of the Social Mobility Foundation, said: ‘While no one firm has cracked the issue and there is still progress to be made, they should be congratulated both for having prioritised social mobility and for being prepared to have their processes and practices independently scrutinised.’

Alan Milburn, chair of the Social Mobility Commission, added: ‘It is very welcome that more employers are changing their workforce strategies to ensure they don’t lose out on talented people from less privileged backgrounds.

‘The annual publication of this Index aims to shine a light on how and where progress is being made.’


Anarchy in Academia: Cry-Bullies Gone Wild

The recent events at Evergreen College would make a great Saturday Night Live skit if they weren't so serious and such an alarming portent of future social chaos.

Academia trains the future leaders of society - if colleges and universities are breeding racist anarchist cry-bullies instead of thoughtful leaders who can listen to other points of view, the future for America is tyranny of thought and totalitarianism.

The racist and infantile demands of the Evergreen students expose the childishness of cry-bully functioning. Like two-year-olds screaming "I WANT WHAT I WANT WHEN I WANT IT" these student outbursts create cognitive dissonance for any rational adult watching. There is a sense of unreality that "this cannot be happening on campuses in America" - but it is happening all over the country at colleges and universities where cry-bullies have gone wild.

Their infantile narcissism keeps them insulated in a prism of self

What is the source of their tantrums? Why are they being tolerated by the "adults" in charge? What is the purpose of cry-bullying outbursts?

The complete self-absorption of infants and young children is an expected condition of infancy and early childhood. There is no "other" in their consciousness - they operate on the narcissistic principle of self. When that narcissism is advanced into adulthood it is not only shocking it is dangerous. Early childhood is distinguished by its narcissism and society's acceptance of that narcissism because growing up is a process and early childhood is the beginning of the process.

The first sign of emotional development is the baby's recognition of "other." The baby begins to recognize his mother/caretaker as separate from himself. The baby learns that if he cries mother will come to him. As he gets older the child realizes that he is dependent upon the care of the "other" and the child only experiences "other" as existing to meet his/her own needs.

Only when the child begins to understand that "other" exists as a separate self who is as important as his own self as the child is to himself can the concept of reciprocity develop and ethical living begin.

What is so stunning about the behavior of cry-bullies on campus is their complete unawareness of "other." Their infantile narcissism keeps them insulated in a prism of self. They do not see the staggering hypocrisy of ordering all white students and faculty off campus. If all black students and faculty were ordered off campus the cry-bullies would go wild screaming RACISM! Cry-bullies do not see the hypocrisy of demanding respect when they behave so disrespectfully. If professors started screaming and swearing at them the cry-bullies would go wild demanding SAFE SPACES! Cry-bullies do not see the hypocrisy of demanding no homework at an academic institution.

Social chaos is the condition necessary to collapse American democracy

The long-term consequences of a narcissistic perspective advanced into adulthood is that it is self-destructive. Thought precedes behavior. If an individual thinks like a child he/she behaves like a child. Childhood is distinguished by its powerlessness. Thinking like a child produces a victim mentality of blame and powerlessness that creates cry-bullies and temper tantrums instead of self-actualized adults capable of rational thought and constructive effective change.

The question is WHY would the "adults" in charge submit to the childish demands of a two-year-old? Why do ineffectual parents submit to the demands of their two-year-old?

Some are simply intimidated by the cry-bullying. Some are emotional children themselves and actually support cry-bullying. Some want to ingratiate themselves to the cry-bully and be their friend. Some are Leftists promoting anarchy. No matter what the motive, submitting to the demands of a two-year-old whether that child is chronologically two or emotionally two is a flawed strategy for the survival of a democratic America.

Parents need their children to grow into emotional adulthood and society needs its citizens to become emotional adults. A society of children is not sustainable - it will eventually collapse or be challenged and taken over by a society of adults. This is why the social chaos created on campus and advanced into society by the graduating cry-bullies is so dangerous.

Social chaos is the condition necessary to collapse American democracy and replace it with socialism -> internationalism -> globalism -> and ultimately one-world government ruled by the globalist elite. Social chaos is the agent of change for anarchists.

American campuses need an adult in charge to fend off the infantile demands of its cry-bully students. America needs adults in charge to fend off the infantile demands of the left-wing liberals promoting anarchy and the victim mentality of identity politics. American universities are the canary in the coal mine.

Candidate Hillary Clinton famously said that they (Democrats) need a public that is unaware and compliant. Unaware and compliant are the conditions of childhood. Children are powerless and can be exploited and controlled - exactly what Hillary wanted. When Hillary was unexpectedly defeated the Left went into overdrive to delegitimize, destabilize, and destroy Trump's presidency. The "resistance" movement led by EX-president Barack Obama is an attack on American democracy.

Americans voted for an adult when they voted for Donald Trump. If the Left and their cry-bully politicians fomenting anarchy succeed in their campaign to overthrow constitutionally elected President Donald Trump then American democracy will be destroyed and the globalist elites will be able to impose one-world government on the unsuspecting cry-bullies on campus who were duped into believing they would get social justice and income equality for their efforts.

