Friday, January 26, 2018

UK Schools Acting Too Swiftly to Change Kids' Gender; 11-Y-O Girls on Puberty Blockers, Expert Warns

And if they ever do want children, or change their minds, oh well...  No one to sue because now we convince people to do things to themselves

A psychologist at the only U.K. clinic for children seeking to change their gender has said that girls as young as 11 are being placed on puberty blockers and hormone treatment, and warned that schools act "within minutes" to register a child as the opposite sex.

Bernadette Wren, consultant clinical psychologist at the Gender Identity Development Service clinic in London, revealed in an interview with The Sunday Times that the youngest child receiving such treatment there is an 11-year-old girl who identifies as a boy.

Wren warned that schools in the U.K. are moving too fast in labeling a child as a member of the opposite sex.

"Schools might wait for the parents to approach them before changing things like names in the register, uniforms, pronouns, toilets, sports," she said.

"If a school just gets a whisper of a child who may be querying their gender and within minutes they are doing everything to make sure that child is regarded as a member of the opposite sex right from the word go — that may not be the best for that child," she added.

The psychologist revealed that about one in 10 of the children who are referred to the London clinic decide to opt out of the treatment.

GIDS says that GPs, schools, and support groups referred more than 2,000 children to its services in the space of nine months last year, which is a 20-fold increase from previous  years when in 2009 there were only 97 referrals.

Wren warned that future generations may not think that the current way of handling the issue has been wise, noting that young people sometimes regret their decision to undergo gender change, which creates serious problems later on in life.

"Perhaps the choices they make when they are 16 look different when they are 30," she said.

"You can accept their feeling about gender difference but you do have to say alongside that — and without being transphobic — that there are really difficult treatment choices to be made."

One of the main concerns she identified is infertility, with people who are born males losing their capacity to father children as a result of treatments.

Gender change issues concerning children have been highly controversial in the U.K. In December, shocked parents demanded that the National Health Service remove questions aimed at primary school children asking them if they "feel different" to the gender they were born with.

"At a time when children are growing up and having to deal with all sorts of challenges of the modern world, now they are being asked to confront their gender, which for many will be unsettling," Tim Loughton, a Conservative Party politician and former children's minister, said at the time.

"Clearly we need to be sensitive about the issue of gender and sexual orientation but forcing children to question whether they are the right gender so early on can be deeply destabilizing," he added.

The Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust said at the time in a response to the controversy that it will no longer be widely asking the question.

Debate also swirled around Girlguiding U.K., the country's leading organization for girls and young women, which in November announced that transgender members who are born male but identify as females will be allowed to use the same shower facilities as girls.

Feminist campaigner Julie Bindel said at the time: "This is not a moral panic. The concern that I and many feminists have about boys invading bedrooms, tents and showers, is that disproportionately the victims of sexual violence are girls and women, and overwhelmingly, the perpetrators are boys and men."


Public Barred From Ben Shapiro Lecture At University  of Connecticut

The University of Connecticut is barring the public from attending conservative author Ben Shapiro’s Wednesday speech at the school.

Young America’s Foundation (YAF), the group sponsoring Shapiro, said that the university is only allowing UConn students, faculty and pre-registered guests from attending, reported Campus Reform.

“Student safety may seem a noble cause for UConn to cherish, but why isn’t the same level of restraint imposed on speaking events by prominent leftists?” YAF spokesman Spencer Brown said. He noted that “just last week, Anita Hill spoke on campus at UConn in an event advertised as ‘free and open to the public,’ with ‘no tickets required for entry.'”

Brown said that UConn adopted the review policy after a November speech when a faculty member from a nearby school stole Gateway Pundit White House correspondent Lucian Wintrich’s presentation notes, and Wintrich used force to retrieve them.

“It seems odd that no such restrictions existed for Anita Hill,” Shapiro told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “While I’m sure the Left is more riotous than the right, I’m not sure why that’s an excuse to limit public access for the right. We’re creating a heckler’s veto on general public access to speeches.”

UConn previously offered counseling services to students offended by Shapiro’s visit, reported The Daily Wire.

“We understand that even the thought of an individual coming to campus with the views that Mr. Shapiro expresses can be concerning and even hurtful,” said Joelle Murchison, UConn chief diversity officer and associate vice president.

The UConn spokeswoman said that Hill and Shapiro both received the same review treatment, even though the College Republicans chapter invited Shapiro while the school, invited Hill, according to The Daily Campus.


Home Schooling Is Not a Crime

It's elementary. Education control freaks will use any excuse to crack down on competition. With two million K-12 students now educated at home (including our 9th grade son), the temptation to exploit the most marginal cases of alleged child abuse by home-schoolers has proven irresistible to statist politicians and government apologists.

Take the case of David and Louise Turpin's 13 starving children, reportedly found tethered to their beds after one of the siblings escaped and contacted police. The Turpins' "house of horrors" in Riverside County, California, grabbed international headlines last week — and lured a parade of publicity hounds. Former neighbors in Texas claimed they suspected physical abuse by the parents but did nothing at the time. These thirsty fame-seekers will, however, be appearing on "Dr. Phil" later this week to slurp up their 15 minutes of leechdom.

Louise Turpin's half-sister, Teresa Robinette, who also sat on the sidelines for years, miraculously found the energy and motivation to wake up early for an interview on NBC's "Today Show," where she gregariously gossiped about family secrets.

Another of Louise Turpin's sisters, Elizabeth Flores, dry-cried and show-sniffled on ABC's "Good Morning America" about her "love" for the Turpin children whom she claims to have tried to Skype unsuccessfully "for 20 years." How heroic of her. Flores also confessed that David Turpin allegedly spied on her while she showered. For some reason, it was more urgent for Flores to report this information to "GMA" anchor Robin Roberts and millions of strangers tuned into the boob tube than it was to tell her sister. Or her nieces and nephews. Or authorities.

But instead of training tough scrutiny where it belongs — on the parents, relatives and acquaintances of the alleged victims — California legislators and narrative-shaping liberal journalists have instead directed their wrath at home schooling.

The Turpins had filed required paperwork with the state registering their supposed home school, the Sandcastle Day School, as a "private school." Several court cases in California have upheld the right to home school. Parents have the option to sign an affidavit establishing a home-based educational program, hire credentialed tutors or register with an independent study program.

The deep, wide and vast majority of home-schoolers nationwide are loving, excellent and responsible instructors and parents. Yet, public school lobbyists have marginalized them as amateurs, weirdos and menaces who don't have the intelligence to raise and educate their own children. Democratic legislators in California have sought to undermine home-schoolers' autonomy with intrusive legislation, such as a bill proposed last fall that would have required parents to allow inspectors to search their residential bathrooms for state-mandated feminine hygiene products for female students.

In New York City, incompetent nanny state bureaucrats have routinely harassed home-schooling families and falsely accused them of "educational neglect" after losing their paperwork. Home-schooling mom of two, Tanya Acevedo, who is suing the Big Apple, told my program how bureaucratic snafus that classified her son as a truant led to a Child Protective Services investigation.

"You start to question yourself as a parent when they come through those doors," Acevedo recounted. "My child he eats three meals a day, he's well taken care of, and I felt that there was no need for them to be knocking at my door. ... it was a really scary and really nerve-racking experience."

For her crime of exercising educational self-determination, Acevedo was treated as guilty of child abuse until proven innocent.

The idea that there is something especially sinister and crime-enabling about home schooling — The Week's Damon Linker warned darkly of the "sickening danger of home-schooling," for example, and NPR invoked the specter of a "cult" — betrays an all-too-common bias against parental autonomy that ignores the government's own gross misconduct. From coast to coast, child welfare agencies see parental negligence where none exists and conversely ignore abuse when it's under their employees' noses. Federal audits of state child welfare bureaucracies in California and Texas last year found rampant failures to detect abuse, investigate allegations and track referrals.

Moreover, sexual abuse scandals have rocked inner-city schools, suburban public school districts and wealthy private schools alike. "In 2014 alone," according to former federal education official Terry Abbott, "there were 781 reported cases of teachers and other school employees accused or convicted of sexual relationships with students."

Yet, the vultures of political opportunism are using the plight of the Turpin children to impose expanded control over all home-schoolers in the Golden State. California Assemblymember Jose Medina, D-Riverside, plans to introduce a bill requiring that "mandated reporters" designated by the state Department of Education conduct annual assessments in all home schools.

Echoing Medina's concern for "the lack of oversight the state of California currently has in monitoring private and home schools," liberal New Republic writer Sarah Jones decried how "lax homeschooling laws protect child abusers." She pivoted quickly from the Turpin tragedy to an attack on the home-school movement's academic achievements and opposition to mandatory kindergarten.

Fundamentally, the home-school crackdown caucus views the very freedom to educate one's own children as a threat to government authority. In the name of liberating the Turpin children, they seek to keep the rest of us home-schooling families in regulatory chains.


Thursday, January 25, 2018

Sacramento Should Celebrate National School Choice Week with Bold, Student-Centered Thinking

By Vicki Alger 

Just in time for National School Choice Week, a new national poll finds that close to two-thirds of Americans favor school choice and bold reforms. Hopefully, California lawmakers are listening.

The American Federation for Children’s Fourth Annual School Choice Survey polled 1,100 likely November 2018 voters and found 63 percent of respondents support the concept of school choice, including 41 percent who “strongly” support it.

The survey was conducted by Beck Research, a respected Democratic polling firm whose previous clients include the National Education Association (see here, here, and here), the country’s largest teachers union and the parent organization of the California Teachers Association—both staunch opponents of school choice (see here and here).

The survey results show strong support for school choice across the political spectrum. Among those favoring school choice are:

Democrats, 54 percent
Independents, 62 percent
Republicans, 75 percent

Fully 61 percent of white Americans support school choice, but support is especially strong among minorities, including:

African-Americans, 66 percent
Latinos, 72 percent

What’s more, survey findings help shatter some prevailing myths about school choice support among targeted constituencies. For example, it is commonly assumed that school choice isn’t needed or wanted beyond urban, inner-city areas. Not so.

Majorities of likely voters support school choice regardless of their locale, including respondents living in areas that are designated:

Large Metro, 56 percent
Small Metro, 62 percent
Suburban, 64 percent
Fringe/Exurban, 70 percent
Rural, 67 percent

These findings suggest that parents, regardless of their zip codes, want an array of choices so they can find the options they think will work best for their children.

Perhaps that’s why nearly two out of three parents (64 percent), including public school parents (63 percent), support school choice.

And what types of school choice do Americans favor most? In most cases, the choice programs the California legislature has refused to enact, including:

Special needs scholarships, 83 percent
Scholarships for military dependents, 77 percent
Education Savings Accounts, 75 percent
Tax-credit Scholarships, 65 percent

When it comes to education reform, most Americans want “major changes” not tinkering around the edges—and their ranks have swelled to 65 percent this year up from 58 percent last year. The desire for major reform also enjoys widespread, diverse support, including voters who are:

African-Americans, 77 percent
Latinos, 69 percent
Millennials, 67 percent
Rural/Fringe residents, 63 percent
Democrats, 61 percent
Independents, 62 percent
Republicans, 69 percent

According to the Beck pollsters:

Over the past year, school choice has become more of a hot-button issue. Despite sustained attacks, school choice has made significant progress on the state level and nationally support remains strong and consistent. … Voters remain enthusiastic about school choice and back a broad range of educational choice programs.

Commenting on the survey findings, John Schilling, President of the American Federation for Children, notes that:

This year’s National School Choice Poll shows that families want educational opportunity and freedom when it comes to their child’s education. Almost all voters want private school choice options available in some form, public charter schools remain quite popular, and the concept of school choice is favorable across the nation’s ideological, geographic, and racial and ethnic backgrounds like no other issue in 2018. This is the time for policymakers to think boldly about putting students first and providing more and better educational options to ensure every child has access to a great education.