One-world government is a binary socio-political system of masters and slaves described unapologetically in chilling detail by Lord Bertrand Russell in his 1952 book The Impact of Science on Society.  The irony for these black student cry-bullies is that they are participating in their own destruction. There is no freedom or upward mobility in one-world government - only tyranny and totalitarianism. The student cry-bullies will learn the hard way that their infantile behavior will reduce them to slaves like their ancestors.


Australian conservative politician says autistic kids should be removed from mainstream classes

ONE Nation leader Senator Pauline Hanson announced this morning that her party will back the Federal Government’s $18.6 billion school funding package.

But she also said "we need to get rid of" autistic children from mainstream classrooms, arguing teachers had to spend too much time with them at the expense of other students’ education.

She said parents and teachers had raised the issue with her of children with disabilities or autism in mainstream classrooms.

"These kids have a right to an education by all means, but if there’s a number of them these children should actually go into a special classroom, looked after and given that special attention," she said in the Senate this morning.

"Most of the time the teacher spends so much time on them they forget about the child who wants to go ahead in leaps and bounds in their education, but are held back by those.

"It’s no good saying we have to allow these kids to feel good about themselves and we don’t want to upset them and make them feel hurt. "We have to be realistic at times and consider the impact that is having on other children in the classroom. "We need to get rid of those people because you want everyone to feel good about themselves."

She said it was difficult for One Nation to come to the position of supporting the $18.6 billion in extra funding for schools. "I hope this will improve our educational standards if it is addressed in the classroom," Senator Hanson said.

She criticised Labor for not supporting the bill, as the Opposition wants a further $22 billion to match the original Gonski funding proposed by the Gillard Government. "I think it’s a good start, $18.6 billion. That’s a start, why can’t you work with the government with regards to this and then build on that," she said.

"Stop opposing things just because you’re on the opposition. It’s about working together for the future of this nation. I just get so frustrated with the whole lot of you."


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Left-run educational system delivers

Britain's new Conservative coalition government: What will it mean for education?

The DUP is very much pro grammar, and schools in Northern Ireland are intrinsically selective – with a structure that’s closer to the pre-Blair system that was long the standard in the rest of the UK.

But the Conservative Party is left in such a weak position that, even if they form a government with the DUP, ministers will in no way be able to push forward with the much contested selective school proposals outlaid in their election manifesto.

Only seven Conservative ministers need to oppose such a bill, and we know there are around 15 who are outspokenly opposed to grammar schools specifically.

As a source close to Number 10 reportedly put it to TES early on Friday morning, grammar school plans are “f***ed” – something that will come as a relief to campaigners who have voiced opposition over Theresa May’s plans for months.

Free school expansions will continue

The minority result may also have come as a blow to New Schools Network head and free schools advocate, Toby Young, who has championed Theresa May’s plans to build at least 100 new free schools – including selective grammars – each year.

Everyone can more or less agree that new school places are needed – especially given the forecasted population increase – and this has been Mr Young’s strongest argument in favour of free schools expansion.

But they remain something of a contentious issue, with some arguing free schools are too costly and unaccountable, receiving huge budgets while local authority schools are neglected.

As director of NSN, Mr Young was tasked with helping to deliver the new free schools, which are autonomous from local authority.

Speaking to The Independent on Friday, he remained positive the plans would go through, stating that the free schools programme remains the main delivery mechanism for much needed school places, regardless of the stance on grammars.

“It remains to be seen what impact the election result will have on individual education policies, but I expect the free schools programme to continue,” he said.

“Free schools are more popular with parents than council-run schools, more likely to be rated Outstanding by Ofsted and get better results. They also remain the most cost effective way of providing much-needed new school places.”


Successful Massachusetts charter school comes under fire from envious critics

It does well despite its high minority enrolments but critics say it still does not do enough for minorities

Mystic Valley — one of the state’s biggest charter schools, with 1,500 students — touts its high test scores and disciplined academic climate. But the school has repeatedly drawn the attention of state regulators.

In 2015, state officials blocked Mystic Valley, where more than 40 percent of students are black, Hispanic, or Asian, from expanding enrollment because it lacked appropriate services for students who don’t speak English.

Regulators have also repeatedly criticized the board of trustees for being overly involved in day-to-day management of the school, for not being accessible to parents, and for “opaque” dealings that have violated the state’s Open Meeting Law.

More recently, the school, headquartered in a warren of brick buildings sprawled across a city block, attracted national attention because of a battle over its dress code. Critics contended a prohibition on styles that include hair extensions discriminated against students of color. The school’s trustees, who defend the policy as one that fosters a culture emphasizing education rather than style, have vowed to address the issue over the summer.

“The more we look at the school, the hair problems appear to be the tip of the iceberg about issues of discrimination,” said Sarah Wunsch, deputy legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Massachusetts. The ACLU is one of several groups representing twin sisters who recently faced repeated discipline for wearing braided hair extensions.

“They say how wonderful the education is they give,” Wunsch said, “but that skips the question of how many they have pushed out and why.”

School cofounder Neil Kinnon, chairman of the school’s board and a Malden city councilor, has been a lightning rod for much of the criticism. His social media postings have sparked outrage, including one from his City Council Facebook account last fall that dismissed multiculturalism as “nothing but a con by the rich and those who want to take down this Country by selling out the future of our children.”