One example of bold, student-centered thinking would be for California lawmakers to enact tax-credit financed education savings accounts, or ESAs, for preschool, elementary, middle, and high-school students.

Think this idea’s just California dreamin’? Think again.

Like the American Federation for Children national survey, a recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California found that most Californians across political and socio-economic lines support tax-credit scholarships—including two-thirds of public school parents. ESAs funded through tax-credit contributions would go a long way toward satisfying Californians’ demand for more education options and more responsible education spending.

California’s current education system, which largely rations education based on where a child’s parents can afford to live, is a relic of a bygone era. Such a system cannot provide the customized preparation students need. In contrast, tax-credit ESAs would empower parents and guardians to personalize their child’s education, and would foster an educational landscape that can quickly adapt to meet the diverse needs of students and their families.


Male Sexual Nature: A Primer for the College-Educated

Dennis Prager
Few subjects elicit as much confused, or even nonsensical, commentary as sex. There are three major reasons for this.

First, few forces are as powerful as the sexual drive, yet in no area of human life are the sexes so different. If they try hard, men and women can understand almost everything about one another. But regarding male sexual nature, unless girls and women are taught about male sexual nature — and few are, especially in our time — there is no way they can understand male sexual nature. It may be the one area of life wherein men are more capable of understanding women.

The second reason is modern feminism — and leftist doctrine in general. Each has contributed to an unprecedented female ignorance — denial, actually — of male sexuality. And that is the result of a basic impulse of feminists and leftists: the denial of truths that make them uncomfortable.

And third, an unprecedented number of Americans have attended college where feminist and left-wing thought are the reigning orthodoxies.

The Visual

Perhaps the biggest difference between the sexes is the sexual power of the visual. Men are aroused by — they don’t just “find attractive” — seeing a woman, or just a part of a woman they find physically attractive. Whenever women counter that they, too, are aroused by looking at attractive men, it only reaffirms how difficult it is for women to fully comprehend this aspect of male sexual nature. Because there is no comparison. It is not their fault; it is as hard for a woman to understand the power of the visual on men as it is for human beings to understand orangutans.

Women may be aroused by looking at a particularly handsome man, or by looking at a male celebrity, but otherwise it takes much more than mere looking to turn women on. That’s why images of naked and semi-naked women are, and always will be, immeasurably more popular among men than images of naked or semi-naked men are among women.

Which brings us to “sexual objectification.”

Largely because of the power of the visual, men sexually objectify women. This means that men’s initial reaction to a woman’s body is to see it as a sex object. Women’s breasts, thighs, legs and buttocks arouse men — even without seeing the women’s faces. For other men, it can be women’s feet. There are websites dedicated to pictures of women’s feet, armpits, legs, crossed legs, thighs, buttocks and breasts. There are no commensurate websites for women to stare at men’s thighs or crossed legs, let alone men’s feet or armpits.

All of which means that sexual objectification of women is natural to men. It is not the product of a patriarchal, “Playboy,” sexist or misogynist society.

Nor does it mean that objectification is “misogynistic.”

It is repeatedly said — primarily by the college-educated — that the male sexual objectification of women is an expression of misogyny. This is nonsense. The single greatest proof is that gay men sexually objectify men. If heterosexual men are women haters because they sexually objectify women, then gay men are man haters because they sexually objectify men.

It is male nature — the homosexual male’s as much as the heterosexual male’s — for a man to objectify the object of his sexual desire. Not only does this have nothing to do with hatred of women but in the ideal circumstance — marriage — a man’s periodic sexual objectification of his wife is a wonderful thing. That’s why a woman will wear sexy clothing in the bedroom: to render herself — the woman who, 99 percent of the time, is his wife, his friend, his partner, the mother of his children, the successful businesswoman, the accomplished homemaker — a sexual object. The longer a marriage can sustain the ability of the husband to periodically see his wife as a “sex object,” the happier that marriage will be. If you don’t believe me, ask divorce lawyers how good that is for a marriage, and how destructive its absence can be to a marriage.

It is also helpful to note that men who put their hand on a woman’s buttocks are not necessarily misogynists. They lack the requisite self-control of a gentleman. But lacking self-control is not the same as misogyny. And haven’t progressives gotten rid of the term “gentleman”?

That I have felt it necessary to write this brief primer on male sexuality for the college-educated is nothing less than a tragedy. My mother, who never attended college, knew everything written here. It is even likely that my Polish-Jewish grandmother, who never attended high school, knew everything written here. But for college graduates of the last 50 years — or even worse, graduate-school graduates — much of if this is new — and, therefore, controversial.

If this does not convince you how much of an intellectual wasteland universities have become, nothing will.


Australia:  Conservatives pledge school curriculum overhaul

Schoolkids should be taught Australian values and "the principles of Western enlightenment" in a simplified curriculum, Victoria's coalition opposition says.

School kids will focus more on reading, writing and maths instead of learning "a politically correct gender and sexuality agenda" if the Victorian opposition wins power.

The opposition also plans to scrap cross-curriculum priorities afforded to Indigenous history, Asian engagement and sustainability, and place a greater emphasis on "the principles of Western enlightenment" if it wins the November state election.

A coalition government would ask senior research fellow with the right-leaning Centre for Independent Studies, Dr Jennifer Buckingham, to review the curriculum.

"Foundational events that occurred in Europe and North America before 1788 that underpin our national and state institutions are barely spoken of," the coalition's School Education Values Statement released on Wednesday said.

"Concepts like the inherent dignity of the individual, religious tolerance, the principles of the Western enlightenment - such as freedom of speech, equality before the law and government by consent.

"Of course, there are aspects of this nation's history we are not proud of, particularly the shameful treatment of the Indigenous peoples, and that must be taught in depth as well."