Kinnon declined repeated requests for an interview, most recently at a June 12 trustees meeting, where he told a Globe reporter he had “no interest” in speaking. Alexander Dan, Mystic’s interim school director, also declined an interview at that time but responded to questions from the Globe with written statements.

Dan defended the school’s track record, pointing to state data that indicate black students at Mystic Valley typically outperform their peers from surrounding communities on state and college entrance exams. He contends the school is serving the needs of students who are disabled, have extra needs, or are low-income. He cited state data, known as attrition rates, that track the percentage of such students who leave during a small window of time — between the end of one school year and the start of the next. Those data show student attrition from Mystic, averaged over the past five years, is lower than the numbers from six nearby communities.

“This statistic is often used to judge satisfaction among students and families within a district, particularly a school/district of choice from which students could withdraw at any point,” Dan said.

But another barometer that measures satisfaction — the percentage of students who stick with Mystic Valley throughout the school year — suggests a different picture. By that measure, known as stability rates, Mystic Valley ranks near the bottom for students who are disabled, have extra needs, or are low-income, compared to schools in those six nearby communities, according to a Globe analysis of the data.

The state data also show that Mystic Valley, which accepts students by a lottery system, reported enrolling few with limited English abilities.

Fewer than 2 percent of its students are identified as English language learners. Yet in the two school districts from which Mystic Valley draws more than half of its students — Malden and Everett — English-language learners account for about 17 percent of the population.

Charter schools are public institutions, but most, including Mystic, operate independently of local systems.

Donohue, the former sixth-grade teacher at Mystic, said he watched students with limited English skills walk away because the school did not provide the training they needed to improve. Donohue left in frustration in 2011 for another charter school and now teaches in the public school system.

While at Mystic, Donohue said, he saw some students with limited English skills repeatedly held back a grade. But other students, with equal or worse grades, were allowed to move on because they had higher MCAS scores, he said.

“I had a student who was 16 in sixth grade. He was Haitian, his family spoke no English, and he was in sixth grade for the third time,” Donohue said.

“What Mystic Valley was doing was not happenstance,” Donohue said. “Keeping students back was in the interest of Mystic Valley, [because] over the course of time, eventually those kids would leave. When those kids leave, their MCAS scores go with them.”

Dan, Mystic Valley’s interim school director, declined comment on Donohue’s assertions. But he said in a statement the school has beefed up its process for recruiting and retaining students with limited English skills. He also noted that state regulators, who blocked Mystic Valley’s request to expand enrollment for four years, relented last year after Mystic agreed to a number of changes, including a vow to improve services for English learners.

Fisk, the student who urged Mystic Valley to allow a gay-straight alliance club, said she and other lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students felt marginalized.

“Teachers wouldn’t call out students who made homophobic comments,” Fisk said. “It was putting the burden on us to call out people, when it was their job.”

Fisk said that in May 2014, she proposed a club to help students confront anti-gay behavior and was told by Dan, then the assistant director of the high school, the club would probably not be approved because Mystic Valley did not allow clubs about “social issues.”

Still, she said, Dan asked her to prepare a written proposal, which she submitted days later. She heard nothing from the school for months. Then in October 2014, Fisk said she was informed there was no money for new student clubs. That’s when she requested help from the ACLU.

Dan declined to comment on Fisk’s assertions but said in a statement that at least two other student clubs were proposed at the same time.

“The [trustees] determined that the school needed to create a policy to ensure fairness in assessing demand for clubs and in order to continue to operate in a financially responsible manner . . . with proper faculty supervision, with adequate compensation for faculty advisers, and with adequate student participation,” Dan said.

Mystic Valley approved Fisk’s proposal nearly a year after she submitted it, and a gay-straight alliance launched in fall 2015, in time for Fisk’s last year at the school.

Civil rights groups say the recent spotlight on Mystic Valley for its hair and dress code raised troubling questions about the school’s policy for disciplining students. More than a dozen current and former students, teachers, and parents told the Globe that black and biracial students were more frequently punished, particularly for violating the dress code, compared to other students.

Yet some parents contend that is not true. They say their children, who are white, have also faced discipline for breaking the rules. Leanne Bello, who has three daughters at Mystic Valley, said she received notices from administrators when one of her daughters wore a headband, and then a small hair piece, that did not conform to the dress code. The note warned that her daughter would face detention if she violated the rules again.

“Are there some children who get away with certain infractions against the policy? I’m sure there are,” Bello said. “It’s not always easy to tell if somebody has unnatural highlights in their hair or if somebody has unnatural extensions. But nobody gets away with it simply because of the color of their skin.”

The Globe and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice each filed requests for public records from Mystic Valley to assess the impact of the school’s dress code on students of color. But Dan said in a statement he was unable to furnish those discipline records, broken down by race and gender, because a $15,000 computer system installed in the 2013-2014 school year to track students is not capable of producing such data. Dan said the school would need to hire a consultant who could reconfigure the computer system to produce the report.

But some Mystic graduates say the disparity in discipline has gone on for years.