Opposition education spokesman Tim Smith said the current curriculum was "over-cluttered" while literacy and numeracy standards were dropping.

He also said young people were leaving school without an adequate understanding of how democracy worked.

"I wouldn't call it (the current curriculum) un-Australian, I just think that ... the working knowledge of our democracy should be improved," Mr Smith told reporters.

The opposition also wants to scrap the Safe Schools program designed to reduce bullying of LGBTI students, and replace it with an anti-bullying program particularly focused on cyber-bullying.

"Programs like Safe Schools add to curriculum clutter and impose a politically correct gender and sexuality agenda on schools," the statement says.

Premier Daniel Andrews is a long-time defender of Safe Schools and told journalists Victorian students were already being taught Australian values.

He said the Liberals cut education funding when they were in power.


Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Unemployment among Australian university graduates

The article below by Cat Moir is generally sensible even though it is from a strongly Leftist source.  In the last of her words below she sees a paradox that is not, however.  It is a widely held view that all speech should be free except speech that promotes violence.  And it is pretty clear that Muslim teaching leads in the direction of violence.  Jihad is not a Presbyterian idea and the Middle East is hardly an oasis of peace.  So careful oversight of Muslim speech is warranted caution

On 8 January, Quality Indicators for Teaching and Learning (QILT) published the results of the 2017 Employer Satisfaction Survey. The survey stated that 84% of employers were satisfied overall with the skills of the university graduates they employed, with 93% saying that the graduates they employed were prepared ‘very well’, or ‘well’ for their current employment.

Education and Training Minister Simon Birmingham released a statement on the survey, saying that these results were encouraging because they allow students to compare how courses “are viewed by their prospective employers as part of a clearer picture of our higher education system”. According to Senator Birmingham, the survey will allow students to make better decisions “when considering the courses and careers they choose to embark on”.

However, as QILT’s Graduate Outcomes Survey also makes clear, whatever path they embark on, up to 38% of graduates leaving Australian universities today will not find full-time work. According to that data, the last decade has seen a rise of 17% in the number of university leavers in part-time employment.

In response to these figures, Senator Birmingham demands “more accountability of universities for the students they take on”. He insists that universities must “take responsibility” for the outcomes of their graduates.

One might be tempted to argue at this juncture that universities are not just employability factories, but rather spaces for intellectual enquiry, self-discovery, and collective endeavour. Whatever their remit, though, no university would dispute that HE institutions must do everything in their power to provide students with the best possible standard of education, encouragement, and support.

But even if we conceive of the role of universities only in narrow economic terms, the implication that what happens within their walls can or should somehow guarantee the outcomes of students once they leave the campus and enter an increasingly volatile and precarious global labour market is false.

As the GOS makes clear, one of the main causes of the increase in part-time graduate work was the GFC in 2008: a less stable global labour market, combined with an influx of increasingly highly-qualified young people, makes it more difficult to get a job.

The paradox here, if you hadn’t already guessed, is that if the point of universities is supposed to be to produce employable graduates, then there have to be jobs in which these graduates can be employed. But that is not something for which universities can be held responsible.

In the UK, the universities sector has confronted both a type-1 and a type-2 paradox this last week. Since they’re related, let’s group them together as the ‘freedom of speech paradox’.

The UK government has recently established a new Office for Students, a regulatory body that merges HEFCE and the Office for Fair Access. It has extensive powers: it will administer university funding, degree award powers, university title, the Teaching and Research Excellence Frameworks for measuring academic performance, and fair access to higher education.

It will also be responsible for ensuring that universities allow freedom of speech for controversial guest speakers.

The freedom of speech issue is familiar here in Australia: it has to do with universities no-platforming figures who publicly espouse violently racist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise discriminatory views.

The argument of no-platforming advocates is that ‘free speech’ is so often used as a cover by those whose right to speak has historically been protected (more or less well off white men) to incite hatred and even violence towards those whose right to speak has historically not enjoyed the same protection: women, people of colour, gender non-binary people, the poor.

Whatever stance one takes on the no-platforming issue, it seems to be irreconcilable with the OfS’ other duty: to enforce the government’s Prevent strategy, which is designed to stop people from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism by — among other things — monitoring the potential presence of extremist views on campus.

The OfS is therefore in the (type-1) paradoxical situation of having to say that universities must protect the freedom of controversial figures to speak on campus… except if they’re a radical Islamist, in which case they will be no-platformed after all.


Grade School's Anti-Border Wall Posters Describe Police as Predators
At first glance, the posters displayed inside classrooms at El Camino del Rio/River Road Elementary School seemed innocuous. “Immigrants Welcome,” the posters read.

But there was more. There was a drawing that included wire cutters and a barbed-wire fence. And there was more writing:

“The border is not a wall — it’s a system of control. It doesn’t protect people; it pits them against each other. It doesn’t foster togetherness; it breeds resentment. It doesn’t keep out predators; it gives them badges and guns,” the poster read.

Yes, patriots, the grade school posters described police officers as predators.

“The border does not divide one world from another. There is only one world, and the border is tearing it apart,” the poster read.

Eugene, Oregon, radio station KLCC reports there was also a website address on the posters directing readers to a pro-anarchist website called

Crimethinc describes itself as a “rebel alliance” and an “international network of aspiring revolutionaries extending from Kansas to Kuala Lumpur.” The organization is a “secret society pledged to the propagation of crimethink.”

So why would teachers at an elementary school expose children to a self-proclaimed “international network of aspiring revolutionaries”?

A spokesperson for the local school district told the Todd Starnes Radio Show they were not aware the posters originated from an organization with anarchist leanings. The spokesperson also refuted the National Public Radio station’s report that the posters included the organization’s website.

“There was no website link on the posters at the school,” the spokesperson said. “It appears that a related or original poster design included a link to a website at the bottom of the poster, but that was not included on the posters at the school.”

Over winter break, construction workers noticed the propaganda posters and tore them off the walls, prompting outrage from the school district as well as local residents.

It seems to me the construction workers committed an act of public service — but the school district argued that it was vandalism.

Meanwhile, the school spokesperson confirmed to the Todd Starnes Radio Show that some of the anarchist-related posters have been replaced.

“It’s important for all families to feel safe and welcome in our schools,” the spokesperson said. “School and district staff are processing how best to show support for students and families of all immigration statuses.”

Well, for starters, the school district could discourage students from taking up arms against the federal government by waging anarchy in the streets.


Academic freedom in Hong Kong 'under threat'

New report highlights growing crackdown on dissident academics and increased political interference in campus affairs

Academic freedom in Hong Kong is under threat from a growing backlash from China against recent pro-democracy demonstrations, a new study claims.

While the report by Hong Kong Watch, a UK-based human rights advocacy group founded last year, states that academic freedom is “alive and well” in Hong Kong, it highlights three emerging trends that have sought to limit free speech on campus.

These are the removal of controversial academic figures from their posts or efforts to block the promotion of dissident lecturers; the rise of state-appointed and politically-connected figures who are governing universities in a manner divorced from the will of students and faculty; and a growing push to limit freedom of speech without any legal basis.

The report, titled Academic Freedom in Hong Kong since 2015: Between Two Systems, was written by Kevin Carrico, a lecturer at Macquarie University, in Australia, who is an expert on China and Hong Kong. It was launched on 22 January ahead of a debate on democracy in Hong Kong in the UK’s House of Commons which will be led by Fiona Bruce MP, the chair of the Conservative Party's Human Rights Commission.

The report is also due to be cited by Lord Ashdown, former leader of the Liberal Democrats, in the House of Lords, whose own report on human rights and freedoms in Hong Kong caused controversy after Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam denounced it as “foreign meddling”.

Commenting on the growing clampdown on free speech on campus, Dr Carrico said the global reputation of Hong Kong’s universities will suffer if these trends continue.

“These trends suggest that elements of academic control in place elsewhere in China are gradually being incorporated into the Hong Kong system, threatening the city’s academic freedom and thus its universities’ reputations,” said Dr Carrico.

The report calls for local academic freedom monitoring groups to raise awareness of infringements of academic freedom and that educators should openly confront “taboo” topics in Hong Kong.

It also urges Hong Kong to scrap the tradition which has seen the city’s chief executive – currently Carrie Lam – appointed as the chancellor to all of Hong Kong’s universities. The arrangement stems from the time when Hong Kong was a British colonial outpost and its governor held a largely ceremonial role at the city’s universities, the report says.

However, the appointment is now more problematic as it politicises the position given the chief executive’s influence, says the report.

“Chief executives are chosen by and thus primarily accountable to the Chinese government, far from a neutral party on matters of academic freedom,” noted Dr Carrico.

“The two most recent chief executives have made comments that demonstrate insufficient dedication and even hostility to the academic freedom and freedom of speech central to academic inquiry in Hong Kong,” he added.

Benedict Rogers, founder of Hong Kong Watch and its chairman of trustees, said he was “delighted to release this comprehensive account of violations of academic freedom since 2015,” adding that “academic freedom is a right enshrined in basic law.”

“Hong Kong has some of the finest universities in the world [and] their reputation depends on their independence,” said Mr Rogers, who said he was “concerned that this independence appears under threat.”

“While academic freedom still exists in Hong Kong, we are concerned by the direction of travel and will watch to ensure that the rights enshrined in basic law and the Sino-British Joint Declaration are upheld,” said Mr Rogers, who was recently barred from entering Hong Kong.


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

America's teacher shortage

High teacher turnover is the root problem and: "Teachers leave schools with poor working conditions where they feel they cannot have success with their students".  Working in a jungle is not for everyone

This past fall, school districts nationwide faced serious teacher shortages that left many schools scrambling to find qualified teachers. Today, halfway through the academic year, many students are being taught by a temporary teacher because their schools could not fill positions in time — in Arizona, for example, more than 1 in 5 teaching positions remained unfilled four months into the school year, and an estimated 20 percent to 30 percent of teachers in urban school systems are hired after the school year starts. Projections suggest that the national teacher shortage is only going to get worse, particularly in hard-to-staff subjects such as mathematics, science and special education.

In response, policymakers have taken steps to boost the supply of teachers. In December, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) passed emergency regulations designed to alleviate what he called the “growing crisis” of a statewide teacher shortage by streamlining education requirements for new teachers. Lawmakers in Arizona, Illinois and Minnesota recently took steps to increase the number of new teachers by lowering the teacher licensure requirements. States such as Oklahoma have staffed classrooms by providing record numbers of temporary emergency certifications. And, motivated in part by a call to ameliorate teacher shortages, New York state recently allowed charter schools to certify their own teachers and dropped literacy tests for teacher candidates.

Although these efforts may prove to be helpful, they fail to address one fundamental root of the problem: School systems need to hire teachers in great numbers only if they don’t retain enough of the well-qualified teachers they currently employ. Unfortunately, 15 years after Richard Ingersoll cautioned about the “revolving door” in the teaching profession, the challenge of teacher retention remains. This revolving door is not only expensive for schools and destabilizing for students, but it also contributes to inequality in educational experiences — students of color and those living in poverty are less likely to be assigned effective teachers.

Recognizing that better information is needed to understand and address this long-standing challenge, we conducted a large-scale study of teacher retention in a diverse set of 16 urban public school districts in seven states that together serve nearly 2.5 million students annually.

We found that on average, just over half of new teachers in the districts we examined remain in the classroom after five years. This finding largely mirrors prior research. What our work newly reveals, however, is substantial variation around this average: While turnover is a challenge in all of the districts we study, it’s a real crisis in some. Our study documented five important trends about teacher retention.

First, across the districts, the share of novice teachers who left their district within five years ranges from just less than half to nearly 75 percent. This is an enormous difference in retention rates. The annual hiring costs in the district with the lowest teacher retention rate would be about $4 million lower if it retained novice teachers at the highest rate we observe. In an era of tight school budgets, these dollars can and should be better spent elsewhere.