Shaynice Dorcena, who graduated in 2010, said she received a stellar education but faced detentions for her hair extensions even while white students who clearly dyed their hair, from blond to jet black, did not. The dress code prohibits hair dye.

“I love Mystic Valley, and I enjoyed my time there,” Dorcena said. She is saddened by the recent avalanche of negative publicity the school has received about its dress code because, she said, teachers and administrators treated her with respect. But the school’s legacy of discipline for students of color still troubles her.

“If you talk to any black girl who has gone to Mystic Valley, they will have a story for you and that’s alarming,” Dorcena said. “There are so many of us . . . it is something that can’t be ignored.” [Black students get a lot of discipline!  So what else is new?]


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

"A tide of privatization"?  A prejudice in search of some facts -- in Australia

Emma Rowe (above and below) makes a huge effort to be objective but in the end she breaks down and lets her hatred of private schools peep out.  She writes for a webzine called "The Conversation" which claims "Academic rigour, journalistic flair". I guess they do have some journalistic flair, whatever that might be, but the "academic rigour" was a laugh from the beginning.  I would call it Leftist propaganda with an occasional nod to conservatism. I guess that nod is rigour from a Leftist viewpoint.

A condensed version of  Emma's article:  "Since 2010, the average independent school has increased its share of enrolments from 18% to 18.39%. That constitutes a disturbing tide of privatisation in our secondary schools" 

The poor woman is completely obsessed if she sees such a trivial change as "a disturbing tide."  An eddy, perhaps, but no sort of tide.

And to get her "tide" she had to ignore primary schools and concentrate on secondary schools only. She plainly wishes to find that private schools overall are unfairly favoured by the government but has to ignore half the facts to make her attempted case.  But Leftists are good at cherrypicking and selective vision.

And what about the fact that Australian parents contribute more towards the education of their children than parents in many other countries do?  Many would see that as a welcome reduction of the burden borne by the taxpayer.  But not Emma.  She says: "This is clearly problematic for those families with less capacity to pay."  Classic Leftist envy obliterates all other considerations. All must have prizes.  The Left must know that their pursuit of equality is pissing into the wind but their devotion to it is relentless and merciless.  Procrustes is their idol

You may have heard recently that public schools in Australia have experienced increased enrolments. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that public schools in Australia have increased their share of enrolments, “reversing a forty-year trend”.

A spokesperson from the Australian Bureau of Statistics stated that it was a “reversal of the steady drift” towards private schools. This is misleading, for two reasons:

First, the overall population in Australia has increased, which has resulted in increased enrolments for many schooling sectors. In total there are 1.28% more students (full-time) enrolled in schools.

Second, while enrolment in public and independent primary schools (excluding Catholic schools) has increased, enrolment in public secondary schools has decreased.

We have one of the highest levels of private school enrolment within the OECD, and our country also maintains the highest levels of private expenditure towards schools (contributions from households).

It is untrue that there is a reversal of the steady drift if we look at secondary schools.

As the more expensive constituent of schooling, and also the gateway to higher education, it is the secondary school where politics truly come to the fore.

When it comes to debates about funding and privatisation, the secondary school sector is far more entangled in the politics of choice.

When we are told that our public school enrolment is increasing, this may lead you to believe that our public schools are strong and healthy. This disguises the ugly truth that many of our public secondary schools are struggling, mainly due to an ongoing stream of policies that have attacked and undermined our public secondary schools.

By how much as public secondary school enrolments decreased?

Since 2010, the public secondary school has decreased its enrolments from 60% to 59.13%.

Since 2010, the average independent school has increased its share of enrolments from 18% to 18.39%.

These changes seem very minor, and when regarded in the context of population increases, are relatively insignificant.

However, when taken with a more longitudinal analysis, it is evident that the independent secondary school in Australia has continually bolstered its enrolment share.

The independent secondary school sector has experienced the largest proportional increase in enrolment from 1990 to 2016 (6.39%).

The government (public) school has recorded the largest proportional decrease during this same period (8.87%).

Evidently, there is a consistent pattern of growth within the independent sector and a consistent pattern of decline, in terms of enrolment levels, within the public sector.

It would be simplistic to argue that this is simply a matter of demand, rather than complicated by many other factors including economic, social and cultural shifts.

As education reforms bolstered funding for the private sector, enrolment levels in the private sector increased at a similar rate and time period.
Encouraging private school choice

The government has always played a role in encouraging particular consumer choices. This is no different for schooling.

Throughout the 1990s and beyond, public schools were consistently closed or merged across various states and territories. This undoubtedly establishes a sense of instability and volatility for the consumer.

Among the reasons cited for these closures was lack of enrolment numbers. Unlike private schools, public schools must consistently prove their economic feasibility. (This reason was strongly refuted by the public. In Victoria in the 1990s, it was described as “the biggest battle over education in more than a decade”.)

While the overall number of full-time secondary students grew, by 2011 the availability of public schools had declined.

The total percentage of public schools in Australia has decreased by 2%. On the other hand, the percentage of private schools has increased by 1% of the total number of schools.

We tend to widely accept privatisation of our schools. In Australia, the overall proportion of students in private schools is 35% ( but 41% in secondary school). This far outweighs the average OECD country, where 18% is the average number.

Compare this to the US, where approximately 8% of students attend private schools. In Canada, this percentage is even lower (approximately 6%), and lower again in countries such as New Zealand, Finland or Sweden.

We also have one of the highest percentages of private expenditure within the school sector. What this means is that we rely far more on a “user-pays” system than the average OECD country.

This is clearly problematic for those families with less capacity to pay.

This was noted in the OECD’s Education at a Glance 2016 report. When it comes to secondary schooling, for the majority of OECD countries, 90% of expenditure comes from government funds. But this wasn’t the case for Australia, Chile and Columbia, which “rely on over one-fifth of private expenditure at this level”.

While many other OECD countries do fund their private schools, they are also subject to a host of regulations.

When it comes to the funding private schools, Australia is classified as a “high funding and low regulation” country. In comparison to other OECD countries, private schools have little accountability in terms of how they spend their money.

Add to this a dominant cultural narrative around the superiority of private schooling, and you have a disturbing tide of privatisation in our secondary schools.

This tide of privatisation will only further entrench equity gaps for students from families who cannot afford to pay. It will also add to the household burden for those families struggling to pay their private school costs.


Trump's NASA Budget Eliminates Education Office, Plunging America Into The Dark

Ethan Siegel (below) is a bit of an oddball so you need to take him with a grain of salt


What did you want to grow up to be when you were a kid? Was 'astronaut' or 'scientist' ever on the list? Did you ever find space fascinating, and want to learn more about it? Was the possibility of exploring other worlds, searching for extraterrestrial life, building a rocket or experiencing zero-gravity ever a part of your dreams? NASA's Office of Education, in its current incarnation, oversees and administers around sixty different programs that benefit educators, K-12 students, as well as undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students and researchers. With the Trump administration officially announcing their budget for the next fiscal year, they provide only $37 million for NASA's Education Office, with one major stipulation: the office must be eliminated entirely.

Anything you've ever learned, seen, or experienced from NASA has been a result of education and public outreach. The above photo? It's known simply as "Earthrise," and was the first time a human being had ever seen the Earth rise over the limb of the Moon. It also was one of the most widely shared and distributed photographs of all-time before the rise of the internet, along with photos of the Moon landings and of the iconic blue marble photo of the full Earth as seen by Apollo 17. Since then, Hubble images, pictures from spacecraft visiting other worlds, information, explainers, Q&A sessions, videos and pretty much anything else NASA-related you can find on the internet has only come about because of education and public outreach efforts.

How many current scientists and engineers were inspired to choose their path, at a young age, by a glimpse into the great Universe beyond planet Earth? How many children across the country (and world) make it their first major goal to be chosen by NASA for a grant, program, or experience to be on the periphery of space exploration? How many young researchers and aspiring scientists are benefitting from the opportunities that NASA makes available to them, from internships to scholarships to research opportunities? And how many adults feed their insatiable hunger for the joys and wonders of the Universe with information that NASA creates especially for the public?

That last one is a personal issue to me, because for the past four years, I've been the astrophysicist whom NASA approached to write their once-a-month column for astronomy clubs worldwide. In nearly 300 locations across the world, more than half of which are in the United States, amateur astronomers and astronomy enthusiasts gather in clubs to host events, speakers, observing parties, and to share about their excitement in space. And one of the things that NASA would do was supply the clubs with an exclusive monthly column, highlighting an astronomical discovery or event that would be of particular interest to them. It was a small column and a small contribution that was probably read, on a monthly basis, by only a few thousand people.

And, like many things that benefit only a small number of people with low visibility, it seems like an easy thing to cut. But cutting it saved virtually nothing: the agency saves less than $3,000 per year by eliminating this program. Yes, it's a small, relatively low-importance program in the grand scheme of things, but if you're one of the few affected people, it seems like you're losing one more opportunity to have the things you delight in simply brought to you. There are some 60 employers and contractors whose positions will be eliminated completely from this, plus a number of programs devoted to outreach and education, but the biggest hit is that the Office of Education will disappear entirely.

Think about why we, as a society, would be okay with that? Why would we say, "Hey, you know these people who devote their lives to educating the public about these scientific areas they've become experts in? You know those activities they engage in, the services they perform, and the expert knowledge that they bring to the world? Let's eliminate that." We teach every generation of children in America that they can grow up to be anything they want, that America is the land of opportunity, and the way you better yourself is through education and hard work. So why, then, would we take away opportunities that help those very same people pursue their grandest dreams, and to take away the (already minimal) education resources we provide to them?

Yes, there are many other reasons to be upset about the proposed NASA budget for the coming fiscal year, including cuts to Earth Science and the potential cancelling of up to five missions. But when you eliminate the Office of Education, you're blatantly declaring that the children, students, teachers, and adults all over the world who benefit from the opportunities and knowledge that the office provides simply aren't worth it. All the teachers who use NASA's Space Place and Kid's Club as education resources, all the students who apply for grants and opportunities with NASA, all the interns who hope to springboard into a spaceflight career, all the adults who feed their lifelong love of astronomy with information: you're not worth it.