Second, even when teachers stay in the same district, they frequently move across schools. In one district, half of novice teachers stayed in the district, but only 1 in 5 remained in the same school for five years. This building-level turnover means that schools still must invest resources to find and train new candidates. And there is good evidence that turnover can hurt students because it causes organizational instability.

Third, after teachers leave the classroom, their likelihood of returning varies widely by district. In half of the districts we examined, it is common for teachers to return after a temporary leave of absence, such as parental leave. In the other half, few teachers returned after going on leave. This suggests that struggling districts may benefit from human resource policies that encourage teachers to return after a leave.

Fourth, we found that few teachers depart the urban districts we studied for other districts in the same state. Thus, these urban districts can’t necessarily point to their suburban counterparts as the drivers of their retention challenges.

Fifth, encouragingly, we found relatively higher retention among more effective teachers. Here again, however, we found considerable variation across districts. These differences imply an additional cost — lower student achievement — in districts struggling to retain their top performers.

Our research revealed no obvious, simple way to improve teacher retention. The differences in retention rates that we saw across districts are not explained by easy-to-observe factors such as student demographics or teacher salaries. But related research shows that teachers leave schools with poor working conditions where they feel they cannot have success with their students, and they stay in schools where they feel supported by their colleagues, their principals and their school culture. Working to build more supportive school environments can both help students and ameliorate the retention crisis plaguing some of our urban school systems.

With teacher shortages on the rise across the country, policymakers must expand their focus beyond policies that only increase the supply of new teachers. While such efforts might act as Band-Aids to solve immediate shortages, they alone will not address the roots of the challenge. Our research shows that some districts are facing turnover rates that are unsustainably high. With teacher shortages on the rise and as states and districts make strides in promoting equal access to high-quality teachers for all students, a focus on teacher retention and attention to what conditions encourage teachers to stay at a particular school must be part of the solution.


UK: Girls must be told they CAN'T have it all says new head of leading girls' private schools who believes women must balance career and family

Women are held back by outdated ideas about what they should be able to achieve in their professional and personal life, according to the new head of the Girls' School Association.

In her first interview since taking up the post, Gwen Byrom, 47, headmistress of Loughborough High School, said the idea that schools must teach a more nuanced version of feminism.

She said that encouraging young women to aspire to positions of power is one of her top priorities in the role but she wants them to realise they will need to balance careers and family.

'One message is that you can't be a successful leader if you have children. The other message has been in the past that you can have it all, you can have everything and do everything,' she told The Sunday Telegraph.

'I think we are now getting to a more nuanced position [where] you can talk about the challenges that face families … How do women step up into leadership roles and balance those challenges?

'Rather than promising girls that they should expect to enjoy a high-powered careers at the same time as raising a family, it is more important to teach them about the challenges of balancing priorities.'

'I think it is a conversation for students generally about their lives, how they will manage themselves and how they are going to manage their commitments over their life.'

'I am a working mother, I took my last period of maternity leave while I was a head. That was obviously fairly visible.

'This is a very busy job, it is a very full-on job, but I am still a mum and I can do both things. If the girls ask me how things are, if they ask me about particular situations, I will talk to them about how I manage things generally.'

Mrs Byrom has five children aged between two and 19 years old.

She said: 'I wouldn't necessarily set myself up as a role model for the girls in my school - but they may look at me and say if the head can do it, if the head can have a family and a busy job, then maybe I can as well.'


Australia: Fewer students make the grade for teaching courses as new standards take effect

This tightening of standards for teachers was long overdue but may not be sustainable if teacher shortages develop

For the first time, Victorian school leavers wanting to study undergraduate teaching this year had to achieve a minimum ATAR of 65.

The change coincided with a 22 per cent decline in offers made to aspiring teachers in the first round of university offers, an analysis by The Age found.

A total of 1933 offers for education or teaching courses were made to school leavers, 220 fewer than last year. The remaining 697 places went to other applicants, down from 1211 in 2017.

It came as the average ATAR of students pursuing education courses increased to 69.53, up from 62.7 last year.

In previous years, some education courses have only required an ATAR of 30.

This turnaround was welcomed by Victorian Education Minister James Merlino. "We always said we wanted to raise the bar for those wanting to become a teacher to ensure we keep lifting standards in our classrooms," he said.

The minimum ATAR will be hiked up to 70 in 2019 as part of a state government push to improve teacher quality and stem an oversupply of graduates entering the profession.

All aspiring teachers also have to pass a new non-academic test that screens them for resilience, ethics and empathy.

But Joanna Barbousas, the president of the Victorian Council of Deans of Education, warned that the changes could lead to a teacher shortage.

"There are concerns around the short term finances of university education programs and what it will mean for the profession in terms of a decrease in teacher supply," she said.

Associate professor Barbousas, who is also the head of La Trobe University's education department, said entry requirements were important but the real focus should be on the quality of courses.

Australian Education Union Victorian branch president Meredith Peace dismissed concerns of a teacher shortage, and said the changes would improve the standing of the teaching profession.

"Teaching is an incredibly complex job and we need to make sure that we have people that can deal with those complexities and deliver the highest quality education," she said.

The number of offers for some teaching courses has more than halved over the past four years.

A total of 285 first round places were offered at Australian Catholic University's primary teacher education course in 2014, but this year there were just 131 offers.

The large drop coincided with an increase in the university's clearly-in ATAR score from 58.5 to 65.

Offers also plunged for Deakin University's primary teaching course, Victoria University's Prep-Year 12 teaching stream, and RMIT's Primary Education course.


Monday, January 22, 2018

Outrage as 200 schools in Germany 'punish' children with ADHD by asking them to wear 13lb sand-filled vests to weigh them down in their seats

Hyperactive children were once seen simply as "naughty" and flogged for it.  This seems a better alternative

Schools in Germany are asking naughty and hyperactive children to wear heavy sand-filled vests to calm them down and keep them in their seats.