Meanwhile, according to the latest results from the OECD, the United States ranks 25th worldwide in science education, well behind Vietnam, China, Japan, Korea, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, among many others. By many metrics, the United States is number one in the world, but by others, we have to improve. Why, instead, are we okay with making our nation less informed, less capable, and less rich in opportunity for people of all ages? The promise was to make America great, but in order to be truly great, we need to invest in ourselves. Without education, we fail to invest in the greatest source of richness for us all: our minds.


Britain's strictest school gets top marks from Inspectorate

Katharine Birbalsingh is popular among British Conservatives

Michaela Community School – a controversial free school renowned for its “no excuses” behaviour policy – has been judged outstanding in all categories by Ofsted inspectors.

The school in north-west London won top marks in its first inspection since opening in 2014, with Ofsted inspectors praising the school’s “lively and engaging teaching” and “exemplary” attitudes to learning among pupils.

“Since the school opened, leaders and governors have worked very effectively together with staff, pupils, parents and carers to establish a strong sense of community at the school. Pupils typically commented that they feel part of a close-knit family,” the inspectors wrote.

The school’s tough behaviour policy, which includes disciplinary action for even minor infringements of school rules, was also highly praised.

“The behaviour of pupils is outstanding. Pupils are polite, well mannered and very respectful,” the report notes. “Pupils behave responsibly and are highly self-disciplined. They follow the school’s conduct guidelines conscientiously so that lessons run very smoothly and without interruption. The school is an extremely calm and safe learning environment.”

The Ofsted rating will come as a relief for the school’s head teacher, Katharine Birbalsingh, who left a job as a deputy head after criticising school behaviour policies in a high-profile speech to the Conservative party conference in 2010.

“All of us involved at Michaela – staff, pupils, parents and governors – are united in our determination and aspiration for our school. It is always great to receive feedback like this about what we are doing and I’m very proud of everyone at Michaela,” Birbalsingh said in response.

Birbalsingh was given approval by the Department for Education to open Michaela under the free school policy championed by Michael Gove as education secretary. But it was not until September 2014 that Michaela opened its doors in a converted office block close to Wembley football stadium.

The school prides itself on its “no excuses” disciplinary approach, with pupils given demerits or detention for forgetting to bring a pencil or pen, for grimacing at teachers or for talking in corridors when moving between lessons.

More than a third of the school’s pupils are eligible for free school meals, and the large majority of them are from ethnic minorities. The school also has a higher than average proportion of pupils with special educational needs.

The Ofsted inspectors were impressed with the progress they saw among the pupils at all levels.

“Disadvantaged pupils make substantial progress and achieve as well as other pupils. Leaders and teachers have equally high expectations of all pupils,” the report said. “The most able pupils, including most-able disadvantaged pupils, make exceedingly strong progress over time. They are challenged by demanding work that motivates them to meet their teachers’ expectations.

“Pupils who have special educational needs and/or disabilities are encouraged and supported effectively. They make similar exceptional progress from their starting points at a similar rate to all pupils.”

The school currently has 360 pupils in years seven, eight and nine, and has yet to have a cohort sit GCSE exams.

The inspectors’ major complaint was the school’s lack of sporting facilities or outside space, noting that except for playing table tennis or basketball, “other sporting activities are limited”.

The school has often become a cause for bitter debate on social media, especially after reports that children whose parents had failed to pay for their lunches were made to eat away from their classmates.

But Ofsted described the school’s efforts to promote pupils’ personal welfare as “outstanding”.

“Pupils are readily appreciative and caring. They acknowledge enthusiastically what members of the school community have done well and generously celebrate the successes and achievements of others,” the report notes.

Suella Fernandes, the Conservative MP and chair of governors, said: “It is testament to the dedication of our leadership and staff and the pupils themselves that we have received this grading and it is an excellent stepping stone to our future success as a school.”


Monday, June 19, 2017

Should education always be respected?

A couple of days ago, I put up an article under the heading "Imbecillic call for all Australians to graduate high school"

A reader was reminded by that of a passage in "The Road to Wigan Pier" by George Orwell, chapter 7.  It says:

"And again, take the working-class attitude towards 'education'. How different it is from ours, and how immensely sounder! Working people often have a vague reverence for learning in others, but where 'education' touches their own lives they see through it and reject it by a healthy instinct.

The time was when I used to lament over quite imaginary pictures of lads of fourteen dragged protesting from their lessons and set to work at dismal jobs. It seemed to me dreadful that the doom of a 'job' should descend upon anyone at fourteen.

Of course I know now that there is not one working-class boy in a thousand who does not pine for the day when he will leave school. He wants to be doing real work, not wasting his time on ridiculous rubbish like history and geography.

To the working class, the notion of staying at school till you are nearly grown-up seems merely contemptible and unmanly. The idea of a great big boy of eighteen, who ought to be bringing a pound a week home to his parents, going to school in a ridiculous uniform and even being caned for not doing his lessons!

Just fancy a working-class boy of eighteen allowing himself to be caned! He is a man when the other is still a baby.

Ernest Pontifex, in Samuel Butler's Way of All Flesh, after he had had a few glimpses of real life, looked back on his public school and university education and found it a 'sickly, debilitating debauch'. There is much in middle-class life that looks sickly and debilitating when you see it from a working-class angle."

Schools Worry About Kids Getting Too Competitive, Remove ‘Valedictorian’ Status

Schools are getting rid of their “valedictorian” titles over concerns that they create harmful competition, influence course selection and propagate misconceptions of large disparities in GPA because of differences in class rank.

Nearly half of American high schools do not display class rank, according to the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), and many schools give out awards to students who obtain a certain grade-point average or higher instead of only the highest-scoring student, reported the Associated Press.

The NASSP stresses that schools should encourage cooperation instead of competition with regard to academic excellence. Connor Carrow of Lancaster High School in New York wants his school to switch from honoring the top 10 students to the cum laude, magna cum laude, summa cum laude system of honors typically adopted by colleges. He advocated this switch well before placing 14th in his own graduating class.

“More and more schools are moving toward a more holistic process. They look deeper into the transcript,” said Melanie Gottlieb, American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers’ deputy director. Gottlieb explained that, while many applications ask students to provide a class ranking if they have one, course difficulty and grades outweigh this factor.

“We are encouraged by any movement that helps students understand that they’re more than a score, that they’re more than a rank,” said Dana Monogue, assistant superintendent for Elmbrook School District in Wisconsin. Her schools rank the valedictorian and salutatorian, but merely because Wisconsin gives out scholarships to each school’s two highest-performing graduates.

Meanwhile, schools in Howard County, Md. distinguish the top 5 percent of their graduates to boost those students’ applications.

The Daily Caller News Foundation reached out to The College Board and Fairfax County Public Schools for comment on the trend away from ranking students, but did not receive comment in time for press.


Why does college cost so much?

Researchers who study the question of the rapidly rising financial burden of American higher education say it's important to understand that very different forces are driving the cost of delivering that education and the price students and their families have to pay.

On the cost side, schools continue to compete for students by working to attract top faculty, build and maintain the latest facilities and offer the next generation of students amenities that can be touted on campus tours for prospective applicants.

Among the most selective schools, amenities have become an important part of the race for the best and brightest, and well-off, applicants, according to Robert Kelchen, a professor at Seton Hall University's Department of Education. "Schools are all going after a fairly small pool of students who are high achieving and high income and able to pay much of their own way to college," he said. "They're trying to build more amenities—so you hear about the rock climbing walls and the lazy rivers."

Over the decade from 2001-2011, the share of expenses devoted to "student services" rose from 17 percent of the average school's budget to 20 percent, according to a comprehensive review of college-spending patterns by the Delta Cost Project at American Institutes for Research. The research covered decades of data from thousands of American public and private colleges and universities.

The rising cost of college sports including generous coaching salaries—has also raised concerns, especially when tuition subsidizes money-losing programs and increases the financial burden on students who don't take part in athletics. (The costs of intercollegiate sports are included in the "Student Services" category in the chart below, except for those operated as self-supporting auxiliary enterprises.)

"At many colleges, it's a significant cost," said Kelchen. "The biggest subsidies are at these small Division I programs that are trying to make their way up the ladder and get into the big time."

Still, though pricey amenities and big-budget sports programs get a lot of attention, they're the exception, not the rule among universities, say higher education experts.

Higher education payrolls have also been rapidly adding non-teaching jobs in recent years. Public and private colleges and universities expanded their payrolls by 28 percent between 2000 and 2012, more than 50 percent faster than the previous decade, according to an analysis of higher education staffing by the Delta Cost Project. That build-up largely tracked the rise in enrollments.

"Many of these new positions appear to be providing student services, but whether they represent justifiable expenses or unnecessary 'bloat' is up for debate," wrote Donna Desrochers, the report's principal researcher.

But while that payroll expansion added higher benefit costs for full-time faculty and staff, many schools offset those spending increases by relying more heavily on part-time instructors. That kept the overspending impact relatively contained, with the exception of some well-funded private research universities, the report concluded.

Meanwhile, teaching salaries, one of the biggest single line items, have remained relatively flat—much like those across most of the U.S. labor market. Despite heavy spending by a handful of top universities for the most talented, grant-winning researchers, most schools aren't seeing big wage pressures, largely because teaching jobs are in high demand.

"Overall, the aggregate level that institutions are spending on teaching and student-related services has been pretty much stable for the past 15 to 20 years, adjusted for inflation" said Franke, of the University of Massachusetts in Boston.

So if the cost of providing an education has remained fairly stable, why does the price students pay keep rising?

The reason, say researchers, is that deep budget cuts in state funding for public higher education and shrinking subsidies at private schools have pushed a greater share of the cost onto students and their families.


Sunday, June 18, 2017

That "rape epidemic" on campus again

Former college co-ed, 19, who falsely accused two football players of rape at a party to get sympathy from a prospective boyfriend faces TWO YEARS in jail in plea deal

A former Connecticut college student charged with lying about being raped by two Sacred Heart University football players has been offered a plea deal that could see her jailed for two years.

Nikki Yovino, of South Setauket, New York, was described as looking visibly shaken in Bridgeport Superior Court on Thursday when her defense attorney told her about the prosecutors' offer.

In February, then-18-year-old Yovino was charged with falsely reporting an incident and tampering with or fabricating evidence.