The controversial sand vests, weighing between 2.7 and 13lb, are used by 200 schools in the country - despite reservations of some parents and psychiatrists.

Supporters of the vests, which cost between £124 and £150, say they are very effective at curbing children's restlessness in many cases.

Increasingly more children are being diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) each year in Germany, as elsewhere.

Schools using the vests say they are a straightforward way of tackling the problem and a kinder and less complex form of therapy than drugs such as Ritalin.

Gerhild de Wall, head of the inclusion unit at the Grumbrechtstrasse school in the Harburg district of Hamburg, says children love wearing the vests and they are never forced into putting them on.

She first came across them while teaching in the United States, where they are referred to as 'compression vests' or 'squeeze jackets' and sometimes used for autistic children.

De Wall thinks the vests help children feel centred and concentrate better rather than acting as a constraint.

But she says that even though the weight is evenly spread over the child's upper body, they should not be worn for more than 30 minutes at a time.

Barbara Truller-Voigt, whose nine-year-old son Frederick has worn a 2kg sand vest at his Hamburg school for the past three years to treat his ADHD, said her son thinks it helps him and doesn't mind wearing it.

'He can concentrate better and is more able to take an active part in lessons because he's not spending the whole time trying to keep his arms and legs under control,' she said.   

But critics say they are similar to straitjackets worn by violent patients in psychiatric hospitals and could stigmatise their wearers.

One parent said she thought people had 'lost the plot', writing on Facebook: 'It would be best if we avoided such torture methods.

'How can you say to a child, 'You're sick, and as a punishment you have to wear this sand-filled jacket which is not only physical agony but will make you look like an idiot in front of the rest of the class.''

And many psychiatrists are sceptical about the vests, especially because the long-term effects of wearing them are unknown.

Michael Schulte-Markwort, director at the Child and Youth Psychiatry University Clinic in Eppendorf, Hamburg, told German newspaper Die Tageszeitung they were 'ethically questionable'.

He also said they could be seen as a one-size-fits-all remedy for attention deficiency disorders and schools should instead focus on the child's individual problems.


Community split on New Mexico charter school raffling off GUNS  for fundraiser to build a new school building

A school in New Mexico is making fast enemy out of parents concerned about a gun raffle fundraiser that has been happening annually for years. 

Estancia Valley Classical Academy in Moriarty, New Mexico, has a fundraising group comprised of staff and parents. They host numerous fundraisers every year in hopes of constructing a new school building.

At the 2017 'Made in America' fundraiser, the big-ticket items were a gun and a rifle.

And while those living near the school didn't comment, KRQU News 13 spoke with families in Alburquerque who felt those were warranted items. 

'I think it's good for the kids to build familiarity with the firearms and know what they're doing,' said Albuquerque resident Colt Noah.

According to the Public Education Department, it is up to individual districts or schools to decide how they wish to raise money and the state has no control. The state is only able to enforce that the money be used for proper ventures.

According to the school's website, they've been holding gun raffles during the fundraiser since 2015.

The school is a charter school meaning it is run independently separate from public schools.

And while they are less stringent with their guidelines, other schools do have rules on what can be sold at fundraisers. 


Muslims win one in London

A primary school that controversially banned pupils from wearing hijabs appears to have backed down after the chair of governors announced his resignation following complaints from parents.

St Stephen’s primary school in Newham, east London, hit the headlines at the weekend after the Sunday Times reported it had banned Muslim girls under the age of eight from wearing headscarves, to the delight of campaigners who argued it enforces religious conformity on children.

That decision, along with curbs on children fasting on school days during Ramadan, upset many parents, who said they had not been consulted.

On Friday, the school’s chair of governors, Arif Qawi, said he was stepping down, telling colleagues in an email: “I wish the school continued success and am truly sorry that my actions have caused any harm to the reputation of the fantastic school.”

Qawi’s comments regarding “Islamisation” posted on social media attracted sustained criticism, while parents complained that they first heard about the ban through the media rather than the school.

The website for St Stephen’s posted a note on Friday, headlined as a uniform policy update, that read: “Having spoken to our school community we now have a deeper understanding of the matter and have decided to reverse our position with immediate effect.”

The note was later amended to read: “The school has taken the decision to make the changes to this policy with immediate effect and this follows on from conversations with our school community. We will work with out school community to continue to review this policy going forward in the best interests of our children.”

Miqdaad Versi, the assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said his organisation welcomed Qawi’s resignation because of his “appalling” statements in support of the ban.

“This decision on religious symbols did not appear to target adherents of other faiths and appears to have been made without consulting the parents or community,” Versi said. “Yet serious questions remain unanswered as to the school leadership’s attitude towards Muslims, which are potentially discriminatory.

“It is deeply disappointing that a primary school with such a reputation has acted in this way. We hope that future decisions are made carefully and with full consultation with local communities.”

Amina Lone, an activist who has lobbied the government to bar hijabs in schools for young girls, was disappointed by the school’s U-turn: “A result of clicktivism in all its polarised glory. So much for choice and individual liberty. Terribly sad day for a secular democracy,” Lone wrote on Twitter.

Earlier this week, a group of Newham councillors criticised the school’s decision for creating a “toxic atmosphere” and called for the hijab ban to be reversed.

“It is troubling that the school has decided on a course of action that has clearly divided them from the very community they look to serve,” the councillors said in a statement.

The Department for Education’s policy is for individual schools to set their own uniform policies.

The Sunday Times had previously claimed that St Stephen’s was the best primary school in England last year, based on its outstanding key stage two test results. But the DfE’s performance tables show that a small number of other primaries achieved better results.

The school did not respond to attempts to contact it.