Police alleged Yovino made up the rape story last October to gain the sympathy of a prospective boyfriend because she worried he would lose romantic interest in her when it became known she had sex with two football players in a bathroom during an off-campus party.

The players told police they had consensual sex with Yovino and were eventually cleared in the case.

Facing a disciplinary hearing stemming from Yovino's allegations, the football players chose to drop out of Scared Heart to avoid a potential expulsion, reported the Connecticut Post.

During Thursday's hearing, Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Craig Nowak told the judge he was offering Yovino a plea deal under which she will spend two years behind bars, followed by three years’ probation.

Judge Earl Richards called the offer 'a good one considering the serious allegations' before scheduling the next hearing for June 26.

Attorney Agustin Sevillano, who has been representing the football players, told The Post it has been 'a nightmare for them'.

Yovino told police in October that she attended a football club party at Lakeside Drive in Bridgeport where she was allegedly pulled into a restroom by the two men who took turns raping her.

'I don’t want to be in here, I don’t want to do anything. My friends are waiting for me outside, let me go outside,' police said she told them.

The two athletes maintained they did, in fact, have sex with Yovino, but said the act was consensual.

Other students who were at the party later confirmed to police that Yovino was seen following the two men into the bathroom willingly.

Another witness said he overheard Yovino telling the men she wanted to have sex with them, according to an affidavit.

When pressed by police about the inconsistences in her story, Yovino allegedly confessed, saying she had made up the rape allegations.

The affidavit stated: 'She admitted that she made up the allegation of sexual assault against (the football players) because it was the first thing that came to mind and she didn’t want to lose (another male student) as a friend and potential boyfriend.

'She stated that she believed when (the other male student) heard the allegation it would make him angry and sympathetic to her.'

Nikki Yovino has been out on $50,000 bond since February.


UK: The real sexism on campus

Another day, another patronising campus initiative. This time, Oxford University has announced it will allow history students to sit one of their five exams at home, in a bid to close the gap between the 37 per cent of men and 32 per cent of women obtaining first-class degrees.

This plan has been decried as sexist. And rightly so. The idea that women’s grades will be boosted by letting them sit some exams at home is deeply insulting. But it is only one of many patronising ideas that have been cooked up in recent years to make women feel more comfortable on campus.

From women-only Safe Spaces to consent classes to enforcing gender-neutral language, various campus initiatives promote the idea that female students are in need of constant support. Oxford is only taking this trend to its logical conclusion – softening up standards to accommodate supposedly feeble women.

In any case, there is no need to obsess over the small percentage difference between men and women’s achievements at university. Girls outperform boys at GCSE and A-Level. More women than men now go to university. And while women lag behind in some subjects, they’re way ahead in others. If you’re bright enough to be studying history at one of the world’s most renowned universities, you have already achieved something great.

The idea that women need extra help to obtain first-class degrees is positively Victorian. Women have never had it so good in terms of education, and we should be celebrating that.


Australia: There are better ways to teach phonics
Leading Adelaide educator Jenny Allen believes that while a renewed focus on phonics is welcome, the way in which schools teach reading needs to be reformed.

The federal government’s plan to introduce literacy tests for all Australian pupils in Year 1 will not improve children’s reading skills unless accompanied by a more systematic approach to the use of phonics, according to one of Adelaide’s most experienced educators.

Jenny Allen, who is Director of REM+ Tuition in Tranmere and has taught hundreds of children and students with dyslexia to read, believes that the tests will not lift the standard of reading of children in Year 1 unless the resulting data is used to transform the way phonics is taught in schools.

“Phonics programmes in schools go too fast for many children, and there isn’t sufficient assessment along the way,” said Jenny Allen, “and this means that children who get behind end up being overwhelmed and fail to progress. Too often school reading boxes ignore phonics hierarchy, which means that young children are being asked to read words like ‘swimming’ before they’re confident at reading ‘cat’.

“Although the government’s plan for a nationwide Year 1 literacy assessment is a step in the right direction, this needs to be backed up by a complete change to the current approach of schools to teaching phonics.”

The plan to introduce assessments of children’s literacy and numeracy skills in Year 1 was announced in January by Education Minister Simon Birmingham, and the tests are expected to be accompanied by a renewed emphasis on teaching phonics. However, this will only prove beneficial if the current approach undergoes a significant overhaul.

“The way children are being taught to read in schools is not effective,” said Jenny Allen, “and changes to the system are needed if these new assessments are to be meaningful and produce positive outcomes.

“What will be done to help the students whose performance is judged to be below the required standard? When children are found not to be able to decode basic phonetic words in Year 1, what measures will be put in place to assess their working memory, for instance, or their auditory processing ability?

“Unless teaching takes into account that a young person’s brain needs to be taught to read, and that it doesn’t happen simply by osmosis, we will continue to find that too many Year 1 students don't have basic phonetic decoding skills. However, the current approach to teaching phonics does not allow them sufficient time or the appropriate support to catch up, and so it is hard to see how tests alone will change this.”

Jenny Allen runs specialist programmes for pre-school and dyslexic children, and has successfully used phonics to teach children in Adelaide how to read for more than sixteen years.

Via email