Sunday, January 21, 2018

USC Professor Tells Students that ‘Israeli Zionists’ Are ‘Terrorists’

Members of the University of Southern California community are asking the school’s administration to condemn a professor that told students that “Israeli Zionists” are “terrorists.”
Professor David Kang of USC has come under fire after students leaked a PowerPoint slide from one of his International Relations courses. In the slide, Kang listed several terrorist groups. Amongst those on the list, Kang listed “Israeli Zionists.” Notably absent from the list were terror organizations such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda.

A petition circulating around the University of Southern California calling for the administration to condemn Kang for his inclusion of “Israeli Zionists” on his list of terrorist groups. The petition asks the university to “speak out against the bigotry” that Professor Kang expressed through his list.

On October 26, 2017, at the University of Southern California (USC), International Studies Professor David Kang gave a presentation to his class about terrorism where a slide called “Who are terrorists?” equated “Israeli Zionists” to the likes of the “North Korea”, “Tamil Tigers”, “IRA” & other established terrorist groups in history. No radical Islamic countries or terror organizations such as Iran, ISIS, El-Qaeda, Hezbollah or Hamas, made the list.

In a statement to Campus Reform, Kang attempted to clarify what he said in the classroom. “I was not labeling any group as terrorists, only making the point that these groups have been called terrorist organizations by others,” Kang said. “The point of the exercise was to get students to think about how and why organizations are labeled as terrorist organizations, and to foster a discussion about who does the labeling and for what purpose.”

Despite Kang’s clarification, students from the course claim that Kang did not explain his intentions when he presented the slide to the class. “His class was critical thinking based but in this case he did not make that clear when presenting the slide nor gave any explanation to the historical context as to why Zionists would be a labeled a ‘terrorist’ organization,” the student said. “There were likely many impressionable students in the class who aren’t familiar with the issue who could now associate Zionism with North Korea and Al Qaeda, etc.”

Just this week, UCLA student body president Arielle Mokhtarzadeh announced that she had been on the receiving end of anti-semitic vandalism. She reported that someone had destroyed a Mezuzah (a Jewish ornament containing one of Judaism’s central prayers) that she had placed outside of her student government office.


Betsy DeVos: Common Core is dead at U.S. Department of Education

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos gave a far-ranging speech today in Washington at an American Enterprise Institute conference, “Bush-Obama School Reform: Lessons Learned.”

She announced the death of Common Core, at least in her federal agency.

DeVos also decried the federal government’s initiatives to improve education. “We saw two presidents from different political parties and philosophies take two different approaches. Federally mandated assessments. Federal money. Federal standards. All originated in Washington, and none solved the problem. Too many of America’s students are still unprepared,” she said.

And she touched on a favorite topic, school choice.

“Choice in education is not when a student picks a different classroom in this building or that building, uses this voucher or that tax-credit scholarship. Choice in education is bigger than that. Those are just mechanisms,” she said. “It’s about freedom to learn. Freedom to learn differently. Freedom to explore. Freedom to fail, to learn from falling and to get back up and try again. It’s freedom to find the best way to learn and grow… to find the exciting and engaging combination that unlocks individual potential.”


How the Great Books Are Revolutionizing College Admissions Tests

You may remember taking the SAT or the ACT. Hours and hours of memorizing techniques and tricks, all to get that perfect score to unlock your college dreams.

These tests have monopolized the college entrance process, and in recent years—in the case of the SAT in particular—have been tied to the controversial Common Core standards.

The Classic Learning Test offers an alternative to the SAT and ACT. As opposed to these standardized tests, the Classic Learning Test measures a student’s knowledge of great works of literature and applied mathematical skills.

Of course, the struggle in offering an alternative to the SAT and ACT is having colleges and universities adopt the tests as a part of their admissions process.

But colleges are increasingly accepting the Classic Learning Test, and 86 colleges across the country now accept it as a part of their admissions process as an alternative to the SAT and ACT.

Christopher Newport University in Virginia became the most recent college to announce that it will now accept the Classic Learning Test. The president of the university, Paul Trible, said of the decision:

As a former United States senator and president of Christopher Newport in Virginia for the past 22 years, I believe that higher education must enrich minds and stir hearts and instruct and inspire students to live lives of meaning, consequence, and purpose. At Christopher Newport we call that leading lives of significance.

Christopher Newport is thrilled to see a renewed focus on the humanities and a renaissance of classical education throughout America. We recognize that [the Classic Learning Test] is playing an important role in this renewal, and therefore I am excited to announce tonight that Christopher Newport University will be the first major public university in the U.S. to adopt the [Classic Learning Test] as an admissions standard.

Christopher Newport joins a growing list of colleges and universities in accepting the Classic Learning Test, from the University of Dallas and Hillsdale College to Belmont Abbey College and Calvin College.

With school choice programs growing rapidly across the United States, students are starting to personalize their education to fit their unique needs. The college admissions process, therefore, should similarly reflect the diverse skillsets and academic strengths that students bring to the table.

The Common Core-aligned SAT and ACT have been heavily criticized for their very limiting format that too often reflects a student’s ability to learn testing tricks, rather than core knowledge.

And, as my colleague Lindsey Burke wrote in 2014 when the SAT underwent a revamp to align with Common Core, students in traditional public schools weren’t the only ones affected:

The hugely controversial Common Core initiative is at least partly responsible for the latest revamp of the SAT college entrance exam. This puts great pressure on non-Common Core states, private schools, and homeschoolers to comply with national standards to keep students from doing poorly on the new Common Core-aligned SAT. … perhaps this alignment to Common Core will further motivate universities to disregard the test altogether, or to discard it in favor of other assessment instruments.

College and university presidents, it appears, are beginning to do just that, providing an alternative to the SAT and ACT.

Incorporating an assessment like the Classic Learning Test, which measures proficiency in mathematics and the great books, into colleges’ menu of admissions criteria will be critical for the thousands of students across the country who attend classically-oriented K-12 schools.

As the Classic Learning Test chips away at the two large testing monoliths, colleges are growing increasingly confident in employing new, rigorous assessments, and students are beginning to see their options expand for demonstrating their knowledge of the great books.